Internet commerce is a wild web

If Sam wrote up his tips for how to avoid getting scammed, it would read something like this.

  • Don’t read email
  • Don’t respond to texts
  • Don’t answer the phone
  • Open snail mail only after your mom nags you for a week that it’s important

And still things happen to him. I try not to hover. He’s a grown-ass man. He managed to handle something this week that would make Dave Lieber and his Watchdog Nation proud: he got a refund from a seller on eBay.

Sam is working on backing up his computers cloudlessly. It means he needs some external hard drives, and some redundancy. It’s a good project for him. One of the devices he bought for the project wasn’t the right device. He sent it back to the seller. He got proof that he sent it back and the seller received it. But the seller was very slow in refunding his money. It was a lot of money–$120 or so. He complained to eBay and then he went over to his bank to see what they could do. This is where I give a big shout-out for the power of local banks who get to know their customers, because they helped turn up the heat with PayPal. Sam announced this morning that eBay is refunding his money.

Sam said, “I was starting to think that the seller wanted to sell me the wrong item and keep my money.”

That’s an excellent demonstration of being able to take the perspective of another and act accordingly, something that is hard for people with autism to do.

I told him that eBay and other e-commerce platforms need sellers to be honest or their platform becomes irrelevant. I used to not tell Sam things like that. But, he’s getting the hang of this seeing-situations-from-another-person’s-perspective thing.

He still wants a better consumer tip sheet, and he’s got a point. When he was at the bank, he learned about “verified sellers.” In the 23 years eBay’s been around, I think I’ve bought two things on that platform. I really have no idea. I’ve got my homework for the week.

And, if anyone has good consumer tips about eBay, please leave them in the comments below.


  1. Cindy on January 14, 2019 at 4:03 am

    Does eBay have buyer reviews of sellers?

    One of the things I always do when buying an item from Etsy is to really comb through the shop that sells the item. Then I visit their reviews. If there are fewer than 10 reviews, I contact the shop through the “conversations” feature. If they communicate reasonably well – store owners in Israel, Germany and Japan seem to have really amazing conversational English. Shop owners in China, not so much. Then, I click on the reviewers to see how much they’ve shopped in Etsy. That helps me defeat the bots.

    I have never bought an item from a seller that didn’t aggregate a 95 percent satisfaction rating.

    Amazon has really fallen off in customer service with third party sellers. It’s really hard to find out where the seller is located.

    No idea if these tips translate to eBay, but they have similar policies and buying procedures.

    Also: Yay, Sam! Well done!

    • Peggy on January 14, 2019 at 4:07 am

      Thanks, Cindy. Those are really good tips. I’ll tell Sam.

  2. Carla Hamm on January 21, 2019 at 10:07 pm

    Sounds like Sam politely negotiated a refund from eBay. That’s quite a feat, I’d say. I don’t really buy off Ebay, but I do love Etsy. I’ve never been disappointed if I engage the seller with a few questions and check out their customer ratings. I buy from “other sellers” on Amazon occasionally. I’ve found that the ones who list exceedingly cheap prices charge exorbitant shipping prices to make up the profit they are seeking. That only happened to me ONCE…but I continually see listings like that on Amazon. That’s my only truly worthwhile tip. Be your savvy self, Sam!

    • Peggy on January 23, 2019 at 4:14 am

      It’s a great tip, Carla, and proves that a little human interaction goes a long way to letting you know whether you are going to be satisfied or not. I enjoy shopping on Etsy, too.

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