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He ordered a camcorder but received a purse. Can PayPal help him?

Ken Engelman buys a camcorder online but receives a cloth purse instead. Can PayPal help him get his money back?

I recently bought a professional camcorder online. I received a small cloth purse instead. I disputed the purchase through PayPal and sent a photo of the purse.

PayPal claims that it spoke to the merchant, who provided proof of delivery of the item. But their "proof" doesn't prove I received a camcorder. Can you help me get a refund?

Ken Engelman, McKenzie Bridge, Ore.

You should have received the camcorder you ordered, of course. But before I get to that part, a disclosure. You publish a newspaper that runs my Problem Solved column and decided to avail yourself of my nonprofit organization's advocacy services. We try to help everyone, so my advocacy team and I are happy to assist you. I'm also very grateful that you've decided to run this column, which allows us to help your readers.

PayPal offers limited protections against fraud. It states that if an eligible item that you’ve bought online doesn’t arrive, or doesn’t match the seller’s description, PayPal's Buyer Protection "may" reimburse you for the full amount of the item plus postage. A careful review of PayPal's Buyer Protection suggests that your camcorder is covered.

But I'm worried about the "may" in PayPal's agreement -- it sounds kind of noncommittal. Your records suggest PayPal reached out to the merchant, which assured the company that it had sent you the camcorder. But then PayPal simply closed the case without really getting your side of the story. That's not what I would call due diligence.

We list the executive contacts for PayPal on my consumer-advocacy site, You might have reached out to one of them for help, although lately, even emails to PayPal executives meet with form email and bot replies.

The key to solving your case was in the "proof" the merchant sent. The camcorder weighs 3 pounds, but the package you received was lighter. Therefore, they couldn't have sent you a camcorder.

I reached out to the merchant, but the listing site was permanently closed. That made me wonder if PayPal had indeed contacted the merchant, or if it just said it did. I contacted PayPal. It reviewed your case and refunded your purchase.

Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer for Elliott Advocacy. Email him at [email protected] or get help with any consumer problem by contacting him at

© 2022 Christopher Elliott


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