This is why I can't have nice things!
October 22, 2009 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Did I get scammed on eBay?

I have never used eBay before. I have avoided it like the plague, I think for this very reason.

The outer glass touchscreen on my G1 cracked, I lived with it for several months but now it's getting worse and bothering me, so I looked around the internet for a replacement part. I found what I needed, but only on eBay. So, I spent the $35 and ordered it from a wholesaler based out of China (I guess.) Now, the lady doesn't speak English very well, but suitably enough for online interaction. I know that the part will have to go through customs, but I never got an ETA on the item.

I requested a tracking number for the item and she gave me one for Singnapore Post. I went to their website and put it in, but it said it could not be found. At the bottom of the page it said that once the item had left the country, the number would no longer work, and to look for the the item within the country of destination's postal service. It provided a link to USPS, where the number didn't pull anything up.

So, does it sound like I've been scammed? Or, could the part possibly just be in-between somewhere? OR, could the package just have a different tracking number for USPS, one I do not have?

Thanks, awaiting answers with bated breath.
posted by InsanePenguin to Computers & Internet (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Rather, Singapore.
posted by InsanePenguin at 11:05 AM on October 22, 2009

How long has it been since you got the USPS link? I've often ordered stuff (but not overseas) and it always took a looooong time for USPS (and UPS) to update/input the tracking numbers. If it's been more than 3 days, then I'd look into the situation further, but if not, I'd give it a little time for USPS to get things squared away and inputted on their end.

And yes, perhaps you do not have the correct tracking number for USPS.
posted by Sassyfras at 11:09 AM on October 22, 2009

I'm betting they're two different numbers, and you don't have the USPS number.

Also, even if you did have it, the USPS tracking is really unreliable. I've had tracking numbers say they were still waiting to be picked up from the vendor two days after I'd already received the item. FedEx and UPS they are not.
posted by olinerd at 11:09 AM on October 22, 2009

How many days has it been? What kind of feedback does the seller have?
posted by dozo at 11:11 AM on October 22, 2009

Depending on when you bought it, and how speedy the Singapore Post (or whoever is shipping it) is in updating the web utility (like the USPS - HORRIBLY SLOW), you could be fine. The USPS takes forever to update the status, and my packages here typically go right from "no info available" or "info received" to "delivered" with nothing in between. The web info may just be out of date.

I have bought stuff from overseas before on ebay, and this sounds typical. Give it a few days if you haven't already.
posted by kenbennedy at 11:12 AM on October 22, 2009

FWIW, I've purchased several things off eBay that came out of China and Singapore and I'm always shocked by how quickly things arrive (all the way from China!). I've yet to see an instance of USPS tracking working even for domestic shipments: the tracking doesn't seem to start until the package has already arrived.
posted by jamaro at 11:16 AM on October 22, 2009

The time to start considering if you've been scammed is when the item doesn't arrive in a timely fashion. How long ago did you buy it?
posted by fire&wings at 11:22 AM on October 22, 2009

$35 isn't worth scamming for. Just wait a bit longer.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:24 AM on October 22, 2009

These sellers have no particular reason to scam you on such esoteric parts. It's a viable business for them to buy the components locally at wholesale prices, ship them direct, and make a decent profit on them. Their biggest problem actually is their customers, from getting bad feedback from those who don't realize that shipping halfway around the world will take time. Which is very bad on eBay nowadays.

Personally I've bought watches from Singapore, and they were completely untrackable until they showed up one day. I think it took 10 days or so.

At the bottom of the page it said that once the item had left the country, the number would no longer work,

Singapore is pretty small so I don't imagine it was in-country for very long.
posted by smackfu at 11:24 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

The thing I ordered from Singapore via eBay took a stupidlong amount of time to get to me [15 days? 20?] and showed up long after I'd pretty much given up. I'd give it some more time.
posted by jessamyn at 11:37 AM on October 22, 2009

I doubt that you got scammed. USPS, especially when it involves international partners, is notoriously bad with tracking info. I bought a few accessories for my mac a month or two ago and most showed up from Malaysia/Singapore. I had tracking numbers but they didn't help much.

Everything i ordered arrived within 10 days and was more than satisfactory. Give it some time. Even if you did get scammed, it is not such a big deal to get your money back. Did you pay with paypal?
Then getting your money back is as simple as filing a dispute and waiting for the other person to respond. If there is none (or not a satisfactory one), your money will get refunded instantly (happened to me once out of several dozen transactions).

So just hang in there and wait.
posted by special-k at 11:38 AM on October 22, 2009

The last thing I bought from overseas was from Germany, and I had exactly the same issue - no tracking available either on the German or on the US side, both coming up with invalid item number. I received my package in 2 weeks, just like they said I would. Don't rely on the tracking stuff too much.
posted by Addlepated at 11:38 AM on October 22, 2009

Response by poster: Ahh, whoops, I meant to add that I ordered the piece on the 16th.
posted by InsanePenguin at 11:40 AM on October 22, 2009

SE Asia? Wait 7-10 days, get worried after 14.
posted by holgate at 11:43 AM on October 22, 2009

Response by poster: Also, the lady had pretty awesome feedback and an account that went back to 2007, so I figured she was legit.

All this is really encouraging, guess I'll just have to bide my time until I get to do exploratory surgery on my phone.
posted by InsanePenguin at 11:43 AM on October 22, 2009

I buy cheap crap from China on eBay sometimes, expecting that it'll be... well, cheap crap. Things like USB hubs, cable adapters, power supplies.... your G1 screen sounds like a fine example that I'd order from some Chinese seller without a second thought.

But shipping is very random. I could order two things from two different eBay sellers on the same day, both using regular cheap post, and both will tell me they've shipped within a day or two. One package will arrive in a week, surprising me with how fast that was, while the other might take three or four weeks, which surprises me in a different way because by then I've forgotten about it already.

No idea why there's such variation, considering the postmarks often have the same date, even.

You ordered it on the sixteenth? It's much too soon to worry. Wait a couple weeks. And since she had eBay feedback back to 2007... yeah, you're probably fine.
posted by rokusan at 12:00 PM on October 22, 2009

I've ordered more stuff from Singapore and Hong Kong on eBay that I really want to admit. It's often slow arriving, but occasionally super fast. The best part is that it's cheap. I wouldn't worry too much. If you don't get it after a couple of more weeks, file a complain and you'll get your money back from eBay/PayPal after a month or so.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:02 PM on October 22, 2009

I agree with the masses: too soon, and personal experiences have been oddly mixed (some really slow shipments, some as fast as US-based shipments). And if the person has a LOT of solid replies (how many exactly?) going back to 2007, I think you'll get the item sooner or later. Good luck!
posted by filthy light thief at 12:09 PM on October 22, 2009

Internationally, I'd wait 3 weeks until getting worried.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:21 PM on October 22, 2009

It has taken me as long as 6 weeks to get stuff from hong kong and singapore. Most recently it took 5 weeks for a battery for my MX Revolution.
posted by TomMelee at 12:21 PM on October 22, 2009

It's only been 6 days; that's not a long time for overseas shipping. And it's not worth it to scam someone out of a mere $35.
posted by spaltavian at 12:42 PM on October 22, 2009

Let's say you've ordered a book on eBay on Friday the 16th. You're in San Francisco, they're in Vermont. The seller offers the cheapest shipping, which is USPS media mail. Even if the seller gets it to the post office as fast as possible, it's likely that the package will be postmarked by the post office on a Saturday, and won't leave Vermont until Monday. In which case, you're not seeing that package in San Francisco this week.

That's within the 48 states. Your package doesn't have to get on a plane, or a boat, or maybe even a train. It doesn't have to go through customs. It still would take over a week to get to you, domestic, unless you purchased a more expensive shipping option.

So, unless you specifically paid for timed shipping through a major courier -- ie, you paid $50 extra for two-day from FedEx -- it's very unlikely you're being scammed. This isn't a problem with eBay, or a problem with the seller. Inexpensive international shipping can take a while as the package often has to go a far distance via ground shipping, and tracking between postal services doesn't work as slickly as it does with FedEx or UPS. That's why it's inexpensive.

I agree with craven -- you shouldn't even think about worrying about this until 3 weeks have passed. You might get it sooner -- or it may take 5 weeks, through no fault of the seller. You can still file a dispute with eBay up to 45 days after the item was purchased, and you should wait until that clock's almost up before doing so if you still feel you're being scammed.
posted by eschatfische at 12:42 PM on October 22, 2009

Just the other day, a cable I ordered on eBay arrived from Hong Kong 36 hours after I ordered it, and it definitely originated in Hong Kong. A couple months ago, I waited a month and a half for an item from the same seller.

International shipping is truly a tossup. If their feedback is good, I'd just relax and wait awhile.
posted by Rendus at 12:50 PM on October 22, 2009

If you paid using paypal, you can get your money back should the item never arrive. But give it some time. Ebay also has a procedure to file a dispute.
I recently ordered an electronic item that I bought from Canada on ebay and it took 3 1/2 weeks to arrive---postage shows it was mailed one day after I bought it.
posted by ragtimepiano at 1:37 PM on October 22, 2009

Hey, just went through this. I ordered a replacement powerbook adaptor and it took 3 weeks to ship from China.

IMO the problem with eBay is that virtually every seller is, in reality, a Chinese store front offering their goods with "buy it now." That's fine and all, but they aren't upfront about this and the fact that it'll take 3-4 weeks to get your item if you're in the U.S.
posted by cj_ at 1:41 PM on October 22, 2009

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