An eBay Computer Purchase

An eBay purchase that turned sour.

A story of fraud, deceit, and broken promises.

Let me preface my statements by saying that I think eBay is great. I'm a handicapped senior citizen and it's been a boon to me to be able to shop the Internet and particularly eBay. In nearly six years I've had two problems both to do with non-delivery.

One incident was insignificant as it involved a $5.00 purchase and was quickly remedied. It only deserves mention because it was my first purchase, and because I complained about non-delivery the vindictive seller gave me a negative feed back, which remains on my record to this day.

Some months ago I purchased a computer through eBay. It was a very good price, but not so low as to arouse suspicion. I paid through Paypal using a credit card.

I had checked the seller's feedback record, which was perfect. Next day I received an acknowledgment and a promise to ship in a day or so. I waited for a week or so, then followed up the shipment. The seller, Ann apologized and said that she was a government attorney, on call and had been called out of town unexpectedly. She said she was on the road and on her return home would advise me the status of the order.

About a week later I received an email with an email with a UPS tracking number and an expected delivery date. The date was somewhat extended, but I accepted it, as it was coming across country. When the PC didn't arrive as expected I sent Ann another email. Her response was another apology and she said that her father had died and she was in another state for the funeral and would look into the matter upon her return, also that due to the inconvenience she was going to refund half my money.

More time elapsed and after several email inquiries I received an email from Ann's husband stating that on her way home from the funeral she had been in a car crash and was hospitalized. He said he was not involved in the transaction, but on her instructions was looking into the matter, and would see that I received not only my computer but also a full refund. Naturally many weeks had elapsed by this time.

I was beginning to become suspicious and checked their feedback record when suddenly there appeared six or seven bad reviews. On a subsequent check they made their feedback private so it couldn't be accessed. By then it was too late, the next thing I knew their email was suspended.

When I contacted eBay they gave me Ann's phone number. When I called the phone number their service had been disconnected. I was unable to get an address from either eBay or Paypal.

I reported this case of fraud, deceit and broken promises to eBay and Paypal. Both had time limits, which had expired, so they were unable to help me, so I turned the matter over to my credit card company.

Fortunately, I had used a protected credit card, and I was within the prescribed time limit. I don't know what transpired but I subsequently received a notice from Paypal that they had credited my account. Eventually I received a full refund.

Lessons Learned:

* Always uses a consumer-protected credit card. Do not ever use your checking or savings account even though Paypal encourages you to do so.

* Make sure you have a consumer-protected card, some do not have this feature, and be aware of the time limits, and other restrictions

* Do not accept stalling tactics even if they seem legitimate. Paypay has a 30-day limit. EBay's is 60 days, or 90 days in some cases. Put in a claim immediately, you can always retract it.

* Be careful when checking feed back, make sure you're getting reports from buyers not sellers. eBay has made it easier to do this now. These people had deliberately purchased a lot of small items to build up a positive feed back record. I have seen a tutorial that advocates doing it for new sellers who have no feed back record .

* Follow tour instincts, I had ignored a lot of danger signals. ---DON'T DO THAT---use your common sense---If you suspect foul play, Take immediate action.

Remember that scam artists are very good psychologists. They know how to appeal to your sensibilities.

Beware---They're Pros they make their living that way. Fraud and deceit are their tools of trade.

Written by: George W. Cannata the publisher of the web site: http://www.caveatemptorus.com, July 8, 2005.

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