When Buying IBC Tanks Go Wrong


I have a couple of IBC tanks at our shop in our city. We use them to generate 2000L of pure water, 24hrs, 7 days per week. From this ‘static system’ we fill our vehicles up and off they go to clean windows all day.

I can’t remember where we bought the two tanks from, but I do know they cost around £150+vat each plus around £60.00+vat delivery. When they arrived at the shop they were brand spanking new, untouched and ready to hold my liquid gold. So then, where’s the ‘hell’ in that? I hear you ask.

In my infinite wisdom, I decided to buy another two IBC tanks and have another static system set up in my garage at home. The idea of this was for an additional source of water out of the city (like an outpost) therefore creating an alternative ‘filling up’ station for our vehicles. Plus it was convenient for me too. If I went out and did a little work myself in my area, it meant I would have to travel a 20 mile round trip into the city, take an hour and half of my time travelling and filling up at the shop on top of that.

It kind of sounded better in my head at the time.

So I’m looking around on the net for two 1000L IBC tanks. Then I got to thinking. Can I shop smarter and save some dollars. After a while I found IBC tanks on Ebay. The description said that these tanks had had stuff in it previous (used) but were cleaned out and ready to use. Well, I thought as long as they are cleaned out and ready to use, they are not going to affect the pure water I would be holding in them.

The price was unbelievable… £40.00 each with £50.00 delivery. A picture of stacked high tanks all looking spanking clean in a warehouse sold it to me. I went ahead and ordered them straight away.

Wow I thought, that was so easy… when we are ready to up the tanks at the shop, I will just do the same thing!

eBay, put me in touch with the seller, Jimmy. He seemed really friendly and called me to ensure my delivery address was right. Sometime in May I had the delivery driver call my mobile, “ where do you want these loading to?”. “The driveway please”, I responded.

So all excited at the thought of having my very own static system right out in my garage, I hurried home to check the delivery.

I was horrified to discover both tanks were caked in some unknown substance… it smelt bad, like a strong chemical smell. I was not put off at this point, it was only when I got a mop to try and clean it up that my skin began to burn, my eyes water and my throat started to feel this chemical, like a sore throat. I had to stop what I was doing immediately. Everything was left as it was like a mini Chernobyl, buckets and mops left in situ. I got straight on onto my computer and wrote to the seller:

 Me: “(I sent pictures) Jimmy, I need to know what this is??”

 Seller: “If you want to return them you can”

 Me: “ Do you know what this stuff is?? It’s all over my drive now. Thanks for your help in this matter…” (Unbeknown to me as I have only used eBay one other time. When it comes to refunds and returns the seller bears the cost. Jimmy was pulling a fast one)

Me: “Jimmy, what’s the TPN service details you used to deliver this. I would like to call them and arrange the return. I’m surprised that your shipping stuff not knowing what chemical is on it?”

Seller: “I’m not sure what courier service it was Lee. It was through a 3rd party. And this stuff cant be that bad Lee lol I think it’s just you cant be bothered to clean it
You need to send this baby soon if you wanting refunded because I’m away next week for 3 weeks” (Pressure to return for my refund but by paying for the return myself) I decided to double check with eBay. Turned out the return was the seller’s responsibility.


Me: “Jimmy, but it is that bad. It is a thick chemical that still smells on my hands. From a health & safety point of view, you are unable to tell me what this is. I just want to get this returned and off my drive. I have no idea what it is. Refunds can still be refunded even when you’re on holiday. I am talking with the local courier now on returning these items.
I understand that it was a third party, but you have a number you pick up to arrange the delivery. If you are not willing to give that information in the hope I give up on sending these back, you’re mistaken. I suggest you clean these thoroughly before you send out to customers or at least inform the customer what chemical may be on the items you are shipping out so that they may be able to risk assess the delivery. I’m looking for full co-operation in getting this returned to you and getting the refund”

Seller: “ I have offered you a refund since the beginning. All this return would of now been done and over if you didn’t just jump in to eBay”, Jimmy was referring to my contacting eBay who told me it was his responsibility for the return cost and for me to do nothing.

Me: “OK, I just this minute spoken to eBay. You need to arrange the return. I think they said you have till 25th May. I will leave it with you. The IBC tanks are in the spot they were delivered too”

Seller: “eBay has just informed me I don’t need to accept the delivery as you didn’t read the description. It clearly states they need washing and may contain previous product. So I won’t be accepting returns” 

Me: “ If you had written your description: it will arrive completely covered in a chemical that may or may not be hazardous to your health and that you don’t know what the chemical is…. then I would not of purchased them. I have a right to know what your are exposing me and my family too, don’t you think?”

Then it got nasty with his messages. He told me not to contact him again. He would reply to no other messages. He did not know what the chemical was. It was stuck on my drive and it was staining the driveway. Thankfully eventually, eBay stepped in, “Thanks for letting us know about the problem you had with this transaction. We’re here to help”.

They were brilliant. They looked at all the exchanges and looked at his description and viewed my pictures. They were concerned about the chemical and health & safety. I was awarded the full refund including the delivery costs plus vat.

I had one more message from Jimmy, “ I’m coming up your way this weekend to collect these tanks”, I told him this was ok they are in the exact place they were dropped off at. He never turned up. I left it another month, then I had an employee cut it up and dispose of it.

The chemical smell was around for the next 7 months, a massive grease looking stain has took the best part of a year to disappear, and the van we used to transport the cut up bits still smells of this toxic chemical even to this day.

By sharing this, you can see how sometimes a seemingly great deal can turn into a nightmare. At one point, as the two IBC tanks sat on my drive (like – for ever!) I rang the local environmental health and Council, none of them were interested. What ever are in these tanks prior to your delivery, buyer beware as you may get the IBC tanks from hell! You’re better off buying brand spanking new for your pure water static system.