eBay

I have decided to close my eBay account. I am currently waiting for eBay to let me do that. It’s not as simple as clicking on “close my account”. That just led to a form asking me to give them my reasons for wanting to close my eBay account. I did not give them my reasons. I don’t want to discuss this with them I just want to close the account so nobody will be able to hack it now I have stopped using it.

I’ve bought quite a few things through eBay. Shoes, perfume, clothes, records, a car, a couch and a watch to name a few. I did get a couple of good buys. None of them could be considered bargains but they were good value. On the other hand, however, I bought things I should not have bought at prices I should not have paid because I got competitive or I bought on impulse.

The feedback system is a shambles. The seller of one of my good value for money purchases failed to give me any feedback at all because they opened an ebay account purely to sell a handful of no longer wanted items. They didn’t give anyone any feedback and are no longer using the account. The perfume scammer also failed to give me feedback despite receiving prompt payment. They did not like the neutral feedback I gave them so they punished me by not giving me any feedback at all and there is no way to do anything about that.

The feedback system is supposed to protect buyers but it doesn’t do anything at all to protect buyers from the real scammers.

Real scammers create fake products that are good enough to fool most people so they get a lot of genuinely happy customers! Anyone who is NOT happy gets punished for saying so because scammers NEVER give feedback until AFTER you have given feedback to them!

This lets them give you feedback based on how happy they are with your feedback and they always return negative feedback for negative feedback. That allows them to blackmail unhappy buyers. They will withdraw their negative feedback in return for you withdrawing yours. If you have only got five feedback points and one of those is negative that means your feedback score is 25% negative! The scammers, on the other hand, with thousands of feedback points are usually able to keep their score down around the 3% negative mark.

They do that by blackmailing, as mentioned above, but also by offering bribes to unhappy customers. In the case of the fake perfume I bought they offered a free perfume as incentive to get people to withdraw negative feedback. A lot of people took them up on that offer. I saw about 75% of their negative feedback disappear in the month I was watching and that allowed them to hold on to their 97% positive feedback rating.

The perfume I bought from them was an unbelievably good fake. It looked completely genuine from the bottle to the packaging. The packaging looked totally authentic right down to the designer seal on it and the perfume itself smelled genuine to me when I tested it.

The only way to tell it was not a bottle of genuine designer perfume was to spray the real thing on one arm and the fake on the other. Only then could I see the fake was watery compared to the real thing. Once the perfume spirit used to water it down evaporated, however, the scent left behind was completely genuine.

So far I have only found two other proofs that the product is not genuine. When I compared the bottle cap from the fake with one from the genuine I can see the fake cap is smaller and more plastic looking than the real one. The third proof did not become apparant until I got to the bottom of the bottle. The tube inside a real bottle of designer perfume is long enough to let me use every drop of perfume. The tube inside the fake bottle stops short and there is perfume left inside the bottle that I cannot use because of that.

All three pieces of evidence that the perfume is fake cannot be discovered without opening the perfume and using it at least once! Last night I went online looking for perfume again and noticed all the main sellers say they will only refund if the perfume is returned UNOPENED! This guarantees they will not have to refund as the only way to determine the product is fake is to open the package and test it.

I’ve bought a fair few things from eBay so I decided to sit down and work out if I would be making a sacrifice to stop using eBay based on my experiences so far.

My first purchase was an outfit. I made the mistake of buying that from overseas so, by the time the currency was converted and I paid postage, it cost about twice what the outfit was worth. That was my choice as the seller did tell me that would happen and offered to let me withdraw my bid. That does not change the fact that my first purchase was overpriced and, when I put the outfit on, it did not really suit me. The clothing I like often does not actually suit me but I am not able to see that until I try it on.

My next two purchases were panic buys. I bought four imitation security cameras and a steering wheel alarm for my car after it was stolen because I expected to get it back. I still have the imitation security cameras. I have never used them so I have no idea if they work or not and they are sitting in my cupboard. I no longer use the steering wheel alarm because it requires three batteries in two different sizes. The slightest bump makes the alarm go off so the batteries must be replaced weekly. I can’t afford to keep replacing them so I no longer use it.

I bought the first batch of cameras. I didn’t know there would BE another batch and nor did the competing bidders. I paid ten dollars more than the second batch of cameras went for and about twenty dollars more than buyers paid for the next two batches. I paid thirty dollars more than the buyer of the final batch paid.

Both those purchases were a waste of money although the sellers cannot be faulted for that.

Next came more clothing. I succumbed to a competitive streak this time and paid three times what the same outfit sold to other people for later on. Once again the clothing did not suit me and this time it did not quite fit me either. I bought another top from the same seller for a more reasonable price but it also did not suit me, did not fit quite right, and was not good quality. Both these purchases sit in my wardrobe unworn and unlikely to ever be worn. I can’t fault the seller but it is still money I wasted that I would not have spent if I could have tried the items on in a store. Trying them on was the only way I could have found out they were not quite big enough around the arms and they would not look as lovely on me as they did on the mannequin.

Then I went for shoes and stockings. They were not bargains and, again, none of them quite fit me despite making certain the measurements were exactly the same as my own. They fit but they hurt too much. All three pairs of shoes sit, unworn and unable to be worn, in my closet. I tore the stockings trying to make them stretch the tiny bit more that was needed to wear them. More waste.

The shawls I bought are nice but they are thin. I would not have paid as much for them in a shop as I did online because they feel cheap. They look nice and I do wear them now and then but they were definitely not a bargain.

My next purchase was a car. Once again eBay made it easy for me to give in to an impulse to buy. I bought it because it looked familiar and had a number plate I would be able to memorise. I was told, after I purchased it, that a car of that age and condition could be expected to sell for between 800 and 1000 dollars.

I paid 1200 for it. I was new to the area and did not realise I could have gone to a car yard and gotten a much better car for the same price, or less, here.

My next few purchases were totally satisfying. I bought second hand perfume for a reasonable price and some products that I would not be able to get in Australia for any amount. They were also reasonable prices. They were bought from individuals who were selling unwanted gifts. They were not bargains – other people bid on them and made sure of that.

I bought some music I would not have been able to get elsewhere. Once again they were not bargains. The sellers knew what they were worth and charged accordingly. They were, once I paid postage, slightly over-priced if anything.

The watch I bought also ended up costing more than it would have cost to buy it from a store but, again, I have not seen the exact same watch in a store. Similar watches, however, cost about 30 dollars less in a store than I paid with postage included.

My second hand dual recliner couch was, I still think, a bit of a bargain at 500 dollars although it cost me another 100 to hire a truck to go and collect it. It is, however, the only thing I have purchased through eBay that I do feel I got for an excellent price. I am sure, however, that I could have gotten it for the same price through a classified advertisement in a newspaper. Given the fact that eBay charges sellers a percentage of their sale I suspect I would have gotten it even cheaper from a classified ad!

When I was looking to purchase a watch I found an eBay seller had another website away from eBay. On his official website he was selling the same watches for ten dollars less than his reserve price in his eBay store. When I emailed him to ask about this he said he had to add ten dollars to cover what eBay charged him to sell the watches there. The watch I liked went for 20 dollars more in the eBay auction than the buyer would have paid if they had bought it from his other store.

I didn’t make any attempt to purchase it myself because I discovered a site selling the exact same watches in bulk. The watches were selling, in bulk, for around two dollars each. Every other seller of those watches, on or off eBay, had them up for sale for between 19.95 and 49.95 reserve price. I saw some of those watches go as high as 70 dollars in eBay auctions!

There is even one watch brand that is an eBay exclusive! They claim to be designer watches and start at low, or no, reserve prices but they sell for up to a thousand dollars! They cannot be found any place other than eBay. They have been closed down as a scam in the UK and now they operate from the USA under a different brand.

My final purchase was two bottles of perfume from a scamming eBay seller. I paid 130 dollars for about 30 dollars worth of watered down perfume and I realised the scammers are way too clever for me to outwit.

When I sat down and worked it all out I decided eBay does have some advantages. I can get things there that I cannot get anywhere else but, if I don’t go to eBay, I will not KNOW those things even exist so I won’t want them!

I can get second hand things for reasonable prices but the combination of eBay’s charges to sellers and all the other bargain hunting buyers mean the best I can hope for is a reasonable price. Sellers rarely sell for less than they think their item is worth so, even if you are the only bidder, you don’t get a bargain.

The only potential bargains I saw were individuals who were selling unwanted gifts and second hand items but every one of those auctions attracted major interest from other buyers! Many of those auctions seemed to actually be home based businesses where people bought what few bargains were available then resold them, at higher prices, as unwanted personal items. A lot of those sellers had a high number of buyer complaints too.

The few people I saw who were genuinely selling second hand, or unwanted, personal belongings always got good prices for desirable items because bidders fought for them. Less desirable items tended to be sold, cheaply, to an eBay store owner who would wait until demand for that item was higher then sell it for more than it was worth. Other times an undesirable item would not sell at all.

My couch was a reasonable price because there are not a lot of people who want a burgundy coloured, 500 dollar, couch when there are much cheaper ones to bid on so nobody bid against me but it was no bargain. The seller’s reserve price made sure of that.

After thorough consideration of my experiences I realised I no longer want an eBay account. Having one exposes me to my own, extravagant, impulse buying weakness for a start. I have wasted most of the money I spent on eBay and the few good buys I have made are really not worth the amount I have wasted.

I have realised I can’t buy clothing online because I need to feel the quality of the material, see the workmanship, and try it on to be certain the item is really worth having. None of my clothing purchases were really worth the money. I would not have bought any of them from a store because I would have seen the faults in the material, workmanship, or the way they looked on me.

The chances of getting cheap perfume from a genuine seller are slim thanks to all the competition for what few genuine offerings there are on eBay. The risk of being cheated, on the other hand, by clever fakes is huge and I think I would much rather pay full price to a store I can go back to if they scam me than lose more money to the next brilliantly crafted scam the cheats think up.

I am unhappy, more than anything else, that eBay does not do anything at all about the feedback rorts that are going on. Sellers should not be allowed to give buyers negative feedback as punishment for getting negative feedback! Sellers should not be allowed to bribe or blackmail buyers to withdraw negative feedback either. In my opinion eBay is a haven for scammers from the home-based business person who is happy to let you pay three times what an item is really worth through to incredibly well thought out, almost impossible to detect, suppliers of fake goods.

Feedback is the only protection a buyer has on eBay. The store that scammed me has gone and there is no way to even protest having been ripped off. I am absolutely positive at least one of the new perfume selling stores on eBay is being operated by the people who ripped me off but there is nothing I can do to even find out, let alone go after them, and I doubt that eBay can do anything about them until there is proof either. By the time enough proof is available they will have folded that tent and be operating under a new identity.

The store I looked at last night has managed to get a lot of the negative feedback they have been given withdrawn. They have punished every buyer who has given them negative feedback by withholding feedback completely or giving the buyer negative feedback of their own. Their negative feedback is not usually related to whether the buyer paid them or not – it is given because they feel the negative feedback they got from the purchaser was unfair.

They almost always “shout”, “LIAR!” and/or “THIEF!” at the buyer in their negative feedback in, I am presuming, an imitation of the worst and most damaging English words they know. These would be words any foreign scammer would know well thanks to hearing them from cheated buyers all the time! I know they are foreign by the awkward wording of, and misspelled words on, their store front page and in their item descriptions but I have above average skills in the English language that allow me to spot those clues. Most people would not be able to see them.

If a store in my town rips me off I can do something about it no matter how many months have passed. The law will act against thieving merchants as soon as I have proof they are thieves. With eBay I have roughly one month and the thieves can go and open another store as soon as they are exposed as scammers anyway.

If I can’t buy online I am protected against those times when it is late at night and I have nothing better to do than browse eBay and buy on impulse. If I buy from a store I have to be in a reasonable mood to get dressed and go out to that store and I can see, feel, test or try on the item I am attracted to before agreeing to buy it. If I buy in a store I will not be tempted to pay more than I should just to “win” the item from another buyer either.

I cannot trust the current eBay feedback system to alert me when I am about to be suckered by a scammer. Good scammers can sucker hundreds, even thousands, of people. The way things work on eBay with feedback right now they can easily keep a 90%, or higher, positive score for a year or more.

If I cancel my eBay account and stop going there I can save a lot of money, a lot of worry, and the scammers will not be able to sucker me again. I have lost, or wasted, far and away more money than was well spent on eBay. That makes the good buys extremely poor value in the long run.

I can’t blame eBay entirely. It’s a case of “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware” but, overall, my experience has shown me I will be better off without an eBay account.

For a look at the eBay experience from the viewpoint of a seller go to this blog (link has broken). In his, or her, own words:

“There’s nothing about Ebay that I trust. I stopped trusting them long ago”

with, from the sound of it, extremely good reasons.

If I close my eBay account I will no longer need online banking so much either. I can leave that closed and stop worrying a hacker will get into my account. I did think about getting a paypal account initially but, when I researched them, the horror stories made my hair curl! I gather eBay has taken over paypal but the horror continues from the look of it. Here are two negative stories about paypal (link has broken) for the price of one.

“I had problems with my paypal credit card this past weekend. Then my debit card, too. I went to the bank today, and they had been flagged, that someone in the Netherlands had tried to charge $2497.00 on my account and do it through a purchase first, then a debit. Thank God I never keep that kind of money in there. My bank caught it thank God.

I was told my identity had been stolen off paypal, and that my account was locked till I came in. Am I the only one? NO! Tonight, a very close friend in San Antonio, called and she had the same– from paypal, from the Netherlands, too! WOW! She is $7,000 in the hole since her husband works overseas, she thought he did it. Now she is sitting and waiting to straighten it all out!”

I am so glad I don’t have to try and close a paypal account as well as my eBay account now. It looks like closing the eBay account is not going to be as simple as it should be. They have replied to my request to close my account with a form letter from customer service telling me they will answer my question as soon as they can. WHAT question? I said “I want to close my eBay account please. Thank you.” I can’t see any question in that – can you?

Sigh.

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