"Because the feedback looked so convincing I sent the cheque anyway"

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Sellers protesting eBay’s plans to make offering PayPal compulsory might like to cast an eye over a report in today’s Times, about ways to scam people on eBay. I’m sorry to say that much of the piece is stuff we’ve heard all too many times before: “buyer spots bargain, buyer posts cheque, buyer receives nothing” just about sums it up. But this statement from one of the victims caught my eye:

“The worst thing is that I knew we shouldn’t pay by cheque but everyone – my son, friends and even the lady in the bank – said it was not unusual.”

The Times goes on to comment

About £20m day is traded on eBay worldwide. The site recommends buyers pay via its own system, PayPal, which offers up to £500 cover for transactions that meet its criteria, but there is nothing to stop vendors demanding other methods of payment.

If eBay is ever going to move beyond its “dodgy” reputation, we have to put an end to stories like these; you and I might look at the story and be able to pick holes in The Times’ reporting, we might try and blame the buyer who don’t investigate their seller closely enough, or the sellers who let their accounts get taken over. But think of the dozens, maybe hundreds of people who have been put off eBay yet again by this article. How many customers does each of us lose to a story like this? Many of us might not like the idea of being forced to offer PayPal, but it’s worth it, to be able to tell the world that eBay’s a safe place to shop.

17 Responses

  1. Paypal is not the ONLY safe payment in the world. TBH I think ebay/payal scaremonger buyers into thinking that it is the be-all-and-end-all just to keep the monopoly going.
    I only accept paypal because ebay have made it so buyers are blind to other methods, end of story.

    I have noticed an increase in buyers using Nochex recently. Maybe buyers are tired of having paypal shoved in their faces at every opportunity ……

  2. ebay own paypal, so when disputes are opened, ebay have the ”full story” and then can make a judgement on all the facts. makes sense dont you think!!!!

  3. All sellers play a part in enhancing or destroying the reputation of ebay, that much is true. However, the rogue element will survive regardles of what ebay or good sellers do. It’s just the way things go. Nothing and no-one is ever perfect and ebay isn’t going to set the president.

  4. @ TC PayPal is not the only safe(r) method of payment, but it is the one that is most likely to be available. We need to eliminate the obviously unsafe methods like cheques as an absolute minimum step. No, nothing will ever stop the scammers completely, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eliminate some of the things that make it easy for them.

  5. @Sue,
    I tried to stop accepting cheques a while ago, but the amount of buyers who asked could they send a cheque made me change my mind. It’s not as common as it once was to send a cheque, but these people are still buyers and want to give me money. Who am I to stop them?
    True, I have had a couple of bouncers in the past. But they did pay by altrnative means in the end.

  6. Should people be prevented from putting themselves in a position where they can be ripped off? If I were eBay and my name were being dragged through the mud every time it happened, I would say “yes”.

    As I’m a seller and every time one of these stories is published, my livelihood is damaged, I’d say that at the very least, sellers should have to offer PayPal. And then if the buyer insists on paying by some C19th method, that’s their problem.

  7. Unfortunately I have lost more money through fraudulent paypal chargebacks/reversals than by bounced cheques.

  8. If Ebay were to offer an incentive to go “Paypal Only” I and presumably many others would be happy to switch, say a reduction in paypal % or a reduction in the 20p Paypal fixed charge. It wouldnt cost them anything in that the Paypal volume would increase.

  9. Re losing money through chargebacks etc. Bear in mind that if you had a Bricks & Mortar shop you would expect a level of shoplifiting, at least 1 or 2%, perhaps the occasional chargeback is not so bad

  10. the more confident buyers are the better it is for all of us,
    though it seems to me ebay gets the blame by default, the red tops circle like sharks waiting for the next bite,
    its normal in everyday trading to have problems ,
    buyer stupidity seller deception and greed occurs in any transaction between humans, not just ebay.

    mobile phone companies, banks, builders, financial services etc rip folk off blind everyday
    thats why programs such as watchdog exist, and lawyers get rich

  11. I’m more than happy to accept paypal only, in fact I already do. The other methods are simply (IMHO) not worth all the extra hassle that they entail, non-payers, late payers, long clearances, extra admin, extra buyer hand holding to name a few.

    I love it that gefore I even get the email alerting me to a sale, I’ve already got the money in my paypal account. On the odd occasion I sell by an auction, I almost always have problems collecting the payment. It’s ridiculous, I spend more time on those transactions then I would on 50 BIN’s with PayPal only “immediate payment required”. I don’t care if I lose the “odd” sale because they are not worth the hassle anyway.

  12. I like to give my customers a choice but if it was up to me it would be protx/bank every day.

  13. “Beware of sellers from strange locations – the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are popular hideouts for fraudsters ”

    That seems a little general…

  14. I went “Immediate Payment Required” on a number of my listings for a while, but I then ended up with loads of messages about paying by cheque, PO or bank transfer. I also found that people were buying 3 or 4 items, then asking for a postage discount – in a number of cases, I put a few coins in with the package, rather than using a partial refund or send money.
    On the occasion I did use partial refund, the buyer kept getting payment reminders despite having the item marked as paid in my summary pages.

    If eBay want to acheive a more secure, retail feel for their buyers, they could do a lot worse than introduce a form of shopping cart for making combined payments, along with a more flexible and reliable postage discount programme.

    Paypal also need a PR exercise to improve their image – there are still far too many stories abound with people losing money through Paypal, both buyers and sellers. Granted, some of them may be elaborations of fact, and many will stem from not complying with the Paypal buyer/seller protetion policy, but for eBay to insist on any one payment method, they need to make sure it is rock solid for buyers and sellers.

    When buyers tell me they prefer to send a postal order (or even cash!) rather than trusting Paypal, that does not inspire me with confidence.

  15. @Sue

    Cheuqes have been a safe effective means of payment for years. Just because eBay want to make more money out of us by pushing PayPal, doesn’t mean that other payments are unsafe. I haven’t been brainwashed yet.

    I’ll accept PayPal without any problem, but I also want the option of accepting other payments as well.

    What irritates me is the arrogance of eBay in little ways. I have a PayPal account and will accept payments, but eBay in their interfering wisdom decide to tell my customesr I prefer PayPal.

    How do they know what I prefer? They haven’t asked me.

  16. @ Owen: I’ll choose to believe you didn’t mean to tell me I’m brainwashed.

    Cheques are as safe as the people writing them are honest.

    And if you want to turn off “PayPal preferred”, it’s under Site Preferences > Payment from buyers > PayPal preferences.

  17. @ Sue

    eBay is brainwashing a lot of people with this rubbish they spout about PayPal being safe. It’s the steady drip drip drip of propoganda. I don’t know whether or not you come into that category or not. I certainly don’t.

    PayPal is only as safe as the person using it and from a sellers point of view it’s the most unsafe method there is IMO. I think this pandering to those who got ripped off is going too far. Whatever happend to people taking responsibility for their own actions?

    Thanks for the tip about preferences. It’s a shame that I have to make the change away from preferring it, rather than to preferring it if I wanted to.


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