Beware of Fake Chinese “Sterling Silver”

Paula,

I just bought a bracelet on eBay that was listed as sterling silver. When I got it, I thought, no, this isn’t sterling silver…….I’m not an expert but I wear it all the time and this looked funny. I looked for hallmarks and there was a stamp that said “925″ which I know is supposed to mean sterling silver.

Well just for my own peace of mind, I took it to a jeweler who is a really nice man – he said right away, No, but did the acid test and it was not silver of any kind, let alone sterling silver.

Then once I got looking at the bracelet, it didn’t look Native American made – it looked like a wannabe.

Do you know about this?

Sheila

Hi Sheila,

Oh yeah. I know about this. Native American designs and hallmarks are copied every day over in Asia and passed off as NA made. It is disgusting.

And now there is an influx of fake sterling silver. Here is an excerpt from the Society of American Silversmiths:

Fake Chinese sterling jewelry and holloware is a growing problem on eBay and rapidly spreading throughout the world. Marketed as sterling or 925, this merchandise is actually PLATED BASE METAL, as illustrated by its unusually low pricing and free shipping.

The sterling or 925 quality mark that is stamped directly on the object or attached as a tag indicates that the entire piece is sterling, even if the seller says it’s plated. If you intend on buying these plated Chinese pieces with this quality mark, it MUST be removed to make it a legitimate plated piece. The law in the United States says that if a piece is marked or has an attached tag that says “sterling” or “925,” it must be SOLID sterling.

In the article I quote above, there are instructions on how to report this fraudulent marketing.

It is best to purchase from reputable dealers. If you are suspicious of a piece, have it acid tested at a jewelers.

Authentic Sterling Silver and Turquoise Bracelet by Navajo Tommy Moore

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46 thoughts on “Beware of Fake Chinese “Sterling Silver”

  1. It’s easy to test for sterling silver yourself, and such kits are inexpensive and available on eBay. You need an acid liquid, a stone on which to rub the object and some instructions. I bought my own inexpensive testing kits on eBay. It’s useful. One time I bought a bolo. The slide part was sterling but the tips were not. The seller was surprised, replaced the tips for me with other old ones he had, and he bought his own testing kit, which he’d been wanting to do. I sell on eBay and test my stuff before I list. And if anyone buys anything on eBay that’s not as represented, eBay will refund the purchase and shipping, too! eBay has good policies now for misrepresented stuff. You have quite a while to file a claim with them, too, so there’s plenty of time to test yourself, bring to a jeweler, get an appraisal. There are always crooks but I think eBay has been working hard on limiting that sort of thing on eBay. Now that metals have gone up in price there’s more “in it” for people to cheat if they can, so the testing kit is a great protection.

  2. Yes for avid collectors or sellers, a test kit is a must.

    Note for those of you not familiar with an acid test kit, the solutions must be fresh or the results are not reliable. So if you have a kit on the shelf for a couple of years and only use it occasionally, it is not going to give you a definitive answer.

    Most people just buy an item or two here and there and wouldn’t warrant a test kit. They are the ones I am warning about this.

    Many people wouldn’t think to question an item if it is stamped “Sterling” or “925″. Yet there is fake stuff out there stamped as if it is real.

    So heads up jewelry lovers !

  3. Yes, having a test kit is a must. I have purchased on eBay within the last 2 months as a new buyer. I was given a few Top Sellers to purchase sterling silver from and I had NO reason to believe they were not legitimate. I purchased thousands of dollars of sterling silver from a friend of mine who was going out of the sterling business. I had NO reason to believe her sterling was not real 925 and neither did she.

    The upshot of all of this is that none of the jewelry I purchased on eBay was real 925 and half of the jewelry purchased from my friend was not real either. I only found this out because one of the large chains sold from her collection turned copper after a customer of mine purchased it from me. This was humiliating, but was also a blessing as it caused us to doubt all of our silver purchases. We bought a testing kit and discovered the horror of being duped by eBay sellers and my friend was in shock as well.

    EBay only gives you 45 days to recover your money as does PayPal. If you don’t suspect anything within that time frame, you may be hard pressed to get your money back. I was very fortunate that this occurred in that period of time, but barely on some of the earlier purchases. I am getting my last of refunds from a seller right now. It’s horrible and no one seems to care about it even though it is illegal to pass off fake jewelry with a 925 stamp on it or a tag.

    What do I do with the jewelry stamped 925 that is fake? How can I remove a 925 stamp so I can sell it as plated?

    • I agree that eBay is less than interested in policing authenticity of items listed. We’ve had countless readers contact us about items they purchased on eBay that were not as described. The cases include, in their order of most common first: fake sterling silver, item listed as Native American and were not NA made, knock-off designer handbags (in this case Dooney & Bourke since we list those on our website).
      Sometimes the sellers on eBay don’t know they are selling fake goods and sometimes they are do it knowingly. Some sellers, not matter if they are presented with a letter from a jeweler, are still in denial that something is not sterling silver because “it has been in the family for years”…….that kind of logic.
      I suggest that all eBay buyers use the resolution center and feedback system to the fullest extent when they receive goods that are not as described.
      That’s why we encourage people to buy from trusted, knowledgeable sellers……like us !!
      When we buy an estate lot, quite often it is represented as 100% sterling silver NA made and yet when we receive and test it, we find a number of items in each lot that are not sterling OR not Native American made. We put these items in our Bargain Barn which is a place we sell things we can’t authenticate or verify.
      If your chains have a tag with 925, of course, you can just remove that tag if the chain is not solid sterling silver. If the 925 is stamped on the clasp, then it will be more difficult to sell without complications. You could replace the clasps or just sell the chains with a disclaimer. This might be tough, but your friend should compensate your for goods not as described.

      • I spend lots of money on E-Bay and it’s gotten to the point that I am ashamed to ask for a return envelope for the amount of items that I have gotten that were not silver. At the moment I have an open case for misrepresented sterling. I purchased a set of bangles that are some of the best I’ve ever seen on E-Bay but to my dismay they are not silver. I like them so much that I am having a hard time parting with them. I fear that if I keep them they will fade and then I will be double upset. Still they are the best I’ve ever seen. I am about to give up on E-Bay. Just today another piece came from E-Bay. Also fake what I was trying to do is make a set to compensate for the ones that I’m thinking of sending back. What’s worse is I have two more coming which were to make up the new set, So this is why I’m embarrassed to ask for yet another envelope. I would like to have an honest merchant from E–Bay… So now I ask if the silver is real before I purchase it. I can almost tell when there lying, “The’ll say I don’t test it, It’s stamped.” and they swear by it even after they know it fake,

  4. Thank you for your timely reply. Again, I have called the resolution center to report this criminal activity on eBay. They really don’t care about the legalities. They do care about making sure you get your money back, but they have a time limit and will only stick to the 45 days from date of purchase. I spoke with someone at PayPal and they also have a 45 day limit, but the guy I spoke with said they would extend my time limit because of the circumstances of fraudulent activity. He made note of this in my file.

    All of the sellers have refunded and I am in process of getting my refunds from the final seller who is moving slowly because they tell me how busy they are. Sure!! Busy defrauding others. They all acted shocked when I informed them they were selling fake silver. Yeah, right! My main concern is that eBay should do a clean sweep and an investigation. They are part of this illegal trafficking of counterfeit goods. It would seem that eBay could be shut down for this type of thing.

    My friend was willing to take back the fake silver, but I also got that it would end our friendship because we were not particularly happy about trying to move it for her. I don’t know the quality of the plating and even though I would sell it as plated jewelry and make sure the customer was fully aware of that, I would still worry about how well it would hold up. But I would sell it at a very low price. We are making payments to my friend so she would not have had to give me a refund at this point. She was shocked herself which shows how many of us are fooled by these sellers and don’t bother to do our own testing. People do want to believe in the honesty of others. And these guys still remain in the Top Seller category which boggles my mind.

  5. This is a pertinent discussion for me. I buy a lot on eBay and I sell a lot on eBay. I have since the beginning and now that they have their Buyer Protection I’m a lot more happy. They will provide a full refund plus shipping both ways when things aren’t right, but if it takes longer to find the problem it can be a problem. I’ve found most sellers will work with me if I discover a problem later. When something isn’t sterling sellers may not have known. I personally try to test everything I sell but I’m not sure I can detect plating. Can you tell me how, for sure, Paula? I use a stone and fluid on the stone, but I just rub the object. Is there a way to be sure you’ve found a plated piece? I did detect not long ago that the tips weren’t sterling but the bolo was and the seller took my word for it and swapped tips for me. Then he bought a testing kit. A recent relevant problem came up. I sell a lot to a buyer who became a friend and we have corresponded daily for years. I sold her some old pieces from India I bought as sterling years ago from a reliable source. She says a bracelet she was wearing a lot has green on it and she used old fluid and it and the necklace are not testing as silver. I wore these pieces years ago, and I’m pretty sure I tested them before listing them on eBay. I told her she has a lifetime guarantee, can return them for full refund if they aren’t sterling, but to get fresh fluid first. Most sellers, I think, like myself, aren’t trying to cheat anyone, and don’t intentionally misrepresent anything, but just were misled when they bought the items or don’t know how to test properly. If I buy from a seller who is a big seller and says he tested, I just believe them. On the other hand I have come across crooks there. By no means is everyone honest. Rita, your friend has to take back the fakes and give you the full refund, no matter how long it’s been. I think your friendship should survive this; she didn’t intend to cheat you and she knows you shouldn’t take the hit. I’ve found with eBay if you escalate to a manager sometimes you can get them to do the right thing, so if a problem appears after 45 days and the seller won’t provide satisfaction, I’d talk to someone as high up as possible on eBay, because the fact the seller won’t make it right to me is an indication of dishonesty, and I’d expect other problems with that seller. We wouldn’t be the only victims. Linda

  6. Hi Linda,

    First of all, as I have said before somewhere on this blog – and as you said and asked your friend to do – use FRESH solution to get the most accurate test results. The acid degrades over time, so FRESH is key.

    As far as testing for plating, if the plating is thick, it will be difficult because basically you have to get down to the base metal if something is plated, to prove it is not sterling. That means removing the plating in a spot large enough to rub onto the stone ! EEK !! However if you are suspicious of a piece and don’t want to damage it, you can look for places of wear – often the base metal will show through at hinges or places of movement or solder spots and you can rub those places where the plating is thinnest.

    I don’t have a lot of eBay experience so what would happen if someone bought a bracelet claimed to be sterling for lets say $40. They receive it and it does not test sterling. Does the buyer have to take the item to a jeweler to have it officially tested? I’ve asked jewelers to verify something was sterling before I shipped it overseas and no jeweler in Fort Collins, CO would do so even though they all tested it and it tested positive for sterling. So what does eBay require? What if the buyer tests, it is not sterling, eBay says send back to seller, buyer gets all costs refunded but seller still insists it is sterling……..just not sure how that all would work.

    Paula

    The think with eBay is

  7. Hi Linda,

    The problem when you buy something on eBay is that you are trusting that a Top Seller is selling what he represents such as 925 sterling silver. Because I was new at the game, I trusted my friend’s referrals for vendors from whom she purchased a lot of “sterling silver”. I had no reason to believe otherwise and neither did she. I bought a lot of items from 5 different Top Sellers. Everything I purchased turned out to be fake silver upon testing. But I didn’t really think about testing all the pieces because I trusted that what they were saying was true. We were forced into testing each piece because one of the items that I purchased from my friend privately turned out to be poorly plated and not the sterling that we all thought it was.

    My friend had sold “sterling silver” for a couple of years and her angle was to retail it for less than anyone else. Now we all know how that was possible. It was a lot of fake silver and she didn’t know about it either. If it’s too good to be true, know that it is.

    What happened to us with the chain was a blessing in disguise because this happened within a month of us taking over her sterling business and also purchasing other so called sterling from some eBay Top Sellers. I wouldn’t have had the urgency to test every piece of jewelry if this had not occurred. So we were lucky that it didn’t go on too long. However, I did sell a bunch of items before finding out about this chain. I’m not saying all of it was fake from her, but I don’t know how much of it was and it makes me feel bad and also feel at risk financially if people start to return everything. I stand by my quality guarantee so this will not be a problem for my buyers

    EBay and PayPal only give you 45 days from the date of your purchase so if you don’t discover this “not as described” within their given time frame, then you have to rely on the discretion of the seller who sold the fake item. I don’t know who at eBay handles this type of scenario, but I know that it was not someone in the United States. PayPal was handled by a person in the U.S. and he said he would give me an extension due to the circumstances of fraud. This selling of fake silver is illegal and I’m convinced that these guys know full well what they’re doing as they have been informed of this by different buyers including myself. They act shocked, but it is just an act because it is so very widespread.

    I’m not saying that most eBay sellers are dishonest. I’m sure that most sellers are doing their best to provide good service and a good product. However, there is certainly more fraud on eBay than is viable. Tens of thousands of people buy from these guys that I bought from as well. I have had to return merchandise from 5 different sellers and I have not yet been fully refunded by my final vendor and this scares me right now. If these guys get busted off of eBay, I may never see my money and I don’t know what to do.

  8. Hi, Paula and Rita: eBay refunds the full purchase price and the shipping and they always side with the buyer. Since the new CEO came on, the support was for the buyers over the sellers. Note that sellers can’t give buyers neg or neutral feedback: only positive! So if a buyer behaves badly you can’t put it in their feedback if you’re the seller. The same concept follows through on the Not As Described cases. eBay will side with you as a buyer and will refund to you out of their own pocket even if and especially if the seller disappears. They have ways of collecting since PayPal will hold the Sellers funds. So, for example, if you bought an item for $1000 and it was Not As Described, as in this case, eBay will take your word it tested as not Sterling Silver. eBay gives you back your money and your original shipping and if you hadn’t returned the items, will give you a paid return label to use, even paying your return shipping. So you’re really covered. It shouldn’t take you as a buyer more than 45 days to find you’ve been defrauded. But in the extenuating circs you’ve described, Rita, you already see that PayPal is supporting you. While you can say eBay doesn’t want to police, that’s only partially true. I opened a second selling account and even though I had a Top Seller account, I was examined as if I were a criminal. They monitor the new sellers now, like you wouldn’t believe. I didn’t believe it myself. They have Trust and Safety handling the new seller department. It’s really annoying for someone like me who was on eBay since the beginning. The really try but obviously there’s always more they can do. I think the Buyer Protection feature is excellent for after we have bought. Look, I was cheated a lot before this came into play and now I’m not. When I have a sale that troubles me I can usually get the seller to take the return because they know they’ll lose if I open a Not as Described case or, maybe, any case. I recently got two people to take returns; I shouldn’t have had to threaten opening a case but I did threaten and got what I wanted. Most sellers are not professional dealers, and go into it casually as part of cleaning out stuff, and I think most are honest. I have found some that aren’t and I’ve done my best to get them removed. I don’t succeed right away, but I’ve noticed that if I file reports that some day those sellers are removed. Possibly they wait for more reports. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt but I have a nose for bad ones sometimes. When you say you only have 45 days to open a case, that’s a pretty long time to inspect something. It’s long enough to get an appraisal, to test for silver or gold content and so forth. I will always back what I sell in terms of representation, forever. I am very careful about representation but anyone can make a mistake. I’m pretty sure the friend who bought the stuff from India from me is wrong about their not being sterling, since she was using old fluid, but if it turns out it’s not sterling, I will give her her full refund and it’s been more than a year since she bought those pieces from me. I think most eBay sellers would do that. As a Buyer we can leave Neg feedback, too. And Follow Up feedback, but there’s a time period for that as well. These things can happen anywhere. It’s happening on eBay because that is where most of the people ARE. If Paula is saying it’s really difficult to test for plate on some items, say there are no hinges or signs of wear, and you have to file into your work of art to test it, well, any seller anywhere can inadvertently sell something that is plate as being sterling. It’s only a bigger problem on eBay because there are more people on eBay. Once the complaints are filed, eBay removes those sellers and I know from my personal experience, they monitor new seller accounts closely. So while before someone could be removed and just open a new account, now it’s not that easy. I’ve got to say that I’ve bought on eBay since forever and I’ve gotten treasures there I could never find anywhere else. Anything you might want to buy can be bought there and there are just fabulous things available. For most people a 45 day inspection period is more than enough. And many sellers allow returns for any reason at all. So people can buy from sellers who take returns for any reason, and don’t even have to be limited by the Not As Described reason. I could never have found the treasures I bought on eBay anywhere else. Linda

  9. Hi Linda,

    Where are you talking about filing a report? Are you talking about the resolution center? EBay first encourages people to get in touch with the sellers before going to the resolution center. So where do you file a report about fraudulent sales? Please let me know what you are talking about here and how you file a report. I didn’t see any place for that.

    Forty five days would be enough time if you felt that you had to test the jewelry. The jewelry I received was either stamped 925 or the chains had hang tags that were stamped 925. These sites were recommended by the friend who sold me her jewelry, a friend I trusted without question. The pieces looked beautiful. Most buyers on this particular site have all written nice comments. This seller has over 90,000 feedback with only about 500 negatives. There was no real reason to think the jewelry had to be tested. I even wrote the seller in the beginning to make sure it was real 925. The answer was that her top buyers have the jewelry tested every so often.

    Also, every single one of the sellers I dealt with who had the fake silver requested that we leave positive feedback and assured everyone that they were reputable sellers whose main concern was the buyer. These guys said that they would leave buyer feedback once the buyer left the feedback on them. This indicates to me that a buyer CAN get negative feedback. So I don’t know where you get the idea that a buyer can only get positive feedback? Please reference me on that as I would like to know that.

    Once positive feedback is left, a buyer cannot take it back. There is a place to leave follow-up feedback, but it doesn’t take away the original rating that you gave. I gave ALL of my sellers 5 stars for everything because the jewelry looked nice when it came in. My mistake. I was told by my friend whose jewelry I purchased that it is in my interest to leave good feedback or the sellers could cut you off and it would have repercussions on you. I followed her advice which was another mistake, but I wanted to continue to buy from these sellers at the time.

    So you’re saying that eBay will refund me if the seller then disappears? It didn’t sound like that when I spoke with them. I have run out of the 45 day limit, but the last buyer has refunded me on 4 or the 13 invoices that they owe me and this goes back to March 15. There are still some dates in March from the 17th to the 25th that they owe me for. I was within the 45 day limit when I first contacted the seller and they said that they would handle everything. Now I am not within that limit because I have followed the advice of eBay to deal with the seller first and the seller agreed to refund me on everything. I sent everything back to them as well.

    The sellers I have dealt with are not just people clearing out their garages. They are big operations and sell many thousands of items daily. They may not have big stores in China or the U.S., but they are big operations. They have figured out how to work the system.

    One reason eBay is encouraging free shipping and is putting that in as a policy from what I understand is just because these guys charge little for the actual item but put it all into their shipping costs. So you can buy an item for as little as ninety nine cents if you win a bid, but the shipping will cost as much as $10.95. So eBay only makes their money on the actual item and NOT the shipping. The place I bought over $800 worth of goods from charges a buyer $2.50 for the first item and then $1.50 for each item after the initial purchase if you combine shipping. You can send a package of 15 pieces of jewelry or more for $2.50. But this shipping is a lot cheaper than most of the eBay shipping I have seen from some of these sellers.

    The bottom line for me is that this whole experience has disabused me of the sterling silver business and I am just going to go back to selling plated costume jewelry where I had no real trouble or stainless steel. Costume is pretty and cheap, but of course, people ask if it will turn as they expect to buy costume jewelry with the same durability and value as gold or sterling silver. Hard to win with buyers. I just don’t want to tell people that something is sterling even though I tested it and wonder if I have to ruin the piece to warrant that it is. What’s the point of ruining all of your merchandise if you can’t turn around and sell it? The purpose of buying the jewelry is to sell it, not to cut into every piece to prove it is real sterling. It’s a no win!!! I know there are reputable sterling silver companies, but I also know that they get their pieces from manufacturers as well and don’t always know for sure if it is the real deal if THEY don’t test it.

    As I said, I started selling this “sterling” jewelry only a few months ago and I kept my friend’s inexpensive pricing. So I had other retailers buy it from me because it was cheaper than buying it wholesale from other companies when silver rose to nearly $50 an ounce. These guys were selling silver themselves for years and they were fooled by the jewelry just like all of us were. Also, my thought was that if they were buying from me and thought the prices were good and the jewelry was nice, then it must be the real deal because these guys know jewelry much more than I do.

    So Linda, I would appreciate it if you could give me the place where I can write a full report. Once I get my refund from this final company, I can rate them and they may get busted down from the 1 or 2 stars they receive from me on their last shipment to me. I have not rated them yet on that and they will be very surprised.

  10. Hi, Rita. I see how upset you are and I don’t work for eBay, so please don’t take it that I’m defending them. But I can’t read statements that are incorrect and let them go; that’s just my character.

    You’ve asked a tremendous number of questions and I’ll try to address them all. It’s simply a FACT that sellers cannot leave negative or neutral feedback for buyers. This isn’t an opinion. It’s a fact. You’re a seller. When you go to leave feedback for one of your buyers, you will only have the Positive option. No other options. Try it. Furthermore if you leave negative info under the positive header your buyer can easily have it removed. It was done to me and I had it removed. You have to call eBay or email them about it; either method is successful and any feedback left for a buyer by a seller that has negative connotations is removed. On the subject of having feedback removed, you can’t as a buyer mention a case that the seller lost. So if you win a NOT AS DESCRIBED case against a seller you can leave them negative feedback but you’re not allowed to mention they lost the Not as Described case, because eBay thinks that provides an endorsement, and if that seller reports your feedback in email to eBay or by phone, your feedback will be removed, but not the negative header. That negative will stay and you can leave follow up with an improved comment. It happened to me that I mentioned as a buyer, in feedback to a seller that they I filed a case which I won, and the seller had my words removed but not the Negative and I left a follow up feedback with words that only described what they did wrong without mentioning the case. There are a lot of rules about feedback and they would be described in the feedback forum area.

    The reason that a seller says they won’t leave buyer feedback till the buyer leaves feedback is that they are Not So Nice Guys, in my opinion. They can’t leave buyers negatives and all you get as a buyer is another point, which you probably don’t need very much. Long ago they could leave negatives and neutrals for buyers but now they can only leave positives or nothing at all.

    500 negative feedbacks should be enough to get a seller removed from eBay and I’d call and discuss it with Trust and Safety even though it’s a small percentage. I would never buy from a seller who had 500 negative feedbacks, EVER. I often disregard my best judgment, but my best judgment tells me that I shouldn’t buy from anyone without glancing at their negative and neutral feedback. It’s easy now to click on feedback and then on the quantity of neg and read ONLY the negs and similarly read only the neutrals. That’s an important safeguard that is available to everyone. If we see the seller is selling fake silver to anyone, we shouldn’t buy from them period, unless it’s a one or two time thing and the seller responded it was a mistake and that a refund was provided. But 500? That’s impossible to occur by accident.

    It’s part of intelligent due diligence to read the negative feedback of a seller and to be aware that if it’s a fairly new seller that you should ask questions first and then check the quality of the product when you receive it.

    eBay encourages you to resolve with sellers but NOT beyond 45 days. You must file your cases before the 45 days end because if you don’t you’re demanding that eBay make exceptions for you and that’s a frustrating task, though in your case you will win, but why put yourself through that misery of asking them to make an exception for you. When you open the case, you just tell your seller you can’t go beyond 45 days and he’ll still have some time, usually 2 weeks to make good, after the case is open. You tell the seller that you can’t risk going beyond the 45 days so you have to open your case. Now since you didn’t do that, you’re going to have to explain it to eBay and their current support system is very frustrating. Like, I’d rather walk on hot coals than call them. Though I do it.

    On every item that is listed there’s a button to press to complain if you think a listing has violations of any kind and you can write a short report, but it’s short. I follow up with phone calls and try to get to Trust and Safety or a Manager. If the listing is closed, I call and try to get to Trust and Safety or a Manager. There’s also email support which means going to their contact links and ending up with an email link so you can write a long letter. I would also write to the CEO in some situations if I wasn’t getting what I wanted. I’d try to handle it first without doing that.

    On the matter of shipping charges: eBay is starting to charge the sellers for their shipping costs starting in July. It really pisses me off as a seller, too. So your complaint about the high shipping is being handled by eBay. And that should please you. First of all as a buyer we always have to read the shipping charges and factor them into the cost of the item and decide if it’s worth it or not. Second of all if I miss that and I often do, I do two things. Sometimes I email the seller before I pay and ask if he can reduce the shipping charges. I get embarrassed to do that so I don’t always do it. But secondly there’s a feedback category, a star category on the subject so I leave a one or a two star rating if the shipping is very high. When sellers get a certain number of ones or twos, and not very many, they are removed from Top Seller standing or not allowed to achieve Top Seller standing. So you can hurt a seller by leaving him a One or Two star rating. They know this so by asking them if they can reduce the shipping you’re giving them a chance to do the right thing.

    However shipping has become more expensive and we sellers have to pay it. It’s hard to make money on eBay because of the shipping, the PayPal fees, the closing fees. My primary selling account has never charged shipping. I ate it. My second one charges low shipping, less than I pay but enough to help. I sell jewelry primarily, some light some heavy, some inexpensive, some very expensive. I think very expensive things should get free shipping. If I am to ship Priority with signature confirm, the minimum cost is over $7 now. When I charge shipping I charge between $3.50 and $5.95. I wasn’t charging it but all the fees add up so I can’t make a profit so I’ve started to add low shipping. Now eBay will add the shipping sellers charge to the closing fee, the cost of the item, and will charge their percentage closing fees based on the combination of the shipping and the item’s final cost, not just on the final cost. This is probably intended to discourage high shipping but it’s just pissing me off since I do pay shipping after all. It’s not free to any of us sellers.

    If you’re buying from sellers with high shipping, though, you have only yourself to blame. You have to add the total cost up, and consider whether you want to pay it, or you have to negotiate with the seller in advance. If they’re outside the US they may have high shipping costs they’re just passing on and if the item can’t be found elsewhere and you want it, then you have to pay it. I was brought up to pay what’s asked, not to negotiate, but that’s a dysfunctional attitude. It doesn’t stand me in good stead. If I want something enough I just pay what it costs. So I overpay rather often. I try to negotiate, but I never like it and it always embarrasses me. But when we’re in a business and not just buying for our own collections and pleasure, we owe it to ourselves to try to get fair prices and not pay unfair prices.

    I have filed Not as Described cases with eBay. They have paid me on the basis of my statements. I remember a $4000 ring that I felt wasn’t what it was supposed to be. I didn’t pay for an appraisal; I just said that Cartier always signed their jewelry and that in the time frame the ring was supposed to have been made they didn’t hollow out the insides of the shanks. I actually thought the ring a good buy but that it wasn’t what it was supposed to be. eBay is slow to pay expensive claims (they need a lot of levels of approval) but they do pay them. That might have been my most expensive claim. They pay the inexpensive ones out of their own pocket. Well, they pay all of them out of their pocket and then they try to collect from the seller. They can collect because if the seller uses PayPal for anything else, well, they capture that money! If you see a seller who doesn’t want you to use PayPal, you’re probably dealing with a crook. It’s true, the PayPal fees are expensive at 3% plus .30 per transaction, across the board, and who doesn’t want to save 3%? But then they should pass on at least half that savings if they want that, and if they are asking it you have to think they have done something wrong and are avoiding PayPal to avoid paying a bill they owe.

    I said before, that the new CEO is completely on the side of the buyers and I’m saying it again. One time I opened a case as a buyer and they ruled against me and didn’t even tell me, and I called and eBay apologized and gave me an immediate refund saying it was a mistake. Of course, I was completely right, but I think even if I weren’t, as a buyer, they’d back me. The CEO feels that the way to their success is to make buyers happy. For that reason I think you’ll end up with complete satisfaction, but for goodness sake, don’t delay filing any more cases beyond 45 days. You’re making it hard on yourself by doing that!

    I may not have addressed every one of your questions but I’ll post this and then review your note. If I missed something I’ll post a follow up note.

    All best wishes,
    Linda

  11. Hi again Linda,

    I did not know until you told me that there was only ONE choice for buyer feedback. I believe you. It just sounded like sellers could do the same thing as buyers and my friend did discourage me from leaving negative feedback.

    I had NO reason to leave negative feedback in the beginning. It was only after having to chemically test all of the jewelry that I would have done that and I had left all of my feedback already. I can leave follow-up feedback and thanks for warning me about mentioning winning the case although I didn’t file with the resolution center because the sellers handled it right away.

    The seller that still owes me money for 9 invoices keeps asking me to be patient because they are very busy. I keep doing that, but I have written to them again and if they don’t start refunding the rest of the money, I will go straight to PayPal again. PayPal has already given me an extension, but eBay and PayPal encourage dealing with the sellers first. My last seller has already agreed to do my refund several times so I had no reason to go back and file a dispute officially yet.

    I am not an eBay seller although I am registered to be one. When you are new to eBay and get referrals from friends for the Top Sellers, you don’t always think to read the neutral and negative feedbacks. Due diligence is vital and with 90,000 plus positive and a small percentage of negative, you tend to slough it off which was a mistake on my part and on my friend’s part. The reasoning is something like maybe this seller changed and maybe the buyers were just being mean.

    I like to trust people and that was a mistake. I am new to selling sterling silver. I did have a little doubt about some of the pieces, but I queried it with my friend and with the sellers as well. We were also planning to get a test kit, but we should have gotten one sooner. I was also getting more educated about sterling in a very short time. It has really been an eye opener and a learning experience!

    EBay has not always been fair regarding their rating system. My friend sells gold jewelry and got a 1 and 2 star rating from someone because he said the package didn’t arrive which was totally his fault as he had it delivered to his office address. He didn’t even have the merchandise and gave her a bad rating. She was a Power Seller and she got completely demoted based on this and one other negative within the last 6 months. She had proof that he wasn’t telling the truth and eBay wouldn’t change it. Now she receives little or no orders from customers. And yet, they let these fraudulent sellers remain selling. My friend bends over backwards for these buyers and is very honest. Both bad ratings from two different buyers were bogus and she could prove it.

    I can see why eBay favors the buyers though. If it weren’t for buyers, there would be no money for anyone. I do think they need a more fair arbitration system for honest sellers like my friend and yourself.

  12. How to get to eBay email for complaints:

    On the bottom of most all the eBay pages, there’s a link “Security Center” click on that link.

    Then you’re on a page with a vertical menu on the left , click on “Contact Customer Support”

    Then you’re on a page with a menu on the right called “Contact Us” and the bottom
    “Contact us” is a link that brings you to “Buying”, hover your mouse over “Buying” and you get a lot of choices.

    Select “Report a Member” clicking on this one brings you to “What would you like to report?”

    Don’t select “doesn’t match description” because that will probably tell you to file a case. Instead pick “Another policy violation” and then you’re on a page where on the right it says EMAIL US. Now the email is what you are looking for! You want to write an email. Try to organize your thoughts so you know what you’re requesting, because all the support people aren’t so smart.

    There may be other ways to get to it, but that’s how I just got to it by trying to help you. You want to follow links till you get an “EMAIL” option. If you can’t find it, call eBay and ask them how to find a way to email them with your story.

    I wouldn’t rely on email alone. I’d call and get a Manager to help you get your cases filed late. I wouldn’t leave it up to email but I’d include email in a case like this.

  13. Hi, Rita: If you’re not selling on eBay, where are you selling all this stuff, what kind of way are you selling it?

    I’ve often made the mistake of quickly leaving positive fb and then finding there’s a problem and wishing I could change the fb but you can’t, ordinarily. Sometimes people have pull and have feedback removed that supposedly can’t be removed but it’s really rare and hardly worth the trouble, because in the case of your issues, eBay should just remove the sellers, period. With that many negs, you can get them to remove the sellers but before focusing on that, get all your money back. First get your money back and then get the seller removed. :)

    500 buyers aren’t being “mean.” That’s a really serious number of angry buyers.

    Like you, I often forget to read the fb but then it’s only myself I have to blame. Then I have to file a case.

    I know eBay isn’t always fair about fb. I’m sorry your friend lost her rating.

    You have three levels of recourse regarding eBay purchases:

    1. eBay
    2. PayPal
    3. your Charge Card

    You can still try to get eBay to do something. And keep following up with PayPal. If both those methods fail and you paid with your charge card, only after these methods fail, you can try charging back the charge on your charge card. I haven’t done it but I inquired once and my card told me that first I have to carry through with eBay and PayPal fully and then I can try charging back through them, but it will be rejected if the first two methods aren’t completed.

    Best wishes,
    Linda

  14. Linda,

    Thanks for the information.

    Yes, hindsight is wonderful. I know all of this now and it took me a very short time. I never focused on the feedback area because I saw Top Seller and didn’t bother to read all of the negatives at that initial point. I didn’t know how to because I saw the positives that are rotated in the box that moves. It just wasn’t something I thought of at that time.

    I sell at different venues outside of eBay. I don’t think I want to be an eBay seller after all of this craziness on both sides. I saw my friend work really hard to get up to Power Seller and then fall in an instant. There are also crazy buyers out there as you may have experienced. No mater what you do, they are out to get you. I have another friend who had the same experience.

    Also, I have nothing to sell on eBay that isn’t already being sold and for a much cheaper price. Why bother?

    I don’t know where the eBay call center is. It may be in the Philippines. I called to speak to someone to report all of this and got some woman that didn’t seem to really get the whole thing. She seemed distracted. Then I heard loud noises in the background. It sounded like a revolution or something going on. I asked her what the heck that was. She told me to hold. She came back and said she was having technical difficulties which I knew was a lie. Then we started to talk again and the noises happened again. She put me on hold again and left me there for 10 minutes. I finally hung up. It was disgusting. If that’s the level of help you get, who needs it?

  15. Hi, Rita:

    If you’re starting a business as you were, you have to explore all the info, do your due diligence. You have to do some work, and as I also prefer to cut corners, I’ve made most all the mistakes you have, But then I have only myself to blame. The info is there on eBay and you just have to take a little time, poking around a little to find it. eBay tells you constantly to read feedback. I understand not reading it; it’s a mistake I make myself, but then I know it’s MY mistake.

    I detest the current eBay support system. They used to use Salt Lake City and Canada. When they fired Canada it was one of the saddest days in my life. That and removing the Top Support system, which I loved! They have it on PayPal now and I spent enough there to qualify it but maybe I haven’t sold enough on eBay to qualify for it if they still have it on eBay. I’m in there with you in the Philippines for support these days. The current system uses people whom I refer to as parrots. They repeat what you say but they don’t understand it, and everything is repeated numerous times but it rarely leads to a happy resolution. And it’s way too slow. I always end up screaming. With your complicated story they can’t grasp what you want, so you have to do what I suggested: ask for a Manager because you want an exception on the case filing time. Narrow your story down to the salient points. The level support person who answers the phone doesn’t have the power to help you anyway, and will just put you on hold a thousand times. So, insist on talking to a Manager or Trust & Safety and a Manager in Trust and Safety if necessary. You have to go higher up to get the kinds of exceptions you need.

    You have a future ahead of you in business, so I wouldn’t write this off as “hindsight.” You will learn from this so you can handle your business better in the future.

    This has taken a lot of time and I was happy to help. I hope you will let us know how this all turns out. Do be persistent till you get your money back and also till you get those sellers removed from eBay. Good luck!

    Linda

  16. My grandmother had good friends at a nearby reservation in Mew Mexico. I used to go with her, and we’d trade feathers in exchange for their beautiful silver and turquoise. Well, I inherited a pair of “silver” earrings we got there. My grandmother would roll over in her grave if she knew those earrings are NOT real silver. I can’t believe it myself! These earrings are not stamped with anything claiming them to be real silver, neither is any of the jewelry I got there so many years ago. But we were under the distinct impression that it was all REAL. I tested them using the specific gravity method, which I understand is pretty fool-proof if correctly done. As a control I also tested a sterling silver James Avery ring I own and it came out right on the money, with a 10.5 specific gravity. So, I’m confident I know how to do the test correctly, plus it is easy anyway. I’m jus sayin’ I am SHOCKED! So, even though this thread has been largely “fake silver on Ebay tips”, I’m here to tell ya Ebay isn’t the only place you need to worry about, FOR SURE. They may have had dirt floors, cooked outside in dirt ovens, held male-only secret meetings in an underground dug-out accessed only by ladder, had big ceremonies involving men on horseback or men pounding drums and dancing, passed out loaves of bread to the crowd, and had giant eating festivals where everyone came, brought a dish, and literally sat on the ground on either side of a long runner right down the center of their main dirt-road “drag” to all eat together-they had all the signs of being real Native-Americans…but that doesn’t mean their silver is real! Buyer-and traders-BEWARE!

  17. I have a 1923 Liberty Dollar. I would love to have a Native American crafted bezel to put the coin in. Any idea where I can have one designed?

  18. In regard to the fake silver, two recent examples were brought to my attention. One good customer of mine who collects bolos bought a figaro sterling chain on eBay which was supposed to be a certain weight. When he weighed it, it was short in weight by a lot. He tried another seller and had the same experience. Of course, eBay will refund your money if you open a case with them or PayPal but it’s a big disappointment. Then.. this is a longer story. Another eBay seller who sells NA things also sells charm bracelets she makes of NA charms and they sell for a lot of money. A NA friend of mine who also has been selling on eBay sold this other seller a ton of her genuine charms for $50 and she saw the seller sells these bracelets for $500 and higher. She decided to buy back her charms by buying a bracelet which was on auction and she bought it back for $275. Her charms were good things and had been mixed with alpaca silver, charms, fake silver and put on a poor quality chain. The other seller had misrepresented it as an all sterling bracelet. She has sold a lot of these bracelets and I have to assume no one tests what they buy. It’s a good idea to test your purchases by weighing them and using the silver acid which is so inexpensive and easy to use. eBay will back you up and will see you get a full refund.

  19. Hi

    I always test does not matter what seller says and use the ask seller option
    it makes no difference I send back more than I buy it costs money.

    I bought a 925 at auction on Ebay it was rubbish no answer to emails from seller . I sent back. Seller told me would only pay if I removed feedback and he received item. I said I would for a worse one.

    I took it to resolution and lost the case you know why? because the door number was back to front and item was left at post office.

    Seller was notified by me three times where it was. He told ebay he had been twice but nothing there. The post office gave me a reference No and said nobody had been there. and been since there 9-1-013.

    All this proof was sent to paypal lost the case. The reason given door number back to front.

    Do not bother people gold plate sold as solid gold,. glass as natural mined
    diamonds. Base metal as sterling silver.

    I have all my instruments and I send back straight away. ebay and paypal could not really care less they are sitting on profits.

    Find the few good sellers and stick with them that is what I have done. Some sellers are not approachable get your money and you can go to hell.

    You can always use Consumer affairs or small claims court if paypal fails.

    Do not be talked into a tribunal because once decision is made you cannot go any further. Beware of that.

    Happy ebaying

  20. Hi again

    Just reading about the feedback. After getting no answer from the seller trying to get their address etc for three days I left a bad feedback first time I have ever done this. My take is get the item test yourselves then get back to me. The sellers I use now are happy with that.

    I was contacted through ebay by the seller who asked me to remove the feed back I refused. I was actually sent a respond to request by ebay.

    When I said I refused I got the message ebay was sorry about my refusal to retract.

    Go to Ebay Forum Australia you will find out people are getting blackmailed by sellers about either removing feedback. or leaving another one along side of your bad one saying things settled etc.

    Leaving a second feedback is not too bad though because everybody makes mistakes and if buyer makes a mistake they can go back and rectify it.

    Please do not think I am blasting all sellers there are some good ones but a lot of people on Ebay have no idea of business management or customer service and yes no idea of testing product and a lot as seen in above letters do not have that much knowledge. Jewellery is a complicated item to sell especially these days, It is really not for the novice.

    Let me explain: a seller sells a young man a diamond ring 14ct gold. The seller sells in good faith (it is stamped) he gets engaged. 6 months down the track she finds out she has copper plated glass. How would you feel? if it was you.

    All seller can say is ” I was told it was real ” that will not help a broken engagement and break down of trust.

    If a seller does not know what they are selling they should not be there that is the customer service that you owe the public.

    you have to be able to answer queries and you have to be right this is the problem I am having now. Even if you ask a question they do not know all buyer has is a description remember that, and your word.

  21. Having a testing kit is good thing you can do to avoid any problem with fake jewelry sellers. However, dealing only with trusted manufacturer is the best to have profitable jewelry business.

  22. I agree. I sell via ebay a huge amount of NA jewelry and also gold jewelry into Australia and they are among my best customers. I would always take a return if there’s any question about representation but any buyer also can file a case if a seller isn’t responsive. I also buy a lot on eBay and one time recently I wanted to return something I really didn’t like and it had been cleaned. It was supposed to be an old piece. The seller had a 14 day return policy, which eBay encourages sellers to have, but seller didn’t answer my note, so I filed a case, won the case, got a return label free from eBay and a full refund also from eBay. They give the buyer the money and collect it from the seller. I never lost a case as a buyer or a seller because I am really scrupulous about accuracy in what I sell and want my customers to be happy, and I’ve returned things worth thousands of dollars and also very little and was backed by eBay on my word if I said an item wasn’t as represented. Ordinarily they don’t make it difficult but there are many levels of recourse. Cases can be filed on PayPal or on eBay and also charged back to one’s credit card as a final resort. But of course, one should test items if there is any question and get the process of resolution started as soon as possible. The important thing is customer satisfaction. I don’t understand crooked sellers because they can’t have any repeat business, while most of my own business is repeat business because customers are happy. Crooked sellers are bad for all sellers because it makes customers doubt everyone.

  23. HI Linda,
    Yes I wish all ebay sellers were as top notch as you. Although we neither buy or sell on eBay, I do use it for research and I am always amazed at how many obviously fake items are passed off as Native American made. When I query such a seller about an item, I either get no reply or very vague answers.
    I couldn’t agree with you more about repeat customers and building trust.
    Best of luck, Paula

    • Hi

      Ha ha the vague answers are usually a sign they have no idea what they have or trying a con

      Sometimes you can get really lucky and get the real thing for a song

      Like I have already said I am only just getting into Native American and like the thick silver.

      I have been sourcing the thrift shops you will be surprised what you can pick up.

      Had a very good week last week picked up some choice pieces for next to nothing. And have just got a great Native American ring from Ebay. It is very old though and I do not have a small polisher to really clean it properly because the art work is fantastic do not think will ever see another like it. Got the local jeweller to do that for me.

      Can I put a photo of it in that little square box beside the email address? would love to show you. It weighs 32 grams but the stones in it are pretty shot but may come up with a polish do not wish to remove as with the age of the ring it could still have the spirit with it.

  24. Thank you, Paula. I see what you see, often write the sellers and often get a rude response, but occasionally there’s appreciation, too. I wish I could go to the source as you do, but I have my own collection am selling that I accumulated over 50 years and I find eBay a good source of the great old pieces which one can’t find elsewhere and I can often get good prices on them, that I can resell. But you know that’s because I mostly know what I’m buying. If I always did, I wouldn’t ever have to return anything, but I’ve gotten some real masterpieces there so I am hooked. I can vet them for my customers. If it’s not what I thought I take the hit or I return it but if it is, I can find some treasures. Since you can buy in bulk you definitely have a way of finding some great things, too. You can buy a whole store, and I couldn’t ever do that. And for the modern pieces you can buy directly from the artists. And you always know what you’re getting in that case.

  25. Really my favorite Linda is to buy someone’s entire old collection or one they inherited…….or to purchase New Old Stock from a store or seller that has closed their doors. I really do love the old stuff like you sell. We do purchase quite a bit of the new, contemporary jewelry direct from the artists who make it but all of us around here really do like the vintage items as they require research and tell a story and are made with good stones and thick sterling. You’re in an ideal situation to have a personal collection to sell plus the knowledge to identify good bargains when you see them. It is an ongoing learning process, isn’t it? That’s what keeps me so interested in my job ! Paula

  26. Paula: Your ability to buy whole collections is enviable as well as the ability to buy New Old Stock, entire store inventories. I couldn’t manage that financially or physically. But I have found many treasures one at a time, and I think we both get the same rush when we find some wonderful things. It’s a treasure hunt!

  27. Hi Rita

    There are a lot of posts to you hope I have the name right.

    If your thinking of buying on Ebay for a business do not unless you know what your doing

    Everything I get I test within a few mns of it arriving

    A lot of dealers are getting bad feedbacks because they have no idea what they are getting
    You cannot take the sellers word. Stick the people you really know.
    80 percent of jewellery bought on Ebay is fraudulent this includes gold and diamonds too.
    RESOLUTIONS
    Get in touch with dealer first see if you can work things out

    1) In Ebay if your with pay[pal go to the Ebay site or your Paypal account

    2) Click on resolution

    3} You will need your transaction number handy you will asked what the problem is. Tick the square which refers to you

    4) It will ask for your transaction number find it in your account click on it

    5) It will then ask you to explain your problem and what makes you think you have one.

    6) They will contact the dealer and may ask you to supply paper work to support your claim . both you and the dealer will have a few days to respond.

    7) You will be told if you have won or the case closed against you this takes time.

    If you think Paypal has been unfair your can contact your bank and ask for a charge back.

    Before you can do this with your bank you have to have the item 30 days from delivery to your home, and have been through the whole Paypal resolution claims board.

    If your bank decides to do a recharge they will contact Paypal then Paypal has thirty days to sort things out for you.

    I am sending things back everyday believe me it is a pain. You have to keep books on everything you have bought that makes it quicker when you lodge a claim because they need to know everything and you have to supply it.

    The postage you paid the dealer you get back. But you cannot claim the postage back to the dealer, Keep your receipts and tracking number Papal and the bank will want proof of those.

    If the item is below in value than the postage back your better to keep it and count your losses. And be aware next time.

    Also to try to protect yourself you can ask the dealer to test first if they do not wish to do not buy. Same as a car if they do not give me a certificate to prove the car has been looked at I will not buy.

    Hope this helps you

    Take care and all the best

    • There is no Rita here. This is a blog by me, Paula, about Native American jewelry. I don’t use eBay for buying or selling but will post this since you took the time to write it….and it hopes it might help someone. However, there are blogs and chat rooms on eBay that would be more appropriate for this topic.

      • Hi

        Sorry did not realise I had stepped on any toes.

        I do belong to these forums and find it does not matter how many people say it, buyers do not really want to listen so I have given up now

        To be honest their lack of knowledge is making me money but I do suggest buyers stick with dealers and not try to buy for themselves

        it is fine to say buy acids etc but without prior knowledge of metals how they react to different metals and most importantly how good the acids are your still behind the eighth ball.

        Plus the good acids are costly and I know inferior acids are being sold as are Gemstone detectors etc

        As these kind of technical instruments and acids they should not be used without prior knowledge. Acids are dangerous enough not to be sent by post in this Country anyway

        I have tried

        Take care

        Georgia.

  28. Hello, can you please clarify something for me? I know it’s illegal to stamp a non-sterliing product with .925 in the U.S. But is it illegal to SELL products made with such findings if you disclose that they are only plated materials?

  29. Off Topic But I also Buy silver of all kinds on ebay and run into the same problem …and i see people buying fake silver items all of the time. I tried to report a auction of 10 silver 1 ounce bars the people unaware were paying spot price or more $350 $400. The actual manufacturer of these bars sells them also on ebay i contacted him not knowing that he was the original maker and he was upset he sells on amazon and ebay for $10 and doesnt always get it …the seller misrepresenting them sold at least a couple hundred kept on putting lots of 10 up. i dont buy or sell silver bars its too risky for me personaly..but it upset me to know that these buyers were getting ripped off and hundreds of the bars going into circulation into peoples hands that thought they were real.so i kept on reporting the auctions ebay did not respond took about 3 times of me reporting.. Ebay was making too much money off this seller they did not want to disturb. now there are tons of people with tons of bars they think are silver and many will sell then invidualy on ebay.Never ending cycle… this was recent not years ago when this problem first started showing up on ebay..

  30. I have a question….I just realized that I have been buying rings from a seller thinking they were .925, they were stamped but are only plated in sterling. I have been selling these rings on another site as sterling rings. I still have a bunch of these rings left, can I still sell them if I sell them as sterling plated over copper and not solid sterling??? Is it ok to sell them if I put a disclaimer saying they are stamped but are only plated or is it illegal?

  31. I quickly read through these conversations out of curiosity because I was looking up the Ana Silver Company . . . I have been buying from a very good honest seller in Bali. Most of these conversations are about eBay and the issues of ‘returns’ and ‘testing silver’ etc. One thing that I noticed is missing – and very important to know is this – and item marked ‘sterling silver’ is not necessarily 925 silver – I am a jeweller – and have also studied and evaluating ‘vintage’ and antique jewellery. Anything marked ‘sterling silver’ can be any amount of silver either plated, layered and any percentage of silver. It’s common for antique pieces. . . or silver that is “un-usually inexpensive” Legally 925. Must be 925. percent. And – I know from my studies for certification; in Canada you must have a Full Jewler’s Certificate (that’s study in gold and diamonds) to even be allowed to possess a higher grade than 925. For setting stones even purer silver is needed – that’s 999. and you must write to the Canadian Mint and fill out a permission form and they will send you a coin that you then ‘melt’ or flatten for making bezels for stone settings.

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