Sometimes it's difficult to discern the difference between a legitimate buyer with legitimate concerns about an item they purchased from you...and a scam artist...especially true for low $ items.
The scam goes like this: buy an item (and one with free shipping is the best!), complain to the seller...claim the item was stolen, broken or just outright accuse them of not putting the item in the package...and make sure you point out several times what an "honest buyer" you are...and pressure the seller to give you a refund, partial refund or even send you more goods, which they will do, to keep their good feedback rating or just to get you out of their hair. After all...it's only a $5 or $10 item, yeah?
We recently sold a $5 piece of jewelry to just such a scam artist. The buyer claimed that the merchandise was 'stolen' from the package and kind of accused us of not putting it in the package, at the same time. (If he can't make you feel bad one way, maybe he can make you feel bad another!)
The following are the emails we received from this person. Buyer's name has been purposely left out of the communications for legal reasons. See if YOU can spot the inconsistancies.
"I'm so sorry to complain and as you can see I've been a member of ebay for almost ten years and have great feedback as a buyer. WHen I went to check the mail today I had your package. It looked find. I brought it into the house an noticed some of the tape had been slit. It was easy to open and I though that odd because I could see how well it was all taped up. I finally get inside and it's empty. There are a bunch of peanuts and no watch. It looks like someone stole the item out of it while it was being shipped. I can take pics of the box with my phone and maybe you can complain to usps and get your money back. in the mean time i'm stuck with no watch and a box with peanunts. My wife said wow, that is a great skeme get a box with a tracking number and that way when the customer complains he has no proof because the box did come to he house. Please be honest and refund the money. If you have another I will gladly take it first of all. if you don't I will meet you in the middle."
Our first clue that this is a scam? He never mentioned the package was wrapped in brown paper....a 'thief' would've destroyed the package in the process and he's accusing us of "a great skeme"...and asking us to "please be honest"...give us money or more merchandise...
"I will take a loss in the shipping if you will refund the amount of the watch. I think that is a fair deal since I'm sure since you mailed it through the USPS in a priority mail box that you will get all your money back. Insurance on it by any chance? Just please be honest and do us right and I will then leave you good feedback and won't mention this in feedback. In all the years on ebay with about 600 packages I have had this happen once before. I also was at the mailbox when the mailman came and i had lots of other jewelry that I had ordered and it all arrived just fine. I know it was not tampered with once at my house because the mailman handed it to me. Thanks and please be an honest and good seller."
Our response: We suggested the buyer contact the police and the postal service to report the theft and told him we would do the same on our end. After all, if you're buying several pieces of jewelry EVERY DAY and stuff is getting stolen, wouldn't you want to make sure no more got stolen? And he's certain we can get our money back from the USPS...then we ask him, why do you think USPS would just give us our money back?? His reply:
"You are right it was just 5 bucks. I'm not worried about it. Forget it!!!! I also do not wish to purchase from you in the future. I will leave you good feedback because I'm a nice person. I expect the same from you. I found your message from you to be rude. Have a good day. Goodbye!!!"
At this point he leaves us a positive feedback. He's trying here to show ebay (and us, if we were having doubts at this point) what a GREAT buyer he is...but by now, we've already reported him to ebay. And guess what? Telling him we're contacting the postal service and police..suddenly helps him find the item!
"We did find the watch tonight while pulling into the driveway. I'm sorry. I never blamed you. I just thought I was being screwed over. I thought that was a posibillity.........not the truth. I even asked that you not repay the shipping. I was trying to work with you. Our lights shined on it. The box was wrapped in brown paper partially. It was found in bubble wrap. Guess what? It does not even work. I don't want anything from you but positive feedback. I can't believe you think I would go to all that trouble to report a 5 dollar watch to the police, not to mention it does not work. I will never buy from you again. Not because a mistake that was made by me. Because the way you handled the situation and talked to me. The box was heavily damaged and had a slit cut into it like that made with a razor blade. Don't message me again and since I left you good feedback I expect the same from you. Obviously, someone did try to hack into the box, or the box was heavily damaged and the watch dropped out on the 15 min walk from my mail box to the house. It was found no where near the house. Again, I don't know how you have an excellent rating when you talk so rudely to your customers as you do. Please don't contact me. Thank Goodness I live in the South where Southern Hospitality is alive a well. God Bless you."
Now he's trying to coerce a positive feedback from us and the package has gone from being fine, to being heavily damaged. And that "15 min walk from my mail box to the house" doesn't pan out either when you google map his address. Satellite imagery shows his mailbox at the end of a very short driveway! Perhaps it took 15 minutes because he crawled, backwards, around his house a few times first....He's also throwing in once again how honest he is and how dishonest we are...and after we've contacted other buyers, turned him in and had him ask us not to contact him again...he writes YET AGAIN...
"So glad we found. All it needed was new battery. so pretty.thank you and sorry for mistake. When you order thousands of dollars ever few months mistakes happen. Thanks"
We've been using his feedback score to contact other buyers to inquire with them whether he's pulled the same scam on them. Guess what? He has! And he's been doing it for 10 YEARS!!! For "Thousands of dollars"
We've been sellers on ebay for many years...certainly long enough to spot a scam...and it makes us sick to think about just how many people this guy has stolen from and we wanted people to be aware. We hope this hasn't and doesn't happen to you.
Shari & Jon
The Treasure Port