STUPID TRICKS SOME SELLERS TRY ON EBAYIt seems ebay has an unbelievable time reigning in its corps of rogue sellers. There are so many things that are just wrong, the idea that ebay is a safe trading venue is laughable. There is no end to the tricks that unscrupulous sellers play. This is not to say that all ebay sellers are bad. There are some very professional and honest sellers. Unfortunately ebay's program to hold sellers to a standard seems to be more about ebay profit than protecting it's buying customers.
Many ebay users are aware that the feedback system doesn't tell the story of issues that arise involving ebay transactions. In fact, if a buyer doesn't leave feedback the way ebay wants it left (you have to figure that out on your own), ebay will attempt to punish you. Why? Probably because the few who remain might not stay if the truths were known about how bad it is for customers. It would not be in ebay's best interest for you to see the real statistics related to issues.
This is a work in progress aimed at providing some insight into the questionable methods and trickery used by a few bad ebay sellers. Every example represents experiences I have had in my years on ebay. Although it is not a complete history of questionable seller actions and practices, there is enough to get any inexperienced consumer started in grasping how things can go on the eBay venue. I will add new material as I think of more tricks I have experienced on ebay.
SAMPLE DIRTY TRICKS SCENARIOS
Bad Seller States: Like new, brand new - never used, in factory box, mint condition or classified as “New ”Translation: Last time it was new was way back when it was purchased before it became used.
Discussion: Calling used items “new” is one of the biggest abuses on ebay. My experience is that items described as being like new, brand new-never used, in factory box and mint condition are seldom as described. More often a seller buys an item and it sits around in his house for months, often gets shop worn, even used and eventually comes to the unsuspecting buyer as “NEW”. Many items purchased from private individuals don't have warranty protection and often have issues or defects that are undisclosed.
There are a number of sellers who describe items as new (see ebay definitions) and then ship with parts and accessories missing. You don't have to tolerate this. YOU are the customer and your money bought new. If the item is listed as new then it must meet the ebay definitions of new, including retail packaging and all that comes in it. If the UPC/SKU code is listed then you deserve everything that comes with that UPC/SKU code
There are tons of sellers that call items new and then relate how the item has been opened, barely used, just opened and checked out, only opened to photograph, used just once, etc. Folks the ebay definition of new is really new, not kinda new, not almost new, not, “I wish it was new”. The ebay definition of new is in the retail box or factory packaging and NEVER used. Sellers know using the words “NEW” or “MINT” will bring a better price. Good deal or not, if a seller lies about the condition you have got to wonder.
Bad Seller States: Usually ships within 48 hours of cleared payment
Translation: We will ship when we feel like it.
Discussion: Fact is almost every payment made using Paypal clears immediately with the exception of electronic checks. Don't even be suckered by the seller who tells you he could not ship for days because he had not received a cleared payment when you paid using Paypal.
There is a problem with sellers who prepare listings indicating they ship within a given time period and then estimate far more delivery days than a slow boat to China. People, if a guy that lives two states over and in the boonies, ships something parcel Post, it WILL be at your house in 3 days. The exceptions are catastrophic emergencies like floods and tornadoes. This behavior is typical of the lazy sellers who just have to get that money right away and then lallygag around for days before shipping. Do not let these lame sellers pull this stuff. If they do not follow their own listing terms then FILE, FILE, FILE. These jokers are a nemeses in the eBay community
Bad Seller States: We offer a 100 percent customer satisfaction warranty.
Translation: Our high shipping charges should prevent any cost effective returns. If you do return the item we will just shaft you for shipping both ways and only make a partial refund after we charge a restocking fee.
Discussion: The word “warranty” or “guarantee” means absolutely nothing without a clear definition.
I recently bought a microphone with accessories. I paid premium pricing and premium shipping costs based on a description that made the item appear to be a good deal in excellent condition. When I received the item every one of the accessories were for a microphone model different than the one I had purchased. When I complained to the seller I was told to “JUST” ship it back and the seller would refund 100 percent. Upon further communication I was told by the seller that he would refund everything except my return shipping. That was his idea of a customer satisfaction guarantee with a 100 percent refund. Given that the seller had totally screwed up my purchase the idea of me paying return shipping is just unacceptable and this is one of the situations that really makes ebay really suck for buyers.
When you encounter these issues you will likely get shafted out of your return shipping. To keep from getting stuck for the costs of shipping both ways and bogus restocking fees you need to make sure you pay with Paypal and always use a credit card. If there is even a suspicion that the seller is a flake, file a dispute with Paypal before ever returning merchandise. Why? So that the second the seller tries to pull a fast one with your refund you escalate to a claim. This insures that there is a record of the sellers conduct and you have half a chance in the scheme. Claims also effect the sellers status with ebay. If there is a pattern or unethical behavior by a seller it will never be handled properly unless it is documented.
You also want to file disputes and claims with Paypal and not ebay. Although Paypal is owned by ebay, do you want decisions about your money being made by the company that invited this seller to do his thing on the eBay venue (with virtually no scrutiny)? I know Paypal isn't exactly your advocate while, at the same time, claiming to represent both seller and buyer, but at least there is a little distance between you and ebay. If Paypal blows it you have that almighty credit card charge back as a last line of protection. Ebay folks may try to tell you that they exclusively handle disputes and claims related to ebay transaction, but anyone who gets how the cow eats the cabbage knows that if you process a credit card payment through Paypal they WILL handle the dispute or claim. Paypal has a credit card merchant agreement and they have to follow it.
Bad Seller States: 1 Year Warranty OR 1 Year Factory Warranty
Translation: We'll get back to you on that....
Discussion: Always remember that unless there is a written warranty explaining exactly what is covered you can pretty much bet there is no real warranty. Before you bid or purchase make sure you access a written copy of the warranty and read it. If you can not examine the warranty then don't bid or buy. Most seller professed warranties are bunk as far as I see things. Sellers communicating that they will "take care of you", offers about as much security to a customer as loaning your wallet to a con artist.
To protect yourself from a non existent warranty scam simply ask the seller if he is an authorized dealer and if the item has a factory warranty. Then verify online or through email to the manufacturer or distributor that the seller is, in fact, an authorized or franchise dealer. Also verify that the warranty is actually good if you purchase. Many reputable companies refuse to warranty any item not purchased from authorized dealers. That usually includes probably 99 percent of the sellers on ebay. The manufacturers know darn well that a good number of "new" items listed on ebay are, in fact, used, refurbished, b-stock, defective, repaired and pre-owned items. Legitimate companies have no intention of being victims to someone selling their junk and bogus "new" items. With very few exceptions those consumer product warranties are not transferable to the new owner. Do your homework and don't be dumb.
If you want a decent warranty take a look at the Square Trade offerings. The warranty will cost you a little extra, but overall it is probably the best long term insurance against ebay merchandise with issues. The ST warranty wont make the seller honest, but it will be there if your merchandise falls apart in the future.
Bad Seller States: If your item is damaged in shipping we will work with the buyer to file a claim
Translation: The only help you are going to get from us is when we will tell you what shipper to call to start YOUR claim.
Discussion: The overwhelming percentage of damaged merchandise received from ebay sellers is about the seller failing to educate himself about how to package items for shipping and the real rules governing online purchases. I am willing to bet that most small time eBay sellers have never even read much on the USPS, UPS or Fedex websites concerning how to package items for shipping. Some sellers don't get that it is the seller's problem when you receive your new crystal all broken and rattling around in a box.
Remember that the seller is responsible to deliver your item as expected. he can not transfer that responsibility to you unless you are a consenting idiot. If your merchandise arrives significantly not as described (as in broken or damaged) notify the seller, through the eBay messaging system. Advise the seller that you are returning the item for a full refund. If the seller gives you any bull open a Paypal dispute and only communicate further through that dispute system - not email or other messaging. You want a record of what is going on and you want it in the Paypal database..
Often the seller will start harping about the terms of “His” listing. However, ridiculous terms that violate the seller's eBay or Paypal agreement, terms, rules, etc. are completely worthless, as in null and void. The seller can not apply a list of terms from his listing that are not in compliance with pre-existing rules, laws and regulations.
It might be a nice gesture to help the seller in filling his or her claim by providing a statement. If he is a nice guy you might even help with digital photos depicting the damage. Your goal is not to punish a seller or make enemies. Your goals is to resolve and minimize your losses. Do your part, but NEVER take ownership of the seller's responsibility to properly package, ship or deal with the shippers he hired.
Bad Seller States: By bidding you acknowledge that you have read and agree to our terms. if you don't agree with our terms please do not bid on our items.
Translation: We are hoping that whomever bids is dumb as a rock.
Discussion: I don't have a clue what some of the crazy sellers are smoking when they write dumb stuff and include it in their listings. It is real simple people. The rules that apply to the transaction are Ebay rules, Paypal rules, credit card merchant agreement rules, laws and the rules relating to online/Internet transactions. If the seller's terms don't comply with the aforementioned then they are bogus.
Most of these types of statements are designed to fool inexperienced buyers and those who have no clue about the real rules.
Bad Seller States: Please let us know if you need delivery confirmation on your item”, OR LATER, “You never requested delivery confirmation. OR" I have my postal receipt AND/OR I've never had this happen before. Therefore there is no refund”.
Translation: We know that we are responsible to deliver your item, but we are hopeful that you are stupid).
Discussion: The seller is 100 percent responsible to deliver your item in satisfactory condition.
I can not understand why a seller would mail or ship anything without delivery confirmation or a tracking number. DC is free with an online USPS label and tracking is included with Fedex, UPS and DHL. Although it is not insurance it does provide proof of delivery (for claims purposes) on anything valued under $250.00 and often gives some pretty fair hints on where your item is in the system.
If you wait past the ebay specified last delivery date, contact the seller and ask for a DC or tracking number, shipper and date shipped. If you do not get prompt answers, get a bunch of hogwash from the seller, the seller is abusive or the seller lies, open a dispute with Paypal. Although Paypal will lallygag around, stall, waste time and collect the float on the money, you will win once Paypal finishes it's collective and ritualistic foot-dragging. How dumb can a seller be who will risk loosing the value of an item, shipping costs and likely a customer over a control number that is often completely free?
Bad Seller States: You didn't ask for insurance.
Translation: I was too cheap to buy insurance
Discussion: Again folks, the seller is 100 percent responsible to deliver your merchandise in a timely manner and in appropriate condition. Insurance is totally, 100 percent, at the option of the eBay seller and at his expense. .
If your merchandise arrives broken notify the seller you are returning the item. Use delivery confirmation or a tracking number. It sucks that you have to pay return shipping, but if you do then you have DSRs and feedback. DSRs are more about the seller and his ebay relationship. Feedback is more about telling the world that the seller can't package properly and is too cheap to provide insurance to cover his terrible packaging skills.
If the seller gives you any hint that he is not going to refund 100 percent document by filing a Paypal dispute and don't close it until you are satisfied. If the seller refuses to refund, tries to charge restocking fees or attempts to stick you for shipping costs in both directions escalate the dispute to a claim.
Bad Seller States: Ships via UPS at a flat rate of $20.00
Translation: Items ships USPS at a cost of $6.00
Discussion: Many sellers believe that a buyer can not file a claim or dispute over shipping costs so they use shipping as a profit center. WRONG!
When a buyer agrees to the listing terms so does the seller. Shipping times, shipping methods and shipping costs are all part of that agreement. Any seller who thinks you can not file claims on shipping rip offs might wish to review the options under the "Not As Described" category, on the claims form, in the Paypal resolution center. Buyers should also check with their credit card issuer for clarification on options. My CC issuer offers excellent protection against shipping cheats.... just ask a few of them.
Bad Seller States: Don't insult me with some low-ball, “best offer”.
Translation: I thought everyone would offer me no less than two percent below full retail.
Discussion: Don't be a silly buyer. It is your money. You get three offers. If the seller doesn't like the offers he has a decline button. He can even set low limits for automatic refusals. His time is no more valuable than yours and it was his choice to use the "Best Offer" option. The idea that accepting or declining offers might be too much stress for him might also be a signal to stay clear. How hard is this?
I frequently see seller comments in the eBay forums where some are whining and calling buyers names because they didn't get the offers they wanted on some item. I have even seem sellers bragging about blocking buyers because they didn't feel that they were offered enough on something.
Folks I have done several hundred transactions on ebay and I can assure you I have never been stopped from spending my money just because some whiner doesn't like something and blocks me from bidding. Unless the eBay seller had the only one item in the entire world be happy to move on to the next seller and let the wannabe business people sink on their own.
Bad Seller States: Please ask any and all questions before bidding. Seller not responsible for bidders who fail to ask questions.
Translation: Since my description may well omit material facts about the item condition, is sloppy or even amateur, perhaps I might later try to use the excuse that you didn't ask me about all the stuff you could not possibly imagine might be wrong.
Discussion: Certainly a potential bidder should ask questions about any issues not covered in ebay listings. I am absolutely amazed that people don't ask some very simple questions:
1. Does everything work 100 percent as designed?
2. Are there any missing parts or accessories?
3. Is anything scratched, damaged, dented or broken?
It is amazing how many bad sellers omit substantial issues and even work to hide defects related to items they are selling. Failing to disclose issues does not excuse a seller from responsibility to deliver a perfectly working and functional item when there is no indication of deficiencies. A buyer has every right to believe that an item is in good and working condition unless the seller specifically communicates otherwise.
There is little doubt that in many cases the seller will claim ignorance. There is little doubt that failing to disclose issues will result in the seller losing a claim. However, There is also little doubt that you will waste a lot of time waiting for delivery, dealing with disappointment and waiting for the slow Paypal claims process. There is also little doubt that you will loose your return shipping costs.
Take the three questions above, modify and apply them to the majority of listings you are considering bidding on. If I had a dime for every time the true, sometimes evasive and often lacking answers have saved me from making a big mistake, I'd have some serious beer money. Just be observant when those flaky answers come back and don't bid.
Bad Seller States: I have to get boxes, lick stamps, drive to the post office, buy bubble wrap.......
Translation: I wish I had an expense that every other business doesn't have because I need to rationalize my ridiculous shipping and handling charges. Gosh I had no idea that having a business would result in normal business expenses, like every other business on the Internet.
Discussion: How the seller chooses to prepare and ship is totally on the seller and reflects a cost of doing business. The idea that some sellers chose to use shipping as a profit center (and frequently as a wedge against returns) is simply not ethical. Ebay has moved to protect it's own profits by changing the rules so that fees are imposed against the transaction total including shipping. This does nothing for the buyer who will still have to play the excessive shipping game when there is an item to return. Just remember to file a dispute with Paypal any time the seller tries to impose unethical charges against your refund.
Bad Seller States: I'll place you on my block list
Translation: I have no power over you whatsoever, but I hope I can intimidate you with block list threats.
Some of the most hilarious reads I have seen in decades are in the ebay forums. I constantly see some sellers ganging up on buyers trying to bully them into compliance to bogus home cooked rules and sometimes questionable values. I have even seen where sellers threaten to block buyers from bidding on their items for a myriad of reasons including suggesting that a bad seller might deserve “Negative” Feedback.
Lets get real here. There are literally thousands of sellers on ebay and more thousands of sellers off ebay. Frankly, I have no problem with a seller blocking me if he can't muster the Kaunas to provide adequate customer care. God knows ebay is the online home to some really bad sellers who have little knowledge of the concepts of customer service or the consequences. Personally, I don't like dealing with the malcontents who are clueless about customer service or common courtesy.
I spend my money on ebay and and make lots of purchases. If a seller wants to think he has some power over me then let him block away. I will simply go to his competition and spend my hard earned money. There has never been an issue where I could not find and buy what I wanted, at a competitive price. I can assure you that being blocked by sellers wont hurt you either. In some cases it may well be the best thing that can happen to you. I can also guarantee that no businessman ever became a success by chasing off his customers.
This blocking thing seems to be an electronic pacifier that eBay has provided for some of it's cry baby, malcontent, sellers who don't get how to build business or retain customers. Anyone who has engaged in a few transaction on ebay understand that professionalism is incredibly lacking among wannabe sellers and you are better off to identify and avoid them.
Bad Seller States: AS IS, no returns, no refunds - OR - I'm selling this for a friend and don't know much about it so I'm selling it “AS IS” - OR - I plugged it in and it lights up, but I can't test it further so I am selling it “AS IS”
Translation: We hope our buyers don't know any better
Discussion: Judging the condition of items purchased on ebay is entirely about the seller engaging in full disclosure and unbiased and objective depiction of his listed items. A buyer can only rely on what a seller communicates prior to purchase. Although there are many sellers who work at being honest, and they are an asset to the ebay community, there are many sellers who seem to think it is perfectly fine to “sucker” and deceive potential customers. Often this is done using photographs designed not to depict issues with listed items and omitting facts and sometimes being untruthful about the condition of items. These omissions are not about perspective - they are flat dishonest.
It seems incredible to me that a seller could believe that he can claim ignorance about an item he is making money on. Folks, if the seller does not know whether an item he is selling works as it was designed then the item should be sold as PARTS. Surely a bidder has no idea without the seller engaging in honest disclosure. Unfortunately greed often comes into play, the scruples go out the window and way too often a bad seller yields to the temptation to be unscrupulous. This situation could easily be fixed if ebay rules were modified to require sellers to list items for "Parts or Not Working", when the working condition of an item is unknown. If a seller wants to make money like it is a working item then the seller should be obligated to test the item, make sure it works and stop with the “flim-flam” routine. Does it take a rocket scientist to calculate how many of these "unknown condition" items are total junk? How the heck can a buyer possibly know what he is paying for if seller fails to accurately communicate what he is selling? It ought to be real clear who is responsible for what in this situation.
"As Is” may work fine in a brick and mortar operation, a junk sale, flea market, auction house or physical location. In those venues a potential buyer can physically examine items or test them for accurate size, functionality, to inspect the physical condition, check for all parts and accessories, etc. Even in the physical realm a seller is required to disclose deficiencies and truthfully answer questions. With eBay you can only rely on what the seller tells you and he is the guy who wants your money.
What your “AS IS” equates to is directly related to what the seller discloses to you or fails to disclose. This does not work on ebay and therefore a seller stating “AS IS”, “No returns” and/or “No refunds” is just out. No seller can just cram merchandise down your throat, by using a biased, self serving description, with plenty of information omitted, take your money, and then deliver something that is less than what you were expecting. Don't we all wish it were that easy to make a buck?
It is not a matter of a seller telling you that if you don't agree then don't bid or buy. It is a matter of the seller knowing that customer satisfaction is the essence of building business and lack thereof is the essence of destroying a business. Let a customer walk away suspecting that a seller lacks integrity or empathy and the seller's business is going to die a slow agonizing death. Returns are an acceptable and normal part of every retail and wholesale business on the face of the eart. A seller who doesn't grasp the fundamentals of online commerce is a dinosaur.
It does not matter if the item is used or new. What matters is that that the customer believes that he received what he paid for and that the seller is perceived as being involved and engaged in a customer concentric process. Anyone who has studied anything about business statistics knows that 85 percent of customers leave a business because they perceive that the vendor/seller is not empathetic to customers needs.
In business money doesn't flow in just one direction. If a seller honestly thinks a customer does not have to be satisfied, that he can mislead or omit in his listing description or that he is an ace at shellacking his customers, he needs to go back to the car wash and let the pros run the business end of things.
Things to avoid:
1) Any item listed as used that employs e-bay stock photos
2) Any item using images "borrowed" off the Internet (search Google images)
3) Any item that does not specifically show all shipping and handling charges
4) Any item where the seller doesn't have a clue what the condition is.
5) Any quantity purchase where exact combined shipping total is not known before buying.
6) Any item listed for third parties.
7) Items listed by pawn shops.
A FINAL NOTEIt is fact that ebay has not yet found the formula to weed out the bad sellers without taking out a lot of good ones too. Until ebay can find a way to change the culture, by creating a true customer centric environment, it will continue to suffer the consequences any business experiences when there is poor customer service.
There are some mighty fine sellers on ebay. They work hard, have experience in the art of customer service, they are honest, flexible and know how to run a business like a pro. You know in a second when you work with one of these stellar folks. Unfortunately ebays top sellers are not the customer's top sellers. Ebay's top sellers serve eBay and are rewarded for doing so. The best sellers serve their customers and build excellent business. I hope when you encounter a great seller you manage to reward him. Make him a favorite, give the old 5 stars, leave excellent feedback and return to spend your money. In a world of online commerce your money is your vote. Please vote for the great guys and let the bad ones experience the consequences of their decisions in equal and appropriate measure.
.....more to come