eBay, PayPal and the Virgin Mary

Scammed Reg readers write

Letters We had a huge response to the story How scammers run rings around eBay. This is obviously a hot topic.

Many, but not all, of the letters were complaints about the PayPal system, particularly about how it works when things go wrong. We've selected the best of the bunch for your perusal:

Like many other eBay buyer's I have had my share of disappointments. I have also gotten some fantastic items for my toy train collection.

I think eBay does a terrible job of dealing with unethical sellers. Which makes sense in an odd way. They have millions of buyers, most of whom are like me, and will continue to buy on eBay after being ripped off. The sellers pay the eBay bills.

I wrote a newsletter article a year ago about avoiding ebay scams, and my readers sent in comments. (I teach people how to sell antiques and collectibles.) Since then I have revised the article into a report. The report explains the five types of fraud on eBay, 13 ways to find items on eBay, and 27 tips for avoiding fraud.

I give the report away free on my website at: http://www.news.iwantcollectibles.com/buyerguide.shtml

With Christmas coming, I am trying to get the report out so more people can avoid problems.

Terry Gibbs

I wonder how bad this has to get before it starts to impact eBay's business. Articles like yours, plus last week's appearance on the BBC's Watchdog and other consumer TV programmes, are going to confirm to late adopters that they don't want anything to do with it. So eBay stops growing and maybe a rival auction develops that does have real buyer protection.

So the best way to get eBay to take this seriously would be for Watchdog et al to run a weekly "eBay scam" feature.


You say buyers should use PayPal to get better protection. Yes and no.

Not because PayPal will help get your money back, but because it means you use your credit card and you can go to your credit card company if you have issues.

I paid someone nearly £100 by paypal but it was soon clear he was doing a "runner" with my money. I reported him to PayPal using their Buyer's Complaint Policy. I had to wait 10 days for them to try to contact the seller and get a resolution. After 10 days, they had not heard from him so assumed he had indeed done a runner, however since he had cleared out his PayPal account, they couldn't refund me any money. What a waste of time that was.

So I went to my credit card company who were fantastic. They sent me a form to fill in to which I attached all email correspondence and PayPal receipts regarding the item and within 2 weeks I had a full refund.

A further week later, PayPal emailed me saying "We were recently notified that you initiated a chargeback through your credit card company... We would like to take this opportunity to let you know about a service available to you through PayPal. PayPal's Buyer Complaint Policy allows you to resolve disputes through PayPal before contacting your credit card company... In the future, though, please allow us to assist you by filing a Buyer Complaint with PayPal before initiating a chargeback with your credit card company." ARGHHH!!!!

If I ever have a similar issue again, forget PayPal, I'll go straight to the credit card company.


Surely your article on "eBay fraud" would have been better titled "how scammers run rings round the police and trading standards". There's nothing in the report that differs from any other one-to-one mail-order scam. eBay makes it very clear on their site that they offer better protection for buyers if PayPal is used - why should they be responsible for customers who ignore that advice?



Your story of Nov. 16, 2004, "How Scammers Run Rings Round eBay," should be re-titled, "How Scammers Effortlessly Dupe Bumbling eBay Buyers." What you've described are some of the oldest scams in history and which aren't new to person-to-person commerce at all; eBay is just the newest venue for such avoidable, albeit unfortunate, incidents.

Cellphones, iPods, and other such tech gear are tops in fraud simply because so many buyers want them yet so many want them on the cheap (at their own eventual peril, regretfully). The old adage still applies: if it seems to good to be true, ...(you know the rest).

Sadly, such a scam could easily be averted if the buyer would simply review the track record of the seller and cast a scrutinizing eye upon the seller's methods, policies, and transaction history. With likely thousands of similar items to choose from every day, it's hardly far-fetched that even a newbie could find a trustworthy seller to engage.

As for the email from the reader describing the Tiffany trick, that buyer should have known ahead of time that such an item was never officially offered by the maker, therefore reaffirming the long-standing rule of "caveat emptor" and further illustrating the buyer's need to fully understand and research the items they may buy (this buyer, it appears, was buying with her heart and not her head; not an uncommon situation but definitely not a wise method to rely upon).

I'm not insensitive to the plight of some of the unfortunate buyers your article parades in front of us; in fact, I've been their advocate for nearly a decade in my books, media interviews, and online writings, striving to help them secure sound deals in the online marketplace every time. Your story, however, is short-sighted in the way it portends to paint eBay as a haven of thieves. Yes, bad things do happen but typically not when buyers are using their heads, and not their high hopes, when trying to complete an auction deal.

Tell your readers the rest of the story...

Regards, Dennis Prince Author, Unleashing the Power of eBay

We've asked eBay if it would like to respond to your emails and will update this page as soon as we hear from them.

Still with eBay, but on a somewhat lighter note. We've had suggestions that this item looks like Fay Wray, Karen Carpenter and Joan Collins, and one person suggested it actually looked like the Dancing baby from Ally McBeal. Yes, we're talking about the grilled cheese sandwich branded with the image of the blessed Virgin Mary:

I don't know about the Virgin Mary, but I do see Joan Collins, which might better explain the gambling success.


I odn't know about the Virgin Mary, it looks like a 70's Porn Star to me


Regarding the cheesy Virgin Mary, looks a lot more like one of those film actresses from the 20's or 30's (but if the gossip can be believed it would take *quite* a miracle to restore their virginity :-)

regards, unitron

The virgin mary grilled cheese thing is out of control now, the real funny story is what is going on in reaction to this auction.... here are some of the better ones.....

Custom made Virgin Mary Grill Cheese cases on sale at ebay: Ebay auction for virgin mary grilled cheese.net domain name: [The bid stood at $55,000 at the time of writing - Ed]

Blessed Grilled Cheese Virgin Mary Creation Kit and a Virgin Mary In Grilled Cheese vs JAWS *POSTER*


We can't wait to see what goes up on the VMGC site...®

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