eBay is riddled with scams and unscrupulous sellers, but neither they nor PayPal will do anything about it

I am sick and tired of eBay. While it is (still) a useful resource for getting items that cannot be obtained locally or for a good price, it has gotten to be quite a horrible place, riddled with scams and fraudulent sellers, especially Chinese sellers.

I was personally bitten a few times (both times by Chinese sellers). One of the them only sent part of order, another one sold me fake, counterfeit garbage.

There are several problems with buying things on eBay.

  • Beware of fakes.

    There are counterfeits on eBay and they are not all single, hit-and-run items; sometimes they are well known, long-running frauds that go completely un-actioned by eBay.

    For example, it is (apparently) well known that buying rechargeable NiMH batteries on eBay is a bad idea. If you see a listing for a pack of eight 3000mAh NiMH batteries for $10, you may want to pass (especially if they are “BTY” brand). Chances are good that the batteries are not 3000mAh, but rather 200mAh or less. Moreover, they may not even be NiMH, they may just be NiCD. This is flat-out fraud!

    The problem is further compounded by the fact that not all items can be immediately tested when you get them. For example, I bought a pack of such batteries, but I did not have the equipment to properly test them. Worse, I already had plenty of alkalines left, so I put the “ rechargeables” aside until I used those up first. It was not until much later that I started using the fake batteries and discovered that instead of lasting longer, they seemed to drain almost immediately. I then researched them and discovered that BTY batteries are infamous for being counterfeit garbage, but by then, it was too late for me to do anything about it.

  • Dispute and feedback periods are too short.

    eBay and PayPal provide the ability to leave feedback and dispute transactions that have problems. The problem is that these periods are far too short. eBay only allows you to leave feedback for an item for up to 60 days from the date of sale. PayPal only allows you to file a dispute for up to 46 days from said date. In this world of International trade and economy, that is just too short and creates the ability for disreputable sellers to engage in certain scams like the “Please Wait eBay/PayPal Scam”.

    Please Wait eBay/PayPal Scam

    If you have a problem with an item you purchased on eBay, you can file a dispute or leave negative feedback to warn others. However when you try to do either (or even leave neutral feedback or less than five stars), eBay and PayPal strongly encourage you to try contacting the seller to resolved the dispute instead.

    If you do choose to contact the seller, you open yourself up to getting totally screwed because a seller (especially foreign ones with long over-seas shipping delays) can politely apologize and explain that international shipments take several weeks and to please wait a little longer. If you wait a little and then contact them again, they will then helpfully apologize again and offer to send another one. After waiting for the replacement, you get tired and contact them again, but again, they say it takes a while to ship and to please wait.

    Eventually, you get sick of waiting and contact them, but it has now been longer than 60 days, and they finally show their true face by ignoring any further messages you send them. At this point, there is absolutely nothing you can do; you cannot file a dispute to attempt to get a refund, and you cannot even leave negative feedback to warn others.

    Sadly, eBay and PayPal refuse to acknowledge that 45/60 days are just too short for global purchases.

  • Reports go unactioned.

    There is a link on the page for each item on eBay to allow you to report listings that have a problem of some sort. The report form contains numerous reasons and sub-reasons and they even give you a report-ticket when you submit it. Unfortunately reports seem to go completely unactioned to the point that some theorize that it is just a placebo and unless the listing is egregiously bad (child porn, body parts, etc.) reports for other reasons get ignored. You can report an item and several days later, see that nothing has changed.

    When a listing is reported, eBay merely sends the seller an email to let them know there is a problem with their listing and to fix it, but apparently the seller is free to ignore the email because there is absolutely no follow up for anything that is not bad enough to be outright pulled.

    The eBay staff may ignore most reports because they figure that the item is expiring in a few days anyway, so enforcing their own policy is not worth the effort. If this is the case, then you would expect that long-lasting listings (e.g., 30-day listings) would be fixed or pulled, and yet they are not.

    This lack of enforcement allows sellers to cheat and lie with impunity.

    • Search and Browse Manipulation

      • Wrong Category Lure

        They put their items in the wrong category to lure people to items they don’t want. For example, a seller may put their item in the category corresponding to a different version of the item than the version they are selling.

        Some are so audacious that they even put low-demand items in a category for high-demand items so that they deceptively show up in search results and email alerts. The first problem could happen by accident (the seller doesn’t realize there are multiple versions), but the second one is usually on purpose.

      • Multiple Version Abuse

        Another purposely deceptive problem with eBay listings which is becoming more and more popular, especially amongst Chinese sellers is to manipulate browse and search results by abusing the multiple-versions option.

        If you have multiple versions of the same (e.g., different colors, different textures, etc. for the same product), you can combine them into a single listing. In this case, when users see your item in the search results, there is a pop-up box that lets you see the options for that product, and when you open the page for it, you can select the version you want to purchase. This is meant to be used for different versions of the same product and the prices should be about the same.

        What some sellers do however is to (ab)use this feature to make a listing of a bunch of expensive items (sometimes drastically different, which eBay policy dictates should be put in separate listings), and then to add an extra, cheap item to the listing. That way, when users perform a search, instead of the listing showing up further down where it belongs, it appears near the top of the list (assuming most users sort results by price, low-to-high). What’s worse is that they arrange the items so that the photo of the expensive item shows in the search results, but because eBay always lists the cheapest item in the listing on the results page, buyers are tricked into thinking that the expensive item in question is available for next to nothing (usually 99¢).

    • Shipping…

  • More to follow…

You’re not that young!

It is so annoying when people act like they don’t know about something because it’s before their time. For example I’ve seen teenagers act like they don’t know what land-lines, phone-booths, beepers, VHS tapes, or answering machines are. Oh whatever. 🙄 You’ve probably had or seen these things when you were a child (or depending on how old you are, even later). They did not become extinct that recently, and you’re not that young!

Disney Shows Have Gotten Bad and are Poor Examples

Disney shows have been getting worse and worse over the past decade. A while back, from around the mid-90’s to the mid 2000’s, the “mouse network” had some pretty good shows. They had a bunch of amusing cartoons and a few decent live-action shows. Unfortunately, the cartoons have become all but extinct, and the live-action shows have become really inane and are terrible shows with horrible role models for children.

Not surprisingly, the stars of the shows are the children and the adults in them are supporting cast. The problem is that the children tend to be quite rude and disrespectful towards their elders (parents, teachers, etc.) Moreover, the adults are frequently depicted as being stupid and gullible and easily fooled by the scheming, “clever” children.

In addition to stupid adults, they also have a lot of young characters who are stupid as well. This sets a terrible precedent and teaches children that intelligence is not a good thing to be strived for.

The absolute worst of all has to be Wizards of Waverly Place. Selena Gomez’s character Alex Russo is the most despicable character in television history and no parent should ever allow their children to be exposed to that garbage. In addition, Alex’s brother Max is very stupid.

Another problem with a lot of recent Disney shows is that they have a tendency to treat animals poorly. They frequently make references to animals as products like food or slave labor. There are even instances of animals being hurt or killed and their injuries or deaths being dismissed as unimportant, even laughed off. Disney characters have no qualms about using, hurting, or even killing animals, which is disgusting.

Again, Wizards takes the prize because Alex treats animals very poorly with her magic.

Disney shows are targeted towards impressionable young children. Teaching them to be rude and disrespectful of adults and animals is horrible and Disney should be ashamed. They really should be boycotted and forced to improve (boycotting isn’t a big loss because most of the shows are just awful these days anyway).

Then Do it Yourself!

It’s a classic scene from pretty much every genre of film: the bad guy forces his henchmen to do some task (kill someone, steal something, guard against the enemy, etc.) and when the henchmen fail, the bad guy kills them for failing.

This drives me crazy. First of all, killing isn’t acceptable, but he’s a bad guy, so they probably don’t care. Also, killing your guys is wasteful since you now have to find a replacement that you can trust which isn’t easy for bad guys.

Most importantly, the bad guy has no right to punish his people for failing at a what in this scenario is usually an impossible task. If the task is essentially impossible, then they did not actually fail, so where do they get off punishing them as though they expected them to succeed. Why do they have such unrealistically high expectations? If they actually do expect them to succeed because they think the task is achievable, then they should just do it themselves.

It is infuriating when they execute henchmen for failing an impossible task. What do they expect to happen when they send another guy to do it? Will they just keep killing their own guys each time they fail? Will they execute themselves if they try it and fail?

Stupid bad guys; typical.

Extreme Couponing is Fake

“Couponing” has become quite popular in the past couple of years. With sites like Groupon, RetailMeNot, and such, as well as shows like Extreme Couponing, using coupons is no longer looked down upon (as though it was such a bad thing in the past).

The problem is that shows like Extreme Couponing where you see “professional couponers” who buy a thousand dollars worth of merchandise and end up paying only a dollar or two are a complete crock and total fake. It is flat-out impossible to do that because companies are neither stupid, nor established yesterday. Pretty much every coupon specifically says that it cannot be combined with any other discount or offer. That means that you cannot get 75% off with an in-store discount, then use a 50% off coupon, and then add a $5 off coupon, and then get $3 back with a mail-in rebate to get a $100 item for $4.50. I really had stretch reality to get even that much of a discount which isn’t that impressive compared to what you see on the show.

There is absolutely no realistic way that these people can get such massive discounts and pay with just change like they do in the shows. Yes, you can occasionally get an item for less thanks to floor-model discounts and mail-in rebates, etc. but nothing like the shows. In all likelihood, the more realistic explanation is that the show’s production company calls ahead and makes arrangements with the store or at least when the store employees see the camera crew, they play along. For all we know, the people in these shows don’t even take the merchandise home and it’s all put back on the shelves after they shoot the scene. Alternately, the producers may pay the difference after they stop filming.

These shows are fake, plain and simple.

Wendy’s coupoons
Like almost all coupons, these cannot be combined, so no, you cannot get a combo meal for $4.

“What happens in Vegas…”

I absolutely abhor the expression What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. It is supposed to be a clever, catchy phrase used to promote the cesspool and encourage people to do bad things by implying that there are no consequences for their actions. Bullshit!

Just because you go on vacation does not entitle you to do whatever the hell you want; bad, immoral, or criminal behavior is wrong no matter where you ware.

Here’s just a few examples of things that definitely do not stay in Vegas:

  • Damages – If you “pull” a Hangover and get your car smashed up, the dents won’t come out as soon as you leave the city; you’ll still have to pay to have them fixed
  • Debt – If you gamble with impunity, your losses and debts will not stay behind, they will follow you home
  • Diseases – You can’t slut it up just because you are on vacation in Vegas; anything you catch will go home with you
  • Legal – If you get into legal trouble, you don’t get out of jail free just because your vacation is over; if anything, you might stay in Vegas
  • Death – If you get yourself in trouble and get maimed or killed, it might stay in Vegas if you get buried in the Mojave, otherwise it will stick with your corpse when it is shipped back

Meat Ads that Use Anthropomorphized Animals / “Turkey Day”

I absolutely despise it when commercials that are advertising meat use talking animals to promote their product. It is bad enough that the poor animals being murdered so that people can not only eat to survive, but rather to enjoy a treat. It is bad enough that the commercials glorify killing and eating animals (I can’t stand the ones that show sizzling chunks of dead animal flesh, trying to make it look appealing), but to actually use them in the commercials is just wrong. It is immoral and indecent and often encroaches on cannibalism.

The steak-sauce commercial that has a cow singing to lure you into eating it is sick. The commercial showing cows and chickens trying to convince humans to eat the other is disgusting. And the rest…

In a similar vein, I really hate it when people call Thanksgiving “Turkey Day”. First of all, it masks and dismisses the whole point of Thanksgiving which is to recognize the good in your life and that others are not so lucky, and to be grateful for what you have and to help others. Second, it is even more disrespectful to the turkeys who die on the day. It is bad enough they are dying, but to give the day a “cutesy” name like that makes light of and demeans their deaths.

Everything is #1! Yeah right.

I am so sick of every network and channel constantly calling everything The season’s #1 show, Canada’s favorite new show, The best show on television, The biggest hit on TV, The new #1 hit, and so on. These claims are b.s. for at least two reasons:

  • Don’t tell me what is a good show or not! I’ll decide for myself whether a show is any good and I hate being told by others that something is good, particularly when I already know it is not! I can’t count the number of times I have seen a commercial for a show I hate being called #1. That is incredibly aggravating.
  • How many #1/favorite shows are there‽ How can every show be #1 or the favorite? How can every new show be a hit? The claims they make are statistically and logically ridiculous and garbage.

America and Metric

It aggravates the hell out of me that America eschews the Metric system for several reasons:

  • The Metric system, while not perfect, is vastly superior to and much simpler than the Imperial system that America uses. It is consistent with equal intervals of 10 instead of random ones, which makes it easy to memorize. It uses decimal units (intervals of 10) which makes it easy to use by multiplying or dividing to make larger or smaller units.
  • America always makes such a big deal about how they revolted against the British and abjured their ways, and yet they keep using the Imperial system which, you guessed it, is British!
  • Every other country in the world has had the brains to switch to Metric except for the United States and a couple of third-world countries.

CDRWin Vigilantism

Something that I have been wanting to complain about for a long time is CDRWin from Golden Hawk. Back in the days when CDs were still common (and most piracy was with CDs), burning CD images to blank CDs was a task that some people did often. There were plenty of programs and image formats, but CDRWin was a popular one that worked fairly well, at least that is, until version 4.0.

To deter piracy (which is of course a Sisyphean endeavor), Golden Hawk chose not to increase the complexity of their licensing system, but rather, to play vigilante and sabotage users’ system when they suspected an attempt at piracy.

What happened was CDRWin basically had three modes of operation:

  • Unregistered/evaluation
  • Registered
  • Vigilante

When you enter a serial-number/key to register CDRWin, if the key is invalid, then it will complain and remain in evaluation mode. However, if the key is valid, then it may accept the key and say thank you and display a Registered stamp in the titlebar and About dialog, but secretly be in vigilante mode whereby it pretends to be registered and appears to be in all manner, except that whenever you burn a disc, it corrupts it, resulting in a “coaster”.

This is unacceptable for several reasons

  1. The method that it uses to detect if the key was created using a “key generator” instead of from Golden Hawk themselves seems to be flawed because legitimate customers were incorrectly affected.
  2. The surreptitious nature of the anti-piracy tactic (it gives not warning whatsoever) prevented identifying the problem and made it look like the software is simply buggy, thus damaging the developer’s general reputation (imagine that, reviews from pirates having a big impact on sales!)
  3. This is essentially vigilante behavior, not anti-piracy techniques. If vigilantism is illegal in the real world, why would it be acceptable in the digital one?
  4. The sabotage it does is actively harmful to the user. By corrupting (apparently all) discs that are burned with the software, they are causing the user to have to throw them out because they are now useless. Would it be any more acceptable if the software were designed to fry a user’s CPU, burn out their monitor, or print hundreds of pages of solid black/color with their printer to waste their ink cartridges? Of course not! Wasting blank CDs isn’t any more acceptable.