Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ebay Buyer Scam?

Scam? You be the judge...
I have sold items on Ebay since 1996. Over the years I have had users contact me wanting me to stop an auction format sale (end it early) with an offer of what they feel is a fair price. I never do. Not because Ebay doesn't permit it, but it's usually a good indication the item for sale will bring way more than the offer the user is presenting me.

It seems some of these disappointed buyers have found a clever new and very scummy way to attempt to get the item without paying full price even if it brings a higher price than they want to bid.
Here's how it works.

Say I list a painting for 50 bucks starting price. It eventually get's bid up to 175.00 and the auction ends in 18 minutes. If you've sold anything on Ebay you know sometimes the last minute of the sale is when all the action happens. Two bidders can fight over a piece down to the last 2 seconds. The deceitful high bidder will send me a message during the final hour with an apology similar to this

"Hi, I am currently high bidder on your painting. I typed in the bid box $17500 INSTEAD of 175.00 I'm at work and I can't fix it until I get home. I will only pay $175.00 that was what I wanted to pay and no more than that. I'm very sorry


What does this mean? He will be the high bidder even if it brings $400.00 or more. I can't end a sale early in the last hour but I can cancel bids IF I'm home and I open the email before the sale ends. Otherwise, he wins the item. Now I usually wouldn't think anything about someone making a mistake like this, but when it happened again with a hauntingly familiar line of bullshit, I smell a rat. Now I'm not saying that an "accident" like this can't happen twice, but in my opinion, it is unlikely and too convenient.
What if the painting brought $192.00? The winning bidder already said he was only paying $175. If I tell him no and he cancels, the back up bidder may not respond to my second chance offer. Sometimes when an item is relisted it brings less. In fear of that and possible negative feedback, I just sell it to the scam guy for his bid of $175. It's dirty.

Even though I'm not obligated to sell it at his price the buyer could get nasty about it.

I have wonder how many sellers cave into their "Oops! I'm a typo dummy" story and sell their item at the lower bid price to avoid negative feedback or the backup bidder changing their mind. 

My policy, if caught in time, is to cancel their bid and block them. I don't believe anyone is that simple. They can fix it immediately after bidding. The process is two step and ask BOTH times "your bid is" they have 2 chances to correct it. It's clear and very easy to read. If anyone else had a similar experience, I'd like to hear from you.


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