YOIS News Archive (2006)

11/17/2006After seeing the insane prices they're fetching, I decided I can wait another 4 months to play Twilight Princess. My Nintendo Wii is listed on BidVille. First bid wins. (Please don't bitch to me about the price, bitch to everybody who's bidding even higher on eBay.)
11/14/2006It's amazing, in the last couple of weeks I have had THREE people ask about buying my eBay account. Wonder why nobody wanted it when it was still open? I'm trying to get eBay to stop the cancel process so I can sell it. Right now it's up to $20 but the other two buyers haven't made counter-offers yet.
10/27/2006This is going to sound like a strange request, but... If any of you get any of those "419" Nigerian scam e-mails, can you forward them to me? (Address is at the bottom of the page.) These are the e-mails from somebody in Africa, or sometimes other places, offering you a cut of a huge sum of money if you help them out by sending smaller amounts for various "fees" and such. Of course it's a total scam, but I found a great website that messes with these people, and I want to try something. I promise it'll be a great story and I'll post it in its entirety when I'm done.
10/26/2006It is done. As of this morning I am no longer a registered eBay user. It's a surprisingly quick process to cancel an account, faster than listing an auction I think. They tell me my user account may still appear in their system for up to 180 days, but I can no longer use any eBay features that require me to sign into the site. I am DONE with this putrid company and everything they stand for.

One of the screens I had to click through as part of the process stated that someone from eBay customer service might contact me to see if there is any way they can get me to stay. OHHHHHHH GAWD I hope they do.

10/23/2006About 5 days left... I have lowered the starting bid on my eBay account auction to $10.
10/19/2006We're down to 10 days remaining on my eBay account auction, and still no takers. If the $50 starting bid is too high I will consider lowering it at this point, so feel free to e-mail me with your own offers. I'm going to unload the account one way or another, but would prefer to get something, anything, for it. Beandip the Kitty will thank you. If you already have an eBay account they have a way to merge the two and consolidate your feedback.
10/10/2006I had faint hopes for a moment this morning, when I saw a message from eBay in my box. It turns out they wrote to tell me that the "violations that were committed by a third party have been overturned". Gee, thanks, only took you morons an entire WEEK to answer the e-mail I sent last Tuesday. God, is it any wonder I'm quitting??

On that subject, my account auction has had almost 100 hits since yesterday. That's a lot for BidVille. If anybody wants to bid on it just e-mail me and, assuming you're capable of forming sentences so I don't mistake you for a Nigerian scammer, I'll let you in. (Yes, the irony of blocking zero-feedback bidders on an auction for a way to bypass zero-feedback-bidder blockers is not lost on me. B-)

10/09/2006Well, I thought long and hard about my eBay griefs last week, and after much consideration, I came up with a course of action that supports my desire to dump eBay, Jim's idea of exploiting them to make money, and Peter's suggestion that I give it some time first (20 days ought to be enough). Let me know what you think, if you're so inclined.

If no one else wants it after this time, then I will quietly close the account. However it may turn out, I can rest assured that I will:

  • Never again have to deal with a deadbeat bidder.
  • Never again wish I had bid more on an item I didn't win.
  • Never again feel like I bid too much on an item I did win.
  • Never again have to pay to list items that don't sell.
  • Never again surf eBay when I'm bored, wasting time looking for stuff I don't need.
  • Never again get all worked up over someone tricking a seller into selling privately (because I won't see it happen).
  • Never again have to look for a seller who doesn't charge 7 dollars to ship a DVD.
  • Never again pay for insurance and have my package mailed without it.
  • Never again have to take a chance on getting a crushed / worn / incomplete item that's described as "like new".
  • Never again have to slog through 6 pages of crap to sell an item.
  • Never again get listing or final value fees raised on me.
  • Never again have my listings removed without warning because of some stupid rule.
  • Never again have to enter barely discernable codes in order to send an e-mail to someone.
  • Never again be unable to see the bidding activity of a foreign bidder who is allowed to see mine.
  • Never again have to worry about my account getting hijacked and wasting 12 hours explaining the issue over and over again to eBay support staff.

To me, that's a LOT of peace of mind. In return, all I have to do is:

  • Give up bidding on rare collectible games through this one particular venue (which I seldom end up winning anyway).
  • Give up trying to get bargains on newer console releases through this one particular venue (which is less fun than finding them in the offline world).
  • Give up selling through this one particular venue (which admittedly has good traffic, but is it really worth all the crap I've listed above?)

Others will disagree, but to me this sounds like an excellent trade-off. Just imagine, the best deal I will ever get from eBay could be from leaving it.

Hmm, that might be profound if anyone besides me was sayin' it.

10/05/2006After getting some thoughts from the SWCollect crew yesterday, I've decided to give eBay one more chance. Howard found an old e-mail for Bill Cobb, the President of eBay, which people could supposedly write to at one time to get personalized, non-canned responses. (It's billcobb@ebay.com.) That was a year or so ago, no idea if it's still being checked. But I feel I deserve some sort of compensation for all the trouble caused by the screw-ups of eBay's customer service. It doesn't have to be much, just something other than words.

I'll let everybody know what Bill / his secretary / the canned response / the undeliverable mail notice says. Or if I don't get a reply, I'll let you know that too. I'll give them until Saturday morning. That's 48 hours, which is the longest eBay's normal mail system is supposed to take.

10/04/2006Just when I thought it was all over...

This morning I signed into my e-mail and there was ANOTHER VeRO violation notice! That's right, after all the time and effort spent talking to people yesterday, explaining my situation over and over, they STILL managed to fuck it up. In addition, the rest of my valid auctions Tricia said would be relisted yesterday weren't, and I found a discrepancy between my current balance on the summary statement and the details. Not a big one, just a couple of dollars, but I'll burn in Hell before I lose any money over this mess.

Back to chat, and another hour and a half pissed away on this. I had two sessions going at once, one with VeRO and one with billing. The VeRO guy got all of my valid auctions back and assured me the VeRO violation notices would stop. The balance, the billing guy explains, is out of whack because my account is currently in the invoicing cycle. (They billed me my remaining balance when they suspended me.) He says this is a known issue they are woring to resolve, and assures me the numbers will clear up when the process is complete. You better believe I'll be checking up on it, and taking it up with my credit card company if the numbers are still wrong.

I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. I've given myself a lot of time to ponder this, both during times when I was furious and after I'd calmed down, and I think if I get any more hassles over this, I'm leaving eBay permanently. I will close my account with its 1500+ feedback and will never buy or sell there again. People who know me know that when I say things like this, I am serious. This was not a decision I made lightly. Getting suspended really made me take a good hard look at the role I let eBay play in my life. Would I still be able to collect without them? Perhaps, although certainly not as easily. I'd miss out on rare items, auctions by former Implementors like Brian Moriarty, and bargains on more recent console stuff I like to play. On the other hand, there have been times in the past I've felt like a slave to eBay, getting caught up in bidding and spending far too much money. The grief of the past few days alone makes me question whether it's worth it.

Check back tomorrow morning for my final answer.

10/03/2006Hmm, it seems eBay is not nearly as competent as I thought. I got a suspension notice from them this morning, apparently whoever fixed my hijacked account did not report this to the VeRO people, and my account is now suspended due to the bogus DVD auctions I did not list.

NOW I am pissed. Stay tuned, this page is my bitching soapbox.

UPDATE:

Okay, here's what's happened so far. I tried using the same LiveChat link from yesterday, and got someone who identified him/her/itself as "Golden G." (Last name "Goose", perhaps? Or maybe he's a rap dude and the "G" is for Gangsta? Word.)

Anyway, short story long, Golden tells me his department did not suspend my account and thus is not able to reinstate it, blah blah blah. You can read the whole chat transcript if you want. One interesting thing was that this individual chose not to tell me about the satisfaction survey I could fill out if I held down "Ctrl" when I closed the LiveChat window. Possibly because he saw I was very unhappy with the answers he gave me. Fortunately I remembered how to do it from yesterday. B-)

Golden mentioned asking in the general LiveChat, so I go back to eBay's main page and try there. It's a lot faster to get someone there, but same problem, nobody has the power to do anything. Janet (that's who I got) did try to reassure me by "checking on" my case and telling me Trust & Safety was reviewing it "right now", but long story short, eBay does not handle suspension issues over the phone or through chat.

Next thing I did was try the link in eBay's suspension notice e-mail, but that took me to this horrible page telling me I had to snail or fax them some documentation proving who I am, along with a statement promising never to list bogus items again. Screw that, it reads like I'm signing a confession for something I did NOT do. I poke around Help a little more and come up with this link, which allows me to appeal my suspension through e-mail. I hate this because there's no way to know how long it might take before they decide to respond, but at the moment it's all I've got.

It's hard to describe the frustration I'm feeling over this. It's like being falsely arrested for a crime, and not allowed to speak to anyone who can do anything to help free you. They say anytime someone compares something to Hitler or Nazis, they automatically lose their argument, but screw it, that's exactly what eBay looks like to me right now.

Much more to follow, I'm sure.

UPDATE #2:

I've made some more progress. Because one of the items was bought before eBay canned them, I had a buyer's e-mail. I contacted him, explained the situation, and asked for a copy of the auction if he still had it, or any information he might have on the hijacker. Even though we didn't have a valid eBay transaction. (Heh, what are they gonna do, kick me off the site?? B-)

This guy was awesome. He was very understanding about the auction (and I felt really bad because he told me it was a present for his wife's birthday), and he forwarded me a copy of the PayPal transaction. Yeah, he'd already paid for it, I'm working on getting that straightened out now too. Hopefully eBay communicates better with PayPal than they do with themselves, and the money was already refunded to this guy.

But the good news is, I got a name for the hijacker, "Guotong Wu", and an e-mail address, bmaoed@hotmail.com. He'd left my account information alone, and just entered his own PayPal e-mail address when listing the fraudulent auctions. So it looks like the people on SWCollect who suggested this were right. (If I haven't said this already, thanks to everybody there for their support, and for putting up with me while I deal with this, I really appreciate it.)

Not surprisingly Google came up empty. But it was enough to send to eBay and PayPal as proof that this wasn't me. Just for the hell, I e-mailed the guy and asked how he accomplished the hijack. I'm sure he'll respond as soon as eBay completely eliminates the possibility of fraud from their site. B-)

Hey, I can joke again, things are looking up. Still waiting on eBay to unfreeze my account, and I suppose I'd better check the bank account I use on PayPal and make sure I can still use that... I don't trust PayPal to not overreact just like eBay did. Fortunately I think I only had like $1.66 stored there.

Oh, and if anybody out there happens to know this Guotong Wu guy, and can tell me where he lives, I will pay you for the information.

FINAL UPDATE: (Unless more shit happens tomorrow morning.)

And just like *that*, things are back to normal.

I got a call (an actual phone call) from Tricia at eBay, who reinstated my account. She even said she'd reinstate the valid auctions I had running when this whole mess started, except they'd show up in my "Sold" tab where I could then relist them. Yes, apparently they can do that. I refreshed the page as she was saying this, and saw 3 of them appear right away. The others, I'm still waiting on, but she assures me they'll get here sometime today. I wish I shared her confidence.

I offerred her the information my detective work had turned up on the hijacker, but she said the appropriate department already knew about the PayPal transaction and was working with PayPal to pursue it. The buyer has already gotten an e-mail explaining how to go about getting his money back.

Tricia was unable to determine for certain how my account was compromised. She says there were two password requests on Monday. One was mine, but she says there was one other one. That one could have been when they reset my account and sent me a new password, or possibly by someone who got into my e-mail, she wasn't sure. I asked her if it could have been an eBay flaw, but she didn't seem to have any idea how that could have been. They couldn't determine what time the password requests happened either. Anyone else waiting to exploit eBay security, there's one weakness for you.

One thing I did get her to do was get her to pass on a complaint to a supervisor, to reprimand the person who reinstated my account the first time. She said that person was supposed to (but didn't) forward the info to the VeRO people so they would know not to suspend me because of the hijacker's listings. I asked if there was anything eBay planned to do to make amends for the time and trouble they cost me. One guess what the answer there was. Just for fun, I searched Help and found the page where you can permanently close your account. There's a contact link there where you can write them with your concerns before you actually go through with it, and I sent them a quick message. We'll see if I can squeeze anything out of them.

Our company has caller ID so I wrote down the number she called from (866-317-3229) but all it gets you is an automated recording. Tricia says eBay support staff's phones can only make outgoing calls.

In the end this just reinforces what I've always believed about eBay. 99.9% of the time things go very well. But that 0.1% when they are bad, they are abysmally bad. And I'm the tip of the iceberg, I'm sure there are many far bigger horror stories out there than mine.

Hey I just realized, this was practically a Shoppe column!

10/02/2006I know it's been forever since I've posted anything here, but this one's important. This is a good message to save in case this ever happens to you. And it CAN.

My eBay account was hijacked early this morning. I tried to sign on repeatedly but it would not take my password. I also found a message from eBay that a bunch of listings had been automatically cancelled because the activity was suspicious. This was not a phish, it had my actual name and other info on it, and no links to bogus sites. The e-mail listed a bunch of DVD box sets I did not put up for sale. There was even one e-mail from a listing that ended, and when I looked up the item number it said the listing had been removed from their system. Apparently the hijacker listed a bunch of items at a bargain BuyItNow of $100. I was impressed, eBay was pretty damn sharp picking up on this.

I tried requesting my password by email, and the system accepted the answers to my secret questions, but I never got the password. I figured whoever took over my account changed the e-mail address, but none of my other information. Immediately I Googled for eBay's phone number and kept hitting "0" to coast through the automated system, until I got a message that their customer service is 8:30 - 5 PST. So I went online to eBay's safety center and reported my account as compromised, then started a LiveChat session. I caught this just after 8:00 AM CST, and there was a wait of about half an hour before I got a representative, which was close to LiveChat's estimate, but still long IMO.

Once I got a rep I had to verify my phone number so he could call me and see that I was the actual account holder, then we went back to chat. He had me confirm that I did not list the DVD box sets, copy-pasted some of eBay's standard answers about security and fraud, then reinstated my account with a temporary password.

He told me my email address had not been changed, so I'm guessing the message eBay sent out when I clicked "Forgot Password" just got lost in my spam filter. None of my contact information was touched, and I don't believe my password was ever changed, eBay simply blocked my account when they caught the suspicious activity. All of my existing valid auctions were left alone (both by eBay and by the hijacker). They did not bid on anybody else's auctions using my ID. My PayPal account was not touched, because it has a different password than the one I use for eBay. If you use the same password for eBay and PayPal, CHANGE IT NOW.

I have no idea how the person who hijacked my account got my password. Obviously I don't share it with anybody else. I am well aware of phishing e-mails and never respond to them, or click any of the links in them. I use anti-spyware and personal firewall software. Somehow, somebody got through. I'm in the process of calling all my credit card companies and verifying that there haven't been any fraudulent charges, and am on alert for possible identity theft. So far it looks like the eBay account was the only damage. Aside from the initial wait time I was very impressed with their response to my crisis.

Here's the LiveChat link if you ever need it. And just in case anyone's interested I've uploaded the complete transcript of our session, and my account page showing all the unauthorized activity.

08/27/2006Seems like forever since I got anything new in, doesn't it? This stuff is getting harder and harder to find in the wild, but I've accumulated enough for an update. Lots of incomplete/damaged Infocoms for cheap, if you need parts. Also one of my Cornerstone book trades fell through so I have that now too. (Hint: It's not going cheap.)
06/16/2006I'm back from vacation. TomMage, PixZ and I had a great time exploring the caves in central Kentucky. I tried to get us into Bedquilt (the inspiration for the original Colossal Cave adventure) but it turns out they only let scientific expeditions in there anymore.

I know some of you have been seeing the "too many connections" error when you go to view any YOIS pages, I've been encountering it too. IF-Legends' hosting provider is supposed to be looking into it. It's intermittent, so if you run into it just try coming back later. I'll post as soon as I find out what's going on.

04/01/2006Just posted a new column. Heehee, I can't wait to see what everybody says about this one!
01/30/2006I was getting that "Too many connections" error again today. Usually it seems to happen around 2:00 - 3:00 in the afternoon (Central Standard Time). Anybody else running into it?
01/17/2006Has anyone else been getting this error on YOIS? I've had this happen a few times today. It actually took me several attempts to get this posted.

Warning: mysql_connect(): Too many connections in /home/sites/site7/users/yois/web/libyois.php on line 57 Error connecting to YOIS database.

01/16/2006Posted some more auctions over at eBay, check 'em out. It's all junk this week, but the coming weeks will feature some recent adventure games for PC and PlayStation.


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