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Observer highlights eBay buyer fraud

By Dan Wilson April 25, 2016 - 5:37 pm

An investigation from the Observer newspaper into the various buyer scams on eBay has yielded some interesting results.

Not only have several aggrieved sellers had some cases reversed, some serial buyer scam offenders have also been identified and an eBay spokesperson admits that reform is necessary.

Here you can read the full article called: It’s seller beware as eBay’s buyer guarantee is exploited by scammers. The various cases will be very familiar to any seasoned eBay sellers. Items are claimed as not received or switched on return. eBay’s team of reps also don’t seem to use evidence supplied by sellers and also don’t dig deeper to find the serial scammers.

But eBay is reasonably contrite, a spokesperson says: “There is something wrong. There is a small group of people who abuse the system which was built on the premise that most people are honest. It does need to become more intuitive.”

For me the article raises two questions. Firstly, why aren’t repeat offenders being rooted out? It should be relatively easy to spot buyers with a higher than average tally of claims.

And secondly, are reps empowered to exercise judgment on individual cases or are they hamstrung by rigid, ‘computer-says-no’ styles workflows?

It shouldn’t take the intervention of a national newspaper to get a fair hearing for sellers (likely paying many thousands of pounds in fees every years) who have bent backwards to do their best. We look forward to hearing from eBay in due course on how the system will become more “intuitive”.

Edited to add: eBay are already running a ‘Returns Resolution’ Pilot in the US which hopefully will be rolled out in the UK.

  • Sam O'levski
    2 years ago

    The problem with this Observer article is that unless ebay act quickly to clamp down on scams, more and more people are going to realise that it’s worth a try, as ebay are unlikely to do anything as drastic as press criminal charges.
    The hardened criminals have of course been having a field day already, but we ought to be thinking about those who had thought up to now that it’s too risky and they’re liable to be caught out – this article will perhaps give a few of them the incentive to give it a go.

    • 2 years ago

      I’m not sure these articles encourage more people to defraud. It’s only “worth a try” if eBay remain supine in the face of evidence such as tracking and refuse to hear a seller case. My hope is that such publicity will encourage eBay to raise its head from the sand and realise these frauds are commonplace, recurring and there are very real serial culprits.

  • Toby
    2 years ago

    We had one similar to the iMac last week, where by the parts kit despatched mysteriously lost 2 parts, from the CCTV of the packing station, to the customer receiving it.
    The buyer claimed INAD, got a free returns label, his money back & kept the 2 parts required for the job.

    Sent the buyer the CCTV & he claimed a dealer that is a 2hr drive from the delivery point supplied the full kit on the day [3hrs from receipt to INAD claim], upon checking with the dealer they didn’t have any stock & last sold one months ago

    Gave the buyer the info & eBay upon return of the kit & eBay told us to refund & suck up the loss of the fraudulent buyer.

    Upon further investigation the buyer was using his friends account & eBay won’t tell me his ID from his Paypal email address, as I guess its NARU’d.

  • Andy R
    2 years ago

    The only surprise is that this should still make headlines.

    Ebay turns blind eye to buyer fraud ***Shock***

    It’s only if sellers finally have enough and walk away that Ebay will become fairer.

    Unfortunately, Ebay have calculated there will always be people desperate / lazy / unimaginative enough to keep them going.

    So for all the hype and complaints, things won’t change, whatever Ebay says in its PR.

    If you sell on Ebay, you know you’re playing with a stacked deck.

    If you sleep with dogs, don’t complain if you get fleas.

    • TINKER
      2 years ago

      we tend to agree we dont mind the fleas ,but this dog has now got rabies

  • Tinker
    2 years ago

    We think the problem is far larger than the observer reports or ebay admits to,
    Their will be many more like ourselves that dont report because of the administration time plus the frustration of dealing with ebay, just suck it up and treat it as the cost of using ebay

  • Andy R
    2 years ago

    Afterthought:-

    Even if Ebay did crack down on fraud, scammers can go straight to Paypal and get their money.

    But that’s another story…

  • Tinker
    2 years ago

    Plus these headline scams draw attention away from the endemic low value scams that sellers endure every day, aided and abetted by ebay the return claim not as described to avoid postage cost fraud is just one

  • Tinker
    2 years ago

    Plus if you fight fraudsters and lose using ebay , ebay will restrict your account after very few lost cases,(seller never wins)to protect your account your encouraged to just simply refund however fraudulent the claim is

  • Tinker
    2 years ago

    in effect ebay is creating a tainted market place,as a seller if we are less than honest or helpful we feel justified due to past injustice and cost, ok the angels out there will witter, but if we can claw one back we do

  • Steve
    2 years ago

    Even when its so clear the only way ebay could ignore the abuse is by helping the scammer they take no action

    This buyer dontikas75 has been reported numerous times by different sellers and nothing is done look at his feedback left for others.

    What do sellers have to do to get action is anyone guess but reporting a serial scammer does not offer and protection or action to stop the abuse I guess its a cost of selling on eBay.

    I wonder how many of the new sellers turn to scamming when they find out the hard way how easy it is to get your goods and your money back on eBay.

    Why bother to sell something on eBay to get the money to buy something else when eBay allow and encourage you to get the item you want for free with its one sided policies

    • Robzon
      1 year ago

      Ebay don’t care about sellers. Just as on Amazon, sellers are expendable. Scammers are part of selling experience and the customer is always right.

  • tinker
    2 years ago

    there are a whole raft of changes from the ebay we built a business on
    very few of them of any advantage to a seller,
    we understand buyers are the life blood of an ebay seller, we can cope with a scratch or two and the odd scuff though if ebay provide razors to cut our wrists we lose too much blood and die

  • Earl
    2 years ago

    I stopped selling my personal items of value on ebay for this very reason, its just way to easy on ebay to end up out of pocket for many reasons.

  • Thomas Shearing
    2 years ago

    Ebay has never cared about seller being scammed as it doesn;t cost them. Ebay has always been an completely arrogant in it’s treatment of sellers, just 3 years ago ebay was 80% of my business and Amazon 20%, now that is completely reversed.

    It is extremely easy to spot spot scammers, you just need to look at buyers that send out extremely high numbers of messages sent to sellers and refund rates above 10%. Based on these two easily available metrics, you can see fraudlent buyers. If ebay just sent a warning message to these accounts that there accounts are being monitored, you would a massive drop off of messages, claims and refunds. Why bother shop lifting when you get stuff delivered to your home for free with zero chance of being caught????

  • 2 years ago

    There is no shortage of sellers on eBay but there clearly is a shortage of buyers as they flee the marketplace for Amazon or various Facebook groups. As long this is the case, eBay will keep privileging buyers’ interests over sellers’ interests.

    • Steve
      2 years ago

      Quite true but what eBay seem to forget the small sellers are also regular buyers using their PayPal money from selling.

      One scam buyer could lose eBay dozens of honest buyers who sell as well ignoring or turning a blind eye wont fix the problem regardless how they treasure the scam buyers.

      Its time for eBay to address the fraud as it is now costing them to many honest users who happen to sell as well as buy on ebay

      The way its going all that will be left are cheap tat box shifters and scam buyers everyone else will have gone to other safer venues.

    • tinker
      2 years ago

      we built our ebay business on international sales now due to the return label scam we no longer ship to the usa

  • Toby
    2 years ago

    A big issue is that when fighting a scammer its like a computer looks at you rcase rather than a person. I had one last year who changed his story 5 times then tripped himself up and ebay still sided with him… strangely less than 5 mins after case was escalated. When i appealed the case i sent them all the messages he had sent changing his story and even threatening me personally mentioning he had my address…. i added a police crime number as i took him seriously… Ebay simple stood by decision because the buyer disputed the case. What is the point? If a case gets escalated it is decided in minutes…. meaning no one actually looks at what you put, thats if you even get asked.
    It’s nothing short of criminal and i swear next time i get done like this i am going to the small claims court to get my money back from ebay. I know they wont turn up… but help i will email every damn newspaper etc i can!

  • 2 years ago

    I think Toby is right, cases are handled by a computer, look a this case, just this morning, buyer says that tracking is wrong, he has not received the item. He escalates the cases and ebay closed it and refunded the buyer as case not resolved by the seller. But the tracking shows his name, date and hour of delivery, the only problem is that Post NL tracking is not visible on ebay, you should check outside of ebay. I sent an appeal, let’s see what happen

    • Steve
      2 years ago

      Its a win win for a scammer in your case the tracking needs manually checking so the bot just refunds.
      When you appeal eBay will reimburse you and take the hit the scammer still keeps the goods and the refund eBay do not ask for the goods to be repaid so the scammer has won even when you win.

      The whole system activity encourages buyer fraud

    • 2 years ago

      Steve, reply from my appeal:
      Thank you for contacting us about case xxxxxxx for the following item: …
      We’ve reviewed your concerns and have reversed the outcome of the case.
      They should revise this system

    • Steve
      2 years ago

      Yes eBay have refunded you as I said out of eBay’s pocket and the buyer gets the goods for nothing its win win for a scam buyer every time.

      The latest is scam is to ask for a refund as faulty or not as described and if the seller requests return for a refund threaten negative feedback if the scammer cant get their own way.

      Its another no risk win for a scammer if you don’t ask you don’t get most seller just refund to avoid the hassle and bad feedback I wont and have 2 negs both saying the buyer was offered a return for refund and decided to neg instead.

      The pleasures of selling on eBay I cant wait to shut shop for good and take my £20k a year in fees to another company that respects its customers

    • vespa 1
      2 years ago

      Couldn’t agree more mate, sellers are treated like dirt .That’s from someone who has been selling for ten years now ..
      Had a look at the seller dashboard today and we are now below standard ,whatever that implies. reason is Guy ordered a drive belt for a model that wasn’t listed , thought he would give it a try , lo and behold it didn’t fit and wanted a refund , when we said yes but minus our costs which is only fair he actually agreed , we then told eBay that the system doesn’t allow us to claim back our postage costs as we offer free postage (like that exists ! ) and would like some guidance ,however rather than try to help us they immediately refund him in full 20 minutes later and shaft us by affecting our seller rating .
      I Really have had enough of ebay , I have invested as we were encouraged to do and like many very heavily to the tune of £25,000 in stock and yet I have limited control of my own shop . If anyone is thinking of starting a business on ebay I say DO NOT!! , Seriously it is a corrupt one sided system run by schoolchildren and is heavily biased in the buyers favour . It will drive you mad ,just for example your responsible for the Royal mails balls ups , seriously it’s your fault if the item goes missing, is late or damaged in transit etc,,,you will be punished like a wee schoolboy regardless of the efforts you put in to please your customer and the fact you sent it on-time and undamaged and you have a slip saying so.., Royal mail doesn’t get bad feedback it’s down to you ,your to blame !! .. That’s just one gripe.. When you read this forum you will read about plenty of faults , even those deluded fools who defend ebay say they just turn a blind eye to the defects .
      It’s a serious business platform which makes ebay millions yet they treat the sellers like SCUM…. Don’t even start me on the ridiculously one sided feedback system !!! AAAAAAAARGGGGHHHHHH……

    • Steve
      2 years ago

      That’s my problem I believed in eBay when sales were growing invested in systems premises and stock now it just ticks over I have resized down moved staff and moved on to new ventures just waiting until the last £100k of stock sells then closing down for good.

      Its no longer trusted and a welcome place to trade they don’t want us and we don’t want them we can all go to other venues they will be always stuck at eBay after we have all gone the customers will follow the sellers eBay don’t have anything to offer but our goods to buyers.

  • Steve
    2 years ago

    It seems the latest scam is ask for a return and see if you can keep the goods and get your money back if the seller does not give in and requests you return threaten to leave a negative feedback to add pressure to refund without return and if the seller wont roll over just try the same thing on the next seller

    • Vespa 1
      2 years ago

      That’s nothing new mate, They steal the parts we sell by claiming they never arrived ,Then they give you bad feedback , As well as that it has an effect on your seller dashboard .
      Currently we can’t list anymore items as we have dropped below standard .. we refunded a couple of customers last month when we got caught out as our supplier couldn’t deliver and we were out of stock It happens occasionally we got caught out an innocent event, couple of adverts slipped by us and were still live , we apologised to customers cancelled sale and refunded them toot sweet without any fuss and they were fine about it , However it has meant we’re now considered bad sellers , We have one negative feedback at moment and this was left by a chancer ,so all in all two refunds, a bad feedback and we’re now getting punished . Incredible ! our sales are down and I should complain but to whom seriously to whom they don’t give a shit about you if your a seller , I’ll just get passed to some geezer reading of a sheet in Asia who can hardly speak English ,who will find in the sellers favour everytime .I hate ebay really .. I hate it…

    • Robzon
      1 year ago

      We are getting more of this as well. Basically buyers can get cheap stuff for free because the cost of the return is as costly as the item itself so it’s not economical from a sellers point of view to have it returned, so scammers can make up any old excuse about item not as described etc and you are on the hook for it.

  • boychrissie
    2 years ago

    advice please folks, 2 INR messages this week(first for a while!). What’s the best way to proceed with the least impact to my selling account i.e defects. Is it to refund via ebay or paypal without resolution centre? or to advise buyers to make a “INR request” and of course i will then refund straightaway.I accept i will refund without quibble, no reason to disbelieve. With all the ebay changes/turnarounds/backtracks etc etc i am confused over which way is the best, cheers

    • Robzon
      1 year ago

      1) If they open INR you get a defect on your account but the FVF is refunded.

      2) If you cancel and refund the order “because of issue with address” you will get the FVF and no defect on account. The buyer benefits with a free item and no record of opening an INR case, not that this makes any difference.

      3) Refund on PP and you will lose the FVF and buyer gets a free item.

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