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In September 2017 I tried to buy a disk drive on eBay. I ended up paying for it twice, and I never received the item. eBay wasn't interested because I hadn't payed via PayPal, and the police weren't interested both because it wasn't paid for by PayPal and because the sum ($109) was too low.

eBay was so disinterested in the matter that they flagged the seller as a top-rated seller, and deleted my negative feedback without explanation, even when I asked them to justify the action. This is one of the many reasons why I now avoid eBay wherever possible.

I described the matter in my diary, and I have received a couple of emails from people who have had similar problems. At a later date I'll describe things more concisely; for the time being, here are diary extracts.


Tuesday, 19 September 2017 Today's diary Today's images top next last
eBay: Unpaid bill

This time last week I bought a disk on eBay. Unlike just about everything nowadays, there was no PayPal option, so I had to pay by bank transfer. But this morning I received a mail message from the seller, and discovered that he had opened a non-payment case.

How could that happen? No idea. The eBay site showed that it had been paid, but after checking my bank accounts, I found that no transfer had been made. Either I forgot it (unusual), or the bank messed up, which wouldn't be the first time. There's no way to tell which it was any more. Either way, the seller was right that he had almost certainly not received any payment. And clearly eBay messed up by marking it “paid”.

OK, pay up, in the process running into a bug on the ANZ web site: I copied and pasted the details to be sure I got them right, but it managed to get a leading space, and claimed that the account number wasn't a number. It accepted it after I removed the (almost imperceptible) space, but by then it had truncated the account number.

Back to eBay. So I had paid the bill. What next? I had no less than three messages from the seller, and all I could see were the headers. How do I display them? There's no indication on the index of how to do it. But there is a link “Tell us what you think”. Clearly they're not interested: the link is broken.

Finally I found that the message I had received was sent by real email, and not eBay's concept of email. How did he get my (eBay) email address? Maybe from the communication after I purchased the item?

Back to the unpaid item case. The instructions say:

When paying by electronic funds transfer, include the transaction code that you were given when you checked out.

What transaction code? There's an email ID, too long for the banks' antiquated systems, and containing # characters, which aren't in their (48 character BCD?) character set. And that's all.

Anyway, the item page also includes the information:


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OK, Pay Now? I've already done that in real life, but maybe I need to tell eBay too. Nope, nothing there, just bank details and the Seller notes:

Please include your USER NAME. Otherwise your deposit may be difficult to identify. Thanks.

It also included an RIB key, whatever that may be (identical to the BSB number, which they choose to call “bank code”), and IBAN and SWIFT information (not used in Australia, and thus “not specified”. What happened to the transaction code? An old, worn-out magic word?

OK, how about “contact seller”. That's a generic contact page, including their irritating “We'll look for an answer for you, whether you want us to or not”:

 
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In the end I just replied to the seller's message. But how do I close this case? It doesn't seem that I can do anything about it.

eBay, every encounter with you is painful. Twenty years and you're still such a mess.

In passing, it's clear that paying with PayPal (also not exactly a friend) has its advantages. At least it (normally) goes smoothly.


Thursday, 21 September 2017 Today's diary top previous next last
Where's my disk?

On Monday I discovered I hadn't paid for an eBay item, so I rectified that quickly. Sent a message to the seller. No reaction. Sent another message to the seller. Still no reaction.

OK, time to take further steps. Where eBay had claimed that the item was paid when it was not, it now claimed that it was not paid when it was. Back to eBay's confusing web site. “Take action”. What action? I've been there before on Monday. OK, get eBay to call me “valued customer” and walk me through. Maria called back pretty quickly. Problem: she had a strong fake American accent (probably originally from the Philippines), and I really couldn't understand her. I don't like doing it, but I had to ask her to get somebody else to call me back.

That was Michelle, not much more intelligible. I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't the telephone. I must try changing to the other phone some time. In any case, she was not able to walk me through the matter: there is no way to “take action” in this case. “Take action” means “Pay with PayPal”, and if I pay by other means, the system can't handle it. I need to contact ask a question of the seller and get him to “answer” it by closing the case. She was prepared to give me his phone number. No, sorry, I want some kind of record. OK, she would contact him. That sounded like a reasonable workaround of the site breakage, so we left it at that.

And that's where it stayed. No evidence of any activity. OK, I can open cases too. Sent the seller a message asking for response by tomorrow evening.

Some of there things are inevitable, but eBay's system makes it much more difficult.

By coincidence, received a message from eBay sent to my second account, the one I set up trying to fix the breakage they caused three years ago. It seems that they're celebrating their 18th birthday! I've been with them since July 1999, so I must have signed up with them some months before they were born. There's an explanation, of course: this is eBay Australia, but they didn't tell me that.


Saturday, 7 October 2017 Today's diary Today's images top previous next last
eBay: No item, no refund, no explanation

As if I didn't have enough to do over the weekend, eBay decided about the “seller” who took my money and didn't deliver. They decided that that was correct, and that I should not get a refund:

 
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A final decision! With the option to appeal. That sounds right for eBay. But what nonsense! How can they refuse to admit a refund? And why don't they attempt to justify their decision? Of course I appealed. But why this nonsense in the first place?


Sunday, 8 October 2017 Today's diary Today's images top previous next last
eBay does it again!

Clearly it was a mistake on eBay's part to close my case yesterday without a refund. Maybe the first one was done by computer, but clearly an appeal should get the attention of a human. Maybe it did, but I was still astounded by their final (final) decision:

 
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Again no reason. How can they get away with this? Time to make some noise.

Every time (far too many of them) that I have trouble with eBay, I try to find some valid, honest reason. And in this case, it's quite possible that the reason is that they have a moron handling these cases. But it's time that the authorities took note and did something about it. I can see a long fight ahead. And maybe it's the thought of that fight that lets them get away with it. I wonder how many other people have this problem and just give up.


Monday, 9 October 2017 Today's diary Today's images top previous next last
Bloody eBay, day 3

OK, it's been nearly a month since I ordered a disk on eBay, and I still have neither item nor refund. And eBay, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that “A refund won't be issued for this case”. I've already complained vociferously about this decision.

But that's just eBay. I still have a case against Craig Weber (eBay seller klearview_au). Call up Consumer Affairs Victoria, and while waiting in the inevitable hold pattern, was referred to the web site. For once, that might make sense, and so I took a look. “Buying from a private seller online” fits the bill. And in my case, they recommended that I contact the police:

If consumers used an instant cash transfer system (such as Western Union or MoneyGram) or deposited money directly into the seller's bank account, it can be very difficult to track the money once the seller has collected it. In this case, consumers should contact the police.

They added:

Although we cannot resolve disputes arising from consumer-to-consumer sales, we can provide you with further advice. View our Contact us page.

OK, call the police? The first issue is to establish if the transfer had been completed. Fortunately Craig also has an account with ANZ bank, so it was an inner-bank transfer. Called up ANZ on the well-hidden number +61-33-9683- 9999, and spoke to Jen, who first got necessary details of my account and then established that the transfer was made via “Internet” banking, another department. Connect to Aaron, who went through the same thing all over again, then said that he couldn't confirm whether the money had arrived, due to privacy concerns. Somehow that is a breach of the other obligation to trace my payments. On the other hand, he was able to make a request for refund, which wouldn't have made any sense if the transfer hadn't completed. He also repeated the advice of CAV to contact the police: the request is just that, a request, and requires the agreement of the other party. And the whole thing smells of fraud.

What do I do? Back to the eBay page. And there I saw:

 
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I suppose you can buy Schrödinger's cat on eBay too. But what an insult! Yes, Craig Weber opened an uppaid item case against me, and didn't close it. But they believed him!

Deep breath, got eBay to call me (“valued customer”). Spoke to Rayne, who was not only able to remove the unpaid item case (“because it's the first time”), but also explained the actions:

Left him with some suggestions, which appeared to genuinely interest him:

But eBay has been around for 20 years, and they're still such a mess. What's the hope that this incident will change anything? Surely there must be a way to increase public awareness of their policies. That should get their interest: it could limit their sales.

Sent Craig Weber a mail telling him that I expected the refund in my account by Thursday morning, and that I would not go to the police before then.


Saturday, 14 October 2017 Today's diary Today's images top previous next last
eBay: refund after all?

A series of email messages from Craig Weber in my mail today. Here some of the text:

A transfer has been processed.
And because we are not like you there will be a follow up transfer as you have not realised the duplication on your part, we did though.
It is usually a more effective way to get a good outcome by being nice as threats are hardly ever going to be well received.

And as you know, the police won???t do anything so we could very well have kept anything that was paid to us.
All we had to do was send an empty box and it would have been considered ???delivered???.
As mentioned, we are not like you.

Interesting. And yes, he's right. I did pay for the thing immediately on purchase, but somehow I oversaw the matter. And he complained about non-payment twice by email and raised a complaint with eBay—6 days after I had paid—and didn't close it. With that, of course, he doesn't have a leg to stand on. And his suggestion of sending an empty package is significant. I fear that he speaks from experience about the police.

Why the change of heart? Maybe he does have something to worry about. In any case, I haven't contacted the police, mainly because I wanted to present them with a complete document, so I'll wait until Monday and see if the money comes back.


Tuesday, 24 October 2017 Today's diary Today's images top previous next last
Police reports in time of Internet

OK, still no refund from Craig Weber, about whom I only know phone numbers ((02) 9638 5221 and 0412 25 00 00), eBay user ID (klearview_au) and email address (craigweber@optusnet.com.au). Time for the police.

Or is it? Checked the web site and discovered that it's not possible to report crimes online. Call the police station. So at 13:10 I called up the police in Ballarat on (03) 53366000, was presented with a long list of topics organized from their point of view, so finally chose “uniform”, something that is completely irrelevant to me. They weren't very helpful. After a while, they suggested an acorn.

Acorn? No, ACORN, the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network, a name that sounds like a reverse fit to the acronym. Clearly it's a completely different category of crime when I buy something online as opposed to buying from a newspaper advertisement. They weren't very encouraging:

After submitting your report, you will not receive any further correspondence on behalf of the ACORN. If further information is required, the police agency investigating your report will contact you.

So I filled out the form, being continually reminded that I may never hear from them again. Maybe Craig was right when he wrote:

And as you know, the police won???t do anything

Still, let's give it a chance.


Thursday, 26 October 2017 Today's diary Today's images top previous next last
Cybercrime!

Received a strange email today:

Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2017 15:06:31 +1100
From: NSW Police <noreply@police.nsw.gov.au>
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;
Subject: Information for Victims of Crime [SEC=SENSITIVE]
Message-ID: <59f00de8.c93aed0a.94395.5216SMTPIN_ADDED_BROKEN@mx.google.com>

Victim Card Information

The NSW Police Force is committed to providing support to victims
of crime.  The details of your report are as follows:

Time/Date of report: 24/10/2017 14:41
COPS Event Number: 66233235043

The Police Officer in charge of your matter is:
NAME, LIKELY
Email : 4711@police.nsw.gov.au
Station : SCC CYBERCRIME UNIT
Address : 4, 219-241 CLEVELAND ST
Phone : 02 93846850

Please contact the above officer for any enquiries about your matter
and quote the COPS Event Number.  If the officer is not available,
please contact the Supervising Sergeant.
You can obtain more information and resources about the NSW Police
Force's commitment to Victims of Crime at our website
www.police.nsw.gov.au/victims

Information for Victims of Crime

Victims Access Line (VAL) - 1800 633 063 or (02) 8688 5511

Doesn't that look suspicious? I particularly like the “COPS” number. The message claims to come from NSW Police, but clearly comes from Gmail. It doesn't have my name on the To: header. The address doesn't include a city or town (“suburb”). And it doesn't refer to anything that I recognize. Everything about it screams “scam”.

Yes, I reported my problems with Craig Weber two days ago, so conceivably it could have something to do with him. Or it could have been done by somebody who had read my diary entry. How do I find out if it's genuine?

The web site was a dead loss, but gave me the same “Victims Access Line” number that was in the email. But no, they're just for victims of violence.

Finally I found a general enquiries number at https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/contact_us: 1800 725 631. Called up and spoke to Rebecca, who took the matter seriously, checked the phone number and told me that it wasn't valid. Obviously a scam. Then I read out the other details, and she discovered that yes, indeed, it was genuine, and after authenticating me (“What's your date of birth?”), confirmed details that I had entered.

I asked her to connect me, but she wasn't able to do that via the internal number. She confirmed that the email address was correct (or at least corresponded to the address that she had on record), and offered to send an email for me. But I can do that myself. And she wasn't able to give me a reference number.

Tried the number myself, and confirmed that it wasn't connected. Why was I given it? Sent an email to the officer, but by evening had no reply.

Somehow this doesn't heighten my trust in NSW police.


Tuesday, 31 October 2017 Today's diary Today's images top previous next last
Call the police—how?

Last Thursday I received mail from NSW Police relating to my fraud case. It was so garbled that I was not able to proceed, and the phone connections I had didn't help either. I sent an email to the (allegedly correct) email address with which I was provided. So far I have received no response.

OK, time to try again. Called up the “contact us” number 1800 725 631, and was connected with Graham, who gave me a running commentary. What a big organization! And no, the address isn't 4, 219-241 CLEVELAND ST, unspecified town: it's 11, Phillip St, Sydney. And the email address is wrong too: there is no officer with that number. I suggested that maybe the number in the email address could be random, not necessarily the registration number, and he accepted that. In the end he gave me the number of the Cybercrime unit, and left me to call it. He couldn't take a report on the difficulties I had had, because he's not allowed to get involved in matters relating to fraud and homicide. He didn't change his mind when I pointed out that this was a matter of complete inefficiency and nothing to do with the crime itself. In any case, he is sure that ACORN is probably to blame for the problem—never mind that there was little overlap between the ACORN report and the email I received.

I called the number and got voice mail. I left a message to call back, but of course I got none. Of course, there's no reason to believe that the number has anything to do with the NSW police. ACORN, indeed!

Called back on the info line and was connected to Joan, who was much less helpful than Rebecca or Graham. She gave me another email address, but wouldn't take a complaint. That has to be done in writing to customerassistance@police.nsw.gov.au.

I summarized to her: I can't get a phone number for the officer in question. I can't report complaints over the phone. If I don't get a response to my email, I'm out of luck. Right? Joan: “Yes, that's right”.

So I sent an email to the new email address, asking for urgent response. So far I still have had none.


Wednesday, 1 November 2017 Today's diary Today's images top previous next last
Still no Police contact

It's now been 6 days since I received notice to contact the NSW Police. And despite all attempts, I failed.

OK, email to to customerassistance@police.nsw.gov.au, explaining the situation and asking for help. And how about that, I got a call back from Senior Constable Adam Ginnane within an hour, saying that he couldn't get in contact with DSC Todd, who was apparently out of the office on another matter, but that he had spoken with a colleague, and I would get a call back later in the day. He also gave me details of how to contact him if needed. It seems that Joan's comments yesterday were wrong: customerassistance@police.nsw.gov.au is in the same building as the help line I have called so many times, and they could have put me through.

Shortly later I got email with a reference number for the incident:

Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2017 12:53:37 +1100
From: noreply-customerassistance@police.nsw.gov.au
To: Greg 'groggy' Lehey <groggyhimself@lemis.com>
Subject: Re: Unable to contact NSW police [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]
Reply-To: customerassistance@police.nsw.gov.au

I particularly like the two email addresses in those headers.

Finally I got an email from Todd!

The email you received is a generic email that is automatically generated from our computer system when we create a report. This email does not have my current contact details of which I have no control over.

In relation to your matter, a police report has been created (Report Number- ....) and preliminary enquiries have identified the suspect account holder as being located in the area of Burwood NSW. As a result, your report has been transferred Burwood police station for further investigation. Contrary to the information supplied in the email you received, I am not the officer in charge of the matter as ACORN is an assessment centre and does not investigate.

OK, finally. But why this completely wrong information? And the most worrying thing about the matter is that nobody seemed to think that there was a problem.


Monday, 6 November 2017 Today's diary Today's images top previous next last
Police: we don't care about fraud

Mail from the police about my fraud case today:

I am a police officer at Burwood Police Station in New South Wales. I have reviewed your ACORN report in relation to the issues you have had with a seller on eBAY. Unfortunately our current operating procedures are that due to not using PayPal, the recommended eBay payment option, no investigation will take place. Furthermore, the loss of $104.99 is not a sufficient loss to warrant a police investigation. The alleged offender has also reimbursed you some of the funds, which also suggests that this could be a civil matter and not suitable for the criminal court.

Just what Craig Weber said! Clearly he knows the ropes. It's sad, though, that the police are not interested. So now I need to find how to proceed with a civil claim.


Wednesday, 8 November 2017 Today's diary Today's images top previous next last
eBay manipulation?

I'm still annoyed about the way I've been treated regarding the matter with Craig Weber (eBay seller klearview_au). When I get over my anger I'll follow up. But today I was curious as to whether he was still registered with eBay. Yes. Not only that, since then he has become a top-rated seller!

And that with the feedback I left him! Went checking what feedback he had received since then—and mine was gone! So was another one of similar character.

Working my way through the little twisty passages of eBay links brought me to https://feedback.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewFeedbackLeft, where I could enter the item number (352142223044), which the page obligingly removed, and then displayed:


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Mutually withdrawn? I wasn't even informed! And I most certainly would not withdraw it. Tried once again to contact eBay, and this time they have yet another way: call a number (1800-322-928) and enter an 8 digit password. Did so and was ultimately connected to Steph, who told me that she could still see the feedback. I made it clear that I expected the feedback to be reinstated, and that I expected an explanation from the people who do these things. She promised to follow up, and that I could expect a call back within a week at the latest. I made it clear that if she did not, I would follow up with the Australian authorities.

Somehow eBay seems completely chaotic. I'm left with the feeling that Craig knows how to manipulate the system, either by an undocumented bug, personal contact or just plain breaking and entering. High time Amazon expands into Australia. There's no reason to believe that they'll be better, but at least I'll have a choice.

As if to confirm my opinion, while we were talking, I received email from eBay:

Dear Greg Lehey,

Thanks for calling us. Because we weren't able to authenticate you during the call, we thought the information below might help you make sure your account information is up to date.

How to check or update your postal code, address, or phone number
1. Go to My eBay.
2. Place your pointer over the 'Account' tab, and then click 'Addresses'.
3. Under 'Registration Address', click the 'Change' link to the right of the information. You will need to enter your password again to change the information.
4. Make the changes needed and confirm by clicking the 'change registration information' button.

How to check or update your credit card information
1. Go to My eBay.
2. Place your pointer over the 'Account' tab, and then click 'Personal Information.'
3. Under 'Financial Information', click 'automatic payment method'.
4. Select 'Credit Card' and then click 'Set up Automatic Payments'. You may need to click 'Continue' if you're changing your information.
5. Enter your credit card information, and then click 'Continue'. If you're adding a new credit card, you'll be asked to authorise it.

To learn more about changing account information, please visit: http://pages.ebay.com.au/help/account/change-account.html

What the hell is that about? I had no difficulties with authentication. The time matches the beginning of my call with Steph. Did she have finger trouble?

eBay pain, yet again!

Mail from eBay today, coinciding with a routine access to “my eBay”:

Unauthorized use of your account -- action required

We have reason to believe that your eBay account has been used fraudulently without your permission. We’ve reset your eBay password. If you had your PayPal account linked to your eBay account, we've disabled your PayPal link to protect your funds. Any unauthorised activity, such as buying or selling, has been cancelled and any associated fees have been credited to your account. Any listings that we removed are included toward the end of this email. We assure you that your financial information is securely stored on a server and cannot be seen by anyone.

Dammit, when will they finally stop? If they have reasons, they should say so. But this happened in April, May and September this year alone, and possibly on other occasions that I didn't bother to mention. What is wrong with these people? My passwords are getting more and more insulting.


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