Saturday, December 19, 2009

Beware the Half.com NARU Scam

By Kirk Hamilton

I can't believe I fell for it. In retrospect, it seems ridiculous - I guess I'd just grown so used to the awesomeness of purchasing used games on Half.com that I let my guard down. Sigh.

Here's what happened - I was (excitedly) ordering Uncharted 2 off of Half.com. I found a bunch of copies for sale, and one that was a good price and shipped from California, which meant I'd get it faster.

Without a second thought, I hit "purchase," confirmed the info, and watched as a half hour or so later I got confirmation. When the next day passed without any shipping notification, I got a little nervous. Then I looked at my seller, and realized that he/she had zero feedback, and was selling no other items. I sent a polite email inquiry.  I didn't hear back.

Whoops.

A bit more investigation showed no history, and an account that was "Not a Registered User." Double whoops. I looked into it further, and "NARUs," as is the parlance, are not uncommon. Some people have written about how you shouldn't dismiss a NARU buyer out of hand, since often they pay, but the majority of people discussing the subject online said the same thing: when you see a NARU with no feedback, beware.


I wrote another message and never heard back. Half.com says that I have to wait until the 4th to file a claim, and I'm sure I'll get my money back.  But here's the thing - these no-feedback NARU sellers are selling games all over the place.

I did a quick check on any top-tier games that came out this fall, and was able to find at least one NARU scammer on each one.  They're so obvious, now that I know what I'm looking at - innocuous name, simple, textbook description, media mail-only. Arkham Asylum. Demon's Souls. Left 4 Dead 2. Modern Warfare 2. Still right at the top of Uncharted 2.

I thought I should put this out there as a little "Don't be dumb like me" PSA.  If you're ordering games from Half.com, be sure to check your seller first.  I know that that's totally Ebay 101, but it's easy to forget that there are tons of folks out there trying to rip us off.  I'm not sure why Half.com can't just do something about these obvious scams, but then again, what do I know?

And maybe in like, three weeks, the game will finally come, and I'll have to re-sell it, since I got another copy.  If that happens, the best thing I can imagine is that it's a stolen copy of the game or something, which isn't exactly ideal either.  Either way, I'm not holding my breath, and I'll be reading folks' feedback quite closely from now on.

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