Buying from a private seller online

When a consumer buys from a private seller this is called a consumer-to-consumer transaction. Examples include a person selling:

  • a set of golf clubs on Gumtree
  • a vintage dress on eBay
  • used books on Amazon.

Note: a private seller may be running a business if they:

  • list an Australian Business Number (ABN) or company name on their web page or profile
  • have a high volume of items for sale, or
  • have been trading for a number of years.

If there is a problem with the product you should follow the steps below:

Step 1 - Know your rights

Buying goods from a private seller is not covered by the Australian Consumer Law.  However, clear ownership of the item is still guaranteed, unless stated otherwise before the sale.  The seller may also have their own refunds and returns policy with additional rights.

Step 2 - Contact the seller

Consumers should contact the seller to try and resolve the issue. This may include putting your concerns in writing to the seller.

Step 3 - Take a complaint further

If the seller does not try to resolve the issue, you may wish to take the compliant further.  If the consumer bought the good or service from an online auction site, such as eBay or Gumtree, they should first refer to the complaint options available on the website.

Depending on how the consumer paid for the goods or services, the following options may be available:

Payment methodWhat to do
Paid via PayPalConsumers may be covered by PayPal’s Buyer Protection.  You can lodge a complaint through PayPal's Resolution Centre within 180 days of paying for the item.
Paid via credit cardContact your bank or financial institution to organise a chargeback.  This reverses the credit card charge similar to a refund.
Paid via online cash transferIf you used cash transfer or direct deposit into the seller's bank account, it can be difficult to track the money.  In this case, consumers should contact the police.

Consumers can also make a claim through a court. If the seller is based in:

  • Tasmania - lodge a claim with the Magistrates Court of Tasmania
  • Interstate - lodge a claim with the tribunal in the state where the seller lives
  • Overseas - get independent legal advice.
Updated: 25 Jul 2022

This page has been produced and published by the Consumer Building and Occupational Services Division of the Department of Justice. Although every care has been taken in production, no responsibility is accepted for the accuracy, completeness, or relevance to the user's purpose of the information. Those using it for whatever purpose are advised to verify it with the relevant government department, local government body or other source and to obtain any appropriate professional advice. The Crown, its officers, employees and agents do not accept liability however arising, including liability for negligence, for any loss resulting from the use of or reliance upon the information and/or reliance on its availability at any time.