Horrible Singaporean Buyer (SMS Conversation Screenshots)

If you’ve ever tried to list something publicly to sell it, you’ve probably had a similar experience.  I doubt many of you have had to deal with this level of annoyance though.

Just to give a little background, last month I sold a Nokia e51 I had sitting in a drawer, because, well it was just sitting in a drawer.  I use my iPhone all the time now and there was no point in keeping the thing around.  I could use the money for other things.

Anyhow, I listed the thing on Singapore’s eBay and the following is a conversation I had with a prospective buyer:

First off, note the time that this guy sent me this SMS.  This was a Saturday night, sure, and we were still up, but who in their right mind sends an SMS to someone about an eBay listing at that time of the morning?  Also, the listing made it clear that I was selling the phone and not representative of a company, so why did he think I had multiple color versions of the phone laying around to sell off?

When I put this phone up for sale I anticipated that I might encounter some less than bright questions or behavior, but this guy seriously tested my patience, as you’ll see as the conversation continues.  I tried my best to humor him, because it was my goal to sell the phone.  I figured I could always post screenshots of the conversation later.

I stated the condition quite clearly in the item description in the eBay listing, and simply repeated it to him.

On the eBay listing I posted the low end of the bidding at 185 and the high end at 200.  I thought the point of setting those figures was so that people would know immediately what your “best price” is, but… guess not.  I let him have his 5 dollar discount because I figured he would feel like he won something and stop being so troublesome.

His question about my age threw me off guard.  I couldn’t figure out what bearing that had on selling a phone, or why he would think it was appropriate to ask.  Later, I realized that it was a calculated question.  He was trying to do a quick mental calculation to see if I was potentially easy to rip off.  That’s probably why he kept going on and on and on too.  Trying to wear me down to just give up and sell it for a lower price.

Still trying to be polite and conversational here, so I deflected his question, but I was pretty sure my eBay listing was for a Nokia e51 and not pimping services.

If you’re from the US and wondering about the ‘Happy New Year’, this was right around the Chinese Lunar New Year.

So, if you notice the timestamp, this was two days later, again at an inappropriate time of the night for him to be sending me a text message. Regardless, I took the opportunity to tell him that I’d gathered the stuff for the phone together, and hoped he would stop fucking around and just agree to meet and buy the thing.

I thought I was pretty clear about why the SIM was in the phone.

This is when I realized this guy was just trying to screw me over.  First off, I’d looked around and roughly 180 SGD was the average price for a used e51, both here in Singapore and in other countries around the region.  Second off, this guy was trying to get me to sell it to him for what a pawn shop would give me for one.  That’s some pretty flawed logic, and I was insulted that he thought I was that stupid.  It was also pretty obvious that he didn’t work for a shop, for a number of reasons, and that this was just a ploy to try to get me to sell the phone to him for a ridiculously low price.

I felt like I was in a video game and he was trying to use a special attack on me or something: “Barrage of Stupidity! Go!”

There’s a time stamp here because I decided to ignore him.  I wasn’t going to play that kind of stupid game.  Sure enough, he messaged again and then launched right into another ploy.  The phone was worth 180 without the 4 GB memory card in it.  I just left that in there to act as an added incentive, so someone would choose to buy my e51 over another sellers.  That should be obvious, so I don’t know why this guy thought I’d keep a 4 GB memory card I’d have no use for and then let him rip me off on the price.

By the way, I think I’m being generous calling this person a guy, because it seems more like I was talking to a boy of about 16, trying to lie and cheat his way into a good deal on a phone because 130 bucks was all mama would give him.

I decided to just ignore him and sure enough, he started SMSing again.  Then, as you can see at the end of this screenshot, he launched right into another game.

So, now all of a sudden I’m his “bro” and since we’re such good “bros” I should let him pay me part-now / part-later and because he’s my “bro” I’ll just be able to trust that he’ll pay me the rest?

Of course, the guy never sent me another message after that, since it was obvious I wasn’t going to sell him the phone for 130, or let him trick me into giving it to him for 130.

I feel sad when I see that people this annoying and retarded manage to survive, but it did teach me a few important lessons.  When I listed the phone on eBay the second time I left a VERY detailed list of what came with the phone, what didn’t come with the phone, what time to message me and not message me and I made it very clear what the “best” price was.  I had a few more people try this same bullshit on me but I didn’t bother with it again.  I wasted enough of my monthly limit of SMS messages on this one fool already.

This whole “best” price thing is something that annoys the hell out of me.  It’s not local to Singapore, but this is the first place I’ve had to deal with it with any regularity. Singaporeans are so hellbent on getting a “best price” that even if you tell them that what you asked for initially is the “best price”, they’ll think you’re just playing hard to get and keep trying to haggle with you, or start playing games like the jackass in these screenshots did.

The day after I listed it for the second time I was contacted by a very polite woman who met me at Tampines, looked over the phone and handed over the asking price without trying to find out the “best price”, so I gave it to her for 10 SGD less than what I was asking for, out of thanks for her being so pleasant.

14 thoughts on “Horrible Singaporean Buyer (SMS Conversation Screenshots)

  1. Well, here's a reason why I don't like Sim Lim, and why I have issues there: http://bit.ly/aEj37D

    Besides that, my wife has personally had to get police involved to recover a deposit and an agent's fee when the money was taken but they weren't given access to the house. That caused a lot of problems for us and for other people we were moving into that place with. Everyone had to bunk together in the one place where the lease hadn't run out yet, so instead of moving once, everyone had to move twice.

    I also take issue with the fact that items that are supposedly on sale are actually the same price they were when they weren't on sale. Or, sometimes they'll go on sale and the sale price will still be higher than what the actual value of the item should be at regular retail price. An example is a pair of running shoes I looked at that were priced at 289 SGD regular, 150 SGD on sale, but only cost 79 USD regularly in the US.

    Wild price variations also annoy the hell out of me, when you find something in once place for 2 bucks and it's 7 bucks just around the corner. I understand that this is about doing business, and if you want a good deal you should look for it, but at the same time it's a bit excessive.

    In the US there are comprehensive consumer protection laws that prevent a lot of this nonsense from happening, especially in regards to pricing and supposed sale prices. Additionally, haggling isn't part of US culture and landlords aren't so quick to try to take your money and then brush you off.

    All of these things leave a bad taste in foreigners mouths, and one reason foreigners might be more vocal about it is because it's more obvious to them, and they're more often the victim of it, whether it's a foreigner in Singapore or a foreigner in the US.

    I wouldn't go so far as to say that all service standards in Singapore or bad, or that all sales people are crooks. That's too sweeping a statement. However, in many cases it's completely true. I've experienced good service and good prices here, but I've also had my fair share of people trying to screw me over.

    Ken may have had worse experiences than I had, but I can understand how he'd come away with that impression. It may even be because of his race. I personally find that I get better treatment in some places than my wife does, or an Indonesian or Malay that I know. Standards here vary widely, dependent on a lot of factors.

    So, I wouldn't completely discount what Ken said. I wouldn't take it as a factual assessment either. It's just his opinion based on experience. He never claimed that he did a thorough survey, but neither does any Singaporean that complains about service they receive in Singapore or abroad.

  2. AZNPride

    Brad, I never had any problems at Sim Lim, and neither did my European and Americans pals when they shopped there. Not to say there aren't any scammers there, but if that's your ultimate sample pool for Singapore business practises, I think you might wanna revise your initial hypothesis, or tweet the collection methods first. Like I said, I take exception to foreigners casting unsubstantiated, unfounded, unprovable, sweeping aspersions on the local business community, either they haven't done business often enough here (no, groceries and errands don't count!), or they just wanna bash the locals coz they can get away with it, just like what some immigrants and alien visitors in the US do, all the while they're earning a living and enjoying the lifestyle where they are. Yes, my American pals absolutely detest them, and I agree with too!

  3. AZNPrideNBukuMiffed

    @ken: It was a stupid sweeping statement, and it doesn't matter how long you have been in the US, that doesn't negate the fact it you wound up with your foot in your mouth! When I was in the US, I had property agents try scamming me over leases and off-paper transactions, citing state laws which didn't exist etc etc. Similiar shit went down with auto dealers, some financial deals coming out of NYC and the west coast, and I still maintain the fact that the business environment isn't more dangerous in the US as it is in Singapore, Tokyo or London!
    As for the racist crap, can you tell me what race specifically a Singaporean belongs to????? Perhaps YOU were the one thinking of race (the majority perhaps?) when you made your initial statement, and unless you come out with national statistics on a comparative scale from an acrredited source, spare me your histronics! Singapore isn't a transactional heaven on earth, but neither is anywhere else on earth.
    I like the “most foreigners” part. Once again, SOURCE???? Unless of course, you just want to act like a complete douchebag here and bitch about just about anything since its Singapore (there're LOTS of those losers around!), like being foreign infers some innate mightier-than-thou status on you here. If you just want to come here, make money and opportunities on this island while unfairly bitching the locals out, then quite frankly, you're precisely the kinda foreigner I as a local DO NOT want here. F-f***ing-T for you!
    You have only replied to ONE of my posts, now you're jumping all over my handle, and as a local, I will call you out on your bullshit, Neither me, my friends or most people I know here are “sociopathic” individuals, and you know what? You're just full of shit! Yeah, plain ol and simple, full of it! You sir, are a disgrace to the generally respectful, open and friendly expatriate community on this island!

  4. ken

    AZNPride – I wasn't firing from the hip. It might be a general statement but it doesn't make it any less true. I've lived in the US for 10 years and I have never experienced any scams doing my usual business deals. In Singapore, I've been here 1.5 years and I already had to go to the cops twice. Once I reported a rental scam (me bing the victim), and the second one was some Singaporean Chinese landlord trying to scam some poor Indian immigrants (and I was there as a witness).

    You're making it sound like it's a racist comment but it's not (I'm Chinese-Filipino). I have lived in Philippines, US, China, and Singapore. by far, I've not had as much bad experience dealing in money-related stuff than in Singapore. Singapore is safe as far as violence goes but scam artists and sociopaths are almost everywhere.

    And Brad's blog did not surprise me at all. Most foreigners who's lived in Singapore can vouch for me. When you're dealing in financial stuff, assume you will be scammed and take all necessary measures. It is what it is.

    Anyways, I'm done replying to AznPride's comments – I'm sure you're proud of your asian roots but it has nothing to do with the sociopathic behavior of the locals.

  5. Funny, stuff.
    I don't know how you maintained your cool.
    I've been through many transactions like that, mainly through craigslist.
    As soon as I get a notion that things are veering towards silly, I go for the 'are you going to buy it or not' card.

    I find it best to lay out the terms in BOLD.
    Asking price, and if negotiable or not.

    Lesson learned.

  6. AZNPride

    Nah…I think that's being far too judgemental coming from a relatively tiny sample pool, and while bad experiences are abundant everyhere on earth (I can give you a whole bunch of rotten transactional experiences in the United States alone), I think Singapore isn't that much different in terms of number of crooks from most developed countries I have seen. Ken was firing from the hip here, and yes, I will blame him for such a ridiculously blanket statement. That's as good as me claiming “Americans are crooks when it comes to business transactions because I came across so many sleazebags in NYC alone!” or “Because of Haditha, American troops are the same as the nazis and waffen SS, they love killing women and children everywhere they go!” but “Oh! Not ALL Americans are baaaaad!” You see how crazy that sounds, that's where Ken was going.

  7. mae

    sorry you had to experience that. he sounds very dodgy! but in the first place, i wouldn't trust anyone with bad english. lol.

  8. By the end of it, I wanted to slap the person in their face. It was ridiculous. I think he was serious though. I think he really thought he'd be able to work up the deal and then get me to sell it to him for only 130. What a little prick.

  9. What Ken said is pretty general, but in a few specific instances I can agree. Think of how crappy the sales people are in Sim Lim, and how they try to trick you into thinking you're getting a “6 minute special only”. We've also had a housing agent try to disappear with our money. He took the agents fee even though there was a problem at the house, the old tenants refused to leave, and we had to move somewhere else. It took the police to get that cash back. Plus there's the way everything here is overpriced, and you have to wait for a 50% off sale to get a reasonable price for something. That's just what I can think of off the top of my head.

    So, while I wouldn't go so far as to say 'all' Singaporeans are horrible when it comes to transactions, there are a good bit of them. Ken probably got burned one too many times by money hungry jackasses and was left with a bad impression of Singapore because of it. Don't blame him, blame Singaporeans.

  10. AZNPride

    What kinda purile asinine statement is that???? Tell me a place on earth where you can “trust” anyone with money in general, and I've a bridge to sell you!

  11. AZNPride

    Hmmm…I think he's of a certain background, I won't say much since it can be regarded as inflammatory to certain quarters. He's does sound gay though, and to call so late at night, that's not normal (in Singapore or anywhere else!).
    Anyway, he doesn't sound serious, I'll say he's NOT representative of how people conduct business in Singapore anyway. Too much shopping and sniffing around.

  12. ken

    Seriously, when it comes to money, you can never trust a singaporean. A majority of them have no principle or shame when it comes to money – be it sales people, property agent, etc..

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