What Would You Do With Someone Else’s Money?

April 14, 2007

I have someone’s money and they won’t return my emails, what should I do? This is a problem I’ve never experienced before and am looking for ideas on how to handle it.

The Problem
I sold an item to a lady on eBay back on April 3rd. She paid the $100 for the purchase and postage right away through PayPal. I went to ship the item and the Postal Service informed me she had provided an address with an incorrect zip code. I’ve contacted the woman 4 times through eBay asking for a correct address but she has not responded to any of my inquires.

I talked with eBay today about the problem and they won’t contact a customer on behalf of a seller. They did give me her phone number, however, when I call the number is no longer in service.

What Should I Do?
I have a phone number that doesn’t work, an email address that isn’t responded to, and a postal address that may wrong. The part that makes it more complicated is I also have her money.

1) Wait for a Response
I’m hesitant to just wait this one out. The woman only has a feedback rating of 2 so she’s not an experienced eBay user. If she is waiting on the item and doesn’t receive it, she might think I ripped her off and leave me negative feedback. In case you’re not an eBay user, keeping my 100% positive feedback is key to continuing sales.

2) Ship the Item
I’m also apprehensive about sending the item to an address that may be incorrect. It could get lost in the mail or returned to me. Either way, I’ll be out money by losing the item or having to eat the extra shipping costs.

3) Refund her Money
I had this item for sale for quite some time before it sold so I’m reluctant to refund her money and start over again. I purchased it for $10 and sold it for $90 so it’s a sale that I’d really like to close out. This may be what I have to end up doing but I’d like to avoid it if possible.

Thanks in Advance
Any ideas would be appreciated, Thanks!


Will this article help you save or earn more money? Get others like it simply by entering your email address below. Your email is used only for delivering daily money tips and you can opt out of delivery at any time. Click here to see all your free subscription options.


Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

All posts by


13 Responses to What Would You Do With Someone Else’s Money?

  • Ben

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions! Thankfully, the issue has resolved itself

  • Jim Walton

    What if you leave her positive feedback (she did pay promptly) and in your feedback, ask her to contact you. Find a way to communicate to her that you have found you can’t ship to her.

    Just a thought

  • LuxLivingFrugalis

    Contact the post office in her area and get a correct zip code then ship the item. Sitting on the money shouldn’t be an option. If you’re not comfortable with the post office information then I’d do as the other poster suggested and refund the money.

  • eR0CK

    I agree with broknow.

    I work at a computer place and sometimes people pay us to fix their PC’s, but forget to pick up the PC. We give them 30 days, then we sell the PC.

  • Ben

    MossySF, zabasearch gave another two potentional phone numbers, I’ll try them tomorrow, thanks!

    CleverDude, I wondered the same thing.

    Tim, I’d really like to close this deal. I’ll probably keep digging until I’ve exhausted all possible ways of contacting her.

  • Tim

    no, it is still his responsibility. I would simply refund her paypal account with a note as to your efforts thus far and reason for refund. then relist the item.

  • broknowrchlatr

    You have done more than enough on your end. It is her responsibility to get in touch with you. She sheould be wonderring where it is and it should be very easy for her to get in touch with you. I would keep the money, regardless of the outcome. She enterred a contract to buy the item.

    The odds are, she’ll try to get in touch with you within a couple weeks. So, keep the cash and keep the item for now.

    Normally, I’d say you have to keep the item for maybe 6 months and then you cna sell it. But, you have to deal with a bad rating if she finally comes back.

    Throw the item in your attic and forget about it. Wait for her to come to you.

  • Henry @ Binary Dollar

    If it’s just the zip code part you don’t have, just find it using the rest of her address on Google maps or something.

  • Clever Dude

    There’s always the chance her account was hacked and the hackers screwed up with the address. If so, of course they wouldn’t try back a second time and risk blowing their cover. They probably just moved on.

    However, that’s the only reason I can think why she wouldn’t be replying.

  • MossySF

    Try http://www.zabasearch.com/ and see if you can’t find her.

  • CT

    Can you do a reverse lookup on her phone number (at anywho.com for exampe)? You might be able to get a valid address from that.


  • Money Smart Life » Thank You Readers, The Package is in the Mail!
  • Posts I Enjoyed Last Week | The Sun’s Financial Diary | A Personal Finance Blog on Saving and Investing