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Ethical Dilemma

July 1st, 2006 at 03:18 pm

Okay, I have a situation I'd like some opinions on. Back in May, before I'd even set up a paypal account, I got an email saying there was money in a paypal account connected to my email. There was no paypal account connected to my email when I checked. But I wanted to set one up, so I did, and sure enough, as soon as I did, there was $70 sitting in my account. I asked paypal and it was legitimate.

So DH tracked it for me and found out it was related to a certain numbered ebay sale of an item I had certainly not sold, because I did not have an ebay account and had never used ebay (only DH has, and its a different account).

However it did have an email the money came from, so I emaled and asked what the money was for, since I didn't have an ebay account at all, and I had only just set up the paypal account and there was the money.

This person insisted that she had bought the item from me. I explained patiently, and ad naseum, with smaller and smaller words over the course of 6 emails that she had made a mistake somewhere and sent the money to the wrong person. It appeared that she simply wasn't reading what I wrote, only continuing to respond that the money was for something she'd ordered from me.

This went on for about 3 weeks. Well, finally I got an email from someone who had been forwarded the entire string of emails I'd sent to the idiot (sorry, I have low tolerance for people who won't listen or act stupid when they are not). This happened to be the real person she had bought the item from, whose email address was the same as mine, except it had 3 numbers following the letters.

She had also gone round and round with this woman about her not having sent it to the right email addy, and finally had gotten the sale rescinded due to lack of payment and the result was the other woman was kicked off ebay. She got my email from the list of emails that had been forwarded to her and she emailed me to explain what had happened or I'd still not know.

I asked her if she wanted me to transfer the money to her. She did not, she wasn't going to send the product now, and so the money wasn't hers. Well, I tried one more time to explain what had happened to the first woman and she responded with a profanity laced email that I had gotten her kicked off ebay and stolen her money. She still didn't get it, and I was trying to return the money!

Well, I checked with paypal and supposedly if I did nothing to withdraw the money, it would be returned to the sender on June 28th. Well, guess what? It wasn't and there it sits in my paypal account.

So my question is, what am I supposed to do with the money? I have made several good faith efforts to give it back. Part of me says that I should just keep it to pay for all the hassle I've been put through trying to do the right thing. Ethically this is wrong and I really feel at a rate of about 98% that I would feel tremendous guilt doing this and that it would bother me. 2% of me says I deserve it after all the garbage she put me through.

I guess I could try one more time to talk with paypal about it and see if they'll return it to her account. I'm really just so tired of dealing with it I want it to be done.

6 Responses to “Ethical Dilemma”

  1. Thrifty Ray Says:

    Hmm...Does paypal or ebay have any rules governing this type of error??

    If not, I would put them on notice that you will be assuming by default that the money is yours if you do not hear from them and it is not removed by 'X' date.

    Then, Id pobably just leave the money in the paypal account for a while and see if anything ever happens...you have done your due diligence...if they dont do theirs, you have no reason to feel guilty.

  2. lrjohnson Says:

    I am with you in that I wouldn't be able to keep something that I thought I had gained unethically. In this case, you did make numerous attempts to clear the problem up. Does profanity woman have an PayPal account where you can "send" her the money? If so, I might just send the money to her Paypal account. If not at this point I would keep the money.

    I'd also keep all of these e-mails for at least a year in case profanity woman tries to contact E-Bay and/or PayPal and you get re-involved.

  3. barbara L Says:

    I'd keep the emails and donate the money to a local charity.

  4. campfrugal Says:

    In your Pay Pal account, you have the option of reimbursment or sending money to someone. Go into your account and re-send the money back to the person that sent it to you. That way, you won't have to feel guilty and she will have her money back, whether she knows it or not.

  5. Thrifty Ray Says:

    I did not realize there was a way to just return the money to the sender...I would follow campfrugals advice and simply send it back.

  6. LuckyRobin Says:

    I didn't know that either, but I did some looking and yes, there is a way to do it if the payment isn't over 60 days old. It is. But I think there might be a way to do it otherwise, I've got an email into paypal. Thanks everyone for your ideas.

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