It's Now Completely Impossible To Sell A Laptop On Ebay

The cool thing about eBay’s support system is it will always answer your question; unfortunately, that answer will always be a form letter on how to reset your password, as Timothy discovered when he tried to figure out how to sell his laptop to someone who wasn’t a Nigerian scammer. Timothy has learned the awful truth behind today’s eBay—something many readers here already know—which is that it’s become virtually impossible to sell any sort of medium-to-high end electronics there anymore.

Timothy’s email went on for about two weeks, so we’ve tried to edit it for length.

eBay seems now to be essentially broken. What used to be a ‘virtual yard-sale’ where one could hunt for – and potentially find – a good deal on a broad variety of eclectic items has now turned (in my opinion at least) into a hybrid mass of scammers and shady garage-retailers, clumped together with a straggling, dying breed of people who used to be excited about eBay, but who are now wishing it would return to what it used to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I still use eBay, and have for years. My usage has varied over the years, and I’m by no means a ‘power seller’ on eBay, but it has always been my first stop when I’m looking to acquire an item which I wouldn’t mind buying used. But a recent series of events has left a bitter taste in my mouth, making me wish eBay was what it used to be.

My experience started with a laptop which I wanted to sell – simple enough. I’ve sold on eBay before. “I’ll just throw it up on eBay,” I told my wife, “and see how much I can get for it.” [ha ha ha ha ha -Ed.] It’s a fine Toshiba laptop, 15.4″ screen, 1.7Ghz processor. I bought it brand-new, and have treated it well since then. There’s nothing wrong with it – I was just looking to upgrade to something newer and thought that I could perhaps get a few hundred dollars to offset some of the cost of buying a new laptop. So I listed the item and waited. I chose the 5-day auction option – I don’t know if that really makes any difference or not (I’ve heard arguments both ways on the topic).

After about two days with no bids I decided to find the laptop in the listings and see how it looked compared to other listed laptops – perhaps I had made some glaring mistake which other laptop-sellers were not making. I checked and saw how long the auction had left, and viewed the ‘Laptops and Computers’ category (sorted by ‘Ending Soonest’), and scrolled down to where my laptop ought to have been – about 6 pages in, since it still had a few days left to go. I could not find it. It appeared that my item was not listing correctly, so I contacted the eBay on-line ‘Live Chat’ (which, incidentally, seemed to be one of only two venues for their customers to reach them – the other being a ‘contact us’ form on their website [there do exist a couple of 800/888 corporate numbers, but they provide no means of reaching a human being unless you know their name ahead of time]). The Live Chat representative (pronounced “c-h-a-t-b-o-t”) informed me that unless my item was listed as a ‘Featured Item’ (pronounced “e-x-t-r-a-T-w-e-n-t-y-D-o-l-l-a-r-s”) my item would only appear after all of the items which had been listed as featured items.

So I returned to the list of items, and found that – sure enough – the 6th page which I had expected to find my item on was actually only the sixth page of featured items. It was not for another several pages that the list of featured items was finally exhausted, and the ‘Time Left’ column reset from ‘5 days’ to ‘< 1 minute'. Once again I had to click through several pages of items which were ending before mine, until finally, around page 20, I saw my item in the queue. Great, I thought, what good is an auction if nobody sees it?
The item ultimately did get a bid, however, and I was excitedly looking at new laptops on-line. I was sorely disappointed the next day when I received the following message from eBay:

?Account Security Notice: eBay Listing(s) Removed

Dear loneboat (*****@*****.com), The results of the following listing(s) ?have been cancelled due to bidding activity that took place without the ?account owner’s authorization:

[Blah blah blah. -Ed.]

eBay Trust & Safety ?

Yikes, I thought, some poor sap had his eBay password stolen/cracked/phished. Oh well , looks like they’ve graciously refunded my money. I’ll just re-list it.

So I re-listed the item. This time, I lowered the minimum bid and paid for the ‘featured item’ option (which I thought was a stupid idea, but the only way to get my auction seen by any appreciable audience). This time, the auction ended without incident. I got an email from the bidder telling me that he was glad to have won the auction, and was excited for me to ship it… To Nigeria.

Let it be known here that though I may not be the smartest person in the world, I’m not stupid. His email went on to explain (in poor English) that he was ‘on business trip to the Nigeria,’ and that he was willing to pay me $1000 through PayPal for the laptop. Shortly thereafter I received an email from ‘PayPal’ (who is now apparently sending out their customer service emails from gMail), stating that I had received a payment, but that it would not show up in my account until I emailed them back the tracking number for the parcel. Very clever, but once again, I’m not stupid.

This time I contacted the Live Chat system. I explained the whole drama, and was told to go on the website and contact eBay’s security team. I did so, and sent them the following email: [Email described the problem and included the buyer’s original email along with two spoof emails from “eBay” and “PayPal”. -Ed.]

I received the following response:

?Dear eBay member,

If you need help resetting your eBay password, or you think your account ?has been used without your permission, please go to the “Securing Your ?Account and Reporting Account Theft” Help page. Follow the steps on this ?page to secure your account:

For further assistance with account security questions, please contact ?us through Live Help at:

Live Help will open in a new window and connect you to an Account ?Security Live Chat representative.

***Learn More About eBay Safety and Security*** To learn more about ?account security on eBay, or to report a problem with your account, ?please visit our Security & Resolution Center at:

The Security & Resolution Center can help you do the following:

– Learn more about account protection and buying safely. ?- Access resources for rules, policies, protection programs, and ?announcements. ?- See important safety tips and features. ?- Review law enforcement information. ?- Access Security & Resolution Center tools, and more.

Sincerely, Anna ?

At this point in writing this article, my emotions regarding this response from eBay are emphatically urging me to pound out several paragraphs worth of rant about how hilariously irrelevant this response is to the message I originally sent – an urge which shall be eternally frustrated, since there is nothing more to say than to simply stare at it aghast and say, ‘that has absolutely nothing to do with what I sent to them. Nothing which I mentioned in the original message is even mentioned here.’

So – frustrated – I re-listed the item a third time. I waited. Same story – after waiting a few days the auction was ultimately won, again by somebody who desperately needed it shipped to Nigeria (this time they were sending it to their fiancee who was working for the ‘Nigerian Peace Corps.’). ‘What’s wrong?’, I thought, ‘how hard is it to sell something on eBay nowadays?’

So I listed the item for a fourth time. This time I added the following disclaimer to the top and bottom of the listing:

?Note: I WILL NOT SHIP THIS ITEM TO NIGERIA! This is the fourth time I have ?listed this laptop on eBay. All three of the earlier auctions were ?ultimately won by Nigerian scammers trying to get me to use some phony ?escrow service to ship the item to Nigeria. Each time I got a slew of ?elaborate (but grammatically poor) spoofed emails explaining to me that ?payment had been made to my PayPal account but would not show up until I ?emailed the buyer with a tracking number showing that I had shipped the ?item. I may not be the smartest crayon in the box, but I’m not stupid ?either, so I (thankfully) haven’t fallen prey. But each time this ?happens, I lose a few days of selling time, and I really need to get ?this laptop sold because I need the money for something else. I truly ?apologize if you actually ARE on a business trip in Nigeria or need it ?shipped to your cousin or fiancee in Nigeria, but I repeat: I WILL NOT ?SHIP THIS ITEM TO NIGERIA! I’m just a poor guy trying to sell his laptop ?on eBay. If anyone reading this has any ideas as to how to keep people ?in Nigeria from bidding on or winning this item, please send a message ?to me via my eBay profile! Thanks! :-) ?

The listing posted, and I waited. A few hours later, I tried to log into my eBay account to check on it, and my username and password would not allow me to log in. I checked my email, and found the following:

?Dear [redacted] (*****@*****.com),

Your account was accessed by an unauthorized third party to list items ?without your authorization. At this time we have taken several steps to ?secure your eBay account. Rest assured that your credit card and banking ?information is safe on the eBay site, as this information is kept ?encrypted on a secure server and cannot be viewed by anyone.

To regain control of your account, please complete the following steps:

1. Change the password on your personal email account to verify that it ?is secure and cannot be accessed by anyone other than you.

2. Change the password on your eBay account. Go to the eBay sign-in ?page, click the “Forgot your password” link, and change your password ?using the instructions provided.

3. Verify the contact information on your account is correct. Go to My ?eBay and click the “Personal Information” link under My Account.

To better understand how your account was compromised, please take a ?moment to review the Account Protection tutorial.

We’re sorry for the inconvenience, and we thank you for your patience ?and understanding.

Sincerely, eBay Customer Support ?

The only thing I can figure as to why eBay locked my account and removed my listing was that my listing mentioned the word ‘Nigeria’. I am positive that my eBay password was not stolen, as I have NEVER revealed my eBay password to anyone (not even my wife knows it; I don’t want her to know that I buy her birthday presents off of eBay – can you blame me?).

Having nowhere else to turn, and in no real hurry, since I’ve lost all hope of actually selling my laptop on eBay, I contacted the security team with the following email:

?I’m having a very hard time selling my item on eBay. I have listed the ?item four times, and each time something has gone wrong. Here are the ?item numbers, with descriptions of the problems:

[detailed list of everything Timothy’s tried up to this point. -Ed.]

After the last two listings, my account was locked because eBay thought ?(for some reason never told to me) that the listings were due to a ?compromised account password – even though the listings were legitimate ?and posted by myself. I have now had to reset my password to something ?new, since eBay would not allow me to reuse the password I have used for ?a long time. :-(

Can you please tell me what I am doing wrong? I’m just trying to sell my ?laptop on eBay. I have used eBay for several years, and have never had a ?single problem before. I am not doing anything differently – so why am I ?having such trouble?

I would very much appreciate a phone call from a real live person who ?can communicate to me why I am having such a hard time. I have called ?customer support (1-800-322-9266 & 1-888-749-3229), but am only greeted ?with a recording which refers me back to the website. I have tried the ?online-chat, but they only refer me to the security team. I have emailed ?the security team, but they just say basically ‘sorry, there’s nothing ?we can do’.

My phone # is ***-***-**** (US).

Thank you. ?

About an hour later, I received the following email in my inbox:

?Dear eBay member,

If you need help resetting your eBay password, or you think your account ?has been used without your permission, please go to the “Securing Your ?Account and Reporting Account Theft” Help page. Follow the steps on this ?page to secure your account:

[You know the drill by now. -Ed.]

Sincerely, Anna ?

No joke, this is an identical email to the other one which ‘Anna’ had sent to me a week ago. And once again, I feel compelled to rant about exactly how much and in what ways this has absolutely nothing to do with my initial request, but (once again) I’m left with nothing to say except, ‘that has absolutely NOTHING to do with what I sent to them.’
One more note – when I logged in to list my item for the fifth time, my account was once again locked. I think I’m going over to CraigsList.
Comments?? Anyone want to buy a laptop? :-|

Timothy, if you decide to try eBay a fifth time—and honestly, at this point in the company’s history we wouldn’t recommend it—there’s an option to restrict bidding to people in the U.S. only. While this won’t prevent scammers who have hijacked U.S. accounts from bidding, it will at least cut down on the number of international bids. But seriously, try CraigsList or a flyer in your neighborhood. EBay is broken.

(Photo: Getty Images)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Buran says:

    What’s eBay?

    Oh, that site that’s dead to me after its payment division refused to refund a proven-fraudulent charge?

  2. Yankees368 says:

    Several years ago, I attempted to sell a used Dell laptop on ebay, but had 0% success in doing so. Every time I put the computer up for sale, it would sit for days, and all of a sudden I would get insane bids upwords of $2,000 from someone who clearly was not going to actually purchase it. I never did end up selling that laptop.

    Oh, ebay really didnt care either. Good to see that things have not changed!

  3. henwy says:

    I sold 9 Wii’s around christmas time with no problems. Not a scammer in the bunch, though one person with (0) feedback ended up not paying and I had to relist the thing. Since then I have sold any high end electronics though I have sold off 5 copies of a video game that retails at $90. All 5 ended up going international too. None to Nigeria though :).

  4. Anks329 says:

    I feel sorry for all of the listing and final-value fees that you’ve paid for a laptop that isn’t even sold yet.

    As a suggestion, I’d try Craigslist, you need to be careful there as well, I’ve had someone try to scam me with a money order. But it seems to work better than ebay for most people.

  5. carso says:

    I am currently in the exact same position, except I had heard the nightmares about Ebay and opted instead for the more hands-on Craigslist approach. Unfortunately, my experience has been similar – three replies from “Janet”, “Leslie”, et al. attempting to convince me to ship the laptop to Nigeria. In fact, I got the -exact same- email as the OP advising me that I would have to send a tracking number before the funds would be released to my PayPal account. Good grief. Does anyone have any idea where we can actually sell a decent item without the crap?

  6. mdkiff says:

    Unfortunately, his bidders could easily have been the guy who cracked my ID/Password a couple of months ago and “won” 125 laptops, hopnig someone would send it without payment. EBay cancelled the auctions, but I got a call from a college kid a week later asking where his money was b/c he actually mailed his computer to “me”. Not my problem, but an annoying morning of EBay chats – I have since cancelled my account, for good reason.

  7. Wow, sounds like Anna is jerking you around! Thats weird they would lock up your account just for having the word Nigeria in your listing as I’ve seen other people say the exact same thing in their listings (“I won’t sell to people in Nigeria”), maybe they got locked out of their accounts too, or maybe they just checked the sell to US only option. Anyhow, good luck on selling your laptop.

  8. Buran says:

    @Anks329: I’ve been debating how to unlock and then sell my iphone when the 3G model is out (the slow internet is my only gripe — easy fix). Leaning toward local cash-only Craigslist sale.

    • @Buran: I used to sell new iPhones on eBay before Apple nerfed it. It usually required two listings each, and the only reason why I had to re-list was because people were winning from foreign countries which were not covered by eBay/PayPal if something went wrong (though most were probably legitimate buyers as they tended to have great feedback).

      I’ve also sold all my used iPhones on eBay, upgrading whenever Apple releases something new (laugh, but I’ve actually made money doing this), and I’ve never had a problem with it. If you don’t mind a slight loss in potential value, stick to the United States (and maybe Canada) only, do your research, and follow your instincts. Things will work out just fine.

      Let it be said, though: I hate eBay.

  9. SkokieGuy says:

    Relisted on ebay FIVE times? Blame the OP in 3 – 2 – 1………

  10. sgodun says:

    Welcome to eBay.

    As for listing it on Craigslist? Might as well bend over and lube up for that, too.

  11. weakdome says:

    @Buran: I’ve sold several cell phones on ebay recently, and have had no issues.

    I ALWAYS include this line in both my item description, and in the shipping details:

    “I accept and prefer PayPal, but will ONLY ship to a buyer’s CONFIRMED, United_States address. NO EXCEPTIONS.”

  12. ffmariners says:

    I think you can list it with the option of having to pre-approve bidders… so they contact you, you verify they are legit, then put them on an approved list, then they bid.

    But I second Craigslist.

    I have never tried Amazon Marketplace… any posters vouch for it?

  13. pablos1 says:

    Same thing happened when I tried to sell an iPod nano last year. Tried it 3 times, with almost the same progression of egents. I eventually sold it to a colleague.

  14. SkokieGuy says:

    Seriously, I’ve had pretty good luck with craigslist and I put in every listing: cash only / local only. Yes, if its a high dollar listing, you may get an out of area reply, which are easy to spot and ignore.

    I only give my address after receiving a (local) telephone number. The person comes, pays cash, takes the item. No packaging, shipping, no paypal.

    On a related note, why are all scammers in Nigeria? Has anyone received the scam emails from ANY other country? I’m frankly dissapointed with the criminals in other countries. Where are they and why aren’t they trying to scam us too?

    Perhaps they have Comcast internet service?

  15. I’m still mad at them for buying paypal and then forcing everyone to upgrade their Paypal accounts (listings with “I only accept paypal direct draft, no credit cards” apparently violates a revised TOS).

    I had done this successfully for years before the ebay purchase.

    Vertical integration FTL.

    • Triene says:

      @The Name’s Ash78, Housewares: THANK YOU. This drives me batshit insane! A few years ago, after not having posted anything on ebay for maybe 2 years, I was helping my friend sell an amp. I told him to make sure his Paypal account was verified and all, and to put that he couldn’t accept credit cards as you can’t accept them with a regular Paypal account, only a business one that costs money. And lo… the item was cancelled!

      WTF EBAY. You used to be amazing, and now you’re just every garage-cum-warehouse’s playground.

  16. snazz says:

    ive sold three computers, two DVD drives and a monitor on craigslist by saying cash only transactions and deleting any emails from people asking about checks and money orders. its worked very well… though i get a lot of flakey people, eventually someone does buy it.

  17. MSUHitman says:

    The only reason I still use EBay is to get single cards for boxes or the VS System TCG I play as that is the only way you can get the singles. No one sells that stuff on Amazon, Craig’s List, etc.

    I did buy a 30GB Halo 3 Zune off EBay last year, but that was from someone who worked for a PX and had original pictures of the box still sealed.

    I also recently just got scammed out of a Time Crisis 4 PS3 game w/gun and $65 even though I restricted bidding to the US, Canada, and UK because the UK winner filed a complaint with PayPal less than 2 weeks after I shipped the item saying I didn’t ship it, even though I still have the customs form and post office receipt.

  18. laserjobs says:

    Lit it local cash only on Craigslist

  19. ffmariners says:

    @Ash78: Yeah I had a listing canceled for saying I would not accept credit card payments through Paypal.

    THEN I re-listed it saying I accept all forms of payment BUT their would be an additional processing charge of 3% for credit card payments. That one got canceled, too.

    THEN I stopped using eBay.

    Good Riddance.

  20. skyhigh212 says:

    I had the same problem with selling some of my older designer handbags..they kept taking down my listings saying that I was trying to sell counterfeit goods. I tried emailing, the chat thing, calling and never got an answer. After the 3rd time of trying to list they blocked my account. I don’t use ebay anymore. haha

  21. bohemian says:

    We used to get inundated with this kind of crap when we were selling expensive electronics on ebay. If it is something in demand and expensive like a laptop or a server make the only form of payment a bank wire tranfer. Add the fee your bank is going to charge you into the handling fees, ours charged $10. Wait until the wire transfer fully passes through the US banking system before sending out. We did this all the time selling stateside and to places like India. This seemed to deter the Nigerian scammers and the various paypal scammers.

  22. MayorBee says:

    A+++ post, would read again!!!

  23. blackmage439 says:

    Wow. Ebay has completely turned into a steaming pile of EPIC FAIL. I’ve been considering offloading some worthless items of mine for awhile now, but this makes me worry. Sure, it’s nothing electronic, but I am terrified of getting scammed.

    Ebay: making life easy for scammers and tough on sellers since 2007.

  24. C.S.M. Technophile says:

    The method I’ve used time and time again recently seems to work. While it does usually lower the final bin by about 8%, and it does take a good deal of monitoring, I’ve been able to sell $800+ electronics sucessfully.

    First, state in your listing that anyone interested in bidding must contact you FIRST. This allows you to remove any bid from anyone you don’t know is valid. You can get a feel for those who might want to bid before letting them.

    Second, restrict the buyers allowed to bid to those only with Paypal, that have a feedback greater than 2, and that have been on for longer than 2 months. They’re harder to find settings, but they pay off (and are free) in the end.

    Third, do what has already been stated multiple times. Restrict to US only, and make sure you only use UPS or USPS with insurance, tracking, and delivery confirmation.

    Hope that helps at least a little!

  25. Dr442 says:

    I had my old laptop on eBay and got the same request to sell them my $300 latop for $1000 to ship overseas. After the second request I ended the listing. Then I removed the harddrive then relisted. First line in description “I removed harddrive” Harddrive not sold with laptop.” I never a request to pay triple and ship overseas with teh second listing. I sold the laptop – no issues. Most eBay bidders will bid on the last day or within the hour before the auction ends.

  26. Serpephone says:

    The same damn thing happened to me–I was trying to sell a brand new cell phone. I did not re-list it over and over again. I just moved on. I do not use eBay anymore.

  27. heavylee-again says:

    Craigslist is a much better option. Yes, you’ll get emails from people who want you to ship it, but declare in your auction that you’ll only sell it to someone who meets you in person with cash money. Many emails you’ll get are obviously fakes. If an email is on the borderline, ask what area of the city they are from.

    I sell on Craiglist more than occasionally, and have to wade through fake emails, but insist on selling face-to-face for cash. I’ve never been burned.

  28. mac-phisto says:

    @SkokieGuy: they’re everywhere, but nigerians seem to have been the first to create a widespread culture of scamming. kind of like how all drugs come from colombia (but not really).

    it’s actually pretty interesting if you do some googling. essentially, it began with nigerian officials coaxing businesspeople/dignitaries into the country on official business, detaining them in prisons & demanding payments for their release. if you didn’t pay, you rotted & if you did pay, they just made you pay more.

    watch out for canadians these days – a lot of the traditional 401 scams seem to be coming from there.

  29. DomZ says:

    The only way to do it is Buy It Now, Paypal only, verified addresses only. It is as close to Nigerian-scammer-proof that you’ll ever get. The scammer is unable to pay without a verified address therefore the transaction can never be completed.

  30. AnonAMoose says:

    Yes Ebay is broken, soo sad but at least you dont have to pay all of those listing fees because after all your account was hijacked right? I mean EBay said so and they should know.

  31. metaled says:

    Consumerist had an article (from AP) on 04/29/2008 about Craigslist For-Sale listings increasing 70 percent since July, 50% since last year. Stating it was in an effort for people to make ends meet.


    I really think it is because people are leaving Ebay and don’t want to deal with their crap. People want to sell and buy their used items, under their own control. Not being told how they have to run a sale, who they can and can’t talk to, why they can/can’t leave feedback and then having to pay fees every step of the way for each and every one of these limits. And ultimately being treated like they don’t matter when they contact ebay for help in any of the steps using their system.
    Craiglist (and other sites) is the new Ebay and Ebay will find more and more people leaving them (except scammers and their victems), the more eBay tries to improve and expand their system. Ebay forgot the first rule, it’s not the company that is your first concern, it is the customer! When you follow that rule, the business builds and grows along with it. Hurt your customers and it hurts your business! (Ebay is proof of this!)
    Boy did I love EBay when there used to be people who cared, who you could speak with when you had a problem. Now that everything is automated, not to work right, everyone will follow suite and *Automatically* leave! Who’s idea was it to get rid of the people and hire all the computers? It takes people to solve “people” problems!

    -Former powerseller who just got fed up and never looked back! Nothing they can do will change it

  32. easy2panic says:

    I love craigslist, and I successfully sold a laptop using it about 2 months ago.

    However craigslist is not immune to Nigerian scammers either (I got my share).

  33. tcp100 says:

    @MayorBee: This was a funny comment. Good show!

  34. mgy says:

    I didn’t read the post, because this exact thing happened to me 5 weeks ago. It took me 3 relistings to finally get it sold to a legitimate bidder. GL to you.

  35. mac-phisto says:

    @mac-phisto: uhh, sorry, that’s 419 – not 401.

  36. bravo369 says:

    i’ve had this same problem with craigslist to the point that i started doing an IP trace to see whether interested ‘buyers’ were from my area or not. It’s amazing how many originated from Nigeria. You would think Ebay would have the resources to be able to block Non-US IP addresses from placing a bid. At the least they should be able to give sellers that option.

  37. tcp100 says:

    @easy2panic: The problem I’ve had with Craigslist is that you get some real epic bargainers there. I had one guy go back and forth with me over the price of a receiver for so long that I just told him to forget it. Things will sell on craigslist – but you won’t get top dollar.

    That being said, conversely, eBay is hardly a bargain anymore. It boggles my mind, but whenever I go to eBay, I see hundreds of people bidding ABOVE RETAIL on used items. What’s up with that? I think there’s some psychological thing at work “It’s eBay, I must be getting a deal..”

    • ChibaCityCowboy says:


      Yeah I’ve tried to get used musical equipment off ebay but people want to pay almost new price for most of the items. One pedal would have been $225 new, went for $200 on ebay.

  38. nick_r says:

    Craigslist, local, in-person, cash in hand. That’s really the only way to do it.

  39. Milstar says:

    You can bid on my auction for how to sell your laptop on Ebay. It’s only 1.99 for a buy it now with free shipping cuz I do it by email.

    Ebay plz note this auction is for my time in compiling this list.

    Also check out my how to get a free WII auction.


  40. tcp100 says:

    @Milstar: No man, he forgot to put !L@@K! in the title. That’s the clincher every time.

  41. se7a7n7 says:

    @ffmariners: I have no idea why an auction would be pulled for saying that you don’t accept Paypal. As for charging 3% for credit card payments, that’s just ridiculous on your part. You can’t charge a credit card processing fee to the buyer, especially 3%. Consumerist rips businesses for trying to charge customers extra for paying by credit card, so why would it be OK for you?

    I run an eBay consignment store and while there have been a couple of problems, eBay is the best place to sell things to a worldwide market of millions of people.

    The OPs story is a fluke. I’ve sold many laptops and computers without 1 attempted scam. If you use Paypal the right way, you have extra protection. Of course you have to pay to use the service.

    Featured items do get listed at the top because the seller paid for it. Non-featured items still get plenty of bids too.

    Are you pissed at Airlines for letting people sit in 1st Class seats, just because they paid more for their tickets?

    • vaporland says:

      @se7a7n7: I totally agree with you. I have bought a large number of things on eBay, and also sold several laptop computers there without incident.

      Scammers popped up twice asking if I would just sell the item to them directly, after the auction started, so I posted their comments on the auction with their eBay user name, and they immediately went away.

      I never have the kinds of problems people are talking about here. I state US domestic sales only, PayPal only.

      I was amazed not too long ago when I did have an unrelated issue with my PayPal account and was actually able to talk to a human on the phone at PayPal within 30 seconds, and even more amazed when they quickly solved the problem for me.

      PayPal is more responsive than eBay, that’s for sure. Ironic since they both are the same company.

      I used to HATE PayPal but I have to admit that for me, they have improved. Still, they do everything a bank does, and I do feel they should be regulated like one. Of course, that didn’t help WaMu, did it?

  42. gglockner says:

    As others have noted: when selling on ebay, use USA confirmed addresses only, and ship with a tracking number. When selling on craigslist, use local buyers, cash only. Never been scammed that way.

  43. MayorBee says:


    I’m thinking that this would have been an appropriate response to the Nigerian scammers.

  44. dotcomrade says:

    EBay Scammers come in all varieties-check out this Judge Judy video:

  45. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    If you think this guy is having problems, try to be a company where counterfeit or fraudulent versions of your products are sold on eBay. (e.g. software, DVDs, photos, baseball cards, currency, coins, stamps, autographs, handbags, jewelry, clothing, shall I go on?) eBay gives you absolutely zero assistance unless you are one of the very few companies large enough to have a highly paid legal department. eBay has become nothing more than the world’s largest pawnshop infiltrated by organized crime. And unfortunately I’m not using hyperbole to make my point.

  46. Sian says:

    I had my first experience selling on ebay a few months ago.

    Never again.

    Their fees are out of control, past anything that should be reasonable, and of course their conflict resolution is a joke.

    I will still buy off of ebay, but selling is just too much of a bother.

  47. ringo00 says:

    I second the Craigslist posting. I have never had trouble selling stuff there. I have found that dealing with local buyers and sellers is much easier than dealing with shipping hassles from FedEx or UPS. I have been able to get some good stuff on Craigslist as well as selling off some stuff that I no longer needed. Like others have said: local only, cash in hand, meet in a public place. If you try to buy something for several hundred dollars cash and carry that much money to a strangers house, you deserve whatever fate you get.

  48. Parting says:

    @se7a7n7: You are LYING! Everyone, including myself got tempted by various scammers on eBay.

    I have feedback a little bit under 100 and I’ve dealt with FOUR attempted scams already. TWO of those scammers tried when I was selling ONE laptop. And in my listing it was stated clearly that I DON’T ship overseas.

    So either you work for eBay or you never attempted to sell one laptop there since 1994.

  49. timmus says:

    Ten years later, there’s no competitor to eBay? Argghhh!!!!!!

  50. Parting says:

    @metaled: eBay + PayPal now charge around 15% of your item value, when sold. And they pocket fees when unsold. And they forbid to use wire transfers when selling (which is great protection from scammers, since it’s a lot like cash).

    I want a gBay!!!!

  51. seth1066 says:

    Searching for completed listings for a Dell results in:

    38328 items found for: laptop dell

    38,328 completed listings for just Dell, not all of these met reserve or buy it now, but one would think that eBay is alive and well

  52. Imafish says:

    Three word solution: Local Craigslist sale!

  53. redragon104 says:

    @The person who mentioned Amazon.

    I’ve use Amazon to sell some of my textbooks that my school no longer uses. Amazon works well but I think their fees are too high. For example, if you are selling books the cost to amazon is $1.35 + $.99 + 15% of sale. They also set the shipping price for you, and sometimes it is not enough.(Than again sometimes its too much)

  54. Trai_Dep says:

    Maybe the eBay executive staff are really big fans of Samuel Becket.

  55. Bye says:

    After some terrible experiences with PayPal and I dropped them, I was very sad worrying about how limited my eBay purchases might now become.

    It turns out, it was a win-win. The winning combination of eBay and PayPal is slimier than Sigmund the Seamonster’s mean brothers.

  56. petrarch1608 says:

    seriously what is with all the question marks in this post? Consumerist sorely needs an editor.

  57. Parting says:

    @seth1066: It has a monopoly, that’s why. (Think Comcastic!)

    Right now, there is no viable alternative. Not every business can setup an electronic store. And for everyday people, not everyone has time for meetings/calls while listing on Craiglist.

    When a viable competitor will appear (Most hopes are on Google auctions, which are rumored in the planning stade), eBay will suffer from massive exodus. Due to poor customer service, very little protection when it comes to PayPal, and their rules that forbid any checkouts that protect the seller, like Google checkout for example.

  58. Norcross says:

    I’m all about using CL, but for no other reason that most of the stuff I want to purchase used is heavy as all heck, so the shipping would be horrible. I found something I wanted on eBay, and found out the lister was within 15 mins of my house. A**hole refused to meet me locally, since the shipping mark-up was his main profit. Suffice to say I didn’t buy it.

  59. seraphicstar says:

    i hate ebay now.
    i just tried to sell a brand new tmobile curve for a decent price. the person was actively bidding and even sniped the auction at the end. not 10 minutes later i got an email saying that he had no intentions of paying as there was a “family emergency”
    i call bullshit.

  60. ffmariners says:

    @se7a7n7: No, I never said I did not accept Paypal. I said I would not accept Paypal payments originating from a credit card because there is an extra charge associated with that. And eBay pulled the listing.

    And why would I charge 3% for Paypal payments originating from a credit card? To cover said charge. As a seller I should be able to stipulate exactly how I want to receive money.

    Consumerist can rip companies all they want, but those costs WILL be accounted for. I would rather those who use credit cards pay 3% more and give me a cheaper price by paying with cash.

    Same with first class seats… people are paying extra for that… so they deserve it. However, if we all were to pay a little bit extra but only a few people were allowed to sit in the first class seats… that’s a whole different story.

  61. EyeHeartPie says:

    Another vote for local Craigslist sale.

    Deal locally, cash only, meet in a public place (not your or their house).

  62. nutrigm says:

    eBay is really dead. I now only buy stuff from websites that offer free shipping or no junk fees.

  63. Trai_Dep says:

    That’s why the only thing I sell on eBay/Craigslist is my straining purple manhood (local only, ca$h, please).

  64. EvilSwine says:

    Craigslist is full of pipe dreamers and scammers now. Save yourself the headache and just use it until it blows up.

  65. se7a7n7 says:

    @Victo: I’m not lying, I don’t work for eBay.

    I’ve probably sold 4 laptops in the past month.

    Sometimes people try to scam you but you just tell them to follow your rules and that’s it.

    I sell my products to anyone in the world and rarely rarely have a problem.

    Don’t send out anything unless the payment is confirmed, only send thing to the address provided in the Paypal payment, ALWAYS put a tracking # on EVERYTHING you send.

    If you don’t believe my stories you can see that I post comments here all the time which RARELY have anything to do with eBay. You can also see my eBay username “blingdropoffstore”.

    The biggest issue I’ve had lately was a person that bought glasses from me and thought they weren’t new even though they were 100% new. That was my first negative feedback in over 3 years!!!

  66. alyssariffic says:

    @se7a7n7: It makes sense to me to charge the fee for credit card payments. Paypal charges the seller 4.9% to receive the payment. When I was selling a 600 dollar item, they charged me about 20 dollars in various fees (not even counting the fees associated with ebay auctions, that’d probably be another 20+). Best part is when the buyer reversed the payment, Paypal didn’t care.

  67. elmuchachos says:

    to protect yourself…set it up so that the buyer must pay using paypal immediately….until the item is paid for, it is still for sale. This prevents the Nigerian deuchebag scam from happening.

  68. se7a7n7 says:

    @ffmariners: Well you can do whatever you want but the overwhelming majority of people who buy things on eBay want to pay using Paypal. If you want to stipulate that they have to pay by check or give you an extra 3%, then you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

    I know I would never buy something from a person or business that wanted to charge me extra for using a credit card and I’m sure that most of the educated consumers who visit this site would agree with me.

  69. Wdeal says:

    Here is one way to reduce these problems.

    –of course restrict bidders to USA
    –Use Buy it Now and just choose the price you want…do some research on what your item might bring.
    –Require immediate payment in the auction options. This will prevent the auction from ending until you have received payment.
    –Set your PayPal account to accept payments ONLY from accounts with Confirmed addresses.
    –Ship ONLY to the confirmed address.

  70. castlecraver says:

    @ffmariners: Please read the PayPal terms of service before deciding to accept PayPal in your auctions.

    4.3 Use of PayPal on eBay. Sellers who offer PayPal as a payment method in their eBay listings (either via logos or through text in the item description) must accept Card Funded Payments. … Sellers may not communicate to buyers that they only accept Balance/Bank Funded Payments, or will not accept Card Funded Payments. eCheck is the only Funding Source that eBay Sellers are allowed to block.

    4.7 No Surcharges. You agree that you will not impose a surcharge or any other fee for accepting PayPal as a payment method.

    eBay was correct to pull your listings.

    Those are the rules that you agreed to. If you don’t like them (understandable), find some other way of getting paid for your item.

  71. se7a7n7 says:

    @alyssariffic: I know what you’re saying but that’s the cost of doing business. I don’t enjoying paying Paypal and eBay for every auction that I do but it’s still the best way to do it.

    If you are any sort of business that accepts credit card payments, you are going to pay a fee to the company the processes the transaction.

    Unfortunately Paypal is not one of those companies that works for free.

    When a better option becomes available, believe me, I’m all over it.

  72. Josh_G says:

    The only time I ever bought anything on Ebay was back in 1999 or 2000, it was a computer game listed for about 1/3 of what it would have been from a store.

    It was from a seller that was basically a business, they stated it as such, they had a high rating, stated several times that they did not sell boot-leg copies of games, etc.

    What did I get in the mail? A bootleg copy of the game without a CD key.

    I contacted the company and ebay a few times and never heard from either. So my first time using Ebay was my last.

  73. overbysara says:

    ebay is broken. :sigh: I miss it’s previous greatness.

  74. howie_in_az says:

    We almost exclusively use Craigslist to get rid of stuff (notably the ex’s junk that she couldn’t be bothered to come get). I told one obvious scammer to mail his money order to such-and-such address, attention so-and-so. After a few days the scammer emailed me back asking why I hadn’t contacted him after receiving the check. I had to tell him that he really mailed things to the Phoenix division of the FBI and addressed it to their lead internet fraud investigator, but I’d check things out and get back to him.

  75. The Commenter Formerly Known as StartingAces says:

    Restrict it to US bidders, no international shipping – confirmed addresses only. If you only accept (1) and up feedback, you should be in better shape.

  76. Lambasted says:

    I don’t know how many times I’ve seen people get slammed here for not purchasing an item with a credit card. Yet eBay sellers expect buyers to be okay with terms that don’t allow them to use a credit card.

    Notwithstanding a handful of honest members, eBay has basically become a cesspool of scams from both buyers and sellers. There are even infomercials on how to make a buck on eBay.

  77. azntg says:

    Different strokes for different folks, but I still don’t understand why some people will still do business at eBay.

    From what I see, Ebay is overrun with overpriced items with matching overpriced shipping costs., poor customer service, high listing prices, plenty of scammers abound. And from what I’ve heard, Paypal apparantly doesn’t serve the private seller nor the buyer. It serves itself and nobody else.

  78. ffmariners says:

    @se7a7n7: You say “educated.” Do they also understand that people who do not charge the extra credit card processing charges are accounting for it in the price already? So if they do want to pay by check they are now paying a fee which is not applicable…

    Educated consumers would embrace this.

    I have a local gas station that exemplifies this perfectly. Their prices are always competitive with the other gas stations in the area. BUT they offer a CASH price which is usually 5-6 cents cheaper. Obviously they save money when you do not use credit, and hence they pass some of the savings onto you. That is what educated consumers realize.

  79. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    I’m surprised Ebay pays such attention to this, but places like Barclay’s Photo are allowed to keep selling.

  80. ffmariners says:

    @castlecraver: I did. I left eBay. I never said they were not terms I agreed to (albeit unknowingly, to my fault).

    But, it is BS. And once I learned those terms I put my money where my mouth is and stopped using the service altogether.

  81. The Big O says:

    E-bay is just a pain in the arse in general now. There are more fees you have to pay than when you buy a plane ticket.

    I do Craigslist. You get just as many scammers, but all you have to do is delete those e-mails.

  82. ByeBye says:

    So, ebay good for sellers = bad for buyers?

  83. IrisMR says:

    I buy on eBay. Only had a problem a couple times. But it’d NEVER sell there. It just sounds like one big piece of shit.

  84. patgillen says:

    I just listed my 12″ Powerbook G4 about 2 months ago, and got $500 for it (dents and all) with 0 problems!

  85. EyeHeartPie says:

    More like bad for buyers, bad for sellers, good for scammers.

  86. catita says:

    Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but I’ve been an eBay member since 1998, and out of 1000+ transactions [some buying, some selling] I’ve encountered only a handful of problems.

    In fact, just a few months ago I sold an old iMac to a company in Israel, and the entire transaction was completed via PayPal, without any problems.

    In the past I’ve even sold a car through eBay Motors [paid via PayPal], so I think that the seller in this article may have had a run of especially bad luck.

    I’ve found Craigslist to be a bit trickier. It usually works well when selling in or near big cities, but out in the suburbs it becomes more difficult to complete a transaction. I’ve often had 5 – 10 people email me about an item, only to become no shows and then ignore emails.

  87. MPHinPgh says:

    @SkokieGuy: Blame the OP in 3 – 2 – 1………


  88. ElizabethD says:

    I weep for the eBay of yore.

    I started out buying Beanie Babies for my kids in 1997 on eBay. My, how things have changed.

    There’s a scammer born every minute, apparently. And I *hate* the impersonality of dealing with eBay. (as illustrated by the saga above)

  89. se7a7n7 says:

    @ffmariners: Charging less for cash at a gas station is cool. However a retailer couldn’t charge more for credit card purchases. The buyer would be pissed at the idea and the credit card company would step in eventually.

    My local cable company was charging a “convenience fee” for paying by credit card, people started complaining and they had to stop.

    No one can complain that they pay too much for things on eBay because you set the price based on how much you’re will to pay. If it costs too much, don’t buy it.

  90. ElizabethD says:

    Aghhh! Way too much information.

  91. Snarkysnake says:

    Ebay is a perfect allegory for what kind of world we’d have if everything was sorted out by “the free market”.

    The smart and crooked would prey on the trusting and honest (kind of like a lot of little Enron’s) and the deaf,dumb and blind referee would take its huge share and say “not my problem”.

    Okay,enough philosophy.

    Ways to defeat scammers:

    Pre approved bidders lists. When the Nigerian scumbag emails you in pigeon english,block his bids.

    Sell only to the U.S.If you get an email from someone overseas,you deserve to get screwed if you deal with them.They are outside the reach of U.S. law.

    Money orders (preferably postal money orders-this makes the whole crime federal if they don’t ship the goods )
    Costs about 85 cents.Don’t ship until paid in full. Over and out.

    One great Paypal alternative is the ING Electric Orange checking account. They won’t send a check unless you have the money in the account.They keep your balance so the money is deducted automatically and its impossible to write a rubber check.I have had a couple of good dinners with the Paypal fees that I have saved by accepting and sending these checks.Paypal can take their one sided TOS and piss up a tree.

    Just my two cents…

  92. forgottenpassword says:

    I gave up trying to buy or sell anything worth more than $150 on ebay. Its so rife with scammers that it isnt even funny!

  93. pmcpa2 says:

    I have my auctions restricted to US only, PayPal Verified only, no exceptions, feedback lower then 10 gets an automatic cancel unless you e-mail me first (it’s a way to make sure they READ the terms). I may not get some bidders, but the transaction goes through

  94. wesrubix says:

    Um. I’ve sold a number of things, including laptops on ebay, without a hitch. I require immediate payment using Paypal and require a verified paypal account. I also require a verified paypal address.

    If you use the appropriate methods of buyer validation, you should be able to sell just fine on ebay.

    This article is nothing more than posting the log of a melon head.

  95. JDAC says:

    @ffmariners: I’m the same as RedDragon regarding Amazon Marketplace.

    It’s a good venue for selling small, cheap items. Go north of say, 30 bucks and you will be reamed by fees.

    I sell my old PSP and DS games there and routinely get much more than I’d get from gamestop, but still sold cheaper than anyone else.

  96. Jamie Beckland says:

    I am surprised that no one has recommended what I do: outsource my eBay listings.

    Sure, for general-use electronics, craigslist is fine, but for more specialized stuff, you are not likely to find a local buyer.

    I have gotten to know my local eBay store guy (I had to shop around to about a dozen places before I found someone that I connect with), and he takes a 33% commission on top of what eBay and Paypal charge.

    BUT, I walk away with 60%, and NO HEADACHES. No flakes, no stupid emails from idiots, no people promising to come over, then never showing, and no problems at all.

    I have better things to do with my time.

  97. bizeesheri says:

    Not only ebay and craigslist….I had a large piece of furniture in my local NickelNik which is now online. Received two phone calls from the Internet Relay (for deaf people), actually scammers from Nigeria wanting me to cash their money order immediately…………………

  98. AlessandroSils says:

    Comment on It’s Now Completely Impossible To Sell A Laptop On Ebay I stopped using ebay all together. Ebay doesn’t really care about the end-user seller any more. They make more money from the power sellers and virtual stores that they host. Craislist has been much better and its local. No more outrageous shipping costs.

    I wonder if ebay will ever return back to its roots? Are you reading this ebay? I doubt it.

  99. ffmariners says:

    @se7a7n7: Charging more for credit cards versus charging less for cash is the same thing, yet you are OK with the latter?

    Seems like semantics.

  100. phimuskapsi says:

    @dotcomrade: I just wanted to say that I have never seen that and it’s great!

    Anyway, ebay has been going down the tubes for awhile. I had a similar problem selling my laptop a few years ago. Never again.

  101. ViperBorg says:

    People still use eBay? What’s the matter with you people?

  102. MrDo says:

    craigslist is free. granted, it can be a pain in the butt to sell there as well, but for the most part I’ve had better luck selling things there than on Ebay.

  103. ExecutorElassus says:

    I’m I the only one who sees all the blockquotes in the OP cut to pieces? I’m only seeing partials of each line, which makes all the emails this guy’s quoting impossible to read.

    That aside, eBay blows. I got scammed from both sides, so now it’s CraigsList, cash-only, local. And I still have to tell the Nigerian scammers to bugger off.

  104. Davan says:

    at least list the auction as buy it now only, and require immediate payment. that really cuts down on the scams by about 1000%

  105. ExecutorElassus says:

    I forgot to mention: if you’re still having problems with scammers trying to steal your computer, you could always try getting them to carve one out of wood for you. At least have fun with it.

  106. dieman says:

    I listed mine as best offer and immediate payment and was able to get off just fine.

    That was after 3 failed auctions where the nigerians took over.

  107. Breach says:

    Id say try local listings like Criagslist or newspapers.

  108. CafeSilver says:

    I’ve never had any problems buying or selling big ticket items on eBay and I’ve never once been scammed when I’ve bought something. You need to know how to pick out the good sellers from the bad. Sure, it can be a lot of work but if you know what to look for and what you’re doing, you can still find amazing deals.

  109. Mr. Gunn says:

    Wdeal: Good tips. I’ve listed stuff, checked the fairly obvious “US addreses only” box, and sold them without major issue.

    The utter lack of support is a problem I’ve encountered, and apparently the only way around it is a certified letter with the words “Law Offices of” on the front.

  110. Kafka is alive!

  111. eblack says:

    Craigslist is the most awesome service ever, and you can meet people in person, with cash, to trade for things. I’ve had some frustration with it, but never really been burned. You should have started there.

  112. allenv says:

    Hey folks, ebay owns at least 25% of Craigslist. You aren’t offending ebay in the least going there.

  113. Ramrod says:

    should have just shipped this to them


  114. Coles_Law says:

    @ffmariners: They ended your listing because of the way you phrased it. You cannot charge a surcharge, but you could have offered a 3% discount for cash, check or debit and have been just fine.


  115. Orv says:

    @eblack: In my experience Craigslist only works if you live in a major city. It seems people won’t drive more than a couple miles to pick something up, unless it’s something major like a car.

  116. wmbrae says:

    For the past 2 months, I always have been outbid on ebay. ebay has masked the names of bidders so sellers are able to shill, (use another account to bid up the price). I have a record of spotting and successfully reporting shill sellers. It is now an unfair market.

  117. JohnnyE says:

    @castlecraver: Actually, those might not have been the terms one agreed to — eBay has silently changed their PayPal terms over the years. First, way back when, people with a fee-free personal PayPal account could accept a limited dollar amount per month of credit card transactions without having to upgrade to a fee-based business account. eBay/PayPal has since changed those terms to in order to accept even a single credit card payment, you must irrevocably upgrade your account (and forever more pay fees on all incoming funds, even non-credit card ones.) Second, it used to be that you could list that you accepted PayPal, but the system would allow you to either accept an incoming credit card payment (via upgrading your account), or reject the credit card payment. They have since removed the reject option and if you don’t accept/upgrade, they payment sits in PayPal’s coffers for about 30 days — the sender can’t even cancel the payment and get it refunded immediately.

    What isn’t EXPRESSLY mentioned in the TOS you quote is that PERSONAL (i.e. fee-free) PayPal accounts can’t accept credit cards. To accept credit cards, you must upgrade to a business account and from then on pay fees on ALL incoming funds, even bank funded ones. Essentially, what eBay is doing, but not saying, is that in order to sell on eBay and accept PayPal, you must have a Business PayPal account and then pay PayPal fees for all of your future transactions, even ones that have nothing to do with eBay auctions (such as your mom sending you cash for your birthday).

    But instead of coming out and admitting to requiring a PayPal business account, they quietly try to herd you into the scheme by insisting you accept credit cards, which then forces you into the business account.

    And, again, this was changed mid-stream. It used to be a small time private seller could accept PayPal with a personal account. It’s not wonder that most of eBay now is overpriced business type sellers inflating prices to make up for all of eBay/PayPal’s fees. It’s almost impossible for a small private selling just wanting to have a ‘world’s largest garage sale’ type listing.

  118. webdoyenne says:

    Had a remarkably similar experience trying to sell a motorcycle on eBay Motors…also a black hole of scammers.

  119. trujunglist says:

    Man, that really sucks to hear. I was about to sell almost everything I own on eBay, simply because a lot of the shit I own is not really Craigslist-able as local only (maybe for the entire country though). It just wouldn’t receive the same interest as it would on eBay because of the types of items; mostly smaller value and niche. That being said, there may be a chance that since most of the items are not high ticket items, that no one would bother trying to scam for a $5 item.
    Oh well, maybe I’ll take my chances at the swap meet.

  120. Decaye says:

    I had a similar experience a few months ago. After 5 failed auctions, I finally did manage to sell it to a real person though. Done with ebay.

  121. categorically says:

    I thought eBay was for buying and selling items and craigslist was for buying and selling prostitutes?

  122. se7a7n7 says:

    @ffmariners: Yes because with a cash discount, you’re giving people a discount. With a credit card fee, you are penalizing people for their method of payment.

  123. Comms says:

    Back when MacBooks first came out I listed a pair of iBooks on Kijiji and Craigslist. I sold both for 2/3s of what I paid for them brand new in less than two weeks. Both individuals were local, both paid me in cash and I didn’t have to pay anything to list, ship or any other nonsense.

    I used to use eBay but, fuck them, they suck now.

  124. hills says:

    On ebay, if you set your buyer preferences to “paypal required” and also stipulate that you only mail to confirmed paypal addresses you can avoid a lot of this mess…..

  125. PlanetExpressdelivery says:

    I think that it’s time to move on to greener pastures. eBay and Paypal have long since worn out their welcomes and I really wouldn’t mind seeing both companies disappear.

    Craigslist and Amazon Marketplace are much better for both the consumer and the seller.

  126. rhettmcnulty says:

    Ebay is great for its critical mass and the fact that it is truly its own economy. The problem is the scalability of its Customer Service, moderation tools and the fact you have to pay for listings and transactions.

    Craiglist is simple and and great for local distribution of items.

    Shopit allows you to import you ebay store catalog and sell to your friends on Facebook, Myspace and other Social sites allowing for a higher level of trust between buyer and seller. And its all free.

  127. Parting says:

    @hillsrovey: Only people don’t READ.

    So if the buyer wins, and his address is unconfirmed? What’s left to do? You are already stuck with listing/final value/PayPal fees. Do you eat them up? Or do you take a chance?

    You cannot restrict bidding to ”confirmed addresses” only. There is no way. eBay encourages fraud, only so it can collect fees.

    So any suggestions?

  128. Parting says:

    @PlanetExpressdelivery: Sadly, Amazon Marketplace is USA only. And Craiglist is lately polluted with scammers, so you need time to weed out the wrong ones, by talking and filtering buyers.

  129. humphrmi says:

    I was an e-bay seller and buyer back when it was a small community of people buying and selling knick-knacks and the occasional high-end PC or peripheral. I miss those days.

    Ebay created a great market where anyone could sell anything, and then fucked us all over when they didn’t figure out and try to prevent people people taking advantage of it.

    I don’t see any future in this at all. I feel sorry for people who invested a lot of time and money in an e-bay based business. I know there’s a better way, but nobody seems to have come up with it yet. Given that, craigslist seems like the best way to go, if you have to watch your back on every sale, you might as well not have to pay someone for the privilege.

  130. Parting says:

    @se7a7n7: It’s impossible that you never received offers from scanners. On eBay, I know 5 people who sell there / have electronics store, and each and every one received ”Nigerian” or local offers from scammers. It doesn’t mean you’ll fall for it, but if you are telling that you sell laptops and never received offers from one scammer, then you’re lying.

    Or you sold laptops in the same time you bought Windows 95, when scammers were a rare specie on eBay.

  131. ChuckECheese says:

    @Victo: In my days buying from Amazon Marketplace, I’ve received packages from Quebec, the Philippines, and Argentina. All the sellers said they were in the U.S. I complained to Amazon, but didn’t get much in the way of a reply.

    Craigslist only works if you live in a highly populated area. If you live in the boonies, you probably won’t get many takers for your goods.

    I had a U.S. only notebook sale on eBay in early 2006. When the auction ended, the high bidder said he was temporarily in Nigeria on business, blah blah blah. I didn’t want to re-do the auction, but eBay wouldn’t refund the fees; they’d only give me a credit. I asked eBay to contact the 2nd-place bidder, and fortunately he agreed to buy the computer. A week after that, eBay sent me a letter saying that the high bidder was using a hijacked account–duh.

  132. AmeryRhesus says:

    Comment on It’s Now Completely Impossible To Sell A Laptop On Ebay One of the rules for savy electronic buyers is NEVER EVER buy anything on
    Ebay. You don’t know where it’s been.

    That could explain his many problems selling the laptop. Yes, try Craig’s
    list and meet the buyer in a neutral, public location. Not long back some
    poor kid in my area was murdered by the “buyers” for his used car. They
    picked the meeting place and time. Night. Deserted parking lot. Don’t do
    that, ‘kay?

    Just read Ebay listing rules. You CAN have some control over who can bid
    and from where. I don’t allow bidders with zero feedback or anyone with
    recent negatives for non-payment. The man could have limited bids to US or
    even within his zip code. It’s not rocket science, just read the how-to.

    He also wasted money buying a “featured listing”. When there’s 20 other
    laptops ahead of you, of *course* they’re all going to either sell first and
    be relisted later. He had only to wait his turn, because most buyers skip
    featured listings. They know the price is jacked up to cover the extra 20
    bucks for the listing. They don’t jockey you to a better selling spot;
    it’s just another way for Ebay to skin the unwary.

    It usually takes me twice to get someone’s attention when I notice something
    odd about a listing. They ALWAYS send the “change password” mail the first
    time you report a problem–even when you’re reporting phishing scammers
    after your passwords. Never reply to an ebay via the link on your email,
    sign on at the site or some jerkov in Romania will have your password faster
    than you can say “screwed again.”

    He just gave up too soon. His follow ups should have been the same
    day–several times if necessary, not one at a time over the course of
    several weeks. Ebay literally gets thousands of emails coming in every hour
    and face, it, ususally changing the password will solve most problems.

    I’m sorry he had a bad time of it, and that the Nigerian scammers are such a
    problem, but when it comes to Ebay, let the seller as well as the buyer

    But read the danged directions!

  133. Paperclippe says:

    The exact same thing happened to my fiance just last month. He was trying to sell and HP laptop, less than a year old, for half of what it was worth, and he got two bids on it, both of them from Nigeria. He ended up selling it to his boss to use for work.

    I, however, find eBay a great place to buy quirky little items like bento boxes and stickers, but that’s about the extent of my eBay purchasing habits.

  134. niteflytes says:

    I just sold an iBook on ebay without any problems. I was feeling wary of putting it on there, with the new 21 day hold policy and all the other problems. Right before the auction ended last night I was feeling really nervous because my high bidder had only 2 feedback and one was a negative. But the buyer paid via paypal within a few hours after the auction ended and he’s in Michigan, has a verified address, contacted me asking for a total right after the auction ended. No problems…so far. I’m following all of Paypal’s requirements for seller protection. I’ll probably still sell stuff on ebay but you do have to be very careful, only ship to US (and I also ship Canada), require a verified address, etc., as other posters have mentioned.

    I’ve thought about using CL but being a single female I just don’t feel safe meeting people I don’t know to sell them a high price item like a laptop, even it if is in a public place, so I’ll stick with ebay and hope something better comes along.

  135. niteflytes says:

    @Victo: Yeah, like I just posted a few seconds ago, I just sold a laptop on ebay and I really didn’t get any offers from scammers. It’s not “impossible”. That’s a really broad statement. It’s improbable, and I’m surprised that I didn’t get any, especially after what I’ve read in the comments here.

  136. jamar0303 says:

    Yahoo Auctions works just fine for me. It’s nice to live in one of the few countries where it’s still around (heck, in Japan they drove eBay out of the market).

  137. ShadowFalls says:

    I wouldn’t buy or sell high price electronics for the pointed out fact already. Quite simply, there are scammers on both fronts and ebay isn’t doing much about it and will do nothing when you do get ripped off.

    I do still use ebay granted, but it is for the smaller, cheaper, simpler items. Sadly, I have far more faith in Amazon…

  138. welsey says:

    I sold an old macbook on ebay about a year ago without any problems, as far as I know. My (now ex-)boyfriend and I were selling a lot of stuff on ebay for awhile and he dealt with all the logistics of buyers, but we sold it to some local guy who just came to the house to pick it up. We made about £100 from the computer and it was totally broken – of course we told the guy that and made it very clear it was just for parts or repair! Overall a very good month of ebay though, we sold tons of magazines and videogames without running into scammer problems.

    I wonder if we would have been ripped off trying to sell it now…sorry to hear eBay is so broken. I like craigslist as well, and what someone said about it not being good unless you live in the big city isn’t true. I’m in a fairly small middle-of-the-cornfields college town and I’ve had a lot of luck with it.

  139. wwwhitney says:

    I guess I’m in the minority here, but I love eBay. I’ve been a member since 1998 and have had few bad experiences. I think it’s pretty common knowledge at this point that you don’t want to sell or buy any high end electronics on there. I have however sold 2 iPods without any problems.

    My biggest complaint about eBay is that you can’t make it so bidders with 0 or negative feedback can’t bid on your auction. Most of my bad experiences have been with new accounts who never end up paying. Oh, and I’ve also twice gotten incredibly obvious bootleg DVDs including one Korean movie with quite possibly the worst English subtitles I’ve ever seen.

    All in all though, eBay is my go to place to sell and buy random things that you will never find on your local Craigslist.

  140. Parting says:

    @niteflytes: For one auction : yes. But when you have a store, by experience, every 4 laptop listing, I get one scammer that either hacked or ”opened” account recently.

    Right now, it became popular to hack Australian’s UK’s account to complete ”Nigerian” scams. You think your bidder has a good reputation, but it’s not really this user that wants to buy it.

    It would be really easy for eBay to give possibility to block buyers who don’t have a confirmed address in PayPal. Maybe give ”Premium PayPal” to those who are verified and have a confirmed address. Something that will prevent much more scams.

    However, eBay collects fees every time someone doesn’t read the auction and bids with unconfirmed address.

  141. ChuckBlack says:

    Gotta wonder how many sales to legit Canadians (who get really peeved at “US ONLY” auctions) are lost. With the dollar close to par, there are 33 million ppl here with a very high connection rate to the internet. And not to mention, no recession… I mean, slowdown or whatever the word is now.

    Printed in Canada

  142. Parting says:

    @wwwhitney: For small purchases, eBay is still pretty good. However, due to raised fees, sellers raised prices and many items and deals aren’t as good as before.

    Also Australian eBay just passed a rule.

    Sellers have to accept PayPal or cash ONLY. No checks or money orders allowed. And cash is available only on local pickups. So more ways to make money.

    However CUSTOMER SERVICE still SUCKS. There is NO new or additional services for sellers or buyers.

  143. WraithSama says:

    I stopped using nigeriaBay years ago. Cash-only Cragslist is the way to go.

  144. hegemonyhog says:

    Between the downfall of eBay and the bizarre mores of Craigslist (you want too much for the thing you’re selling, even though it’s an open market!), I think selling your old crap online is a dying pastime.

  145. gomakemeasandwich says:

    Forget about selling stuff on ebay, you can’t even BUY stuff on ebay any more. The place that used to be great for cheap stuff is now mostly the domain of overpriced junk (I’m talking mostly from a computer parts standpoint, but it probably applies to the whole site). I’ve seen stuff on ebay that is actually priced higher than what retail stores will sell it for and idiots who think their 10 year old Pentium II laptop is worth $200+ dollars, etc.

    BTW, this quote pretty much sums up ebay:

    “eBay seems now to be essentially broken. What used to be a ‘virtual yard-sale’ where one could hunt for – and potentially find – a good deal on a broad variety of eclectic items has now turned (in my opinion at least) into a hybrid mass of scammers and shady garage-retailers, clumped together with a straggling, dying breed of people who used to be excited about eBay, but who are now wishing it would return to what it used to be.”

  146. TechnoDestructo says:

    Is Ebay profitable enough, (or potentially profitable enough, if they got rid of the scammers) that they could afford to hire a death squad in Nigeria to gun these people down?

  147. lawstud says:

    I had the same thing happen with Nigerian scammers. Ebay then charged me their % cut and I had to fight for it back. I then put it back up and this piece of junk worth probably $150 went for over 2K suddenly. Ebay then took their cut from my credit card AGAIN after I messaged them the fake Nigerian scam occurred again. I had no response. I finally threatened to sue them and they finally gave me a credit to my account, not my credit card. They’re All Thieving Bastards!

  148. lawstud says:

    Ebay can block these guys, they don’t because they make more money allowing the fraud. Notice how scam car dealers who sell wrecked cars with new body work reappear again and again.

    Worst problem, if you’re an out of stater, Federal Courts are going to dismiss your lawsuits since they do not have jurisdiction against these guys. You’ll have to sue in the state they are located. They just change names and re-register on Ebay and continue the scam.

    Also, “as is” in some states as is all KNOWN and DISCLOSED problems. Dealers like to fool people and say, hey as is means unknown and undisclosed as well.

    I scanned the ebay motors, and as usual the worst scammers are still at it. I got to love the cars with certificate of destruction titles that can’t be registered, only taken for parts, sold as if you could just salvage it.

    Ebay is a scam. Fake this and that. You’ll never know what you’re getting.

  149. If you going to get scammed, do it in Craigslist. At least Craigslist won’t charge you for the non-service.

  150. MightyCow says:

    Unfortunately, the Internet is now a horrible, third-world ghetto. If you don’t buy something from a huge retailer, or you don’t sell it to someone you meet in person and exchange cash with, you may as well just stab yourself in the face.

  151. ahawks says:

    I hate to blame the victim, but Timothy, bud, you need to learn to write less.

    eBay sent you canned responses because you go on for pages where a sentence would have sufficed. Not everyone has all day to read something that basically says “Put laptop on ebay. Buyer is nigerian scammer. Want refund. Can provide email record as proof upon request”

  152. FLConsumer says:

    I still use eBay for many of the really odd parts I have to sell (broadcast/recording equipment). Haven’t tried CL yet, but from all of these recommendations it looks like I might have to look into it. Thanks for the suggestions all.

  153. badxmaru says:

    Definitely an issue of an organization that started out with best intentions, but then moved into the arena of “when you’re small, love your customer, when you’re big, then don’t”

    It boils down to laziness – when an organization is small, it has to fight to keep customers happy. When it’s monolithic and almost has a stranglehold on the market (cough cough monopoly) the amount of attention it pays to each individual customer dwindles.

  154. FLConsumer says:

    Oh, also, for higher-end audio equipment, try Been great so far.

  155. Karunamon says:

    Full disclosure: Been registered with ebay since 2002, casual buyer and seller, feedback score is at 70ish, no negatives.

    How to avoid being scammed as a buyer:

    CHECK FEEDBACK! That’s what it’s there for! A good deal of companies use ebay as a storefront, and have quite nice CS. If a person has less than 95% positive feedback, don’t bother with them.

    Don’t buy (or sell) out of country. Customs is a hassle for all involved, and there is always a random chance your parcel could get arbitrarily held up.

    As a seller:
    I highly recommend downloading ebay’s Turbo Lister app, as its a good deal faster and slicker than trying to use the web form (which has a nasty habit of crashing IE). Also, it calculates fees for you, and lets you set important options right up front, such as:
    Restrict bidders who are registered in countries to which i dont ship
    Block buyers with -1 or less feedback
    Block buyers with 2 or more unpaid item strikes

    Worth a shot. Anybody pooh-pooing on ebay after one bad experience needs to educate themselves, and try again. The system isn’t exactly intuitve, but it’s great once you know what you’re doing.

  156. ffmariners says:

    @se7a7n7: Same result. semantics.

  157. fgl says:

    For the past 3 years I have sold well over $50,000 worth of electronics on eBay every month, sometimes nearly double that. I ship worldwide.

    I have occasionally had questions about shipping to Nigeria (and other suspicious locations) but I have never had someone buy one of my items and then try to scam me.

    I suggest doing some research and finding out what your item is actually worth. Then list it as a fixed-price item with immediate payment required via PayPal. Limiting shipping to USA-addresses only and requiring a Confirmed Address are also possible approaches. You can mention in the auction that other payment methods are possible on a case-by-case basis and to contact you prior to purchasing if the buyer would like to pay by money order or cash/local pickup.

    I don’t think eBay is broken. eBay has changed over the years and sellers need to adapt to the new reality.

  158. IMarcus says:

    LMFAO, this problem was old about two years ago. What a noob, still using Ebay. Why would I pay a listing fee, then a selling fee, then a paypal fee when I can do it for free on Craigslist?

  159. 2lik says:

    Note: I’m from Europe.

    It’s now completely impossible to buy a legit DVD on eBay.

    I was hunting for 3-4 DVDs for Xmas gifts, Korean cartoon and several popular Miyazaki anime. After reviewing dozens of eBay stores, I found “the one”: 20k+ power seller with the least amount of complaints over past half a year, carefully studying reasons of each complaint.

    And I felt for it.

    I received 3 pirate DVDs with blurry prints on top of weird cardboard boxes with gold embossed stamps, full of missppeellss. 1 DVD wasn’t matching what I ordered. Filing a complaint resulted in a… another free pirate DVD. At this point

    I went to eBay scam report, filed complaints on each individual transaction in paypal.

    In about 3 weeks the case was closed because… I had to PROVE THAT DVDs ARE PIRATE BY GOING TO SOME AGENCY TO PROVE IT.

    I ended up with getting negative feedback plus I was called a liar.
    About DVDs that I bought for Xmas…

  160. ablestmage says:

    Don’t rat on all of eBay — still works very smoothly and I’ve never dealt with scammers there but for once out of 500+ transactions (when I bought a foreign DVD which arrived as bootleg). The payment process is automated for you, so you don’t deal with any of that. You just list your items for free, get and order and ship it out, and every so often get a direct deposit less fees. You can sell books, videos, etc. All runs very smoothly, you barely even have to enter a description.

  161. thalia says:

    I feel your pain on this. Scammers are the reason why I’ve had to put so many restrictions on my listings, the main one being “Don’t allow bidders without valid Paypal Accounts OR bidders who live in countries I don’t ship to.” I’m still willing to ship almost anywhere in the world, but I typically stick with the basics…Canada, US, Britain, and certain areas of Europe. Nigeria not included.

    Once I had a specific item that I noted could only be shipped to the 48 contingent US states and that I could not ship the item to overseas American territories. A guy from Puerto Rico ended up winning, and then argued with me over the duration of several emails that Puerto Rico IS part of the contingent 48 states (uh, heh heh) and that it’s not an overseas American territory. I finally gave him the USPS calculated postage to ship the item to him (it was a vintage computer, extremely heavy) and when he saw the final figure he backed off.

  162. BelladonnaMarlborough says:

    Comment on It’s Now Completely Impossible To Sell A Laptop On Ebay I had exactly the same problem. It was almost impossible for an
    auction to end without some Nigerian scammer trying to buy it. So
    PayPal’s useing gmail for their email notices now, when i had
    problems they seemed to favour ICQ mail.

    Looks like i went through the same as you with completely irrelevant
    responses from ebay, everytime you contact them. I just gave up in
    the end and sold the laptop locally. i got more for it, and didnt
    have the hassle of Nigerian Scammers. Until ebay sorts out the
    situation, ive given up.

  163. gnimsh says:

    I once tried to sell my old laptop on ebay, granted it had a few things wrong with it, but I wasn’t asking much. Not only did I get letters from Nigerians telling me how much they wanted my laptop to attend some school, but on top of that there were even comments from EBAY STORES, mostly Chinese sellers, with cheap electronics. They were obviously trying to get people to come see their better electronics while viewing my auction in hopes that they would just pass mine by completely. What an utter waste of time it turned out to be. It was so frustrating. I turned to craigslist but it went no better, probably due to the poor quality of the laptop.

  164. tayga says:

    Wow! I knew Americans were insular and parochial but “if it’s not US, don’t deal” is a pretty broad stroke for dealing with Nigerian scammers. I hope I never need anything shipped to the UK by you guys.

    Sure eBay, like life in general, has its share of criminals. The solution is to get smart. There’s plenty of good advice already mentioned that doesn’t require international trade embargoes.

    eBay itself is happy to take its cut from any and all traffic while taking minimal responsibility. As already mentioned, the help facility is ridiculous. I recently uncovered systematic shill bidding by a Power seller and reported it more than half a dozen times. I received the usual placatory replies and promises of action while I was assured that eBay hides bidders identities, blah, blah.

    The Power Seller is still operating, still paying eBay a tidy sum in listing fees and still using the same accounts to bid up its own items. I just don’t bother trying to buy their items any more.

    But there are genuine buyers and sellers aplenty. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater – just learn to be careful.

  165. twstinkers says:

    I have used both craigslist and ebay and I gotta tell ya, craigslist wins by a mile. I get contacted by the buyer, I request their phone number, we talk about meeting up, meet at a neutral public place, make the trade and that’s it. Overwhelmingly, I meet up with decent, fair, non-criminal (I hope) people. Any scammers or a-holes I usually weed out early on in the transaction. Can’t necessarily do that with ebay.

  166. dabitch says:

    Ebay and Paypal should just die.

  167. gomakemeasandwich says:


    I think if ebay were to hire Nigerian death squads to hunt down the scammers, the death squads would just take the money and send ebay a fake Paypal email in terrible English telling them that they took care of it.

  168. gomakemeasandwich says:


    So true. The only problem with craigslist is that your market is smaller.

  169. gomakemeasandwich says:


    Actually in my daily life I don’t encounter too many criminals. If I log on to ebay, I could interact with thousands. A little more than a “fair share” if you ask me.

    And God, I can’t even get away from the smug Europeans on The Consumerist?

  170. gnimsh says:

    I tried selling my laptop on ebay and not only did I get these scammers but also had Chinese electronics stores advertising their superior goods on my post, thereby dissuading people from bidding on my laptop at all. I knew it had a lot of things wrong with it, and posted all of them, I just wanted to get rid of it. They made this impossible. I never got one legitimate inquiry about it. I switched to Craigslist and didn’t have better luck.

  171. gomakemeasandwich says:


    You really think it would matter?

  172. gomakemeasandwich says:

    @The Great TK:

    For someone so secure in their idea that they understand ebay, your suggestion that feedback rating has any real importance is somewhat funny.

  173. gomakemeasandwich says:


    I think everyone who’s used ebay has a Nigerian story.

  174. leperisland says:


    I have successfully bought & sold 2 laptops on eBay. All you have to do is REFUSE to post abroad, make this very clear in your description. i also make it very clear that I WILL NOT be scammed & that I have heard them all so don’t even bother.

  175. telepheedian says:

    From my experience, Craigslist is just as bad. Someone should just create an auction/classifieds site that restricts non-US IP addresses, disallows proxies, and insta-perma-bans anyone that mentions the words “escrow” or “Western Union”. The ban would preferably be on their IP address, rather than the account.

  176. skilled1 says:

    eBay, the site that i used 2 years ago to buy an xbox, that wouldn’t read disks, contacted ebay over the douchebag selling me a broken xbox. Four times contacting them, they got back to me two weeks later only to tell me i have 30 days to dispuite the auction….although i did…5 days after it was over, 12 days after it was over, 14 days after it was over and 22days after it was over. fucking ebay.

  177. Mary says:

    @ffmariners: I use it to sell books and movies, and I’ve had a lot more success there than, which has basically fallen into obscurity so nobody buys anything there anymore.

    I get my payments as Amazon gift certificates, so I can buy random things for myself (usually also through the marketplace) and it’s pretty helpful. I do think they take a big cut out of your money, but I can’t recall how much. But getting it out of my house is more important to me.

  178. jswilson64 says:

    Simple. Indicate you’ll only ship to verified US addresses and that you’ll wait for funds to clear before shipping. That’s how I’ve sold several electronic items in the $100-$1000 range and never got scammed or “attempted scammed”.

  179. reverendramona says:

    I think the only way you can sell something on eBay anymore is if it’s engraved with the image of Jesus/Mary/Mariah Carey, or maybe possessed by the spirit of a (mean) dead relative… and then hope the online casino Golden Palace will buy it from you.

  180. MurdockOffspring says:

    Comment on It’s Now Completely Impossible To Sell A Laptop On Ebay Wow… people still think that a used Windows based laptop has any

    Yes I know you spent a lot on it… and yes it still works…. but
    really…. did you ever think you were going to get “a couple of
    hundred dollars” for a used windows based laptop… that’s the crazy
    thing in all this…

  181. gomakemeasandwich says:


    Good idea, but people can get around IP addresses, so any ban would have to be more comprehensive, like MAC addresses as well, but you’re on to something. There’s a huge market for someone out there.

  182. gomakemeasandwich says:


    Isn’t owned by ebay?

  183. barty says:

    @ffmariners: Gotta love that. California evidently makes it illegal for retailers to pass along CC fees to customers, so eBay makes it universal. I simply don’t accept PayPal on eBay any longer. Problem solved. A legit money order works just fine for me. I cash them before I send the goods…so far, so good.

    @castlecraver: That used to not be the case until they started requiring people to have a Premier PayPal account to link to eBay. Before that time, it was quite common to see listings with “no CC/Debit Card PP accepted” because quite a few of us got tired of paying 3% of EVERY transaction we initiated. I always try to sell most things on specific forums first before dumping them on eBay just to try to get whatever I can for something. Everywhere else EXCEPT eBay I can simply offer a discount if someone doesn’t want to pay via PayPal. That’s what sucks about their rather one sided policy.

    I sell on eBay as an absolute last resort now. I put things on Craigslist and associated forums elsewhere and if something doesn’t sell after a month or so, then I *might* put it on eBay. Unless I can net an extra 15-20% on eBay over what I’d get elsewhere, its not worth selling there anymore.

  184. barty says:

    Oh, I also don’t have a problem shipping some items on Craigslist either. To date, 90% of my dealings there have been face to face, but I have sent a couple of money orders and accepted one as payment for an item. Most of the stuff I’m selling/buying is so obscure or has such a limited audience that’s about the only way you’ll ever get a buyer. If someone wants to scam me for a $30 radio…oh well.

  185. Schmeg Peg says:

    So it’s become “virtually impossible” to sell mid to high end electronics? I’m an eBay seller and I recently sold a 46″ 1080p HDTV, and a Wii with a bunch of games, and I didn’t get scammed.

    My secret? Research prices that the item has sold at, research what people are selling it at now, and set a Buy It Now price. If you have 100% perfect feedback like me, you can demand closer to the high end of prices. Don’t do auctions. Accept PayPal only, and require immediate payment, that way the only way someone can buy your shit is by paying for it on the spot.

    I’ve never had something not sell, and I’ve sold plenty of mid-to-high-end electronics. I did encounter the Nigerian scammer thing when I tried to sell a PS2 like 4 years ago, but instead of bitching to The Consumerist, I just fixed the damn problem by changing how I sell.

  186. Starfury says:

    A few years back I had 2 old computers gathering dust in the garage. I put them up on CL because they weren’t worth much. Within 5 minutes of posting I had multiple e-mails wanting them shipped to Africa. I did eventually sell them to a local person who paid cash.

    As for eBay: I don’t sell big ticket items there; sometimes I’ll find old board games at thrifts and re-sell them on eBay. Never had a problem even with the few that go over $100. I don’t buy much there lately; the shipping costs have made the items more expensive than buying from the store.

  187. clydicus86 says:

    I came across a scammer on eBay too, but this was a seller. I was very pleased to have won an auction for a used Herman Miller task chair for just over $200. Good deal. The seller was in NY City, and I live in the north east, so I hoped the shipping wouldn’t be too bad. When the seller contacted me via email, their english was not very good. Whatever – lots of 1st gen immigrants in NYC. Then the seller told me that they have been having trouble with their PayPal account – they can make and receive payments, but they cannot get money transfered from PayPal to their bank account. So they want me to wire them the cash via Western Union…to Sweden. Huh? “Oh, not to worry – the chair is in NYC, but the seller is in Sweden right now.”

    …and of course, the seller understands that I am not stupid. So to reassure me, they offer to deposit the amount of the winning bid into my PayPal account. Once they receive the Western Union they will send the chair, and once I receive the chair I will transfer back their PayPal money.

    I still strongly suspected that this was a scam, but I was intrigued as to how the scam would work. Would they send me a phony “depost confirmation” email with a fake PayPal template? I wouldn’t fall for that. But maybe their scam was more sophisticated..?

    Curious, I went to Western Union’s site and put in the seller’s info, just to see what would happen. Sure enough, Western Union immediately came back saying it would not let me send money to this person because they had been flagged for fraudulent behavior.

    Obviously, I bailed out on the auction. The seller still insisted he was legit, and a victim of PayPal and Western Union’s ineptitude. But I maintained that no one could blame me for bailing on this one, and he never wrote me any negative feedback for it.

  188. HadleyFlop says:

    Comment on It’s Now Completely Impossible To Sell A Laptop On Ebay why don’t we put together a “Quit Ebay Day”, the “Quit Myspace Day”
    seemed to work pretty well.

  189. Mary says:

    @gomakemeasandwich: it is, but it’s run on a pretty different system. Or at least, it used to be. I haven’t sold anything on there in ages (I have inventory listed, but nobody wants it) so it could have changed.

    So their customer service is probably just as bad, but at least I just throw something on there for a price and leave it, no auction required. They also issue me the money through direct deposit, rather than waiting for payment from a customer.

  190. MaxRC says:

    I am a power seller (10k+), but also has a personal account that I use regularly. Selling items on eBay is not hard, but it can be frustrating if you don’t know what to do. There are ways you can block some of the unwanted bids, such as limiting bidders to US buyers, requiring immediate payment if buyer uses buy-it-now, and etc. I still get the occasional “I am happy to buy your computer, please get back to me with its current condition and your lowest offer” email, but eBay will come around and credit all fees.

    Speaking of which, as the story as described, complaining to eBay is an art form. There is a wrong way to do it, which is to be wordy and long winded; and there is a right way, which is to be short and to the point. Simply find the right contact form, fill it out with “Buyer is a Nigerian scammer, has also bid on and won 20 other auctions, has also sent me spoofed emails. Please cancel transaction and credit me FVF and listing fees for this auction”. That’s it. Don’t go into a long chronological description of everything that went down – eBay drones don’t have the time to process all that info. As long as they can verify that this transaction doesn’t pass the basic smell test, they will go ahead and cancel it and credit fees back. They will also be ecstatic that you were short and to the point with your complaint.

  191. UsherLieberman says:

    Full Disclosure: I am an eBay employee and an official company spokesperson.

    I want to open this comment by saying that I became aware of this post because the company’s founder, Pierre Omidyar, forwarded it to a number of people as a well reasoned criticism of I say that to make the point that what happened here and to others is very top of mind.

    I have no doubt that everything this user experienced is accurate. I know because I have actually experienced a nearly identical problem as a seller on eBay. My auction about 6 months ago of my laptop was “won” by a Nigerian criminal. I ultimately had to relist and restrict who could bid on my auction. I was successful in my second attempt to sell, but the experience was eye opening for me as an employee.

    Currently, our best advice is to limit your bidders. There are tools to do this, including the blunt force of restricting your items to US bidders only. But we know that what we have in place is not enough. We are applying the resources necessary to find the right solutions, and we know we have to do better. And we will, we’re just not there yet.

    • Anonymous says:

      @UsherLieberman: I am an eBay employee and an official company spokesperson. We are applying the resources necessary to find the right solutions, and we know we have to do better. And we will, we’re just not there yet.

      How about just blocking Nigeria from using eBay? I can’t imagine anybody would complain.

  192. DWMILLER says:

    google or yahoo “scambaiters” it is a very good internet sport!

  193. Javert says:

    I find this all odd. I am at close to 1,000 transactions and have had 2 problems. Never a problem in selling. I guess it is because I don’t sell electronics but tend to sell collectibles…I don’t know but I have had zero problems. I also like the broader audience with an ebay listing.

    I have never sold a laptop though. Maybe I should as I think I have 3 broken ones in the closet. Most likely, I will give them to a charity that can repair them or use them for parts. The tax benefit will be worth far more than the time involved in a sale and the fact I probably would not get a great deal on it.

  194. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Schmeg Peg:

    They can still screw you through Paypal.

  195. TechnoDestructo says:


    I was going to say “demand they send the heads” but then they’d just send any old heads because the only people other than corrupt government officials who could afford to pay them off would be the scammers.

    Sigh…ultimately, you are right.

  196. @Snarkysnake:
    tell my boss about using ING –someone made counterfeit checks and got away with it because the detectives said there was no way to track them down..

  197. Parting says:

    @Javert: Check online, there are several charities, including some hospital departments, that would like your old laptops (if they are still working).

    If they are completely dead, you can put them on eBay for parts or repair. When laptops are broken, you won’t get any scammers (they like products in mint condition ).

  198. Parting says:

    @tayga: When why many of UK sellers don’t ship to North America? Hein?

    Shipping internationally means going through customs. Most buyer are too stupid to understand it. There are taxes to pay, paperwork to fill. And then the buyer refuses your package ”oh! it costs too much in taxes/duties!”.

    So it has nothing to do with ”discrimination” only with business.

    Most of the time, it’s not profitable to ship to UK. It’s simply not worth my time and effort. Also, there are more risks due to the fact that UK paypal is never confirmed. So no seller protection there.

    Why would I sell to UK, if I have someone in USA or Canada offer me the SAME price? And the effort into shipping / selling will be much smaller on my side.

  199. Parting says:

    @lawstud: Did they charge you already? Because normally eBay collects fees once a month only.

    Or do a chargeback on your credit card, if it’s too late.

    (Never pay your ”bills” by PayPal)

  200. mariospants says:

    2 things about e-bay: the original founders and company execs are now billionaires/millionaires and couldn’t give a rat’s ass what happens to it now; & as long as they can “sell” items and have credit card insurance, paypal insurance etc. pay when someone scams you they don’t care: they got their commission.

  201. math0ne says:

    I just sold an old laptop on ebay that did not work at all with no feedback AT ALL on ebay, and got way more than i expected for it.

  202. crazbiskit says:

    does anyone know if the amazon bidding service is any better?

  203. madog says:

    @ahawks: Sorry if all that reading gave you a headache, but somehow, “eBay bad” wouldn’t quite cover the issue of the OP. It was very well written and brings to light a huge problem with eBay that some people may not actually know about. Also, suggesting that the OP only mention the Nigerian scammer does not inform people of the ineptitude of eBay’s customer service regarding the issue at hand.

    Also, if you don’t have “all day” to read such a post then please don’t waste your valuable time posting a response.

  204. EdanLagicide says:

    Guess who owns a big stake in Craigslist? You guessed it : EBay!!!

  205. farker says:

    Wow, sounds like this guy had some bad luck.

    Why couldn’t he have restricted it to US-based, PayPal verified eBay users?

    And about the password thing, the OP should look into the random number key dongle you can get for your PayPal/eBay accounts, lets you generate a unique password every time.

  206. Mozoltov, motherfucker says:

    You are a fool if you use Ebay or Paypal for any transactions more than $100 or so. now usine Paypal for business that are established are fine, but dealing with people on Ebay, screw that man.

  207. farker says:


    MAC addresses? You think those are harder to spoof than IP addresses? Bwahaha.

  208. sventurata says:

    Kijiji works great for local around here. Craigslist never took off, so who knows if that’s why.

  209. HarrietPirate says:

    This post makes me so incredibly angry because it’s so incredibly
    true. What used to be a haven for savings is now just a vehicle for
    theft and frustration.

    Millions upon millions to the entrepreneur who can fix the absolutely
    disgusting abomination that is the Ebay-Paypal combination.

  210. lovelygirl says:

    LMAO @(paraphrase) :”If anyone is reading this who knows how to keep people from Nigeria from bidding…”

    haha and ummm yeah if the unedited version of the story went on for 2 weeks, then how many days did the edited version go on for??? 13 days??

  211. corvi_yallis says:

    Need some Ebay EECB information here. Maybe their cellphones too.

  212. e.varden says:


    Judge Judy done a good one on this ebay unrepentant scammer. $5K fine plus an invitation to the IRS to come a-callin’.

    I hope this c*nt gets some serious “away time” from her three kids, like, in the Greybar Hotel.

  213. e.varden says:

    DAMN! I just send my retirement funds to the Nigerian Consulate P/O Bermuda to help some poor sod free up his &980,000 so he could bring his family and burgeoning tapestry-weaving enterprise over here to more free-market and stuff.

    I haven’t hearn from Omar for several months.

    Do you think I did something wrong?

    Armis Brooks

  214. SanwariMover says:

    I don’t even stop by ebay anymore when I’m looking for something.

  215. bcgrote says:

    LOL, you should try BUYING a laptop on eBay! Thankfully, I had over 10 years experience with it, and had noticed the steady influx of ‘non-sales’, or I would be out several grand!

    After careful culling through ads of lappies coming from China, Russia, Burma, I was fortunate to find one new and one carefully used for me and hubby! The Toshiba arrived safely and in good shape, only needing a fresh battery to work nicely. The Sager took a while, as the seller was in the USN and had to work our some logistics, but that is a nice work lappie for hubby, as he does video work.

    I know I’m really lucky to have not been scammed, but I took care that every seller I bid to was verifiable through other sources!

    Once we get computers around here, we used to hand them down, but now everyone we know has a decent computer, even the kids! Ah, well.

  216. mizike says:

    Craigslist is generally pretty decent, but it can be really tough to get a good price as EVERYONE is out to haggle and knock the price down 10-20%. Make sure you know where the closest bank machine to your house is for the people who will show up with 80% of the agreed on price in cash (after first going through 20 emails trying to get a lower price). I don’t understand how people can get pissed off when they show up with $80 in cash after we had explicitly agreed to $100 and I tell them i’ll wait while they go to the bank machine in the 7/11 across the street.

  217. alixor says:

    After going through similar hoops, and similar frustrations dealing with ebay support (it sucks big time,) I now successfully sell stuff on ebay. Basically, for some reason they have not set the default options to the ones that actually result in a sale. You MUST set these options in your item:

    1) Specify that you don’t ship overseas
    2) Require immediate PayPal payment from a registered account for Buy It Now
    3) Only accept PayPal payments

    You’ll get a few emails from scammers, but they won’t win the auction generally.

  218. Chroma3000 says:

    I tried selling a fat PSP on there, with a bunch of games and everything. In the last 10 minutes, I got a bid of $400, about $250 more than I planned. Turned out to be a scammer. Luckily, my friend was willing to buy it off me for more than I listed or got on the bids. I only use eBay for buying small things (<$50) now.

  219. SalenaKarpo says:

    I tried eBay and someone bid over $2000, never paid. Than paypal blocked my account because of some crap. I don’t like craigslist because you have to meet and not always you will sell what you want. Then I did research on online services buying laptops. And it seems that they pay more then before. At least some of them. I guess it is because more competition. I sold my used Dell for $350 to and it went very well. Very nice service and OK money.
    Who buys desktops? I don’t want to do ebay and nobody buys them online.

  220. digitlanalog says:

    Craigslist is just as bad. I tried to sell some electronics for holiday cash and I ended up with a email box full of phoney responses from people who wanted the item shipped to Nigera, and of course they were willing to pay me twice what the item was worth for the trouble. Yeah right. >_>

  221. Geroge Lamothe says:

    I had the same issue when i tried to sell my Iphone. I must have listed it 10 times before i gave up and tried craigslist. I was able to find a buyer in less than 30 min and met him within the hour.

    The only thing that sucks is that i still owe ebay $ 90.00 in listing fees they wont refund because the fraudulent buyers never agreed to jointly end the auctions….

    • Jackyc123 says:

      Oh my god…
      Im currently in talk with an old lady in uk that wants my toshiba laptop(IM SELLING ON EBAY) and wants it sent to her son in Nigeria, I thought might check and see if Nigeria is allowed products like this so i googled.. Can i post a laptop to Nigeria…and what do you know it brought me straight to this page and thankgod…
      the emails are very poor grammer for a rich lady from the uk,so looks like another scammer now and im certain of it after reading this colomn….
      The item still has 7days left and shes apparently sending to my bank account….
      If its not recieved within a few days i will be placing the email address that im recieving from and the address details of them…..

      ?????great discussion and I will now look into craigslist as ive never viewed it

  222. Anonymous says:

    Oh forget about asking ebay to do their job, just drop a note to the man, report them for violating the Patriot act. If the person bid that means they have a paypal account tied to that account and PP has already been hauled in and had their screening process scrutinized. So dont ask, tell. Snitch em out. Believe me, they’ll fork over everything you ever bought or searched for to the feds without a warrant. Give ’em hell!

  223. Anonymous says:

    I only used eBay once in a while to buy rare music.

    A couple years back I started noticing a ton of spoof/spam emails regarding eBay. Sure they were all fakes, but since I had an eBay account, I had to take the time to check the headers on each and ever email, to see if my account really was ‘being closed due to fruadulent activity’.

    By closing my account, I could be sure that all email from eBay was fake, and delete with out remorse. Sorry eBay, but the scammers won.

    BTW: I emailed ebay to let them know, in case they cared, and I got the same password reset email. That helped me take that final step in closing my account.

    Customer service fail.

  224. Anonymous says:

    I had a similar experience selling a laptop on eBay. They sent me the same crappy form letters telling me how I could reset my password when I was trying to alert them to fraud. eBay apparently has no interest in profitable, long-time members helping them remove scammer accounts. Goodbye, eBay of yore!