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Is eBay making progress on buyer fraud?

By Dan Wilson July 25, 2016 - 8:52 am

Last week a friend asked me for tips about selling her smartphone and pretty decent camera on eBay. She was rather surprised when I told her not to: “Too risky. You’ll be at risk of buyer fraud.”

High value items like phones and cameras are exactly the sort of things that sellers are at risk of losing out on when it comes to buyer fraud. And that’s particularly the case when it comes to occasional, amateur, private sellers who might not fully appreciate the specific eBay risks.

And my fears were subsequently reflected in a story in the Telegraph of last week. I’d say the seller here did everything possible to stay safe selling a fashion brand handbag but was still the victim of a try-it-on.

And it could have cost her several hundred quid unless she’d gone to the press. High-end handbags, like cameras and smartphones, are definitely in the high risk categories for an eBay seller rip-off.

Hers was a case of the old “switcheroo” and the buyer seemingly returned an inferior item. What with mandatory managed returns, it is a tricky case for eBay to deal with. But I suspect that if we had access to the buyer and seller records here, we’d see an exemplary seller record and an ambiguous buyer background. But predictably the first instance eBay response found in favour of the buyer.

And then rightly, when it came to light, eBay made good. But it shouldn’t need a national newspaper to intervene in order that an appeal be fairly addressed. Or indeed humanly addressed at all.

eBay has made some steps towards addressing buyer fraud. The ‘Report a Buyer’ link is now much more visible. And the Royal Mail exemption continues until the end of August. And we hope that behind the scenes there is good work going on to identify those repeat buyer fraud offenders.

It strikes Tamebay that it shouldn’t be too hard to seek out those repeat buyer fraudsters. Any buyer making multiple claims should be flashing red on the customer support dashboard and worthy of further investigation. But we have no evidence that CS agents have the discretion or incentive to deal with those dodgy buyers.

It seems that the problem with these all too common issues lies with eBay’s Customer Support. The seller, in this case, made an appeal to eBay and provided proper tracking details. But she found only deaf ears and lost her goods, paid for a refund and got back some old crap. And yet she complied by the rules, fulfilled all the obligations of an eBay seller, sent the proper goods and got screwed by eBay’s automated systems until the media got involved.

eBay has pledged to do better and we’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they have good intentions. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Have you had better, more trusting and nuanced experience from eBay in the past year when it comes to (attempted) buyer fraud? Is eBay making progress on this front?

We’d love to hear from you. Have you even the victim of buyer fraud on eBay?

  • Sam
    9 months ago

    Had a similar issue once and during complaint i asked Ebay why his account was not flagged as his entire history showed items not received and claims of receiving empty boxes? I was told that even if you report buyer via Link, system will only detect fraud if 15 claims are made in 60 days. Meaning, if 14, he/she is allowed to stay and keep ripping sellers off.

  • TINKER
    9 months ago

    we suffer buyer fraud most days
    we treat it as a cost of doing business a little like shop lifting in our BM shop
    ebay do nothing at all to help , we have never won an appeal . the report a buyer button is a placebo ,

  • tinker
    9 months ago

    maybe the question should be has anyone not been the victim of fraud on ebay in the last year

  • TINKER
    9 months ago

    what really gets up your nose is not only are you turned over ebay keep the fees , you often pay return postage
    and on top of that you get a black mark on your seller account that may lead to selling restrictions

  • Andy R
    9 months ago

    Until Ebay treats buyers and sellers equally, things will not change at all.

    Ebay customer service people never seem to have ever sold anything on Ebay.

    Do they filter out anyone who has been a seller, to prevent anyone having a “sellers-eye view” ???

    Proper regulation of Ebay is needed – they seem to slip between all the stools to evade regulation.

    I’ve sent a letter to the new trade minister to suggest Ebay should be regulated, as indeed should Amazon and other selling platforms.

  • Joe
    9 months ago

    I haven’t seen an improvement. It’s still quite common for certain individuals to say every item they have bought hasn’t arrived.

    The last time I had one of these, I contacted 6 other sellers, 5 of them responded to say that the ‘buyer’ had also claimed non-receipt. I rang eBay CS to ask them to look at it and they weren’t interested. I requested they at least pass the details on to trust and safety for review but he was reluctant.

    I told him the details, that 6 sellers all said the same person said the item hadn’t arrived and the CS agent told me it could just be coincidence. While technically that is correct, the odds must be so low that it’s almost impossible.

    If you read the eBay boards you’ll see threads like this more or less every day. ‘Buyers’ getting nearly everything for free, some leaving neg after neg after neg, but somehow eBay’s ‘sophisticated software’ doesn’t pick this up, and their agents are often not interested when you present them clear evidence.

    As Andy says above, eBay treat buyers and sellers differently, I’m convinced that they have been trained to do all they can to protect buyers because they are precious, regardless of their antics.

    The only way eBay would convince me that they’re interested in combatting fraud would be to work with the police to prosecute a few of the worst offenders and give it a lot of publicity, especially highlighting the fact that this is fraud and can carry a custodial sentence.

    eBay aren’t really affected by fraud, they get their fees regardless, and their trust and safety department is toothless.

  • eddie
    9 months ago

    EBay and PayPal have it hard with the amount of transactions that pass through every second and trying to keep up with disputes is impossible a computer decides in favour of the buyer this will continue for many years to come fraud has always been around and it will continue and get bigger and bigger because the world population is growing PayPal and eBay has a great protection system and it will continue just never sell expensive items on eBay they are a magnet for liar buyers

  • james
    9 months ago

    the press should stop going to the ebay press department.
    honestly, it’s ridiculous, treat everyone with complete contempt, then once it reaches the papers, we have a special gold-star VIP treatment ready for anyone with a press pass.
    nothing gets done until you go to the press department.
    can i go to the press department? no? then it’s not fair for the press to go there and act as if ebay actually resolved the issue.

    John Smith murdered three people on the High Street today, and vowed to do it again.
    when we contacted John’s press department, they were thoroughly charming and promised John wouldnt do it again. so that’s okay.

  • tinker
    9 months ago

    simply allowing sellers the choice to whom pays return postage would solve much of ebay returns not as described fraud and seller frustration

  • Steve
    9 months ago

    Still buying and sill claiming lots of lost items this buyer has been reported numerous times but nothing has ever been done

    http://feedback.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewFeedback2&userid=dontikas75&ftab=FeedbackLeftForOthers

  • Simon E
    9 months ago

    We had a buyer on the 22nd June who we bought to around11 sellers attention.
    All of the sellers had come back to us saying the person had claimed INR.

    Many of us reported to ebay and the person is still buying although by the FB very little.
    Every FB that is left for him I message the seller to make them aware.
    Just received one this morning that thanked me as they had given him a refund.

    I tell all of them to ask the customer to go to ebay and claim INR.
    I have had several since and they didn’t file a claim.

    5 of us have taken the time to report to action fraud but takes around 15-30mins filling out the forms and ticking the boxes etc etc.

    On the one mentioned above some of the sellers had sent tracked and the buyer still claimed INR.
    Our items sent were sent Signed for.
    As no tracking I asked the guy to file a claim. He was reluctant and as he had made several purchases that I combined, he only filed a claim for 1.
    I refunded one item as per claim and then several days later he collected from the sorting office.
    Despite me asking for my money back he has not replied.

    One other seller told me he got his money back from ebay so they must be aware of him.
    Ebay didn’t want to give my money back and despite him signing and his name on the signed for proof, ebay CS weren’t interested and told me that I refunded the claim so job done.

    I tell others to leave follow up feedback.
    Although doesn’t help now, it’s certainly an indication to others that he is up to no good.

    http://feedback.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ReviewFeedbackLeft

    He never left any feedback himself.

    Makes you sick.

  • TINKER
    9 months ago

    every seller who reads or posts on this forum will have a tale of ebay buyer fraud and ebays indifference & injustice

    we wonder if any seller at all anywhere never mind this forum ,has a tale of support or fairness from ebay

  • 9 months ago

    I was targeted by a scam buyer once in the past year, and eBay stood behind me all the way.

    This was probably the first scammer I’ve had in years. My niche, high-end (new) home decor & bedding, simply does not seem to attract as many cheaters as so many other categories.

    The buyer first filed a PayPal case the day after this international sale shipped, claiming the purchase was unauthorized. (No doubt she figured it was too late for me to stop it at that point.)

    PayPal quickly – within 24 hours – ruled in my favor, stating there was no evidence of any unauthorized access to her account.

    Her fb had red flags, so I decided I needed to get this transaction stopped in its tracks. U.S. eBay worked with me to get the item stopped at the Global Shipping hub and returned to me at no cost. When it arrived (1 day after it left the hub), I canceled and sent her a full refund; eBay immediately refunded her GSP shipping cost.

    Both the CS and GSP reps gave me their individual email addresses and told me to contact them right away if I had any additional issues with the buyer. They assured me that if she tried to leave a negative, they would have it removed. They also made sure I received no defects for the cancellation, and my FVF was refunded.

    The New eBay on buyer fraud? Supportive, attentive, empathetic, professional and100% incredible!!

    • tinker
      9 months ago

      good grief buy a lottery ticket immediatly

    • 9 months ago

      In the past year I’ve had great luck with the US-based support. Every time I’ve contacted them, I’ve been happy with the results, whether it was for defect removal or for advice on a sketchy transaction. Not every rep will be perfect, no matter what company is involved. But time and time again, eBay has provided me with patient and understanding reps, and I simply couldn’t ask for more.

    • TINKEr
      9 months ago

      in the past 18 years
      we have had great success with buyers and many many profitable transactions using ebay , dealt with mostly really nice people world wide
      in those same 20 years we have had nothing but poor service, poor advice ,and poor support from ebay reps and agents

    • Michael B
      9 months ago

      Susan…
      WOW….Your experiences with eBay sound almost too good to be true!

    • 9 months ago

      No, my experiences with eBay aren’t too good to be true. They’re just true. I don’t always get my way, and I would love to drive more traffic.

      But when it comes to CS, my experience over the past 10 years compared with the last one year are like night and day. Policies are more fair, sales are up and I feel like eBay, once again, is concerned with my success. I hadn’t felt that way for a very long time.

      It seems to me that the vast majority of posters – here and elsewhere – submit comments when they’re having issues, or are supporting others who are having issues similar to those they themselves have experienced. Those who are happy with the service generally don’t have the time or the inclination to post, so you don’t always see a fair representation. Imho.

    • tinker
      9 months ago

      could it be that those that are happy with the service are very rare

    • JJ
      9 months ago

      I’m so happy for you, do you work for ebay’s press department? Did you dream the whole experience?

  • Neil
    9 months ago

    No, no progress.

    My wife and I sold a £500 Mulberry handbag. It was barely used and perfect.

    The buyer appeared to check out but we were slightly suspicious of her email address, which ended in .RU, when everything else about the order gave no indication of a Russian name etc, address confirmed, protected and so on.

    Bag was sent off. Email received “Perfect, just arrived, thank you”.

    Three weeks later, loads of emails claiming the bag was no good. Photos in the dispute console show without doubt it’s a different bag, one that had all the colour removed from the top flap and heavily worn elsewhere.

    Phoned eBay who agreed it was fraud, told me they “had our back”, said we would be covered by seller protection as photographs clearly show it to be different but stated that the buyer HAD TO BE ALLOWED to return the bag as otherwise a refund would be forced. But “not to worry, as it’s a clear switch you will be covered”. And eBay insist that you pay for the return carriage – no option – so a Special Delivery label was purchased and sent to the buyer’s email. Buyer claims not to have received it – I message that it’s attached in low res but the hi res one can be found on her Russian hotmail address. 7 day ban from eBay for Racist behaviour…

    Bag comes back. Not the same bag. Easily proved too, so eBay ignore all their soft soap and refund the buyer – keeping the £50 fee.

    I’m told to appeal with a crime reference number, which we obtain, and eBay tell us to basically go away.

    There is nothing you can do to appeal it and the moment the item is back and it’s down to eBay to fund the refund (because they never take it back from the buyer if it’s already been refunded), tough – small value item, they’ll cover it. £500. No way.

    Buyer then left a neg too just to put the boot in. Amazingly we managed to get that removed.

    Over £100 required to restore the well used, damaged bag she returned to one that could be resold, but even after all of that we are down at least £250 overall.

    Thing is, I sell masses of retail product daily on eBay, rarely have an issue, and have sold several iPhones, iPads, computers – again without major issue. So how bad could selling a handbag be?

  • Alfie
    9 months ago

    Was a victim of buyer fraud a couple of days ago, sold a brand new iron worth £75.00, buyer lied that the item was used and returned a 5 year old iron (which was the same model) in the new packaging.

    eBay issued the buyer a full refund and charged us for return postage.

    After we confronted the buyer…we got the impression of…”well we can do it and there is nothing you can do about it!”…In addition, the buyer’s feedback profile indicated that the buyer does this regularly.

    what puzzles me is that buyer fraud on Amazon is negligible compared to eBay. Amazon actually have processes in place to expel such buyers to protect us sellers.

    It seems that eBay are just desperate to hold onto every single buyer regardless of whether they are abusing the marketplace or not, as long as they get their fees, they are happy to turn blind eye.

    eBay’s business morals are just disgusting1

  • Anthony Schwimmer
    9 months ago

    A deliberate case of eBay policy allowing a buyer to defraud me (the seller)

    – Sold a brand new bikini trimmer on eBay
    – Under UK law, we are not obliged to accept a return (unless damaged or faulty) as it is a hygiene sensitive item and cannot be resold “as-new” after it is used.

    – The buyer “changed their mind” and opened a return case
    – We refused the request and eBay then accepted the return on our behalf. We contact eBay about this decision, they told us that until the buyer returns the item, we shouldn’t worry as we were not at a loss at that point, they gave us some assurance that the buyer “may change their mind on returning the item and decide to keep it after all”

    – When we got the trimmer back, it had all hair over it and we contacted eBay, pleaded with them that we cannot issue refunds for such cases
    – Their reply, its “eBay policy” and you have to swallow the loss. There is nothing which can be done about it and that we should offset the loss with the fact that “eBay is such a great platform”to sell on for businesses and they should expect that.

    I temporarily lost my motivation to carry on selling online because of thus but had to carry on in order to get an income

  • Atom
    9 months ago

    Help for sellers? Prevent fraud? This is a joke right?

    I recently had a buyer claiming INR and from checking his feedback and etc we find that he had 10 INR in last 30 days!! Reported to eBay and PayPal, both said sorry to hear but refund him anyway….

    Actually the ones that claim INR in eBay are not the worst, the ones that open charge backs are, sellers looses transaction money PLUS the chargeback fees….

  • Richard
    9 months ago

    Not sure if it’s just another eBay glitch, but I’ve just noticed the “FeedBack Left For Others” tab on feedback has gone walkabout. :-O

    • Joe
      9 months ago

      I’ve just noticed the very same thing. If it’s deliberate, eBay have made it even harder to identify fraudsters.

    • Atom
      9 months ago

      Same here…. maybe to help buyers from being checked….great lol

    • Dave
      9 months ago

      Shocker

      I can’t think of any legitimate business reason for them doing this. It’s certainly not to help those of us who are foolish enough to still be sellers on eBay.

    • Atom
      9 months ago

      To copy Amazon I think!

    • TINKER
      9 months ago

      no feedback left for others here too
      whats next no blocked bidder option ?

  • Sam O'levski
    9 months ago

    I remember the days when retribution took the form of sending unwanted taxis and pizzas etc to someone’s door, or using their details to register for all sorts of junk mail like insurance quotes, mail order catalogues and so on.
    It seems to me that these days, the only way this nonsense might slow down or stop, is when the victim is a dab hand with computers and can hack the fraudster’s account, causing all sorts of mayhem, or a victim wakes up one day to something like divorce proceedings and decides they’ve got nothing to lose by driving the length of the country to pay the fraudster a midnight visit.
    Presumably these crooks select their victims to ensure none of them live too near, or they are such a large concern that they won’t risk damaging their reputation just for a smallish fraud.
    Perhaps something like the old ‘Cook Report’ needs to be done, where a few serial scammers are outed on national media to perhaps deter others from doing the same.

  • Atom
    9 months ago

    Not a bug unfortunately. It is being rolled out to help fraudsters. Definitely progress being made here. :)

  • Lu
    9 months ago
  • Fred
    9 months ago

    “eBay has pledged to do better and we’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they have good intentions.”

    Given their history, why would you give them the benefit of the doubt? Thank god you’re not a parole officer or everybody would be released early, no matter what!

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