Be wary of sellers who list cheap items with no refund

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As a buyer, I am writing this guide to warn other buyers of a postage scam that is being practised by some sellers. Recently I won a cassette tape for $1. The seller sent me an invoice on which she charged me $24 postage on her first invoice. She changed this to $10.20 only after I complained, but I could tell by the sarcastic tone in her reply that she had really wanted me to pay the $25 amount. Most reputable sellers list one of the lower postal options first and give the higher postal rates as an option, not the other way around. I am sure if I had paid the first invoice without questioning it, she would have been rubbing her greedy hands together with glee and laughing at the sucker who had just paid her a fortune for a second-hand cassette! I paid her the lowest postage rate of $10.20.

The item turned up less than a week later in a shoddy, unpadded envelope which she had recycled by crossing out the old addresses, and it had a $3.60 postage label print on it. Furthermore it was badly damaged due to improper care with packing. When I complained about the $6.60 discrepancy, she said this was to cover her handling fees to do with petrol and time wasted at the post office etc. I guess this would be fair enough, except for the fact that she failed to mention any such handling fees in her ad. It seemed to me that she was trying to make money from the postage. People think they are getting a bargain on cheap goods, only to find they are being ripped off by the postage charges.

I really wonder what would have happened if I had paid the $24 postage that she had asked for initially. Would my item still have turned up in the same shoddy envelope with a $3.60 label on it?? This seems likely.

I decided to check through the rest of her listings and I soon noticed a very clear pattern.

1) All of her items were very cheap goods, with starting bids around 68c - $1. Moreover, they were the kinds of goods that would usually only attract one or two bids. They were all items like old children's books, old 45s, old cassette tapes etc., basically, garage sale stuff. It appeared that the seller was listing only cheap items from which she could never expect to turn any kind of profit on their own. In fact it would be impossible for her to even make enough to cover the costs of the ads! Clearly she intends to make her money another way, and that can only be through overcharging on postage. A $1 tape can be sold for $25 (or even $10.20) and sold in a shoddy recycled envelope worth nothing, and posted for $3.60. Instant profit, and oh what a profit!

2) The second thing I noticed was that all of her ads have a sold as is, no refund policy. This is like a blanket cover that a seller can hide behind in the case of a dispute. If an item turns up and is damaged or not as described, she can simply say, sorry, no refunds, sold as is, you should have read our policy in the ad... Of course, you can file an Item not Received as Described claim, but this will still not stop the seller from falling back on the no refunds, sold as is policy. I now refuse to buy from any seller that places this policy on their ads.

So if you think you've found a bargain, it really pays to look through the seller's other listings. If they are selling only cheap things and selling them very cheaply, and have a no refunds policy, it is a good idea not to bid. This seller could be trying to trap an unwary buyer into thinking they have found a bargain, then hit the buyer with a massive postage and handling charge. Once they have you on their hook they will try to bleed you dry.

Lots of positive feedback is not always sufficient to suggest that a seller is not overcharging on postage. Sometimes people may not be happy about postage but will still leave positive feedback to avoid retaliation. In my case I was threatened with negative feedback if I left the seller negative feedback, so I decided not to leave any feedback at all. If buyers are unhappy at any time about postage costs, but still wish to leave positive feedback, it is a good idea to give the postage charges box the lowest rating possible. If every buyer does this, a seller will soon get the message.

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