Duped At eBay

The funny thing about the death of so many ”dot-coms” and the end of the Internet boom isn’t the actual demise of something that might have brought us out of the industrial dark-ages but the aftermath and the who and what that survived. Also. Of the dotcom survivors, it seems that they have all become ”old economy” companies overnight. A very strange happening indeed since so much of that time was supposed to be about the originality that technology could offer and/or enable for the economy. In hindsight, the whole dot-com fiasco was nothing more than Goliath finally taking revenge on David. Anywho. One of the worst companies to survive that period, imho, is eBay. To me, a great indicator of whether a company is doing well or not is being able to evaluate the competition. Is there a competitor to eBay? If not, why not? Here a letter I sent to eBay last year regarding an unbelievably complex transaction involving ”buyer”, ”seller” and stupid frickin watch. I got duped by the seller and although I agree that eBay cannot be responsible for the actions of sellers, one would think that as the initiator and mediator of the transaction responsibility was somehow more obvious. It took more than eight months to finally collect the ”insurance” money promised by eBay and then close a really stupid situation. Wow – all the technology to making buying something easy and all one really gets is a headache.

Hello eBay,

As you recommended I tried to contact the seller of aforementioned auction/item but the the seller has chosen not to respond. Thank you again for your initial recommendation that I deal with the situation myself as eBay does not feel in anyway responsible for the transaction. I also appreciate your customer service rep explaining to me the origin of limited liability laws in the United Mistakes and most other western countries. That was very helpful. As usual, though, I must come back to you because attempting to contact the seller has provided no results.

Allow me to recap. This is the second time in four months that I’ve not received an item after winning an auction from eBay. The first time, in November, I simply let-it-go because I believe the item was lost by a negligent neighbor who signed for it upon delivery and then unknowingly left it at my door at which time it was stolen. Value was under 30,- Euros. With all the technology available today and knowing how much time and effort an organization has to put into enabling that technology I thought that 30,- Euros was a small price to pay for giving you a try.

Curiously though there was someone, after I posted a negative Feedback of ebay-I-can-screw-you-because-I-can (seller), who contacted me saying that they too were duped by the same seller. I had a short email exchange with this comrade-at-arms, if you will, and, if I understood her correctly, her situation occurred within a few weeks of my situation. Their eBay name is: ohgoodnessIamafool2005.

Here a few questions that I would hope eBay and your customer service people could answer:

– How can this sort of thing happen to two people (ohgoodnessIamafool2005 and I) over such a short pe- riod of time from the same seller? – Isnt there a better way to protect buyers other than using intermediaries such as PayPal and/or Treuhand? For cheap consumer-junky-thrill-seekers–like me ;-) –both are too expensive and time consuming.

Heres a constructive thought for eBay: support and help buyers and bidders as you do sellers. eBay gives a seller a lot of freedom regarding the ability to sell. I dont feel its the same for a buyer. As a buyer and perhaps as a bidder I would pay for such a service  but take it out of the realm of inter-mediation. Provide some kind of service that enables a shared risk, for example. The problem is the seller currently determines the entire auction. And this, probably, for a lot of buyers isnt working.

Here my 2cents on helping buyers, and maybe even save eBay some money:

– Rank sellers according to a risk-factor. Their risk factor determines whether they should be allowed to sell without an intermediary or some other form of (not yet determined) guarantee. Your current Feedback system has no legitimacy. – Depending on risk-factor require that a seller underwrite his auction with a credit card or some other form of guaranteed payment if auction and/or delivery of item fail. I would think that this would save eBay money! At the least, it would weed-out dubious sellers.

– Find a way to alleviate or better manage aliases. – Provide some kind of legitimate contact between buyers/bidders and sellers before and during an auction. At the least, anonymity should be determined by the risk-factor.

eBay should take responsibility for what they have initiated. Telling people after a failed auction to try to call the seller using a national telephone information service is ludicrous. Also, all I want is my money back so I can then try another auction. Having such a situation require litigation and requiring so much time to resolve is absurd.

Also, could it be possible that there is a new type of shill bidding going on? The recent auction in which I was a buyer was for any-item. According to my observation (I have been observing Categories-for-fools) there are several sellers who always hide the names of bidders in this category. I even asked a seller why he did such a thing and the answer I received was quite dubious (he said nothing more than: I do it because I can). Hiding bidders helps secondary registrations and enables bid padding; it also provides some interesting information to dubious sellers. eBay should ring some bells for bidders and or buyers here.

One last observation regarding shill bidding: my situation could have been the result of eBay-I-can-screw- you-because-I-can observing various Categories-for-fools. When eBay-I-can-screw-you-because-I-can views the end price of a closed auction s/he thinks: I can do that and eBay helps them along by providing the link: Click here if you want to screw somebody else so that we can get our fees. eBay-I-can-screw-you-because-I-can can get away with this for weeks because it takes eBay too long to grasp the situation.

I know that this is a situation that you guys unfairly have to deal with. But its also obvious that a lot of consumer-junky-thrill-seekers (like me ;-) are turning to other sources because, maybe, eBay is a bit one sided. Boy, I wish there was some competition with all this technology mumbo-jumbo!

I am available any time for consultation regarding this message.

Best Regards,