The SD Card SCAM

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I Wanted Two 128GB (Micro) SD Cards:

I have purchased a Tablet (ASUS Transformer Book T100) to take with me instead of a Laptop computer. The Tablet has a MicroSD slot.

Packing a couple of MicroSDs makes a lot more sense to me than packing a couple of External USB Hard Disk drives.

The first 128GB MicroSD will be enough storage for my web materials and all of the photos that I am likely to take. The second MicroSD will be backup.

I thought that readers may want to know about the bad experience that I have had with eBay and PayPal.

This is important because, if you buy one of these cards, YOU COULD LOSE VALUABLE DOCUMENTS AND PHOTOS FOREVER!

The FAKE SD Cards on eBay:

I bid on and won two “no-name” 128GB microSD cards on eBay (I’ll refer to these as being from Seller #1). As is with eBay, I paid for the goods using PayPal.

I am usually cautious about buying such items (especially when sourced from China) but felt confident as both eBay and PayPal offer a full “Money Back Guarantee”.

The day after I won and paid for the microSDs, I got an email from eBay telling me that:

“We’re writing to let you know that we’ve removed an item you recently won: … Since you’ve already paid for this item, you don’t need to do anything else. If your item hasn’t arrived yet, it should arrive soon… If you have already filed an eBay Money Back Guarantee case for this item, the case has been decided in your favor and your payment has been refunded.”

As instructed, I did nothing but it was obvious (to me) that these “no-name” cards were likely to be FAKE and that I would have to make a claim once they arrived (after I had supplied eBay with the necessary proof).

I, therefore, proceeded to buy two replacement “branded” 128GB microSDs (one Samsung and one SanDisk) in two separate orders from two separate Sellers (Seller #2 and Seller #3). As an extra backup, I saw a 64GB SanDisk “branded” microSD going for a good price and snapped that up from Seller #4.

The same day I receive exactly the same email from eBay about Seller #4. Bugger.

Proving That a microSD Card is FAKE:

The first microSD to actually arrive was the 64GB SanDisk “branded” microSD from Seller #4. The card even had SanDisk printed on it.

You can download freeware that tells you how many GB of storage are actually on a card (as opposed to what is printed on the outside label or what the card reports to your operating system). The one that I use is called H2TESTW.

Please note that H2TESTW runs a destructive test which wipes out any data that exists on the card. Therefore, you should run the test as soon as you get the card and BEFORE you use the card for day-to-day storage.

H2TESTW is slow and it took several hours for it to test the 64GB card. It reported that it was actually only a 4GB card with 3.1GB usable.

The eBay Money Back Guarantee SCAM:

I logged on to eBay to make a claim against Seller #4.

To my horror, I found that eBay had de-registered Seller #4. By doing so eBay had, effectively, removed all of the functionality normally available for raising an eBay Dispute. This, effectively, also removed my access to the eBay Money Back Guarantee!

The ONLY functionality left available to me was to send an email to the de-registered Seller. I did that knowing that it was going to be a total waste of time.

After trying everything I could think of (and going through almost every possible eBay screen!) to register a Dispute, the ONLY way that I could make contact with eBay was to go in “through the back door” and send them an email under some sort of “other” support category.

eBay sent me back an email to say that I could no longer make a claim on eBay and that I should raise a dispute using PayPal. Why didn’t eBay tell me to do this in the (above) email? … it would have saved me a lot of time and hassle! BUT READ ON!

The PayPal Money Back Guarantee SCAM:

I logged on to PayPal and registered a Dispute against Seller #4.

PayPal emailed me back to say that I had to send the FAKE card back to China and that I had to do so using someone who provided Online Tracking capability.

The return postage was to be at my cost! Under the eBay Money Back Guarantee, the return postage is at the Seller’s cost!

I sent an email to PayPal challenging this requirement… why send a FAKE card back to China? So that the Seller can sell it to some other mug who doesn’t know how to test for FAKEs?

PayPal responded with some sort of generic email designed to fob me off and send we around in circles.

Back To eBay:

I wrote another email to eBay to tell them that this wasn’t good enough.

This time eBay telephoned me; I brought up the other 2 cancelled orders (from Seller #1) and put it to them that exactly the same thing was going to happen. They agreed and actioned a refund for those two cards immediately. This was done by eBay manually raising a PayPal refund (under eBay procedures and WITHOUT the need to return the FAKE cards to the Seller).

However, they couldn’t do anything about the other claim because that was now with PayPal.

Back To PayPal:

eBay support said that they would email PayPal and get PayPal to provide me with a “free postage label” so that I could return the FAKE at no cost to me.

They transferred me to PayPal. I waited on the line listening to PayPal’s answering service for over 45 minutes before I gave in and send PayPal an email instead.

PayPal did not offer me the courtesy of replying to that email. I have not received a “free postage label”.

What I did get was another generic email from PayPal telling me how I can raise a Dispute; Useless considering the fact that I had already raised one.

I gave in and took the item to the post office to post it back.

To post it back to China using the required Online Tracking would have cost me NZ$38. This is more than I paid for the item.

A FAKE Micro SD Card Arrives From Seller #2:

Whilst this was going on, the Samsung “branded” 128Gb microSD arrived from Seller #2. The card even had Samsung printed on it.

It took me 14-16 hours to format it and test it using H2TEST. It failed the test: it is an 8GB card with 7.1GB usable.

I logged back on to eBay. The Seller was still registered so I was able to raise an eBay Dispute. I can only assume that this Seller was new and that eBay had not yet had enough Disputes raised against this Seller to know that they were selling FAKEs.

The Seller refunded me in full the following day.

So What About Seller #1 and Seller #3:

I still haven’t received those three cards yet; it can take about 5 weeks for goods to get to New Zealand.

In those 5 weeks anything could happen… eBay could de-register the Sellers tomorrow…

Either way, I will have to spend 2-3 days testing the cards using H2TEST…

What’s the betting that they’ll be FAKE? …

At the moment, I am looking at a high probability of

  • Purchasing 5 Micro SD Cards from 4 different Sellers that are ALL FAKE
  • Losing my money on at least one of those purchases
  • Having to spend about 70 hours testing the cards to prove that they are FAKE
  • Having to spend hours in frustration on eBay and PayPal trying to get them to honour their Money Back Guarantees

Are eBay and PayPal Complicit in the Fraudulent Sale of FAKE Micro SD Cards?

I’ll let you make your own mind up on that one but the facts are these:

  • I purchased the item on eBay believing that I was protected by eBay’s Money Back Guarantee
  • I paid for the purchase using PayPal believing that I also had a PayPal Money Back Guarantee
  • I believe that eBay de-registered the Sellers because they were selling FAKE product (eBay support all but admitted that to me when I talked to them on the phone)
  • eBay could have “cancelled” my orders before the goods were sent; this would have given me a full refund from eBay without any further hassle… they did not choose to do so
  • eBay instructed me to do nothing until the goods arrived
  • eBay removed my ability to raise an eBay Dispute (and get my money back through eBay)
  • eBay instructed me to make a claim through PayPal
  • PayPal are making it uneconomic to return the goods to get a refund from PayPal
  • eBay know that PayPal’s returns policy differs from their own

Whether by design or otherwise, I believe that eBay and PayPal have effectively conspired to defraud me of my money.

If you search the internet (which I have now done) you will find that the sale of FAKE SD cards on eBay (and other sites) is rife. You may find the SOSFAKEFLASH site useful.

eBay continue to allow Sellers of FAKE product to register and trade even though they know about the FAKEs problem; Why haven’t eBay put in suitable controls? What about controls like escrow?

eBay know about this problem and, in my opinion, are de-registering Sellers to hide the problem from Buyers and to protect their reputation. They are doing so to the detriment of their Buyers.

The only people winning out of this SCAM are the people who are “clipping the ticket” on all of the transactions:

  • eBay get their commission on the sale
  • PayPal get their profits out of the exchange rate
  • Credit Cards get their foreign currency conversion fees
  • Postal services get their postage

Even if you do manage to get a full refund from eBay or PayPal IT WILL BE LESS THAN WHAT YOU PAID because they will still “clip the ticket” on the refund! … if you paid NZ$40 for something, you should be refunded NZ$40 for it … not NZ$38 because the exchange rate has moved and Visa have charged a conversion fee.

My Advice:

I would advise anyone buying technology on eBay (especially where such technology is sourced from China) to PROCEED WITH EXTREME CAUTION.

Who knows how widespread this problem is; One thing I do know is that IT IS A MAJOR PROBLEM on SD cards (and, therefore, probably USB flash drives too); as to what else? God knows.

It would also seem that, as soon as anything becomes a major problem, eBay run and hide as fast as possible and leave you in the lurch with NO MONEY BACK GUARANTEE.

If you get a Seller De-Registered email from eBay, CONTACT eBAY IMMEDIATELY to cancel the order and get an immediate refund.

If the goods are already on their way RAISE A CLAIM ON eBAY and REFUSE TO RAISE A CLAIM IN PAYPAL.

Update 1:

eBay phoned me, again, today. It was the same person that called me last time.

This person transferred me to another eBay “service” to discuss the problem.

After waiting on the line for over 30 minutes (again), the transferred call was answered.

This person knew NOTHING about the case and I had to provide all sorts of information again such as my eBay login name, the product number of the FAKE item, etc.

Once that was done, the eBay person did their best to fob me off to PayPal. They even tried to convince me that it was my fault for raising the PayPal claim! … But, I stood my ground.

Eventually, the eBay person put me on hold for another 10-15 minutes whilst they escalated the problem to senior eBay Management.

The end result was that they ruled in my favour and raised a manually rebate on PayPal.

The question has to be asked… WHY DIDN’T THEY DO THAT TO START WITH?

Update 2:

The SanDisk “branded” 128Gb microSD arrived from Seller #3. The card even had SanDisk printed on it.

After hours of testing it showed up as a 4GB card with 3.3GB usable.

I logged back on to eBay. The Seller was still registered so I was able to raise an eBay Dispute…

The Seller refunded me in full the following day.

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