Let’s say you want to sell an item on eBay… such as that old iPhone 3G that you just replaced by another phone. You list it on eBay, maybe pick a reserve price (just to be sure it doesn’t sell for pennies on the dollar), and a few days later, viola! The phone sells. Great!
But then you realize that the buyer who just bought your item has zero feedback, and created the account less than a month ago. Red flag. But let’s be optimistic… surely they created an account because they wanted your old iPhone so badly… Surely they will pay!
Nope. They don’t pay. So you want to re-list your item as quickly as possible to get past all this, yet eBay makes you wait about 4 days before they consider the item ‘unpaid’. Fine, we wait.
A week rolls around, and finally the item falls into an ‘unpaid’ status, where you can use the ‘unpaid item assistant’ to file a claim on your behalf. Why do you need to file a claim? You need to because you now owe eBay the commission on your item that ‘sold’, even though it is now unpaid.
Makes sense? No, it doesn’t make sense to me either. This is eBay’s scam #1. Now, on to scam #2: This claim won’t be filed until the next month, so you are stuck ‘owing’ eBay money until the next billing cycle. I can live with that part, but guess what? They will only refund you the commission and the listing fee… They WILL NOT refund you the reserve auction fee!
That’s right, eBay’s scam #2 is that they do not issue a full refund on unpaid items, because they consider certain options (such as reserve price) a ‘service’ to be used at the time of auction, to help your item get sold in a manner that you want.
The only problem with this logic is that your item never actually sells because the auction was rigged by a fake and scummy buyer who never had the intention of paying in the first place. However, eBay doesn’t care what the end result is… they just want their fees. So in the end, the breakdown is something like this:
Insertion fee: $2.40 (this will be refunded, in a month)
Reserve auction fee: $2.40 (fuck you, pay me)
Final Value Fee: $30.00 (this will be refunded, in a month)
The best part? I get to pay another $2.40 to re-list my item as I wait for this claim to go through.
What a fucking scam. And just in case you were wondering, I’ve been an eBay seller for over a decade, with many sold items under my belt. I’m a veteran eBayer, and as such, I have every single seller protection tool enabled that I can possibly enable, including blocking all buyers that:
- Don’t have a PayPal account
- Have received 2 Unpaid Item strike(s) within 1 Month(s)
- Have a primary shipping address in a location I don’t ship to
- Have 4 Policy Violation report(s) within 1 Month(s)
- Have a feedback score of -1 or lower
- Are currently winning or have bought 1 of my items in the last 10 days and have a feedback score of 1 or lower
These are the most aggressive settings that eBay allows, yet they are missing one critical setting: The ability to block bids from ‘new’ or zero feedback accounts. You can only block bids from shoppers with a known sketchy history.
I understand why they don’t allow this setting… after all, how could any new eBay shopper be able to shop if all sellers enabled this setting? Fair enough. Maybe it wouldn’t be a good idea to have this kind of restriction available to sellers. But as it stands now, sellers on eBay can be effectively bled dry of money simply by being scammed over and over by these fake eBay shoppers, all while eBay collects the juice.
Fuck that. If this happens to you, call eBay and scream bloody murder until they give you a FULL REFUND on your original auction, including all ‘service’ fees. That’s what I did, and I’ll do it every single time this happens to me until eBay addresses this issue properly.
How should they address it? Howabout automatic refunds on unpaid items for ALL FEES, and a discount on re-listing your auction (as a nice gesture for your lost time and hassle)?
That would be a great start.