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The strange case of eBay, zippymilk and the missing DVDs
Excuses wear thin
Hundreds of eBay UK users are up in arms after handing over money for DVDs to the same Norfolk-based seller who banked their cheques, but failed to deliver the goods.
Patience is wearing thin among the estimated 800 customers of zippymilk (AKA Adrian Bailey, 33, of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk) who are growing tired of a succession of excuses he has offered for the non-arrival of goods they secured in eBay auctions.
Many have banded together to form a members-only Yahoo! Group called Zippyvictims to share their experiences. Membership has swelled to 260 since its formation in mid-July. Reported losses vary enormously by individual.
Diane Findlay, moderator of the group, tells us 800 people have come forward to report losses to zippymilk totalling at least £30,000. Group members estimate zippymilk ran 3,300 auctions.
"Quite apart from not delivering the goods, zippymilk has treated potential buyers with contempt. He's even threatened to take me to court for spreading rumours against him," she told us.
"eBay are not investigating"
Prior to building up his current unenviable reputation, zippymilk established a trustworthy feedback profile on eBay. This status has enraged many people left waiting weeks for goods because it gave them confidence in sending cheques to zippymilk in the first place.
eBay has suspended zippymilk's account but this has failed to placate many customers, who remain highly critical of the auction site's handling of the affair.
Reg reader Peter, a zippymilk customer, tells us: "Despite hundreds of undelivered DVDs, despite the torrent of bad feedback, despite the level of complaints, despite having charged commission for every single undelivered DVD, eBay are not investigating. They claim they don't investigate unless an individual item cost more than £15. So even if you buy 600 items at £14.99 from the same seller and receive none of them, they apparently won't look into it."
"The public need to know how amazingly easy it is for someone to rip them off on eBay, that the feedback system is so easily manipulated, that they could stand to lose huge amounts despite the apparent comfort of the 'Buyer Protection Program'. People need to know... that there are few things easier to do with a computer than set up a fraudulent eBay auction," he added.
During the auctions (sample) zippymilk claimed to be an ex-retailer forced by disability to sell his stock. He asked for payment by 'cheque or cash only' to be sent to a PO Box. Cheques sent were cashed within days.
Stream of correspondence
As time went by without any DVDs arriving, zippymilk began offering a series of increasingly tenuous excuses and defensive responses for his failure to keep up his end of the bargain. These included:
- Personal disability
- Impatient on the part of buyers
- A short staffed local post office
- Late arrival of jiffy bags in which to pack DVDs
- Precautions he took to ensure "people's safety with the jiffy bags" (he had to tape over staples to prevent people getting cut, allegedly)
- Serious illness in his family
- A computer virus
This stream of correspondence (sample below) did not cease with the suspension of zippymilk's eBay account.
Two weeks ago zippymilk claimed all DVDs had now finally been sent. However no member of the Yahoo! group reported their arrival. Latterly, zippymilk has claimed he would help track "lost parcels", but then failed to responde to emails to that effect, or about anything else. He claims to be snowed under with correspondence.
As a final insult, zippymilk said he can't offer refunds because "many people who had received DVDs would try and take advantage by claiming refunds for DVDs they'd really received".
But in response to the sustained criticism against him, zippymilk has offered to return £3000 of uncashed cheques as a "goodwill" gesture. No member of ZippyVictims reports receiving their cheques back.
Numerous complaints have been made to the police regarding zippymilk's auctions on eBay. An officer from Norfolk Police confirmed that they are investigating these reports.
We emailed Adrian Bailey (AKA zippymilk) requesting comment on the accusations against him on Tuesday and followed this up with a calls to his mobile. He didn't respond to our email nor answer his phone when we called. ®
Sample letter from zippymilk
Dear Sir / Madam
I'm just sending this email out of courtesy with regard to the above item. If you have recently purchased more then one item from me then you may well get this email multiple times but I just want to make sure that I cover everyone.
As you may be aware, I have recently had my eBay account suspended as it appears that a number of items may have gone missing and several people had logged a complaint with eBay. Worse still, some of these people are trying to make me out as a thief who has 'run off' with their money. This is not true as I am still here and I would like to put the record straight about this here and now.
Also, some 'clown' emailed me a virus last week. Now I do run an up-to-date virus scanner but somehow this one slipped through the net and destroyed my data. I spent three days getting up and running again, but despite my best efforts have lost a lot of data forever, so if you have emailed in the last week then my sincere apologies for not replying sooner.
Please rest assured that my machine is now totally virus-free and you will not of been infected by receiving this email.
Anyway, all dvd's have now been posted out. In the event that you have not yet received yours yet then please wait until this weekend. If it still hasn't arrived by Saturday's post then let me know and I shall do my best to trace it for you.
In this eventuality it is essential that you email me ALL the information that you possibly can. This includes item number, item description, item start date, item end date, your eBay username, your own name, your address and also the total amount paid including postage and packing. I know it's long winded but supplying all of this information will help me out a lot, which in turn will help you too.
Hopefully though you have now received your item(s) in which case I would like to thank you for your custom.
Finally, several people have tried to contact me on my parents telephone number. Please be aware that this is not the correct way to proceed. They are not involved in my auctions in any way and will not be able to assist you. One particularly cowardly individual has pestered them to some degree threatening all sorts of things. Of course he doesn't give his name and always withholds his number but make no mistake that when I find out who he is I won't be making any threats towards him, I shall just simply take it straight to the Police.