Thursday, February 01, 2007

# Posted 4:02 PM by Patrick Belton  

DOES EBAY TURN A BLIND EYE TO THE PRESENCE OF TRAFFICKED GOODS? That's what a curious set of events yesterday and today have left me pondering.

So, considering that along with the odd travesty of journalistic and academic writing, I might interview the occasional foreign policy notable passing through London and post the results up for our incredibly charming, photogenic, and - might I even dare say - romantically desirable viewers (you're procrastinating too - never forget that), I recently bid on a voice recorder on eBay. I received a few rather odd emails off of the seller, and my curiosity being picqued, did the first thing one generally does after meeting one of life's interesting people - namely, take a trawl through the North Carolina arrest records. And, as it just so happens, here's my seller, currently waiting in a court docket on charges of shoplifting and concealment of stolen goods.

Well, here on OxBlog, we like to think of ourselves as vaguely mischevious - it gets us dates - but not felonious - it gets us dates with large chaps wearing the wrong sort of pinstripe. So, I wrote to eBay, politely informing them that it had just come to my attention that my seller had recently been arrested for shoplifting, and as buying very possibly stolen goods didn't quite seem my idea of sporting fair play that afternoon, would it by chance be possible to be released from the responsibility of completing the transaction. What I got back was a form letter (so personal - Dear Patrick!) in which eBay - after wagging its finger very firmly against stolen property - said it was really not their responsibility, and they'd leave looking into that sort of thing to the police, thank you very much. And no, not released from the obligation to purchase it, shoplifter or no. (The clever chap from eBay - whose name is William Milo, let's name some names - even had the brilliance to suggest I not leave negative feedback. It was eBay's genius solution to how I might avoid going through with purchasing the item, without accruing a strike on my account.)

This left me wondering - the volume of trafficked stolen property listed every day on eBay must be vast. What better place to unload heaps of merchandise inauspiciously fallen from the back of a lorry? While I wouldn't expect their staff to check up on every piece of ('brand new, in box!') merchandise listed, that they'd decline to look into the matter when presented evidence of a particular seller's recent shoplifting history - at just the moment when he was listing brand-new, unopened, electronic merchandise - just seems a bit odd. Might it ever so possibly just be the case eBay's staff take an attitude of purposeful unobservance of the racks of stolen merchandise that are trafficked through their website every day? A Judas for $2.40 a pop.
(8) opinions -- Add your opinion

Yup... I had a laptop stolen several years ago and it was sold on eBay. I learned this because a concientious eBay buyer like yourself, contacted me after they had bought and recieved the computer and discovered that the theif hadn't fully deleted my personal data from the machine. The buyer thought it curious that my email loaded up when the launched the mail client and contacted me to make sure that I had intended to sell it.

In the end, I got the computer back and, thanks to some help from the NYPD, we persuaded the seller (a second-hand computer store who'd bought it off someone walking in off the street) to refund most of the money that the buyer had paid. But eBay certainly wasn't much help.

I think it's a safe assumption that there are tons of stolen goods being fenced on eBay every day.

Do you have any idea how sleazy (not to mention desperate) you come across in some of your posts? It makes me uncomfortable just reading them sometimes. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to tone it down.
I don't see it, anon. But thanks, anyway.
sleazy? desperate? Because he complimented his readers? Personally, im flattered
Patrick's adoyyyable.
Best compliment I got all day mate, keep 'em coming!

Anon must be spectacularly ugly, don't let her get you down.
Well, in the days after 9/11, while everyone was scrambling to sort out that America had something called "homeland" (I'm unaware of that word ever being used pervasively or eponymous in American lore or Foreign Policy, but stand to be corrected ...), I was able to find almost all the accessories to a claymore mine for auction on eBay, save the actual explosive part.

Today, of course, that's all cleaned up.
I Agree with anon, sleaze and desperation together are not good however I dont think Mr B is guilty of either. Generally speaking very subtle innuendo is fine if done with a certain degree of finesse................it doesnt normally cause any offence or harm to anyone.
Post a Comment