Originally published at tblog.com; The Auction Board is in the process of migrating its blog.
Buyers are seeing a practice become increasingly common on eBay: closing an auction early to make a deal outside of eBay. Many sellers are looking for a quick close to their auction transactions. Although eBay discourages buyers and sellers from negotiating outside eBay, it is not illegal to do so. Be advised that both the buyer and the seller set themselves up for the added possibility of fraud and eliminate all buyer/seller protection eBay offers when they make deals and buy/sell outside of eBay.
For example: Joe is selling a book on eBay. It's a 5 day listing. The auction is on day 3 and currently at $3.25. Mary emails Joe and asks him to close the item early and she'll pay him $50 right now. Joe closes the item early and waits for Mary to send him $50 via PayPal. Mary never pays. How will Joe get his listing fees back? He won't because he closed the auction early to make a deal under the table.
Let's say Mary sent Joe a $50 money order and Joe never sent the book. How will Mary get her money back from eBay? She won't. The transaction was never completed via eBay.
Both buyers and sellers should play it safe this holiday season.