Is eBay “Broken” ?

The Consumerist thinks so: They note that it is now Completely Impossible To Sell A Laptop On Ebay.   

Then there is Paypal, the eBay subsidiary. Paypal may very well have the worst customer
service of any major internet firm (thus bypassing Dell).

My experience trying to get changes made with them as a
corporate partner was a trip into Alice in Wonderland. To say they were awful does not begin to explain it:  I picture their office as filled with people walking around in big floppy
shoes, huge red noses, car-pooling to the office 20 at a time in a
really tiny car.

We were long EBAY earlier this year;  I am glad that position is now closed.


I am curious: What are people’s experiences with eBay/Paypal? Does anyone have any stories you want to share?

Go to town:

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  1. greenbrierpawn commented on May 15

    We sell 15k a month on average thru ebay . Its a great way to get rid of Pawn Defaults .We start everything off @ a dollars and let it run .Out of 2800 plus feedback we never really had any problems.We have a part time college kid doing it and reuse boxes from weight watchers .Ebay seller name Roscoe1469

  2. Tim commented on May 21

    I refuse to use Paypal and have had to forego doing business with some vendors…like yours Barry! Wanted to subscribe, say Paypal, contacted your people to see if there was another option, but no luck.

  3. VennData commented on May 21

    Canceled my business PayPal(s) last year, oh the cluelessness…

  4. ZB commented on May 21

    I gotta say I have had positive experiences as a buyer and seller.
    First of all, don’t buy anything over $1000, and check the buyer’s feedback and location.
    Secondly, I am happy to say that I get good prices for my guitars, much better than as trade-ins at the local music store.
    Just be careful and you should be allright.

  5. John Borchers commented on May 21

    Ebay is terrible and most of the people selling on it are scam artist. I’ve gotten manufacture’s bad returns (missing parts, damaged items, etc) sold as brand new.

    Ebay won’t cover if the item was false advertised. You have to take it up with the seller, which is pointless.

    I used it a lot around 2 years ago. But not anymore at all.

    For example I bought a chop saw from a pawn shop which had a gear broken and it didn’t work when I got it. I contacted them and they say ha ha basically. I could have sued them for breach of contract but it wasn’t worth the time. The ad said “working good”.

    After my experiences I shorted Ebay earlier this year with some $25 2010 Jan Puts.

  6. Joe commented on May 22

    I had almost the identical experience trying to sell a Sony Playstation on eBay. Listed it three times and had it purchased three times by people who wanted it shipped to Nigeria.

    I finally gave up and just gave it to a friend … I found it impossible to sell it on eBay.

    I’ve been surprised how little press eBay has received about their many issues.

  7. Neal commented on May 22

    Ebay has become a joke. The new corporate policies are a joke. And this is coming from someone who has bot and sold hundreds of items without any problems.

    Lately, Ebay has decided that magazine subscriptions could no longer be sold because the item in question wasn’t “owned” by anyone as it was something that was going to be used in the future.

    I can’t even begin to tell you the great subscriptios I got on Ebay. These are deals I have gotten without exxageration: 3 yrs of Forbes for $4.99 3 yrs of Vanity Fair for $8.99, etc. etc.

    Ebay is a disaster.

  8. Rodger Coleman commented on May 22

    I used to use eBay/Paypal quite a bit buying rare LPs and such and didn’t have any big problems, but that was years ago. I’ve since broken that habit.

  9. Don commented on May 22

    Used to have all my transactions handled by Verisign — about $5 mil. a year. Paypal bought Verisign’s online payment system and I was prepared for the nightmare. I was surprised. It was flawless. At least one part of eBay works. Not sure about the rest, but their acquisition of Verisign’s payment gateway seems to have worked.

  10. Disappointed Ebayer commented on May 22

    Over the years eBay has slowly become less and less useful. For most things that you can buy elsewhere the price differential is just not worthwhile.

    The final straw for me came with a seller scamming me out of $2275 earlier this year. The eBay seller with over a 1000 positive feedbacks refused to send a refund for a Flat Screen TV that was returned as it was damaged in transit. After following the eBay and PayPal dispute process that lasted over three months I was told that the eBay/PayPal purchase protection was no longer valid as it was 90 days past the transaction. I have been advised that eBay and PayPal cannot do anything and my only option is to file a fraud case and a formal complaint to law enforcement.

    Extremely disappointed with eBay and PayPal handling of the fraud transaction and their process for handling it.

  11. Mike in NOLA commented on May 22

    I’ve used it for really hard to find items, like an OEM copy of Dreamweaver Suite for half of retail, but I checked out the seller first and used a credit card.

    The only time I’ve trusted paypal was for minor items. I used it several years ago to stock up on REAL Corning Ware. You know – the stuff that can go from freezer to stove top. What is sold under that name now is simply stoneware. The name was purchased by some outfit in the bankruptcy of Dow Corning. To me, this was an illustration of the decline of America.

    Forays onto Ebay for computer hardware usually result in finding things that could be bought new for less elsewhere.

  12. roger commented on May 22

    I use Paypal to have my editing clients in Europe pay me, but I can’t believe the fees they charge. I’d love to find another internet money exchange medium.

  13. Jim B commented on May 22

    I got ripped for $400 a few years ago for computer electronics. I paid for the product and it never came. 7 or 8 other people in the auction got ripped also. Ebay did basically nothing.

    I use Ubid now and never have any trouble.

    It seems all commercialized now. Everything is always from business.

  14. DavidB commented on May 22

    @ Posted by: Disappointed Ebayer | May 22, 2008 8:05:56 PM

    I assume you didn’t buy on credit? I always do even through Paypal that way if I get scammed I can always take it up with my CC company. I’ve never had to go that far though probably because I have had the option

    I have have great success buying on ebay. I usually save at least 25%. I only buy from the sellers that have thousands of sales and stellar track records.

    One thing that really frustrates me is the featured sellers. They really skew the pricing and I will usually bypass them to get to the real prices. I almost always do the buy it now once I’ve done a price comparison online.

    I’ve never sold anything on ebay because I am the type of person to use something until it is dead. If it is not dead then it is a charitable item that someone probably needs more than I need the money.

    I also don’t buy high end stuff though because I’m not a high end person and I buy for basic function so that is probably why it is easier for me to give it away or use it until it’s dead

    As for paypal, that is kind of like being a trainer in the zoo. You always have to keep in mind you are in a cage with a wild animal and it could strike at any time. This is from someone who is in online marketing and has seen marketers taken out for some of the strangest reasons. Being the 800 pound gorilla in online payments though they get their way most of the time but if a big bank were to decide to make a credible push for that business segment there could be a significant exodus in that direction

  15. Roman commented on May 22

    I have never had a problem with Ebay or Paypal. However, I have never had to call the customer service of either nor have I sold or bought anything more than $500. So, who knows…maybe the big ticket items invite scammers??

    But again, no problems here. I have had at least 200 ebay transactions.

  16. Garuda commented on May 22

    Barry, you’re aware of the website, right?

  17. Jim Nutley commented on May 22

    Never had a problem with Paypal, still use it. However, I use it to purchase things from web vendors and my purchases with it have all been for less than $500.

    I’m also using the Paypal plugin that creates a Mastercard on the fly when I want to purchase from a web site that doesn’t take Paypal direct. No problems with that either.

    Haven’t ordered on ebay for months. Only go that way when I have no choice, i.e. when the product is discontinued and not available elsewhere. If I want an out of print music CD or something similar for example. On those occasions I have been very suspicious of the goods being sold and purchased carefully. Result, no problems for me.

    — — — — —

    I suspect that some of these horror stories are from folks being penny wise and pound foolish. If you’re willing to spend a few thousand on a flatscreen, go to, or Amazon, or Best Buy or Frys. Get something a little bit smaller for the same money but without the pain of no support and near fraud. Heard a lot of folk on this site telling us we have the government and/or financial system we deserve. Well, your Ebay experience may also vary in proportion to your own rationality.

  18. engineer al commented on May 22

    Ebay is a fantastic place to purchase a laptop computer.

    Not long ago, I had a one month old laptop liberated from a locked vehicle. I shopped eBay for two months, looking for a replacement.

    My search was eventually rewarded when one evening I found on eBay the exact same model I’d lost. In fact it was so “exact” that the serial number/UUID matched the laptop I’d had stolen. As an extra bonus, I also got the identical accessories I’d lost.

    Ebay is a great place to “shop” for [stolen] laptops.

  19. Bob A commented on May 22

    I buy stuff on ebay and I’ve had good luck with it. I’ve bought skis, cellphone cables and charges, fireplace screens, camera.. never had a problem. Super deals and often times stuff you just can’t find other places.

    On the other hand I set up a merchant account with Paypal and was infuriated with the incompetence of the customer service. In fairness it works great usually. However trying to get a human response to a genuine question is nearly impossible… and that is inexcusable since they charge the same rates as banks that offer good customer service.

    Ebay’s total incompetence in failing to market and capitalize on their Skype investment also boggles the mind. Skype has awesome features but you’d never know Skype existed from shopping on Ebay or using Paypal. The word Idiot was created for a reason.

  20. engineer al commented on May 22

    Any electronics on eBay draw out the scammers. If you’re selling, the buyers will want you to ship to Nigeria. If you’re buying, the goods will be stolen, reman’d, gray market, etc.

    That said, eBay is a good place to find vintage things. New-old-stock items, dusty and just recovered from a store room or a closed up dealership. Things that haven’t been manufactured in decades, still brand new and in the box. You’re almost always dealing with small sellers that are almost always a pleasure to deal with.

    The new policies eBay started Monday are intended to discourage the small sellers of vintage things and reward the high volume sellers of things like electronics.

    Which is too bad.

  21. odograph commented on May 22

    If you believe Behavioral Economics, ebay is a great place to sell (if you build up the feedback rating) but a terrible place to by. With more buyers than sellers (maybe this is tipping?) it is all about The Winner’s Curse. The winner has almost certainly overpaid.

    I was never a big ebay buyer … maybe half a dozen small items bought, and maybe another dozen auctions lost. FWIW, I surf craigslist now, for things I *might* buy.

  22. Greg commented on May 22

    Came across a fraudulent listing for a John Deere mower on Ebay that was also listed on Craigs list for sale in a area 900 miles apart. The selling party was looking for a cash advance to bring the mower from Berlin, looked thru Ebays security pages to report this and finally gave up . conclusion Ebay doesnt want to be bothered.

  23. Phil commented on May 22

    FYI…get a Paypal debit card and you can always get get service by calling the # on the back. Has always worked great for me.

  24. Paul commented on May 22

    I was happily using their affiliate program via Commission Junction with good success. Ebay brought the affiliate program in house effective April 1 and my income immediately dropped by 80%. They keep saying there isn’t any problem, but that seems unlikely.

    I think your experience will be quite different depending on the items you buy/sell. Collectibles has been fine and I have purchased a couple of computers successfully. However, electronics looks risky.

  25. Leisa commented on May 22

    I’ve bought many things on EBAY. I (believe it or not) bought some very nice estate jewelry. I buy from only a couple of folks that had guarantees. I was buying when gold was $436. My favorite piece is an Edwardian bangle bracele (1910 and 14k). My second favorite is a gorgeous 18K hand forged bracelet. I also completed my mother’s silver set as well as bought some Minton china. I’ve some really nice pieces–and the sellers were terrific.

    I only had 1 experience where I felt that I was “had”. It was for a pittance–I succumbed to terrific copy writing.

    I use PayPal often. I’ve never had a problem. The level of service is determined by having a problem and a successful resolution. So, I’ve not tested it.

  26. Bob commented on May 22

    My only and *major* concern with PayPal is that their computers constantly ask me for access to my checking accounts. Whenver I ask “why such access is needed”, I receive nothing but a robot reply saying how wonderful PayPal’s service is.

    *There* *is* **no** *way* I am going to give PayPal unfettered access to my checking account. They can charge my credit card, at least I am only responsible for a maximum of $50 is something goes awry (and with eBay/PayPal involved, something is nearly always destined to go wrong).

  27. Alexi commented on May 22

    I have been an eBay member since 1997 and have a feedback rating of 240+ (100%). I buy and sell items and use PayPal.

    I have had a very positive experiences with both. I was very pleased with PayPal when I had my first bad purchase on eBay for a $150 item that never shipped. I followed their instructions to try to resolve it with the seller. My emails to the seller were ignored and I was able to escallate my PayPal claim and was pretty quickly issued a full refund (as covered buy their puyer protection).

    There are definately scammers there. You have to know what you are buying and check the sellers feedback and other current auctions for anything suspicious.

    Overall, I continue to find some great deals on most of the items that I buy there and get a fair price for what I sell.

  28. Disappointed Ebayer commented on May 22

    Moral of the stories:

    Avoid buying anything over $500 on eBay. If you buy anything over $100, pay using credit card and not through PayPal bank transfer.

  29. poster commented on May 22

    I think I’m going to short some EBAY soon. Get beta (weak consumer discretionary spending, if you see a bearish summer) and negative alpha (SOL customer service).

    EBAY’s been off my radar screen since AMZN pushed their third-party seller-affiliates, who have consistently exceeded my expectations.

    BTW, AMZN’s extended warranty on flat screen TV’s is great. Prompt pick-up/return, quick repairs. Yes, buying an LCD TV from a second-tier manufacturer is playing Russian roulette.

  30. side pocket commented on May 22

    I’ve never had much of a spam problem, but after using Paypal I got many very convincing Pfishing e-mails, so I no longer use it.

  31. johnnyb commented on May 22

    I got to the link to the ebay article and didn’t read the post any further. As I was reading the consumerist website I kept saying if Barry only knew about paypal…I hit back and also talk about paypal.

    My paypal account and ebay account was hijacked last year and it was an awful experience. It took weeks to remedy.

    I in fact did speak to an ebay rep who told me to just create a new user id….What!? I said there’s years of purchase activity and ratings I don’t want to give up.

    I get a pony paypal email about once a week these days and I really never know if it’s paypal or not so I just ignore.

  32. p.a. commented on May 22

    I’m mostly a small-time seller/buyer, no problems with eBay quality or paypal, but I avoid electronics and the eBay institutional sellers. One previous comment is correct- lots of phishing using paypal logo and graphics; pretty high quality. You can forward the email to paypal’s security site. I’ve never gotten a detailed response as to whether anyone was charged with a crime.

  33. Jim Haygood commented on May 22

    eBay faithfully reflects corporate America’s obsession with intellectual property. The Mac on which I am typing this post was listed on eBay with some applications included. As a result, eBay cancelled the auction. However, since I had been in contact with the seller regarding some questions, I had his email address. We did the deal outside of eBay — I sent him a cashier’s check for a couple of thousand dollars, and he shipped me the computer. It felt great to bilk eBay out of a commission.

    Earlier, I had been ripped off for $300 in a Paypal transaction (this was before eBay bought Paypal). I complained to Paypal that the seller never shipped. They assured me that they would reverse the transaction. But they never did.

    My original Paypal account was cancelled when I used up the credit limit of $2,000. They wanted a bank account link which I refused to provide. I ended up having to open another Paypal account using different identifiers. Naturally eBay and Paypal will gladly rat you out to the authorities if you’re making any large, or cumulatively large, transactions.

    I use eBay and Paypal sparingly, when I have to, and when the alternatives are less attractive. No big problems have occurred. But as the linked Consumerist article indicates, the customer service absolutely sucks. eBay does NOT want to waste valuable human time talking, or even emailing, the sorry likes of you. eBay and Paypal’s priorities are to enrich themselves first; serve sellers (including fraudulent ones) second; and serve and protect buyers last of all. Numerous sellers I have talked to bitterly complain about how eBay and Paypal refuse to protect them from fraud, even when they followed all the complicated rules. I utterly despise eBay/Paypal, and will celebrate raucously when they finally go out of business, or get maimed by a competent, customer-focused competitor.

    eBay sucks, sucks, sucks. It is the Microsoft of the online auction business — eBay simply got there first, and is coasting along on that undeserved precedence, despite the fact that its product and service suck to high heaven.

  34. MSquare commented on May 22

    PayPal is terrible. I have been forced to use it a few webSites as there was no other choice.

    They cannot seem to handle multiple charges on same card at all. Their customer service is terrible. They also want to constantly want you to be ‘verified’, link bank accounts and do ‘more’ with payPal, forgetting that they did not serve the customer well in the first place!

  35. Chester White commented on May 22

    “Ebay is terrible and most of the people selling on it are scam artist.”

    I’m sorry, that is just dumb as hell, totally ignorant.

    A lot depends on what you are buying/selling. If you are selling Pokemon cards or used Playstations or some stupid childish commodity, yeah, you are going to have trouble with your dumbass underage and otherwise clueless customers.

    And trying to get some brand new piece of electronic equipment for 50 cents on the dollar is OBVIOUSLY going to get you screwed. If you can’t see that from about the age of 15, there’s no hope for you.

    I am in the rare book/stamp/collectible paper business and a Powerseller. Ebay has its problems, but it is unparalleled for drumming up business. Its primary value to me is not to make money on the sale, but to acquire a new customer, to whom I can make sales forever. 100 customers from whom you can make $100 each every month adds up to a decent part-time business.

    I’ve heard all the horror stories about Paypal, but have yet to have a problem in several years. Link it to a bank account in which you keep $50 and it’s hard to get screwed.

    If you get a phishing-type email allegedly from Paypal or Ebay, it’s a scam. Always. Always. Always. Don’t answer.

    Just because something is done over a computer doesn’t mean you can turn off your brain before proceeding.


  36. Darian commented on May 22

    I collect baseball cards and use Ebay to buy and sell all the time – 600+ feedback, 100% – and only had one single problem ever going back 8 years there. I got taken for 300 bucks for some jewelry I never got, never resolved but gave up. For smaller items like baseball cards, dvd’s, cd’s, never a problem – but 95 percent of it is under 50 bucks.

    Interesting aside, ebay (and online sales more broadly) has managed to shut down many mom n pop sportscard/collectible shops.

  37. poster commented on May 22

    one last thought on Ebay….speaking of excessive exec. comp. bilking shareholders, did you know Meg Whitman became a billionaire from ebay stock grants!?!?! WTF!?!?!

    Yes ebay did have a good run post-bubble to 2004, but c’mon.

    Sergei, Brin, Gates, Buffet, the guy who founded Ikea deserve to be billionaires, but Meg Whitman? Someone from ebay’s comp. committee please enlighten me.

  38. bdg123 commented on May 22

    Paypal sucks. Service sucks. Buyer protection sucks. Ebay is a scammer’s paradise. Fraudulent listings, scammers, cheaters, etc.

    I know someone who actually makes his living on eBay and his horror stories about schemes, scams and the Paypal buyer protection (Major Farce) are almost unbelievable.

    I bought a high end bike off of eBay and there were literally six sellers of $3000+ bikes that were fraudulent during my buying escapade. I reported them to eBay and nothing was done. Because nothing really can be done. It’s the wild west of commerce and you need a Smith & Wesson as protection. I would never make a purchase that large again after this guy shared the horror stories of buyer protection with me. He has personally been involved in or aware of ripoffs in the thousands of dollars on many occasions.

    Of course, there are millions of legitimate transactions on eBay and you can protect yourself somewhat but you really need to think and act like an attorney when looking at purchases more than a few hundred bucks. I’d consider using a third party escrow service with clearly documented terms as payment protection.

  39. Rightline commented on May 22

    Ebay absolutely is broken. 8 years and 1,600 transactions as a buyer and seller of coins. Trust has completely eroded over time. People are getting scared to buy OR sell real value items. It is evolving into a dollar store flea market.

    Scam auctions were running rampant about two years ago until recently. They are completely unresponsive and out of touch with buyers and sellers. I used to buy and sell 50 plus high ticket items a month, now maybe 5 – usually less.

    Try these sites if you like

    Ed is a bit obsessive, but has real info on scams and such. This guy knows the fraud that ebay sweeps under the rug by deleting the scams and denying they ever existed. Screenshots of many interesting things ebay…

  40. pmg3108 commented on May 23

    eBay/Paypal are definitely “on the nose” with a few people here in Australia.

    We’ve just been informed that as from July, all listings must have Paypal and/or cash on pickup as the only valid forms of payment. Listings will be denied if they include any other forms of payment.

    Unfortunately for eBay/Paypal, this contravenes the Trade Practices Act in this country. Currently, eBay is seeking immunity from the provisions of the Act, but judging by some of the submissions to the regulators here in Oz, eBay is going to have a tough time of it. (most, if not all, of the major banks, including the Reserve Bank – our ‘Fed’ – have come out strongly opposed to these moves).

    Many sellers (including myself) have jumped ship and joined other auction sites in protest. Many are sitting on the sidelines waiting for the outcome from the regulator.

    Many wonder if eBay/Paypal are using Australia as a test-case for roll-out of this policy on a worldwide basis (though I think that US anti-trust laws may ensure it doesn’t happen there??).

  41. vboring commented on May 23

    Amazon is taking the high end business from Ebay. I’d have no fear buying a $2000 item from or through Amazon.

    Ebay is sort of like a giant swap meet – lots of crap that nobody needs often being sold by creepy folks.

    I used to use Ebay to buy sporting goods, until my account got screwed by some security issues on their end and Ebay failed to do anything useful about it.

    The local craigslist is best for big items.

  42. dave54 commented on May 23

    I bought an Endless (headache) Pool, and did not like it. So I opened an account on eBay, and after a short while accepted a bid from a guy who drove like 1000 miles pulling a trailer, and (w/friend) they disassembled the pool, took it away, plus paid me good money…On the other hand, I sent what looked like an established eBay seller a cashiers check for ~$170 and got back an email confirmation, but no goods. And appealling to eBay was futile.

  43. Rodrigo commented on May 23

    Can you people recommend any alternative auction sites? Specially one that works well in Europe…


  44. Rich commented on May 23

    I think Ebay is great. I am of the mindset that I’ll usually shop for something on Ebay before I go to the brick and mortar store these days.

    I get so frustrated shopping at stores that refuse to carry my size in shoes/clothing. I’ve spent countless hours in high end stores to walk out the door spending nothing because they don’t carry my size in stock. Even more frustrating is when sales clerks act like they are being burdened if you even discuss trying to special order a particular size. In shoes, Ebay is about the only place left where you can find narrow widths in stock. I buy all my running shoes and dress shoes on Ebay. It’s also about the only place where I can consistently find sizes that fit in jeans/pants. It seems that the rest of retail America has decided to stock all of their clothing for fat people who don’t care whether any of their clothing fits. The added bonus for me is that I usually walk away with items at a significant discount to what I would pay at the local mall.

    I’ve never had a problem with a seller or with PayPal. Maybe I’m just easy to please?

    I have wondered whether Ebay might be a good play in a deteriorating economy — it just makes sense that people strapped for cash would exploit places like Ebay to find bargains or unload their own stuff to generate some extra cash flow. So far, that doesn’t seem to be the case, but it only seems logical that a place like Ebay should be increasing its business under conditions where consumers have less money to spend.

  45. SM commented on May 23

    eBay is toast – things are too expensive and the shipping costs are getting ridiculous. $10.00 to ship a Nike 1 once sweatband!

    Bought a Creative Zen 2.5 MP3 player this week. Both Amazon and NewEgg had better prices than new ones on eBay. And Amazon was FREE shipping!

  46. floormaster squeeze commented on May 23

    I have bought a dozen things or so on Ebay over 5 years. I have used PayPal as a payer about twice that much. So I am by no means an expert.

    I use EBay to buy collector stuff that there is no way I could buy for any price elsewhere. My experiences have been mostly good on Ebay with two exceptions. Once I got a “rare map” which was a quality ink jet printing from a scan. Nothing in the original listing was technically incorrect but the whole thing (including the not cheap price) indicated what I would get though.

    The other bad experience bothered me more even though I was not ripped off. One highly rated business which also sells from their own website offered a high quality item that I had never seen at their website. Cool, I thought they must be clearing out rare or discontinued stuff through EBay. I bid somewhat low and won the auction. I then sent payment through PayPal. Shortly thereafter they said they did not have the item and refunded my PayPal account.

    While their scam was not about money, I could not help but think some other dishonesty or laziness was going on (I don’t know if they were after willingness to pay information or if they were just listing a whole bunch of stuff without checking their own inventory). I sent them an email saying that I did appreciate their promptness but that I objected strongly to the practice of “auctioning” not existent merchandise. I gave them a negative rating for that and then they sent me a nasty email for complaining and gave me a negative rating. All I was guilty of was a reasonable expectation for the business.

  47. Paul commented on May 23

    I have been increasingly frustrated with the overwhelming negativity of the comments here but knowing little about stocks, have had nothing to compare to. However, I do know something about Ebay, having accumulated well over 5,000 positive feedbacks over the years. For the collectibles items we buy, we have had only one or two minor problems. We sold a $23,000 truck a few weeks ago without problem.

    Given the millions of transactions closed every week it seems clear that most end without problems. The problems posted here are extreme outliers. I don’t know how one could tell if they are a leading indicator of accelerating fundamental problems at Ebay.

  48. Elmo commented on May 23

    On the other hand, I sent what looked like an established eBay seller a cashiers check for ~$170 …

    What a sucker.

  49. Greg0658 commented on May 23

    Its a shame that the great recycler of the dot com age is falling from grace.

    I’ll beg again for an intelligent design of an economic system; after 18 years living under mom and dads roof and beyond high school that a commune setup be built in every city for the under-developed young adults; a place to go and live untill they find a place in the Capitalism world and play the Game of Life; keeping up with the Jones.

    Why? So drug dealing, thieving, scamming; jail doesn’t need to be a staple of our society.

    The commune should not be to fluffy, but decent enough to halt dealing, thieving, scamming.

    Wouldn’t that be nice?

    ps – Ebay was cool, but now bloated with standard commerce, imo; found my 2nd spare parts Santa Band seen here:

  50. Dave commented on May 23

    I use Ebay and PayPal all the time and have never had an issue. I’ve had several seller disputes which PayPal resolved in under a week. I’ve been buying and selling on Ebay since 2003 and have a 100% feedback rating. You have to do due diligence before buying from Ebay because you’ll often find the same item for sale somewhere else for less. Sellers do well though because many people feel that because they are getting it on Ebay it has to be cheaper than any alternative and therefore they never check to see if that is actually the case.

  51. Disappointed Ebayer commented on May 23

    Is it me or do most of the positive comments come from sellers and most of the negative ones from buyers?

  52. donna commented on May 23

    I’ve only ever purchased one thing on ebay and my paypal account was fraudulently used afterwards. Thank goodness for the Amex fraud dept, those guys are the best.

    Never, ever use ebay. It has gone to total crap.

  53. jpmist commented on May 23

    I’ve used ebay since it’s inception and sadly have seen it drift from what made it popular to the messy monster it is now. The shift from recreational bidding to small business sellers has resulted in far too many fixed price auctions and egregious shipping fees. The depth of offerings is different now.Because eBay sells priority search listings recreational sellers cleaning out their attics get discouraged when their listings get no bids.

    I’d read the Consumerist article and the seller there just wasn’t smart enough to do several obvious things that would have weeded out bogus bidders. I recently sold a Mac Mini with no problem for a good price. You can buy and sell good stuff on eBay, but you have to keep your guard up and your expectations low. Asshats abound there as well as anywhere else.

    As to those comments paranoid about linking Paypal to a personal checking account, just get a free online check account (ING has one) and fund it meagerly and you won’t have anything to worry about.

  54. Matthew commented on May 23

    I used ebay/paypal twice, each for items under $50. Didn’t have much trust, still don’t but it worked and I have my copy of a book written in 1978, that I couldn’t buy on Amazon, and I have a green laser to use from China.

    Me thinks that it’s smart to shop locally using craiglist.

  55. me commented on May 23

    eBay’s Former Chief Exec, Meg Whitman, is one of the names cropping up as under consideration for McCain’s running partner. That pretty much tells me all I need to know about eBay – dated and well past its purchase date.

  56. W P Gardner commented on May 23

    I sold a laptop on eBay in February. It was not even a major brand. It was one of those XO Laptops made as a promotion for developing countries. They sent me one, I didn’t know what to do with it. I had no problem selling it and it got a good price. As for customer service issues, I don’t know about PayPal, but I used to work for and Amazon worked very hard to avoid having people call up. Having customer service phone lines ate into profits. All the Web-based companies have a target model of what percent of the transactions can be totally done without any human assistance. When Amazon started it was 50% (that is, HALF their orders needed to have a human helper in order to complete). Amazon had this up to around 91% in 2005 (i.e. 9% need help) and that has improved their profitability immensely. (I don’t know what it is today.) When I worked at Amazon, I really heard the words “self service” a lot. It means that you are really on your own and we expect you to figure out how to get through the Web pages yourself. I would guess PayPal has a similar model. The answer is, “Yes. They really don’t want to help you. They don’t want to do anything labor-intensive.”

  57. Donald E. L. Johnson commented on May 23

    We just cancelled our PayPal business account. The customer service was awful. But Google Checkout’s not much better, especially if you’re trying to setup an online store.

    Whenever there is a post on eBay, expect the complainers to turn out. Yet, the company’s earnings continue to grow, and the stock looks like it’s headed higher, unless the current market correction holds it in check or causes it to correct some more before it rallies. I don’t own it.

  58. dave54 commented on May 23

    Tried to buy on eBay once…
    Didn’t bother w/PaPal…
    Lost a negligible amount…
    Got the item [of higher quality] elsewhere;
    If eBay thinks I’ll be back, they’re the “sucker”

  59. dave commented on May 23

    Oh man, you hit a nerve.

    I’ll keep it brief, but I could write a short book. Big picture: they have a great franchise and if someone with a brain ran the place, they could turn it into a eternal annuity. Because of the network effect, they are in a position nobody can really compete with. But they are so poorly run that they are throwing that away. They evidently unwilling to feed the goose the little needed to keep her laying golden eggs.

    A few years ago, I decided to finally furnish my house. I looked at everything available locally, decided I didn’t like it. I did like what I could occasionally find on EBay, so for a year or two I spent a couple hours a day on EBay searching, bidding and buying. I’ve probably bid on 500 items and won 150 of them. I was probably the vital #2 bidder, who actually sets the price on an item, on another 100 auctions. So I have some experience.

    * the web site is now too slow to use. I’ve simply given up trying. What took me two hours three years ago would probably take 5 or 6 now. Or more. I’d actually like to buy more, but I can’t stand to use the web site. I’d like to spend money there, but they’ve made it just too damn hard and driven me away.

    * customer service. Amazingly bad. The worst. An example: a seller tried to double the shipping fees after I won an auction once. It was a small item, so this would’ve tripled the price. So I said, forget it. He wouldn’t cancel because he would actually lose money due to the EBay fees. I contacted EBay customer service. They routed my complaint to EBay-Italy ( I live in the US ). The Italian guy kept asking why I didn’t contact EBay in the US. I could see that I was on my own and dealt with it.

    * Crooks. I’ve been ripped off on about 10% of the things I bought. Contact customer service? I’ve spent enough time emailing the crew in Italy. It’s just part of the cost of doing business on EBay.

    * Bugs. Occasional bugs in their email, searching and listing s/w that wastes more time and results in items not found and ultimately bids that don’t happen. No bugs in the actual bidding part that I’ve experienced.

    * I’ve emailed complaints like these as well as many fine suggestions to improve features to EBay. The result: sometimes an acknowledgement and the web site gets worse and worse.

  60. jb commented on May 23

    I won’t buy electronics on eBay any more.

    First experience was buying a dead on arrival palm pilot, never to hear back from the “seller” again.

    Second experience was buying a laptop that had a completely broken display. The “seller” shipped the laptop in a cardboard box with a few sheets of newspaper to protect it. When I contacted the seller to replace it, he “couldn’t believe it broke during shipping” and would refund my money as soon as he got the laptop back. Well I shipped the laptop back, and never heard from him again.

    Fortunately in both cases I paid by my Visa card to paypal. So I just disputed the charges and let Visa handle it.

  61. Kaleberg commented on May 23

    Yes, there has been a change in eBay. I used to buy from small sellers more often, but now I mainly buy collectibles, electronics and plumbing from online stores. I figure that the stores have reputations to consider, and they are taking more of a chance dealing with me than with them.

    I also am much more likely to “buy it now” as opposed to getting into a bidding war. Most of the bidding action was in the last five minutes anyway. I’d usually just pick a maximum price and look away so I didn’t panic ten seconds before the close and rebid stupidly.

    As far as I am concerned, eBay is getting to be more like Yahoo.

  62. Jim B. commented on May 23

    Hi, Barry. Hope all is well with you.

    Just saw your article on eBay being broken. It sure is. I bid on something large and expensive. The sellers were clearly crooks. Not even good crooks.

    I tracked these people down to where they lived, phone numbers and so forth while the auction was in process. eBay Trust and Safety, the FBI, the Canadian Mounted Police, and all local agencies were completely indifferent.

    eBay cares about THEIR security, not yours.

    If you are curious I posted this so that all concerned would have the relevant information.

    I, for one would NEVER bid on anything expensive on eBay at this point.

    p.s. I subsequently learned that one “stupid eBay trick” is for the seller to ship you
    a box of the right size and weight filled with bricks (or some such). They have proof
    of shipment, you have bupkus.

  63. Jim Bergsten commented on May 23

    A postscript to my previous post…

    About two months after the incident, I received a call from a friendly, perky woman asking why I gave eBay poor marks on a “customer support feedback form.”

    I explained that it wasn’t because I was almost cheated, this is called “life.”

    It was because eBay is effectively unreachable (as are almost all companies these days), and once one did figure out how to reach them (which involved, amongst other things using my professional network to get the email address of their VP of Security) they had absolutely zero interest in dealing with the issue at all, let alone in a timely manner.

    The moral to this and virtually every other tale of American Business Gone Bad these days is this:


    I wish I knew which industry started this trend (I’m tempted to blame the airlines) but as soon as everybody figured out that there are “unlimited” customers out there and people are swayed by marketing, customer support just became unnecessary overhead.

    I dare you to find one website (especially the “pretty” or “slick” ones) that have any meaningful company contact information at all.

    The problem is, once there is no customer feedback path, there is no accountability.

    Then, you have what we used to say about IBM in the 60’s — “if you don’t like it, get out of line.”

    Sad. Real sad. Very very sad.

  64. Jamie commented on Jun 9

    I was an eBay Power Seller for almost 10 years — the new feedback system has RUINED eBay PERMANENTLY. Meg Whitman LEFT — get it? She wasn’t going to stick around and take the blame when the new monkeys playing with the eBay toy wrecked the companies future.

    SELL EBAY SHORT — GUARANTEED PROFITS — eBay is headed for $10 in 2008. Their summer earnings call ought to be laugher when they come up with some new amazing reason why there is no user growth and revenue is falling off.

  65. Jamie commented on Jun 9

    I was an eBay Power Seller for almost 10 years — the new feedback system has RUINED eBay PERMANENTLY. Meg Whitman LEFT — get it? She wasn’t going to stick around and take the blame when the new monkeys playing with the eBay toy wrecked the companies future.

    SELL EBAY SHORT — GUARANTEED PROFITS — eBay is headed for $10 in 2008. Their summer earnings call ought to be laugher when they come up with some new amazing reason why there is no user growth and revenue is falling off.

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