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One More Sign World Is Shrinking – eBay Is for Suckers (matthewsag.com)
489 points by silverdrake11 133 days ago | hide | past | web | 233 comments | favorite



Its sad to see how far Ebay has regressed. I was a seller of lots of random (and sometimes very expensive) things (mostly collectibles) on Ebay for many years. I had 100% feedback, often going out of my way (and taking a small loss) to deal with crazy and/or difficult people in order to keep my perfect feedback status.

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 started to go downhill long before that change. I think they shifted the instant they decided to require acceptance of Paypal as a payment. They bought Paypal, wanted to force sellers to pay the extra fees, and they made it against the rules to say you would only accept Paypal if it was the no-fee bank-funded variation. At the time, you could have a non-business account, accept no-fee bank-funded payments from buyers. But if you wanted to accept credit-cards at all, you had to switch your Paypal to a business membership and then pay fees on every transaction regardless of funding source. So, they said "you can't sell without accepting Paypal, you can't limit the payment options, therefore you can't sell on eBay without a business level PayPal account and pay the fees that go with it".

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…


That's because eBay changed the way they want to be perceived.

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?


>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.


-- removed --


They basically don't care about individual sellers, only "power sellers" who move the needle in a meaningful way, and can handle a margin loss on fraud. It's like how hotels and banks have a fraud allotment on their balance sheet.

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.


Isn't Craigslist basically that competitor?


As it has been said in the linked article, Craiglist limits the market to local while eBay gave access to global.


That was the point I decided I didn't want to sell things on ebay. Honestly, just about any person-to-person service that only lets one side review the other ends up being a crappy experience for the person who can't write a review or easily see feedback. Case in point: fiverr. Everyone I know who offered services on it ended up quitting due to buyers constantly holding star ratings over sellers heads to get additional free services and discounts. If you don't have a near-perfect rating, no one will use you. Tons of buyers take advantage of that to the point that you work for less than minimum wage if you do stuff like voice-over.


So what do you use instead?


list on craigslist. Agree to meet in a public place (bank lobby, etc). Cash only. No negotiations. No reservations either; the first person to say yes and show up with $$$ in hand takes the item. The buyer can inspect the item in person, and if agreeable, pay cash. No checks / wires / bank checks. If the buyers try to negotiate in person -- and some CL buyers will -- just refuse the sale.

Obviously this isn't a worldwide market, but for used phones or mac laptops it works.


On the "public place" note, many police stations provide locations for safe transactions of this nature. If a buyer or seller balks at meeting at a police station it's probably not someone you want to deal with.


For a phone one might meet at your wireless providers retail outlet.


Definitely also a good suggestion. Especially for Verizon (and maybe also Sprint?) to make sure the phone can register to your account.


I really like this idea.


Genuinely useful. I did not know this.


Dealing with the average buyer on Craigslist is exhausting. "What's your best price?" and "Will you accept <10% asking>" are by far the most common queries.


Come on, you know these people aren't punctuating or contracting like that. I can't count the number of "item still available???? will u take $10 and ship 2 me??" messages I've received.


However, the average Craiglist seller is often just as insane.

$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 etc.

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.


Tell me about it. I'm selling a MacBook Pro in Tokyo, and the thought of dealing with those queries is pretty depressing. Plus the fact that the items on this list are not moving at all:

https://tokyo.craigslist.jp/search/sys?query=macbook


In Japan they use Yahoo Auctions.


That is a very low volume alternative.


It seems like a good alternative for selling your second hand phone though (as in the blog post linked).


Is there anything else? Etsy maybe... but it's more for hand crafted stuff, so you won't get the same buyers. Craigslist, but that's more of a local, in person marketplace. I can't think of one eBay replacement.


That's why they think their business model is fine...


> Etsy maybe

Charge you to list stuff, whether or not it sells. Would not use again.


I don't get scammed, even attempted to, at all¹; I think it's because I accept only bank transfers as payments.

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.


It's certainly not an equitable relationship between buyer and seller - and important market information symmetry is lost when a seller cannot rate a bad buyer. But can a seller still leave a text comment to that effect as feedback?


I used to work at eBay Trust and Safety. The place is a nightmare and will not improve. The culture was destroyed by Meg Whitman and never recovered.

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.


> The culture was destroyed by Meg Whitman and never recovered.

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?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meg_Whitman#eBay


Meg was before my time. I got to see the aftermath and I heard many of the stories. eBay's success was in spite of Meg Whitman. It was a money printing machine. The first employee was hired to be the full time check casher. In the early days managers and engineers got along - then management gave themselves a ton of options and cut out the engineers. She then hired in a bunch of professional management (Harvard people) and outsourced the engineers to India. That was a disaster so they insourced the Indians to the US. This continued to be a disaster. The Indians are very tribal so not only is there office politics there is also tribal politics. Certain casts will refuse to work with each other. So yeah, pretty toxic.


I was there during and after Whitman. When Ebay was power diving into the ground. The story above about Ebay engineering is right on the money. So much politics, and jockeying to get to Sr Director or VP to get more stock grants. Ebay brought in a lot of ex Anderson consulting and outsourcing like there was no tomorrow. Trained Cognizant on the ecommerce business on their own dime, by paying outrageous fees for people with zero background in ecommerce or internet scale or data center ops. When times got tough they fired most contractors and insourced as described above. Very Game of thrones there. Toxic.


I wonder if there are CEOs who would be comfortable doing as little as possible all day long for years.


I was a very early eBay employee in one of their non-US locations.

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.


Facebook can easily do better will ultimately fail for the same reasons. As long as the marketplace has incentive to alter the perception of buyer/seller reputation, it's doomed to become another ebay.

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.


This is actually how some Bitcoin transactions take place, on the white, grey, and black markets. People build a reputation for honesty as an escrow, take a small fee, and facilitate transactions. They arbitrate disputes, and decide who to release the funds back to.


How hilarious, ironic, and fitting that dark markets operate more on a working platform of trust than friggin Ebay.


Isn't escrow basically the opposite of trust? If you trust someone you don't need a middle man to make sure everything goes well.


I guess it's more the acceptance that buyer/seller is an adversarial relationship so you need to at least be able to trust the system or framework to be impartial and enforce honesty.


> Isn't escrow basically the opposite of trust?

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.


> eBay still gets paid so no one wants to be in charge of a revenue hit. I doubt that's changed.

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.


RE: a class action suit

See: http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/user-agreement.html

"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."


In Brazil that kind of policy is against the law. You cannot forbid someone from seek court justice. It automatically renders the policy useless.



Would you mind providing a summary of your position based on the link you provided.


Seconded. @jcranmer, lawsplainer links to a "RICO case statement" which reads a bit like a checklist. While the checklist makes it obvious why lawsplainer's examples aren't RICO, to my untrained eye the checklist seems to match the proposed claims against ebay fairly well. Could you cite the specific items for which you think the case is weakest?

https://popehat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Rico-Order.pd...


For one thing, you couldn't sue Ebay itself. From the link above:

"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."


Nextdoor also doing this.. local based reduces scope for fraud..


How about amazon? Are you still prone to the brick scam there?


I have won on amazon as a seller by videoing the boxing of the original (playstation3) and unboxing the "return" (a broken VHS recorder).

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.


Fufilled by Amazon is much safer and more reliable. I wouldn't spend money I would miss on an item from 3rd party sellers who handle their own shipping on Amazon.


FBA takes a huge chunk out of the sale's proceeds. It easily converts what would otherwise be high-margin items into losers. That's not really a scenario that your average person trying to sell a used phone would expect. The seller is also responsible for collecting (done by Amazon) and remitting sales tax (NOT done by Amazon, afaik) on FBA transactions.

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.


Safer for who? We are talking about scam buyers here not scam sellers.

Amazon handled my claim when I was scammed by a third party Amazon seller.


From what I've heard from others Amazon is worse than ebay in terms of scam buyers. I can't talk from experience because I've never been personally scammed on either platform and I've sold a lot of expensive stuff on both: MacBooks, laptops, iPads, etc. EDIT: Now that I think about it, that's not entirely true. I was "scammed" on eBay by someone who claimed their PayPal and eBay accounts were hacked. I only send to PayPal confirmed addresses so PayPal's seller protection took care of me for that because the address was confirmed by PayPal.

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."


Interesting that you mention Facebook. Only decent experiences I've had lately has been posting something in closed "for sale" groups on Facebook and buying/selling something in person in my local area.


But how would Facebook prevent the same fraud?


My little sister tried to buy an iPhone on Facebook a year ago only to have the seller (a 15yo kid living in a village 6 hours drive away) try to scam her. Unluckily for this scammer she had used a real name and had a reasonable amount of public information on her profile. 6 hours drive away probably seems a world away to a 15yo but unfortunately for her my parents had relatives living only 20 mins away and they knew many people in her village. They simply went down to the local supermarket where they determined her mother worked and told her what happened (they also knew the kids address/school and social clubs but decided the mother was better to approach). Suffice to say the money was returned in full with an apology and a 15yo scammer hopefully learnt a valuable lesson. Nothing like this could ever happen on eBay and it was able to happen without access to the private information that Facebook would have if they implemented a reputation system.


Anecdata: I am the administrator of a ~12k person "Free & For Sale" FB group for the college that I graduated from. It's very high traffic, people are able to buy and sell a whole host of things very easily.

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.


By emphasising local and by using the other details that they know about people to filter out fraudsters. Plus the long tail is filled with interest groups. Facebook already manages many of these groups and getting kicked out of such communities can be very costly.


Right now much Facebook commerce is local. Sit in front of a target or supermarket on a Saturday afternoon and you'll see a half dozen Facebook mom transactions.


Probably in a similar way they tackled fake news, with all the finesse of a bull in a china shop.



The fake news was done badly on purpose so people would beg them for manual curation ;)


Interestingly this comment was voted up a bunch and then voted down a bunch.

'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.


Holy shit. The idea that I might actually feel good about "Facebook moving into this space" is insane! Shows how horrible eBay is. Gah.


>Mark Carges tried to turn it around in 2008 and failed.

I wonder why?


Typical corporate politics.


I wonder if it is a case of people wanting to leave the company.


For what its worth, thats the "brick scam". As in "you can't sell apple stuff on ebay anymore because of the brick scam".

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.


Just want to point out that it's not always a planned scam on buyer's side. Actual item might be stolen/replaced on customs, post office, some package sorting facility or even by your neighbors.

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.


> everything is protected and you can always get a refund.

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.


> For a seller, I guess you either have to accept the risk, or get some kind of insurance.

Or eBay pays the insurance cost out of the fees they charge.


It's hard to prove anything without some type of escrow service. It'd be cool if eBay offered such a service for an additional fee.


...are you joking or serious?


What's wrong with the notion of an escrow service? For high value items the extra protection may be worth it.


AIUI you just described Paypal, which they not only provide, but also make mandatory, and part of their mandatory fee pays for insurance.


PayPal doesn't put the item in escrow.


Hardly.

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 offered escrow services for years prior to purchasing and integrating PayPal. I wasn't trying to be rude, I was trying to figure out if you were doing the old "if only <such and such> existed" when it actually does/did exist.


eBay are partnered with escrow.com to offer this service (which, I admit is different from offering it themselves, but it's there in that form).


Yes, it can be tampered with anywhere along the way. I've heard of bricks or even jars of tomato sauce showing up instead of expensive electronics shipped from Amazon's warehouse.


Could you record the opening of the box and then go after eBay for allowing the fraud to occur?


Amazon actually accepts this as evidence and will find in your favor. Video yourself packing the original and unpacking the "return" and you will likely prevail selling on amazon. I have.

Ebay sadly does not even provide you with a way to submit such evidence.


I've submitted video evidence to eBay before. Just include a link to an unlisted Youtube video.


Thanks for letting us know, that is actually very helpful


If you ship USPS, you might be able to go through them. Mail fraud is a federal crime and they don't fuck around with it. (you don't get the same protection with UPS/FedEx/etc.)


and if the fraudster is from another country? will the mail police order ebay to return the money?


How would you prove you were opening the box as shipped?

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.


You'd need to also record yourself putting a real phone IN the box when you're shipping it, but it seems that even if you did, your evidence would just be ignored by ebay.


I mean, you can put a real phone in a box and film it but it's not foolproof as you can just open the box again and ship something else. it's not an easy problem to solve. especially with different jurisdictions in different countries.

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.


I took a photo of handing it to the USPS man.


So? You can still swap it out, or give him another box, or get your mate to dress up as a USPS man.

There is no 100% way to prove you sent what you say you have.


How about sealing it with glitter nailpolish? Take a picture of the dried seal, it's nearly impossible to produce the same pattern again.


So, you (the scammer) does this but leaves the bottom of the box open, and then remove the item, and glue the box back together, with a brick inside...

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.


100%? No. But I was sure to include his USPS badge in the photo, as well as the address on the box, and the background of the behind-the-counter post office. I figure it raises the difficulty of faking it substantially.


Even legal process (especially civil legal process) doesn't rely on 100% proof to reach a result; it would be unreasonable for any dispute resolution procedure to do so.


I tried something along these lines. No luck. There is zero protection for sellers.


As someone who casually sells their old computers/phones on the internet, eBay is completely useless for something like this. It's frustrating that they advertise it on TV as a place to sell old equipment, actually trying is futile.

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.


If you google the buyer's address, it's home to a package forwarding service. Do not ever do business with a buyer using such a service. 100% guarantee it's a scam.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/78+McCullough+Dr,+New+Cast...


One of my last eBay experiences ~9 years ago involved a package forwarding service, but I don't believe there was a scam.

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.


Seems like your responsibility was just to get it to the destination you were given. He should have filed a claim against the forwarding service.


sounds like scam run directly by ebay under the name "eBay U.S. Global Shipping Program"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZwZgcoc_zw


Some (all?) of these forwarding services repackage items, probably very poorly.


Some services are providing optional insurance. Packaging is hardly matter when shipping container is lost at sea or whole pallet is dropped to the floor by a forklift. Oversea shipping is still risky.

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.


Excuse me?

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".


For values as astonishingly small as the percentage of legitimate eBay shoppers using a Ukrainian package forwarding service, that works out to zero.


You might be an awesome person and well worth doing business with but the entire class of people you belong to might still be a bad risk.


This kind of thinking is the reason I have so many rental applications despite having 3+ years at a great job, excellent credit, and references :(


I'm sorry to hear that it's unfortunate. When prejudgment is based on race, gender etc it sucks but there are legal resources. In fact we make prejudgments all the time based on all kind of factors fair and unfair and we don't always have any recourse except to keep trying.


Canada says hello.


For every one of you, there's a dozen scammers.


„Scammer“ will pay for mailing to Package Forwarding Service + mailing to his country and PFS fee + VAT + then mailing back to USA + money exchange fee at top of all that. About $200 in this case. Too much for a scam.


Then say 90%


As long as we're being pedantic, it's way more than 90%.


The difference between it being certainly a scam vs. not certainly a scam is much more than a pedantic nitpick.


Yes, but if you charitably take the point as being that sellers should assume it is certainly a scam, then it holds.


But it needs an addendum that that might be a real customer and you should ideally have some way to purchase with additional verification, not just cutting them off and thinking no more of it because who cares about scammers.


I am in the same boat as you. I use a package forwarding because the customs in my country are a nightmare, so the company takes care of them. Also, I bought books in quantity so it is cheaper to use free shipping in US and then pay for weight.

By the way, I never had a problem and never a seller put a complain on this.


eBay does that as a service, it's not hard to ship to international sellers via eBay.

So it's perfectly inline to refuse to ship to such address via eBay.


Isn't there a way that Ebay can automatically detect a mail forwarding service and flag addresses?


They could, but there is no incentive to do so.


In fact there's a disincentive. eBay made their commission on this sale, changing their policies would likely mess with both the top and bottom lines of their business.


Trust has value, too. Just imagine how much money they'd make if they weren't known for being a terrible place to sell OR buy.


I agree.

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.


By the time that happens, though, it will be too late for them.


For what its worth I really LOVE buying on eBay for the most part and I'm not the only eBay fan.

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.


The problem with that is a decision today that favors trustworthiness pays off over years, with a negligible positive impact in the short term, while one that favors short-term results pays off, well, on the short-term. There are a lot more structural incentives to maximize next quarter's numbers than the same numbers 5 years down the road.


I regularly use a forwarding service (albeit another one), and assure you that I am no scammer.

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.


As a seller, I've sold plenty of items to forwarding services and never had any of those turn out to be scams.


> Do not ever do business with a buyer using such a service. 100% guarantee it's a scam.

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's not 100% guarantee of a scam. I live in Uruguay and forwarding services are very valuable to me.

It is extremely unfortunate that scammers are using them, this means a lot of sellers won't sell to me :( .


Ugh, sorry you had to go through this. I was in a similar case not too long ago. Basically the same start... the item arrived and a claim was filed stating that the phone wasn't working. I offered to help since it was perfectly fine before I shipped it, but I was ignored. I waited until the last date before accepting the return. As Matt mentioned, eBay basically forces you to accept the return or you lose the item.

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.


I would never buy or sell consumer stuff like an iphone on eBay. On the other hand, I buy used/refurb network equipment all the time, from sellers that have like 8000+ positive feedback and 99.8% positive feedback ratings. Very rarely a problem, and no higher rate of problems/DOA items than with any other refurb equipment dealers. There are some amazing deals out there for things that are fresh off 3-year corporate leases, or have been decommissioned from telecom/ISP sites somewhere for whatever reason. Want a 48-port 802.3af PoE 1000BaseT switch for really cheap, with proper cisco IOS, to put in the wiring closet of your house? It's a good place to look. For consumer goods, not so much.

also: I confine my purchasing on ebay to and from US domestic vendors with verified accounts, and I never sell to consumer end users...


> eBay is an enormous company with over $8 billion in revenue a year, so naturally it's difficult to talk to anyone there who is not a computer

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.


This is why I'm starting to consider taking video of me packing and placing goods in the shipping box (while at the shipping company), placing the shipping label on the package, and dropping them off directly with UPS/USPS/FEDEX (all in a non clipped video). Then also recording the opening of any packages received in returns. Problem is this probably still wouldn't be enough evidence and sufficient for eBay.


The problem that the author describes is that eBay does not accept proof and offers no way to submit it.


You could always include a URL in your claim, to youtube or something else...


Upload the video right after post to a service, maybe as private. Since normal mortals don't have the power to backdate upload times, this might work as proof.


He said he used UPS Pack and Ship. Which should be even better proof than the video you described, since it is a third party vouching for what was put into the box.


Having all the video, witnesses, and documentation in the world can't help you when eBay refuses to review any of it.


I bought something the other day on eBay and the seller sent me a collection of photos of the product being packed and posted.

I think it's a great idea, even just for the buyer's piece of mind.


I take a video while boxing and make sure to capture the label. Like you said though, I doubt this would be enough to win an appeal.


This has been going on forever. Here is an example from 2007, almost identical to the one in the post.

https://ask.metafilter.com/77638/Can-I-trust-PayPals-seller-...


What I do to protect myself is record a video of me packaging and shipping the item.

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.


You missed the part of the article where eBay's appeals process has no mechanism by which you can submit your carefully-filmed masterpiece. :)


They accept text though, right? URLs are text.

Not that I'm convinced that this would actually work with a behemoth that still makes money in situations of this type of fraud.


I submitted a video with my one eBay claim against a seller. It was an unlisted youtube link.


The article says:

“… 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.


Video stopped being proof a long time ago.


You are confusing irrefutable proof with evidence. Evidence does not require absolute perfect proof.


I think the person above me was. :) I agree.

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 could all be easily faked, it proves nothing.


I'm from the UK. Some years ago we bought a game console on eBay and instead received a photo (!) of one in the post. eBay were unwilling to act, so we went to the local police station and reported it. To our surprise they eventually found the seller and recovered the money.


Same here in Germany. A friend bought a MacBook off ebay and wire-transferred some money to his bank account. He never shipped. So she contacted first his bank (which coincidentally was the same as hers) and then the local police. Both were very understanding and said that they could not do much officially, but sent a police car to his location to "interview" him while the bank also contacted him. He quickly sent all the money back. Doubt he'll try something like that again. The guy in the OP commited fraud, the iphone was sent to a US address - why is it so hard to get in contact with local police, even if just an additional step?


The buyer was from Eastern Europe and american address was a mail forwarder. By the way mail forwarders usually make photos of items sent through them so eBay could concact them and ask for photo (and see that the item was sent properly) if only it was interested to find out the truth.


Contact your state banking regulator and report eBay and PayPal. New York State's Department of Financial Services is particularly strong and responsive [1].

[1] http://www.dfs.ny.gov


So in Australia we have things called small claims courts, which are designed to make it practical for an individual citizen to sue a billion dollar company for a few hundred dollars. And I think that Australian consumer law would take a very dim view of website terms and conditions that claimed to prevent it. There's a tradition of "Yes, your thousand-dollar contract is enforcable, but any attempt to enforce it would be an offence under the Trade Practices Act, and we could fine you a million dollars if you tried."


It sounds like they still have their money and eBay is "demanding payment". Is there any reason to give into this demand? Obviously the Ukrainian scammer is not going to sue. It seems unlikely that eBay is going to sue over $465. So, keep the money and don't use eBay anymore (which it seems like was the case anyway).


I imagine it could work its way to collections eventually, but I'm not sure.


Once the debt has been sold and resold a few times, I doubt collections companies have much incentive to actually sue for this amount of money, let alone an ability to actually win the case.


They don't need to sue, they can just list your debt with credit listing company and put a mark on your credit history. That can be annoying enough to settle a debt.


From personal experience neglecting debts I believed to be unjust, I've not gotten any dings on my credit rating inspired by collections companies who acquired the debt for the cable box that I never returned, after paying 3x its value in rental fees.

This didn't stop them from calling me and threatening my credit rating, but it seems their threats had no teeth. /anecdata


The Ukrainian scammer already got the money, the buyer is refunded automatically after the claim process ends, now eBay will try to force the money out of the seller.


It's very unlikely he is a scammer. Ukrainian police can ruin his life if it's true. Moreover, it's very unlikely for Ukrainian scammer to have $500 in the first place. IMHO, phone is replaced by a delivery guy or at customs. It happen to me too: I bought video glasses, but it remote was stolen at customs because it was like an mp3 player.


>* "Moreover, it's very unlikely for Ukrainian scammer to have $500 in the first place."*

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.


Yep, he also spend 2x on international delivery and 20% on VAT (450-150)*0.2=$60: about $700 in total. After refund, he we will get $500 back and be able to sell phone for 1/2 of price: about $250, so $700 is risked for $250 of profit at max.

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.


Why will he sell the phone for 50% of its price? That doesn't make any sense.

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.


Because Ukraine is at war with Russia, 15% of territory and few major cities are lost, so salaries are dropped by 2-3x. Market for iPhones is low. This is why he is buying phone in USA instead of local seller. As I can see, business of repairing of old phones is just overloaded, because most of people have no money to buy a new smartphone.

I have no idea why he claimed that. Maybe it's just Google translation made wrong.


I wouldn't recommend ebay to anyone at all. This article probably will help potential scammers to actually cheat more people.


I buy and sell on it regularly and have done so for many years, with no issues ever. Fraud seems to be primarily focused in certain areas, and niche items—old tools, auto and small engine parts, used outdoor equipment, etc.—doesn't get impacted by those issues.


Just wait until AI/ML gets good enough/easy enough to use that these scammers can go full auto. You'll send them a lawnmower and they'll dispute and send you back a pair of nail clippers.


I'd only use it for low-value items and make sure you're shipping to a real address.


I sell phones and other electronics on a semi regular basis. Usually the only problem I have is people who send obviously fake PayPal emails and request the phone be shipped overseas.

No longer accepting addresses outside of the US helped reduce the spam.


First, sorry that you got screwed on your phone. That sucks.

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.


I only sell on ebay rarely, but I buy stuff all the time, big, small, expensive, foreign and domestic, from big sellers (lots of feedback) and new ones. I have never had any problems, some times I am disappointed by the cheap junk I buy from China, but generally I am quite satisfied. I have had to request a refund once or twice because something was not as described, but I don't think I have ever had to escalate to ebay or PayPal on anything.

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.


As a buyer, eBay is great. Where else can you buy a $0.25 component from china, put it on a credit card, AND get free shipping? I've only had one bad buyer experience on eBay and it was not their fault--someone inside the USPS opened my package, replaced the expensive item with a heavy book, and forwarded it along. The seller (who I continue to do business with) was very accommodating and made good even though he didn't have to.

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.


AliExpress works great for this, the shipping can be a bit slow sometimes though. I like to buy random fun looking things on there and try to guess what I ordered when it finally arrives. Things are so cheap.


I've also had mostly good experiences on eBay as a buyer, but a couple of very bad ones as a seller.

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.


That's the whole point. Ebay bends over for buyers but doesn't care if sellers get scammed. Since they haven't run out of sellers, it works.


This is loosely related to the subject but I wanted to point out a scam that I was victim to and nearly lost more than a grand:. PayPal doesn't protect vacation rental by owner scams.

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.


> I managed to file a claim with the credit card company and reverse the fraudulent charge.

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)


Try to report it to Kharkiv's police.

https://police.kh.ua/?lang=en


My bad.

This package been send from USA -> Ukraine, Kharkiv. When I saw article and addresses automatically assumed that someone from Ukraine stole it.


Don't. Police may ruin his life. IMHO, phone is stolen at customs.


Anonymous downvoters, please, take this seriously. Ukrainian police will be happy to open case against him, then report that they uncovered international fraud. They are obligated to open case and they are obligated to keep rate of uncovered crimes high, especially for international crimes.

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.


Why do you mention a random country's police?

  For the record, the buyer...
  with a shipping address...
  New Castle, DE 19726-2079, United States.
Both buyer and seller are located in the US.


The return package has a label indicating it was sent from that town which is in the Ukraine


The address in Delaware is a mail forwarder and they have the real address of a buyer.


Behind the specific problem of eBay prioritizing buyers over sellers, there's a more general problem of how marketplaces can determine who's right in a dispute. Other commenters have suggested taking a video while packing up the item and unpacking the return. However, that could be vulnerable to fraud as well; how can you prove that the package you film yourself opening is the package the other party actually sent?

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.


I had something like this happen.

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.


Sounds like your Hungarian buyer was legit but it just took along time to arrive. I've had that happen a number of times and every time it is because the customs/toll people open my parcel to "check it". It frustrates me no en d when I have to contact a seller a week past estimated delivery date, who then supplies a tracking number or a promise, and then the item turns up 10 days later with a govt. sticker on it and a hole in the packaging. I swear they think I'm a drug dealer and not the owner of a 30+ year old 4x4 (a lot of small packets!).


Would it be possible to take ebay to a small claims court?


Yup. Realistically that's your best chance.

Dunno about outside the US though.


Don't think so, Ebay has an arbitration clause in their user agreement.

http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/user-agreement.html


That's very expensive compared to small claims court. I doubt they'd use that clause.


I'd never do business with eBay, ever. You can surf around there and spot obvious scams in 5 minutes that have been run for a decade.

I consider them a co-conspirator.

The best bet for selling was Amazon, but now is Facebook groups.


It's not just the buyers who are scammers - the amount of counterfeit and significantly-not-as-described stuff being sold is astounding. Ebay is large enough to do their own sample purchases, but clearly they just don't care. I stopped using Ebay after they sent me a message saying that I had contested too many transactions (all due to counterfeit goods) and could not contest again for some period of time.

I'm interested in what will happen when Ebay becomes a site for scammers sellers to transact with scammer buyers.


I've had good experiences with hard-to-find items on eBay by following two simple rules: 1) I will only buy an expensive item from a seller with thousands of reviews and a 99.8% rating or higher, and 2) I will only sell an expensive item to a buyer with an account older than three years, more than 100 transactions, a 100% rating, and other expensive and related items in their history.

I don't typically get the best prices, of course, but I've never been scammed.


Buyers don't leave feedback most of the time. You're basically looking at only buying from very high volume professional sellers. I that's ok if that's what you're looking for but I like the low volume casual sellers myself, I think they put more care into it. The only time I've ever been scammed as a buyer was when I bought from a high volume professional seller.

>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?


Pretty much the same exact thing happened to me about 6 years ago. Nice to know ebay's policy still hasn't changed. I'm still banned from paypal because I refused to pay them back the money they refunded to the scammer. I used to use ebay pretty frequently but since that incident I've only been back there a couple of times to buy things (with a friend's paypal account) that I really couldn't find anywhere else.


eBay is centralized moderation. Maybe a distributed p2p market-based moderation with reputation scores for moderators in addition to sellers, like openbazaar, is the solution: https://blog.openbazaar.org/how-moderators-and-dispute-resol...


The same happens in Mercadolivre, an Ebay Company in Latin America.

They protect buyers, because where there are buyers always will have sellers. Dishonest people paradise, unfortunatelly.


Your problem was checking the box that said you would ship world wide. You can eliminate 99% of fraudulent ebay buyers by only shipping within the US or your local region. also keep and eye out for package forwarding addresses those can be problematic as well but not as bad as a straight foreign shipping address.


It's buried at the end of the article, but the buyer shipped the phone to a Delaware address. The scammer was using that address to buy the phone, and then returned the scam phone from outside the US.


Remailer addresses are pretty easy to spot and then cancel the sale. If it looks suspicious googling the address will tell you if it is associated with a package forwarding service.


It was shipped to Delaware.


Had this problem before. If you send something expensive, film yourself putting it in the box, write the serial numbers down, send it recorded or signed for delivery always, withdraw EVERYTHING from your paypal account instantly into your bank account.

A friend of mine however ended up with a debt collection agency (Transcom) after him for 6 months because he refused to refund the item. Eventually after much letter writing with "fuck off" in it basically, they gave up because there wasn't a genuine claim that would stand up in court.

I still buy and sell off ebay but it's usually very niche items which are on 1:1 interest and low value (vintage transistors for example). Anything popular, I get the other half to stick it on Facebook and it's gone, in cash usually within 72 hours. No fees, nothing.


I'm finding it hard to understand what's so difficult about eBay 'doing the right thing' here... surely it can't be that hard to take seller evidence into account and cross-reference that with buyer proof that they returned the correct item in the condition they received it...


I will never use eBay again. It took over a month to get a refund for a product that was never shipped. In fact the transaction was somehow canceled by the seller within minutes of it being completed, but it still took a ton of work on my end to get the refund. What a shame


"I don’t accept payment by check or Western Union and I don’t accept returns."

If you sell me a broken phone, it gets broken in the mail because you didn't package it correctly, or any other thing that can happen between the time you send it out and when I receive it, you should refund my money or accept my return.

I buy hundreds of thousands of products per month for my business on Ebay and Amazon and many people outright lie about the products they are trying to sell me. A good return policy is a must.

My theory is that it's one of the only reasons Amazon and Ebay became the kings of the online marketplace. I've tried to purchase from the other sites and because there are barely any protections in place for buyers, I always go back.


This is what I was thinking.

I don't see ill will on eBay's part. What I see is a few badly-designed processes: not soliciting proof when there is a buyer/seller dispute and not integrating a "Money Back Guarantee" charge into eBay's account balance.

These seem like matters of incompetence.

Also, in my experience, when I refused to pay eBay for some charges I disagreed with, they simply sent the debt to a collections agency.


> "Also, in my experience, when I refused to pay eBay for some charges I disagreed with, they simply sent the debt to a collections agency."

Well, eBay does this because they know that legally they don't have a leg to stand on in some cases, so they resource to harass their client into complying and give them money they are not legally entitled to.


I've not used eBay in years as a seller - ever since they started withholding my funds pending approval/release by buyer. Now I just use Craig's List and Facebook and sell face-to-face. And as a bonus, I've met some pretty cool people.


UPDATE: It looks like eBay refunded him because of the reaction here on HN

http://matthewsag.com/?p=1649


In my personal opinion, EBay and PayPal have both become seriously shady and among my own awful experiences with the two companies I have family members that have experienced varying levels of bullshit treatment, not limited to PayPal hounding them for years for money they clearly did not owe and EBay blacklisting them for this reason.

Then there are the horror stories like this all over the internet that just cemented my decision to never use or recommend either service ever again.


This happened to me as well and the thief/buyer decided it would be funny to leave negative feedback as well. I'm not selling on Ebay ever again. The system is st


Yeah had same kind of issue. Dispute management people told me "If I was running a business, I'd accept every customer I can." My response "even if they're using you as a free rental service?" Author is 100% right, they totally side with the buyer and they're essentially churning through sellers to make money. Even if they ever clean up, fuck em


As I understand his mistake was to sell an item to Eastern Europe. He should have sold it to US so in case if something goes wrong he could use the police.

Mail forwarders usually take photos of items sent through them (so their customers could see what they would receive). Ebay could contact the forwarder if they wanted to find out the truth.


I learned a while back to never, ever sell a phone or tablet on eBay. I only use Swappa for this service now, and I've bought and sold several devices on there with zero issues. Anecdotal, I know, but they give equal protection to buyers and sellers, and their employees are actively involved in each sale.


I just have to say I'm grateful this hasn't happened to me. I just started using ebay again after a ~8 year break to sell off some LPs, and gotten through about $1000 of sales without a problem.


I stopped using eBay in 2003 when I had aweful service with PayPal. It's sad. eBay could have been Amazon. It had so much going for it--too good to fail--unfortunately poor leadership wronged the ship.


Why does eBay allow buyers to use remailer addresses? It should be very easy for them to check that and not allow any buyers using these remailer addresses.


Wonder what would happen if author filed a small claim in his local jurisdiction? (Against eBay)

I tend to think eBay would not even respond and lose by default


I tried to sell Bitcoin on eBay and every single buyer attempted to commit fraud.


Yeah, eBay is not a place to casually sell anymore. The 10% fee was bad enough but now you have to place a bond account even if your account has a long reputation of happy customers.

Facebook marketplace is the way to go. You get way more exposure and can usually sell something in minutes.


Okay... So how is this evidence that the world is small?


Maybe because scammers that live worlds away, who you'd never have had to deal with in physical life are "near" to you now?


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nn-ym8y1_kw

The buyer is in the Ukraine, usually considered a faraway place.


Yeah absolutely fuck Ebay. It was broken years ago.


I have been a ebay user since 1999. Have accumulated 200 feedbacks and currently at 100% positive. But I have entertained closing my account a few times in past two years and have started to cut back drastically on ebay as both a buyer and especially a seller.

First, as others have mentioned, they have a monopolistic marketplace where they require one to use their own Paypal for transactions. The combined fee's for selling on ebay + Paypal now are 10% of the final sold amount + the shipping amount. Where margins are slim as it is and things are already selling well below their value at times because of so many other competing auctions, the fee's make it not worth it in many cases. They are making a boatload in fees and I'm tired of it. I just sold $400 golf clubs and had to give them $42? Ebay provides value as the market is so large. I had those clubs on Craigslist for TWO months and not even a inquiry at that price. Ebay got sold in 7 day auction. But to pay 10% for everything is too greedy imo. They have NO competition.

Second, ebay has become a haven for scammers and overrun with them to point I am leery of purchasing anything like electronics, phones, etc on there. Software..forget it! DO NOT buy any licensed software from ebay no matter how good buyer feedback. Even if it claims new/sealed. The pirates have gotten too good. I'd venture to say 99% of software on there now is either a)counterfeit from get go or b)legit but "used" and/or illegal Volume Licenses. The problem is key will work when you get it but fail 5 months from now or when you need to reinstall. I've been victim of this two times now and NO more will I buy software off ebay. When it does fail, it is long enough you have zero recourse. Ebay you can't even file a claim as they give you only like 14 days after purchase. A pirate knows this and gets keys from a keygen. I had 8 legit looking MS Office licenses in sealed retail boxes register then 4 months later started to fail. Called Microsoft and they told me I had registered them too many times and they are now flagged. Huh? I only installed them ONCE. Credit card company didn't even help as it was past the time limit for a case. So basically the seller sold many of the same key and whoever bought from him, who knows how many of us, they are all worthless. Really upsets me that ebay allows ANY software even on there. They clearly know that this must be going on. I tried to inform them of the practice but couldn't even find a contact to let know. They don't care as they are making their fees! Tons of them from software. Their only concern is a small webpage to help identify counterfeit. From now on, I will only buy hard items that can't be counterfeited or scammed easily, like golf clubs.

Third, as this story is about, ebay is WAY to buyer-centric and I too was once bitten by similar story as topic starter. Not as blatantly bad as the OP or that amount of money, but bad enough I was pissed. Eventually also got someone from ebay on the phone and as similar was brushed off and there was no pleading my case. End of story, refund the money. It cost me out of my own pocket by time it was returned and settled.


Why not just pick "no returns accepted" when selling?


He did. You are still required to accept returns if buyer claims the item is not as described.


It sounds like they did.




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