Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ebay: No Safe Harbor

There was a time when I considered eBay to be one of the most reputable and equitable online marketplaces. Buyers and sellers seemed to be treated fairly, the site seemed to be well-policed, and the feedback system made it easy for users to police the sites, protecting their fellow buyers and sellers from disreputable eBayers.

Not any more. eBay is the equivalent of a dark parking lot just after midnight; the guy who's meeting you there may very well be honest, but you're probably best off assuming he isn't.

I'm not sure when eBay lost control of its integrity and its reputation, but the simple truth is the site if now rife with merchants selling illegal merchandise (or no merchandise at all), buyers who use the one-sided feedback system to blackmail merchants, and an eBay management that cares about nothing other than raking off its share of the cash. I've seen a noted decline in the accuracy of descriptions of items I have bought from eBay recently; I continue to hear stories from friends about the merchandise that didn't arrive and the months of disputes to try to get their money back through eBay's front operation, Paypal; and the end result is that I will not even consider selling merchandise on eBay any longer, and rarely consider buying merchandise there.

I used to do eBay searches every couple of days, just checking for items that I might want; now I rarely go to the site more than once or twice a month, and even then I feel sullied by the process.

I'd love to see someone come up with a reputable replacement for the disreputable thing that eBay has become... although I admit that I'd hate to the one who had to design such a replacement.

Until then, I pretty much consider eBay a risky trip through a bad neighborhood...

1 comment:

Art said...

Maybe I'm just lucky (though that's not usually a problem), but 99% of my eBay experiences have been very positive. In one case I bought a guitar footpedal that was DOA, but I used the PayPal dispute feature and got my money back in less than a week.

The only "bad" experience I had was I bought what I thought was a legitimate DVD copy of The Who's "30 Years of Maximum R&B." It turned out to be a rather well-done bootleg. Oh, well, it's nearly impossible to find, anyhow, so I guess for $10 or so this is all right. I turned the guy in just the same.