$425 for an empty box.
January 26, 2001 4:35 PM   Subscribe

$425 for an empty box. Imagine how much more it would be worth if it contained a Playstation 2. (Check his feedback, he really did send someone the empty box. "Caveat emptor"...)
posted by kindall (48 comments total)
This reminded me about these people who voted for a 'unitifier' back in November. Now that they finally have him, they find that he is neither a uniter nor compassionate after all (ha, one post and already political!)
posted by DragonBoy at 4:45 PM on January 26, 2001

It does say "Playstation 2 original box and reciept". I dont see any mention of a Playstation 2 with it. People just need to be a little more careful about what they bid on.

Looking for Orange Bowl tickets a month or so ago I ran across tickets for sale from last years Orange Bowl that even came with a parking permit. They made it clear that the tickets were for the 2000 orange bowl and not 2001, but the intent was to rip off someone that doesn't pay enough attention to what they are bidding on.
posted by howa2396 at 4:48 PM on January 26, 2001

Hmm. The seller was suspended from ebay, though...
posted by dagnyscott at 4:57 PM on January 26, 2001

He definately was in the wrong when he put the box up for sell. I would assume his intention was to mislead, but his description of the product was completely accurate.
posted by howa2396 at 4:59 PM on January 26, 2001

the seller is no longer a registered user.
posted by gluechunk at 5:02 PM on January 26, 2001

Yeah, you're intended to believe that he just forgot to put in a comma or maybe a semicolon. Skanky as hell and eBay's right to cancel his account. They'll probably be going after him for the money too (they probably refunded the buyer themselves under their Safe Harbor guarantee) so if they manage to track him down, he might even end up in jail.

But that was still some audacious stunt, and part of me is in awe that anyone would even dare.
posted by kindall at 5:12 PM on January 26, 2001

I seriously doubt "tracking him down" will be a problem, but I don't think they have any legal grounds to persue.
posted by howa2396 at 5:38 PM on January 26, 2001

I'm not aware of any law that could throw him in jail. It's sleazy, but from what I can tell, legal.
posted by jragon at 5:52 PM on January 26, 2001

I dunno, it doesn't even seem that sleazy to me. Maybe somebody's a collector and wants the box. His auction clearly states that he is selling a box and a receipt.
posted by Mars Saxman at 5:56 PM on January 26, 2001

Yeah, doesn't seem like anything wrong to me either, except for the complete and utter stupidity of the buyer. They sell all kinds of stuff on eBay, a box is a totally legitimate item (there's 25 cent items all the time on there). If the buyer really cared about their money, they should have been more careful.
posted by swank6 at 6:00 PM on January 26, 2001

if you'll look at the comments for the seller and the buyer, the buyer complained in the seller's comments. then, the buyer put a counter-complaint in the buyer's profile, saying that he sent him what he asked for, but the buyer still complained.
I think that if people are going to make a 400 dollar investment, they should check what they're buying thoroughly...
posted by starduck at 6:05 PM on January 26, 2001

I dunno. After the auction closed at $425, the seller might have said something to the buyer like "You do realize you're just buying a box and a receipt, right?" Nobody pays $425 for that, clearly the bidder thought they were going to get a Playstation 2, and the seller did nothing to disabuse them of this notion.

Again I note that with a comma or semicolon or some other punctuation added to the description, it would in fact have been an auction for a Playstation 2. People are used to reading half-literate sentences on the Internet and so this omission wouldn't have raised any eyebrows; in fact I doubt bidders even noticed it.
posted by kindall at 6:10 PM on January 26, 2001

That's a very good point, kindall. A reasonable, intelligent and careful person could easily interpret it as "Playstation 2 (in) original box and (with) receipt." In fact, I, too, would probably assume that this was shorthand for such, especially since so many other bidders had assumed the same. Comfort in numbers.
posted by luke at 6:18 PM on January 26, 2001

$425 bucks is a lot of change.

This person put $425 bucks on an assumption - $425 bucks on the assumption of a person's mistake. That's not intelligent. I bought something off ebay the other day for $9 dollars, and I found myself reading the page at least 4 times to make sure there were no opportunities for fraud or miscommunication in the advertisement. I'm sympathetic and wish for an ideal world of fairness just like the next guy, but for the love of god, if this person was willing to risk $425 bucks in hopes that a person made a mistake (and without clarifying said mistake), or simply misread it and put that amount of ca$h on the line without taking the proper initiative to re-read and confirm the product was what they thought, this person deserves not only the box, but a boot to the head.
posted by Hankins at 7:05 PM on January 26, 2001

To me, this is just as deceptive as someone selling off a "Cowboy hat worn by famous actor John Wayne! Certified authentic!" who then backpedals with statements like "hey - my friend is named John Wayne, he's part of a local theater group, define 'famous', no one said who did the certification, HAW HAW HAW." Do we fault the buyer there for not clarifying such an "unobvious" statement by the seller first? There's a difference between 'creative descriptive terms' and out-and-out swindling; I'd chalk this one up squarely in the latter column.
posted by youhas at 7:38 PM on January 26, 2001

This is a scam, plain and simple. True, the buyer made an error in judgement - just like any other victim of a con artist. In my opinion, this seller is a liar and a thief.
posted by Jart at 7:42 PM on January 26, 2001

As far as I know we only know what the seller advertised it as on ebay, and what they claim to have said to the buyer. We don't know what was actualy said. The seller might have made assurances that the product was exactly what the buyer thought.
posted by davidgentle at 7:46 PM on January 26, 2001

I have to agree with Hankins. If you're going to spend $425, you'd think the buyer might ask the seller to clarify, just to make sure. It doesn't take that much effort. Like I said before, maybe the buyer wasn't expecting to trick anyone, he just thought someone might drop a few bucks for his PS2 box. If you do some browsing on eBay, you'll see there are seemingly worthless items being sold all the time.

The buyer was ignorant, plain and simple, and he paid for it. You can't blame the seller for that.
posted by swank6 at 11:22 PM on January 26, 2001

Yes its me.The man himself.I have a few things to say in my defense.First of all who are any of you to say what is what in this matter.You are neither in a position to judge nor decide if what i did was right or wrong.How many times can we name that people misled someone on ebay about an item.In many cases people pay thousands for a car worth not even half of what they pay.I was removed from ebay because I gave them my old phone number and when a user tried to contact me he found out it was disconnected and then told ebay.Ebay suspended saying that incorrect info is a direct result in suspension.I am just another person trying to do what i can to make a few bucks.I had not intened the price to go so high.But in any case any thing the bidder believed he/she led himself/herself to believe.I in no way manipulated any ones thoughts on my auction,I just put it up and left ebay comunity to decide what to do rather bid or pass,someone bid and now its over.Thee end
posted by tru2dis2k at 1:18 AM on January 27, 2001

Also.Thanks to all the people who can see that plain in simple i had nothing to do with what the bidder thought.
posted by tru2dis2k at 1:20 AM on January 27, 2001

I'm drunk as a skunk and i'm calling bullshit. This metafilter account (tru2dis2k) is as fraudulant as the ebay ps2 box up for sell. nice try though.
posted by howa2396 at 1:37 AM on January 27, 2001

I am just another person trying to do what i can to make a few bucks.

Oh, well, in that case ... I'll have to use this alibi the next time my three-card monte game is broken up.

tru, when you sold this, why not simply ask the buyer, "You are aware this is just a box, right?" to prevent any misunderstanding? Wouldn't that have been a decent thing to do? Or does indecency not bother you, so long as you make a few bucks?

You may not have manipulated the buyer, but you clearly let an obvious misunderstanding stay misunderstood, and that's just as sleazy.
posted by luke at 8:31 AM on January 27, 2001

what's with this "few bucks" shit?! this sniveling punk-ass pocketed $425!

and of course, the sniveling punk-ass was hoping everyone who bid thought they were bidding on a ps2.

"hey, it ain't my fault i suck at punctuation, d00d!"
posted by judomadonna at 11:57 AM on January 27, 2001

Tru2, if you weren't intending to mislead, you'd have phrased the description better so there'd be no misunderstanding.
I genuinely hope you get ripped off in a similar manner.
How many of you claiming the buyer was simply stupid can honestly say you've never been misled in some way?
posted by Markb at 12:10 PM on January 27, 2001

As a discalaimer, I'd just like to say that I think it was a shady and misleading thing to not verify what this was, but, nevertheless:
I think it's hilarious that anything like this can happen. I mean c'mon, the starting bid was $10. A PS2 for ten bucks should make anyone suspicious, but since it doesn't seem to be unreasonable to start these things for just a dollar, an average ebay user wouldn't immediately suspect it.
What I'm saying is, even if the the seller was evil and the buyer incompetent, the system is still funny.
posted by Lirp at 2:07 PM on January 27, 2001

What I'm saying is, even if the the seller was evil and the buyer incompetent, the system is still funny.

But enough about the Florida elections ...
posted by luke at 2:46 PM on January 27, 2001

No sympathy for ya, tru, ya little scamming shit. If I were the seller I'd find your punk ass and stick the box up it.
posted by dhartung at 6:18 PM on January 27, 2001

I think it's hilarious that anything like this can happen.

yeah, it's a knee-slapper. gosh, i hope *you* never get rooked like that. honest.

I mean c'mon, the starting bid was $10. A PS2 for ten bucks should make anyone suspicious...

huh? what's that have to do with it? there's been hundreds of bona fide ps2 auctions on ebay with starting bids of $1 or less.
posted by judomadonna at 7:35 PM on January 27, 2001

Hey, tru, you wouldn't happen to be using an iOpener would you?
posted by xiffix at 7:47 PM on January 27, 2001

Mark, how should he have phrased it better?

This is a auction for the playstation 2 original box and receipt.Shipping is Free.I accept paypal

That seems pretty clear to me. It's not his responsibility to make super bright flash animations saying THIS IS ONLY THE BOX, NOT THE SYSTEM. He said it in one sentence, a PS2 box and receipt.

What seems to have happened is that he originally intended to sell a box and receipt and maybe score a few bucks, but someone stupid thought it was a system and bid $425. And he didn't intervene. Yes, it's kind of sleazy, but the world can be harsh. It's the buyer's own fault for not being careful, or clearing up their confusion, or whatever. It's not like this was some fancy orchestrated scheme to make money - someone just did something stupid and he took the oppurtunity.
posted by swank6 at 9:43 PM on January 27, 2001

Yeah the buyer should be careful on Ebay .. I mean they sell everything there. You know how it goes ..

One man's junk is another man's treasure .. the buyer might really like the box? =)
posted by loong at 9:51 PM on January 27, 2001

I gotta say when I posted this link I never expected to see even one person seriously suggest the seller didn't intend to deceive the bidders. You learn something every day.
posted by kindall at 10:30 PM on January 27, 2001

someone stupid thought it was a system and bid $425

swank6 et al: Take a look at the bid history for this item. PLENTY of people obviously made the same mistake, bidding on this item with the assumption that it was a Playstation2 system.

Look, if you were an eBay bidder trying to buy a PS2, and you saw this auction, do you really honestly mean to tell me that you would think "Wait a minute! This punctuation isn't very clear-- is this a PS2, or just an empty box?" and then you would actually email the seller and say "Scuse me, I know this sounds like a silly question but... are you selling an actual PS2 system here, or just an empty box and a receipt?"

I don't believe that for a second.
posted by wiremommy at 10:49 PM on January 27, 2001

"I bought an empty box? I thought I was voting for Gore!"

Ohhhh. I'm kidding. It is sad, I'd like to think I will never fall for anything like that.
posted by thirteen at 11:48 PM on January 27, 2001

wiremommy, of course I would. I thought anyone with any common sense would do the same! It's eBay for christ's sake, not the Sony Playstation Store at the Metreon. I wouldn't blindly bid money on anything without knowing exactly what I was bidding on.

This kind of sale proves exactly why you should be careful. Nothing is safe on the net... I'm surprised by how so many people trust eBay so quickly.
posted by swank6 at 3:26 AM on January 28, 2001

It's the inclusion of the word "original" and receipt in the sale that constitutes the intent to deceive. The guy isn't exactly verbose and still provides too much information.

This is a auction for the playstation 2 box. Simple. Undeceptive.

And you can keep your receipt, tru, you might need it for warranty service someday (unless its a homemade receipt of the sale of the box from you to the buyer, in which case...)
posted by xiffix at 6:01 AM on January 28, 2001

It's the inclusion of the word "original" and receipt in the sale that constitutes the intent to deceive.


we're approaching only the fourth month of sale of the u.s. console...is the ps2 shipping in a box that's not its original? also, who's going to ebay and searching for "store receipt"? puh-leeze.

like i said before, this was an auction hosted by a sniveling punk-ass intending fully to rip someone off.
posted by judomadonna at 11:38 AM on January 28, 2001

and when the bidding was around $100 dollars. Were the bidders required to email the seller and say "hey listen... I'm about to but your playstation for about 1/4 of what you could possibly get for it. do you know that some playstations sell for several hundred dollars? they are really in demand. you should cancel this auction or set a reserve of at least 400 dollars."
Or did the bidder just log off and call his friends and tell them how he's just about to dupe some fool out of his playstation for $100 dollars.
posted by darkpony at 12:22 PM on January 28, 2001

After this much publicity, the buyer's most likely been compensated by either Ebay or PayPal under their anti-fraud guarantees. So no-one loses out, apart from anyone with an eye on scamming other rubes in the future.
posted by holgate at 1:56 PM on January 28, 2001

the buyer's most likely been compensated by either Ebay or PayPal under their anti-fraud guarantees. So no-one loses out

... except eBay or PayPal, their stockholders, and their customers, who in the end pay for all of this kind of activity.
posted by kindall at 2:17 PM on January 28, 2001

... except eBay or PayPal, their stockholders, and their customers, who in the end pay for all of this kind of activity.

...who are indemnified against such things, so it affects all of us who pay for insurance as the premiums go up blah blah blah. Welcome to the ethical vacuum that is capitalism. Enjoy.
posted by holgate at 3:35 PM on January 28, 2001

If you're really into this box auction, you can read 8 pages of comments about it at Auctionwatch.com.
posted by gluechunk at 3:47 PM on January 28, 2001

Ok, let me defend myself again. I'm not saying by any means that the seller is a good person. Yes, he is a punk for following through with such a sale. But the buyer has no right to complain - it's like getting a question wrong on a test because you didn't read the question. It's the buyer's *own* responsibility to make sure they know what they are bidding on.

I'll say it again - I actually know someone who dug up all kinds of garbage to sell on eBay. Some items he sells for around a dollar, and he makes the money because he charges the buyer for the shipping. But in the end, after selling a few hundred items, he still makes a chunk of cash. It may seem weird for someone to want to buy a PS2 box, but if someone is looking for one for a "box collection" or whatever, then so be it. There's a buyer for everything out in that world, so you can't just argue "who would actually sell a ps2 box"?

Let me repeat again. Yes I think the seller is scum. But I don't think the buyer has any room to complain. It's his job to actually read what he was bidding on, and if there was even the SLIGHTEST confusion, to ask about it.
posted by swank6 at 4:31 PM on January 28, 2001

swank6 - yes, there are some older vintage boxes that people collect, but it's extremely uncommon to find someone selling a brand new box.

if the item for sale was a vinyl record and the description wasn't too good, then you might expect the buyer to ask the seller questions like "hey, does it have scratches? what's the condition of the sleeve" etc.

but with this auction the confusion is of a different sort. sure, in hindsight it seems obvious to us that there was room for "error" but at the time of the bidding why would anyone have been even slightly confused? have you EVER heard of someone auctioning just a box for a very new and hot item?

also, due to the 45-character limitations with eBay titles, it's common for seller's to shorten up the titles and leave words out.

lastly, the item was listed in the "Sony PlayStation2 > Systems, Accessories" category. Since it's not a system, I guess you consider the box to be a valid accessory?
posted by gluechunk at 4:44 PM on January 28, 2001

People should have been slightly confused because it's eBay, and the seller is a total stranger. It only makes sense to make sure EVERYTHING is clear. Obviously, people DO auction a box of a very new and hot item, like in this auction. I doubt it's the first time a similar box has been sold on eBay.

As a buyer, you should never assume anything about the buyer, like that he left out the punctuation because of eBay's character limitations. You shouldn't assume he means a whole Playstation. You should make every detail as clear as possible - this person didn't even send an eMail to confirm the item, apparently.

eBay has a limited number of categories, and it REQUIRES you to pick one no matter what you're selling. I remember looking at Everquest characters on eBay (though I never bought anything), and they were listed under Games > Internet > Ultima Online or something like that, because there was no Everquest category. I don't believe there is a category for "empty video game system boxes and receipts", so he chose the thing it most relates to, the PS2 system itself.
posted by swank6 at 6:34 PM on January 28, 2001

An argument from syntactic distribution: People were probably confused by the syntax of the title ("Playstation 2 original box and reciept") and parsed it as three constituents ("Playstation 2"; "original box"; and "receipt"). There are several other auctions with similar titles that are quite obviously selling more than just a box, and others that are selling just a box (item + a box 1, 2, 3, 4, compare box only 5). Based on the distribution of the phrase "original box", without punctuation) and that it is possible for this title to mean either item+box or box only. Given the number of people interested in purchasing a playstation 2, it is not surprising that people misparsed the title and bid.
Are people who choose an alternate form of an amibiguous statement stupid? California Advertising Law says no. (Based on the criterion: Does it have the "tendency" or the "capacity" to deceive the audience to whom it is directed?)
posted by iceberg273 at 8:48 AM on January 29, 2001

I did notice that the category the item was placed in was

"Photo & Electronics:Electronic Games:Sony PlayStation2:Systems, Accessories"

when a 'general' category was available.

It would be extremely difficult to argue that the box could be considered an 'accessory', and certainly deceptive when placed in a category under which one would Reasonably expect, by definition, playing systems.

Therefore, by choosing the category the seller did, he knowingly caused misdirection.

posted by Perigee at 2:50 PM on January 29, 2001

General isn't much better of a category than Systems, Accessories. If you look in there, pretty much everything is the same - systems, some games, some accessories.

Using the sole idea that he put the item in the category "Systems, Accessories" is a pretty weak argument to conclude that he knowingly caused misdirection. How many people even LOOK at the category when they bid on an item? It is pretty safe to assume that if the buyer didn't notice that the item listed was a box and receipt, he/she probably wasn't sharp enough to check the category. It barely has any relevance to begin with. In addition to that, it's still arguable what category it really fits into.
posted by swank6 at 3:45 PM on January 29, 2001

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