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The Mystery of eBay Seller Primemediaking.

June 1st, 2008 by Skip McGrath

Who is this seller and where did he (her, they?) come from? Where did 198,188 items listed since May 15th.?

Why did he start his eBay business by purchasing feedback? How is he getting away with violating eBay Policies?

I was first alerted to this seller by some curious postings on the eBay message boards, so I decided to have a look.

Let me make a disclaimer first –I don’t really know what is going on here and I am not accusing primemediaking of anything illegal or immoral –I am just reporting what I think is some very strange behavior by a brand new eBay seller with massive numbers of listings.

If you look at the listings by primemediaking you will see that he started about two weeks ago with almost 200,000 listings. He sells mostly books. They vary from expensive technical books to cheap children’s paperbacks. His completed auctions show that he has sold over 3000 items in the past couple of weeks, but only received around 100 feedback comments –all 100% positive. But he has left over 3000 feedbacks.

At 3000 items sold (I am rounding off numbers here for simplicity) versus 198000 items listed that is a sell through rate of 1.5%. I am not sure how anyone can make money at that conversion rate after paying eBay and PayPal fees.

At the high end of his listings are various technical manuals that sell for just under $50 –with a shipping cost of $49.99 (example item#110256797368). According to his description the book weighs 1.05 pounds. The actual shipping cost via media mail is $2.23. This would seem to be an egregious violation of the eBay excess shipping policy.

At the low end he sells thousands of books for a starting bid of a penny plus $6.99 shipping and has thousands more in a fixed price format for $1.00 BIN plus $6.99 shipping. It is a somewhat closer call whether $6.99 to ship an item that costs $2.23 as sellers do have the right to recoup packaging and a reasonable handling cost.

Personally I think $6.99 is a little much to ship a book that weighs under a pound and costs a dollar. As this seller makes more sales I doubt his DSR ratings for shipping costs will hold up.

It gets more interesting: In the Quantity Available section on the listing it shows 25 available, however in the listing itself is a red box with the following words under it: “The eBay “Quantity Available” is NOT an accurate count. Buyers should only purchase this item when there is a BLUE BOX on the top stating the quantity available.” Further down in his listing is a bullet with the statement:

  • Due to large quantities of inventory being sold daily, there’s a possibility that your purchase maybe backordered or out of stock. In such instances shipments maybe delayed and buyers will be informed accordingly.

I guess I am confused. Does he have the book in stock or not? I am pretty sure it is against eBay policy to sell something you don’t know whether you have or not –but I am not positive on this point. I searched the policies and couldn’t find a clear answer.

In any event since eBay is striving to improve the buyer experience –is this a good “buyer experience?” And it seems strange that the vast majority of his listings have the same quantity – 25.

Feedback:

And then there is the curious issue of this seller’s feedback: As I was writing this his feedback score was 99 at 100% positive. But I decided to dig a little deeper. When he started back in the middle of May he was a buyer first –but he seemed to be buying more feedback than product. One of the auctions was number 120258760708 for the “word X-box.” That’s right the seller was selling just the word x-box in an email for $1.00 with a guaranteed positive feedback. Another one was for someone selling feedback with the following description:

 BUY NOW. 100% POS FEEDBACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BUY NOW AND WHEN YOU GET +15 YOU CAN START SELLING FEEDBACK TO MAKE YOUR MONEY BACK! (This listing featured a photo of a girl in a revealing bikini)

Another one was for a $1.00 eBook of cooking recipes with guaranteed positive feedback. (eBay has supposedly removed sellers running feedback farms, but as of this morning I found over 600 listings for digitally delivered products which are now banned selling for a penny with a guarantee of positive feedback).

Who exactly is primemediaking?

He suddenly appeared out of nowhere and had to buy feedback to get started. He is ID verified with eBay so they know who he is –but no one else does. He does not have an About Me page and his My World Page is blank. His listings say he is in Maryland, but when you read his auction descriptions he says that he cannot combine shipping on auctions because his books are shipped from various locations.

If you Google “primemediaking,” there are 10 pages of results that point to his eBay listings –no other information. There is a website listed at www.primemediaking.com but it is just parked with Plesk –no information and no website. When I did a “whois” search there was no information there either.

Is he a real seller, a retail book store, or some type of robot program listing books from dropshippers? Why are so many of his listings violating eBay policies and why is eBay allowing this?

Maybe I am just paranoid. Maybe he is a real seller who just hasn’t had time to fill out his About Me page yet. Maybe he is an existing seller with poor feedback or DSR scores who wants to start all over again so he can take advantage of the new policies? Or maybe those reports of black helicopters landing and taking off from the eBay campus in San Jose are true? Who really knows?

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