There was a time, around approximately 2001, when eBay was a global marketplace where you could easily and efficiently unload items with any market value that you wanted to get rid of. Now, it’s more of a global flea market full of scams and villainy. eBay and its old accomplice, the U.S. Postal Service, worked together to make Keith’s old iPhone disappear into the ether.
I thought that after I upgraded my iPhone to the 4s, I’d throw my old 3gs up on eBay and maybe make a few bucks back. It got purchased pretty quickly and the buyer asked me to send it to Indonesia, despite the auction clearly saying US buyers only. When I refused, he asked me to give him good feedback and he would do the same – clearly this scam works better if people think you’re a good buyer.
I refused and reported the scammer to eBay which meant that he gave me negative feedback, not a good thing for a seller.
I re-listed the item and eventually got the fees from the first auction reversed and it sold again, albeit for a few bucks less. I asked the new buyer what method of payment and shipping he wanted. First class it was and he declined insurance. Just to be on the safe side, I sent it with “delivery confirmation” so I couldn’t be in a position where he claims he never got it.
Well, he claims he never got it. Politely at first and then, as the days passed, a bit more aggressively. I know I sent it, so I’m reassuring him and waiting.
All the while, the tracking system says they have my billing info received, but never received my package into the system. After a week, I call the USPS and they inform me that many times, it doesn’t show up until the delivery scan is done – and my personal experience has shown that to be correct. I’ve anxiously checked each day for items with my USPS tracking number, only to have them show up in my mailbox before they ever show up on the screen.
Then, the buyer did what any aggrieved person would and should do – they complained to eBay and they sent me “the email”.
I provided them the tracking number, but since it didn’t show they ever received it, I didn’t have much of a case. They ruled against me.
Then I had a thought, I sent it from the mail room in my building and they have cameras all over the place. I spoke with security and they had the shot – a video of the USPS employee picking up my box. I grabbed my laptop and fired off an email to eBay — I have the proof I sent it now, surely the eBay gods wouldn’t hold me accountable when I followed their every instruction and the buyer chose the method of shipping.
Then they explained the rules – had the item been stolen after it was scanned as delivered, I’d be off the hook, but if it’s stolen en route, that’s still your fault and you should have purchased insurance. Of course, the irony is that insurance wouldn’t apply here either because the USPS claims they never got the package.
eBay forwarded my case to a collection attorney and we are currently chatting.
But suffice it to say, I’m not using eBay anymore. And if you’re a buyer, I suggest you quit them also. There’s simply no protection for you.
If you don’t want to quit eBay because you like finding cheap used iPhones, perhaps try rolling the cost of insurance into a “shipping and handling” fee and refuse to remove it.