eBay and Nigerians… oh and the election too

Over the last two weeks I've been doing a clear out. I've unearthed all sorts of weird and wonderful things at home and in my parents' garage. And thanks to the wonders of eBay the usual market failures have been overcome and buyers have been found. Mostly…

My comic collection did apallingly with only two out of seventy items shifting. I also have been inundated with queries from Nigerians, particularly on high value electronic items like mobile phones. The stories are always about anniversaries or birthdays for wives, brothers, business partners and even pastors. The queries come from new users (often created the day my auction appears) with 0 feedback who want me to end the auctions early and send the item as fast as possible to Nigeria in return for a postal order. It's always dodgy. The one slightly legit Nigerian I had ended up not paying (before I sent the item, of course).

I'm not sure why Nigerians are the leading nation of eBay (and email) scammers. Every Nigerian I've ever met has been an outstanding individual. Yet they seem to be uniquely troublesome online – I've not seen a single eBay listing say 'No French bids' or 'No South African bids' but plenty say 'No' to Nigerians. Anybody have any insight into this phenomena?

As for the General Election. Yawn. I saw the BBC's Question Time special with the party leaders. A great shame they didn't go head-to-head which was what I was expecting. The sense I get from all these political programmes is somewhat like overhearing an office meeting where three senior managers fundamentally disagree on how to manage some process.

Where's the passion? Where are the big issues? I'm absolutely fanatical about watching politics but these days it does all seem too managerial. Shouldn't debates about the use of targets in the NHS be held by some Department of Health wonks?

On the Postal Voting front just the usual pre-results scaremongery. Alan Mather has suggested that the Government Gateway might be a quick fix to improving voter authentication. His idea isn't ideal but miles better than the total mess we have today.