(Credit: Nottingham Post)
Sometimes, it really pays to read the fine print.
United Kingdom resident Peter Clatworthy learned that the hard way recently when he paid £450 (roughly $750) on eBay for what he thought was an Xbox One. What he received for his money, though, was just a picture of the console.
The auction description, it's worth noting, did say that bidders would receive a photo of the console - but it was still listed in the site's "video games and consoles" section, which led to the confusion. (Some shady eBay sellers pulled this sort of thing during previous console launches, offering just the packaging for their consoles.)
"It said 'photo' and I was in two minds, but I looked at the description and the fact it was in the right category made me think it was genuine," Clatworthy told the Nottingham Post. "I looked at the seller's feedback and there was nothing negative. I bought it there and then because I thought it was a good deal. It's obvious now I've been conned out of my money."
The 19-year old said he had been saving to get the new system from Microsoft as a surprise Christmas present for his four-year-old son, but apparently was unable to get one at a traditional retailer.
There is a silver lining to the story. Clatworthy paid for the picture using PayPal, which has a guarantee policy. eBay officials told him he would receive a full refund from the seller, as the ad was deemed to be misleading.
"Customers can shop with confidence on eBay as we guarantee you will get your item or your money back," an eBay official said. "Mr Clatworthy is covered by the eBay money-back guarantee and we will be contacting him to put things right."
Still, there's a lesson here for people who are desperately seeking a next generation console. eBay sales typically carry a high premium and the risk of scams like this is significant. The wiser choice is to stalk retailers, who are getting regular shipments from Sony and Microsoft. The best way to keep up with online availability, since it's so fluid, is to regularly check in with sites that track availability. ZooAlert and NowInStock.net can both alert potential buyers the minute online orders open up.