Yahoo Auctions Japan Review & How To

I’ve been using Yahoo Auctions for a while to get hold of the most elusive parts. The PowerBook G4 memory, for example.

Yahoo Auctions is a seller’s world. The seller can remove bids, filter out certain bidders, be slow and lazy without penalty, and so on. Kind of like eBay in reverse; eBay caters for the buyer, Yahoo Auctions caters for the seller. I think it’s the cultural context. Customers in America can go to amazon, or any number of online places to buy stuff. So eBay works hard to convince them they’re safe and cheap. Sellers in America, on the other hand, can’t really go elsewhere to sell their stuff, as far as I know (Feedback in comments please; I’ve only lived in the US for a year and that was a long time ago).
In Japan sellers can just go dump all their stuff at the nearest recycle store. No packaging, no hassle, instant cash. There are nation wide chains such as Hard Off, and lots of independent shops. Space is at a premium, affinity towards shiny new things is at a high, and the recycle stores cater for the excess. So Yahoo entices sellers with the prospect of getting more for the stuff. Self-prolonging auctions squeeze every last penny out of the buyers. Where do buyers go to find stuff? I don’t really know. The recycle stores I guess, but going beyond what’s locally available there are not many choices. eBay Japan croaked years ago; Bidders.com is substantially smaller.

Today I finally received a RAM module I waited over a week for. It’s dead. I sent the guy a refund request. It’s not a big amount. I’m really interested in how he’s going to approach the situation. It’s a learning curve and a cultural experience. 😉

Most annoying thing is not the money, but the time I lost. Now I have to start searching all over again. “Time is money” is a lie; money can be lost and earned again, time, once lost, can not be “earned back”. /me is ~annoyed

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted.

Follow-up 2011.11.21
The dude replied politely, and refused my request, pointing out there’s no warranty on things sent by kuroneko mail-bin. That’s because kuroneko mail-bin is uninsured, and if it’s lost, then I can only claim the postage back, and that’s understood. Making it no-warranty whatsoever is a bit dodgy for me. What do you think? There was no damage to the packaging. RAM modules are not killed that easily (unless you static damage them).

So what can I do to get my money back? Nothing. I could go to the police or sue him, but short of that, zilch. Yahoo Auctions provides nada buyer protection. Seller is king and buyers eat dirt. I can’t even leave him a negative feedback, because I’d get a negative back; looking at our numbers it would hurt me more than him.

So what do I do? Move on.. takes me off the hook and leaves him there. Best thing I can do.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

5 Responses to Yahoo Auctions Japan Review & How To

  • Billy says:

    There are some scrupulous sellers out there but also some decent buys. Just wade through the filth carefully. Best of luck

  • Bakerboy says:

    No, you couldn’t “go to the police”. Well, you could, but they couldn’t do anything besides take a report to get you out the door. Quite simply the police are not willing to act as your private army because generally disputes between buyers and sellers are a matter of civil law, not criminal. I’m sure you realize that police are not judges, but a lot of people don’t, they get all emotional and go running down to the police station expecting the boys in blue to be on their side. Dude bought my old P4 machine on Yahoo Auctions just a few weeks ago and was upset he couldn’t play Battlefield 3 on it. Nothing wrong with the machine but of course it won’t play the latest games, it’s a 9 year old laptop and was clearly advertised as so, I even mentioned the date of purchase in the ad. What did he do? Went and complained to the police then sent me a bunch of threatening emails about how I’m soon going to be slugging it out in Fuchu prison for the next 20 years. Absolute clown, really really silly knee-jerk behavior. Of course your case is different because the thing just doesn’t work, but good on you for realizing the risk of doing business on an auction website, and absorbing a problem in a calm and rational way. Paid 500,000 yen for something that didn’t turn up? You might have a case. Cheap stick of memory for an old laptop turns up but doesn’t work… probably not. Imagine if everyone who ever left negative feedback on an auction website went complaining to the police? They would be over-run.

    • Sandor says:

      Yes Bakerboy, I agree. Throwing up all over the police and venting there will not do any good. They’ll just be annoyed, file a report to get you out of the door, and then put the report in a never-to-be-opened cabinet. And that’s fine, it’s a matter for civil courts. Which is a drawn out painful procedure, not even worth thinking about unless your out real big money.
      Ha, the guy who bought your P4 must be a disturbed idiot. I guess Japan has them too. Or was it a gaijin?

  • My-name-is-hidden says:

    I’ve had similar experiences with yahoo auction. Before buying I always check the seller’s history, and comments from other buyers. Not easy for non-Japanese speakers including myself so I usually trouble my wife to check with me. If it’s a bit dodgy, then we flag it. A new or near new seller selling many things sounds suspicious so we don’t buy. One story that comes to mind is a guy who wanted an extra 1000yen to wrap a car part I bought. I felt it was too steep but as I couldn’t find the item anywhere else for the same money I agreed. It came in a plastic bag filled with scrunched up newspaper! That’s what I got for the packaging?…and the part was slightly damaged! In saying that, there are genuine honest sellers out there but their starting prices are usually a little higher. Oh, also be careful as sometimes prices on popular used stuff can go beyond the new price or what you can pick up at stores locally. People get carried away with the bidding at times…becoming I must win it mentality. Great for the seller!
    Good to see you offering a helpful service in Japan. I may soon be after a computer so I may ask for your assistance.
    Best of luck.

    • Sandor says:

      Thanks for the great input!
      1000 yen extra for newspaper… wow that’s annoying.
      How do you “flag” a listing? Is that kind of a self-regulatory measure, as on Craigslist?
      Good point about the prices. Def. worth checking against amazon.jp or kakaku.com

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