in Personal

eBay Experience

Last week, I decided I neededer, wanted a new digital camera. I have a decent little Sony Cybershot that Ive had for several years, but Im really wanting to try to get into more advanced photography – so I want a Digital SLR. I found a nice setup on ebay for a fair price, so I put in my bid and eventually won the auction. Great – so I just send the money and get the item and things are done right? Nope.

Anytime I win an auction on ebay, Ill pay right then (I only bid on paypal auctions to make it easy to pay). I tried that this time and PayPal gave me an error saying the user can not receive payments and this time. Okthat was certainly odd, but I just e-mailed the seller to let him/her know there was an issue and to let me know how I can pay or when theyll have it worked out. After sending the e-mail, I waited a couple of days, then sent another – this time saying I would report them as a non-selling seller since they havent responded and I still couldnt pay.

So, I visit the live chat service ebay has for buying and selling support. I wait in the queue for 5-10 minutes and then someone comes online. I explain the issue and then he asks me a dozen or so different questions (like have I e-mailed the seller, what was the response, etc.). After going through all of that, he says that he cant help me with the issue, but he can transfer me to a different team that can help. OkI wish he would have been able to tell me that when I first talked to him (I outlined the whole thing as soon as we started and his questions just verified what I saidso its not like he didnt know). Anyway, that was fineuntil I found out transfer meant hell tell me the webpage and then I can go send off an e-mail to the other team

Fine – I dont have to talk to someone right at that very moment, so filling out a contact form is fine. So I did – and I included everything I told the rep during the online chat so they had all of the details I could think of. About 24 hours later, I got a response. They said I needed to contact the seller to resolve the issue and that they realize I have already done that and the seller never respondedbut I need to contact the seller. Umthats kinda the problem. At this point, I just wanted the auction to be cancelled so the contract doesnt exist. I havent paid yet and dont plan to at this point, but Id prefer to be able to withdraw so I cant get negative feedback on something thats not my fault. One thing this team did suggest that I hadnt tried was to contact PayPal and see why the account was frozen.

So – I filled out a form on PayPal explaining the situation once again and asking if they can just tell me why the account is frozen or anything at all about why I cant send money. I waited 48 hours and then the response arrived. The response was about 2 lines long and the summary was because of our Privacy Policy, we cannot tell you anything. Well swell.

So I went back to the auction and noticed the sellers feedback score had dropped since the last time I checked. The feedback was from someone who paid the seller a week ago but has not received the item and hasnt heard from the seller. I pulled up a history for the seller and noticed that another buyer had purchased a camera from this same seller the same day I won the auction. So I thought Ill just send the other buyer a private message and see if he/she is having the same problem I was having. I found the spot on ebay to send a message to another member, filled out the form and wrote quite a long message. When I pressed send, it told me that they noticed I didnt have a pending or recently closed transation with that person so I cant talk to them. It sure would be nice if they mentioned that before I spend 20 minutes writing out the message.

Anyway – this was my first shot at a big ticket item ($650) on ebay and now Im reconsidering whether I would do it again. Ive bought small items in the past and felt really good about the whole transaction. This time though, it seems like everything is stacked in the sellers favor (by a large margin) and if there is a problem, the buyer is pretty much at the mercy of the seller. I dont see any way for them to force me to pay at this point, but I want the transaction closed one way or another. As it stands, Ive still won the item, but never heard from the seller. After reading the latest feedback for the seller, I dont feel comfortable sending the money even if PayPal did let me at this point. One other thing I did find out is that ebay only covers you up to $250 if something goes wrong (or thats what I was told in one response I got). PayPal may cover you up to $1000, but only if the seller is selected for the buyer protection program – so if you dont notice anything about buyer protection, PayPal apparently wont help you either if you get scammed.

Im just a little surprised that ebay doesnt focus on the buyer more than the seller. I understand it has to be easy for both to use, but I would think buyers getting scammed is more of an issue than sellers being scammed (since if they credit card goes through, its a pretty safe bet things are ok). This has really turned me off to buying on ebay – at least in the short term.