Caveat Emptor
“eBay's 'Buyer Protection' swizz exposed”

As the kind of guy who’s never able to resist the temptation to walk past a skip, without having a wee hoke round in it, on the off-chance of finding something that “Might Come in Handy”, I’ve long been a bit of an eBay addict; The joy of making a few quid by flogging off a load of oul’ shite you’ve got lying round the house is matched only by the equal pleasure of putting in a last second snipe and snatching a piece of someone else’s bric-a-brac right out from under another bidder’s stupid nose!

Of course, with eBay being like a giant car-boot sale, there’s always more than the fair share of assorted dodgy bastards and conniving low-lifes hovering round, waiting for the chance to try and separate you from your money or possessions. Usually, however, by taking a few precautions, like checking people’s Feedback and cross-referencing their eBay history, you can ensure most transactions go pretty smoothly. and if something does go wrong?… well, there are all those notices, littering the eBay site, telling you how you’re covered. So there’s nothing really to worry about, is there?

So I believed, until a month or two back when in spite of my usual research, I got ripped off by a seller with a previously impeccable Feedback rating. I bought a Dremmel Mini Drill for £21 [£16 plus £5 P&P] which never arrived. Around the same time, I received various emails from other eBayers, who’d bought items from the same seller, which had also failed to arrive. Perhaps at this juncture it would be nice to give the thieving cockroach an honorable mention. so here’s to you:

Shaun Matthews

11 Parkfield Road

Torquay TQ1 4AL

eBay Username: shaun1069

Now, on finding out that five others as well as my good self had been done over like the proverbial kippers by this low-life, it was time to put the much-vaunted eBay buyer protection into operation. And thus the fun began:

For a start, I was not allowed to put a claim in against eBay until 28 days after I’d officially notified them that a transaction had gone wrong [by “Opening a Dispute”]. This eBay says is to allow the person against whom you are lodging the claim time to respond -in my case this would have been quite difficult as eBay had already terminated the fucker’s account due to the barrage of complaints against him. However, as any long-suffering member of the public knows, “Rules is Rules” and no good bureaucracy would ever allow logic to stand in the way of procedure and so I had to wait out the full 28 days before my claim could proceed.

As the ebay claims procedure slowly ambled forward to the next stage, I received another pair of delightful surprises:

So, in other words I’d be entitled to claim [£21 [Original cost] - £5 [Postage] - £15 [eBay admin fee] =] £1. Yes follks! One hundred shiny new pennies back, out of the £21 I’d had stolen from me. Well, thank fuck for Buyer Protection -I’d have been really out of pocket without that!

But wait! -the fun disnae end there!

As if that wasn’t enough of a kick in the teeth, eBay then sent me an email telling me I would have to write to my bank and ask them to send me written confirmation that the money had gone out of my account and that I would then have to post that information to eBay [and needless to say not to a Freepost address either].

So, in order even to claim the pitiful £1 back, I’d have to spend a further 32p on a stamp to write asking my bank for proof of the transaction and a further 32p posting that information to eBay. Therefore my final refund on £21 lost, would be the majestic sum of 36 Pence!

Of course, if my five fellow victims of the same swindler all put in their claims as well, eBay would have made [6 x £15 =] £90 in admin fees for processing the claims -which let’s face it, wouldnae exactly be an onerous task, given that the six claims were against the same guy -who eBay themselves had banned from their site- for six items sold during the same week.

Oh well, it’s comforting to to see that whether their customers win or lose in their online transactions, eBay always ends up quids in! So just bear that in mind next time you see that “Buyer Protection” sign on an eBay auction -It’s not worth the pixels it’s displayed on!

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