Hello. I am an American individual. I was selling goods from overseas to buyers in South Africa via …

Hello. I am an American individual. I was selling goods from overseas to buyers in South Africa via the auction and sale platform, http://bidorbuy.co.za, for about one year until February 20, 2018. During this time, I sold and shipped over 200 orders. BidOrBuy collected the payments from those customers and held them in a credit balance connected with my selling account, as I did not have a South African bank account in order to receive payments directly.

Initially, the company honored my request to pay out a small sum of my funds to me, which they transferred to my U.S. bank account. That was in June 2017. However, since then, BidOrBuy has refused to honor any of my requests to transfer my money to me. I have requested payouts repeatedly, and they have responded with various excuses not to give me my money. At this moment, they are holding a total of over ZAR 70,000, which is still due to me from customers’ payments (after deduction of BidOrBuy’s transaction fees) from over 160 orders spanning back as long as 11 months ago.

Many months ago, when BidOrBuy first refused to payout my funds to me, despite that I had shipped all products in a timely manner, had no complaints from any customers about products I had sold, and had dutifully issued refunds to any customers whose shipments had not arrived within the guaranteed timeframe for delivery that was stipulated in my terms of sale and delivery, BidOrBuy’s “Community Watch” department told me they categorized me as a potential security threat to customers due to my being a foreign seller. They mentioned that some foreign sellers in the past had simply stopped shipping products after being paid for them. BidOrBuy cited the excuse that their terms stipulate that they can choose to delay the payout of funds to sellers for any reason as they see fit, and that they can withhold payouts until delivery of the products has been confirmed either by carrier tracking information or by feedback from the customers themselves.

I was dismayed by the above, firstly because confirmation of delivery of parcels in South Africa is often quite difficult to get: The South African Postal Service’s tracking status information is all too often incomplete and unreliable. Secondly, customers on BidOrBuy are neither obligated nor, I found, often inclined to leave any feedback at all. Secondly, BidOrBuy’s terms and conditions do not mention any limit on the timeframe that they may withhold funds/delay payouts to sellers. With these concerns in mind, I wrote to their “Community Watch” department and expressed my concerns. I asked whether I would still be paid for orders I had shipped, at least eventually, if tracking showing delivered status were not available and customers did not leave any feedback confirming receipt of the goods. They wrote me back and told me that, for orders that had been paid for 3 months or more in the past, they would not impose the above-mentioned restrictions and would issue payouts. I even
responded restating what they wrote, re-clarifying that as long as customers had not claimed non-receipt of their goods, and it had been more than 3 months since the orders were paid for, I would get paid, and asking whether I could rely on that assurance they had given me. They responded affirmatively.

Nonetheless, since then, BidOrBuy has reneged on its promise. More recently, they said that they changed their position and would require proof of delivery as well as positive feedback from customers before they would payout my funds to me. They have even gone as far as to insinuate that certain branded products I sold are not authentic and demanded to receive proof of authenticity, which they also assert as a precondition to paying me my money. I have had enough of their excuses and will not jump through any more hoops. At this point, more than 3 months has passed since my last customer paid for an order, and any cases of customers who have claimed non-receipt of their parcels during this time have been addressed with refunds or other resolutions in accordance with my terms of sale and delivery, and I expect BidOrBuy to honor its originally written assurance to me that I would be paid for orders purchased 3 months prior.

Unfortunately, it appears I cannot persuade them to do so, no matter than I have threatened to take legal action and action through social media to make people aware of the facts of what they are doing to me. At this point, they simply do not respond to my emails.

Firstly, I would like to know whether there is some timeframe stipulated in South African Law by which BidOrBuy is required to release my funds to me. I have heard that PayPal, for example, is required by Law to release a seller’s funds after 6 months under similar circumstances. Secondly, I may need the assistance of an attorney to persuade BidOrBuy to give me my money, either based on their own written assurance, or based on the Law itself.

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