Online shopping and mail order

Dispute with an international trader

The following page is a guide to what you should do if you have a problem with an item you bought from an international trader.

Step 1. Contact the business

You should speak or write to the business and try to negotiate a solution.

Find out more about writing a complaint letter to the trader and get sample letters. 

Step 2. Try to stop payment or get a refund

If the business does not resolve your issue, your next step depends on how and where you paid for the item.

You bought from an online auction house

Most online auction houses have a dispute resolution service.

For example, you can report an issue to eBay’s resolution centre up to 45 days after the sale, whether you bought the item in an auction or through the ‘buy it now’ method.

If you paid using PayPal, you will be automatically directed from eBay to the PayPal resolution centre. Read more details below.

You can post feedback about the seller on the site to warn the auction house and other buyers.

You paid using PayPal

You can file a dispute through PayPal’s resolution centre within 45 days of paying for an item. You may be covered by PayPal’s buyer protection.

You paid with a credit card

Contact your credit card company to organise a chargeback. This reverses the credit card charge and is similar to a refund.

You should act quickly as many credit card companies have short deadlines for submitting a chargeback request - eg: 60 days.

Chargebacks can take up to one year to be finalised. The chargeback is separate from any other dispute resolution service such as those with eBay or PayPal.

You paid with an online cash transfer

If you used an instant cash transfer system, such as Western Union or MoneyGram, or if you deposited your money directly into the seller's bank account, it can be very difficult to track your money once the seller has collected it.

In this case you should contact the police.

Step 3. Contact their government's consumer body

Contact the government body responsible for consumer protection in the seller’s country about your issue.

Step 4. File a complaint with econsumer.gov

While this will not resolve your complaint, econsumer.gov is where consumers can complain about online and related transactions with foreign companies.

This allows international consumer agencies to gather data to help stop consumer fraud.

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Last updated: 27 June 2017