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Stuff eBay Won't Do Anything About

People are imperfect everywhere, even online. You probably won't agree with some of the behavior that you run into on eBay (ranging from slightly annoying to just plain rotten). Although much of that conduct is just plain nasty, it can (and does) go on as long as it doesn't break eBay rules.

In some cases, you may need to bite your tongue and chalk up someone's annoying behavior to ignorance of the unwritten rules of eBay etiquette. Just because people have computers and some things to sell or buy doesn't mean that they possess grown-up social skills. (But you knew that.)

Here's a gang of annoying issues that crop up pretty regularly but that aren't against eBay's rules and regulations:

  • A seller sets astronomical shipping costs. eBay policy says that shipping costs must be reasonable. Basically, eBay is wagging its finger and saying, “Don't gouge your buyers.” When sellers gouge their buyers with high shipping fees, eBay penalizes them in their Best Match search results. Some sellers try to avoid fees or may be disappointed that a sale didn't make enough money, so they think that jacking up shipping costs will increase their profit.

    Under the rules, eBay will stop someone from charging excessive amounts for shipping. One should always check shipping terms on the item page. Buyers must decide whether to agree to those terms before they bid or buy. The best way to protect yourself from being swindled is to buy only from a seller whose shipping costs feel fair to you.

  • A seller or buyer refuses to meet the terms that you mutually set. eBay has the power only to warn or suspend members. It can't make anyone do anything — even someone who's violating a policy. If you want to make someone fulfill a transaction, you're more or less on your own.

    But if your item never arrives, you can apply to eBay for a refund under the Buyer Protection plan.

    Often, reluctant eBay buyers just need a nudge from eBay in the form of a warning to comply. So go ahead and file a case report to get a Final Value Fee credit request.

  • An eBay member sends unwanted e-mail messages (spam). In fact, members can send spam by using eBay's own tools. All the user has to do is access the Contact a Member Form by clicking a member's User ID. eBay sees non-transaction–related communication as spam; you need to report any member who abuses this system. (You'll see a reporting link on any e-mail sent through the eBay system).

    Although the items spammers are selling may be perfectly good, eBay won't offer you any protection if you participate in off-the-site deals.

New eBay users are often the unwitting perpetrators of annoying behavior, but you're ahead of the pack now that you know what not to do. You can afford to cut the other newbies some slack and help them learn the ropes before you report them.

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