I decided to sit down and write this after a recent experience I had making a purchase on Ebay. We all know the simple things to protect ourselves on Ebay … don’t buy anything that is suspicious, don’t give out too much information, and don’t buy from sellers with poor ratings. But what about sellers that have good ratings. They’re safe to buy from right? Wrong!
Ebay is full of scam artists who prey upon buyers, and sellers, with impunity. Learn from my mistakes, and better protect yourself from sellers who have strong positive ratings.
I recently ran across some mufflers I wanted for my car, and began bidding after comparing the price with other similar listings. I figured I was getting a good deal. The price was lowing than the others, but the shipping was slightly higher so it balanced out. Plus the seller had a solid 96% seller rating. A 96% positive rating on Ebay didn’t cause me any concern at all, but it should have.
I won the auction and immediately tried to pay with my debit card. However, I was unable to pay with my card because they didn’t have a way to do so after the bid. Yes, they said they accepted credit cards as a payment method, and said that you need to contact them for those arrangements. So I shot them a quick message that I wanted to pay with my card. I didn’t hear from them, and sent another message the next afternoon. Again, I didn’t hear from them, and the same process happened over and over again for several days.
Five days after I won the auction, and had never received a response, I was finally sent an email by the company with an invoice. Keep in mind that I had been sending them messages on Ebay’s internal messaging system … not in email. So I responded by saying I have been trying to pay with my card, but was not getting any response from them. They finally replied the next day with the phone number to call them and pay.
The next morning I called and paid for the item. The lady said she would ship the mufflers that day, or the next at the latest. Needless to say, after nearly a week I called to get the tracking number she never called me back with. After several attempts to call with no answer, and no response to my messages, I finally got the same woman I spoke with the week before. She told me that the mufflers weren’t shipped yet because “they didn’t have a box to ship them in.” Yeah, my thoughts were pretty much what you’re thinking now. How in the hell do they not have a box to ship the mufflers two weeks after they were sold?
I would also like to point out that this is not an individual who sells on Ebay. This is a legitimate business who has a business license, and is a sponsor on several auto forums who’s been in business for a long time.
I made it very clear to the woman that I needed those mufflers in the next few days … before the weekend. She said that would be no problem, and asked if it would be ok if she wrapped them “really good” and shipped them herself. I agreed.
Low and behold I never got my mufflers that weekend, and I waited until the next Tuesday to call again. I would never be able to get a hold of them by phone again. After not getting any response I left a message stating that I believed I was defrauded, and would report as such to my bank and Ebay if I didn’t hear from them by the next day.
Naturally, I didn’t hear back from them. So I sent them an email explaining all the events of my dealing with them, and made it very clear that the excuse they didn’t have a box was “laughable.” Especially since you can go to any UPS Store and ship the mufflers with their packaging. I also reiderated that I would file two fraud claims if I was not contacted with confirmation my items had been shipped.
Later that day I got an email response stating that they had never sent the item, they apologized, and said they’d refund my money in the next few days. I want you to understand that they did finally refund the money.
So how could I have prevented three weeks of them promising to ship my items? Unfortunately for me it was relatively easy, and I just missed it. Hence my writing this post for you all now.
During this whole ordeal I started reading the buyer comments to see if anyone else was having a similar experience with this particular seller. As it turns out … I was not alone. I had made a very innocent but fundamental mistake by ignoring the comments of other buyers who’d done business with this seller. I only looked at the overall positive rating of the seller. While I should have at least looked at all the negative comments other Ebayers were leaving for this seller.
I was also able to tell the seller’s attitude by how they responded to some of the negative comments. For instance, they criticized a buyer for “changing their mind after only five days.” The buyer had complained that they had not been able to contact the seller for a week. Most of us would have been suspicious in that case. There were other snide comments like that targeting other upset buyers. Had I taken the time to look at the comments I would have seen all these things, and opted to buy from another source. The seller’s rating has now dropped from 96% positive to 92% with all negative comments expressing the same problems I had.
So here’s a list of some extra steps to take when buying on Ebay to protect yourself from sellers with positive ratings.
- Don’t just rely on the rating of the seller.
- Read the comments left by other buyers who’ve done business with that seller … especially the negative comments.
- Pay close attention to what the negative comments say about the seller … is their a pattern?
- How does the seller respond to the negative comments? Are their responses rational, or more along the lines of personal attacks towards buyers who’ve complained.
- Since Ebay does not allow detailed comments … try to contact the buyers who left negative comments directly on Ebay to get the full story.
- Don’t be sucked into leaving a positive comment for the seller until you get your merchandise in a satisfactory condition. Many people get the positive feedback from the seller, and instantly reply in kind before they realize there is a problem with the seller. This is how bad sellers get such high feedback ratings.
Remember that Ebay is a business … not a social club. Your feedback rating should be reflective of your quality as an Ebay user … not your personality.