Friday, July 07, 2006

eBay? No way!

I quit using eBay a few years ago for two main reasons:

1) eBay is not secure, safe, or fraud-free, despite all its highly touted, very annoying efforts to appear that way. I was almost ripped off by a scammer on eBay who tried and succeeded in fleecing about six other buyers. Luckily for me, the scammer was not very bright, as he accepted a personal check as payment. I stopped payment on the personal check (my banker was amused and didn't charge me a fee for that) minutes after I had used it to pay for the COD delivery at a USPS office and discovered that what I had been shipped was not what I had bid on. I got two 16MB SIMMs I found in the package, not the two 32MB sticks I had paid "COD" for with a personal check.

The seller had not thought to specify cash or cash equivalent only as a means of covering the COD delivery, and the postal clerk had actually preferred I write a check to save myself the expense of having her create a Postal Money Order for me that she could send back to the seller, as I initially started to pay with cash. I tried to contact the seller, even though I knew he had tried to swindle me, but, not surprisingly, he had disappeared. So much for eBay's safety and security measures!

How do I know he'd scammed others? I contacted everyone else who had a winning bid on any of his recent/only auctions under that username and warned them. They sent me back their horror stories about being defrauded/scammed on eBay by that seller. I got one email from a guy in law enforcement whose wife had been ripped off by the seller on eBay. He was going to contact a buddy of his in the city in which the seller purportedly resided, but did not have high hopes that that city's police department would catch the scammer.

Judging by my experience and that of his other victims I contacted, he was careful to ship something that was close enough to what was auctioned off to claim that it was a mistake -- not fraud (which might make it harder to get Postal Inspectors to pay attention to his scheme). His shipped me two sticks with half as much memory as I expected, the LEO's wife got a digital camera with lower resolution than was advertised in the eBay listing, someone else got a lower capacity hard drive than they bid on (IRRC), etc.

2) eBay is far too politically correct and is happy to impose harsh restrictions or outright bans on listings for things that might upset the sorts of mindless drones who get all excited about buying/selling "collectible" faux depression era Cobalt blue miniature tea sets.

Don't believe me? Try to bid on or list firearms on eBay. Since eBay is not a party to the transaction itself, why did it prevent firearms from being listed? They are legally bought and sold all the time in the U.S. and most civilized parts of the world. I guess eBay has something against a woman who might want to defend herself effectively against sexual predators, or a father who wants to sell the youth-sized .22LR rifle he bought for his daughter to learn how to shoot with, now that she is an adult and buys her own firearms.

I quote the following from the eBay Policies page:

Are you sure your item is allowed on eBay? Do you suspect that some one's item is counterfeit and aren't sure what eBay's policy is? You can learn more about prohibited and restricted items here. These items include alcohol, animals, credit cards, food, fireworks, tobacco and weapons.

Since eBay isn't actually buying, selling, or ever in posession of the items listed on its auction site, why does it get involved by prohibiting legitimate, legal transactions from being negotiated there? Does anyone with a clue really need or want eBay as a nanny?

3) [Yeah, that's more than two, but I found out about this yesterday, long after eBay had lost me as a customer.] eBay is not allowing Google Checkout to be used to pay for items bought through eBay:

Payment Services not permitted on eBay: AlertPay.com, anypay.com, AuctionChex.com, AuctionPix.com, BillPay.ie, ecount.com, cardserviceinternational.com, CCAvenue, ecount, e-gold, eHotPay.com, ePassporte.com, EuroGiro, FastCash.com, Google Checkout, gcash, GearPay, Goldmoney.com, graphcard.com, greenzap.com, ikobo.com, Liberty Dollars, Moneygram.com, neteller.com, Netpay.com, Nochex.com, paychest.com, payingfast.com, Payko.com, paypay, Postepay, Qchex.com, rupay.com, scripophily.com, sendmoneyorder.com, stamps, Stormpay, wmtransfer.com, xcoin.com

(See: eBay's Accepted Payments Policy at: http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/accepted-payments-policy.html )

Now, since eBay bought PayPal (another reason to dislike eBay), I can see why eBay would want to engage in uncompetitive business practices and use whatever monopolistic powers it has to keep Google from making PayPal irrelevant. The Funny thing is that eBay gets a lot of its business from Google. I think it would be funny if Google returned the favor -- eBay needs Google a lot more than Google needs ebay, I suspect. But Google has a good reputation to uphold, while eBay has little to lose it seems, given all the cautionary tales one hears from users who have been burned on eBay.

One thing Google could do far better than ebay ever has is run a huge online auction site. Google has more than enough infrastructure in place and it need only buy one or more existing online auction sites that have been around a while, then scale them up to and beyond eBay size. That would serve eBay right and certainly fits in with Google's mission statement, since online auctions are very information intensive and often involve a lot of search. I wonder if Google could start a new auction service called Gbay? I'd do business there!
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eBay tries to distance itself from transactions by claiming to be just a venue, while it strives to make its more gullible, technophobic users feel all warm and fuzzy, safe and protected, while they are actually very exposed and at risk if they trust eBay to prevent them from being taken by online auction crooks. Just Google "fraud scam ebay" if you want proof that eBay is rife with scam artists.

As a rule, one can find better, safer deals elsewhere on almost anything non-trivial than one can on eBay. Some fantastic (read: more useful, less noisy and less obnoxious) auction sites have sprung up all over the Web because eBay is so bad. For example, auctionarms.com and gunbroker.com provide popular alternatives to eBay for those who wish to buy/sell firearms and gun-related items that eBay stopped listing so as not to offend the shrilly vocal, but oh-so-PC fanatics opposed to our 2nd Amendment rights.

After reading and hearing about the rampant fraud on eBay, its pandering to the ignorant AOHell crowd, and its generally anti-competitive behavior, I find it easy to just say "No way!" to eBay.

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