Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Are eBay sellers supposed to be contacting me to sell me things?

I just read this post on Ask Dave Taylor and, since the same more or less happened to me ( I also had somebody telling me to use TNT and luckily I understood it was fake) I thought it good to warn others...

I recently bid on - and lost - an eBay auction on a set of DVDs for my sweetie and now I seem to have gotten onto some sort of list where other folk are emailing me offers to buy the very same item but circumventing the eBay auction system. I'm leery, but thought maybe I'm missing out on a good deal. What's your advice?

Interestingly, I am having the same experience having gotten involved with an eBay auction for the Red Dwarf DVD collection (a great TV series from the Beeb, it's quite expensive brand new). Bidding went higher than I was willing to pay, so I let it go and now I am getting email from someone new every day or two, all claiming to be the seller.

For example, here's one I got this morning:

hello d1taylor,
I`m Seller of item:
Item Number: 300173688803
i want to know you best price because i do have more .
If you are interested just give me a fast reply on this with your best price and you will find all the info that you want.
Thank You For your Time
I am quite skeptical of things related to eBay because of the number of scammers out there, so on an earlier message I did respond. I'll let the dialog speak for itself:
them: I'm the seller of the of the item that you've recently bid on, item number 300173688803.
Item URL:
I`m contacting you because I want to tell you that I have more similar items for sale...So please let me know your best price and if sounds good we will start the transaction immediately.
If you are interested just give me a fast reply on this email address. I want a safe deal only through ebay.
me: Thanks for your note. I usually don't like to go "off the reservation"
with eBay, but if we can figure out a way to use a broker or otherwise
guarantee the transaction, I'm willing to offer you $90, plus $5
shipping for the Red Dwarf DVD set that you're also selling on eBay.
How do you suggest we do it?
them: OK, first I must tell you that now I'm in Europe, Romania with some business but this is not a problem because you will receive it in maximum 3 days. I will pay for the insurance. I will provide you 10 days money back guarantee, no questions asked. That means within 10 working days you decide if you don't want to keep the item. Payment will be made under eBay security and Square Trade Safe Transaction trough Western Union, Ebay will contact you immediately with all info about payment and shipping...I start the divorce with my husband and all my accounts are closed until the divorce will be off. So, if you are still interested, now all you have to do is to send me exactly those info:
Full name:
I need the details exactly like I have requested, because I have to forward this email to eBay. In short time, they will send you the invoice with all the details you need to complete the deal safe and fast for both of us, under ebay protection! I am dealing only thru eBay.
Needless to say, anytime you see "Western Union" in anything to do with person-to-person online transactions, that should be a big red flag and I immediately responded that Western Union wasn't acceptable and never heard back from "the seller".

But, really, what a cockamamie story anyway about suddenly being in Romania, divorcing, having assets frozen, etc. I mean, come on, are people really so stupid as to be taken by this sort of malarky? I can guarantee that if I were to have wired a payment to this person I'd never have seen anything in return and eventually the email address itself would have been shut down.

Heck, even Western Union itself warns you not to use its service to pay for auction items on eBay:

"Western Union cares about consumers...

That's why we don't recommend that you use a money transfer service to pay for online auction purchases. Money transfer services are fast, easy and convenient ways to send funds to people you know. They are not designated to be a payment vehicle when doing business with a stranger.

Be cautious if a seller tells you that he or she will only accept money transfer as a payment method. Most legitimate sellers will accept more than one form of payment. Be suspicious if a seller tells you how to "safeguard" your purchase by putting a money transfer transaction in the name of a friend or loved one, or how to establish a "test question." These actions will not protect you from a fraudulent seller.
They're right, and I am glad to have avoided a ripoff, even if the possibility of getting the Red Dwarf DVD set for less than a winning auction price seems tantalizing. My advice to you is to similarly ignore all of these offers. They can say that they're going to want "a safe deal only through ebay" but once you're not using the eBay infrastructure you have no guarantee of anything at all and your chance of being ripped off goes up dramatically!
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