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Test purchase leads to shilling suspension

By Chris Dawson August 23, 2011 - 3:36 pm

It appears to be a bad day for sellers with account problems, as I’ve had four telephone conversations today regarding eBay accounts being suspended. One however with a TameBay reader who I shall call “Alex” (mainly because that’s his name) has had a happy ending.

Alex has been a seller on eBay for six years and amassed over 35,000 feedback, but like many sellers has struggled with eBay standards and fallen below standard. He decided to use his second eBay account for a short period of time but forgot to update an old PayPal email address.

Two buyers made purchases and were unable to pay so as soon as the oversight was noticed and corrected Alex made a dummy purchase on one of his own fixed price items and paid for it to make sure all was well. Thinking he was acting honourably he swallowed the eBay and PayPal fees rather than refund the payment and open a return case.

eBay contacted Alex and he had to sit the Shill Bidding Tutorial before he could carry on selling and at this point thought the matter was closed. One other thing also happened, Alex had automatic feedback and of course this resulted in him leaving positive feedback for himself.

A few days later Alex work up to find his account suspended for Shill Bidding for 12 months and all his listings cancelled. This seemed a little unfair as he had genuinely only done a test purchase to ensure that PayPal payments were going though. This case is borderline the Shill Bidding policy does allow “Friends and people you know who’d like to buy your items may do so as long as they use a fixed price option like Buy It Now.” however the same section also says “Bidding on your item for any other reason isn’t permitted.” The good news is that today after several conversations with support his account was reinstated.

Alex asked TameBay to share his story with other TameBay readers to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to them. I’m pleased Alex’s account has been restored and he’s now busily relisting his stock but if you do ever think of making a test purchase the best advice is not to do so.

  • Lee Pearce
    8 years ago

    When ever i start a new selling venue or 3rd party programme i will do a test purchase to satisfy myself that everything is as it should be and to see what actually happens.

    Although to be fair, i do set up dummy listing and by the looks of it a fair few others do the same, search “Test Do Not Bid”

    This may be another example of common sense not being applied by CS as they should be able to see a bigger picture!! ie a one off and what can be gained by the Seller.

    Lee

  • Gerry007
    8 years ago

    .
    Two points:

    1. Ebay has become paranoid.

    2. Please share the name of the ebay customer support that reinstated the account, as frankly, him/her appears to be the only one there with any sense.

  • 8 years ago

    Nice to see eBay took a common sense approach, finally.

  • Andy
    8 years ago

    This is a complete joke.

    As Whirly will attest to there are a number of large sellers on eBay who have dozens of shill bidding accounts used to inflate prices or simply buy auction items to avoid them being bought for below cost when therevare nit enough bids.

    He and I spent many hours of our lives which we’ll never get back reporting these accounts with absolutely no action ever taken.

    Just anothercexample of two sets of rules… :-/

    • Paul
      8 years ago

      The cases you described are the times when eBay should take action (when sellers bid on their own auctions) but I don’t see why eBay care if sellers buy their own items using Buy It Now, it’s not like they are inflating the price (which would be the case with an auction item).

    • 8 years ago

      “Just anothercexample of two sets of rules… :-/”

      Sadly still in existence.

      I’m currently banging my head on the desk trying to force action to be taken against a very large seller in our cats. who has 4 shops all selling exactly the same items, about 5000+ duplicates, since my initial report and the standard “we do take action you can’t see” bloat email from T&S the seller has increased the number of duplicates, I’ve now thrown this back to T&S and Richmond for a reply, I won’t get one of course, standard eBay stance is to ignore trouble makers like me.

  • board_surfer
    8 years ago

    im sorry, but if he changed the paypal address to the correct one, why did he have to “test” it

    surely he knew it was right?

  • Cassie
    8 years ago

    I had a similar problem a few years ago – I was testing my account after a series of payment problems and two neutral feedbacks. I listed a BIN sheet of A4 paper with the description – Test do not buy – and got my brother to use his account to buy it.

    Being fairly new to eBay I unfortunately put it in the wrong category I had my account suspended. When I contacted eBay they said this was as a result of the combined shill bidding and using wrong category.

    I think the way forward would be for eBay to implement a test area – like Amazons’ “sand box” where you can do dummy transactions etc to make sure everything is working. eBay are always trying to copy Amazon – so why not copy something useful!

    • crazy canuck
      8 years ago

      “I think the way forward would be for eBay to implement a test area – like Amazons’ “sand box” where you can do dummy transactions etc to make sure everything is working. eBay are always trying to copy Amazon – so why not copy something useful!”

      How about way backwards! eBay has had a specific Test Listing category for probably 10 years.

      http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/Test-Auctions-/14112/i.html?_catref=1

  • paddy
    8 years ago

    Reminds me of when I first set up my business account on ebay. I wanted to do a test auction to make sure everything would run smoothly with VAT (when it could still be added at the end), paypal etc. I set up an auction with an awful blurry picture and a woeful description not expecting anyone to bid. Of course someone did bid and I had the bright idea of out bidding them with my private account. It might of even worked until I left postive feedback and got suspended for 2 weeks the next day. Lesson most certainly learned and i’ve not tried anything like that again.

  • 8 years ago

    The stage that resulted in this sad, but happy ending story was the leaving of feedback.

    With pretty much every single new account I’ve ever put live with a 3rd party tool, we’ve always put a test through to ensure the backend processes work as expected, admittedly, I’ve known about the feedback issue and only ever set an automated process for it, live after everything is settled and confirmed as expected.

    eBay really dislike the leaving of inflated feedback and quite rightly so, it distorts the marketplace, although considering the changes to the feedback mechanism over the past year or so, it really does not carry the same banning events weight on it.

    Matt

  • Mike
    8 years ago

    It is staggering how stupid some people can be… I run a weekly collectables sale with usually around 200 items at any one time.

    I sometimes have holidays and it’s often Christmas once a year… so what I do is put a spoof sale with an impossible picture to highlight my revised selling dates or that a sale won’t be happening, and also add…

    PLEASE DON’T BID ON THIS – IT’S NOT REAL

    in bold red letters…

    Yes, I always get bids!!!

    (Maybe they’re just winding me up)

  • Bunchy
    8 years ago

    With ebay being the way it is: Suspending the innocent and leaving the real rule/law flaunters to run amock, I would never dream of even thinking about testing in this manner.
    I had my account suspended, my listings wiped, my shop name stolen from me over a phone number. It was there, ebay just didn’t look in the place where the phone number was entered. I got an apology for their error but it didn’t bring back my shop (I had to choose another shop name becuase it was taken (by ME!)) and my 500+ listings had to found from unsold items list (not all of them were there). That was 12 months ago and I still haven’t got around to mending the broken link in my listing due to my own shop name being unavailable to me.
    (breath and relax, breath and relax).
    It’s STILL making me angry even now.

  • Paddy
    8 years ago

    Bit of a joke understandably but at least ebay done something about it.

    For the past 6mths a competitor used various account to buy his own items thus gaining better placement in best match and avoiding having to feature listings.

    I contacted my account manager and the seller was ‘educated’. A short while later their account lost TRS and they started using one of their buying accounts to sell and the whole thing started again.

    A month ago they were once again ‘educated’. At one stage they had 100 listings. On each of those listings they were purchasing as many as 50 of one thing over the space of a few days and jumping straight to the top of best match.

  • James
    8 years ago

    Did you know if you look in Categoriers under “Everything Else” there is a section call “Test Auctions” for you to test them.

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