How to punish a bad ebayer?
March 30, 2009 1:34 PM   Subscribe

As a seller on ebay, do you have any ability to warn others off unreliable (but not criminal) buyers without incurring damaging feedback yourself? Or can a buyer casually mess up your auction and get away with it?

I tried searching for previous ebay questions, and they were mostly about more serious scams, and the help sections on ebay itself were vague about certain matters.

Because I'm about to move house, I've been clearing out a few unwanted things on ebay. I haven't been so active before and my feedback level is quite low (11 positives so far). Because of this, I realise that I might get slightly reduced offers, but I'm not too bothered about this - I'm looking to get rid of things to people who want them rather than making a big profit.

One of my items was an old laptop, with a battery problem. I think I signalled the problem clearly enough in the listing (which is here).

It went for £39 last night, to a buyer with similarly low feedback (14). When I contacted him today about payment he replied with the following: "after reading it properly ive decided i dont want a laptop with faults now sorry ive brought 1 new from three im sure u will sell it as a second chance sorry".

OK, so specific questions that I can't get clear answers for from ebay's help:

1. Can you decipher what he even means by "ive brought 1 new from three"? It sounds to me like he's bid to win three auctions, then decided which one he wants.

2. I know you have to wait 7 days to file a non-paying dispute, but what happens when the buyer says on day one, "Hey, I'm not paying"?

3. If I were to do the non-paying thing, can he really leave me negative feedback which at this stage would mess up my selling?

4. If I cancel his bid, do I need him to also get round to agreeing to the cancellation so I don't pay ebay final valuation fees for it?

5. If I offer it as a second-chance option to other bidders, will I be giving up the option to put a strike against him?

6. And if I do that without going through the non-paying dispute, will ebay assume I'm selling two of these, and so take final valuation fees twice?

7. And are the people who I offer a second chance likely to be suspicious - given that it's a laptop and with this guy's low feedback (and mine) - that I've been doing some shill bidding?

It is not such a big deal and there's not much money involved, compared to other people who get scammed. But what should I do with this guy? It's really annoying!
posted by cincinnatus c to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think "ive brought 1 new from three"
Means "I've actually just bought a new one from there (eBay)."
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:38 PM on March 30, 2009

wait, do you still have it? You still have the leverage. Second chance it and move on.
posted by scruss at 1:51 PM on March 30, 2009

Gosh, this really stinks. eBay is great for some things, but it's people like this that remind you that you can't trust anyone over the internet. I don't have as much experience as a seller, but I have quite a lot of experience as a buyer there, and I know that making a bid is considered entering a contract. It even says so ON THE BID FORM. I guess you have 2 choices:

Email back a response along the lines of, "Bidding on an auction at eBay is considered a binding contract. I'm sorry that you no longer wish to purchase the laptop, but you already HAVE purchased it. By reneging on our deal, you would cause me to lose valuable time and money. As such, I will expect your payment in full in accordance with the terms of the auction. If I don't receive payment from you within 7 days, I will be reporting your account to eBay as a non-paying bidder." Then, follow through with the threat.

If you don't want to wait out the 7 days, I'd contact customer support for ebay now. I have had to deal with them for various reasons in the past, and they've actually been surprisingly helpful. If you explain that the buyer emailed you about his/her intentions not to pay, you might be able to get the buyer a negative mark while still allowing yourself to offer it as a second chance. You don't want to wait too long in case some of those other buyers move on in the meantime.
posted by theantikitty at 1:56 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was going to tell you to cancel the transaction because you can start that process right away, but then I read "Note: When you cancel a transaction, there’s no action against the buyer." You want action against him.

Just from reading the page about Making a Second Chance Offer, it sounds like you should do that, and "Second Chance Offers can be created immediately after a listing ends for up to 60 days."

As for the other bidders or ebay becoming suspicious, be sure to do the Unpaid Item process in the Resolution Centre so they see it's because he wouldn't pay. That will ding him and probably not let him leave you feedback.

I didn't know that ebay had a place for people to ask these questions, but Answers looks like the place.
posted by soelo at 2:01 PM on March 30, 2009

Yes, I forgot that part. Listen to theantikitty and tell the buyer that it does not matter if they no longer want it, they have purchased it. Also, be sure to save all emails to show ebay.
posted by soelo at 2:09 PM on March 30, 2009

If I offer it as a second-chance option to other bidders, will I be giving up the option to put a strike against him?

Yes. Im not sure if ebay tracks this stuff internally. It will ask you why you went the second chance route. I doubt a black mark on his feedback will change anything. He'll still bid like a moron. Ebay really, really protects buyers. They just arent seller friendly.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:21 PM on March 30, 2009

three (3) is a mobile phone network and most of those do deals on laptops with wireless broadband
posted by hardcode at 2:25 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have contacted ebay about it now.

I would like to send a message along the lines of theantikitty's suggestion, but I really doubt this guy will pay up, and I don't want him to just give me negative feedback, which would look bad for me.

My two main aims are: 1) being able to offer it as a second-chance option to other bidders, without paying ebay fees twice for the same item and without going through the process of filing complaints which sound like they would take weeks to complete (still with the possibility of negative feedback) when the guy has stated already he's not going to pay; 2) putting a mark against his account without damaging my own, when the evidence is so clear.

1) is more important to me than 2), obviously. But I would still like to warn other sellers off (and buyers - I notice that he has one negative now from someone he's sold to).

It seems to me there should be a way of having something sold through ebay and then cancelled by the buyer via ebay's own messaging system whereby I could move on without engaging with the hassles of bureaucratic processes or risking negative feedback for myself.

PS: I thought pseudostrabismus's explanation of "three" was ingenious, but now suspect that hardcode has it.
posted by cincinnatus c at 2:41 PM on March 30, 2009

"I've bought one new from 3"?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:50 PM on March 30, 2009

Whoops, missed hardcode's answer, sorry!
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:51 PM on March 30, 2009

Pay attention at the back!
posted by hardcode at 2:57 PM on March 30, 2009

OK, to be as efficient as possible, forgetting the time-waster, I want to be able to either to sell to a second-chancer or relist, without having to pay double ebay fees. Is this possible?
posted by cincinnatus c at 3:23 PM on March 30, 2009

I recently sold a couple of used iPhones 3G on eBay. The first transaction concluded without difficulty. The second... I listed it twice and got two winning bidders who flaked out on me!

Now that you know about what it's worth, relist it, adding a Buy It Now with immediate payment, for a little more than it closed at last time. Maybe 45 quid. You will likely sell it to someone who simply doesn't want to wait for the auction to complete to buy it. That's what I did and the second phone finally sold two days after I relisted it -- and I got my money right away, obviously.
posted by kindall at 4:01 PM on March 30, 2009

With regard to the fees, you won't get the listing fees back unless you open a non-payment dispute and successfully close it (takes up to 2 weeks). You will get the final value fee back regardless if the transaction is canceled. On my iPhone auction the FVF was the bulk of the cost (since the phones went for $400-ish). On a £39 item, though, I guess the listing fee would be a much higher proportion of the fee. Still, just bump up the Buy It Now price enough to cover the second listing fee and hope someone goes for it.
posted by kindall at 4:04 PM on March 30, 2009

That's one of the most helpful answers, kindall, containing the kind of specific information I need. (I didn't pay listing fees, having started the laptop at £0.99, so it's just the FVF fees that I'm interesting in.) Thanks.
posted by cincinnatus c at 4:38 PM on March 30, 2009

I once was in the buyer's position, winning something and then immediately realizing what an idiot I was because it was completely the wrong thing. I contacted the seller immediately, grovelled profusely and agreed to pay the listing and relisting costs so they could put it up again. Now, I've never sold anything on eBay and I have no idea if there actually are listing costs, but as I was the guilty party I really didn't have a problem with paying a small nuisance fee to settle the matter amicably.

So you might try that.
posted by Billegible at 4:42 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Second chance offers are for when you have more than one thing to sell, not for when the buyer backs out.
posted by Caviar at 6:54 PM on March 30, 2009

Second chance offers are for when you have more than one thing to sell, not for when the buyer backs out.

You mean: and for when the buyer backs out.

If your winning bidder doesn't pay, damn right you can send a SCO to other bidders. Of course, by the time you figure out that your winner is a deadbeat, your other bidders have probably bought the item they wanted from another seller. I have never had a SCO actually result in a sale (though I've only ever sent perhaps five).
posted by kindall at 7:27 PM on March 30, 2009

If you have a second bidder, then offer it to them. However, the first guy has a responsibility to READ the auction description. I think you should wait the seven days and then file an unpaid item report on the guy. But that comes with its own set of hassles.
posted by cass at 8:17 AM on March 31, 2009

Second Chance it and move on. Though he deserves it, you can't leave negative feedback on his account. Making things worse is the fact that he has the ability to pin one on you in retaliation. eBay doesn't care about its sellers.

I'm pretty sure if you relist the item using Second Chance they don't charge you the fees again. If you relist it yourself manually they most certainly will.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 12:55 PM on March 31, 2009

For the record, the whole thing has ended satisfactorily.

I sent an angry message to the buyer, told him that this was not the way to do business, and he sounded genuinely contrite and more clueless than malicious. We cancelled his purchase, so I won't have to pay the FVF, and I get the impression he's going to be more careful in future.

Meanwhile I offered the laptop as a second chance to the most reliable-looking of the other highest bidders. He's paid up already, and I'll be sending it off to him tomorrow.

So everything is OK now, even if I'm not going to be leaving any stain on the character of the first winner - but my desire for punishment has been replaced by some sympathy for his idiocy, and I hope he'll do better in future.
posted by cincinnatus c at 1:16 PM on March 31, 2009

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