I would pinpoint the time Ebay went off the rails to many years ago, when they changed their feedback system. The whole beauty of Ebay was that it was based on reputation. If I was selling something for thousands of dollars, I would only allow buyers that had plenty of good feedback. This simple system allowed you to avoid 99% of scammers. The only scammers that got through were people who spent a long time acting legit and building up lots of positive feedback, then "going rogue" and using that built-up goodwill to pull off a scam. This risk was small and worth taking (happened to me twice after hundreds of sales).
At some point, though, Ebay changed their feedback system so that sellers could not leave buyers negative feedback! You could only leave positive feedback, or refuse to leave feedback at all. Overnight, the entire reputation-based system of buyer/seller reputation was destroyed. Within three months of the change I was hit by three scammers, after selling less then ten total items. This was more scammers than I had to deal with in a decade of prior Ebay sales. There was simply no way for me to figure out which buyers were legit, and no way to warn other sellers which buyers were scammers. As evidenced in the article above, Ebay has absolutely no interest in blocking these scammers. Contacting Ebay inevitably results in a canned response that has nothing to do with your issue. Shortly after they changed their feedback system I stopped selling on Ebay all together. It just isn't worth dealing with the scammers, and Ebay seems to think that their current business model is fine.
It was so obviously corrupt and bullshit and undermining their basic platform function of connecting buyers and sellers. I refused to accept the shift, it felt so shitty. I stopped using it immediately and scoured online for alternatives and eventually just gave up and resorted to the limited local audience of Craigslist.
I bought things on eBay BECAUSE I felt it would be easy to sell them again on eBay if I changed my mind. It was superb. NOTHING has replaced it. Craigslist is local only, nothing else has brought back the eBay that once was, and now I buy less PERIOD on ALL platforms because I have no good way to sell things I later decide to pass on…
They want to sell themselves as a place to buy stuff, like Amazon, not so much as a marketplace of individual sellers selling stuff.
By basically removing buyer feedback, they've made the experience buyer-centric. All the safeguards (which are still fairly questionable) focus on the buyer's experience with the seller, and the possibility of the seller being dodgy.
Also, I'm not sure how it use to work, but how can a seller reasonably refuse a buyer when a transaction has already gone through, without their intervention?
A couple of ways. For one, you were able to set up filters to filter out anyone below a certain amount of feedbacks or anyone with X number of negative feedbacks from bidding on your item. Obviously by eliminating the ability to leave negative feedback to buyers eliminates this.
You could also cancel the bids of buyers and offer the item to a different bidder if they violated the terms of the sale (or didn't pay). As absurd as it sounds, someone can bid on your item, not pay, and still leave you a negative feedback. For example, they place the "winning bid". After the auction ends (and before they pay) they contact you and tell you they want the item shipped to Nigeria. Even if Nigeria isn't listed as a place you sell too, and you explicitly point out in the item description that you don't ship out of country, they can still leave you a negative feedback - all without paying! In the past buyers were hesitant to due that, because they'd certainly receive a negative feedback in return. Now they can be as scummy as they want without consequence.
How large of an market is there for "original ebay" today? If it's big enough, I wonder how much longer it will take for a competitor to rise from the ranks.
Obviously this isn't a worldwide market, but for used phones or mac laptops it works.
$500 for a Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket amplifier--maybe, if it's pristine
"It has new tubes"--that are never standard Mesa tubes
"Just got it serviced"--never has a receipt
On an amplifier that the reverb is clearly not working, knobs are cracked or replaced with generics, the jack is flaky, looks like it has been thrown down several stairwells (at least try to fix the Tolex as that's cheap unless you try to do a full re-covering), etc.
And then they get really incensed when you show them that the last successful ebay auctions were all under $350.
Have some realistic expectations, dude.
Charge you to list stuff, whether or not it sells. Would not use again.
Of course that's a compromise (I'm sure it reduces the audience), and that may not work good enough in some countries, or for some type of sales (I've sold up to ~1700$, I think), but I think it's preferrable [where it works] to stop using eBay at all.
Regardless, this is serious though:
> Ebay has absolutely no interest in blocking these scammers.
When I tried to expose the "scammer", eBay was essentially not interested.
¹=except the occasional one who attempts the ridiculous nigerian release-after-receival scam.
This kind of fraud sticks out like a sore thumb in click stream. I had no trouble finding fraud and building algorithms to automatically detect it but I did find it impossible finding someone at eBay who cared enough to do anything about it. eBay still gets paid so no one wants to be in charge of a revenue hit. I doubt that's changed.
Mark Carges tried to turn it around in 2008 and failed.
I have high hopes Facebook can move into this space.
She joined with 30 employees and was CEO until 15,000 employees. I fail to see how she could have destroyed the culture or do you excpect a 30 person company culture to remain static? Am I mising somehting?
The company culture definitely changed between 1999-2002. By 2003 I was gone, mostly due to friction with management, somewhat to do with my immaturity in dealing with it.
In those early years, powersellers were already being actively courted, but there was still a strong recognition of the small collectable buyers and sellers.
This attitude changed as more MBA holders were brought in to run the show. Fees were constantly creeping upwards and largely irrelevant advertising was introduced. There was always a real focus on the quarterly earnings announcement and trying to hit the numbers no matter what. This introduces friction between shareholders and customers, with shareholders almost always winning because the employees all held options and obviously wanted the share price to continue to rise.
Having said all that, I had a mostly very fun three years working there. Just the last 12 months were not such a happy time.
Subsequently, I bought and sold a lot on the platform, including reasonably high value motor vehicles. I haven't bought or sold in over 12 months now.
If you have high hopes for anything, it should be for https://openbazaar.org
They attempt to solve the problem with "moderated payments" where the buyer pays into an escrow account which is jointly controlled by the buyer, the vendor, and a third party called a moderator. In order for the funds to leave the escrow, any two of these parties need to agree how to release the funds.
No, escrow is trust-as-a-service. That is, it's a means of removing the need for trust between the transaction principals by hiring a mutually-trusted third party.
That sounds like a class action suit waiting to happen. Or, a RICO lawsuit, where the government can pretty much prove that eBay is in cahoots with hordes of scammers.
"You and eBay each agree that any and all disputes or claims that have arisen, or may arise, between you and eBay relating in any way to or arising out of this or previous versions of the User Agreement, your use of or access to eBay's Services, or any products or services sold, offered, or purchased through eBay's Services shall be resolved exclusively through final and binding arbitration, rather than in court. Alternatively, you may assert your claims in small claims court, if your claims qualify and so long as the matter remains in such court and advances only on an individual (non-class, non-representative) basis."
"Prohibition of Class and Representative Actions and Non-Individualized Relief
YOU AND EBAY AGREE THAT EACH OF US MAY BRING CLAIMS AGAINST THE OTHER ONLY ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS AND NOT AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS, OR REPRESENTATIVE OR PRIVATE ATTORNEY GENERAL ACTION OR PROCEEDING. UNLESS BOTH YOU AND EBAY AGREE OTHERWISE, THE ARBITRATOR MAY NOT CONSOLIDATE OR JOIN MORE THAN ONE PERSON'S OR PARTY'S CLAIMS, AND MAY NOT OTHERWISE PRESIDE OVER ANY FORM OF A CONSOLIDATED, REPRESENTATIVE, CLASS, OR PRIVATE ATTORNEY GENERAL ACTION OR PROCEEDING. ALSO, THE ARBITRATOR MAY AWARD RELIEF (INCLUDING MONETARY, INJUNCTIVE, AND DECLARATORY RELIEF) ONLY IN FAVOR OF THE INDIVIDUAL PARTY SEEKING RELIEF AND ONLY TO THE EXTENT NECESSARY TO PROVIDE RELIEF NECESSITATED BY THAT PARTY'S INDIVIDUAL CLAIM(S). ANY RELIEF AWARDED CANNOT AFFECT OTHER USERS."
"Wait. Isn't the defendant the enterprise?
No. In fact the defendant can't be the same as the enterprise.
An enterprise is a legal entity or group of people. So, for instance, the Gambino Crime Family can be an enterprise, or Prenda Law. But the enterprise has to be different than the defendant for a RICO claim. Instead, the defendants have to be people and entities who run the enterprise."
Its simple just to pull out your phone and grab a few seconds of sealing the box and putting on the label. Keep it for a few weeks until the transaction "settles" then delete.
The best option is to go local as a parent commenter already said. Ask the person to unbox and demo the item before you pay. If the product doesn't clearly work, leave without paying.
Yard sale groups on Facebook, Craigslist, and an active region-specific classifieds site if there's one in your area are good places to make such arrangements.
Don't meet at either party's home. The police station parking lot is best. Some police stations even have parking spots reserved for people who are performing transactions arranged online.
Amazon handled my claim when I was scammed by a third party Amazon seller.
However, I've gotten a LOT of scam Amazon messages. They are all the same "plz send me pictures at [poorly obfuscated email address]." I'd get 3-4 a day for a used Macbook. The scam is they get your email address by getting them to email them and then they send you a fake "shipped send now" email. Some people even go as far as just sending "shipped send now" as an Amazon message! I've reported all these and Amazon doesn't do anything about them. All they did was ding my seller account for marking too many messages as "no response required."
I think Facebook has the potential to combine eBay and Craigslist as a platform to sell more "common" items. They won't be able to get your broken laser pointer to a broken laser pointer collector, but if you want to get rid of a bed/desk/cell phone/microwave, it's much easier to sell it to someone that lives 10 minutes away than to ship it across the country, and the risk of fraud is much lower.
I know they have plans to scale this out and improve the experience of buying and selling things (I've been messaged by a few FB staff asking for feedback as they've added new features), but it definitely does not have the critical mass that CL has, and discovery (getting into the right group) is much harder.
'fake news' can be easily detected, not by the content but by those who share it. I've built similar stuff before but obviously can't talk about specifics without outing myself.
I wonder why?
Usually, they send you a return package with a rock or brick inside approximating the weight of the original package.
Its famous enough at this point that its impossible that ebay is unaware. They are fully aware and are choosing to continue to profit off of this. So much so that the "shell game" the author faced is likely scripted by this point.
Ebay consumes sellers as a raw material as part of the process. That's their business model.
For a buyer eBay is a great place because everything is protected and you can always get a refund.
For a seller, I guess you either have to accept the risk, or get some kind of insurance.
Overall, I think auction places always attract scams, so there always be some risks involved.
Hardly. No guarantee that anything is authentic or not stolen. No refunds outside the return window. And you need to know how to use ebay to force your refund. If your return package fails, you'd need to go through all of the USPS insurance hoops. And the protection ebay offers is the same protection most credit card companies offer which is also similar to what paypal offers... so this idea that "ebay provides safety" is a delusion.
> you either have to accept the risk, or get some kind of insurance.
That's not the point. The point is, ebay doesn't give a shit, and there is no "some kind of insurance".
> auction places always attract scams
As do all monetary transactions.
Or eBay pays the insurance cost out of the fees they charge.
An escrow service would be a neutral company that would intercept items and returns to make sure they were the correct item and in the correct condition.
Ebay sadly does not even provide you with a way to submit such evidence.
If investigative news meant anything, they'd be all over this. But most investigative news is gone, and there's so few investigative reporters and trustworthy news outlets left that its hard to hold ebay's feet to the fire.
Even if you had a film of the box being delivered to the post office you could have a corrupt post office friend or a post office worker that is scamming things on their end by opening packages and replacing the contents.
There is no 100% way to prove you sent what you say you have.
This is the same (sort of) reason that mailing yourself something is not proof of anything, as you can mail yourself a bunch of empty, unsealed, envelopes, then seal them with whatever inside them at some time in the future.
Their fee structure is pretty bad (10% of the the sale price?!) compared to just selling it locally on Craigslist if you are in a big metro. The eBay UI to figure all of this out is even less so, and I had to resort to Google to figure basic information.
Less than 24 hours after listing an iPhone 6s for sale, it was 'bought' by someone who was an obvious scammer.
They reached out and asked for my direct PayPal email, citing that eBay was broken. Of course, I told them to pay through eBay or I wouldn't ship the phone. Immediately after this, I reached out to customer support and reported the account. This did absolutely nothing - the sale was locked up for a week "pending payment" until the buyer 'reported their account stolen' and the sale was reversed. Nobody responded to my ticket, absolutely nothing happened.
I ended up selling it in that time frame locally in less time than it took to deal with all of the eBay BS, and I was able to get something like $50 more.
I had shipped out a piece of recording equipment. It was packed pretty well- certainly good enough for domestic shipping. I sent it off to somewhere in Seattle, and according to my shipping records it arrived.
Strangely, like 3-4 weeks later the buyer is like, "Whoa, it arrived damaged!", to which I felt terrible, as I liked shipping things properly. I told him to ship it back to me, and I'd refund him, or to take it to the USPS store for the insurance claim. He said he couldn't ship it back to me, or that it would be $100 to ship, and there was no USPS store. I told him that was absurd, because it only cost me $15 to ship it to him.
It was then uncovered that he was in another country, and that it had been shipped on a container ship to get there. I hadn't packaged the thing for international travel.
Anyway, we resolved it and I paid him a bit (somewhat begrudgingly) for 'poor shipping packaging'. But it taught me a lesson about shipping.
Had he simply been transparent, I'd have added yet one more box layer. As-is, it looked like a forklift drove through it.
In this case, package is open at customs, phone weighted and replaced by an another phone with exact same weight. Typical man-in-the-middle problem.
As someone who uses package forwarding services to get things that don't ship outside America, I can assure you I'm not a "scam".
By the way, I never had a problem and never a seller put a complain on this.
So it's perfectly inline to refuse to ship to such address via eBay.
What percentage of the eBay-using population has reduced their trust in eBay as a result of this and many other articles on HN, though?
The brand awareness of eBay has given them a great deal of trust runway that, IMO, they can burn through before it starts to actually affect the short term numbers that dominate the things that anyone actually acts on with large, publically traded companies.
I think the scam listings are easy to avoid and the one time I was scammed by a seller (sent me obviously used item rather than the advertised new condition) eBay refunded me and the entire process was pretty easy.
I really like eBay bucks (though they have neutered the program lately), its a great place to buy used everything, eBay daily deals can be great, major stores/brands have eBay stores and Newegg specifically has a lot of eBay only sales, and they sometimes have 10% off gas cards sold directly by SVM.
It still works even though there are scams because the vast majority of people are honest.
I sell on eBay as well but I don't love it because the commission is more expensive. If the commission were lower I'd prefer it to selling on Amazon. I do most of my selling on Amazon lately but I still eBay some stuff.
I do worry about getting scammed, especially while selling, but I think you're equally likely to get scammed on Amazon than eBay. For high value items (I sell items that cost $1,500+) I google the buyer and address, and I take pictures and video of me packing up and shipping it. I also don't ship anything that isn't eligible for PayPal's seller protection. I'm glad most people don't try to scam me. I had one person claim to have their eBay and PayPal accounts hacked but PayPal's seller protection took care of me.
Facebook groups seem to be a good place to sell and I've sold a few impossible to ship items there, but honestly, I still don't feel comfortable meeting strangers in person.
Did it multiple times, and no seller refused to send a package to forwarding address. Never had a problem either.
The service I use does make photos of all incoming and forwarded packages (and contents), so in case of any problems there will be some evidence.
This isn't correct, not 100%, probably not even 50%. I sold a $1,000+ used MacBook and shipped it to a package forwarding service. Before shipping expensive items I always do a small amount of research to determine if I feel comfortable shipping it out.
I googled the buyer and I found out that he's a newspaper reporter in the Caribbean, so he obviously had a large public presence. Before the sale we had a lot of back and forth messages as he had several questions about the Macbook and I sent him several more pictures. He was very well spoken, personable, and polite. He seemed like the most legit buyer there can be, I sent it out. I got a very nice feedback from him thanking me.
I also have sent a whole bunch of things (none expensive) to eBay's global shipping program, Never had a scammer there either.
It is extremely unfortunate that scammers are using them, this means a lot of sellers won't sell to me :( .
The buyer never shipped it back so it finally timed out after another 30 days and I was able to file a claim and get my money back. Good to know I can unlink from PayPal since they pulled the funds directly from my account. I was in a negative balance.
Here's the kicker. If you decide to checkout on any site using PayPal, they'll actually authorize the full balance behind the scenes. I was definitely surprised when I saw a $400 charge for a $11 item I paid for.
eBay sucks for sellers, but you typically still get the best value aside from dealing with criagslist.
also: I confine my purchasing on ebay to and from US domestic vendors with verified accounts, and I never sell to consumer end users...
It's not naturally difficult, it's just a decision by eBay. With that kind of money they could pay and train people to provide service to you. Larger companies than eBay operate tech support services, and my guess is that tech support is higher-skilled than the customer service eBay needs.
I think it's a great idea, even just for the buyer's piece of mind.
I record the video at the post office itself, and of course include a shot of the post office.
Start the video showing a closeup of the item, then record yourself packaging and sealing the box, and putting on the address label - then very important record an image of the address label, and finally walk it over to the drop box, put it in, and pan wide to record the building.
Make SURE never to have the item go off frame or people will say you pulled a trick.
The post office where I am is open 24/7 and deserted at night, so it's easy. When I shipped UPS the guy looked at me funny and warned me he didn't want to be in the video, but other than that I was able to record (and I included the tracking receipt I got from them in the video).
It's a lot easier if you have a second person holding the camera, but it's also possible with a tripod, or even just holding it if you prepare all the tape stuck on one side of the flap so you can work one-handed. Do a test shot to make sure your video camera is good enough that you can actually read the address label - and even better the serial number on the product.
Keep the video for a long time, several months.
I've never actually had to use any of the videos I've made, but I keep making them anyway.
Not that I'm convinced that this would actually work with a behemoth that still makes money in situations of this type of fraud.
“… but, unfortunately, we didn’t receive proof that the buyer caused the issue.”
Sounds like there is a way to submit proof, and this video would be proof.
But, it's very important to "test" the buyer - have them document what they claim they received. Then this video can refute that.
Once they ship it to you it's too late - they'll claim they shipped an iPhone.
photos have been considered proof for a long time, and this was difficult to communicate before photoshop, just like DNA evidence and cell phone tower records had massive, unjustified weight in US courts for a while in the nineties. I was referring to the fact that it's no longer tenable to view any of the above as "proof", whether or not it was ever a certain evidence medium.
I'm sure there's a lot of legal understanding that I miss.
This didn't stop them from calling me and threatening my credit rating, but it seems their threats had no teeth. /anecdata
He factually had at least $500 in the first place. That's how he paid for the item in PayPal to start with. Also, he did received the iPhone according to his own words in the eBay complaint he did. What he claimed was that the iPhone was not working correctly.
In USA, will you put $70K at stake with high risk of catch to win $25K at max?
IMHO, postage was opened at custom (because it declared value was over $150) and phone was stolen by a guy, because their low wage forces that way: they can stole 10x of their yearly salary in just one month, until they caught. When they are caught, they will bribe police and leave. New guy will come and will work for next few months, repeat.
Also, if the phone was stolen at customs then WHY did the buyer claimed he actually received the iPhone? Again the complain was that the iPhone he received was not working correctly NOT that he didn't receive the iPhone.
I have no idea why he claimed that. Maybe it's just Google translation made wrong.
No longer accepting addresses outside of the US helped reduce the spam.
I recently sold 50 4TB hard drives on eBay. I had 2 returns for broken drives that were damaged in shipping (my fault - the first 2 drives I sent weren't packed well enough), and one other drive returned that the buyer said was broken.
I tested the 3rd drive and found it worked perfectly, so reported the buyer for abuse of the return process (I did allow returns, but only for defective drives). To its credit, eBay refunded to me the shipping charges both ways that I had paid. The buyer was pissed off and still insisted that the drive was defective (and he was a Microsoft Certified something or other, blah, blah), but strangely enough, it had 60 more hours on it when I received it back. Hmm...
I guess I was lucky I didn't get back a 40GB drive. I recertified the drive, resold it, and had no complaints.
My point is, yes, you can get screwed on eBay. But I live in a podunk town of 35K in Indiana and there's no way I could have sold 50 4TB hard drives as easily as I did on eBay. Guess I could have tried Craigslist, but I didn't want to meet 50 strangers at a McDonald's, and I doubt people would even want to buy them without seeing them actually work in a computer system.
If this phone thing had happened to me, I probably would have filed a small claims against eBay, regardless of what their stupid user agreement says I can or cannot do. You'd be surprised how seriously a company takes your complaint if they get a legal document.
All this being said, anecdotes aren't data, and I worry every time I read an article like this that I am going to get burned bad one day.
On the other hand I would never sell on eBay due to all the scammers. Props to these brave souls who continue to sell there.
eBay's seller protections are non-existent, and I no longer use eBay for equipment sales. I do local sales (CraigsList or personal connections) or donate it to an appropriate 501(c)(3) for the write off.
The reason that this was a close call rather than complete catastrophe was that I had the listing reviewed by the service's internal investigation team while I transacted. The team altered me of fraud, I responded immediately with PayPal to learn that hey guess what - their fraud claims policy excludes vacation rental services! They refused to help me. Further, the scammer knew this policy limitation, and even left me a troll voicemail as I was escalating the scam that was along the lines of "guess what? PayPal won't refund you!"
Fortunately, I used a credit card for payment. I managed to file a claim with the credit card company and reverse the fraudulent charge.
The reason I escalated this listing as a concern was that it had zero reviews and was new. The owner was also a bit too accommodative of my requests. I proceeded with caution.
I went to the authorities about this, including the secret service, who for whatever reason handles fraud like this. I never heard back from anyone.
The power of the chargeback is unappreciated by many, I think. I'm guessing a large chunk of people who use that power are people who've lost money in their business to it to scammers and scammers (which is not to say the chargeback is always a scam - there are scammers who charge credit cards, too)
This package been send from USA -> Ukraine, Kharkiv. When I saw article and addresses automatically assumed that someone from Ukraine stole it.
In reality, „scammer“ just lost about $200 (shipping + VAT + money conversion rate). I checked his name and address: he is son of a private entrepreneur. His parent will have lot of problems if somebody will try to report that item, which is stolen at customs, as fraud.
For the record, the buyer...
with a shipping address...
New Castle, DE 19726-2079, United States.
Perhaps UPS/Fedex could act as a verification service. For a small fee, the UPS store employees could photograph the contents of the package before it gets mailed, check if the electronics turn on, write down the serial numbers, etc. and send a report to eBay.
The buyer from hungary filed a item not received claim and they took my money from my paypal account (it has been negative ever since).
5 months later out of curiosity I sent a message to the buyer and he replied that he did received. But since the case was closed in Ebay there is no way for me to forward the email I received from him to get my account back up in good standing...
I was sent to collections and filed a debt verification letter which they didnt reply correctly and havent responded to it and two years later still does not show on my credit report.
If it ever does I will just file the debt verification letter again and ask for small claims court.
Dunno about outside the US though.
I consider them a co-conspirator.
The best bet for selling was Amazon, but now is Facebook groups.
I'm interested in what will happen when Ebay becomes a site for scammers sellers to transact with scammer buyers.
I don't typically get the best prices, of course, but I've never been scammed.
>other expensive and related items in their history
Is there a way to view what someone has bought now? Last I knew they got rid of showing the buyer's item on their feedback page a few years ago. Is there another place to find this information?