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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009

    Default Suing an Ebay Non-Selling Seller for Not Completing Sale to Auction Winner

    My question involves court procedures for the state of: NC

    I won an auction for an expensive piece of equipment ($4,500). The seller had listed this numerous times before at a higher price, which attracted no bidders. The seller started the auction I won at 4k and I won the listing for $4,500. I contacted the seller about scheduling pickup and was initially told that he would not sell me the item to be because the price was too low then some bull**** about the item being sold earlier that day (the auction ended at 8am in the morning, the seller is full of it). I can buy a near identical item buy it now on ebay for $4,500 over the final price of the auction I won ($9000).

    Can I sue the seller in his home state for the difference in what it would cost to purchase a nearly identical item, $4,500. Please let me know if you think I have a case I can win. I am located a few hundred miles from this seller, so I have no problem driving to their home state. he seller could have set the min price higher or used a reserve price to set his "min bid". After the seller told me over the phone he would not sell me the equipment he filed a cancellation request through the ebay system, which I rejected. He claimed to have sold the item at a higher price to another buyer hours before the auction closed (8am). I highly doubt he sold the item to someone else. This was the 3rd time the seller attempted to sell the item over the last 3 weeks, the market would not pay his min bid of 6k the week prior and he added to the description hours before the close.

    In regards to how much I actually lost. I would argue that by not selling me the item for my winning bid amount I will have to purchase a similar item (nearly the same machine, model, condition) from another seller at an additional cost of $4,500.

    One last question, please let me know if there is a way I can avoid traveling to his state to file the summons, complaint and case? Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Suing an Ebay Non-Selling Seller for Not Completing Sale to Auction Winner

    First, your contract damages are generally going to be in the amount of "cover" - the difference between market value and the contract price. Sorry, but the fact that a similar item is available for $9,000 on eBay doesn't make that the market value - the market value is based upon what an item sells for, not what a buyer wants for it. If you were able to win an auction for the item with a $4,500 bid, odds are the item has a market value in that vicinity. Without knowing more about the item, I don't know how unique it would be or how hard it would be to find an alternate source, but if there are multiple listings from multiple sellers on eBay the odds are there are a number of potential sources.

    In terms of suing him, you would have to prove both that he changed the terms of his auction and that you suffered damages. You could probably obtain documentation of changes to the auction listing, although I suspect a subpoena would be required, but you need to do more to prove damages than point to another listing of a similar, unsold product. It may be worth your time to sue in his state for $4,500, but it may not be if the damages you can prove are actually somewhere between $0 and $500. If you can get the non-selling seller to confess a selling price (the price he claims to have received for the item, even if you don't believe the item was actually sold), you may be able to get the court to regard that as an admission of market value.

    Also, once you have your judgment you still have to collect the money. I don't know how collectable the defendant is, or how resistant he would be to paying a judgment.

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