Buying from an overseas seller online

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Examples include buying watches on ebay from a business in Hong Kong, or buying books or DVDs on Amazon.

If you or your business bought a product from a private individual seller, such as someone in the United States selling knitwear on Etsy, view our Buying from a private seller online page.

If there is a problem with a product

Step 1: Know your rights

The business must comply with the consumer protection laws of their own country. They may also have their own refunds and returns policy with additional rights. You can find the policy on their website.

The Australian Consumer Law applies to anyone conducting business within Australia - this includes overseas businesses. In this case, view our Buying from an Australian business online page.

However, be aware that if a business is overseas, you may experience practical difficulties in obtaining a refund, repair or replacement for your product.

Step 2: Contact the business

Contact the business to negotiate a solution.

Use our complaint letter or email template, and read our example below:

Step 3: Take your complaint further

If the business does not resolve your issue, what you do next depends on how you paid for the item.

Payment method

What to do

You bought through an online auction house, such as eBay

Most auction houses have a dispute resolution service. For example, you can report an issue to eBay’s Resolution Centre up to 45 days after the sale. You can open a case in the Resolution Centre regardless of how you bought the item - that is, via an auction or the ‘Buy it now’ option.

Note: if you paid via PayPal, you will be automatically directed from eBay to PayPal's Resolution Centre.

You can also post feedback about the seller on the auction site to let the auction house and other potential buyers know of any issues. 

You paid via PayPal

You can file a dispute through PayPal's Resolution Centre within 180 days of paying for the item.

You may be covered by PayPal’s Buyer Protection.  

You paid via credit card

Contact your bank or credit card provider to organise a chargeback (this effectively reverses the credit card charge, and is similar to a refund). For more information, view our Chargeback page.

Note: a chargeback is a process with your bank or credit card provider, separate from any other dispute resolution service such as those with eBay or PayPal.

You paid via online cash transfer

If you used an instant cash transfer system (such as Western Union or MoneyGram) or if you deposited your money directly into the seller's bank account, it can be very difficult to track your money once the seller has collected it. In this case, you should contact the police who may be able to assist.

You can also:

  • contact the government body responsible for consumer protection in the seller’s country
  • file a complaint at econsumer.gov

Where to next: