Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Dec 22 2015 21:54:58

What Are Your eBay Confessions?

By: Ina Steiner

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"My name is Joey and I'm a recovering eBay scammer." While that is not a direct quote from the author of this article in The Atlantic, those words sum up the premise of his piece.

Joey, a young man now teaching English in China, describes how he began selling love spells, tarot card readings, and other spells on eBay in its metaphysical category. Not believing himself to be a fortune teller, he was a college student "just looking for a little bit of beer money," he says.

"Breaking into the business wasn't difficult," he writes. "The formula for selling was easily deconstructed, and subtlety was unnecessary and rarely practiced.

"The column of listings was a cascade of buzzwords and bawdy illustrations as sellers tried to outshout each other. For example, picture an angel - eyes closed, head tilted, serene in her heavenly backdrop - posing beside an all-caps tagline: "RARE SPELL - GAIN ABILITY TO SPEAK WITH AN ANGEL UP TO 3 TIMES FOR 1 SPELL!" That was one of mine."

The author describes his experience of building up his eBay business. "I was troubled by the idea of making thousands of dollars from scamming people," he wrote, and said once he had figured out the market, he made $150 a month on listings ranging in price from 99 cents to $12. (It would be interesting to know his hourly income, though reading people's intimate problems may have also provided a perverse form of entertainment.)

Despite the confessional tone of the article, there are also justifications, such as his statement, "I made a point of giving firm advice that would help these people move on."

How many online sellers make similar justifications as part of their online selling practices? Have you ever tried to take shortcuts in building your feedback or exaggerated the quality of the products you sell? Many sellers have likely been tempted to shill bid on their auctions just to get the bidding going.

Looking for redemption for your own misdeeds? The confessional (comment section) is now open.




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Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Dec 22 22:29:23 2015

Bless me ecommercebytes for I have sinned.  

Oh wait, I don't have any scams or creative listings to confess - Mistakes, I've made a few, but then again too few to mention. (like Frankie)

So do I gotta say any ''Hail Mary's'' for my penance???


As for the guy in the article - I guess there is a ''source of beer money'' born every minute.  Beggin'  Mr. Phineas Taylor Barnum's forgiveness for having my way with his words.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Dec 22 22:47:26 2015

Since I have a conscience and a moral compass, I've never tried to scam anyone. I also believe in karma. I have made a few mistakes, but have always made sure they were corrected at my expense. I always disclose flaws in excruciating detail so a buyer knows exactly what they are getting.

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by: kazaly This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 23 00:46:29 2015

I'm with JackSparrow on this one.
(Karma can be quite a bitch!)
Much better to under promise then over deliver.
Our feedback shows this works even if it doesn't keep the lights on.
Beats me what criteria eBay's algorithms use to apportion search visibility.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Siobhan

Wed Dec 23 02:48:21 2015

I haven't any confessions to make, but if you think ebay has bizarre shops that sell magic spells, tarot readings and other metaphysical paraphernalia, just peruse etsy. They have oodles of those shops and each shop has many pages in them that sell that and even more bizarre items that make readings and spells tame.

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by: Biglouis This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 23 03:04:42 2015

Not going into detail but I was once badly scammed by a seller who turned out to be a dealer themselves. Waited a year and then, with the help of a friend, pulled the same trick on them. Karma - yeah. But revenge is a dish well worth tasting. Ive never scammed anyone who didnt first try to scam me.

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by: NullApps This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Dec 23 03:42:55 2015

Back in 2006 I was selling USB hubs.  I wanted to indicate in the title that I was selling USB 2.0, not 1.1 hubs since the market was split about half and half with the 1.1 hubs being slightly cheaper but about 40x slower.  In my listings I also stated that if the customer contacted me after purchase or put a note in their payment for their preferred color I would make sure they got what they wanted.  I got hit with a violation for keyword spamming and for offering a choice listing.  I was then sent to eBay's reeducation camp and was never a problem for eBay after that.

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by: cosqueen This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 23 05:54:36 2015

Yup iheartjacksparrow sums it up, plus I like to sleep at night with a clear conscience. Karma comes for you when you least expect it and every time I feel I am scammed, I take consolation in knowing what goes around comes around. I have learned a lesson over the years as well. Stupid questions = red flags. Red flags almost always = scammers. Moving forward, I will delete and block. Happened to me twice this season. Merry Christmas everyone or happy holidays!

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by: cvsharkey This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 23 07:56:47 2015

Etsy selling punk magic spells? Says one respondent. Well,I checked and I find that Etsy sellers are delivering real items, handmade. Most of these are wearable, and everything I found was meant as a "take it as you find it." Meaning, offered to satisfy a desire but left to the buyer to interpret the results.  And there was no items listed under "Magic spells" from China.

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 23 08:37:50 2015

Only confession is that I hate ebay for what it has done to me.  I was brought up that it is wrong to hate. But I am just human.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Wed Dec 23 09:06:04 2015

Shill bidding? Perish the thought.

Most auctions are pretty dead in collectibles. The good items don't require any help.

But having a few friends to call on in times of distress is comforting.

Living the true path as prescribed by eBay's "tablets" (terms of service) is the only way to find dashboard salvation. Especially when you have the Inquisition Acolytes monitoring your every potential transgression.

Pleasant Dewal-Hana-Fest-Mass-Zaa - and Boxing Day to you all.

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Wed Dec 23 09:49:08 2015

I must confess that I have been a STELLAR SELLER for eBay and for that eBay keeps me on top of search so my products sell.

99.99% of eBay members are honest!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all. . .

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ihatethebay

Wed Dec 23 10:01:32 2015

Ina's bots removed my comment because I used foul language. So be it.

In short, I went one step further than Cosqueen. Red flags for me never indicated scam artists, per se, but rather dumb-a$$ bozos who end up returning the item and/or giving unwarranted negative/neutral FB.

My "confession"?? When a cyber-bozo bought an item and/or had ten or less FB, I would cancel the sale, refund the payment and make up a BS excuse of the item not being sell-able because it was damaged in storage.

Did I feel guilt for telling a lie? Yes. Did I miss out on a sale? Yes. Did I feel content to be  in charge of my listings and not be subject to the whim of the a$$holes in San Jose?? YOU BETCHA!!

MY listings; MY rules, JD!!!!!

July 4th, 2015: the day that I declared my independence from the tyranny of Evilbay.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 23 10:06:16 2015

I admit it - I scam eBay. As much as possible too. If a day goes by and I cant "get even" with them - its a wasted day. (With Amazon, I just spend the time packing orders and answering questions)(world of difference).

I try and convert as many eBay sales into OFF eBay sales as I possibly can.

I sleep well at night considering all the rotten, nasty, illegal things eBay has done to me and continues to do to me.

Id never scam or cheat a buyer - %99.9 of them are wonderful upstanding people, who only want what they paid for in the time frame they expect it. Its that %.1 that eBay protects that are the problem.

Of course hidden listings, putting my items on the bottom of the list when searching (even when I'm trsp and have the best price), and of course adverts for other dealers in my listings .... those are the things eBay scams "on me" - so I dont feel bad at all.

I've also written extensive letters to both the NY and CA attorneys general about them, and bad mouth eBay as much as possible.

So, those are my confessions .... nothing to be ashamed of - at all.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Wed Dec 23 11:28:49 2015

There's fraud on eBay? I'm shocked! a/k/a "First Liar Hasn't Got a Chance"  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Wed Dec 23 11:33:14 2015

I view Tarot, Palm Reading, Spells, and Astrology as quaint amusements lingering with us since the Dark Ages, but I'll defend your right to sell sealed rare OOP Tarot Decks in mint condition on eBay for $200! ;-)  

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Wed Dec 23 11:38:13 2015

@ pace306

"Its that %.1 that eBay protects that are the problem."

So you have a problem with 1 sale out of 1000 sales and you bash eBay for it?

Something in your logic isn't right. . .

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Dec 23 12:53:10 2015

I too was brought up with a strict moral compass and can't conceive of scamming buyers. I have trouble understanding the scammers that if they put half the effort into doing something legitimate instead of the scams, I would think that they would even more money. But long before ebay, there were snack oil salesmen. It isn't anything new, just more concentrated.

I'd rather be known for being honest than being known for being nasty like the guy that bought a medication patent and promptly started charging 5000% MORE for it. Karma is coming back to bite him on the bottom as well. :)

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by: yesmikan This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 23 13:01:21 2015

One rule that I willingly break even now is putting similar brand names and trademarks in an item's title, just to get some search hits. No regrets.

When I was a teenager back in the late 90s/early 00s, I made a good bit of pocket money selling bootleg concert recordings on VHS & CD-R. This was before Youtube. That one got me in trouble after a little while, though.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Wed Dec 23 14:20:38 2015

No ebay confessions to make. My conscience is clear. The consciences of some of my former buyers shouldn't be, however.

Now we know what The Ho was doing on his "thinking days."

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by: DingDong This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 23 17:42:45 2015

I kept my listings as honest as possible and if I goofed, I admitted to it and got the problem solved.

May Karma come back to 3 times. Hopefully you will become allergic to beer and break out in hives. LOL

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