The Art of Auto Card Deception: An eBay Hate Story

Have you been on eBay lately?It’s amazing! People post cards for sale all the time! I’ve had lots of really good experiences on eBay, including getting lots of autograped cards of my favorite sportsmen. You should try it!

What’s that, you say? eBay is full of swindlers and scammers? Pshaw! Why, just last night I one a pair of auctions featuring autographed cards of star ballplayer Carlos Beltran (then of the Royals) for the low low price of $.99 apiece! And the buyer only added a single dollar to the $2.95 shipping cost for the second copy! Well tickle me silly! Here, take a look for yourself. They’re beauts!



Look at them there autographs (on account of there are two just like it in my order). I know they’re autographs because here’s what the auction looked like:

Clear as day!


See that? AUTO right in the description. Sure, I’ve never seen these autographed ballcards before, but I’m new to the game and anything seems amazing to me! Now that I’ve won them, let’s take a nice close look at the description.

Everything appears to be in order he...

Wha… What?

O, sweet heavenly Jebus...

FACSIMILE?! NOOOOOOO! Carlos, say it ain’t so! Now I’m really in a pickle!

Okay, I’m done with the half-assed old timey guy voice. Boy do I hate sellers like this. People who rely on dumb bidders falling into their web of $1 deception. I’m one of those dumb bidders now, yes- I get that. But I’m also a seller. And I couldn’t be overpaid enough shipping to justify scamming people out of their money this way.

More than that, I’m part of the card collecting community. We’re supposed to help each other out. Get each other the cards we need and have fun with our hobby. People like this make that difficult and expensive. People like this make me regret getting back into the hobby.

I immediately sent dude an email (sorry, E-Mail) that looked like this:

I would like to cancel this order. I was under the impression, given the auction’s title, that these were in fact autographed cards. Of course, it’s stated in the description that they’re not but, in a hurry, I bid anyway. My mistake, of course, but I’d like you to give me the chance to rectify it. Drop and a line and let’s talk about how we can work this out. Thanks!

How do you guys feel about this situation? Technically, by eBay rules, I owe this guy my bid plus his stated shipping cost. But I feel like his listings (and there are many like this- I’ll post his eBay username if he turns out to be a tool) are totally deceptive and have no place in our community. Same goes for guys at show overpricing wax and singles- not just to cover the additional costs associated with being a show dealer, but to get people to overpay for no good reason. It’s a stretch, but the same goes for the manufacturers and the lessons of the junk wax era are part of that- greed destroys cool things. More on that in a later and not-influenced-by-just-getting-overcharged-by-Google-Adwords-for-$3000 post.

The great Ian MacKaye once said, in a really amazing interview I read here, that every time something cool gets started, it causes a certain type of person to say, “How can I set up a toll booth there?” I recognize the place of dealers and resellers (hell, we kind of are one now), but I guess paying of unscrupulous people is just part of the toll we pay to be collectors.

UPDATE: Seller sent the cancellation notice while I was out at a movie. All’s well that ends well, but the root of the problem still exists!

9 comments to The Art of Auto Card Deception: An eBay Hate Story

  • Sorry hit “post.” Been there man. Hope you get your money back. It’s a cheap way to list a card.

  • Dag nab it. I hit post accidentally too. I’ve never been fooled by this guy mainly because I’m familiar with the set. I hate those deceptive listings because they always show up in searches for autographs. I you ask me they violate listing policies because the titles are deceptive or contain keywords that don’t belong there. Like all those damn “no Harper” titles to get those searchers. In fact if you are up to the fight and the seller continues to be a jerk I’d file a complaint through eBay. If they’d give me the power, I’d love to be an official listing flagger with the power to immediately kill auctions that are deceptive, misleading, or otherwise violate the rules.

  • While you should have read the description better, I understand being in a hurry or kinda just bidding based on the title. If you were out a larger sum of money I’d fight it, but at least you didn’t get taken for much.
    All that said, the way the seller listed the title was extremely deceptive and pretty much opposite of the spirit of selling on eBay. If I titled an auction “2000 Ford Mustang” and was only selling a pic of it, and I only stated that in the description, I’m sure eBay (and bidders) would be all over me.
    So my advice would be to forget pursuing getting your money back, but bring up the issue with eBay’s support to notify them of this guy’s practice of using deceptive titles. I wouldn’t expect much to come of it, but it can’t hurt. Ryan’s right about needing people that comb through auctions, though–I bet they could even get people to volunteer or do it cheaply, and ideally they could even get experts in those categories. Anyway, lame seller–if/when you leave him feedback, I’d go neutral (or positive) and mention that the title was deceptive but you got what was listed so you don’t sound like a sore loser but you bring to light what he did.

    • See, this is what I call a community! Thanks for your input guys. As it turns out, the seller offered up the cancellation with no fight or even response to my email. On the one hand, good for him- he obviously knows that what he’s doing is wrong. On the other hand, I bet he won’t stop doing it.

      Ryan- I am 100% with you on the “no Harper” BS. People do it all the time with records too (if you’ve seen our eBay page, you know I’m a record nerd as well) by listing CDs as “not LP” and bogus keywords like that. Pretty infuriating.

      Dennis- I like your idea of community moderators for eBay. Unfortunately, I think it would be hard for eBay to trust an active eBay seller or buyer because interests would definitely clash there. I’d do it in a heartbeat for records though. If I see another Japanese or Greek seller listing shipping as $4 then charging $19 to ship a record, I might actually go postal.

  • The same thing happened to me with a Andruw Jones from the very same set. I didn’t bother fighting it however since I was out a quarter (my bid) plus $.99 shipping. I however hate it when people put in false “tags” into the item’s description. I learned my lesson that day…no matter how much of a hurry you are in make sure to read the full description and check the seller’s feedback if in doubt.

    I’m glad it all worked out in the end for you.

  • Gary

    Check out this little beauty:

    Seller states in the title that it’s a canary /10, but it’s not. I looked at others, and the canary ones clearly state that on the redemption card.

    I reported it to ebay and contacted the seller. Don’t know if it will help the eventual buyer or not.

    • The seller’s feedback in this instance is deceptive- 98.7% positive… but with over 15k feedback, that makes for a lot of negatives and neutrals. I’m guessing he gets a lot of people canceling orders though.

      As for the canary one, that may be a mixture of wishful thinking and deception. Both of which are rampant in the hobby today.

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