Tuesday, 28 July 2009

eBay is no company for old sellers

I didn't do Latin at school, but I know that 'caveat emptor' means, 'let the buyer beware'. Is there a phrase for 'Let the seller beware' ?

I put something on eBay as a 'seller', for the first time last week. It was not a pleasant experience, but I am being philosophical by telling myself that 'you learn more when things go wrong, than when things go right'.

Initially, all was well. The bidding on my '1950's 'Midwinter' cake stand' in the 'blue domino pattern' and from the 'Jessie Tate' stable, went well. After a week the bidding closed at £32.00. I was pleased. Then things started to go wrong.

1. The,'apparently', female buyer, was paying by e-cheque and not Pay Pal. E- cheques take 8 - 10 days to clear.

2.Unbeknown to me, I must have been identified as a first time seller and as such was open to predators.

3. I was e mailed by 'service @ paypal.co.uk'.

Subject : Don't forget to claim you money from R.... H..... The e mail then asked me to provide my bank details in order to get the buyer's money.

4. Initially, I fell for this and began to type in the details, but when a direct debit instruction appeared, I smelt a rat.

5. Some research on Google revealed that this was the address of a well known phishing scam.

6. I deleted the email and sent a copy of the phishing spoof to Pay Pal fraud.

7. On my instruction eBay had sent the offer to the next in line bidder, who declined to put in the bid again. Why ?
On reflection, I began to wonder if this bidder had been working working with R.H. to give the impression that they were bidding against one another and so drive off the opposition, before I was set up for the sting.

8. I then received 2 more e mails from R.H. saying that 'she'd' seen the re listing 'was it too late ?' 'She'd' tried to sort things out. Remember,I still don't know and will never know if R.H. is a 'he' or a 'she'.

9. I replied that the deal was off, I had specified payment by Pay Pal and 'she' had tried an e-cheque. I told 'her' that I'd sent a copy of the phishing e-mail bearing her name to Pay Pal.

10. She 'indirectly' confirmed her complicity in the fraud, when she replied by saying that, I, as the receiver of her payment, had to reject the incoming cheque. 'She' did not refer to the fact that I had reported to Pay Pal fraud. A genuine seller would have said " Oh my God. What are these people doing using my name?"

11. I checked with Pay Pal and 'yes' I did have to cancel the 'apparent' transaction.

12. I have the option of reporting 'her' to eBay as a bad buyer. Her other 'apparent' buyers have given positive feedback, but these could be her fellow fraudsters. Either way, she now has my e-mail address and could therefor do me more and spiteful damage.

13. I do have the option of putting 'her' on in future transactions, as a buyer I don't want to do business with. I think I'll do that.

I reflect. How many people old and young are targeted by people like this and find they have their bank accounts emptied ?

What have I learnt?

E Bay is peopled by men and women who may, or may not, be the people they say they are and who may, or may not, do the things they say they will do and whose motives may, or may not, be honourable.

I will continue sell on eBay, a wiser and dare I say, older man.

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