eBay Has Become The Pirate Bay

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Over the years, I’ve had three eBay ID’s. eBay used to allow logins from a single-sign on provider at some point (though I can’t remember which) and I used that. Then they removed that feature and I had to change my ID. I made several transactions under the new ID. Now, a few years later, eBay will no longer recognize that ID and I had to create a new one. What is the problem with a new ID, you ask?

New ID’s start with a 0 rating. I didn’t think that was such a big deal, until I started to trying to sell with it. The first offer I had on a camp stove popped up for the asking price as soon as I listed it. Needless to say, I was pleased. Once the sale occurred, the buyer messaged me that he had questions and wanted me to text him. I thought it was strange, because normally questions are asked before a purchase. However, the buyer had a good rating, so I reached out over text. He asked me about the condition of the item (it was brand new, as the listing indicated). He also wanted more pictures but there was really nothing more to give him. He said he was going to pay via PayPal, but wanted the item shipped to his cousin as a present. I was willing to ship the item wherever. Then he started asking me to buy $400 in gift cards to put in the box and that he would cover the expense plus extra for gas and hassle. Red flags were going up all over the place. I told him no and contacted eBay. They did an investigation. It turned out the legitimate account had been hacked and someone was using it to scam people.

The account was returned to its rightful owner and I was told that the transaction had been canceled. I had to go through and relist the item again (I was surprised eBay didn’t do that automatically). The next time I listed the item, it went through a week without any bids, at which time eBay automatically lowered the price a bit (which is a cool feature). Almost immediately after it was lowered, I had a bid for the asking price. I accepted right away. Almost as quickly, I had a message from the buyer that he had a question and wanted me to text him. I replied that I would answer any questions over the eBay messaging system. I got another message that was the same as the first. I let a couple of days go by, and with no other word, called eBay. They told me to cancel the sale and confirmed my suspicion that scam artists were on the lookout for sellers with low ratings. I asked how I’m supposed to sell in that environment, but the support rep had no response to my question.

I’m not sure how people would get started selling on eBay at this point, being at the mercy of successive scammers. I’ve heard Craig’s List referred to as “Flake’s List,” so I’m not sure things are better over there. Where are people selling online these days, I wonder?

Robert Rackley @frostedechoes