Tag Archives: EBay

Extreme changes to eBay coupon policy limiting resale

The controversy over extreme couponing practices continues. This time, eBay is the target of the anger. For years, couponers have sold their surplus coupons on eBay, but the website is making changes to its policy that will make it harder to make money. Just like when a grocer changes its coupon policy, there is outrage.

Under the new policy, sellers will be restricted to a monthly maximum of coupons valued up to $100 or 25 valid, unexpired, original coupons. The limit you reach first will be the one that is enforced. Previously, couponers sold multiple coupons under one listing. You’ll still be limited to 25 coupons even if they are all sold in bulk under one listing.

If you have a coupon for a free product or a buy one get one free (BOGO) offer, you can’t sell it. Those are some of couponers favorite coupons.

The changes start September 1, and any listing that violates the new policy will be removed. Also, the seller could have their buying and selling privileges restricted or suspended.

Couponers are sounding off on eBay’s community forum saying their business will shut down and they’ll lose money. It’s a big reversal in policy, but it’s one some advocates say is long overdue because the rules have been bent for years.

Most coupons say they are void if sold or transferred. To get around the fine print, eBay sellers put a disclaimer on their postings. It often said the coupon price was not for the value of the coupons but for the seller’s time spent clipping the coupons. The disclaimer outraged ethical couponers. For a story I did on this issue in 2011, the Coupon Information Corporation said, “The CIC said disclaimers “prove that the seller / auctioneer knows that their illicit coupon sales are inapropriate, wrong.”

There’s always been a push for eBay to police the coupon selling, but it never happened until now.

What do you think of the changes? Join the conversation by commenting below. 



eBay changing how you can dispute a claim unless you act by November 9th

It seems companies are always changing their user agreements and privacy policies. How often do you read the fine print? I often hit delete or file the letter away never to pick it up again. There’s one you should read, and read it quickly so you don’t throw your rights out the window. eBay recently changed its user agreement, and you have to act by November 9th or you’ll be bound by the new terms.

Class action lawsuits cost companies big bucks, and often net very little for consumers. Companies are trying to put a stop to them by adding arbitration agreements to their policies. With most of these policies, you have no choice but to settle your dispute through arbitration.

eBay is changing its policy so any disputes will be decided by an arbitrator rather than a court of law. The decision is final and binding. The exception is small claims court if your issue qualifies. Most small claims cases are capped at $2500-3500, but it varies by location.

An eBay spokesman said this change to eBay and PayPal user agreements keeps the policies current with changing laws and business practices.

In essence, class action lawsuits are prohibited. eBay said arbitration is more informal than a courtroom. True. However, Public Citizen wants the arbitration clause removed adding that it disproportionately favors the company in disputes. Independent arbitrators are used, but many believe the consumer doesn’t have a shot with this type of dispute resolution.

To inform consumers about this policy change, Public Citizen launched a petition that more than 4600 people signed.

The bottom line – this is a move many companies are moving toward. At least, eBay is giving you a choice. You can opt out or reject the agreement to arbitrate. You need to send a written letter by November 9th. For new users, you have 30 days after the date you accept the User agreement for the first time.  You should send a letter stating that you don’t agree to arbitrate and include your name, address, user ID, and email address associated with your eBay account. The letter must be postmarked no later than November 9, 2012. Send it to the following address:

eBay Inc.
C/O National Registered Agents, Inc.
2778 W. Shady Bend Lane
Lehi, UT 84043

Public Citizen feels it’s strange to request an opt out letter by mail considering eBay is an online company.

“To put it charitably, eBay’s requirement that opt-outs be submitted through traditional mail raises questions about the sincerity of its commitment to permitting users to protect themselves,” Weissman said.

Public Citizen launched a petition to inform users about the terms and a form letter to help you opt out more easily. Make sure you send it certified mail so you have proof it was received just in case a dispute ever arises.

Download Public Citizen’s form letter: ebay-arbitration-opt-out-letter

An eBay spokesman responded to the criticism adding, “Consistent with the practices of many of the country’s leading consumer, technology and internet companies, eBay Inc. added an arbitration provision. This dispute resolution procedure encourages swift and reasonable resolution as opposed to litigation, which can be protracted, expensive and often dissatisfying to customers. We believe swift and reasonable resolution processes are in the best interests of our customers and our company. Users who do not prefer this approach have the ability to opt out of the arbitration provision and keep their account active.”

Act now. The deadline to opt out is approaching on November 9th.


What will you do for $5?

Need some spare money? Have a unique talent? How would you answer the question — “I will _____ for $5?” If you have a service to offer, and want to buy one for $5, Fiverr might be for you. It’s the latest marketplace allowing you to buy or sell your services, only this site charges a flat fee of $5.

When you offer a service it’s called a “Gig.” People in Cleveland are selling postcards and baseball cards all for the fixed price of $5. However, one of these sellers told me she hasn’t had any takers.

Just like with Ebay, you are rated based on your activity, performance, and reputation. As with most sites, there are good and bad reviews even for the most highly rated.

Getting you hundreds or thousands of Facebook or Twitter followers is a common Gig on Fiverr. While many positive reviews, there are also comments that the Facebook likes are not legitimate or the Twitter followers are people with no profile and no picture.

If you don’t get the service you paid for, you can cancel your order whether it wasn’t fulfilled or wasn’t delivered on time.

There are lots of quirky posts like, “Use a chicken puppet to read a short poem about my website” or “Create a 3 min video of you doing somersaults in various places.” Both were posted as a need. Not sure why you would need either one, but if you can fulfill these needs you could earn $4. That’s how much you’re paid when you perform or sell a Gig.

You can remain anonymous, or let your identity known when paying or getting paid. You select the degree of privacy you want when you sell or buy a gig for just $5.

What will you do for $5? Click comment below.

Cyber Monday shopping options – Facebook or earn cash back

If you skipped the Black Midnight mania, today might be your day because it’s Cyber Monday. Shoppers will have more places to shop online including Facebook.

Retailers like Express are offering their online store on their Facebook fan page. You can share the item, which of course the store wants you to do, or simply buy it.

I think this is going to take off. Facebook news feeds used to be filled with gamers playing Farmville. Now, you can see the news stories your friends read on Yahoo. As shopping on Facebook takes off, you’ll be able to see the new accessories your friends are buying. For someone who hates to shop, maybe I’ll let someone else do the hard work for me.

Retailers are also trying to get you to shop online at the mall. According to Daily Finance, Walmart launched pop-up stores in some California malls. It’s hardly the only retailer doing this. Daily Finance says Sears, Kmart, and eBay are offering shoppers similar experiences. There are even ads in subways and airports that have QR or quick response codes on them that allow you to get more information about the toys or products you saw in the ad you just passed.

Technology is driving a lot of these changes. I wonder if malls will even be around in 10 years. While these are unique experiences that are hardly mainstream, there are mainstream ways to cash in that few people know about.

Earn cash back to shop online
I do most of my holiday shopping online, and make money doing it courtesy of Ebates. If I want to buy something at Macy’s or Amazon, I go to Ebates and log in. I enter the store I’m looking for like Macy’s and click on the provided link to earn a set percentage back on my order. During the holidays, there are often promotions that will earn you more than the traditional 3-6% cash back.

It takes seconds to link through Ebates, and in this case I think the time is really worth the money. Last year, I earned more than $50 cash back. That’s $50 I didn’t have before.

To earn the money, obviously my order is tracked. However, what isn’t tracked online these days? Soon we’ll be sharing our finds on Facebook as that becomes a mainstream way to shop.

Coupon industry responds to problems

The coupon industry is fighting back trying to rein in the out of control consumers who are using coupons to make money. The Coupon Information Corporation represents manufacturers and admits that while there are couponing rules there are also gray areas.  if you want to continue saving money while helping 10,000 people in the couponing industry keep their job, CIC says you should follow its “Considerate Couponing” guidelines.

“Unfortunately, the inappropriate actions of a few extreme couponers inaccurately portray couponers in a bad light. Try to raise the bar by following the rules, and being a courteous shopper,” CIC said in outlining its “Considerate Couponing” policy.

CIC reminds consumers that stores are under no legal obligation to accept coupons and that it’s a risk for stores because they have to assume the value and handling costs until they get reimbursed. If the coupon is counterfeit, the store won’t get their money back even though they offered the savings to the consumer at checkout. To deal with this issue, some stores are no longer accepting Internet coupons.

Many couponers like to shop at Walmart because they can earn money to shop at that store because the discount chain pays an overage. That’s when your coupon value is more than the retail price of the product. CIC says “Coupons are for ‘cents off’ the price of the product. Overage is an unusual situation and you should not expect to receive cash back on the purchase of a product.”

Popular items that are prohibited by CIC
Now, the gray areas like buying coupons and reselling your items at a stockpile sale. I’ve reported on the rise of both activities for NewsChannel 5, and it outraged some couponers.  CIC calls these activities “strictly prohibited,” but until someone cracks down on this activity it will continue.

The fine print on most coupons says void if sold or reproduced, yet people are still buying and selling coupons on sites like Ebay. The seller tells you that you’re paying for the time it takes to clip and collect the coupon and that the price you pay is not for the coupon itself. The disclaimer may make the seller feel better but CIC says it doesn’t make the activity right and doesn’t provide legal protection. CIC says it just shows that the seller knows selling coupons is wrong.

CIC says, “Even if there is not a direct criminal penalty involved, both coupon buyers and sellers open the door to potential litigation when they buy or sell coupons because they are in violation of the “nontransferability” clause printed on all coupons distributed within the United States. The transfer makes a coupon void.”

Stockpile sales are all over Craigslist. That’s where an extreme couponer sells their surplus items to the public like a tag sale for grocery store products. Most coupons don’t say anything about this activity, but it does raise ethical questions. Some coupons are beginning to say they are void or invalid if used to buy that product for resale purposes, but CIC says,”Such sales usually violate the terms and conditions of the coupons themselves and may be in violation of local health codes.” Maybe they’ll violate the terms in the future as this language is added, but I’ve checked a lot of coupons and this warning is still on very few.

CIC goes on to ask, “As a consumer, do you really want to buy a product that has been stored in a stranger’s basement for weeks, months or even years?”

Making a statement about this isn’t going to change much. It’s been known for some time that this activity happens despite the fine print on coupons. If CIC really wants to make a statement on this, they should start filing lawsuits on behalf of product manufacturers or at least sending cease and desist orders to these mom and pop operations.

Better etiquette needed
CIC says dumpster diving is controversial and doesn’t advise it for safety reasons.

It also gives advise for good couponing etiquette like not clearing the shelves in the store, and buying your items in multiple transactions to take advantage of deals. CIC also suggests you shop during off-peak hours if you use a lot of coupons so you’re not delaying other shoppers.

What do you think of the problems in the coupon industry? Click comment and weigh in on this issue.

Making money with coupons – why some trends generate controversy and others don’t

People are passionate about money-saving offers whether they’re for $20 or $2. Say the word “coupon” and people react strongly.  With this topic, I’ve come to expect the unexpected. There are two trends that couponers are exploring to make money off couponing, but only one generated an extreme response even though it’s the other one that is clearly against coupon rules.

On most coupons, it says the discount is void if sold or transferred. However, online sites like eBay are a platform many couponers use to sell their stockpile of offers.

A woman who spoke to me for a NewsChannel 5 story, told me how she makes $300-400 a month selling coupons on eBay. To get around the policy issue, couponers tell bidders they are paying for their time and service and not the coupon itself.

The disclaimers are criticized by the Coupon Information Corporation which is made up of product manufacturers who fight fraud and issues within the coupon industry. The disclaimers are even against eBay’s policy, but there are hundreds on the site. eBay admits it does not police the posts.

We heard from many viewers who said they have sold and bought coupons on eBay even though it’s a violation of a coupon. A woman who teaches couponing classes told me it’s a secret weapon for many couponers. It’s really the best way to get multiples of a coupon since we only get one insert in the Sunday paper. Surprisingly, nobody was outraged by this practice perhaps because most people are engaged in it.

Stockpile sales generate controversy
There’s another practice that’s popping up where couponers make money off the multiple items they  buy at the store. This is often refered to as a stockpile sale, and it’s nothing more than a yard or garage sale full of health and beauty products.

Extreme couponers buy dozens of one item, and then stockpile them in their home. Usually they allow friends or family members to shop their house or they donate the extra goods to a charity. Now, couponers are using it to raise money for family trips, events, etc. One woman said she made hundreds of dollars a weekend for her niece’s trip to Florida.

The stockpile story drew extreme outrage. Couponers were shocked we shared the story with others. While the upset couponers voiced their opinion the loudest, I did hear from viewers who thanked me for airing the story because they needed to find new ways to save and make ends meet in this sour economy.

While it may be extreme behavior to hold a stockpile sale, very few coupons prohibit this practice. A few are beginning to add language prohibiting resale for items you purchase with a coupon. However, the warnings are still few and far between. As one couponer put it to me — she cringed when she saw the story but knew it wasn’t wrong. She realizes there are some activities that are more ethical than others.

After the strong reaction about a trend that’s not currently a violation of most coupons, I worried about sharing the eBay couponing story given that it’s clearly against most coupon policies. However, it’s my job as a journalist to report on the trends and ask questions about them. It’s not my job to decide which trend is right or wrong, and only air selective trends.

The bottom line – until someone begins policing these trends they will continue to exist. I’ll continue to report on them as it’s my job to report all the trends rather than only selective ones.

What do you think about selling and buying coupons on eBay? Click comment below.

Cash for your electronics

Did you get a new cell phone this year or computer? Recycling programs that pay you cash for your old electronics are growing in popularity.  It’s a good incentive to keep this bulky electronics out of the landfill.

Cell phone carriers and independent sites are offering cash incentives for your old electronics.  It’s a good way to earn some cash and keep your plastic out of the trash.  There are websites willing to buy all these items: iPods, iPhones, cell phones, cameras, e-Readers, laptops, video games, game console, GPS, DVD, movies, MP3 players, digital cameras, calculators, laptops, external drives, and tablet eReaders.

Here’s a look at some of your options:
Ebay Instant Sale – This site, like many, ships your items for free which is a nice perk so you’re not wasting money on shipping.  I priced two items — a computer and iPhone.  A Dell Latitude D620, Core 2 Duo 1.66 GHz in good condition is worth$59 and an 8GB iPhone 2G is worth $66. If the item isn’t worth anything (I guess if you calculate the condition wrong) it will be recycled for free.  The money you earn is added to your PayPal account.

Wirefly also offers free shipping and will send a check within 30 days. It offers up to $60 for an 8GB iPhone 2G.  In good condition, it pays $51.80. It offers $59.50 for the Dell Latitude.

Gazelle is another ecommerce site,  It didn’t offer to buy the 8GM iPhone 2G, but offered $40 for the 4GB.

Make sure you check out the company first, and read their FAQ so you know their policies. For example, Gazelle does not offer phone support. That may or may not be a big deal.

You Renew wanted newer iPhones and didn’t have an offer for the 2G.  It also didn’t take the Dell Latitude D620, so this is the site that offered to buy the fewest products.

The nice thing about You Renew is that the site even takes devices and pays for the shipping if your item has no value. As an added bonus, the company will either plant a tree or give a donation towards a domestic renewable energy product.

NextWorth offered $53.26 for the 8GB iPhone 2G.  NextWorth teams up with Target, and offers the same service online or in Target stores.

Flipswap takes cell phones only and requires the ESN number on the phone to track it and ensure it’s the one that arrives in the warehouse. It appears the site is offering $36.38 for the 8GB iPhone, but you don’t know for sure until you enter a bunch of information about the condition of the phone and the ESN number.

Cell for Cash, as its name suggests, only buys old cell phones. They offer a set price without asking questions, but expect the phones to be in good condition. It wasn’t entirely clear in the terms and conditions how the company handles phones that don’t meet its expectations, so it’s worth checking out before you commit. Cell for Cash will send you a check in the mail.  It offered $20 for the 8GB iPhone.

Another option is to trade in your cell phone with your carrier for money off a new plan or phone.  You can also try Amazon’s recently expanded trade in program. It works a little differently, because you’re not offered cash.  Amazon pays you with a gift card that’s added to your account. I couldn’t find the same iPhone I compared on other sites nor the Dell computer. This program seems to offer money for new technology, but it’s offering good prices so it’s worth a check.

Erase your digital footprint
Before you send your electronics to a company, check out consumer reviews and feedback to ensure you’ll get the cash you deserve.

Also, make sure you erase all your contact and personal information and perhaps remove the SIM card if possible. You may even consider taking it to your local mobile carrier to see if they can wipe everything for you for a small fee. Some websites that buy electronics also offer the service. I wouldn’t be as nervous with a regular cell phone but smartphones are full of rich information that can be used to steal your identity.

Have a favorite site that offered you cash for your electronics? Share it with our community.

Related links you may like:
Erase your digital footprint
10 consumers reports you should check
Keeping your name off a sucker list
Recovering from identity theft