A Magical Huffalump Resides Here: Ebay Changes, Buyer Perspective

A Magical Huffalump Resides Here

My name is Ed, I am a programmer. Just another dude with another blog. I like MTG, Open Source (more towards FREE software). I like sports, and eventually I hope to do business and do good for the world in general. This blog is gonna be about Magic The Gathering. Decklists and snippets will be posted here. It may lead somewhere or nowhere, as with all things arcane, that was bloody obvious =)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ebay Changes, Buyer Perspective

Ebay's changes

To seek the article, follow the link and look for "**A Message from Bill Cobb – New Pricing and Other News***"

It took awhile, Ebay is finally doing something right about the feedback systems.

It was fundamentally flawed.

Anyone saying that the old system was simple and equal is either

1) Crazy or really stupid

2) Is a bad/errant/"at least potentially bad" seller waiting to exploit you

3) All of the above

Oh when I said awhile, its like years... I joined ebay in 2001 I think, and now it is 2008.

Why is the old system flawed?

it is actually heavily biased to the sellers.

The insideous thing?

You do not actually see, it, everything is implicit.

It allowed sellers to cheat and then blackmail and get away with it.

It takes balls to stand up to a seller. I did it twice and it took me a few years to get back to my current 99.3%

My dear errant sellers did not even feel a dent. I took out 2 sellers and I am proud of it. One I left a negative for, the other got off scot free. But lets talk about that later.

Back to why the old system was flawed.

You have to be burnt before you see it.

Step 1) Buyer pays

Step 2) Seller should have reflected feedbaCK by now,ANYTHING ELSE IS AN INTENTION TO BLACKMAIL.

Step 3) I get bad bad karma and my stuff is wrong or fake (I was cheated 700 USD)

Step 4) I reflect the badness of his behaviour to the seller

Step 5) He says "OOH we leave what you leave", or something to that effect, believe me his email is actually very nice about, so no don't get doped by the niceness of the sellers comments, A BLACKMAIL IS A BLACKMAIL.

Step 4) I leave neg.

Step 5) seller leaves neg.

Oh seller drops all fronts of niceness at this point.

I was lucky.

Well I got cheated of 700 USD (well 400USD actually, the others were from other bad sellers - but this one takes the cake)

I reported ebay paypal, what have you, but nothing resolved.

Audience: "But you said you took him out!!!!!"

Yes yes, thats the "lucky" part. Dude was a scammer. Oh he was selling Power 9 if you are familiar.

Somewhere later in time, I saw an ID on ebay selling power nine.

BTW bad sellers are generally not smart (still he got 400 usd from me, yay him!). This one was not too smart, I recognised the html and pics (yes really not smart)... I still had his email and the old auction description. I emailed everything to ebay, ebay said something to the effect that they cannot tell me anything due to privacy issues.

But I continue monitoring the ID, apparently others got ripped and eventually that account was closed. I had to vigilante it. Why must it be so difficult to weed the bad seed out?

Well I did say I was lucky.

Why lucky? Because this was a case where I could do something about the seller. This is a CASE where the feedback system is fair and buyers and sellers have equal power.

Audience: "YOU LIAR!!!! You said the system is flawed!! You can't talk straight!!!"

Well you don't listen good buddy. It was a SINGLE case. I will now come to why the old system is flawed. Its about power. A seller is typically a shop, or at least specialised enough to garner thousands of unique feedback. As a buyer I have 1800 transactions (all positive) but only 250+ unique feedback. Sellers' total is WAY WAY higher. Its a many to one relation.

The old system only works when the seller is small, but when the seller grows big, there is NOTHING to stop the seller from going rogue.

I have actually personally seen a seller grow from the hundreds to thousands. They are usually nice, but would use quid pro quo tactics to get ONLY positive comments (those sellers that are not nice, or cheat early get weeded). Once this particular seller grew he went nuts and cheated left right centre.

Audience: "But he was caught right??"

Yes but only because he BLATANTLY cheated. He was an extreme.

ONLY EXTREMES get caught. All other bad feedback left is usually too miniscule to be of worry to sellers. Oh and theres the bit about the carnage of dead buyers left in the dirt with no money back to them. Yes there is the ebay and paypal schemes, but to catch a scammer it can take months to years for the true colours to show, the protection schemes have expired by then.


And this is the dumb part.

Sellers leave retaliatory comments.

Stay with me, its a little complex.

We will assume 2 scenarios.

Good Seller - out to make a living, will do good things, send the damn thing and be over with it.

Bad seller - may not be blatantly out to cheat, but bad quality of goods and bad service.

Good seller -

generally if you do not piss people off, buyers leave good comments, I always do

Point is short term, a buyer loses way out more than a seller in the old system.

You get a few bad ones? In the past at least, this does not affect you one bit.

But still a BAD seller would be obliged to leave a bad comment, I mean if enough ppl rise up to you, you will get a negative eventually right? (Oh that only should happen if you are INDEED a BAD seller) So alot of big bad sellers use the quid pro quo tactic to keep everyone in line.

The good sellers? You actually should'nt need to leave comments. What is the chance of a few hundred bad buyers (usually from competitor sellers or someone you royally pissed - which in anycase should'nt even be in the picture!) trying to screw you? And even then, such cases can be resolved.

The usual quoted cases:

Buyer has wild expectations about shipping, sellers LOVE to quote the "BUYER EXPECTS IT IN TWO DAYS!!!"... I agree that those negs should be invalid. TWO MONTHS late shipping, should still be seriously considered for a bad neg. Lets be very clear about it.

Buyer not paying. This too I agree, that the negs are invalid.

But apart from those? Please most of the complaints from buyers are that THEY PAID!

In most cases the BAD seller blackmails for a good comment, usually implicitly. Like the very familar:

"Leave your comments and I'll leave mine"

The BAD seller only gets caught after hundreds and in some cases thousands of buyers get screwed.

Too late buddy.

If you think I am joking, you have sellers with a 20000+ rating.

They may have a 99% rating. Should they screw you. You count for 1/20000+

Sure you say: If he is really bad, people will leave a neg!

Well buddy, you obviously do not understand herd or sheep mentality. One shot and you silence the entire herd.

The damage to someone like me for instance I will receive a downgrade of 1/200+ way higher than the seller.

Is that fair? Is that equal power? If you still think that is fair your math teacher must have been disappointed in you.

And you know what is worse?

There is no way to explicitly look for bad feedback.

Often when I look at the seller I look for what he/she has done. And sellers with the many transactions actually get their bad deeds HIDDEN!

This was actually something I had to tangle with in trying to expose a seller doing bad quality stuff.

I tend to buy in bulk so I have many transactions to blow feedback on.

What happens is, when I leave a negative, it gets blown to the back. And new buyers actually have a hard time seeing the negative feedback. So what I did was I left a negative every few days (NOTE! HIS PERCENTAGE DOES NOT CHANGE! ALL MY COMMENTS ONLY COUNT AS ONE UNIQUE).

My only consolation is that I can keep the RED maintained on his feedback.

Eventually other buyers noticed and did the same. Guess what his feedback when from all green, to all RED. It was amazing. He was actually SCREWING EVERYONE. But no one dared to fire the first shot. The sad thing is if you only bought one thing, IT ACHIEVES NOTHING to leave your neg, as your little RED dot will just get washed away by the rest of the sheep. I only dared to fire because I know I have many transactions so I can sustain the TRUTH.

Even then, to this day I have 2 negs in my feedback. I cannot afford to stand up any more. I worked hard to keep my 99.3 (worked hard as in I no longer dared to leave negative feedback).

You think its no big deal? One more neg, will result in 99.0 or less. Two more and I slip to 98.0 Three? And what does three do to someone with 20000+ rating or for that matter 1000+ ?

The old feedback system was such that you get HAMMERED INTO SUBMISSION. Is this how a fair system works?

I got to go now, but I will complete this later... stay tuned

To be totally truthful, I think the new system is fair, but may need some tweaks, for instance negative feedback should be removable if found to be given wilfully. The sellers deserve that at least.

Oh and for those saying Ebay needs the sellers?


There will always be sellers, just as there has always been buyers. (Which is why the bad sellers are able to screw for so long)

What we want is to root out the bad ones, buyer or seller.

The old system was HORRIBLY UNFAIR. The new system is better, it must still be tweaked it is not perfect, but it is WAY fairer than the old system.

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