Every day we get a number of questions from eBay members. Some are sensible, others not, some are obviously fraudulent, some try to obviate the eBay system, others ask do we take PayPal. It is time-consuming, and requires effort and intelligence to be able to answer all these questions fully. It is also very frustrating, as the answer to 95% of these questions is already contained within our item listings, or on our websites. The other 5% could often be best answered by telephone, and usually need interaction, for example we often need further information from the enquirer before we can provide the most appropriate answer. The very anonymity of the eBay system, which eBay work hard to perpetuate, actually makes life more difficult for genuine traders, and easier for the crooks and scammers.
This question is the one which triggered us to write this particular guide, but we could equally well have picked any one from a number of others. It was about one of our listings for "50 Gram Credit Suisse Gold Bullion Bar 999.9 Fine Gold".
Q: Hello, Do you shipped to Indonesia?. this item for my family who has an antique store in Indonesia. I want to purchase your item without any auction. Please let me know how much you will release this item for buy it now. it's the best way for me to get the discount. Because we do not need to pay eBay's fees. And if we got deal, i will make the paypal payment first before you ship the goods. It's safe and easy for us. Please let me know what you think. Thank You for your business.
The Answer We Will Probably Give
- Q: Hello, Do you shipped to Indonesia? Yes
- I want to purchase your item without any auction. We suggest you view one of our websites "Tax Free Gold" (eBay do not permit us to include a link), and contact us at our office, preferably by telephone.
- Please let me know how much you will release this item for buy it now We sell based on the current spot gold price which varies constantly.
- I will make the paypal payment first before you ship the goods. We do not accept PayPal, you would need to pay us in cleared funds.
The Answer We Would Like to Give
- Hello, Do you shipped to Indonesia? Our postage and Payments section states "We can ship worldwide", we would consider this probably includes Indonesia, although we must say that the very mention of Indonesia instantly makes us suspicious. It is one of the biggest fraud risk areas. We would however be prepared to ship there if we can get suitable insurance cover, or you are prepared to accept the risk.
- This item for my family who has an antique store in Indonesia Fine, but surely your family already have suitable suppliers, who may be more local than us, and they could also could contact us directly.
- I want to purchase your item without any auction. eBay's rules stipulate that you should not contact sellers through their system to ask them to circumvent their fees. eBay could warn, suspend, or ban you for this practice if we reported it, or if their systems monitor the content of eBay messages. As you are suggesting we do something untoward and devious, we would have some reservations about dealing with you. If you had any intelligence, you would have found us via our websites, and contacted us directly. If we were to reply in the affirmative to your request, we would also be betraying the trust eBay places in us not to circumvent their system, and you must be rather naive if you expect us to agree via the eBay message system.
- Please let me know how much you will release this item for buy it now. In our direct sales, we offer to both buy and sell gold bars of all sizes, and gold bullion coins, based on the current spot price of gold. As this fluctuates constantly, any quote given by e-mail would be meaningless. It is necessary to quote prices and agree deals instantly by telephone.
- It's the best way for me to get the discount. We would agree, partly because eBay's fees mean it is almost impossible for us to make competitive offers via eBay listings, but see above.
- Because we do not need to pay ebay's fees. Again we agree. We tend to use our eBay listings as advertisements. We tend to list mainly "Added Value" products, such as specific makes of bars, rather than generic ones. Most intelligent people would find us via our websites using the links on our "About Me" page or a search engine. Less than 3% of our annual sales take place via eBay. Most investors would buy generic bars because the premium on them is lower.
- And if we got deal, i will make the paypal payment first before you ship the goods. If you bothered to look, you would not find any offer on our part to accept PayPal. This is because we do not accept PayPal. There are many reasons for this, too many to detail fully here. One reason is the high fees relative to the products we sell. If, as you indicate, you wish to get the best deal and the lowest price, you would surely realise that PayPal fees are even higher than eBay's selling fees, and you would be anxious to avoid them. Another reason is that, despite eBay's and PayPal's claims to be safe, this is not the case. PayPal, as we suspect you very well know, is extremely prone to fraud, as indeed are most electronic payment systems. Perhaps this is the reason you wish to use PayPal? We would certainly not ship before we received your payment by any method.
- It's safe and easy for us. It may be easy, but it is not safe. See the legal case New York Attorney General via PayPal.
- Please let me know what you think. We think you are probably a crook trying it on, and that once you read our reply, particularly about accepting cleared funds, and not accepting PayPal, we will never hear from you again, however we are too polite and restrained to say so directly to you, partly in case we are wrong, but also there is no point us spelling out to you that you have been rumbled. We also think that if you were genuine, you would have volunteered your name and address instead of using the anonymous eBay message system. All you told us about yourself was your eBay username. We will not mention it here, perhaps you sparkle on stage, but not off it. When we looked at your eBay Member Profile, it tells us that you were "Member since: 23-Nov-02, Location: United States". Your feedback is "70 and 100% positive", which sounds quite good, however we notice you have not completed any transactions since June this year, so that none of your transactions can be viewed. This could be completely innocent, but it could also be very dodgy, a typical scammers ploy. We looked a little deeper. As we could not see the actual transactions you had made, we looked at the most recent ones by your feedback partners. The first sells GLOW in the DARK acrylic PAINT at $1.75 each, and some other similarly priced products. The second had been selling BONUS + (4) CARDBOARD SHIPPING MAILING TUBES: at $0.01 (one cent). The third sold BOYS CLOTHING SET at $0.99. Three of the most recent five were registered in June or July 2002 in the USA, now this may be a coincidence, but you also registered in November 2002. Perhaps we are being too suspicious, but this looks like a typical clever scammers pattern. Build up good positive feedback, ostensibly over a fair length of time, before using the account to commit fraud. Some of the reciprocal feedback account may have been your own multiple accounts, or those of friends or family. For all we know, your entire feedback could have been acquired for about $10!
- Thank You for your business. We haven't transacted any yet!
No, we just happen to be in the business of selling high value goods with a high resale proportion. We get crooks contacting us every single day, so we get used to fending off fraud attempts. We also get many enquiries from people who may be perfectly honest, but just a little naive. One symptom of this is failing to appreciate that a seller would find it helpful for you to fully introduce yourself when asking for information. We try our best to help these people. Sometimes it is not easy to tell which is which without investing time to find out.
eBay System Fundamental Flaws
One problem this highlights is that the eBay system encourages anonymity. This is largely to stop buyers and sellers contacting each other directly, otherwise they would trade directly and eBay would not collect its fees. It has the side effect of making it difficult for genuine reputable individuals and businesses to promote themselves properly, and easy for crooks to operate under the cloak of anonymity provided.
Purpose of this Guide
We wrote this guide to share with others the difficulties of giving accurate and concise answers to many questions, also to share thoughts and insights about scams.
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Author & Copyright Notice
This page was written by Lawrence Chard of Chard Coins, and is extracted from our "Gold Sovereigns" website. We hope you find this page useful and informative, please feel free to use the information we have provided, but please note we retain copyright on all contents including both textual content and images. Please do not copy our text or images without our prior written permission.