Baying for blood
We, at the back of the mag, all love eBay; indeed, we voted it winner of the Real World Award at last year’s PC Pro Reliability & Service Awards ceremony. As with everything, though, there’s room for improvement. For example, wouldn’t it be useful to quickly read all the negative feedback about some seller before making a bid? You can scroll through the feedback list trying to spot gripes, but with a prolific participant this could take forever. Far better to point your browser at www.toolhaus.org, where you’ll be able to see just the negative feedback for any member, free of charge.
If you’re a Firefox user, a handy extension called eBay Negs extensionroom makes this more efficient still; just right-click a username or within an auction window and the Toolhaus link opens in a separate tab with negative feedback already displayed. It’s still worth visiting the site proper, though, especially to try the Mutual feedback tool, which lists all the feedback that any two named eBay members have left for each other. If you suspect someone is a shill who bids only to push the price up (either collaborating with a colleague or using a separate account under a different name), Toolhaus can help by showing their historical pattern. (It’s useful as evidence when you apply to get the pair thrown off eBay too.)
Incidentally, Firefox users who feel victimised because the eBay Toolbar app only works in Internet Explorer have obviously never installed the brute. I won’t get involved in the ‘is it spyware’ argument here (Spybot-S&D thinks it is, and it connects to DoubleClick too often for my liking), but it also sucks up system resources. eBay is pushing it hard alongside the new Account Guard function, which offers password protection for blocking both eBay and PayPal account login at spoof sites, and a spoof site indicator that changes colour to warn you. To be honest, there are other ways to achieve the same ends, not least by following the advice we’ve given in PC Pro time and time again (see last month’s ’50 ways to protect your ID’ feature, for example).
Better not to follow the herd but to follow the cow: MOOBay (www.bluecowmedia.co.uk) is an eBay toolset that comes in two parts. MOOSell is an auction sales analyser that highlights bidders based on feedback, location and so on. It enables you to check on the people bidding for your items and weed out possible problem purchasers before the auction ends. However, it’s MOOBar that I really want to rave about. It comes in both IE and Firefox flavours and brings all of your eBay activity together within a toolbar – you can search for items, block bidders, leave feedback, end an auction early and so on. All the things you do most often have been built into this brilliant tool. One click and a new tab opens up in Firefox with the eBay page/form requested. It even monitors items you’re watching or bidding on in the same way as the eBay Toolbar, and notifies you when you’re outbid or the auction is about to end. You set the time limits yourself, but if you’re a prolific eBayer you may want to turn off the ‘mooing’ alert (the support forums report people being driven mad by their PCs mooing every ten minutes for weeks before they found the reason). To avoid this mad cow disease, simply uncheck the Refresh Alerts option in Preferences, and be sure to save the setting. Both MOOBar and MOOSell are free, developed by a UK-based company, and together with the eBay Negs extension they make Firefox the perfect browser for eBay.
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