Sunday, 19 July 2009

Unhappy with EBay? Users explains why

Anyone who has ever over time looked at items for sale on eBay would have noticed some hilariously puffed up item descriptions, obviously phoney buyer/seller feedback history entries and sometimes the odd fraudulent offering.

One regular eBay user now details how common shills are on the auction site.


In eBay's own words, "Shill bidding is bidding that artificially increases an item's price or apparent desirability", and it's just as common on eBay as it is in any motor auction room up and down the country. But just because that dodgy geezer in the sheepskin coat, upping the interest on that Mondeo, is all part of the "charm", it doesn't mean it's OK on eBay. In fact, it's a criminal offence and there have been several prosecutions, here in the UK. Not only that, but eBay's rules prevent you bidding on items being sold by your friends, family and (take note) your work colleagues! The only exceptions are purchases made using the "Buy it Now" option or fixed price listings. So how can you recognise if you're being taken to the cleaners? Well, this is one of the easiest frauds to carry out, so many shill bidders are going to leave some clues for you. Check the number of bid retractions a bidder has - we can all make mistakes, but could we really enter the "wrong amount" over and over again? See if the user IDs are in the same format, or look similar in more obscure ways. Look out for sellers who immediately relist an item - wouldn't you try to communicate with a non-paying bidder first, instead of arbitrarily relisting straight away? Although it's easy to manipulate, have a look at the location given by the IDs concerned, and remember that eBay's "distance from seller" feature can be used to weed out those sellers who deliberately enter the wrong location (see my other guides for details of how this feature can be used to your advantage). Does the pattern of bids look right? Finally, although I'm not allowed to provide a link, there is at least one on-line tool that allows you to enter the eBay IDs of both the seller, and the suspected shill bidder, to view the historical transactions between the two parties, but you'll have to do a search for that one.

He also lists nine other scams.

While another user is so incensed with what he sees as eBay's refusal to adequately police the practice of false bids that he has written a lengthy case study.

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