Selling on ebay, does this sound legit
April 15, 2014 1:38 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday I put up an unlocked iPhone 4s on ebay for sale. It literally sold in about a minute. This old phone sold at the price it was originally purchased for. I sent the buyer an invoice. They paid it with another minute. For this old phone, that's about 3 versions behind. This makes me leery, especially since the email from ebay says SHIP NOW. Shouldn't I wait for money to appear in my Paypal account? Is it odd that this old phone sold so quickly at such a high price to buyer in the continental United States? If it's legit, do I really ship NOW?
posted by sock, the puppet to Shopping (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Don't ship now. Google 'ebay iphone scam' it's an education.

For example, this.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:41 PM on April 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

When we bought our 5s phones, I sold my 4s on eBay for close to $200. It was an auction, and not a scam. We had almost no feedback because we had only bought a few things prior to that transaction.

If you're worried maybe contact the buyer by email and try to figure out if he/she seems weird or scammy.
posted by katypickle at 1:53 PM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yet the buyer is rated at 100%, yet the money isn't supposed to be to me until May 5th? WTH?

Is there anyway I can simply cancel the sale?
posted by sock, the puppet at 1:53 PM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Please read this page, which explains the 21-day payment hold for new sellers and how the hold may be released early.
posted by payoto at 1:58 PM on April 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have sold on eBay many, many times. If the $$ isn't in your account, you don't have to ship. I would check the email address of the email that you received. I would also check your PayPal account. Even if I am wrong... fuck 'em. I would not ship oif the $$ isn't in my account, and in this case, I wouldn't ship at all - issue a refund, and tell them the item is no longer available.
posted by brownrd at 1:58 PM on April 15, 2014

Definitely wait for the payment to reach your PayPal account and see that it successfully transfers to your bank (if that's how you obtain the money). I had to deal with a buyer who did not pay, and there is a process for that. You don't simply cancel the sale. However, if you're suspicious, you can email ebay support, or simply wait for payment. You can contact the buyer if you aren't paid within a certain time (I forget what the time frame is, but if you look under faqs for buyer didn't pay, it should explain it).
posted by msbadcrumble at 2:00 PM on April 15, 2014

Your buyer paid you. The funds are being held by Paypal for 21 days because you are a new seller (or perhaps just new to electronics, a category eBay/Paypal considers risky). You do not have the option to just wait 3 weeks to ship. It wouldn't be fair to the buyer, who is not responsible for the hold.

If you log into your Paypal account, you should see the transaction with status "pending."

You can cancel the sale if your buyer agrees. This will get you your final value fees back. You can also simply refund the payment through Paypal (using Paypal's refund option on the original payment, do NOT make a separate payment to the buyer), but you forfeit your eBay fees if you do so, and the buyer is likely to leave you a negative.
posted by payoto at 2:15 PM on April 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

There's nothing out of the ordinary with unlocked iPhones, even older ones, commanding relatively high prices on eBay. I sold a locked 4S a few months ago for $250 in a completely smooth transaction. How much did yours sell for?

If you cancel the sale, be prepared for negative feedback on your account.
posted by zsazsa at 2:36 PM on April 15, 2014

I sell on eBay quite a bit. eBay tends to side with the buyer in most transactions, so be very careful. If you don't have the money in your PayPal account, don't ship, regardless of what eBay is telling you by e-mail. (It seems like your buyer may already have paid you, in which case, PayPal is holding the money because your account is new and perhaps unverified. In that case, you still have to ship. It sucks, but it's true.)

eBay has unfortunately made it so that a seller can no longer leave negative feedback for their buyers (see how they don't care about their sellers?). Look at the buyer's feedback. Not just the number (which will likely be positive), but the actual feedback left by people who dealt with him or her. That might give you some clues. If it seems overly fishy, RUN.

From personal experience, if your buyer's username is "flightto(3 letter airport code)", don't just run, but RUN SCREAMING. It's a scammy eBay reseller service in Japan. They will have you ship to California and claim that the item was never received, leaving you out of luck with eBay and you will have no iPhone and no money. I've got them all as blocked bidders. International eBay buyers can buy directly from you if you allow it; they don't need to use a reseller service, but many international buyers don't seem to realize that.

That said, though it won't help you with this transaction, you can ban individual eBay users from bidding on your (future) auctions. Google "eBay Blocked Bidder List" for instructions on how to do that.
posted by tckma at 2:55 PM on April 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Also, definitely print shipping labels through eBay. It's not only cheaper than it would be if you went to the Post Office or to FedEx, but it's also the only way eBay might believe you that you shipped your item.

In general, my experiences selling on eBay have been positive, so don't let this kind of talk from me scare you away. I've just been burned by a few bad buyers over the years, and wanted to mention it. Forewarned is forearmed.
posted by tckma at 2:58 PM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you don't have the money in your PayPal account, don't ship, regardless of what eBay is telling you

Yeah no. Listen to payoto on this one. There's a big difference between waiting for funds to arrive/clear because the buyer used an eCheque or [any other thing at all that is the buyer's fault], and waiting for funds to clear because you are a new-ish seller and there's a hold [or any other thing that is the seller's fault].

I don't understand how you listed it at a price you think is suspiciously high? If it 'sold in a minute' you listed it as a buy-it-now and not an auction, I take it, so you got your asking price, why was your asking price so high, and was it really all that high when you compare it to completed listings?

Ship it insured and tracked with delivery confirmation (printing your postage on-line through PayPal/eBay is a good method but not the only one). eBay guide to selling phones. Ship now or cancel now; expect negative feedback if you cancel, which is totally reasonable here. This is an "I did not do my homework" problem, not a buyer problem.
posted by kmennie at 4:01 PM on April 15, 2014

Payoto and kmennie are the correct ones here. eBay puts payments to new and not-yet-trusted sellers in a kind of escrow account. If eBay is saying that the buyer paid, eBay is satisfied that they paid, but eBay is going to hold your money for a while. It can be as long as three weeks before you see the funds in PayPal. They do this to protect buyers from scammy one-off sellers. The delay gives the buyer a chance to pursue remedies if the seller does turn out to be fraudulent.

So, if your seller's dashboard on eBay is telling you to ship it, you're okay to ship.

BUT, you should document in every way possible that the phone is 100% functional and in tact when you ship it. Take pictures, take video, take the cover off and document that all of the phone's internal organs are there.

I shipped something to a buyer once (it was a 3-d tic-tac-toe game from the 60s) that was perfectly in tact when it shipped. Several days after the buyer received it, they sent me a picture of one of the pieces -- broken -- and asked for a refund. They admitted that it wasn't damaged in the post, so it was obvious that they had broken the thing while assembling it. I sent eBay my photos of the item, proving that it was whole when it shipped, and they backed me against the seller.

So do send it -- you'll get in trouble with eBay if you wait too long -- but document it first.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:18 PM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

PS: eBay has better-than-decent customer support now. Get in touch with them and ask them to confirm that the payment is legit, if you're really concerned about it.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:20 PM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

When you say "the price it was originally purchased for", make sure you take into account any contract subsidy you paid off in the course of owning it. The actual new list price of an iPhone is somewhere in the vicinity of $800, I believe. I'm guessing that's not what these people are paying. Market value for old models without the contract tacked on is often still a couple hundred bucks.
posted by Sequence at 4:22 PM on April 15, 2014

Not particularly helpful now, but for future reference, I hear reasonable things about selling phones on both Swappa and Glyde.
posted by Sleddog_Afterburn at 7:23 PM on April 15, 2014

Seconding "document the phone is working before you send it."
Plus make sure you send it with a tracking number. Fully insured, ideally, but that can get expensive and I don't know how much you charged for shipping. Sometimes I find spending a little more on shipping than I charged is worth the peace of mind.
posted by luckynerd at 2:12 AM on April 16, 2014

This old phone sold at the price it was originally purchased for.

Do you mean that a) You bought the phone at full retail ($650 or so) or b) you got the phone on contract & made an initial payment of ~$200 or so with the phone company expecting to make up the difference between that and the actual cost of the phone to them from your phone contract?

I'm suspecting it's the latter, in which case the price you've sold for is probably around what the phone is actually worth - you can find out easily enough by looking at the prices of completed auctions for your phone on eBay.
posted by pharm at 2:57 AM on April 16, 2014

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