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Author Topic: eBay and Ham Radio - "Caveat Emptor!"  (Read 2007 times)

Posts: 38

« on: June 18, 2004, 11:26:54 AM »

As anyone who has been on the Internet more than five minutes (or that even watches TV much) knows, the online bidding service eBay has been around for some years now, one of the few successful "e-businesses" to come out of the "" boom and bust.

I've been buying and selling items on eBay off and on for some years now, and overall my experiences have been OK, at least until recently.

There has been a couple of disturbing (to me) changes on eBay in recent times.  One is that of the outright scam artist.  That is, you either win a bid, or do the "Buy it now" option, pay your money, and never get what you paid for, because the seller has absconded with your (and a lot of other people's) money.  And don't think that eBay/PayPal (they are one and the same; PayPal being the most common way of paying for items on eBay nowadays) will go out of their way to help you get your money back, claimed "guarantees" notwithstanding.  The XYL and I have found this out the hard way recently.

Of course, this has always been a risk you run doing business on eBay, and they used say outright "Caveat Emptor" (Buyer Beware) on their site (although now it's just the usual pages-long document that says "we are responsible for nothing, and you the user are responsible for everything").  

But if you get much in the way of spam (and who doesn't these days), you have already seen the endless spams entitled "Make Money on eBay", or some variation on that theme.  It would appear that these have brought out more than the usual number of vultures and ripoff artists to that site.

Another result of this trend is that of the so-called "Power Seller", with their "eBay Stores", that have popped up in recent times.  If you look through the eBay "Ham Radio" listings, you will see relative handful of these individuals, who seem to have warehouses full of gear.  I'm not going to name any names, but if you look around there, you will soon see to whom I refer.

The problem that I believe a lot of us have is that we see something on eBay that we have been wanting for a very long time, and sometimes our desire for this or that item overrides our better judgement.  I know that I have, and it's cost me a lot of money, just on one purchase alone.

And I say "a lot of us", because I just spoke to our local equipment repair shop (to whom I now have to take my little "gotcha" for repair), and when I started to tell him what my problem was and how it came about, I immediately heard him laugh and say "Oh, no.  Another eBay story."  Seems he gets in overeager hams like me who bought an eBay "pig in a poke" all the time.

Bottom line is, carve that "Caveat Emptor" warning, most especially where eBay is concerned, in stone and set it on your operating desk, or at least by your computer.  There are several shady operators on that site, who are especially adept at letting your wants and desires for that "special" piece of gear override your better judgment, and are more than happy to assist you in shooting yourself in the foot.  And once the deed is done, they will have all sorts of excuses for why the item you bought is not what you thought it was (if they will talk to you at all).

And I think the main reason more of them don't get more negative feedback than they do is because many us do not want to admit publicly that we allowed theselves to be taken so adroitly.

A word to the wise, people; eBay = "CAVEAT EMPTOR"...


Posts: 4

« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2004, 10:27:56 AM »

I have read you story about ebay Ham equipment. I have bought quite a few items there myself. So far with luck everything has worked out fine. It would be nice if you can email me any user names you have which I should stay away from. I just purchased a used rig and it arrived damaged in shipping because it was not properly packed. I am waiting to see what will happen with this situation in the end. I am sure the claim will be reject by UPS because of the poor packing. my email is Good Luck


Posts: 2

« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2004, 05:11:04 AM »

I too have been both a seller and a buyer on eBay for a number of years now.

Unfortunatly, a small number of sellers (and buyers too) are spoiling it for the rest of us.

As a seller:

I've had "buyers" that refused to pay the international postage, then left ME negative feedback because I refused to ship the item until the postage was paid.

I've had "buyers" that have tried to send back faulty goods (apparently they thought they'd exchange their broken unit for my working one).

As a buyer:

I've had items in "excellent" working condition arrive with fuses blown (mysteriously happened in transit).

I've had items with "a small mark on the front panel" turn out to be 8 character 36 point anti-theft engraving.

In all my hundreds of purchases have been positive and my dozens of sales have also been very positive.  Its just THOSE FEW that really leave the sour taste.. I would have to rate it approx. 2% bad 98% great overall.

Do I still buy on eBay?  Yes, but with greater care.
Do I still sell on eBay? Yes

Posts: 173

« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2004, 03:38:43 PM »

Of course, you gave the biggest clue of all in your initial comment:

"our desire for this or that item overrides our better judgement."

That's what scam artists are hoping - that you will abandon all reason and chase after an emotional high.

You made another statement that suggests your willingness to abandon reason:

"if you get much in the way of spam (and who doesn't these days),"

I don't.  It took me only a few months on the internet to recocnize how spammers get email addresses.  My "main" email address has now been active TWELVE YEARS and I receive approximately one spam per month.  If I am going to undertake an activity that is likely to get my email address on a spammer list, I create a throwaway Yahoo email address for that purpose.

Ebay - what can I say.  The rules are as easy as they get.  If the seller offers no warranty, I don't purchase.  I am up to an 1,800 feedback rating on eBay, about 80% of that is selling.  I ALWAYS warrant what I sell - for 5 to 30 days, I warrant that the item ie exactly as described.  Not once have I had anybody take issue with anything they purchased.  My feedback rating is 100% positive.  It's not hard to do at all.

Even if someone CLAIMS that there is no warranty, they are wrong.  Because of various Federal laws relating to fair trade, the seller is always liable for any intentionally false and/or misleading statements.  Even if they're not a commercial seller.

So, if the seller says "complete in all respects" and the item arrives with the cover missing, then this IS a warrantable item.

I've purchased new items, from dealers, that weren't what I expected, and I've had no different an experience on eBay.

I've had exactly two experiences that did not go as planned.  I purchased a radio from a seller on eBay.  He sold it "in perfect working order".  No expressed warranty, but also no disclaimer.  When it arrived, it turns out that instead of delivering the manufacturer's claimed 6 watts, it only delivered 1/2 watt due to a blown PA transistor.  I emailed the seller, who said "I checked it by listening to the transmitter on another receiver.  I don't have a power meters.  So I believe you.  You can send it back to me and I'll refund your money."  This level of honesty made me feel good enough about the purchase that I just fixed it myself.  I'd gotten a fairly good deal on it anyway.

The other transaction that didn't go well was a non-eBay transaction with a ham.  It was a tuner, and in private emails, he claimed it was his spare, that he used at his vacation home, that he had two and only wanted to keep one of them.  He said it was a 9 out of 10 cosmetically (whatver that means) and we agreed to a price.  When I received it, it became clear that the case was badly scratched, and had been "fixed" by the use of a magic marker.  Also, the front panel knobs weren't from that manufacturer, and the roller coil drive mechanism didn't work.  I emailed him, letting him know the condition wasn't as described, and he said, "if you had asked if it had been fixed by magic marker, I would have told you it was, so it's your fault."  Later, I realized that this ham does a LOT of selling on the internet, and it became clear that this was by no means one of two tuners - he sold nearly a dozen of the same model over the next few months.  So much for believing in someone because he's a ham or because he's not going through eBay.

Remember, the BUYER is the one who controls the transaction.  If we, as buyers, simply refuse to purchase anything that is NOT warranted to be as it is described, then sellers will be forced to warrant items to be what they claim they are.

Buyers, it's time to take control of the situation and refuse to bid on non-warranted items.


Posts: 13

« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2004, 01:41:22 PM »

In my dealings with eBay, my strategy is simple.

I don't buy anything that doesn't come with at least one photo.  And by photo, I don't mean a promotional picture that anyone could get off of a website, I mean a picture that I feel reasonably sure that the seller took themself.  When I see a picture, I also compare the text description to the picture; sometimes people get things like model number, features, etc. wrong.  You can also get a general feel for what general condition the equipment is in; is it dusty, scratched up, dinged, rusty, etc.?

I also follow the same guidelines when selling things.  I haven't sold much, but the things I have sold have been photographed to death; I think that photos are the next best thing to holding the merchandise in a buyer's hands.

I haven't had any problems with getting merchandise that wasn't what I was expecting since using this strategy.

Posts: 6252

« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2004, 09:07:46 AM »

Before you push the bid button on that "hearts desire" piece of equipment, CHECK THE FEEDBACK ON THE SELLER!  If there are multiple negative feedback comments left on a sellers profile--DON'T BID!!!  

It is that simple.  I always check the feedback and bid accordingly, and I haven't been dissapointed yet.

You do indeed have to watch the E-bay site, but don't condemn it just because you may not know how to watch out for your interests on it.  Oh, by the way, I AM NOT a volume seller--I've only sold one item there.

Posts: 1159

« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2004, 12:28:58 PM »

So far so good. I have all positive feed backs as a buyer, have not sold anything yet. I just filled out my SB102 station by buying all the accessories on Ebay from a half dozen sellers without a single problem. I did buy a wireless headset wherein the transmitter did not work but I wound up buying 3 of them so I could have multiple receive/single transmit of TV sound and used the non functional transmitter as a headset charger. Pretty happy with the whole thing really, it is a LOT easier than scouring the swap meets and yard sales. The shipping companies are probably making more from Ebay than the sellers basically but it is still a good deal. If you are worried about shipping damage you can email instructions to the seller. I always instruct them to wrap it in bubble wrap and double box it if it is fragile, works fine and the total cost is hardly affected by the extra materials.



Novice 1958, 20WPM Extra now... (and get off my lawn)

Posts: 182


« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2005, 12:57:41 PM »


Posts: 492

« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2005, 10:33:39 AM »


Amen! I have grown to understand those words well from experience. Between incompetence, stupidity, subtle misrepresentation to gross fraud, I'm through with eBAY! I'd rather pay full price, do without or buy in a seen in person situation. I am tired of having to return stuff that isn't accurately represented, or even worse, suffer a total loss because of the vendor  incompetently packing stuff to guarantee its destruction, no insurance and even if there had been insurance the shipper would have refused to pay considering the botched packing. I don't need this crap anymore, I don't need eBAY, not for buying, not for selling!

Posts: 79

« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2005, 07:42:57 AM »

Well, when I was working for an internet bank in 2001, we got a lot of calls from Police stations all over DL. Some  Sellers shipped bricks instead of Luis Vuitton handbags and the like... And then used a bank which was out of the country. So if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is. *** The one time I got screwed royally, I was under pressure to deliver my QTH to the buyer. Uwe DC2SE agreed to buy everything I had - HF Transceivers, QRP stuff, the works) and I failed to get anything in writing let alone to collect cash. Well, the guy never paid me a Euro! *** On OM bought a vintage rig on the flea market, to discover a brick inside :---(. *** Personally, I've decided to buy quality and new (after an extremely expensive repair nightmare with a used product). A recent E-Bay member, no trades yet, I'm looking to buy a 70 cm ant or small articles only. But what I saw about Power Sellers' shops in the UK was revolting: outrageous prices for starters...
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