Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ridiculousness At Auction

Earlier in the day I swore I wasn't going to talk about this and I was going to put it completely out of my head. How quickly my resolve weakened. I tend to dwell on things, so I was trying not to with this matter - and this matter was a fairly large one to come along in a while for me.

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, (all 2 of you, lol) you know that I use eBay, but I'm definitely no fan of eBay. If I could obtain Game & Watches anywhere else easily, or sell things to a large audience with greater ease, I would. But for right now, there's no real alternative. Paypal pretty much sucks, too. Their "umbrella" of security isn't bad, but their policies - and greed - are ridiculous.

My hobbies work in cycles, I get (back) into something, get bored, move on to something else I'm interested in, etc. Gaming to anime to Game & Watches/LCD games to cute mascot goods to quirky gadgets, etc. This is horrible when you collect things, because then you tend to run out of space quickly, due to the sheer number of different things you collect. (Which is why it took me 2+ years to gut my gaming inventory) Sometime in the last 2 months or so I wound up getting back into Game & Watch collecting, eventually buying more in a short period of time than I ever had before.

I won't bore with the details, but suffice it to say that since I collected in fits & starts - and when ebay had a much smaller user base which meant less auctions overall - I think I had a misconception of what was "rare" and what was not. So that meant that this time I jumped on a few games I thought were rare that kinda weren't. Seeing the Crystal Screen Series of games on eBay for the longest time, priced at $500-$2000 a piece, usually new, seeing one unboxed (used) & therefore, cheaper, I wanted to jump on the chance to get one without taking out a loan.

Though the auction was listed as being in Hong Kong & the seller in Singapore raised some red flags, they were a "registered business seller", had over 2000 positive feedback, published their address on the page, etc. Moreover, the pictures weren't generic stock photos, they looked genuine, taken just for that item and the description wasn't in horrid English, i.e. - it had no earmarks of a scam/bootleg/whatever, auction. Which, was the biggest selling point, "This game would be nearly impossible (and not financially feasible) to bootleg or counterfeit, so why the hell not bid on it?"

So I bid on this auction and won. I was fairly excited, I snagged a Crystal Screen Game & Watch for only $135! I paid immediately, and just as soon afterward I received an e-mail with the tracking number that was in the system about 48 hours later, just like any other package I'd tracked before. I had no real reason to be suspicious. Except, a few days later, while cruising the same search I always do, I found the exact same pictures and description for the same auction, by the same seller - only this one had a Buy It Now price $100 higher than the one I had bought. Then I noticed something else, the tracking number ended with a 'CN', indicating China being the originating post, not Hong Kong. All sorts of red flags were now popping up. I could just see in my head either an empty package, something broken or something completely different showing up in the mail.

My suspicion was that either a) the seller never had the Game & Watch in their possession to begin with & just took a picture of someone else's or something to scam online or b) they didn't get what they wanted, neglected to put a reserve price on it & decided they didn't want to "be out" $100 or more, whatever they expected to get out of this, and sent the wrong thing intentionally, like "oops, sorry."

At any rate, it took almost a month for me to receive my package and I finally got the slip to come pick it up at the post office, in the mail. Upon picking it up, I noticed the package was fairly round and cushy. (which, if you've ever ordered anything from HK is insane because those sellers usually wrap whatever in paper, without bubble wrap or packing material of any sort, and send it off "bare". If they could get away with writing directly on the item, they would.) So I sign for it, get to the car, and my curiosity overwhelms me & I open it. I neglected to look at the customs tag before doing so, and after looking inside and seeing not what I had paid for, notice a declaration for "$10 Shorts". And sure enough, what was inside were 2 pairs of the ugliest briefs I've ever seen that I would never wear even if I had nothing else to wear in my life.

So now what to do? Naturally, most people would go screaming to Paypal to get their money back. I was trying to consider my options before I did this. "Why", you ask? I know Paypal's/eBay's game very well at this point, and the core of it is what pisses me off. They come off on this pretense that, "The community makes us what we are, without the community, we'd have nothing," which is fairly amazing because they treat that community like crap by way of fee hikes the MORE business they do and abide scammers because scammers add to their bottom line! Who cares if you or I got a $10 pair of cheap Chinese knockoff knickers instead of the $150 game we paid for? eBay got their cut, Paypal got theirs, and what's better is that they got the fees on $150! Woo! It's xmas everyday for them! In fact, scammers generally make MORE money for them, because chances are they're doing more volume tricking people into buying bootleg products. If you've spent any amount of time on eBay, you've probably noticed that every Hong Kong/Chinese seller has about 20000 feedback.

And, if I want my money back now, I have to return the item, because this smart scammer had the foresight to force "Registration" on me, so it's tracked & recorded that I received something in the mail. Even filing a 'SNAD' (significantly not as described) complaint with Paypal in what amounts to - under scrutiny - almost obvious fraud, I still have to play nice with the scammer. Which is incomprehensible to me.

The thing that really frosts my ass - as well as why I'm writing this - is because I have had multiple claims by liars and scammers that have had to send back nothing, because they claimed they received nothing (and every time it was remarked that they had, "tried to message seller multiple times!" when I had not received word one from them. If they lie, then I can only assume that they're scamming by filing a false report). So not only did I pay for their item, I paid to SEND them their item as well. So now I've officially been scammed on both ends of the spectrum, and I have to pay this pile of human garbage approximately $20 to get my money back. And on top of it all, I have to wait until the item reaches them, which will probably be another 20-25 days. Aaaaaaand another who-knows-how-many for Paypal to give me my money back.

Conversely, in the approximately 3 years I've been dealing with Yahoo Japan Auctions, I've never even had someone say so much as a rude word to me. I've had exactly one problem that was a mistake by the seller, they readily admitted it & sent me the one missing capsule figure with their apologies. (Mind you, this was a 1000yen transaction. I didn't get so much as a, "sorry" over a $150 transaction and an item worth less than 10% of what I paid for the item I didn't receive)

So, lesson learned. I will, from now on, buy only from first world countries and stick with just buying from Japan, as far as Asia is concerned.

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