Problems With Chinese Buyers on Ebay
Sun Tzu's EBAY Survival Guide for Dealing with Buyers in China
NOTE: Much of the information here was gathered by me from our mainland CHINESE and Hong Kong customers. Until EBAY wakes up and deals with it's problems, you as a seller have to dto protect yourself and your wallet. This does not include ALL Chinese Buyer's on EBAY.
If you are reading this, most likely you're an EBAY seller and have had more than your share of problems doing business with Chinese buyers on eBay . You may also be contemplating expanding your own market by offering items there, if so, read on. Problematic Chinese buyers on Ebay are in some cases an epidemic. While problematic buyers are not exclusive to China. They are by far the biggest single bunch of buyers who violate eBay rules, refuse to pay for purchases and resort to blackmail to get partial refunds. Ebay has been aware of these issue's for years, so far they've never made any honest attempt to curb the problem.
Problem Chinese Buyers on Ebay Versus Great Chinese Buyers
Fine Asian and Chinese Antiques
This blog clearly isn't about the GOOD Chinese buyers, they are the BEST in my book. It is about the "others" who would no doubt resort to robbing banks, pimping and drug trafficking were it not for them having access to the Internet.
While what I am saying in this post may sound a bit harsh, it will ring true for those of you experienced in transactions with the Chinese antique's market.
China is a SPECIAL market and you should arm yourself accordingly when doing business there. Learn to do as much as EBAY will allow to cope with the problematic ones, there are hundreds of thousands of them, literally.
NOTE: In general you will find the buyers in Hong Kong and Beijing to be very little trouble. They are on a whole a good bunch of buyers who are reasonable and pay in a timely fashion. Shanghai and beyond however, can be a very different situation.
“Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy's purpose.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The Problem Chinese Buyers on Ebay, There Are Many
The Company Ignores Problematic Chinese Buyers on Ebay Its a Policy
So, Whats going on in China? Why do some buyer's there have 30 to 100 EBAY accounts?
EBAY has, for the last 10 years been stubbornly unwilling to take any serious steps to ensure bidders from China are qualified, able to pay and are who they say they are. In China some EBAY users have as many as 100 EBAY accounts, having four or five is common. EBAY knows all about it, they just do not care. Chinese buyers on eBay are so far immune for the most part should they violate site policies.
If one account becomes too damaged due to non-payment issues, the user simply starts using another account. After 12 months the damage to previous account(s) is automatically erased and it can once again be used without issue. If a buyer in China needs a new account they can also be bought for around $5 complete with Feedback which are generated by computers and sold openly, EBAY knows about this as well and has so far been unable to prevent it. While from a policy standpoint they of course call it a Violation, but a minor issue for them...I've heard it from their own lips.
The company is very good at having "official" positions on things but routinely fall back on the "lack of man power" argument when bad situations drag on for years and years. Even when the solution is very simple and could be done with a bit of minor changes in programming through the site.
Buy, Sell, Research...Click Here To View
EBAY the Worthless Feedback System
Then, of course, there is the Feedback system, made virtually worthless when EBAY changed the rules enabling folks who only BUY on EBAY one rating 100%! No matter what, it's always 100%. NEGATIVE feedback is no longer a worry for non-payers and dishonest buyers, its a big joke. They can fail to pay, demand unreasonable refunds, threaten to return items and the Seller can do nothing, absolutely nothing. This is something some Chinese Buyers on Ebay are keenly aware of and take advantage regularly.
As a consequence, we've seen thousands EBAY accounts in China with ZERO feedback, a 100% Rating but have so many non-payment strikes they are blocked from bidding. In other words, the user has NEVER paid for anything that's been bought but still has a 100% account rating. Seeing other accounts with 5, 10, or 20 Feedbacks but has been blocked by my site preferences is often typical.
A Buyer with too many Non Payment Strikes who is eventually kicked off can simply go and open a NEW account. Frequently they do it the day before the item they wish to bid on closes, it happens to us nearly every week.
EBAY's response on the above issues has always been one of "we're helpless" to fix it. It's not at all true, but that's the line they have adopted. So for the most part, you're on your own.
Can you do anything to make life easier when selling to Chinese customers? YES!! You need to go on the defensive in a BIG WAY.
Thinning out the Herd of Deadbeats
Step Number One, in dealing with problem Chinese buyers on Ebay
“Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
- Adjust your Ebay "Buyer Preferences": Click the ACCOUNT Tab>Site Preferences>Buyer Requirements>Show>Edit
- Block anyone who has failed to pay for more than 2 items in the last 12 months.
- Block Any bidder without a Pay Pal Account.
- Block Bidders with 4 or more Policy Violation reports in the last 6 Months.
- Block any buyer with a -1 Feedback Score
- Block any bidder with 5 feedbacks or less and have bought 1 item in the last 10 Days and have not paid yet.
- Check off the box which says: "Do not allow blocked buyers to contact me".
In the last 60 days using the above criteria we've had over 1700 bids BLOCKED by users who are either deadbeats, have brand new accounts or no Pay Pal account.
WHY blocking Chinese buyers with no Pay Pal accounts makes sense.
Step Number Two, in dealing with Chinese buyers on Ebay
Then go lower on the Site Preferences Page and open "Unpaid Item Assistant"
Unpaid Item Assistant can manage the unpaid item process for you, according to your preferences
Beside the Line that says:
Step Number Three, in dealing with Problem Chinese Buyers on Ebay
Do Not Accept RETURNS as a Formal Policy!!!
Next, go to your general account settings, un-check the "We Accept Returns" and change it to "We Do Not Accept Returns". After doing that insert into your listings STEP NUMBER FOUR below, among other things it cover's the topic of RETURNS better than EBAY.
- NOTE: While stating you do not accept returns will prevent you from getting the 20% Fee discount, it will also give you a lot more leverage when "the games begin." The 20% discount is usually almost impossible to get for International Sellers handling higher value items, its just bait to encourage Accepting Returns.
Step Number Four, "Seller Policy"
Feel free to use the Seller Policy below or edit to suit your own needs. This is on ALL of our listings.
Please READ below before bidding.
We do our best to disclose anything that will impact value and / or desirability.
This is an un-reserved auction.
Ages and descriptions stated are our opinions based on over 30 years experience in selling antiques.
You the buyer are ultimately responsible for agreeing or disagreeing with our opinions BEFORE placing a bid.
Bidder Terms & Rules:1. All items must be paid for within 4 days (Grace period). If you cannot pay right away please contact me, please do not ignore invoices.2. EBAY users with 2 or more Non Payment Strikes will be BLOCKED from Bidding by Ebay automatically.3. None paying bidders are permanently BLOCKED from all listings.4. New EBAY Accounts may have limits placed on their ability to place bids.5. Returns are accepted solely at our discretion. In the event of a return we do not refund the original postage or pay for return postage.6. All items are sold "as is".
7. You cannot bid without a Pay Pal Account.
In case any of you have forgotten, the image below is a screen shot from EBAY's user's agreement....you can also post this on your listings if you're so moved.
|Ebay Rules For Bidders, Add this to your template.|
Step Number Five, "Please Cancel My Transaction"
― Sun Tzu, The Art of WarIf you sell something to a buyer in China and they message you to "please cancel deal". DO NOT DO IT.
Then Step Number Six
“He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Deadbeat Bidder Warning Signs
- If you see for example Multiple Blocked Bid Attempts for an item(s) and you now have bids on those same items placed after the blocked attempts by a bidder account less than a week or so old. You in all likelihood are seeing a blocked deadbeat trying to get around your preferences and will VERY likely never pay you.
- Its also a good idea to check the bid history on the listing itself for BRAND new bidders who are no longer winning and block them as well. They might come back.
- If you have a bidder with Feedbacks but a 0% rating Block him Immediately. All ratings go to 0% after 12 months of inactivity, the inactivity in 99% of these cases from CHINA is because the account had too many non-payment strikes and it takes 12 Months for them to drop off.
Next Step Number 7 (last and not least, Pay Pal Green Mail) How to Invoice
- For example lets say a fellow in Shanghai buys 8 things worth a total of $4,500 and $85 in Shipping and Insurance charges.
- Upon receipt he lodges a complaint wanting $200 dollars back on a $350 item under some pretense. "the color was different on my screen", "I found a glaze frit" etc.. He may even do it for a couple of items.
- Once the Complaint is filed, Pay Pal takes back the full $4,500 plus the shipping while it's under review.
- Pay Pal can take up to a month a half from start to finish before the money is released back to you.
To avoid this kind of hassle, send the Buyer MULTIPLE invoices and divide the Total Shipping costs between the invoices so you can combine shipping. The Buyer then cannot freeze the entire transaction's proceeds while trying to Blackmail you for a better price or partial refund.
If the complaint is legitimate settle it. However 9 times out of 10 its a scam being played on you. They know Pay Pal's rules...and use it to their advantage.
The Truth about Many Chinese Porcelain and Art Buyers in China
- They know very little about what they are buying, much of the information they have is wrong.
The latest Scam on EBAY..."Send me a Refund Its Cracked!"
Below are two examples...of just how absurd it can get.
The buyer opted to make an issue of the tiny hairline beside it, because it was not mentioned in the listing specifically..he argued the big chip is fine, but the "line" is a really huge issue. For this he wanted $100 back or 25% of the purchase price. Any experienced dealer will tell you a chip most often and not unexpectedly results in a small hairline. Chips usually cause an associated crack or at least a small hairline 90% of the time, unless it's an honest "frit" in the glaze. A tiny hairline like this has no bearing on the items value when it's already been chipped like this.
Another Return Scam
Despite clear descriptions and comments about larger nicks and chips about the mouth of the jar, the buyer asked for a large partial refund for the minute line on the edge of the rim...2 MM long. If you cannot see it, don't be surprised. (The small yellowing from the firing of the pot isn't what was bothering him, its the tiny line below it on the inside.)
A line of this size has no impact on value of an already damaged piece, especially with chips like this one had, or the previous example of the plate.
In short, whats happening with the current crop of dishonest buyers in China is they've adopted crazy new negotiating tactics. To either get back much of the money paid for something or as a gambit to return the item when they learn they have overpaid out of ignorance and want a refund.
Are all buyer in China dishonest? Absolutely not! Many are terrific, they are communicative and very understanding when things get delayed in customs and pay promptly. However when you're dealing with a country with 1.6 Billion people and EBAY's only apparent concern is not to lose market share, the results can be a disaster for Sellers
EBAY has Failed in Removing BAD Buyers, from China in particular.
So, why is it EBAY has done such an abysmal job in handling Chinese buyers? The answer is two-fold:
- They want the business, they want the Chinese Market. As a consequence, there is no apparent limit to how much abuse they're willing to be allowed inflicted upon Sellers on the mega site.
- EBAY hasn't a clue about Chinese business practices among their EBAY users.
Despite EBAY's protestations that they are "doing all they can" to ensure only qualified users register and use the site, the argument is clearly not even close to being true. It's actually laughable, EBAY doesn't give a dam about the problems facing Sellers to China and never have.
Could EBAY Fix it if they wanted to? Sure
Can they Fix it? yes easily, they just have do it.
How? Here are a few suggestions, easy to do AND would go a long way to ending the problems.
- Place initial bidding limits on NEW Accounts such as $400, $800, $1,500 etc.,then raise them as Buyer Performance indicates.
- Require PAY PAL Accounts or similar payment accounts.
- In Buyer Requirements: Allow Sellers the choice to BLOCK any bidder who has failed to pay for a purchase in the last: Year, TWO YEARS, THREE YEARS, FOUR YEARS or EVER
- In Buyer Requirements: Allow Sellers to set Minimum Feedback requirements.
- Remove immediately ANY buyer who's non payment rate is over 5% of all purchases.
- Allow no more than TWO EBAY account per IP Address.
- Do not Allow PAY PAL to REFUND money to buyer's who have packages in Customs for a month while trying to avoid paying duty. As they then File a Claim for an "un-Delivered package" . (Yes they do that) once they get their money back from Pay Pal, they pay the duty, pick up the item, you have been robbed.
- Link the Bidder's Pay Pal account directly to any item being bid. Placing 20% of the TOTAL bid placed on Hold as a "Non-refundable Deposit". If the bidder fails to Pay within a few weeks, the Seller gets the "Deposit".
- If a Seller wants to exempt a Buyer from these requirements they can. (EBAY already has a Bidder exemption list.)
- Ebay can easily eliminate Multiple Account users by simply linking Pay Pal Account numbers and Phone Numbers tied to each account. This alone would take care of much of the problem.
Would all of these fix the problem 100%? No, but it would make it a lot better. A lot better for everyone.