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Not for the Faint-Hearted !!
Mar 09, 2013 07:52 PM 59800 Views
(Updated Mar 10, 2013 08:08 AM)

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Let me start this review with a famous dialogue from DON - "Main tumse itni nafrat nahi karta jitni main apne bacchon se mohabbat karta hoon". I share almost the same feeling for eBay. "Main Ebay se itni nafrat nahi karta jitni main PENTAX se mohabbat karta hoon". And its my obsession with PENTAX gear that keeps me operational on eBay. But for it, I'd have stopped long ago.


I have both bought and sold lakhs worth of items (if not millions) on eBay and my experiences are best summarised in the undersaid sections. But before I begin, it may be worth mentioning that the Review is written from the point of view of an Indian user with the added assumption that the reader is familiar with the bidding mechanism as also the compulsion to have a Paypal account attached to a credit card (for purchases) and an Indian Bank account (for withdrawing sale proceeds).


eBay for Buyers - Easier to recommended. For many reasons too. One, a lot of things that arent available elsewhere are available on eBay. Two, you have the choice of buying something new, refurbished or even "well used" depending upon the amount of money you are willing to spend. Three, most of the time you have the option of negotiating with your seller (except if he is from USA/Canada) on the "niceties" of shipping which can go a long way in reducing your import costs substantially. But the biggest reason for buying on eBay may be its policies which heavily favour buyers over sellers (for obvious reasons since that is where the business comes from). So much so that a buyer can enjoy goods purchased for over a month and return them later on some flimsy pretext claiming charge backs. And in most cases disputes are settled in the buyers favour regardless of who is at fault. The only risk the buyer runs on ebay, assuming basic diligence has been done before purchasing, is that on account of the reverend "bharatiya" customs department which can shock you at times by overvaluing an imported item and charging you customs duty equivalent to half its cost !! During checkout, buyers do need to guard against Paypal's offer of converting currency by selecting "Bill my card in currency of payment"


eBay for Sellers - If you are a scrupulous seller surviving on thin margins EBay is not the place for you. Not only does eBay seller protection policy s*cks but the costs are so high that by the time your money reaches you, you'll wonder if you really sold anything. eBay commission itself is close to 10% for most commonly traded items. Paypal's fee is another 5% and Paypal's money changing commission is another 5%, enough to put a greedy moneychanger to shame. And it doesnt end here. For a site which claims to be the easiest way to send and receive money, Paypal takes anything between 5-7 days to transfer money to your Bank Account, shamelessly enjoying it all the while !! Again ebay.com will virtually bully you into joining their global shipping programme (seller ships to them and they in turn ship to buyer for a cost !!) or leave you with no option but to list on ebay India where no international buyer will buy from (because it has a nasty reputation and requires registration with Paisapay, the worlds most pathetic money transferring system !!)!!


Customer Service - rivals Microsoft's "HELP" when it comes to how useless it can be ! First of all due to the nature of buying-selling activity and amount of money evolved, the rules/policies governing listing/bidding/sale/payment/delivery/returns, etc are so elaborate that the typical user can never hope to read them even once before starting. Secondly (and most importantly) ebay makes it difficult (Rajeev_Vermacially for customers in India) to approach customer service unless it is in the way they want, for the reasons they want and the cost they want (you to incur). Ringing up their call centre is an expensive proposition because it'll be an international call. They dont have a mechanism for troubleshooting through mails and the online interface is plain IMPOSSIBLE - intended to make a mockery of your intelligence. Users who have encountered the dreaded but rampant "was this helpful ?" and "thank you for your feedback" will know what I'm talking about. To make matters worse there is absolutely no integration between ebay.com & eBay India which means you'll be forced to log on to eBay India for even the smallest of tasks like responding to messages !!


Security - Though eBay and Paypal are both fairly secure from the point of view of transacting, they are rather risky when it comes to storing your Bank/Credit Card details since their user agreements give them a lot of power with rRajeev_Vermact to charging your card and you are always at a risk of chargebacks/other debits for reasons you may not find fair or justifiable. Secondly, they have a very "armtwisting/blackmailing" kinda approach to soliciting personal information/documents.  Once when a remittance of 9K had got stuck because the buyer wouldnt confirm receipt even after 10 days of receiving item, eBay India sent me a mail saying remittances wont be processed unless I shared my Identitity proof and address proof before reaching 50K of remittances. Thankfully, my total sale proceeds on ebay India were just shy @47K so I had the option to stop listing on eBay India (something I positively loath) anymore and not share the info !! At any transparent site "rules/policies" such as these are intimated to the user well in advance.


eBay India - Although there is a separate category for eBay India (formerly Bazee), let me put in a few words here because of the integration (or the lack of it) between two sites. A few remarkable points are :- (1) As a buyer you'll likely find many items ridiculously priced and as a seller you'll get a very good indication of how well (or badly !) the site is doing by merely looking at the no. of "views and watchers"  on your dashboard (2) Seller fee ranges from 1-5% (5% for most commonly traded items) and Paisapay charges 5% for effecting INR remittances from credit cards to bank account (3) Like its international counterpart policies are buyer driven only it takes them even further. This means a seller cant claim his money even after item is delivered. Even if there's proof of delivery, eBay has a long drawn method for getting paid designed to ensure that they enjoy the money to the maximum extent possible. ebay india can take anything from 7-17 days to "do the needful" all the while "laying eggs on it" !! (4) Sites like flipkart have further ensured that ebay India is mostly relegated to being a breeding ground for fraudsters of all shapes and sizes.


Any trading portal where reaching customer service itself is a herculean task cant have my recommendation and therefore I wouldnt recommend ebay at all. The attitude is unmistakably "standoffish and handsoffish" whereby buyers and sellers are "encouraged" to settle things between themselves and eBay will pitch in only when its absolutely necessary .ie., to take their fees !! A more qualified recommendation is  - Not for buyers until you are into buying goods that arent easily available in India and definitely not for sellers unless you can live with he 20% shave and the hassles of dealing with ebay's lopsided Buyer protection policies.


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