eBay: Seller Beware

You’ve heard us talk about the potential pitfalls of eBay many times.  eBay is an AMAZING business.  We’re big fans.  However, there are way too many issues when it comes to buying and selling high-priced luxury items.

Of course everyone knows about the horror stories when buying an expensive watch – the watch shows up broken, the watch isn’t authentic, the condition of the watch was overstated in the listing, etc.

There are horror stories on the seller side as well.  Last week we blogged about a legitimate seller dealing with a buyer who claimed that the product she bought was fake.  At that point, it just becomes the seller’s word against the buyer’s word.  eBay really isn’t set up to be an effective “judge.”

And now he’s another potential scam to watch out for.  We are selling a Tag Heuer watch on eBay.  Over the past 36 hours, we have gotten then exact same question about the watch – and we’re not talking about a generic question like, “How old is the watch?”  It’s a very specific question:

“Hello seller i would like to know if this item is still in the same condition as posted? U can ship this item for overseas? How much shipping cost via US Postal Service Express Mail (EMS) for internationally?? I await to hear from you.
Thanks and I hope to do business with you soon.”

Sure, doesn’t seem too harmful as a standalone question.  But when you get the same exact question about the same watch, it makes you wonder.  So what do I think is going on?

My guess is that the a completely innocent individual’s eBay account has been stolen.  OR, scam artists have purchased eBay accounts from legitimate individuals who have a strong track record on eBay.  Then they try to get sellers to ship expensive products overseas using USPS Express Mail.  Why so specific about the shipping?  Because they know that the USPS doesn’t necessarily get signatures when they deliver in foreign countries – the USPS does not handle the package from end to end.  They essentially drop it off with the local postal service when they get to the border.  It’s anyone’s guess if the local carrier will get a signature.  And if there’s no signature, then the buyer can claim that he/she never got the item.  They’ll probably keep the watch AND get a refund from eBay since there is no proof of delivery.

I asked the buyer if they would be open to having the product shipped via Federal Express.  I will share the response, if any.

Again, eBay is great for DVDs, random nicknacks, and other low-priced items.  But there are just too many risks when it comes to high-priced luxury products.

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Seller Beware eBay

The long labor day weekend last weekend meant I finally had the chance to soak up some much needed sunshine poolside and engage in some leisure reading. Whilst catching up on the last two weeks of posts from the blog-o-sphere, an article from Blushing Noir- one of my favorite beauty blogs I follow- titled,  ”My Recent Experience with eBay- A Cautionary Tale,” caught my attention. The post recounts this blogger’s experience with injustice as a seller on eBay, and was at once shocking, disappointing and also, I felt, an important experience to share- [to read the full story, click here].

So often we recount the horror stories of buyers being scammed on eBay, but the reality is, sellers are just as much at risk, if not more so, for being scammed. Once considered to be a reliable space online to buy and sell legitimate designer goods- eBay has expanded into a space where both buyers and sellers are wary of purchasing and posting their high-end wares for sale.

This may explain why we see so many of these smaller, niche, marketplaces for luxury wares now cropping up online. Sites like Klury.com, TheRealReal.com and, (you guessed it)- eRelyx.com offer consignment services for everything from a pair of Chanel Sunglasses, to a Rolex Watch. But more importantly, these start-ups seek to restore consumer faith in the online marketplace. By standing in the middle of each transaction, they are able to give not only buyers, but also sellers, the security and comfort of knowing each item for sale is authentic, and each sale is genuine.

get-real-eRelyx-online-marketplace-for-authentic-pre-owned-luxury-watches

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Know Your Retailer: Authenticwatchesonsale.com

Our research uncovered another watch retailer that should make shoppers a bit uneasy. In the past we’ve blogged about finewatchesonsale.com and genuinewatchesonsale.com. Click here to view that blog. Those sites have amazing (and unbelievable) prices on watches. Here’s the story – you try to purchase a watch with your credit card. They contact you and tell you that they are having trouble processing your credit card. They offer an alternative payment method – Western Union. They won’t accept PayPal – that’s too easy to track and there are buyer protection mechanisms in place. Long story short, if you wire the money, you’re out of luck. No money, no watch. We had a consumer email us just yesterday with the full email exchange between him and a “sales rep” from finewatchesonsale.com sales rep.

It looks like a new site has popped up – same look and feel as the others. This one is called authenticwatchesonsale.com. Here are the two About Us pages. Look similar?  They guys are working fast and furiously to take advantage of holiday shoppers trying to stretch a hard-earned dollar.  Please comment if you have any details.

finewatchesonsale.com, scams, finewatches, finewatchesonsale review, anyone but from finewatchesonsale.com

Finewatchesonsale.com

authenticwatchesonsale.com, scams, authenticwatchesonsale review, anyone but from authenticwatchesonsale.com

Authenticwatchesonsale.com

Looks like these guys just registered their website a couple of weeks ago.

authenticwatchesonsale.com,

Happy holidays.  And be sure to get to know your retailer before making a purchase.  And once again – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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Get to Know Your Watch Retailer

We’ve said it before – Buy the retailer first and the watch second. When you buy an expensive watch online, you want to make sure that you get what you pay for. You want to know that the watch is going to arrive as describe…or even arrive at all.

We’ve reported on a couple of suspicious sites in the past – read about watch scams here.

Well, another suspicious site has popped up.  While searching for a Bell & Ross BR03-92, we noticed one site with an amazing price.  What’s the old saying?  If it seems too good to be true…

finewatchesonsale, eRelyx, used watches

$500 less for a brand new Bell & Ross BR03-92?  That sounds pretty darn good.  So, I check out the site.

Finewatchesonsale, Bell & Ross, luxury watches

Where have we seen that before?  Oh, right.  Here: CSI WatchesAnd Here.  Remember these sites:

windsorjewelries scam

genuinewatchesonsale, scams

Look familiar?  Here’s what we know about previous sites that have looked like this – you try to order the watch online with your credit card, they tell you that they can’t process your credit card and ask you to send the money via Western Union. Hopefully people have positive experiences with finewatchesonsale.com, but buyer beware.

If anyone has experience, please share it here.

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It’s Raining Scams

Like keeping up with the Kardashians, educating our readers on online luxury watch scams is a full-time job.

Earlier in the week we reported a case of identity theft.  Windsor Jewelry (www.windsorjewelry.com) of Indianapolis had its identity stolen by, well, Windsor Jewelry (www.windsorjewelries.com) of cyberspace.   The “too-good-to-be-true” prices were a dead giveaway.  Read the full blog here.

Well, crazy prices, “borrowed” pictures, and questionable payment forms clued us into a scam going on over at S-Watches (www.s-watches.com).

When we looked at a Rolex Submariner Anniversary in more detail, we thought the price was too good to be true.

$2,780 for that Rolex Submariner?!?!  Steal.  Well, sort of…depending on which side you’re on.

We also noticed that the images looked familiar.  In fact, there is a seller on eBay who seems to be selling the same watch for $5,895.  Notice that the date and time are the exact same on both watches.  Sure, sometimes Rolex will release stock photos of watches.  BUT, these aren’t stock photos.

Finally, S-watches only accepts wire transfers, personal checks…and probably cash if you want to mail it to them.

I think we spotted another scam.  What do you think?

Shame on you S-watches!

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CSI: Watches

Say it with me.  “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

As our loyal readers know, we recently blogged about the dangers of buying expensive watches on Craigslist (Click here for the original blog and click here for the follow-up blog).  A brand new IWC Big Pilot for under $5,000?  Not so fast.  SCAM.

Fine.  But what about other websites selling expensive luxury watches at hefty discounts?  Are those sites legitimate?  Short answer – some are, some aren’t.  If you’re going to make an expensive purchase on the Internet, do your research.  Even legitimate-looking websites could be pretty packaging covering up an ugly, elaborate scam.  Want a real world example?  Of course you do.

Over the weekend the eRelyx team was researching online competitors.  As part of that process we uncovered a business called Windsor Jewelry with the URL www.windsorjewelries.com.  They had amazing prices on watches – check out a screen shot of some of the amazing deals.

The prices seemed too good to be true, but I was comforted by the fact that the business had a brick and mortar location in Indianapolis.  Windsor Jewelry had been serving the Indianapolis market since 1919 (notice the logo in the upper left corner of the screen shot below).  How can a website with a store front be a scam?

Still a bit skeptical, I thought I’d call Windsor Jewelry to ask them a few questions.  Unfortunately, customer service only accepted calls from 9-5 on Monday-Friday.  I figured the brick and mortar location MUST be open on a Saturday, so I googled “Windsor Jewelry” to find their number.  Here’s the site I found (notice the logo in the upper left corner):

Great!  Windsor Jewelry does appear to be a legitimate business.  One problem.  The URL for this site is www.windsorjewelry.com.  But the logo is the exact same as www.windsorjewelries.com.  Maybe they just have different URLs for their web and brick and mortar business – not hard to believe.

Wanting to dig a bit more, I called the store.  The phone was answered by a very nice, polite young lady.  When I asked her if her store was affiliated with windsorjewelries.com, she said, “No.  They stole our identity and we haven’t been able to stop them.  They try to get you to wire money to the UK.  I assure you that we’re a very nice jewelry store in Indianapolis.  If there’s anything you can do to help us stop them, we’d appreciate it.”  I could hear the frustration in her voice.

I told her that I’d blog about their situation and share it with our readers.  So, now you know.  Windsor Jewelry (www.windsorjewelry.com) is a very legitimate jewelry store in Indianapolis.  Windsor Jewelry (www.windsorjewelries.com) is a thief – and while I can’t claim that they steal customers’ money since I have not done (and will not do) business with them, I do know that they’ve stolen the identity of legitimate jewelry business.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in buying anything from an identity thief.

Say it again – “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

Please share this story with your watch-enthusiast friends.

And as a quick update to the story, if you go to www.windsorjewelries.com, the Windsor Jewelry logo is no longer at the top of the page!  I certainly can’t claim credit, but I’m happy for the legitimate business in Indianapolis!!

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Is She Marrying a Nigerian Prince?

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Every once in a while the eRelyx staff trolls through Craigslist to see what watches are for sale.  The process helps us understand things like supply, demand, and pricing.  The other day we came across a deal that seemed too good to be true.  Check out the listing:

An IWC Big Pilot for $4200?!?!  When I saw that, I looked at one of my marketing associates and said, “If this watch is real, I’ll drive to ‘Springfield’ to pick it up tonight.”

Of course I was skeptical, so I emailed the seller and asked the following questions:

1. Is the watch 100% authentic – all parts, band, etc.?

2. How did you acquire it?

3. Do you know where it was originally purchased?

4. Would you be willing to meet at an authorized dealer to conduct the transaction?

Here is her response:

It’s still for sale but before i start answering your questions, i`ll have to let you know that i left town a few days ago because i have to help my daughter organize her wedding, and i may stay here a while, but this is no problem because i`ll sell it through Co-Op services. I guess you used Co-Op before, if you didn`t let me know because i met people that never used it and i will explain how it works in detail. I want to sell it now because i need the money for my daughters wedding so if you are interested in buying it now let me know. Also let me know if you have other questions. Thank you

The old sob story!!  I love it.  Because the best way to raise money for your daughter’s wedding is to drop a brand new $10K+ watch off at Co-Op Services and hope they sell it.

I played along, responded to her email with a hearty, “Congratulations!” and reiterated my questions.  Here is her response:

The watch is 100% authentic, all the parts everything is 100% authentic. It is in new condition because it was never worn. I purchased it from eBay new.

I’m glad you are still interested. No problem, I’ll explain how CoOp works, their website is (www.cooperative-yardsales.com). They are a chain of ebay drop off stores and they offer their services for craigslist users too. I left the item in their possession when I left and intended to sell it when I got back but the wedding costs more than we expected and i need to sell it now to help my daughter get married. They will handle the shipping and the payment. If you want to purchase this, you must register on their website, they send you an invoice with the transaction details and payment instructions and you send the payment to one of their agents. They receive the payment and start the shipping process. You receive the item and you have 10 days to inspect it and see if it’s exactly as described. If you decide to keep it, you let them know and they will transfer the payment to me, if you decide to return it, they will give you a full refund back and return the item on my cost. So you can be sure the item is exactly as described because i wouldn’t sell something that i know it will be returned and loose extra money. The shipping cost is already included in the price listed on craigslist so you don’t have to worry about that. The process is very simple, it probably looks a little complicated from what i explained but it’s not and for a better understanding of how their service works you can check out their “Selling on eBay and Craigslist” page. I would advise you to read the Selling on eBay and Craigslist page before you register so you can be sure you understand how the process works. Let me know if you are still interested and if you have questions please ask, no problem. Also, if you don’t want to register on their website for any reason, you can send me your full name and shipping address and i will forward it to them, but it’s better if you register yourself.

Thank you

PS: I am sorry for the long email but i couldn’t explain the process in less words.

The Cooperative Yardsales site actually looks legitimate.  See a screenshot below:

I was STILL very skeptical, so I did little digging on Cooperative Yardsales.  50% of the reviews are positive and 50% of the reviews are negative, indicating that it’s a scam.  At this point, I’m not really sure what to believe.  It could certainly be a legitimate service.  BUT, I know that at $4200 IWC Big Pilot is too good to be true.  So I did the following: I copied and pasted an excerpt from the seller’s email and Googled it.  The excerpt was, “I left the item in their possession when I left and intended to sell it when I got back but the wedding costs more than we expected and i need to sell it now”

BOOM!  Multiple hits with the same text.  And people sharing war stories about the SCAM.

This is exactly why a service like eRelyx is needed.  Unfortunately there are a number of scammers out there trying to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals.  Here are a few things that should tip you off on scams (and you could probably add a dozen more to the list):

1. The price is too good to be true.

2. The seller makes an excuse or gives you a sob story.

3. You need to jump through hoops to complete the purchase.

4. The emails seemed canned / scripted / generic.

I think the moral of the story is that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.  And just to save you some time, this Rolex Milgauss is almost certainly a scam ;)

Finally, does anyone else feel bad for this woman’s daughter?  She may not get the wedding of her dreams.  Although hopefully she is able to live a wonderful, happy life with her Nigerian Prince husband.

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