Same old scams prevail at eBay

Don't forget to read the fine print on auctions at eBay, since they don't seem in much of a hurry to remove the Paypal scammers who infest search results for popular gadgets. [Crunchgear]


  1. “heuristic they can employ”
    “vonny kroovy broil”

    lovin’ it!

    Yeah, always avoid anything with way too much copy and, different color fonts, and a lot exclamation points.

  2. This is still one of those troubling scams that’s still the buyer’s fault, even if it is a crappy and evil thing to do. To me, the more concerning problem lies with (now owned and operated by eBay): Order a textbook purported to be in brand new condition, receive one in greatly used condition, and then face a crappy choice: take a meager discount from the seller, offered in response almost instantaneously to any complaint sent, or ship the book back to the seller at your expense and start the process over again.

    It’s a smart but evil scheme. Most students don’t find out what textbooks they need to buy until they register for classes, which can leave little time for a mail-order transaction. What better customer to hold hostage than one that often can’t afford the time it would take to start the process over again? With all of eBay’s feedback systems, there is nothing to catch these sellers and put an end to the loophole.

    After the third incident in four transactions I finally had to walk away. I really wanted it to work – it’s a great idea. Anyone have a discount textbook site they can recommend that has protections from this kind of scam? I’ve used Amazon but the prices aren’t as stellar.

    1. I’m not sure about textbooks, but try for used books, you’re typically dealing with smaller bookstores that actually have real people looking at the actual book and making the correct call in terms of condition.

  3. When bidding at eBay, always check the shipping price. I buy and sell guitars and have seen way inflated shipping costs (3 or 4 times the actual cost).

  4. The example they showed seems pretty easy to avoid. It’s not like they put it in some sort of confusing phrasing or in nearly invisible type hidden somewhere in pages upon pages of legalese. In that example there seems to be absolutely no attempt made at all to hide what you are paying for in that auction or mislead anyone. It looks to me like it’s right there in bold print in the auction listing what you’re bidding on. Sure, you totally shouldn’t bid on it and it’s a scam, but anyone who’s even quickly skimmed that listing would be able to see that before they bid. Who’s bidding on things without reading the listing first?

    I don’t have too much sympathy for folks that bid on that one. It seems to fall under both the “Fools and their money are soon parted” category and the “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” category.

  5. It’s not really the buyer’s fault at all when there is a deliberated attempt to deceive the buyer using misdirection, nearly-invisible caveats or other tricks that take advantage of established presentation formats (like ebay auctions) and the psychological blind spots they create in consumers. It doesn’t fly in court, either!

  6. With eBay you just have to assume everything is a scam and remember that PayPal will likely screw you.

  7. Misleading ads victimize the comparatively disadvantaged. This could be people who are operating in a second language, the uneducated or even the mentally challenged. Suppose YOU were buying a sophisticated medical device or therapy about which YOU were ignorant. Since a bare bones course in the physics and medical applications of something like Proton Emissive Therapy would take years, wouldn’t you prefer the legal protections society provides to those on the short end of the data stick? If not, have I got a set of copper bracelets for you!

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