[kwlug-disc] Buying online

Charles M chaslinux at gmail.com
Thu Dec 11 17:30:38 EST 2008

I've been lucky I guess. About the only incident I has was that a seller
ended the auction 6 hours before the end of the auction, which unless there
is a reserve, is not permitted by eBay rules. I was the high bidder on the
item so I was a bit upset I didn't even have a chance to get the item. I
didn't contact the seller in this case because after taking a closer look at
all the other items he was selling I didn't believe him to be reputable. I
did file a grievance with eBay, but they did nothing. (The seller was mostly
selling burned bootlegged CDs, the item I was after was TRAM for a SGI
machine I had).

If I read you correctly, you are implying that even highly rated eBay
> sellers != reputable. Or, in other words, you will not buy from eBay
> ... unless you have some other criteria to distinguish reputable eBay
> sellers.

For sure. I'm not sure how they spoof a good rating, but I've heard that
quite a bit. I usually check not only to see if they have a high rating, but
if they've sold similar items in the past. The guys who I've bought from
I've bought again from.

> Anyway, I have purchased around 15 items from eBay over the past 5 years.
> Compared to what I would have paid retail, I have saved 30-80%.

I had one seller ship me a Sun box from Ottawa. It weighed about 50lbs. He
charged me around $20CDN for the shipping which I think was about dead on
for the shipping cost at the time. I've had some great deals.

> However, for more specialized/outmoded items ... like no-longer-current
> PDA-items, old-model Sony speakers, PCI-cards (for SATA, USB, etc)
> ... then I still feel safe. The fraudsters can't target niche markets in

The Working Centre has some no-longer-current items. We often have things
like PCI USB expansion cards, hubs, processors, RAM (30pin - DDR1), and
oddities like Sun Type 5 mice. For the most part we ask a buck or two for
most small items. The Treo screen we don't have, but people have donated
PDAs in the past. If someone's looking for something specific they can
always email us: cr at theworkingcentre.org and we'll see if we have the item
for you.

> Although, now, I am learning/noticing the tricks that can be used to
> "game the eBay system". These fraudsters sell a restricted monoculture
> of items with a cheap-but-reliable loss-leader that swells feedback
> ... and, then, pad their profits with a cash cow item at the $20-$50 range.

That's my suspicion too (the experience I noted above). Check the seller to
see if they've sold the item before. I personally won't buy from anywhere
other than the United States and Canada. I also always question sellers on
their policy about sending items from the United States to Canada even if
they have something posted.

I wouldn't buy anything important (gifts) on eBay though...


Charles McColm
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