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online business - can one just disappear?

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1 online business - can one just disappear? on Thu May 26, 2011 12:12 pm

tino


Arresto Menor
Good day to all.


I have a query.

A Filipino trader is engaged in on-line selling of tangible product (not service). He gets payment via Western Union or PayPal. The Filipino trader was doing very, very well in the initial years, even had high commendations from foreign customers. But recently the Filipino trader got into an investment failure, leaving the Filipino trader in no capacity (now) to fulfill the pending commitments. The Filipino trader has no recourse but to disappear from the online community and be off-the-grid.


Some facts:

All transactions were based on trust & confidence. There are no signed contracts, no invoices, no receipts. The transaction is triggered only by an order from a foreign customer through casual e-mail.

ALL customers are overseas.

The Filipino trader's business is unregistered. It's just like a "sell-anything-on-line for free" thing.

The Filipino trader's real name and address is known.

-------------

Questions :


1. As the foreign buyer, will I have the chance to chase the trader realistically, in consideration with the existing Philippine laws governing the Filipino trader? Considering there are no contracts at all, is there even a basis to raise claims in the first place?

2. Will the local police help out in the claims? Is there a monetary value requirement for the law enforcers to even lift a finger? For example, the total amount of undelivered goods does not even exceed US$4000? Will the PNP even bother?

3. Depending on the answers to the above questions, is it safe to say that the foreign buyer/s, legally under Philippine laws (or its limitations), has no way of chasing the Filipino trader and can just consider it a loss?


I know the situation and insinuation expressed by the Filipino trader is a bit bad, but I do hope to get answers without prejudices, without personal emotions involved.


I would really appreciate honest responses on this matter.

Many thanks.

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2 Re: online business - can one just disappear? on Thu May 26, 2011 12:35 pm

tino


Arresto Menor
Or maybe the Filipino can just promise the foreign buyers he will process a refund in a period of 1-2 years (considering the limited capacity to raise the funds). Would that be okay? I mean, will the trader be spared from legal issues since he's not running away and he shows interest in refund for the non-delivered goods? It's just that the limited capacity to raise funds will enable the trader at least a year or two to make the refund. The foreign customer may accept it or not, but if he does not accept the offer, can he do anything anyway?

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3 Re: online business - can one just disappear? on Fri May 27, 2011 12:11 pm

tino


Arresto Menor
anybody kind enough to answer please?

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4 Re: online business - can one just disappear? on Fri May 27, 2011 1:40 pm

attyLLL


moderator
you are the buyer? what is the nature of the product that the online trader will sell to you?

on its face, failure to deliver is not a criminal act, it is a civil breach of contract. it can only be swindling, if it can be proven that the seller knew he would not be able to deliver at the time the order was accepted. if there is evidence then a case can prosper.

aren't there any emails, order forms purchase orders which show there was an order? how about payment, there should be records. these will show that there was a valid transaction.

the amount is not really the basis for police action. that is actually a high amount.

a foreigner can initiate a collection or criminal case by himself or through his representative or lawyer.


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5 Re: online business - can one just disappear? on Fri May 27, 2011 3:10 pm

tino


Arresto Menor
good day and many thanks for your response.

no, it's a pinoy friend of mine who is the pinoy trader. the product is billiard cue stick. the seller (from the philippines) has been engaged in that trade for several years and has very good standing as he has delivered more than a hundred cues in more than 20 countries in the last 2.5 years alone. so, for the argument "if it can be proven that the seller knew he would not be able to deliver at the time the order was accepted." won't hold true since the seller has already been proven hundreds of times he has taken order and delivered successfully. but as i mentioned, he made a financial mistake in a failure investment and now, is in no capacity to fulfill the few pending orders, nor make an immediate refund for those orders.

the transaction process is like this:

1. via e-mail, buyer contacts trader, showing interest for the product
2. via e-mail, buyer & trader negotiates, agreed to a price
3. buyer pays via Western Union or PayPal
4. trader confirms receipt of payment via e-mail
5. trader asks supplier/cuemaker to make the cue
6. trader delivers when finished

no invoices, no receipts. there is an e-mail trail. but if my common knowledge serves me right, e-mails are not admissible in court. there is a payment record. the amount (US$4000) i was referring to is the estimated total of undelivered goods, maybe 4 or 5 pcs of cues only.

if the trader sends a letter, or an official note indicating his incapacity to deliver anymore BUT promised to refund within a year or two maybe (as it is the only capacity of the trader), would it help? because as i know, here, even credit card debts, one can never be jailed - only issued a demand letter - which there is also consideration for the capacity to pay of the one with debt. in simple terms, there can be no criminal liability for a debt (without cheques issued). not even the police can involve themselves in cases like that.

is there any cases in the past when the foreign customer took the effort to chase the trader for a similar incident? i believe the cost for pursuing will be far and much, much greater than the product ordered itself. i mean, do they really be willing to spend time and money just to chase? when in fact they will lose money even more in doing so?
---------

i know you're not my lawyer and i have no money to retain one. so i really do appreciate you taking time to at least provide insights on this scenario.

many thanks.

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6 Re: online business - can one just disappear? on Fri May 27, 2011 6:50 pm

attyLLL


moderator
you are looking for assurance that your friend is not in any legal trouble. there is none. if i were the lawyer of the buyers, i would allege fraud from the start, and leave it to you to come up with the explanation.

emails are admissible.

indeed usd4,000 is not so big to warrant inter country litigation.


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[i] Visit our FB Page: BPO Employee Legal Advice
Warning and Disclaimer: I am not your lawyer; and you are not my client. With the limitations of an  Internet forum, a thorough review of your concern is not possible. View my comments at YOUR OWN RISK. It is best to actually retain a lawyer for your individual concerns.
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7 Re: online business - can one just disappear? on Sun May 29, 2011 3:01 pm

tino


Arresto Menor
good day.

yes, in a way that was i was looking for. not to run away, but to at least buy time to come up with the fund and make the refund one-by-one... without the uneasy feeling of 'will he be sued, will he be jailed' or something like that. my friend is no scammer, he just made an investment mistake, a wrong financial decision.. and he has no intention of robbing the buyers. it's just that at his capacity now, he does not have the capability to make immediate refunds.

so many thanks attorney.

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8 Re: online business - can one just disappear? on Sun May 29, 2011 3:03 pm

tino


Arresto Menor
but lastly, out of curiosity... if in case there would be inter-country litigation, which country laws would prevail?

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