EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3168 - October 07, 2013     1 of 4

Sinister eBay Buyer Tactics Anger Affected Sellers

By David A. Utter

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While conventional wisdom and a morally grounded upbringing teaches the concept that there's no such thing as a free lunch, there are many people who are happy to be unencumbered by such a guideline. Their unfortunate attempts at exploiting "the system" make victims out the undeserving.

It's seen everywhere in society, and in the microcosm of ecommerce such accounts of this behavior are easy to find. Using eBay as an example, there exist some buyers who not only engage in thieving behavior, but apparently want to instruct others how to rip off eBay sellers.

Searching Google for "how to get free stuff from ebay" returns about 37.4 million results in a quarter of a second. There are even video results but those seem to be focused on getting the viewer to visit and participate in some sort of "reward" programs.

But other results proved demonstrative of the bad side of human behavior. A member of the GolfWRX forums noted how his eBay sale of golf balls to a buyer ended up being disputed, with a claim that the shipper sent pens instead.

eBay sided with the buyer, and the 100 percent positive feedback seller lost out on the sale and the golf balls. Similar accounts can be found elsewhere, such as the tale of the empty envelope: "(A) few days later PayPal charged my account for eBay's listing, shipping, and selling fees along with their own payment brokerage fee, and then refunded the buyer his entire paid purchase cost. I was stunned by how closely this resembled a legal form of robbery."

The way to combat this supposedly comes in the form of sellers always making sure their shipments have tracking numbers. eBay Seller Information provides details on how to upload tracking information; using eBay's labels or online postage solutions automatically uploads tracking.

Further, eBay and its PayPal arm have Seller Protection Policies. These come into play when orders are disputed, provided the seller shipped the item within their stated handling time and there is proof of delivery with a signature confirmation for items over certain dollar amounts.

The protections aren't enough to satisfy some members who hope to find a better selling environment. One LinkedIn group discussion finds several people agreeing with one eBay seller who is moving to Amazon as a result of his negative experiences. There's even some contention that unscrupulous buyers may be working together against eBay sellers to defraud them.

Tales like these go back for years from many different people. Whatever the processes may be that should protect smaller eBay sellers, they appear to have considerable room for improvement. And that's unfortunate for people who just want to be paid for what they deliver.

About the author:

David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. Send your tips to and find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.

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