eBay / ebay seller fraud loophole
I just want to share my bad experience with ebay here, so that you don't fall victims of this loophole as well. Ebay has been absolutely incompetent and reluctant to deal with this. Fortunately I lost very little money, but I was shocked that ebay did not care to contact the seller and ask for an explanation. Read the story and judge for yourselves.
The seller's member id is jamesr0615, based in hong kong. He has a very good record, but I should have carefully read the negative comments as well, because most of them were from people who did not receive their items. Also, I found out later that the seller has multiple ids and the negative feedback has persistently been about items not delivered!
I purchased a fashion ring for $1.98 on 26 april 2012 and paid immediately via paypal. I was abroad at the time, so I used that delivery address (In eu). The item never arrived. The seller appeared very polite via ebay email, claiming that I needed to wait around a month because he is located in china. I waited, but still nothing. I visited the ebay resolution centre, and the automated web system advised me to wait and contact the seller, because he is located so far away and post takes time. I followed that advice and did not open a resolution case. This was a fatal mistake!
My criticism here is that despite the fact that I visited the resolution centre page, the ebay automated system discouraged me from opening a case, reassuring me that everything was ok and that I should take postal time into account, and did not warn me that, however, I would still have only 45 days to open a resolution case or to even leave seller feedback if things went wrong.
Meanwhile, the seller kept pushing me through our correspondence to leave positive feedback, but I said that I could not do so until the item arrived. He claimed that he would resolved the issue to keep me 100% happy and promised to send the item again to my uk address this time and to which I have received items from china before. That was in the beginning of june. The item still never arrived. I wrote to the seller, who now completely and persistently ignored me. I see now that it was obvious why: he knew that I couldn't open a resolution case or leave feedback after 45 days!
Lesson learnt: if you order an item and this does not arrive, no matter how nice the seller is and reassuring that s/he will send it again, do open a resolution case. Because if the item never arrives, the 45 days will have expired and then there will be absolutely nothing you can do!
If you want all the details, keep reading:
I contacted ebay to investigate the seller and to be give me a refund, primarily out of principle as the money amount was not big. I contacted ebay via the site communication form but ebay.com and ebay.co. Uk kept referring me to each other (I didn't know it mattered whether it is ebay.co. Uk or ebay.com - the browser directed me automatically to ebay.com for that purchase). Fed up, I also sent an email at [protected]@ebay.com.
I got a reply by an ebay.com employee named troy (Don't they have surnames??):
... After investigating this matter thoroughly, I am submitting my report and escalating it to our trust and safety team, if this is a consistant occurance, we will take action. I appreciate you telling us about this problem.
Another option would be to contact the seller directly by asking for their contact information. Here's how:
To request your seller's contact information:
1. Click the advanced link at the top of the ebay home page.
2.in the members section on the left side of the page, click find contact information.
3. Enter the seller's user id and the item number.
4. Click the search button. You may be asked to sign in.
We'll email you the seller's contact information, including their phone number. The seller will also receive your contact information...
I was pleased that somebody took this seriously - so I thought - and also did what he suggested. Guess what: my info appeared nice and complete, but the seller's info was another story:
Phone:[it did appear]
Registered since:[protected]?? 19? 45?
I wrote to ebay again pointing out that the seller's details were practically non-existent and no one was answering the phone. The seller maybe entered non-latin characters that show as??? But I think it is scandalous that the ebay software allows sellers to register without completing all the required fields in latin characters.
Now, another customer service person replied, from ebay.co. Uk this time, which is very annoying because continuity is lost. Here is the reply:
... I have looked into this and can see that your trading partner is located in china... Allow me to inform that international characters such as chinese characters will not appear correctly in your computer if international scripts software programmes are not installed in your computer. Therefore, these characters will not be recognised by your computer and will only appear as symbols. Please rest assured that we are anxious to provide you assistance regarding this matter. However, we cannot provide you a link to these software programmes as we do not have any access to these. Nevertheless, I am eager to assist you in every possible way I can, so I suggest you to search for these software programmes on the internet or ask further assistance to technical specialist. Once you installed this software, your computer will be able to show the characters correctly. [ as if it would do me any good and as if I were a fluent reader of chinese!]. As the seller is not responding, before we take further investigations, please consider that technical issues or personal emergencies may cause the delay with their communication. With this I suggest that you send them last courtesy email.in the case that the seller is still not responding, kindly contact us back for further investigation...
Un-be-lie-va-ble. Ebay was just wasting time and fobbing me off.
I sent a brief and firm email to both:
Asking them to co-ordinate this investigation between them and come back to me with results.
I got the following off-the-script reply from mary at [protected]@ebay.com
... I am sorry to know that you have not received this item. I understand what you are going through right now [ no, you don't!!] let me help you with this. Unfortunately, because this listing ended more than 45 days ago, it's too late to open a case in the ebay resolution centre or the paypal resolution centre. We have a 45-day deadline as we feel it's a fair amount of time for buyers to identify a problem while allowing for delays in the post and personal circumstances. We're still concerned to hear that you've had a problem with the seller. Sellers who consistently give poor service will be found accountable. Actions we take may result in listing cancellation, limits on account privileges, account suspension, loss of ebay fees on cancelled listings and loss of top rated seller status. Here are a few more options to help you resolve this:
- if you'd like advice on your consumer rights, you can contact the free government advice line consumer direct on [protected].
- contact the postal carrier with the tracking number, if the seller has provided one. The postal carrier should be able to investigate further.
- for advice from the metropolitan police about internet fraud and for information about how to contact your local station go to: http://www.met.police.uk/fraudalert/...et_auction.htm
If you do decide to contact your local police, we'd be happy to help with the investigation if needed - police officers can email us by following the link below and then clicking on law enforcement (To be used only by the reporting officer).
If you funded the purchase of this item via a credit/debit card or bank transfer you may be eligible for payment protection directly from your bank or card provider. You may wish to contact them directly to find out what options they can offer you...
More absurdity. Are you going to involve the police for $1.98?? More likely the police will give you a warning for wasting police time! They don't even read the complaints in detail and just respond off a script.
By that time, I was so angry that I sent an email to every ebay email address I could find online. Btw, I also discovered that it is notoriously difficult to find active ebay email addresses, as ebay doesn't want to be contacted and disturbed this way. I even wrote to their ceo's office:
I stated that that was a shockinglypoor reply and service from ebay. I had paid via paypal and obviously, the 45-day limit is not enough, because some sellers use tricks around this to buy time. The object did not have any tracking number either. It is theirresponsibility to investigate the dodgy seller.
The only rational reply came from jeff, from the uk customer service, who was apparently the only one who carefully read all the threads. He said something completely different:
... One point I want to be sure to make is that if you feel that the seller was delaying the process for the sole purpose of extinguishing the 45 day period of protection, that is grounds to have a case opened up manually by the ebay buyer protection as a courtesy. Since the time has past, it won't allow you to open a case directly from the resolution center, but you can contact a specialist directly in the ebp department by emailing them the information to [protected]@ebay.com. I just personally reported this seller to our trust and safety department and they will investigate this transaction and take action accordingly...
I did write to that email address explaining my points. I had also done a bit of research on the seller and found out that the seller uses multiple selling ids as well, such as homme-fashion501, factory-global, wonderfulbuying36588, dragon-store2012, because s/he uses a very characteristic phrase in the feedback page, which s/he used in our correspondence a lot as well: I really can solve it in u 100% happy way.
If you check the sellers' replies to their negative and/or neutral feedback, you will see the exact same phrase used repeatedly by all of them.
So, what happened? Did the seller got investigated? Did I get my money back?...
Jeff wrote back to say that the ebay buyer protection department attempted to open an item not received case for me for this particular item. They mentioned that they are able to open cases manually for circumstances where the seller is prolonging the situation to bypass the 45 day policy, but they can only extend the period to a courtesy 60 day period. They were unable to open the case because this purchase occurred almost 120 days before. He reported that seller to their trust and safety department and supposedly they looked into the account (S), but I checked tonight and it's business as usual for the dodgy seller.
I pointed out to him that ebay customer support kept wasting time on this matter. If they had told me the way to contact the resolution team straight away, the 60 days limit wouldn't have been wasted.
I never heard anything further from ebay. I know that some people here who are sellers complain that ebay always takes the side of the buyer. I assure you this is not the case. Ebay customer service is really terribly bad and ineffective. You may also think that buyers are demanding. I tried to be nice to the seller, and see where this got me. From now on, if the item doesn't arrive within 20 days, I will open a resolution case. This will be unfair to bona fide sellers who get messed about by the post, but I can't afford wasting any more money and time. And I don't think I will ever trust ebay for an expensive transaction again, unless it is pick up in person. I mean, getting something small lost in the post once in any country is acceptable. But what are the chances to lose the same item sent to the same person to another country within 1 month? I think this is a clever little fraud for the seller to occasionally save some money. If the object does not arrive, s/he fools the customers until the deadline for a complaint and a negative feedback passes. People would eventually contact the police for something expensive, but not for a few pounds, which in china is big money.
Thanks for reading and sorry for the long post.
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