How to Get Your Money Back When Something Isn’t What You Ordered   

Now Reading
How to Get Your Money Back When Something Isn’t What You Ordered   

How to Get Your Money Back When Something Isn’t What You Ordered

Nearly everyone has ordered something from China, eBay, or just a random website advertised on Facebook at one point only to realize that the product isn’t what you thought. In fact, the Internet is full of horror and humor stories of a $16 dress that rips like toilet paper or worse, a $200 prom dress that doesn’t even come close to the advertising picture.

Whatever the case, and wherever you ordered, you can work to get your money back from the site. We’ll walk you through how here.

When to File for a Refund

Whether you’ve just ordered and realized the website isn’t what you thought or have received something that wasn’t as described, you can and should take immediate action.

Just Ordered – If you just hit ‘Purchase’ and then followed through on paying and realized that the website isn’t what you thought, you can take immediate action. Some sites allow you to cancel orders before they are shipped, so the faster you check, the better off you are. For those that don’t, taking your concerns to your bank or payment service immediately will help to ensure that you get your money back.

Before Filing

Contact the website and note that you would like to cancel the transaction or would like your money back with a full refund. Explain the issue, and clearly state that you will escalate the case if they do not refund your money. Most will ignore this.

  1. Check the website and see if there is an option for refunds, returns, or contacting the seller for marketplace style areas.
  2. Contact the seller or marketplace and explain the issue. Ask for a full refund.
  3. Wait to see what happens. If you don’t have a reply in 1 business day, escalate the issue.
  4. If purchasing through a site with buyer protection like eBay or Ali Express, use the site to escalate the issue and start a return or refund.
  5. If these steps are not successful, work to get a refund from your bank, credit card, or payment service.

How to File for Money Back with Your Bank

In most cases, you will have limited options for filing for your money back. For fraudulent websites, your best option is to file for “Item significantly not as described” or “Item not received”. Most banks have forms for these issues and they will allow you to cancel the transaction.

Credit Card – Call your credit card supplier and request a Chargeback for a purchase of Items Significantly Not as Described. Explain the situation, and the customer service representative should walk you through the process of filing for that company or institution.

Debit Card or Direct Bank Charge– Call your bank or visit our local banking branch. Explain the issue and request that they issue a “Stop Payment”. You will likely have to fill out a dispute form, which will stop the payment from going through. This must be notarized, which will cost $10-$25 at UPS, your local courthouse or city hall. While not worth it for small charges, this is very worth it if you have paid for a large item such as a computer, prom dress, or similar expense.

Filing a Claim With PayPal

PayPal allows you to open a dispute up to 180 days after your purchase, which is why you should almost always purchase products with PayPal when available.

To open a dispute with PayPal, you have to wait until the product arrives or does not arrive after about 6 weeks.

From here, you can open a dispute by:

  • Log into your PayPal account
  • Go to the Resolution Center
  • Click “Dispute a Transaction”
  • Select your purchase
  • Choose “Significantly Not as Described/SNAD” – or if your product has not arrived, claim that.

You will have to describe your issue to PayPal, show screenshots of the product on the website and what arrived. They will likely offer a solution of shipping the product back to China and providing a tracking number. Because this is often more expensive than the original purchase, you can press for the Buyer Protection Policy, check shipping rates to China. The only flat rate shipping to China with Tracking starts at $51.35 before the additional charge for tracking – which is not an option.

If this does not work, escalate the case before 20 days, or PayPal will close your case and you cannot reopen it. Do not accept promises of a refund if you close the case. Make the seller pay the refund before you close or they can simply abandon it and you cannot reopen the case.

How to Escalate a PayPal Claim

  • Log into PayPal
  • Visit the Resolution Center
  • Click on your current open case
  • Select “File a Claim”
  • You must file a claim within 180 days of making a purchase.

Once you file a claim, PayPal will review your case and if they side with you, they will refund your product and the full cost of eligible delivery costs.

Filing a claim with PayPal is significantly easier than filing with your bank, but the process can still take several weeks, especially if you are moved from customer service representative to representative. Keep contacting them if you are getting close to 20 days and make sure that you escalate the claim before 20 days is up.


Hopefully you can stop the transaction or get your money back after buying a product that is significantly different than ordered.

Good luck.


What's your reaction?
Love it
Want it
Like it
Had it
Hate it
About The Author
Gardenia Boyle, aka "Deanie," is a freelance writer from Seattle. When she's not busy working on a variety of writing projects, she enjoys volunteering at the Humane Society or hiking. If it's raining though, which it does a lot of in WA, you'll probably find her with a controller in her hand playing one of her favorite games, WoW or Final Fantasy.

Leave a Reply