Be very wary if growing a business based on on-line auction sites.

Like so many abuses committed by large corporations, you don't hear or read much about arbitrary banning by on-line auction and selling sites. Like many vile deeds that don't hit home until they hit home.

But if you are investing your time and money hoping to grow a revenue stream or earn a livelihood using on-line auction sites you should educate yourself about the likely fate of your business should your account become the victim of a witch hunt.

The bigger name auction sites have now become so successful that customers are expendable. If you unfortunately receive an instant message from a known fraudster and the site consequently freezes your account, don't expect an autonomous, level-headed human being to notice that you did nothing wrong and allow you to go back to feeding your family and paying your rent.

Spend a short time searching for unreasonable banning from auction sites. For example "EBay banned me for no reason" returns 6.7 million hits. Now, I will be a bit surprised if at least one new poster doesn't insist that EBay doesn't ban people for no reason. Wrong! I know this first hand. Anyone who makes this statement has simply been lucky so far, doesn't know what they are talking about, is being paid, or some combination thereof. But if you are the type who believes that everyone ever shot by a cop must have deserved it then maybe you could believe it.

Once you get on their shit list don't expect to be treated rationally. Their email notice that your account is frozen has a ring of being slightly reasonable, including language like "while your account is suspended ..." and "if you want to appeal this we would like to review your account information with you." But the email address is a no reply address, they specifically tell you not to reply to the email, they don't include a phone number, don't tell you what you need to do, and you are locked out of your account and can't log on. Does that sound like they want to review your account information with you?

There are many on-line descriptions of what transpires if you are able to find a phone number on your own, and are able to talk to a live person.
"Hi, my account is frozen and I don't know why".
"Ok let me verify some of your information."
... verifies full legal name, home phone number, cell number, email address, paypal address, mailing address ...
"Yeah, so I am trying to figure how I can get my account turned back on."
"Well your account has been reviewed and it is suspended indefinitely."
"Ok, um, do I need to fix something? Did I do something wrong?."
"Our experience is th .... I am not able to tell you."
"Was my account hacked?"
"I am not able to tell you."
"Can you tell me anything? Is there something wrong with my listings? Can you direct me to any information anywhere that will help figure what is wrong?"
"There is nothing I can tell you?"
"So my account is just frozen and you won't tell me if I did something wrong, or if someone else did something to my account, and I am just left in the dark with no clue what is going on?"
"Um, there is nothing I can tell you."
The only inaccuracy in this depiction is that I was so stunned that this guy was so steadfast in his role of keeping me in the complete dark that I rephrased every question 3 or 4 times just to make sure of what was really transpiring.

In my case I had only a few months of my time invested, and my livelihood doesn't depend on it. But if you are paying your rent or buying groceries with your on-line store income, or are hoping to some day, you may want to have a back-up plan in case you accidently get accused of being a witch ... I mean in case you are flagged as a fraudulent account.

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

@QMS @QMS
it passes through and transmit the images to the DHS FCSD? (Federal Colon Scan Database)

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skod's picture

Many years ago, when growing my previous business, I bought some hardware on eBay. I needed a driver for it, so I registered the hardware (as one typically does) with the manufacturer. Bad idea.

Turns out that it was stolen. As soon as I found out, I contacted The Authorities, who duly claimed it and entered it into evidence. And lo and behold, the perp was arrested and convicted.

My couple of grand, on the other hand, were gone, and stay gone to this day. eBay and PayPal washed their hands of it, and I still hold the bag.

Not a fan of the system. Not at all. No *motherfucking* smiley.

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@skod
Instead of a bank account? Capital One is a big bank with many of their flaws, but they have been superb with internet fraud in my experience. And legally, you would have been only liable for $50 anyway. Your bank account? Tough luck, sue for fraud.

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We are so screwed.

@The Voice In the Wilderness
I had a bill once from Capital One. They refused to accept payment and kept hitting me with late fees. Finally I took out a card from my bank and had them pay off Capital One. Assholes.

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A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

@doh1304
I found them more responsive than Chase and forget Citi. I don't even have a card with Citi anymore.

Capitol One is bad about sending my wife bills for her car loan, I often have to pay it on-line and reimbursed by my wife.
Everyone wants "paperless" and most want autopay as well.

Truthfully, I would go paperless if I had reliable internet service.

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We are so screwed.

skod's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness
that I decide to do business on eBay again, I'll take that under advisement. But no- it was a business transaction, so I set it up with the business' bank account. I wasn't inclined to set up a credit card account just for what should have been relatively trivial purchases.

Now I'm back to a corporate gig, so my decades of being my own boss have ended, which has tidily removed that exposure. I don't think I'm likely to strike out on my own at this point in my career: I'm too far along with my "die-at-my-desk" retirement plan now.

For those who still want to try to pull off such a thing, though, two phrases come to mind: "caveat emptor" and "you have my deepest sympathy".

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@skod
Best thing I ever did was return to Federal Service and be put on the hybrid CSRS offset plan.
No wonder Republicans want to destroy even FERS. It's good for people that are not plutocrats.

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We are so screwed.

@skod I bought a blouse on Ebay, but Paypal told me that I needed to confirm my account with them before they would pay for the blouse. I called them, gave them the information they required and they paid for my purchase and I thought that was the end of that. Later that night I checked my e-mails and read about my purchase of a $1,000 MacBook. Of course It was too late for me to be able to cancel this order so following Ebay's SOP I e-mailed the seller and ask him to cancel the order since I did not order the damn thing in the first place. Imagine my surprise when the seller sent me an e-mail about the MacBook that I ordered had been shipped to my address. I again e-mailed the seller and told him that I did not order the computer and I could not afford it. He was very nice and e-mailed me he would contact Paypal and get a label sent to me so that I could return the item for a refund. However I never got a return label for the computer and my credit card was maxed out. I spent the next two months dealing with Ebay and Paypal and I am still stuck with this computer that I cannot use. I ended up having to close my Ebay account because orders for Mac products kept showing up on my account and although Ebay admitted something strange was happening neither Ebay nor Paypal would get me a label so I could return the item that I had not ordered in the first place.

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@sandiapeach
The very first thing to do was to change your password to a long random string. You can find these generate as you watch on www.GRC.com "perfect passwords" and other places.
The second thing was to contact your card issuer, tell them your card number has been compromised. They should immediately stop charges on that card, issue you are new card with a new number, and deny future charges on the old number.
The third thing was to contact paypal as you did.
The fourth to contact e-bay, as you did.

In that order, with #1 being critical.

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We are so screwed.

WaterLily's picture

Could sense this was coming when They stopped sellers from leaving negative feedback for buyers (or responding to negative buyer feedback). Suddenly, the buyer was ALWAYS right, no matter how preposterous the scenario.

Eliminate the "competition" by shutting them down. If that's not possible, squeeze them by reporting sales to the IRS and forcing sellers to pay additional tax on revenue for items they've already bought and paid taxes on. That way, buyers have only one choice: purchase from approved eBay/Amazon/Google vendors. All of whom are in the same damn club.

Fuck the "knowledge" / e-commerce / sharing "economy." It all sounds great until it becomes clear what's up.

Good advice. Sadly, so many people are so desperate that schemes like these -- just like Uber/Lyft, Airbnb, etc. -- will continue to seem attractive. What else is there?

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@WaterLily
Traded locally. Handshakes. Understanding and trust. Leave digital out of the loop.
Exit.

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

skod's picture

@QMS
Done. I’ve got some surplus hardware (since I’m now out of business) I would like to monetize, since I paid for it- but eBay is *right out*. They fuck me, the dumbshit buyer, in favor of any and all sellers. And if I’m the seller, they will certainly fuck me as well.

No sale. Not today, not tomorrow, never again.

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@WaterLily @WaterLily
plenty of cases where the seller was victimized by a buyer because either Ebay or Paypal just chose to stick it to the seller rather than investigate the specifics of the incidents.

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@WaterLily
I found out that Lyft claims that the driver is on the clock ONLY when a passenger is physically in the vehicle, not coming to a pickup or leaving a drop off. That's the only time they are on the clock. Imagine you work for company X and they send you to pick up a part or some papers at another location. Then imagine they stop paying you as you drive off the parking lot, start up again as you reach the destination. Also imagine you delivered something. Say you were a legal aide and took some papers to a client and you went off the clock as soon as you dropped them off and started back to the office, going back on the clock when you entered your office door.

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We are so screwed.

WaterLily's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness It would let them off the hook for workmen's comp, accidental D&D, and other expenses they'd rather not pay. Diablo

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detroitmechworks's picture

First De-emphasize, then de legitimize, then De Monetize, then criminalize. (In practice, if not strictly de jure. And if you say otherwise, try affording the lawyers rates on Fair use Cases, especially if there's no money involved.)

Reason I don't order anything online I can get in person. Yes, I know it's inconvenient. Also means I don't waste as much money on useless stuff.

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

@detroitmechworks
even in a "big box" store. Like Walmart, Kohl's and Target all have the same one-size-fits-all socks in either ankle or knee-length but not anything in-between. And the (in)famous "Check our website".

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We are so screwed.

@The Voice In the Wilderness
just isn't enough interest concentrated in most geographic areas. In bigger cities I can see the potential. But not everyone lives in a city.

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@entrepreneur
IIRC the whole Metro area is eight million people. Only LA & NY bigger.

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We are so screwed.

And the last time I sold anything was such a negative experience, I’d never go back. Tire kickers, canceled auction winners, floods of lowball messages and flat out scammers just make it not worth my while. While I recognize that there are a lot of scummy sellers too, the deck is so stacked that honest sellers just have to keep their fingers crossed that they have an honest buyer. I can’t imagine why anyone would sell there anymore.

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