Observer highlights eBay buyer fraud

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An investigation from the Observer newspaper into the various buyer scams on eBay has yielded some interesting results.

Not only have several aggrieved sellers had some cases reversed, some serial buyer scam offenders have also been identified and an eBay spokesperson admits that reform is necessary.

Here you can read the full article called: It’s seller beware as eBay’s buyer guarantee is exploited by scammers. The various cases will be very familiar to any seasoned eBay sellers. Items are claimed as not received or switched on return. eBay’s team of reps also don’t seem to use evidence supplied by sellers and also don’t dig deeper to find the serial scammers.

But eBay is reasonably contrite, a spokesperson says: “There is something wrong. There is a small group of people who abuse the system which was built on the premise that most people are honest. It does need to become more intuitive.”

For me the article raises two questions. Firstly, why aren’t repeat offenders being rooted out? It should be relatively easy to spot buyers with a higher than average tally of claims.

And secondly, are reps empowered to exercise judgment on individual cases or are they hamstrung by rigid, ‘computer-says-no’ styles workflows?

It shouldn’t take the intervention of a national newspaper to get a fair hearing for sellers (likely paying many thousands of pounds in fees every years) who have bent backwards to do their best. We look forward to hearing from eBay in due course on how the system will become more “intuitive”.

Edited to add: eBay are already running a ‘Returns Resolution’ Pilot in the US which hopefully will be rolled out in the UK.

30 Responses

  1. The problem with this Observer article is that unless ebay act quickly to clamp down on scams, more and more people are going to realise that it’s worth a try, as ebay are unlikely to do anything as drastic as press criminal charges.
    The hardened criminals have of course been having a field day already, but we ought to be thinking about those who had thought up to now that it’s too risky and they’re liable to be caught out – this article will perhaps give a few of them the incentive to give it a go.

  2. We had one similar to the iMac last week, where by the parts kit despatched mysteriously lost 2 parts, from the CCTV of the packing station, to the customer receiving it.
    The buyer claimed INAD, got a free returns label, his money back & kept the 2 parts required for the job.

    Sent the buyer the CCTV & he claimed a dealer that is a 2hr drive from the delivery point supplied the full kit on the day [3hrs from receipt to INAD claim], upon checking with the dealer they didn’t have any stock & last sold one months ago

    Gave the buyer the info & eBay upon return of the kit & eBay told us to refund & suck up the loss of the fraudulent buyer.

    Upon further investigation the buyer was using his friends account & eBay won’t tell me his ID from his Paypal email address, as I guess its NARU’d.

  3. The only surprise is that this should still make headlines.

    Ebay turns blind eye to buyer fraud ***Shock***

    It’s only if sellers finally have enough and walk away that Ebay will become fairer.

    Unfortunately, Ebay have calculated there will always be people desperate / lazy / unimaginative enough to keep them going.

    So for all the hype and complaints, things won’t change, whatever Ebay says in its PR.

    If you sell on Ebay, you know you’re playing with a stacked deck.

    If you sleep with dogs, don’t complain if you get fleas.

  4. We think the problem is far larger than the observer reports or ebay admits to,
    Their will be many more like ourselves that dont report because of the administration time plus the frustration of dealing with ebay, just suck it up and treat it as the cost of using ebay

  5. Afterthought:-

    Even if Ebay did crack down on fraud, scammers can go straight to Paypal and get their money.

    But that’s another story…

  6. Plus these headline scams draw attention away from the endemic low value scams that sellers endure every day, aided and abetted by ebay the return claim not as described to avoid postage cost fraud is just one

  7. Plus if you fight fraudsters and lose using ebay , ebay will restrict your account after very few lost cases,(seller never wins)to protect your account your encouraged to just simply refund however fraudulent the claim is

  8. in effect ebay is creating a tainted market place,as a seller if we are less than honest or helpful we feel justified due to past injustice and cost, ok the angels out there will witter, but if we can claw one back we do

  9. Even when its so clear the only way ebay could ignore the abuse is by helping the scammer they take no action

    This buyer dontikas75 has been reported numerous times by different sellers and nothing is done look at his feedback left for others.

    What do sellers have to do to get action is anyone guess but reporting a serial scammer does not offer and protection or action to stop the abuse I guess its a cost of selling on eBay.

    I wonder how many of the new sellers turn to scamming when they find out the hard way how easy it is to get your goods and your money back on eBay.

    Why bother to sell something on eBay to get the money to buy something else when eBay allow and encourage you to get the item you want for free with its one sided policies

  10. there are a whole raft of changes from the ebay we built a business on
    very few of them of any advantage to a seller,
    we understand buyers are the life blood of an ebay seller, we can cope with a scratch or two and the odd scuff though if ebay provide razors to cut our wrists we lose too much blood and die

  11. I stopped selling my personal items of value on ebay for this very reason, its just way to easy on ebay to end up out of pocket for many reasons.

  12. Ebay has never cared about seller being scammed as it doesn;t cost them. Ebay has always been an completely arrogant in it’s treatment of sellers, just 3 years ago ebay was 80% of my business and Amazon 20%, now that is completely reversed.

    It is extremely easy to spot spot scammers, you just need to look at buyers that send out extremely high numbers of messages sent to sellers and refund rates above 10%. Based on these two easily available metrics, you can see fraudlent buyers. If ebay just sent a warning message to these accounts that there accounts are being monitored, you would a massive drop off of messages, claims and refunds. Why bother shop lifting when you get stuff delivered to your home for free with zero chance of being caught????

  13. There is no shortage of sellers on eBay but there clearly is a shortage of buyers as they flee the marketplace for Amazon or various Facebook groups. As long this is the case, eBay will keep privileging buyers’ interests over sellers’ interests.

  14. A big issue is that when fighting a scammer its like a computer looks at you rcase rather than a person. I had one last year who changed his story 5 times then tripped himself up and ebay still sided with him… strangely less than 5 mins after case was escalated. When i appealed the case i sent them all the messages he had sent changing his story and even threatening me personally mentioning he had my address…. i added a police crime number as i took him seriously… Ebay simple stood by decision because the buyer disputed the case. What is the point? If a case gets escalated it is decided in minutes…. meaning no one actually looks at what you put, thats if you even get asked.
    It’s nothing short of criminal and i swear next time i get done like this i am going to the small claims court to get my money back from ebay. I know they wont turn up… but help i will email every damn newspaper etc i can!

  15. I think Toby is right, cases are handled by a computer, look a this case, just this morning, buyer says that tracking is wrong, he has not received the item. He escalates the cases and ebay closed it and refunded the buyer as case not resolved by the seller. But the tracking shows his name, date and hour of delivery, the only problem is that Post NL tracking is not visible on ebay, you should check outside of ebay. I sent an appeal, let’s see what happen

  16. It seems the latest scam is ask for a return and see if you can keep the goods and get your money back if the seller does not give in and requests you return threaten to leave a negative feedback to add pressure to refund without return and if the seller wont roll over just try the same thing on the next seller

  17. advice please folks, 2 INR messages this week(first for a while!). What’s the best way to proceed with the least impact to my selling account i.e defects. Is it to refund via ebay or paypal without resolution centre? or to advise buyers to make a “INR request” and of course i will then refund straightaway.I accept i will refund without quibble, no reason to disbelieve. With all the ebay changes/turnarounds/backtracks etc etc i am confused over which way is the best, cheers


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