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Thursday, May 18, 2006

An Auction gone terribly wrong Part 1

The following tells a true story and as such I will make no attempts to protect the identities of the involved parties. In fact, I will even expose the identities just to show you that this actually happens and is not another urban legend.

The aution itself :

It all started as a normal auction for an item on Yahoo Auction Singapore. In this case, the Lancome Miracle Perfume 100ml. Before bidding, a few simple questions like is this 100ml? New? Etc since no picture was displayed. The seller promptly replied to say its new and selling cos she does not like the smell. (New? Emm, ok maybe she tested it in the shop. And still bought it? Emm.. Anyway…) She even gave me 10% off.

So, I bidded and asked to close. Soon I get a nice reply to ask me to transfer the money to a POSB Bank Acct and she will send out the item. In fact, I have to do that or I will get a BAD rating within 3 days. How efficient. Anyway, the SMS is as follows :

Ive sent u a email yesterday too, kindly make payments within 3 working days to posb savings 209-04734-9 of $47 inclusive of $2 postage & handling fee. bad ratings will b given if buyer fails to make payment. thanks. save this msg as my email i sent today i didnt include my bank account no. thank u.

And of cos I prompt was a bit worried about closing this one by post because after all its perfume. Breakable. I send back a SMS and asked if we can meet up instead cos I worry about the bottle as well as the trustworthiness of the seller since she has only a rating of 1 (and the buyer of that rating has a rating of -2…). Anyway, she assured me that it will be wrapped and no problem. In fact, she is quite nice to offer registered post for free. After all she said $45 is a small sum. No problemo.

so sorry but i don do meet ups on small item, but if u're worried that it might break, i assure u that it comes with a box and i bubble wrap the whole thing, i can give u free registered mail u just need to pay 45 dollars.

So, it was transferred within 5 minutes. I forgotten all about it for the next few days. Until about 5 days later. Nothing came. I SMS her again to check if she send out the item. After a few SMS, no reply. Emm… Shit… I have a bad feeling about this. I called and guess what she doesn’t even pick up. After like 30 minutes of ringing. Not even a polite SMS to say I am busy or what. Then a guy (her hubby Eddie probably) picked up and ask me to call back after 11:30pm. Ok, I guess I can do that. Then it was 3 calls at 11:45, 3 more at 12:00 and no more pick up liao. At this point, I really wanted to say why would someone get a handphone and no pick up calls? Do you know there are still things call pager?

I tell myself. I must had been screwed. Police is the eventual thing that came to mind. I
realized I will have to keep all the records and audit trails proper in order for them to be creditable in court, if we have to come to that. My line of work has well prepared me for all the knowledge and skills to carefully not destroy or discredit the evidences. Anyway, I thought, its only been 1 days. Maybe I will try again and not have to resolve to Police. After all they are pretty busy people I suppose. And the next day, a few more calls, a few more SMS. Nothing. Until I send this one :

Had enough calling you liao. If you dont response by today then i have no choice but to have to file a police report against you for fraud.

Now, the police word probably caught her attention finally. A reply saying go report loh she hasn’t send the item out. Well, talk about efficient. Demanding people to pay in 3 days and after 6 days, she still has not send the item out after payment. And it really “helps” to stop responding to SMS and even phone calls. The first thing people will think is “Long Con” right? I realized that I can’t go to the police now that she has responded and that means I can say she ran away with the money. Ok, I will wait. Seriously, I wanted to stress that I had been a seller and buyer with a rating of over 150. Usually for a seller to ask payment within 3 days, I will get my item within 3 days as well. And I always send my item out within 2 days of payment. Its only fair trade. And I remain in contact with my buyer within the period and even checked with them to see if the item reached cos I am the only person who can chase after the Post Office in case of lost of damage items.

So, it was another wait and a Friday holiday followed by a weekend. I presume that this is a newbie seller trying to act professional, but I don’t really care if I get my goods eventually. The real problem then came. She said she did not receive the money. After being a bit of hostile cos I came find her, I decided I would be nice now to smoothen things out. I send her SMS again to check what went wrong. First, she gave me another account to transfer to. But I did that a week ago and it was a different number. I SMS again to confirm. After a few SMS, she said that was her friend’s account. So I asked her to check with her friend. Guess what, nothing also. Then I have no choice. I have to call up DBS. They were quite helpful anyway and traced the transaction. It well ok. So, what screwed up? I told her it was ok as the bank said and forwarded her SMS back when she asked for the account transfer.

The final nightmare came in. After a few more SMS, she finally said she key in the wrong number and that was NOT her friend’s account. Now, unless I am wrong about DBS, most bank has account numbers with a check digit. You can’t just key in an account number and its valid. It has to be checked against the check digit which is usually the last digit to be valid. Even 1 wrong digit will immediately show that the account is incorrect. What is the chances of giving me a wrong account number and its valid?

I had been very frustrated now. But I have to keep my cool. I asked her if she sent the item and she did not reply. I SMS again to tell her its been very long and it just isn’t fair for me to wait so long even after I has made payment according to her instruction. Can she send the item out first while I try to see if I can resolve the issue with the bank. Of course, I called the bank next and realized I have no choice but to go to the bank to make a statement declaring that I MADE a mistake and deposit to the wrong account. Well, its not really my fault, but I am willing to settle for it as long as the issue can be resolved. So I have to mark down one days the coming week to settle this. Still, I get no reply from her again. Lots of questions when through my mind. Did she actually send out the item? It was holiday on Friday afterall. Is she going to just keep quiet and pretend nothing happened cos she did not received her “small sum”. Or was this a setup right from the start?

To be continued...

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