The end of selling on eBay, for me

I recently went through a round of selling some stuff on eBay. I had yet another HORRIBLE experience. Then, I thought:

“Wait, when was the last time I had a positive experience as a seller on eBay?”

The answer is, it’s been a while. It’s been a few years. When I think back, it happened very gradually. There are a few key problems:

  • You can’t leave negative feedback for a buyer. So, when someone scams you, all you can do is open case and EVERY TIME, eBay has sided with the buyer, despite me providing hard proof of impropriety from the buyer.
  • “Buyer protection”. Again, everything is slanted to favor the buyer. Did you know if a buyer is dissatisfied with something they bought from you, they can get a full refund (including shipping), within 90 days of purchase? eBay, to me is, is like a garage sale. You take a small risk with buying something used. eBay sees it different, there is no risk for the buyer. So, great for buyers, horrible for sellers.
  • Low-ball trolls. I got a LOT of people who would send a message with a low-ball offer, then just troll/spam my account because I respectfully declined their offer. I have something with an opening bid of $100 with $20 shipping. I’ll get an offer for $55 cash with free shipping. Really?
  • Pricing vs the real world. I have found I can’t get near the going-rate for things I have for sale. When I’m on Amazon and look at the “used” price, I can expect to get perhaps 80% or LESS on eBay for the same thing. I need to find out how to list something on Amazon or NewEgg!

Negative feedback:
The core of eBay has always been the reputation system. Without it, the system fails. A couple years ago, they dramastically changed the feedback system. If you are a buyer, you can mark the transaction fairly. If you are a seller, you can only mark the transaction as positive or not at all! There isn’t even an option for “neutral” anymore!

Let’s “play the tape forward” on this. That means that you have a pretty good idea of a seller, because buyers can rate them fairly: negative, neutral, or positive.

That also means you, as a seller, have no idea how much of a deadbeat scumbag your buyer is, because all they have is positive feedback or missing feedback. LACK of information does not make this feedback system better; it undermines it.

For example, here are your feedback options:

As a seller, you can rate a transaction like this:


As a buyer, you can rate a transaction like this:


Again, keep in mind that if you “Report this buyer”, in the 4-5 times I’ve done this, eBay has sided with the buyer 100% of the time – despite them clearly defrauding me and me having proof to back up my claim.

“Buyer Protection”
This is eBay’s “Money-back guarantee” policy. Again, great if you are a buyer because you can abuse this in several ways! If you are a seller however, the cards are stacked against you. You basically have no recourse.

For example, I sold a laptop probably a year ago. Around 80 days after the sale (that’s 2 months and 3 weeks later), I got a request for a refund because the seller didn’t like the laptop and claimed it wasn’t what was in the description. So, this scumbag used (and abused) this laptop for 3 months, eBay refunded his money – he took another MONTH to ship it back to me (so he got around 4 months of use out of it), THEN when I got it, it was basically trashed. When eBay reviewed the case, the determined this was covered under BUYER protection. I had to refund the auction AND shipping. So, my laptop got destroyed, and I paid to ship it to California, then again for it to be shipped back. All in the name of buyer protection, because BUYERS need protecting!?

By the way, that’s a pretty smart/evil way to scam the system and get a laptop for college, 4 months at a time, right? All at the sellers expense and it doesn’t cost you a dime.

Low-Ball Trolls:
This has become rampant. For every auction, there will be 1 to maybe 8 people who will send messages proposing 1/2 of the opening bid and free shipping. When you decline, they spam your inbox with rants about how you’re an idiot for not taking their awesome deal for your crappy product. This seems to go on for a few days, per troll.

Does this tactic work? Does being belligerent and trying to “bully” sellers into selling you something for cheap, actually work?

This isn’t anything to get too upset over, but it is yet another annoyance in a system that already has a few fatal flaws, in my opinion.

Pricing vs The Real World:
This I don’t really get either. If you price something at market value (used prices based on using amazon, eBay, newegg, pricegrabber, etc as a reference), then your item will just sit. If you start off very low thinking the price will rise, I’ve had a few auctions actually close at my low-ball “the price will definitely not stay that low” price. You simply can’t demand fair market value anymore, at least in my experience.

People get stuff listed on and as used. It might be time to look into how to do that.

Bottom line:
I get the feeling that I’ve seen the full arc of eBay. It started off fantastic, then had it’s hay-day, and now it’s steeply in decline.

What I mean is, it’s a buyers paradise – but it’s at the expense of sellers. You can’t have a buy AND sell marketplace where you favor buyers and completely abuse sellers. Sellers are going to continue leaving. At some point you’re going to have a marketplace with just buyers and sellers who charge extra for the aggravation, which reduces the value of eBay, which will lead to it’s collapse. That’s my opinion, at least.

So for me, and it sounds crazy to say this, but I won’t be selling anything on eBay as a private seller every again. If you have something to sell, I would strongly recommend you consider the same!

Posted in Cloud Computing, Computers and Internet, General, New Technology, Uncategorized

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