What to do if I sold my laptop on-line but the buyer would not pay after receiving it?

UPDATED: Aug 19, 2011

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What to do if I sold my laptop on-line but the buyer would not pay after receiving it?

I sold my laptop on eBay for $614. The auction winner sent me a message asking me to ship the laptop first and then he would make the payment. Since that was the first time I sold something on eBay and I trusted people, I shipped the laptop to him. But he would not pay and kept ignoring my messages. He lives in AZ and I live in NY. It has been 1 1/2 months. I am planning to sue him. eBay can provide the transaction record and communication messages. I have the receipt from USPS. Is it a good choice to sue him in small claims court?

Asked on August 19, 2011 Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Check the jurisdicational rules for your small claims court--you often have to sue where the defendant lives with small claims court, which means suing in AZ. Alternately, you should be able to sue in Superior Court--the fact that you were in NY and you were seller should be enough for NY "long arm" jurisdication in Superior Court--but still have to make sure you make service properly. In addition, if he lives, works, and owns property in AZ, collecting, after you win, could be difficult; you'd have to take your NY judgment to AZ and get an AZ court to enforce it.

In short, it may be that for $614, it's simply not worth the time, effort, and potential cost of suing someone more than half the country away.

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