I used Ebay for buying used camera gear for many years now, but recently I got scammed and I want to warn other Ebay users.
Ebay’s buyers protection
For many years Ebay have been a favorite for camera nerds to buy their gear. It’s the biggest marketplace, you can often find items cheaper if you look locally but Ebay is the place with most selection and rare items.
Ebay created PayPal back when it started, a payment system to secure the buyers, when a payment was made, the transaction was locked by Ebay for a long time, until the item had reached the buyer. First if no complaint was made by the buyer, the payment went to the seller. If there was any complaint Ebay / PayPal would freeze the transaction and resolve the conflict, mostly giving the buyer the more rights than the seller. For this service Ebay charged a high premium from the seller, for non professional sellers it Ebay would often take 10-15% of the transaction. So quite a high price compared to others but it worked.
Today things have changed. Because of various reasons, Ebay and PayPal now changed into something more like a normal credit card payment gateway. You buy something and the seller gets the money almost instantly.
I got scammed
A few months ago I bought a Mamiya ZD camera on Ebay together with a lens and some accessoires, The Mamiya ZD is a rare medium format digital camera form 2004. The price was whopping 2388 euro, a lot of money but even old digital medium format cameras are expensive. Before buying I asked the seller to make sure if everything was working which the seller confirmed. When I received the camera I immediately realized that the cameras auto focus didn’t work, and looking on the CF-card of the camera I could see a lot of blurry sample photos making me believe that the auto focus never worked. I tried a lot of things to figure out the problem but got to the conclusion that the camera was broken, which also seems like a very common problem for the Mamiya ZD.
I tried to request a refund for the broken camera (the same day a receiving the camera), but the refund option was disabled. Ebay always used to guarantee that you can return broken items, if the seller claimed the item worked, but something must have changed on Ebay since the option was gone now. The seller refused the refund, and I had to ask Ebay France Support for a refund. They finally agreed after writing back and froth for a few weeks. I shipped the item back, added the tracking number in Ebay’s return system.
The package arrived to the seller, the seller received it and then nothing happend again. I wrote Ebay France support, and after some time I recieved an update on the case: “Refund Declined” with no explanation. Why? I wrote them again, and finally getting an anwser: “There is no shipment confirmation”. Yes there was, I could see everything on the shipping page, I showed it to them, but they just repeated the same. I wrote them again, and didn’t get any anwser. I wrote again and again, but they would never reply me back. I wrote the seller, but no anwser there. To make it even more bizare, Ebay France even removed the order entirely from the system, I cannot see the order when I login, or when I click the order link from my old email (normally Ebay keeps the history of old orders).
So in the end I got nothing: I lost my 2388 euro, I lost the broken camera, and I lost the 36 euro I spend on shipping back the broken camera. The seller is still selling things on Ebay with no consequences. I tried to contact the French police but the guy I talked with basically told me that probably nothing will happen.
Why did this happen? Ebay don’t hold the money anymore from the seller, meaning that they probably couldn’t charge the seller the money. And Ebay probably didn’t want the pay out the money from their own pocket, so they ignored my case hoping I would forget about it.
Scammer: Eric Patard
I know some people will tell me I’m a bad person for doing this, but really don’t care. Here is the information on the guy that stole 2388 euro from me:
Route des 4 Chemins
Le Gros Chêne 16
83690 Salernes Provence – Cote d’Azur
Alternatives to Ebay
So if Ebay is broken where can we go instead?
Buy locally: every country has it own used marketplace webpages. In the US there is Craiglist, where I live in Denmark there is Dba.dk. It’s often more limited, but can be a lot more cheap than Ebay if you have patience. Create some email search agents, and wait for you are looking for to show up.
But what about buying locally, can you not get scammed doing that? Here in Denmark the trust level is pretty high, but more important you talk with the seller yourself and can use your common logic to judge if the seller is a scammer or not, on Ebay the seller’s information is hidden when making the purchase.
Camera reseller pages: This is my new favorite. In Europe there is Mpb.com which I highly recommend. They offer great refund service in case the items are not working, which I have used in the past. And the prices are as low as Ebay prices. The only downside is that very rare items are hard to find. In the US there is also KEH and in Scandinavia where I live there is kamerastore.com