I have been an eBay member since 1999, and in that time I’ve learned absolutely nothing. That’s not necessarily true; I have learned a few things:
(1) eBay protects the buyer rather than the seller, and
(2) there is a large portion of buyers and sellers who have no qualms with lying to get their way.
In 8 years of buying and selling on the site, I’ve accumulated exactly 8 negative feedback responses, and it hasn’t slowed down my business at all. Yet in the last three months I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in buyers who clearly do not pay attention to the auction listings.
Two months ago I sold a set of lighters, which the bidder stated in an email he planned to sell in his shop. My auction stated that I would refund money within a week of the auction end, if the buyer contacted me first and explained any problems. Three weeks pass, and the man files a claim with both eBay and Paypal. To make a long story short, Paypal sided with me, and closed the account. He then sent me some obnoxious and threatening messages on eBay before leaving me negative feedback. Some of my regular customers even contacted me about it. eBay’s response? Nothing they can do.
There’s also the people who ignore the optional insurance. I know because I was one of them. During my height of excessive buying on eBay, I purchased a hard to find James Dean cookie jar, and it arrived in pieces. The seller refused to refund my money, and Paypal sided with the seller since I didn’t pay for insurance. Yet I sold an item that broke during shipping, the buyer didn’t purchase insurance, and Paypal refunded her money without asking for a response from me.
Then there’s the “money order scam”. If you’ve had any experience with eBay, you must have heard this one before. “I sent you a money order on ____, and I don’t understand why you didn’t get it. Everyone else I bought from got theirs.” On several occasions the money order “miraculously” appeared after I asked for their confirmation number.
There is also a new trend of people listed as “no longer a registered user” on eBay. In the last month of selling, I’ve had three bidders win auctions, and after a week without receiving payment, they appear with this new title. A quick review of their feedback history reveals that the bidder usually purchased at least fifty items without paying. In one instance, the bidder sent payment 5 weeks after the auction ended, then accused me of causing her problem by labeling her as a “non-bidder”.
The problem with eBay is the same as with any big corporation; they look for their company, and no one else. The sellers are the people who pay their bills, and yet they cannot be bothered to help. A bidder can post negative feedback, threaten the seller, and eBay will do nothing, except pass along the seller’s contact information. I know this because the buyer who threatened me, called my house and left a message on my machine.
Selling on eBay is a difficult thing. Its basically a full-time job with less than minimum wage pay. eBay charges a listing fee, and a final value fee based on the sell price. They encourage auctions to start as low as possible, “to encourage more bids”. Selling an item for $.99 grants the seller about $.74 per item, and if they have to buy the item first, that dramatically reduces their profits.
In the last few years, there has been a severe backlash against eBay, with the internet is full of websites where buyers and sellers can detail their hassles with eBay and Paypal. The only problem is that we no longer have any other options, especially now that Yahoo! Auctions have closed. eBay has learned that they can treat their sellers badly, and we’ll keep coming back. If it isn’t broke, why fix it? I guess we all have to accept that they are here to stay…until someone decides to break the monopoly.