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Posted
09 June 2005

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Personal Or Something

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9 Comments

The eBay Buyer ... From HELL!

Those of you who were drooling uncontrollably at the description of my new PowerBook may console themselves with the knowledge that it has not been all beer and skittles. Not when you consider the agony of the Worlds Worst eBayer F-------- Will Not Deal With Again. But I'm getting ahead of myself. This is a long and hopefully amusing story, please bear with me.

A few weeks ago the plan was hatched, received approval from the Household Ways & Means Committee, and swiftly put into action. A laptop upgrade for very little money. Purchase new laptop on salary sacrifice, sell old laptop online, small outlay to cover the difference. What could go wrong?

The Information Superfleamarket

I initially decided to try my luck outside of the relative safety of eBay, specifically the AppleTalk trading forums. During the planning phase I had posted a price check request there, and had received some rather over-optimistic prices.

Buoyed with confidence I hit the trading area proper, and priced it at $2000 ono. I got a few nibbles, but nothing definite so I listed on eBay about a week later.

The auction proceeded nicely, with the usual sequence of dumb questions, and a final flurry of sniping to arrive at a final price of $1535. A little disappointing, but not much I could do about it. Anyway I get an email from the buyer saying "I won't be able to pay you for 2 weeks". Even more disappointing.

As it turns out there are no strict payment policies on eBay but they do have a procedure for unpaid items that requires at least 7 days to elapse from the close of the auction. I told the guy he had 10 days.

darknight84: No connection to Bruce Wayne

A few days later I was browsing the AppleTalk forums, and found a very interesting post in the price check forum. It was a price check on a PowerBook, which had exactly the same specs as mine. Not only that but the description was word-for-word identical to my eBay listing! (which was in turn copied from elsewhere but had been modified slightly by me, and these modifications were carried into the price-check forum).

The poster went by the name of darknight84 and Chris and I were intrigued enough to do some digging. It would have been quite a coincidence that someone wants to sell the exact same spec of PowerBook, and posts a price check on AppleTalk, but then also knows exactly what it is worth on eBay because that's where they copy-n-pasted the description from!

If you take the time to dig into darknight84's history (and BTW I don't recommend it), you'll find all sorts of bizarre laptop deals going down. I'll spare you the details, but at last count there were about half a dozen. Hmm.

The other shoe dropped when we found an old post of darknight84's which was signed with his first name, E. The same signature was also used in some of the correspondence from my eBay buyer in email. So, my buyer and darknight84 were one and the same. To this day I don't think he knows that I know this.

Desperate Students

The initial theory was that darknight84 was attempting to on-sell my PowerBook to some sucker on AppleTalk after getting a bargain on eBay. Nothing wrong with that, I reasoned, and so waited patiently for the payment deadline to arrive. That did pose a possible explanation for the delay — perhaps he wanted to hold off on paying me until he had a buyer — but it seemed a bit far fetched.

Indeed it was. A few days after posting in the price check forum, he posted in the Wanted to Buy forum, again copy-n-pasting my description, and nominating $1600 as the total price.

Seasoned eBayers should at this point be appalled at the bad behaviour. This is someone who is delaying payment on the item that he as committed to buy, but then posting in another forum to buy the item elsewhere. Easily a neg-able offense.

At this point I was highly tempted to respond to the guy on AppleTalk and publicly out him as a non-paying bidder. But I decided against it, the payment deadline was approaching anyway and at this stage I was more interested in getting out of the sale. Between gritted teeth, I started making overtures to another person who responded to the original AppleTalk advertisement.

But as it turns out, we should have applied Hanlon's Razor after all. On May 22, darknight84 posts the following to AppleTalk:

Hey all, well I have just bought myself another powerbook for $1500 and Im beginning to realise that the money i was expecting wont come until late next week. So Im getting a student loan, I just want to know how long would the waiting time be to ge the money? Do I get the money immediately or is there a waiting period?

Heh. I almost felt sorry for the guy. So much gadgetlust, so little clue.

So of course the deal falls through and I fulfil my promise to file a Mutual Agreement Not To Proceed. The eBay auction is off.

Weekend Banter

The next day I got an email from E (who still doesn't know that I know he is darknight84), claiming that he now has the money and could I go ahead with the deal? He's even going to throw another $100 in as a sweetener.

I initially say no because I'm in negotiations with the other buyer. But of course that deal falls through as well so I'm back to E. That weekend E and I shared an interesting email exchange:

Me: Are you still interested? $1695?
E: Maybe consider paying $1595 the winning ebay auction price
Me: You offered $1695 a few days ago
E: Oh yes I remember that. Anyway: [bunch of questions]
Me: All of these are answered by the original ebay listing
E: What was the auction number again? And do you take COD?
Me: [Is this a prank?] xxxxxxxxx. No COD
E: I'll look over the information and get back to you tomorrow
Me: [gritted teeth] No more time, you either want it or you dont
E: Ok then I dont sorry for wasting your time

Within 20 seconds of the last email I had relisted on eBay.

Happy Ending

(Yes dear reader, the story is coming to a close.) The second eBay auction proceeds, and as expected I get more bids from E! Yep, he's in there bidding away with about 12 separate bids (obviously not understanding the whole automatically-bid-up-to-your-maximum feature of eBay).

And so the auction finished, I got $1775 in my bank account the next business day and a great story for my blog, Chris brushed up on his cyberstalking investigative journalism skillz, some guy in Queensland got a nice PowerBook, E got squat, and we all rode off into the sunset.

9 Comments

Posted by
zoe
2005-06-09 00:57:47 -0500
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ah. that is funny. veryvery funny.


Posted by
Matt
2005-06-09 00:57:47 -0500
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You should have just sold it to me!

How much you want for the new one?

:)


Posted by
Mark
2005-06-09 00:57:47 -0500
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I am an ATAU member (emacmark) and I wished you did out him. I have been done by him as well in july!!!!! He promised to sell me ilife for $50 which I paid and have not seen the item since. He continually promises but never delivers. I have his bank account details but not his name. Can you supply me with his name. Phong Le is the alias he used with me. Mark


Posted by
David
2005-06-09 00:57:47 -0500
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I am also an atau member and he has ripped me off $1227, but through another alias. I really wish you had outed him.


Posted by
alastair
2005-06-09 00:57:47 -0500
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David, sorry to hear about your loss. You have to be really careful with online trading.

As a postscript, I have been in contact with the AppleTalk forum administrator Disko and forwarded to him all the information I have about this person. I suggest you follow up with him.


Posted by
alastair
2005-06-09 00:57:47 -0500
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Posted by
Ms. Jackson
2005-06-09 00:57:47 -0500
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My eBay buyer from HELL was during Christmas 2005 now its 2006 Still today [name, email and postal address elided - Alastair] is still causing more HELL for me the seller the first person to complain on my. I deducted a small amount from my loses for shipping and handing, Paypal fees was already included that i I've lost. I return her a REFUND and she was not satisfied she wanted even (more) and more then the item. She decide to make a case on Paypal and Frozen my paypal account and i could not get my money out of my account. Then she used EBAY to send threaten emails agaist my Children (i still have) Ebay done nothing. She warned ppl about me as a seller on my feedback list. STILL Today i cannot get my money of $2.500 from my frozen i saved from others buyers from Paypal and i end up giving away my other Ebay items to others buyers for FREE. I cannot understand why some ppl are so EVIL towards sellers and I'm the one that loses it all.


Posted by
alastair
2005-06-09 00:57:47 -0500
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Ms. Jackson, I'm sorry that something seems to have happened to you that somehow involves ebay and someone else whose name you provided. But I'm buggered if I can work out what you're saying, or why you think it is relevant to my blog.


Posted by
kim
2005-06-09 00:57:47 -0500
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The upshot however is that the member, and his aliases, in question have been banned from the ATAU forums, presumably, for misconduct and bringing the site into disrepute. After reading your blog entry about this debacle I have to confess I was somewhat alarmed by his desire (wanted to buy ads) to purchase exclusively non working machines, also presumably, to scam people on ebay or elsewhere. Sadly he seems to have been one of a couple of younger members who have rather 'flexible' ideas regarding honesty (one other springs to mind) but has been caught out rather quickly and subsequently banned. The forum administration takes misconduct very seriously. The ATAU trading forums while generally safe now have revised regulations and do have conspicuous warnings and instructions for buyers. It should be noted that the trading forum is simply a message board for, and to facillitate, independent trade i.e. no buyer/seller protection and is now closed for non regular forum contributors which does eliminate some risk (prevents people from signing up exclusively to engage in trade). There is a basic feedback system (a convention really) where members have below their signatures the members that they have successfully traded with; all who can be contacted for information about the details of a particular trade or member. Commercial trade is banned.

One more thing... Ms. Jackson does seem to have definitely 'lost it'.

Cheers, kim