EBay Scams, Cons, and Pitfalls
NO WARRANTIES OR GUARANTEES
In 99% of cases for a new item to be covered by a warranty in Australia it
must be purchased by an authorized dealer, many sellers on EBay import new
products from overseas and advertised the products with a warranty, most
authorized Australian distributors will not cover items that have been imported
into Australia and sold on EBAY.
EBAY SELLERS AVOID PAYING TAX
Import Duty - Some sellers on Ebay avoid paying import duty to customs by not
declaring the true value of the item that they are importing into the country.
GST - By not declaring the full value of and imported item only a fraction
of the full amount of GST is paid
Income Tax - Many EBay sellers fail to declare the profits they make
on Ebay as income, hence avoiding paying income tax.
We all have to pay tax, when one person illegally avoids paying tax it means
that all other tax payers have to pay more to make up to short fall.
In eBay's own words, "Shill bidding is bidding that artificially increases
an item's price or apparent desirability", and it's just as common on
eBay as it is in any motor auction room up and down the country. But just because
that dodgy geezer in the sheepskin coat, upping the interest on that Ford,
is all part of the "charm", it doesn't mean it's OK on eBay. In fact,
it's a criminal offence and there have been several prosecutions, world wide.
Not only that, but eBay's rules prevent you bidding on items being sold by
your friends, family and (take note) your work colleagues! The only exceptions
are purchases made using the "Buy it Now" option or fixed price listings.
So how can you recognise if you're being taken to the cleaners? Well, this
is one of the easiest frauds to carry out, so many shill bidders are going
to leave some clues for you. Check the number of bid retractions a bidder has
- we can all make mistakes, but could we really enter the "wrong amount" over
and over again? See if the user IDs are in the same format, or look similar
in more obscure ways. Look out for sellers who immediately relist an item -
wouldn't you try to communicate with a non-paying bidder first, instead of
arbitrarily relisting straight away? Although it's easy to manipulate, have
a look at the location given by the IDs concerned, and remember that eBay's "distance
from seller" feature can be used to weed out those sellers who deliberately
enter the wrong location (see my other guides for details of how this feature
can be used to your advantage). Does the pattern of bids look right? Shill
bidding could well increase dramatically over the next few months, as an unfortunate
side effect of eBay's new policy of hiding bidders' IDs, so be extra careful
and scrutinise the bidder history details that now appear in the new pop-up
Ever bid for an item and discovered an inflated postage charge? Well, so have
I, even as a seasoned eBayer who should have checked first. If the seller is
simply trying to avoid eBay fees, rather than conning you, then that's something
between you (and your ability to assess the total cost of the item including
shipping), the seller (and their ability to to assess how close they can push
it before someone reports them) and eBay (and their ability to assess what
they need to do to avoid any more adverse publicity). If the seller is trying
to con you, then they will try to hide their shipping charges in the small
print. If you haven't done it already, change your customised settings so that
a postage column appears in all your searches, and allow yourself some investigative
time for those impulse buys. One of my guides shows you how to set up your
customised settings to show not just a postage column, but other useful data
Have you read official eBay press releases about how fraudulent sellers represent
just a tiny fraction of all transactions? Have you also read comments to the
effect that it's impossible to know just how many sellers on eBay are chomping
at the bit to take you to the cleaners? Well, consider this. A recent report
by the research group, IDC, shows that more than 50% of all Microsoft software
sold on eBay globally is fake, and it has become such a problem that Microsoft
have launched a global campaign to track down the culprits. That's right, more
than 50%! Well, in my humble opinion, 50% is rather bigger than "a tiny
fraction". Everything from razor blades to archaeological artefacts are
faked and offered to gullible buyers Some fakes are almost comical in their
attempts to deceive, but others are much harder to spot. The other day, an
eBayer posted a message on the chat boards, asking if it was OK to list "replica" ****
trainers. Unbelievable! But it's a measure of the fact that some casual sellers
do not realise that selling counterfeit items on eBay is naughty. At the other
end of the scale, there are sellers whose activities are funding major organised
crime. We are truly in a global market, where sellers' perceptions of legitimacy
vary from country to country, and it's a shame we have to treat our on-line
experiences with some circumspection. I won't insult your intelligence, you
already know what to do, but remember that sellers can use special software
that can create multiple eBay accounts, and the consequent interlinked positive
feedbacks, faster than you could possibly imagine, so don't rely on sellers'
feedback history. Have a look at my guide to feedback scamming, and how to
avoid becoming a victim.And if you get the chance, have a look at my guide
on how to roughly assess the level of fraud going on in the category of your
choice, simply by using eBay's own search tools. Gibson, Ibanez and Shure are
just some of the common fakes on EBay.
NOT AS DESCRIBED
How many times have you seen the phrase "I'm not an expert" in sellers'
descriptions. Perhaps I'm being harsh here, but if you follow the feedback
trails to these sellers you will often find comments to the effect that the
item was not without fault. Sellers will feign ignorance to avoid declaring
faults, and it's yet another con. Be prepared to ask questions if you anticipate
that the seller's perception of an item's condition will differ from your own,
but also be aware that some people will be downright dishonest with their descriptions.
Try and get the seller to be more specific, if they are using vague terms such
as "great", "lovely" or "fine", and remember
that many buyers have inadvertently "won" an empty box and had no
redress, simply because the seller has been clever with the wording of their
listing. Know your rights, and remember that if the seller is selling for the
purpose of making a profit then they are running a business in the eyes of
LOST IN THE POST
So you've won the item of your dreams with a virgin bid. Fantastic, or at least
it appeared to be, until the item ends up "lost in the post". Contrary
to popular opinion, postage companies are pretty good, and it may just be that
your item wasn't sent at all. Watch out for your lost item popping up again
in a future auction, but probably with a higher starting price. After all,
the seller doesn't want the same thing to happen again.
Did you know that a seller can gain ten thousand positive feedbacks in less
time than it takes to get a reply from eBay customer services? If you type
the words FEEDBACK and SCAM into a search engine you will see what I mean.
With such a reliance on feedback, it's vital to check exactly how that feedback
has been gained. Does it look as if the seller has been selling e-books prior
to offering a Gibson guitar, for example? Is seller's feedback entirely from
sellers, and this is the first item they are offering for sale? Do your homework.