Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

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:


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?

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact