Funding bike purchases through eBay trades. When it goes bad.

The other week I posted an article on how I'd made a little money buying and selling bikes. Buy a doer-upper, do it up, move it on for a few pennies extra. Well that's all well and good until things go pear shaped. Here I don't mean the bike you bought that turns into scrap as soon as you work on it. That's bad judgement and you learn from that.

Nope here I mean buyers.

Sold a bike. Nice machine, but not rare or particularly desirable. Bought cheap, expected to double my money to £80 or so. It went for twice that, which initially seemed nice.

Ah, the buyer is 300 miles away and has bought something local collection only. Odd. Contacted him to ask. Turns out he wants me to get a bike box, dismantle the bike, pack it and arrange with his courier for collection.

Now initially that's a faff but doable. I can get a box, take the bike apart, sure. But if I'd wanted to do that I'd have put £30 delivery on the advert and been done with it.

It may all be innocent, but I smell a scam. Overbid massively, ask for delivery by third party to an address miles away? Why the smell? Because the guy never actually paid for the bike in the first place. Kept putting it off, asking if I'd done X, Y or Z. Essentially forcing the issue; get the courier arranged, pay real late. By then I'm committed and can't back out easily.

You can see the result coming. Either the bike wouldn't be delivered as the courier didn't really exist in the first place; it was the buyer in a van. Or the bike was at fault somehow, so in goes a PayPal claim and he gets both the bike and the money. In any instance the scenario this way the bike goes out and the money doesn't come in. Small enough trade for the authorities not to be interested in, big enough for a scammer to do.

I've been down this road before, have been hit for £300 on a fire surround that went out via courier. Lost both the money, the surround plus had to pay eBay fees on the trade. You end up losing more than the item.

If something smells hooky from the off, and you're being put into somewhere you're not happy being, then trust yourself and walk away from it. I'd rather get one negative comment, lose the eBay fee and 'upset' the scammer than lose the whole lot.

All of it is a faff, but I guess part of being a seller. Most buyers are decent, but once every so often you get the smart, the person that wants the goods and the money. And don't assume this is for high end items either. 99p, want a full refund!

It's not buyer beware on eBay, quite often it's seller.