Thursday, September 30, 2021

How to get scammed buying car parts on Facebook Marketplace, Buy and Sell Groups

 Facebook Marketplace is home to used auto parts for sale. Beware not all sellers are honest.

Selling or stealing? Buyers beware! Buying used automotive parts online has been made easier and supposedly safer than ever before for the do-it-yourself junkyard parts shopper. But the scammers are getting smarter and the ability to scam has gotten easier. Scroll around on any number of social media apps and you will find new avenues to buy and sell and fall victim to a scam. Entire business models have sprung up from people's basement because they can sell in the global marketplace using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more. Beware! A new profile is just a click away for scammers who happen to get caught or have too many "bad" seller reviews. A scammer can setup a new alias in the same amount of time it takes you to think up a new password for your email account. It's best to know the seller before you hit send on that payment.

I bought an oil cooler for a Mitsubishi Evolution. It looked like crap  right out of the box, plus it was missing parts that were shown and listed in Facebook ad.
I bought a used oil cooler for a Mitsubishi Evolution for $200 shipped. It looked like garbage right out of the box, plus it was missing parts that were shown and listed in Facebook ad.

How it started
Finding parts for your latest project heap in the basement in getting harder. You've always tried to buy parts that you can see and hold in your hand but the local junkyards have dried up on the old stuff, or rare parts, and the swap meets are few and far between. Taking a stroll on the web to look at cars and parts is a daily occurrence. Making purchases can be scary but easier than ever before with transactions done in seconds and the immediate gratification of expedited shipping. Facebook Marketplace is the hot spot for reasonable deals without the extra fees that beat you up, such as Ebay. Another option, Craigslist, which used to be my "go-to" place to find deals before the car dealers ruined it. Sellers jumped off Craigslist when they were forced to start charging a listing fee for vehicle ads to temper the massive flow from car dealers.

What went wrong?
I'm a recent Facebook Marketplace shopper that was burned on a $200 purchase from a seller in California. I made a deal to buy a used oil cooler, two oil cooler lines, and a plastic shield for a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. The cross country seller, also a member of two Mitsubishi Evolution parts/car classifieds groups on Facebook, sent only one of the four parts listed and photographed in the description. It appeared that this seller 
was highly-rated and maintained frequent postings. I assumed built-in safeguards would protect me as a buyer but my claim with PayPal was denied because the seller produced a shipping receipt that shows he sent something (but not everything) to me. When questioned, prior to my filing a dispute with PayPal, the seller said he sold the other parts (that were pictured and listed in description) to someone else. The seller even boasted that he sold the oiler cooler lines for $150.

Not cool.

Missing items shown - no Evo oil cooler lines or plastic shield.
Two oil cooler lines and a plastic shield were the missing items.

A little digging
After a few minutes of searching Facebook, I located some heated exchanges between this seller and other unhappy customers in the Evo parts groups. The rogue seller in question even launched a pre-emptive strike on one unsatisfied customer by posting a "SELLERS BEWARE" listing warning other sellers to watch out for the buyer he scammed. He included a photo of the buyer and their text exchange. Others in the group, who are also sellers, seemed quick to side with their seller friend and come to his aid. They belittled the buyer by bashing him in the comments.
  I've learned that it can become an ugly scene in the groups. There must be others who keep quiet and take getting burned by bad sellers as a lesson. 
I sent a message to that buyer and learned that he is still waiting on a resolution. The "SELLER BEWARE" post that featured him is now 31 weeks old and has 673 comments. That feud continues. 

Face to face
I'm sure this bait and switch tactic (or misrepresent items), is a proven and common practice for those, like the seller who don't mind scamming buyers 2,000 miles away. Get caught? Ha! The game continues. Without the threat of an unhappy buyer showing up at their door, these scammers continue to operate without a conscience
. You will find many of these egregious sellers are eager to post and sell but slow to ship or respond to issues. Their excuses for bad business practices are lame as well. Too bad I don't live in California. I'd like to discuss my issue with the seller in person.

New rules for buying
This may shutdown many of my internet sales possibilities but I believe meeting the seller is the safest way to do business. My new rules for buying 
used parts online from individuals:

  • Meet the seller.
  • Inspect the part.
  • Discuss any issues.
  • Agree on a price.
  • Complete the transaction.
Other options, such as brick and mortar junkyards or online salvage parts resellers have some recourse if a part is damaged or incomplete when shipped. I purchased another part for this same Mitsubishi Evo project from an online parts dismantler without issue. 

Tough luck
You think you are covered? Think again. FaceBook Purchase Protections are enabled when you use their checkout or shipping features. If you were "smart" enough to use alternative payment options such as, PayPal, Payment in Messenger, or Venmo you are out of luck. Facebook Purchase Protections will not help you. Your purchases may be secured with other buyer protections provided by PayPal and others. Just follow their rules. PayPal's Resolution Center turned down my repeated efforts at making my case. Scammer know the loopholes and these loopholes are easy to overlook when you want a part in a hurry. Do your homework and check the seller's ratings and their longevity as a seller.

$200 paid for a junk Mitsubishi Evolution oil cooler.
$200 paid for a junk Mitsubishi Evolution oil cooler. Everyone is not your friend.

Another lesson
I learned more about turbo cars and shady salesman in one purchase than I anticipated. Never, never buy a used oil cooler. After unpacking the oil cooler from the soaked, dripping cardboard box, I decided my first step was to flush the cooler with gasoline. I found metal shavings everywhere on the black t-shirt I used to filter the contents of the flush. The engine this oil cooler was removed from had internal damage. This cooler was unusable. I wouldn't want to install it on my Evo with metal shavings embedded in the cooler. I would never be able to flush it completely. A closer look at the fins on the cooler showed evidence of previous welding repairs and damage from burns or a wreck impact. Total loss.

At least the oil cooler lines and plastic shield were on the way. Haha!

Jody Potter
– Junkyard Life

Garbage for sale: $200

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