Thinking of selling your saddle on eBay? Read this first.

I’ve bought and sold at least 10 saddles on eBay over the past 7 or 8 years. It’s highly entertaining to sit in front of your computer and saddle shop and often you can get a good deal. Heck, I’ve bought some very expensive saddles for pennies on the dollar. In most cases, the saddle worked out fine. The ones that I didn’t like, I simply relisted and sold on to someone else.

However, with the changes that eBay has instituted over the past year or so, it’s starting to look like it’s not such a great deal for sellers who want to move their high end saddles (or other items) as the new system puts buyers firmly in the driver’s seat.

The saddle in the eBay dispute
This is a photo of the saddle that is under dispute. The seller had the saddle inspected by a County rep before she sold it; the buyer says the saddle is defective . . . but also had it reflocked before sending it back and her fitter appears to have added additional slits to the panels.

Take, for example, the case of a person who recently sold this County jumping saddle.

As many of you know, County saddles carry a large price tag when new and even at a year old, this saddle sold for $2600 as a final sale. This is a good price for a saddle that looks to be in very good condition and which was still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.

The buyer, however, claimed the saddle was defective. This person claimed that the saddle “cord” was damaged, that one knee block was smaller than the other, and that one flap was more forward than the other. She wanted to send it back for a refund. (It turns out that the “cord” was the piping on one knee roll.) The buyer had the saddle inspected by the owner of a tack store.

The seller balked. After all, the saddle was a “final sale” deal and it had been inspected by a County representative recently who had confirmed the integrity of the saddle. She had provided numerous photos of the saddle and had welcomed questions. In fact, after receiving the saddle back from the buyer, she again had it inspected by a County representative and fitter who confirmed the saddle is NOT defective and that the claims by the buyer were not accurate.

No sale is final on eBay

What many people may not know is that these days, nothing on eBay is a final sale no matter what you say in your listing. If the buyer decides they don’t want an item, they can demand a refund by claiming the item was “not as described.”

Here’s what eBay says:

In todays (sic) world some sellers take returns, within a specified amount of time, no questions asked.  Other sellers do not accept returns and you must respect that in cases of not as expected (through no fault of the seller.) HOWEVER, even if a seller SAYS no returns, in cases of not as described a seller must either take back the item, refund your money, or otherwise ensure the buyer is satisfied with the outcome.

If you sell on eBay, you should familiarize yourself with their Buyer Protection Program. eBay will side with the buyer 99.9% of the time and will take the money out of your Paypal account or even your bank account and refund it. Don’t think that canceling your eBay account or removing your bank account/credit card numbers will prevent this. It won’t. Yes, I know that eBay says it will protect sellers from people with “buyer’s remorse” but the experience of sellers does not support that claim.

So, here you are as a seller believing that you have sold your item. You discover you have no choice but to take it back and you only hope that you get your saddle back in the condition it went out in or at all. Remember, the buyer has 45 days to decide whether they like your saddle before they file a claim. They can ride in it as much as they want and still decide that it was “not as described.”

In this case, the seller did get the saddle back but not in the same condition as it went out. Although the buyer had claimed the saddle was defective, they apparently liked it well enough to try and have the saddle refitted to their horse. In that process, the “fitter” cut additional slits into the panels rather than using the flocking points provided by County.

Not surprisingly, the seller is furious. It’s akin to ordering a pair of pants, having them hemmed and then trying to return them to the store for a full refund. If the saddle had come back in the same condition in which it left, the seller could simply resell it, hopefully for the same price. Now she is looking at a saddle that may well be worth less because it was modified by a buyer who didn’t want to keep it.

Given that the buyer tried to have the saddle fitted, my best guess (and it’s only a guess) is that it didn’t fit her horse and instead of owning up to the fact that she bought a saddle that was the wrong size or shape and selling it herself, she decided that she’d make the seller take it back because she knew that eBay would take her side.

So, what’s the right thing to do here?

The seller now has the saddle back in her possession . . . but it’s not in the same condition as she sold it.

The buyer wants a full refund for receiving an item that was “not as described.”

It doesn’t seem “fair” that the seller should have to take back an item that was modified; nor does it seem “fair” that the buyer not get a refund if she no longer has the saddle.

The seller is limited in regards to how it can deal with eBay as your user agreement with eBay limits the company’s liability and states that in the case of disputes, you will be subject to binding arbitration.

This Agreement is effective on October 10, 2012, for current users, and upon acceptance for new users.  You accept this User Agreement by clicking the Submit button when registering an eBay account; accessing or using eBay’s sites, services, and tools; or as otherwise indicated on a specific site, service, or tool.  The previous amendment to this User Agreement was effective for all users on September 7, 2010.

Please be advised: This User Agreement contains provisions that govern how claims you and we have against each other are resolved (see Limitation of Liability and Legal Disputes Sections below).  It also contains an Agreement to Arbitrate, which will, with limited exception, require you to submit claims you have against us to binding and final arbitration, unless you opt-out of the Agreement to Arbitrate (see Legal Disputes, Section B (“Agreement to Arbitrate”)).  Unless you opt-out: (1) you will only be permitted to pursue claims against eBay on an individual basis, not as part of any class or representative action or proceeding and (2) you will only be permitted to seek relief (including monetary, injunctive, and declaratory relief) on an individual basis.

From the perspective of a seller, I wish eBay would grow some balls and provide protection for the seller who writes that a sale is final. No one twists the arm of buyers to place their bid. Often you can buy at a much lower price on eBay than from a consignment tack store, so if you choose to go that route you should also take on the risk of ending up with a saddle that doesn’t work for you. It is your responsibility as a buyer to ask the right questions about an item you want to buy . . . and as a seller to provide accurate answers.

Saddles are tricky to buy sight unseen because panel size, tree measurements and other aspects that contribute to fit differ among manufacturers. I’ve looked at a lot of saddles and have a pretty good idea what will or will not fit my horse. But I always suggest to new buyers that they work with a saddle fitter or a good consignment shop rather than buying on eBay.

My personal philosophy with saddle buying is to never buy a saddle that I think isn’t priced  so competitively that I couldn’t resell it for at least what I paid for it. Often I’ve made a good profit by reselling saddles that didn’t work out for me.

One thing that I’ve taken away from this seller’s experience is that while I might continue to buy saddles on eBay, I probably won’t ever sell one there again. It’s just not worth the hassle. Ultimately, this will likely impact the number and quality of saddles that are available on eBay as more sellers encounter hassles or learn about what could happen to their sale.


eBay did the right thing and refunded the money to both the buyer and the seller. The seller now plans to sell the saddle and donate the proceeds to a horse charity.

2 thoughts on “Thinking of selling your saddle on eBay? Read this first.

  1. Hello, Liz..I receive your blog posts and always enjoy reading them, but confess my very non-techie status…I have no idea how to get the password on “password protected” posts, and thus have missed out on several i wanted to read- including this current one on eBay saddle sales.Would you be willing to enlighten me, please??Thanks! nikki in Paradise, CA

    1. My apologies on the this one! I had written the post and wanted to show it to the person involved with the saddle auction before making it public — i had hoped that by making it password protected I could show it to her first and didn’t realize that the announcement would go out. I hit the wrong button and the announcement went out. There should be no more password protected posts.

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