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Space cowboy's Journal: The rise and fall of regulated Ebay

Journal by Space cowboy

So, I'm annoyed.

I'm moving to the USA, which amongst other things means selling various things I can't/don't want to take with me, and Ebay would seem to be an ideal way to get rid of reasonably expensive items (motorbike etc.)

First ever time as a seller (thought I've bought lots before), and it's been a disaster. There exist trolls who simply bid on things without any intention of paying, and Ebay (the organisation) tolerate this - there's little protection for sellers.

Ebay charge you a fraction of the "sold" price, even if the person doesn't pay up. So, the only person out of pocket is the seller - it's in Ebay's interest to continue the status quo, and there is no obvious attempt to track down the scumbags who have made false bids. The only action taken is to invalidate the bidding account, and what good is that ? The saying "shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted" comes to mind!

So, you can either re-offer the item to another bid (and if you do this, all trace of the previous unfulfilled auction seems to disappear! Hmmm.) or relist the item. You can't do the former then the latter. Neither consequence is spelt out (or if it is, it's sufficiently misleading that someone who's just been the subject of a scammer can easily miss it).

So, you decide to offer to the next lowest, and that doesn't work (the guy only gets 24 hours to respond, and emails you later saying he'd missed the chance, grrr).

Then, with impatience and anger rising, you re-list (at your own expense again) the item on Ebay, and EXACTLY THE SAME THING HAPPENS.

This time, I was alert, and did a 'By Buyer' search - the offending character (ladd_eugene) had bids outstanding totalling over £20,000. I cancelled her bid, and the system told me she had bid £2000 on my auction (when the bike eventually sold for £561...)

So, if I was ebay, and I wanted to deflect criticism of not caring (due to it ultimately benefiting ebay) about sellers, I would do some of:

  • Require that bids are not more than 1.5 times the current bid or bid + {$£}500, whichever is smaller.
  • Offer a deposit of {£$}100 which users could voluntarily subscribe to, which removes the above limit. They have to pay the deposit in advance, and it counts towards the item. They lose it if they screw around of course
  • Only allow bids on (user's feedback) + 1 auctions at a time
  • Limit total bid exposure by username.
  • Send the seller an email whenever a categorised item has a bid outside 2 std deviations from the normal for that category. Should be possible to use browser keyword searches to define the categories.
  • Allow sellers to see the maximum bid price from buyers.
  • As a consequence, prevent bids from the same IP as the sellers as well.

The current situation just stinks, if you're a seller. Some lowlife can ruin your sale with impunity, and there's no comeback. This is a pain under normal circumstances, but it's a *royal* pain when you're about to leave the country, and time is of the essence. Failed auctions I could have done without...

Still annoyed, but at least I sold the item this time, even if it cost me about £35 more than it ought to have, and hey, in a week's time I'll be in California [grin]

Simon

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The rise and fall of regulated Ebay

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