Ebay Chinese Pearl Buying Adventure

amti

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A few months ago, I decided to play a game of risk by buying a few pearls off ebay from some Chinese sellers.

Transaction #1: I found a seller selling pearls for $.99 starting price and free shipping. I figured I didn't have much to lose so I bid and won four auctions. Each listing had a picture of a pearl and the pearl measurements (width and length). When I got my invoice, there was a $3.99 handling charge which was not disclosed by the seller. I emailed him back and didn't hear anything for a couple of days, so I called ebay and spoke to a csr. She advised me to call them (Ha!) and I reminded her they were in China and there might be a little bit of a language barrier. So she sent them an email. I got an immediate response back from the seller saying that he would remove it although paying for it would expedite my shipping. I didn't pay it. A few weeks later, I got my package of four pearls. Each one was a different size and not the same pearl. I took photos with my husband's work calipers showing the sizes and emailed the seller. He admitted they were different pearls and because they list 300 auctions a day, they cannot measure each pearl, so they just list in bulk and sell similar pearls under one listing that is repeated countless times. Upon digging further, the same pictures are used in many auctions.

What surprised me was his response. He knew what he was doing. And then he told me I could keep the pearls and he would refund my $4. And then he blocked me. lol

Transaction #2: I bid on what was a beautiful flawless Tahitian necklace. The pictures were stunning and perfectly round Tahitian pearls with great luster. I bid and won this supposedly amazing necklace for $14.53 and free shipping. Whoohooo!!!! RIGHT? Well, all sorts of thoughts were entering my head, and I pretty much assumed it was going to be a shell pearl necklace (no mention of shell anywhere in the listing). What I received was the ugliest, dyed, potato shaped, freshwater pearl necklace with huge knots. There were major craters in the pearls and circles galore where the dye had accumulated and turned black. There was no mistaking these were not the pearls in the photos.

I took pictures and send them to the seller and told him I took the pearls to a jeweler and was told they were cheap, dyed, potato shaped, Chinese freshwater pearls. The seller agreed and returned my money and said I could keep the necklace (whoohooo.... ). Of course, I got blocked too.

Neither seller wanted me to leave feedback and made it a point not to post anything. My purchases were deleted (from them) and no longer showed up on my purchase history so I could not leave feedback.

What is interesting is that:
  1. The sellers knew that they were selling items inferior to their listing
  2. They know how to play ebay and keep negative comments down
  3. They returned my money immediately and told me to keep the items
  4. They were very careful about me leaving negative feedback and were very pleasant to deal with
  5. When asked about being blocked, I was told they used a program that automatically blocks anyone who is refunded and to wait two months because the block is automatically removed. I didn't bother to test it.

From what I know about ebay and learned from this experiment is:
  • The sellers refunded my money immediately and made it look like the transaction didn't occur because the sell was no longer listed in my purchase history
  • If a seller sells something fake, ebay does not require the buyer to return it
  • If a buyer wants the fake item returned, they are responsible for the return shipping
  • Opening up a claim with ebay works really well
  • Power sellers on ebay get a listing discount if their feedback is over a certain percentage (which explains why these sellers didn't want negative or neutral feedback)

Things to keep in mind if you're going to buy on ebay:
  • Some sellers ruin it for all the other decent sellers- buy with caution on ebay and read all neg and neutral feedback
  • Don't back down if you know you're right (I didn't have any trouble with these sellers) and just present the facts
  • Know your items so you can stand up to what is not real or misrepresented
  • Buy from reputable sellers
  • Buy from the sellers I bought from, if you want free cheapy pearls.

I'll look for photos I took and post them as I find them below.
 
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Pictures of my ebay pearls from Chinese sellers.

Seller #1- I documented and sent photos of each pearl and the actual measurements compared to the measurements on the listing. All pearls were smaller than the listing. Seller did not state what type of pearls these were in the listing but they are clearly dyed freshwaters.
 

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Pearls from transaction #2 (another seller from China) were supposed to be Tahitian (per listing) and were actually very poor quality, dyed, potato shaped freshwaters.
 

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So keep the pearls, immediate refund = no possibility for a negative feedback

What sucks is that these fraudsters have found a way to cheat people on eBay and do it within eBay's own rules. The seller you mentioned above has a 98.5% feedback rating with more than 110,000 feedback.

While very sad, it is not at all surprising.
 
Yes, the entire experience was eye opening. They definitely know what they are doing. They must be selling a lot in order to give away the pearls on the few transactions where someone actually knows about pearls. Or there may be an alternate motive in getting tons of positive feedback to sell higher quality pearls or sell their account? I'm not really sure what their motive is.

I don't get how many people think the pearls I received are the same as those in the picture, and leave positive feedback. I don't get it... it looks pretty clear to me that they are very different pearls.
 
Very interesting. It's too bad that eBay allows sellers to block consumers from leaving feedback. They should change that.

Yes, the entire experience was eye opening. They definitely know what they are doing. They must be selling a lot in order to give away the pearls on the few transactions where someone actually knows about pearls. Or there may be an alternate motive in getting tons of positive feedback to sell higher quality pearls or sell their account? I'm not really sure what their motive is.

I don't get how many people think the pearls I received are the same as those in the picture, and leave positive feedback. I don't get it... it looks pretty clear to me that they are very different pearls.

I agree -- I can understand not wanting to bother to complain for low price purchases, but I don't get the positive reviews. Maybe sometimes they do send decent quality items, enough to get some positive comments -- in that case, they must be selling enormous amounts of pearls to compensate for that.
 
You know it never ceases to amaze me that we always seek a bargain, and usually at the cost of our common sense. Your experiment was an eye opener and I am so glad it has been highlighted. Many people will learn...if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
 
I hope my photos and experiences can warn people about buying from some of these sellers, and know about their rights as a buyer. I've always heard that if something is too good to be true, it is a scam. Well, here are actual pictures of what I got and what was presented in the auction. If they are selling dyed freshwaters as Tahitians, I'm sure their akoyas and South Sea pearls are freshwater too. Not all ebayers are like this and most are actually honest (although they may be misinformed on the type of pearls or may post really poor pictures- so again, educate yourself and/or only buy from sellers you trust).

The four auction pearls were to replace glass pearls in a cheap necklace and also to see them firsthand to educate myself since I didn't have many loose pearls. Once I verified all the pearls were smaller and not the same, I emailed the seller. Had the pearls been the actual ones I bid on, I would have been fine.

I bought the Tahitian strand because curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to know what they were selling, why they were selling so many and if they were fakes, why was their feedback decent? I didn't know what to expect and I was willing to lose $15 to solve my mystery.
 
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This is a thoughtful and valuable investigative experiment, Amti ... thank you! I'd heard in other places that sellers get around negative feedback issues, but never knew how ... very helpful.
 
Thank you for sharing this 'too good to be true' experiment.
I hope potential buyers learn from this and save themselves from a very disappointing experience.
 
I hope so too...but as my grandmother used to say to us, "There are two ways to do things, the easy way and the hard way. You kids always pick the hard way." Gram's easy way was to listen to her advice, and the hard way was to ignore it.
 
Hence, the reason Pearl-Guide is such a powerful weapon against these disreputable sellers everywhere. Educate people about pearls and you have a tool to "melt" them!
 
I hope so too...but as my grandmother used to say to us, "There are two ways to do things, the easy way and the hard way. You kids always pick the hard way." Gram's easy way was to listen to her advice, and the hard way was to ignore it.

JP, I'm laughing here because that is so me... and sadly, my kids too. I knew it was too good to be true but it was also a challenge to me. I knew I had nothing to lose if they sent me anything but what was advertised, and luckily, I know enough about pearls to know the potatoes I received were not Tahitians.

One other thing I remembered is that these sellers have several accounts. Why do I know this? I tried to bid on another $.99 pearl from a different seller and was blocked. I have no idea how many accounts one seller has but it is more than one. I've often heard of people having more than one ebay account (one to sell and one to buy) but the accounts in this case are all to sell.
 
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