Questions of Cash: July 2016

Posted on July 14, 2016 · Posted in The Independent

Q. I allowed my son to use my eBay account to sell some items, but he has clocked-up over £700 of debt. He linked his Paypal account to my eBay account and I never received any money for the items he sold. Now I have received a letter from debt collectors Transcom demanding that I pay £738.10.  I offered to pay the seller’s fees on eBay and I have explained to eBay that the money was paid into my son’s Paypal account.  Transcom has put the matter on hold until I speak to eBay.  I am not sure what my rights are, or what to do next.  LM, by email.

A. We understand that your son sold items on eBay and that the buyers paid for these, but then did not receive the goods.  Your son linked your eBay account to his Paypal account and withdrew the money sent by the buyers.  When the items were not received, eBay made a reverse transaction to credit the buyers.  By then the funds were no longer held in your son’s Paypal account, so eBay is seeking to recover the money from you.  A spokeswoman for eBay comments: “eBay members can allow a relative to use their account, but they should remember that, as the account holder, they will always be liable for any fees, claims, or policy breaches.”  You asked us to find out why Paypal allowed your son to immediately withdraw the funds without making sure that the transaction had been approved and finalised.  This is not normal Paypal policy for eBay transactions: in most circumstances Paypal will allow payments to clear immediately.  A spokesman for Paypal explains: “Sometimes PayPal may place a temporary hold on payments, for example if the seller is new or hasn’t made any recent sales. These holds are placed to ensure buyers get the best experience possible. Sellers can usually get access to these payments sooner by providing online tracking information, and after we can confirm delivery.   It really depends on the seller, and their track record of fulfilling orders and giving their customers good service.”  Your experience demonstrates the need to be careful about allowing relatives to use your accounts, including on eBay.  Unless you can get your son to make the repayment you will have to accept the loss yourself.

Q. My ex-wife rents a house in Northampton.  The back door is in very bad condition and following a recent neighbourhood burglary the police advised on the need for proper home security and expressed concern about the door, the poor condition of which invalidates her contents insurance.   The property owner’s agent, Darren Wilson of Ashby Lowery, says that the decision on whether to replace the door lies with the owner, based on advice from the contractor.   The contractor told me the door is ‘beyond repair’.   Each of Ashby Lowery’s three monthly inspections have highlighted the rotten rear door, the last of which reads “Rotten…and covered in mould!!!”. Regrettably, such alerts are overlooked. I first complained in June 2013.  The agent’s letter does not even mention encouraging the landlord to fulfil his contractual obligations.  I imagine that if it were a tenant failing to abide by the terms of an agreement then the tenor would be markedly more severe.  ML, by email.

A. We asked Darren Wilson to provide contact details of the owner so that we could take this matter up with him in person.  He responded: “I am not at liberty to disclose that to you without his permission. Data protection etc requires that I have to have his agreement.”  At our request he passed on to the owner our wish to discuss your ex-wife’s problem with him, but we did not hear from the owner.  After further correspondence, Mr Wilson said: “The matter that the tenant has raised has been reviewed, a contractor engaged to assess the matter and the findings of the contractor relayed to the landlord.”  You tell us that unfortunately the property owner has still not replaced the door, despite the efforts of your ex-wife, you and ourselves.  The Government’s website hosts an advice page for tenants, which suggests that in such circumstances tenants should contact their MP or their local council in order exert more influence on the landlord.  It seems likely, though, that your ex-wife will need to take legal action to resolve the matter.  Solicitors are unfortunately familiar with such cases.
If you have a financial question you would like answered, please email questionsofcash@independent.co.uk.