We’ve all seen it. Unbelievably LOW, low prices on brand new highly detailed MTH, Walthers, and Athearn HO scale locos with DCC & Sound on eBay. Forget it. Don’t be fooled. Take it from a fellow fool. We TRIED to buy several of these locomotives from Non-U.S. sellers. We got fake China EMS tracking numbers, notices from eBay that the seller had been removed but not to worry, the sale should still go through just fine. What we didn’t get? You guessed it, NO locomotives. Just a refund on all but one, so far. Thanks to some creative arm twisting between our PayPal & eBay accounts.
But, you say, a $300 HO Scale locomotive with ProtoSound 3.0, or FULL rich Tsunami sound for less than $50 bucks delivered free from central China or South Korea in only 2 months sounds great, right? Not if you don’t get it. Not if someone else gets to use your money for free for 2 months. That’s assuming you get ALL your money back. Remember when you were a kid and you mailed in $3 cash to some P.O. Box listed on the back of a comic book hoping to get a full working miniature replica of the Lost in Space robot? Remember how that turned out? Yeah, you didn’t get that either. Once a scam, always a scam.
So, what is the scam: LOW, low, lowest ever offered prices on MTH, Walthers, and Athearn HO scale locomotives, brand new, with DCC and digital sound on eBay? It’s slick, for one, just like Dan the barely used car man. Hell, I’ve been doing this for +30 years, and I decided to roll the dice. But, just like in the casino, I lost. And, I’m not the only one. Think about it. You sell a product you don’t have, for a fraction of the price, say $50 for a $300 locomotive, to 5 people. That’s $250 in your pocket for very little effort. Then you repeat it with 10 fake friends and you’ve hit the big time, $2500. Pocket the cash and take off never to be seen again, or use the money for some other illegal activity, and refund it all back after folks complain two or three weeks or even months down the road. Sounds like a pretty good money laundering scheme.
Now, eBay will tell you it’s just a coincidence and that most sellers on eBay are honest. Ok. When you’re done laughing, I’ll continue. Ready. No, not yet? A little more? Ok. That kind of coincidence, requires an awful lot of prior planning. At one point, we counted over 10 sellers on eBay selling these unbelievable HO locomotive deals. That’s no coincidence. That’s a marketing plan! Now, I would never suggest that eBay was bumping up their profit margin to mitigate an imbalance in cash flow by encouraging this behavior. No, I’d never say that while I’m still waiting for my last refund, now 30 days overdue. If I sound bitter, it’s only because I am.
I’m sure this marketing plan isn’t limited to model trains. It’s more likely infected eBay worldwide. If you see an irresistible price on anything from an obviously foreign seller, ask yourself. Do you have the money to spare gambling on some flim-flam artist? Do you want to spend what little free time you have on hold with eBay customer service? Do you want to become a bitter blog author waiting for their last 30 day overdue refund with one finger hovering over the cancel account button on eBay? Let the buyer beware. It’s a den of thieves on eBay. Nothing new under the sun. Be careful out there.
- From all of us at FineTrains.