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The only logical conclusion that can be made from eBay's and Paypal's policies is that they no longer want small sellers to use them. They want professional sellers to sell from their site, people who are used to dealing with chargebacks, etc, and can foot the bill when it comes to chargebacks/fraud. They want to facilitate BUYING from regular people, but make SELLING by regular people very difficult.

There is no other explanation for getting rid of buyer reputation and providing no protection to sellers. They only want people who don't care about buyer reputation, and have deep enough pockets and the expectation that chargebacks and fraud will occur. If they deal with these larger customers, this increases their selling volume (and fees) and decreases their support costs.

There is no other explanation for getting rid of buyer reputation and providing no protection to sellers.

I disagree. Back in the old days when I used to use eBay before they removed buyer feedback, it was considered unwise to ever leave a seller negative feedback because they might turn around and leave you negative feedback in retaliation. By removing buyer feedback, it allows buyers to leave unbiased seller feedback without fear of retribution.

One could argue that seller feedback is much more important than buyer feedback because the buyer has to pay first and then trust that the seller will ship them the item as described in a timely fashion. Ideally, the worst thing a buyer should be able to do is not pay, in which case the seller just has to start over and re-list the item in a new auction. It seems like the problem here isn't a lack of buyer feedback so much as a lack of due process for chargebacks, which ends up enabling fraud.

I completely disagree. I use Allegro.pl(which is like Ebay,but actually was first to the market in Poland and is absolutely HUGE there, Ebay tries to establish itself in there but is without any chances), and both parties can leave feedback - and I have over 7500 reputation, both for selling and buying, and I have left more than a few negative feedbacks for a seller, only one of which resulted in a counter-negative feedback - and it was removed within a few days after I complained to customer service. Oh,and for the payment methods - they work with every single bank in Poland, accepting quick, instantaneous bank transfers directly from your account, no credit card needed,no need for shitty PayPal - but if you want to they will happily accept any credit card. Or as a seller they keep your money in your Allegro account, and pay it out to your bank account daily - without any additional fees. I have personally had so many problems with PayPal that I hate that company wholeheartedly.

Allegro.pl is a good example of how you can get auctions right. I think they watched eBay closely and drew conclusions — they place a HUGE emphasis on fighting fraud.

As a result, it works extremely well. I have >150 transactions, both as a buyer and as a seller, with not a single problem. Oh sure, there is fraud, but it's marginal, and crazy stories like the OP's are unheard of.

This is why eBay, in spite of many efforts, is still pretty much nonexistent in Poland, while Allegro's traffic is booming.

What way are they handling fraud?

Well for start, buyer needs to send the item back.

What stops the buyer sending back an empty box?

I would imagine the buyer doesn't get to charge back until the seller has the item again?

I always thought the right solution to this problem was to wait for both parties to submit feedback before revealing the feedback.

A bad seller (or buyer) could avoid negative feedback just by never leaving feedback, meaning the buyer (or seller) would never be able to publish theirs.

oDesk gets around this by having a time limit on when feedback can be left. If one party fails to enter feedback, then it posts the other's feedback anyway.

Parties can lobby to have the other person change the feedback, but only if they lobbied party wants to. Seems like a workable system to me and allows each to be honest without consequences like eBay's original system.

That's genius. eBay could really learn from that. Removing buyer feedback entirely is a really big hammer.

Then you place a time limit on submitting feedback. Say you have 1 week-1 month. Still not perfect since it sounds like in the posted scam he didn't find out for over a month, but it might help in many cases.

E: Also just had another idea. You could have a way to edit your feedback after the original deadline in case of fraud. If you open up a dispute like the one posted then Ebay could review the edit's on a case-by-case basis.

Online sites like eBay, always want to reduce their personnel costs. Dispute resolution should be a last ditch effort that exists to identify loopholes in a system that should ideally NEVER need dispute resolution.

They need to balance that cost reduction with lost revenues from the perceived worse service.

Interesting idea, but it still wouldn't have helped in the case of the post-transaction chargeback, as described in the article. The scammer would likely still get a positive review (because the seller had been paid) only to discover the scam weeks after the fact.

If you made public details of things like chargebacks and other conflicts after the event that might help.

This agrees with my entire point, which is that eBay has shifted towards a buyer-oriented site. They offer asymmetric protection for buyers over sellers. Buyers know more about the sellers than sellers know about buyers, making it much more buyer-friendly and more risky for sellers.

If the reason is that you might get negative feedback in return, why not make both parties submit feedback blind and only publish the feedback once both parties have submitted it? (and make it not editable)

I really like this idea.

The other thing I'd add is that basic information about conflicts should be made public on someone's record, along with a high level outcome (and possibly additional comments from the parties involved) so these things can be part of someone's decision making process.

Of course. If you look their website now and their SEC filings, it is clear that eBay is not any more "garage sales on internet with auctions". It is more like discount store.

Are there any of YC companies building "garage sales on internet"?

Yardsale meets your description and is YC backed.

Yardsale does meet the description of "garage sale on the internet", but in the Craigslist sense more than the old-eBay sense: it's for selling stuff locally, not for selling worldwide and then shipping it. For some things that works fine, but for long-tail items with niche popularity I found the old ebay quite useful, because you could reach a non-geographically-constrained audience, increasing the odds that someone somewhere would want your obscure thing.

Nowadays I sell niche music and books on Amazon Marketplace, admittedly, so one chunk of that market is spoken for by a strong incumbent.

"Yardsale does meet the description of "garage sale on the internet""

How do you figure?

just wondering how would you expect or how do other companies currently avoid fraud. The costs associated or added with constantly investigating fraud would almost seem like a deterrent in making a system useful.

Chargebacks are a part of doing business any time you accept credit cards, whether paypal is your merchant provider or not.

The problem here is Visa/MC/Amex etc. Since you almost have to accept credit card payments these days, you're stuck with their terms. Since the banks all provide credit through these card providers, there's very little competition.

There are numerous ways to virtually eliminate CC fraud but the card providers aren't interested in taking those measures, and neither are the big retailers. They are happy to accept the ~5% loss on chargebacks, because credit card users spend something like 30-40% more per transaction than cash payers.

What we need is a competitor that disrupts credit cards altogether, not just merchant processing. Eliminate VISA and MC, who are basically skimming 2.5% off our retail economy. Cards are obsolete anyways. The processing side is obsolete, we don't need terminals that dial into a central processing machine, we can use the internet. The credit side (banks provide the credit line you get on your card, not Visa/MC) will take a bit more work, but we can combine it with the rise in peer to peer lending: you seek a credit line from a crowdlending site, not Chase bank.

If the OP were the merchant for the credit card transaction, he would have provided the extensive documentation described and I have no doubt at all that the chargeback would NOT have gone through. (The evidence of previous fraud would probably have led to closing the card account also.)

But the OP is NOT the merchant... PayPal is. I do not think that the fundamental problem in this case is the credit card system. (Although there certainly are OTHER problems with the credit card payment system that make it tempting to disrupt - but nearly impossible to disrupt because of entrenched powerful interests.)

Exactly! Paypal is the middleman here and they are preventing me from going directly to the credit card issuer and providing them with extensive documentation proving fraud.

Not only that, they are making it extremely inconvenient to have any sort of communication with them

Something is beyond wrong if a verbal "not as described" lets them keep the object. That's such an obvious scam/abuse there should be a legal issue with it, if paypal is not pursuing actual proof. They are acting in bad faith because their contract/terms of service is not even plausibly verifiable. The CC company requires an affadivit to issue a refund; if Visa gets wind of this guy with 5 refunds to the same card/provider/etc (thats 5 perjured affadavits) it should be a verifiable problem with paperwork. Paypal should be in the business of verifying this; not denying it. Its so basic as to be beyond belief. Apologies for preaching to the choir.

If the seller accepts returns, would that solve the problem? I apologize of the OP mentioned whether his item was returnable -- I did not see him say that.

What we need is a competitor that disrupts credit cards altogether


ACH chargebacks are even worse than CC chargebacks, from the perspective of being able to fight them.

As soon as a payment touches any of the existing networks, it's at risk. The only way to fix it completely (or at least significantly improve the situation) is to have a system that's completely isolated and properly secured; i.e. every payment authorization requires true multi-factor authentication.

This is the thing that drives me crazy. It's the 21st century, so just about every major bank in my country provides two-factor authentication for their customers to use their own on-line banking facilities and numerous similar alternatives are available as well. And yet if a company sells someone something, there is still no guarantee that when the money hits their account they actually have it short of real legal action to show that they must give it back. Moreover, because someone else might get stuck with that responsibility if the merchant bails, merchants have to jump through absurd hoops and accept all kinds of crazy one-sided terms just to get into the game.

I wouldn't mind so much if consumers were actually advised of their ability to use these chargeback facilities, but apart from Direct Debits it seems almost no-one gets told about this here in the UK. Certainly no bank or credit card service I used had ever told me before I started running businesses and seeing it from the merchant's side. The one time I got screwed as a consumer and a chargeback would have helped because it wasn't really worth the time/hassle of figuring out the courts' small claims procedure, I didn't know I could do that so the merchant won by default anyway.

So right now, the do-I-have-it-or-don't-I question over funds is a huge burden for merchants here, yet the supposed protection it offers to consumers here is mostly illusory as well. Nobody wins from this kind of arrangement. The entire payment services industry needs to die and be replaced by something fit for the 21st century, where you simply can't transfer money electronically without robust proof of who you are, and you can't accept money electronically without robust proof of who you are, but given such proof transfers are final as soon as they are confirmed. Is this really such a crazy idea?!

It's interesting that you mention Dwolla. Their approach is indeed to prevent fraud rather than charging back after it happens, but when people look at the hoops that Dwolla makes them jump though (linking a Facebook account, etc.) they usually go running right back to credit cards.

I think you're completely missing the point, because there's a large grey area that requires human intervention in deciding if fraud occurred. The larger the volume the larger the resources needed to review every single claim.

Bitcoin enables decentralized digital wealth transfers.

No chargebacks, escrow services for dispute handling, deflationary currency. Need I say more :)

all features, not bugs :)

You know what they say, some people's bugs are other people's features :) Well... actually I think noone says that, but they should start...

> Eliminate VISA and MC, who are basically skimming 2.5% off our retail economy.

This claim doesn't make much sense. For example, an economy with RGDP 150,000 units, of which 2.5% go to Visa/MC, is not worse off than one of RGDP 130,000 units, of which 0% go to Visa/MC.

That's a false dichotomy – there's (at least) a third option – a service that doesn't skim so much off the top – 2.5% made sense when credit cards were a rarer payment method, used only for a small fraction of transactions.

Now, nearly everyone has and uses multiple visa or mc branded credit or debit cards, yielding trillions in transactions, making billions for Visa/MC.

In short, they've grown much more profitable due to their scale and none of that has value has been returned to businesses or consumers in via rate reductions, AFAIK.

> there's (at least) a third option – a service that doesn't skim so much off the top

I don't disagree with this at all. But I don't read the comment I was responding to as having come from the thought process of

"If Visa/MC charged a 1.5% cut instead of 2.5%, the economy would be 1.5% more productive than it is now, which means that, compared to that more enlightened hypothetical world, the non-Visa/MC portion of the economy is only 97.5% what it should be."

If you think credit is related to the size of the economy (and I do), you need to ask, where did that 2.5% number come from? Saying that Visa's entire fee represents nothing but a drag on the economy is very much of a piece with the historical loathing of merchants and usurers, who, as anyone could see, did not create value.

I should also point out that, if the assumption you start with is "the drag on the economy (relative to potential) from credit card fees is equal to the amount of those fees", you should quickly notice that the directionality is wrong.

In my example example, cutting fees to 1.5% (from any level at all, interestingly) requires the economy to expand by 1.5%. That's not a coincidence -- cutting fees to 0.1% would require the economy to expand by 0.1%, except that that's completely implausible; cutting fees further should cause the economy to expand more, not less.

With that in mind, it might make sense to measure against the hypothetical where credit card companies offer their services for free, but even then there is no obvious relationship to the current level of their fees. I have to stand by my assessment that saying Visa/MC are skimming 2.5% of the economy doesn't make sense. How'd we get that number?

That is correct

Still, money handling/cheque handling has costs as well.

Cheques are much more prone to fraud, money has some fraud cost (% of fake money, not sure how it is, but it's not that big) and costs of handling and moving the money (hence, cashback reduces this cost)

In the instance of online auction marketplaces, you could create an escrow system where the seller ships the good to the auctioneer's warehouse (with some practical limitations) who verifies condition and that the good is legitimate (not stolen). Buyers pay money to the escrow company (e.g. Ebay) who ships the goods and send the money to the seller. Any chargebacks go against the escrow company who also happened to have validated the good and can use TOS/Legal Agreements to fight the chargeback on grounds of item quality. In this situation, they could also probably finagle a decent relationship with the CC processors to streamline the process and weed out fraud.

Is that workable? Quite possibly. Is it probable? Probably not.

Edit: Spelling

The same way AirBnB does it: verify everything (phone, email) and provide social context ("You and the seller have 2 friends in common on Facebook"). You could go a step further and remove as much anonymity as possible.

Of course, there are other ways to stop fraud which you'd want to do as well.

Facebook has the infrastructure and population coverage to facilitate provide this service.

They could charge for "Verified by Facebook" services. Hell, they could replace eBay and PayPal while they're at it, not to mention AirBnB, CraigsList, etc.

They're stumbling around looking for a business model as it is, I don't know why they don't get into this. Sure, easier said than done maybe, but if anyone can do it, it is Facebook. Becoming the one site that has the single largest repository of known internet identities within it is the hard part.

I've said the same thing for a couple of years. Their Oodle marketplace is anemic, despite having the ability to combat fraud issues in a way eBay, Craigslist, etc will never be able to.

So bizarre to me they don't move into in a serious way. ecommerce

paypay already has your credit card and banking information. I think its more about having staff investigating it. For example in this type of story it may be clear, but otherwise its your word vs theirs type situations. With volume of sales, and probably the number of transactions, I imagine its not cheap.

If you look at Paypal's 10-K, they assume an automatic writeoff 4% of their revenues due to losses from chargebacks.

Almost seems like Paypal is making an effort to transfer that cost from their books to sellers.

Shameless plug - trying to help marketplaces with that problem with Credport (https://www.credport.org/).

I really don't know. For example, as MVP they could actually manually verify accounts (verify Facebook login, friends on that account, etc.). Also, at the beginning, maybe to allow only people in same city to do transaction. I know it is hard, but somebody much smarter than me could do it.

I agree. The consistency of their changes that always disadvantage small sellers, reveals intent.

But I don't agree with your suggestion that eBay-PayPal is doing this just because they are greedy. I think eBay-PayPal is run by people who take the Elite viewpoint - they dislike that the Internet is giving so much freedom and empowerment to the common people. And they want to reverse that.

Ebay originally provided a new and wonderful thing - a facility for individuals to trade easily with each other worldwide. I think that eBay has for a few years now been doing their best to destroy this capability, without being too obvious about their intent.

Another comment I have, is that eBay's practices are a very good proof of the social evils that result from software method and business practice patents. If others could provide a trading service that competed with eBay, but was sane and helpful to customers, eBay would be out of business so fast they'd wonder what hit them. (And same for PayPal.)

To play devil's advocate, how could similar businesses make better decisions? For example, buyer/scammer "A" sends money via credit card payment to seller "B"s paypal/dwolla/freelancer/etc--"C"s account, who then withdraws the money to his bank. Buyer "A" then files and successfully gets a chargeback from the credit card company, who debits company "C".

Now C is wrongfully in the red, and they need to make it back somehow. Their only options? Either get it back from B's account or take the hit--which can really hurt smaller companies and startups.

What would you do in company C's position? It seems that the real bad guy here is the credit card company, TBH.

I sort of agree, but again, Paypal is also enabling this to continue by refusing me the chance to bring my case to the credit card company.

Short of legal action, they would not let me get the contact info for the buyers credit card company in order for me to deal with them directly.

Having recently sold an iPhone on eBay and been concerned about problems like this, I wish eBay would allow non-professional sellers restrict bids to professional buyers.

Thousand times this. Their buyer filtering options are laughable.

If they were to let me limit sales to people with certain types of addresses, purchases of certain value, a reasonable number of feedback, etc, that would be very helpful in reducing a chance of being defrauded

eBay makes money off the listing fees. They don't care whether you get your item or not.

If you never get your item, you stop buying, so people stop selling, so people stop using ebay ...

If they allowed that, almost all sellers would do it for security, and then there would be no ways for buyers to get any feedback.

In fact, when I was placing my first bids on eBay, some buyers would cancel the auction or retract the bids because they didn't trust me. I understand their position, but how are you supposed to get feedback if sellers won't sell you anything?

Right, which is why they should only allow non-professional/low-volume sellers to make this restriction, that way new users can still buy from pro sellers to get some reputation, or people selling in odd-ball domains where such a restriction overly harm the seller.

If you sell, say, more than 500 items a year, you turn into a professional seller and you can't be as restrictive, but you are doing enough business for the occasional scammer to not make a large impact.

Of course, I think eBay is harmed relatively little by scammers like the one in the OP; so I can see why they haven't done much to prevent it at risk of loosing real business.

How many sellers would use a multitude of accounts to get around this restriction?

Ebay needs a competitor.

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