Dead Programmer's Cafe

eBay and The Michigan Deposit Scam

eBay is such a horrible hassle these days. I tried selling a few things recently, and between the horrible UI, all the hassles with payments, answering questions and shipping it turned out to be a huge waste of time.

I am sitting on a small fortune of items I would like to get rid of, but I don’t want to deal with strangers on Craigslist or going through the eBay rigomarole. An ideal solution would have been an eBay drop-off shop, but it seems that these went the way of the Dodo.

eBay drop-off store is an idea that many have tried, but it turned out mostly like Seinfeld’s Michigan deposit scam.

In one episode Newman keeps trying to find a way to make a scheme that would bring New York cans and bottles to Michigan, which has a 10 cent deposit instead of New York’s 5 cent one. Kramer keeps telling him that it would not work due to the transportation overhead, but finally Newman figures out a way to get a postal truck for free.

It seems that the time overhead is so high on running an eBay store is so high, that most of the bigger ones that tried it went out of business.

In reality the Michigan deposit scam is against the law, but it actully costs the state 14 million a year in lost revenues. It’s doable.

eBay is showing Twitter-like incompetence in serving its customers. While Google gives its customers huge amounts of storage, email, and software for free, eBay can’t seem to provide free image galleries and other useful services, selling out its customers to an unsavory bunch of third party providers. Image storage is not a very difficult technical problem, and neither is url shortening, but eBay and Twitter are still in the dark about it.

Instead of making selling on eBay easy, developing drop off stores, and making its service better eBay seems to be focused on buying and selling unrelated busenesses for billions of dollars (and losing money on it).