A few weeks ago, we asked for your eBay stories
, and we’ve received a lot of responses about bad sellers, demanding buyers and behind the scenes frustration.
A few themes crop up over and over again: misleading product descriptions, sellers leaving negative feedback in retaliation, PayPal problems and, above all, the hassle involved in solving problems that crop up. The often lengthy and involved process of getting your money back generated one of the most surprising findings to result from our collection of responses: how frequently people give up, write off the money involved in an eBay purchase and walk away both from the deal and from eBay itself.
Marcia Coventry "summed it up pretty well in her email: I've had both wonderful and outright deceptive experiences with eBay, but like most things in life it's the bad experiences we remember the most."
Here's a few of the responses we’ve received – there’s plenty more where these came from.Stalked by a buyer:
Lisa M. told us about problems she had as a result of her personal information being on eBay. She was selling a bat signed by a famous cricketer, and replied to a potential buyer who had accused her of offering a fraud to let them know that she had the certificate of authenticity. But the buyer didn’t want to leave it there. “They tracked my name down from a past purchase and started stalking me at home, on my mobile.” It’s given Lisa a sour taste in her mouth, and she now feels eBay “overcharges and does not protect sellers.”
Vicky Atkins has had similar stalking case, after selling a DVD on eBay. “I got an email abusing me saying that the dvd was wrecked and the case was all wet.” Vicky offered sent him a scan of the receipt for the item to show him it was new. He kept abusing her, though, and through eBay he was able to get her address: “He said he had my address and was going to come up to Qld to "get" me!” Fortunately, she heard nothing more from the buyer, although she’s since had a run-in with someone using a similar username. “There are some wacko's out there and you have to be very careful with people,” she warns.Counterfeit wallet:
Marcia Coventry sent us what she calls the “short version of the chain of events”, which started when her nine year old son requested a Billabong Leather wallet for Christmas 2007. Marcia bought two wallets on eBay from two different sellers using PayPal.
The ladies wallet was fine, but the men’s wallet didn’t appear genuine: “The smell escaping it made me feel ill. It smelt heavily of solvent,” says Marcia. The wallet was glued together and had no commerce label. She contacted Billabong Australia, who confirmed her suspicions that it was a fake.
Thinking she had enough information to get a refund, she lodged a dispute with PayPal, and escalated it to a claim. “Paypal asked me to return the item to the seller, after which I would be entitled to a refund.” Marcia thought this was outrageous, but Paypal said they needed proof from a third party that the item was Counterfeit.
She sent the wallet to Billabong, who gave her a written statement which she faxed to PayPal. But PayPal wanted her to send them the item within seven days in order to issue a refund. Getting the wallet back from Billabong over Christmas was tricky enough, but PayPal’s demand for the item to be sent to the US, using an online tracking system, would have cost Marcia $45, for a refund of $48.44.
“I emailed the manager of Escalation Claims and the managing Director of Paypal over this matter. Eventually my claim was denied, as neither of these people contacted me during the claim period,” she says.
Marcia didn’t give up, but continued to email not just PayPal, but also eBay, as well as contacting Fair Trading, Consumer Affairs and the police. Paypal Australia eventually gave her a refund on good faith.
To add to all the hassle, Marcia received a negative feedback score from the seller, claiming her feedback was not fair and the wallet was genuine. Marcia says eBay will not remove the negative rating, but she’s sanguine, saying, “In summary I guess I've had both wonderful and outright deceptive experiences with eBay, but like most things in life it's the bad experiences we remember the most.”Faked out:
Norbert Wong ordered a SanDisk 4gb Cruzer Micro from a seller, which he received soon after payment. However, when he checked the product he found that there was no “4.0GB” printed on the drive, instead it was printed with “4 GB”: the sign of a fake. Norbert tried to contact the seller without success, so left negative feedback. That found a quick response – the seller claimed previous emails had fallen into junk mail folders – and Norbert arranged to mail the drive back to the seller in Hong Kong, using registered mail. “He said once he confirmed the drive was a fake he would return the money to me through pay pal. I never got that.” said Norbert, “He has closed his eBay account and the email no longer exists either. In the end I ended up losing even the registered mail postage and I have no product to show for it.”Dummy bidding:
"My son's smoking habits have been enhanced by eBay," says Monica Scurlock, in an amusing little anecdote about dummy bidding, "The guy who owns the local Milk Bar puts up stuff on ebay to sell, then goes around corner to my son’s workplace and gets my son’s boss to bump up bids. My sons boss scores free smokes as a thank you, but as he doesn’t smoke he gives my son the cartons!"Dodgy description:
Amelia Rowlands sent us a short note to say that she “bought a ring. Its description said 'could be ruby' but it was totally plastic just like out of a gumball machine!”Delays mean no refund:
Monica Boucher her husband a Christmas present on eBay, from a seller in the US with 100% positive feedback. “Christmas went, but I wasn’t to worried at that point; at Christmas time the post is usually a little bit slower, and that it was coming from overseas,” recalls Monica. “The seller told me he had tracked the item and it was in London for some strange reason in transit to Australia.” When she asked for the tracking number and got no response, and noticed that his feedback rating had plummeted, she reported the incident to eBay. To Monica’s dismay, eBay said they couldn’t do anything because it was more than 60 days since the auction ended.Monica feels ripped off:
“This seller used the Christmas period to make lots of money from unsuspected buyers; he advertised super fast shipping too. By drawing out the process over 60 days, eBay couldn’t make him refund any money back. You just never know who to not to buy from, because even respected sellers can turn bad.”These boots were made for returning:
“I love eBay and have found most sellers to be very reliable and honest,” says Bronwyn Coe. A couple of years ago she won a brand new pair of motobike boots for her son. But when they arrived one was size 5, the other size 4. “We contacted the seller and found out they were left over stock from his shop,” says Bronwyn, “Some cheeky person must have put them in the wrong box and this was the last pair sold. We got our money back and also got to keep the boots with huge apologies.”Misleading description:
Daniel Egglestone bought a Samsung D500 mobile phone which was listed as new. “When the phone arrived the screen was scratched, there were photos taken on the camera on it and there were peoples phone numbers saved to the phone book of the phone,” he says, “When I contacted the seller they said the phone wasn’t new and had been advertised incorrectly but since the sale had gone through and id already left positive feedback they refused to compensate me at all. That cost me over $500.”Blackmailed into positive feedback:
Peter Prineas feels “held to ransom” by the current feedback system, “I've been an ebay member for about 5 years and the only reason I don't have any negative feedback is because I have been blackmailed. When I have been ripped off I don't leave feedback so the bad seller gets away away with it.” Peter feels there are more bad sellets on ebay than bad buyers, “Sellers get paid first, buyers take all the risks. As a buyer most of the time we are expected to put up with poor photography, ambigous descriptions and sometimes terms and conditions that are bordering on extortion.” Peter welcomes the feedback changes eBay is instigating. “As for the dispute console”, he adds, “its next to useless. The buyer receives abuse and threats from the seller on top of their loss. I will never enter into another dispute again, I would rather write off the money.”No PayPal, more problems:
Steve Silverton has some advice for eBay buyers: “If a seller only accepts direct bank deposit, leave them alone, it could be a recipe for disaster like it was for us.” Steve purchased an electronic keyboard from a Power Seller that was sold as a new item with a warranty. It arrived badly damaged and Steve objected. After several fruitless emails to the seller, Steve contacted the product’s distributor in Melbourne and was told that only authorised dealers can sell the keyboard and there was no warranty on the one he’d purchased.
Steve posted negative feedback. Immediately the seller changed the initial positive feedback given for prompt payment to negative feedback Steve contacted the eBay Trust & Safety Team but got little help, "Since you did not pay with PayPal, you are not eligible for PayPal Buyer Protection. If you payed (sic) using credit card, please contact your card issuer as you may be able to get your funds charged back to you. You also may want to contact law enforcement in your area. While eBay does not contact authorities on your behalf, we do assist in their investigations. If you do contact police, let them know that eBay may be able to help..."
Steve’s pretty unhappy with eBay overall, and thinks you can get a better result elsehwhere: “In 2008 there are so many reputable businesses with smooth on-line shopping facilities. I could have bought the keyboard for only $40 more direct from the distributor, but I thought I'd save a bit of money, buy local and help out the little bloke. I won't do it again, even if it does cost me more. I feel that eBay has a lot of ground to make up before the buyers start coming back. “Sellers with an eye for the best offer:
Len Copley won an auction for an FX Holden Grill, but after the auction had finished, the seller said he had sold it, saying, “I have this advertised elsewhere so I have the right to pull the item from auction.” Len thinks that some sellers run items for bids, but say they’ve sold it if it doesn’t reach a price they want. He’s cynical about any investigation, saying “eBay don’t inform you of the outcome of their investigations. We all doubt that they actually do an investigation.”Misleading description:
“There are some good people on eBay,” says Steve, “but there’s a lot of false advertising and fake items.” Steve found a 15” digital photo frame, and found one he thought was the right size and price, but on checking the fine print, found that “in little writing it said it came with a 10’ screen.”Next page: more stories (click below). . .