Skip to main content
Insult to Injury

OK, I was scammed on eBay and I’m £310 worse off. It was my first transaction on the auction site and that’s bad enough perhaps but worse still, the chap who did it has left derogatory feedback about me. which is completely untrue.

Let me tell you about a fundamental weakness of the eBay system. For the sake of example, we’ll use my own experience.

You chase the seller around for weeks even months, because what he advertised in his auction, is not in fact what you received. You complain to eBay, Trading Standards and the Police and discover that all you can really do is take out a small claims court action against the lovable lout in question.

And so, having exhausted every avenue, you take the advice of trading standards and return the dodgy item, recorded delivery, with a covering note saying that unless your money is returned by PayPal or by cheque, within seven days, you’ll see him in court.

Eventually and after some email excuses, "I was in hospital", a letter arrives, also recorded delivery, with a note inside, which reads, “Sorry, I’m all out of cheques, so I’ve enclose £310 of cash instead”. You look inside and of course there’s nothing there but the letter was signed for and now you have to prove that you haven’t had the money. It’s very clever and is a monumental weak spot in any transaction. “Do you really want to waste your time and money chasing this man” ask Trading Standards and the police, “Or simply put it down to experience”?

So, you can be both out of pocket and the bad guy has the item back as well; which he will probably try and re-sell on an auction site all over again. Worse still, he can leave feedback for other eBay users that accuses you of fraud!

The Post Office has a special delivery service for cash but if someone chooses work the system in his favour and ignore payment instructions that request a cheque or Paypal and doesn’t use a system that properly records and evidences a transaction then sending absolutely nothing in a recorded delivery envelope, plays firmly into the hands of the criminal fraudster.

My advice then after using a few more eBay purchases that have gone well, is of course read the other party’s feedback closely but don’t be convinced by it. In my example, the bad guy had built up a convincing record over the months of very small transactions before moving on to the bigger sting with me and someone else.

Secondly, if the other party doesn’t accept credit cards or Paypal, don’t touch them. Why wouldn’t you want to use Paypal or some other means of protecting a transaction, even if it costs 3% commission on the sale?

Finally if you’re expecting any kind of refund, never sign for it until you have inspected the contents in front of the postman. This isn’t easy and may not be possible, as in this case, my wife signed for the letter and she can’t count as a witness in court.


Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…
A Christmas Tale

It’s pitch blackness in places along the sea wall this evening and I'm momentarily startled by a small dog with orange flashing yuletide antlers along the way. I’m the only person crazy enough to be running and I know the route well enough to negotiate it in the dark, part of my Christmas exercise regime and a good way of relieving stress.

Why stress you might ask. After all, it is Christmas Day.

True but I’ve just spent over two hours assembling the giant Playmobil ‘Pony Farm’ set when most other fathers should be asleep in front of the television.

I was warned that the Playmobil ‘Pirate Ship’ had driven some fathers to drink or suicide and now I understand why. If your eyesight isn’t perfect or if you’ve had a few drinks with your Christmas lunch then it’s a challenge best left until Boxing day but not an option if you happen to have a nine year old daughter who wants it ready to take horses by tea time.

Perhaps I should stick to technology but then, the instruc…

An Ockham of Gatwick

The 13th century theologian and philosopher, William of Ockham, who once lived in his small Surrey village, not so very far from what is today, the wide concrete expanse of Gatwick airport is a frequently referenced source of intellectual reason. His contribution to modern culture was Ockham’s Razor, which cautions us when problem solving, that “The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct;” sound advice which constantly proves to be true.

A week further-on since Britain’s second busiest airport was bought to a complete standstill by two or perhaps two hundred different drone sightings, it is perhaps time to revisit William of Ockham’s maxim, rather than be led astray by an increasingly bizarre narrative, one which has led Surrey police up several blind alleys with little or nothing in the way of measurable results.

 Exploring the possibilities with a little help in reasoning from our medieval friar, we appear to have a choice of two different account…