This blog has been written as a call-to-action and warning for other people who have suffered the same fate with eBay. Please leave comments with your experience.
Selling good quality items in exchange for money should be a rewarding experience, but like everything it’s not without risks. That’s why I enlisted the help of a middle-man – in walks eBay.
– But what if this so called reliable and safe intermediary can’t be trusted to act impartially?
– What if eBay utilises unprofessional and biased business practices?
– What if eBay actually adds fuel to the fire and creates a bigger problem, as opposed to being a resolution?
The problem with eBay
I’ve been a loyal member of eBay, both selling and buying, for over 14 years and have always maintained 100% positive and excellent feedback. However, recently one of my sold items has come under question by a buyer and I have suffered the following biased behaviour from what I believed to be a trusted middle-man:
● eBay apparently conducted an ‘investigation’ before making a ruling, but didn’t bother or consider it necessary to contact me (the seller) for my statement of events and testimony. eBay simply accepted the word of the buyer as fact. eBay needs to re-examine the meaning of the word thorough ‘investigation’
● My account was suspended by eBay
● Following this, I have endured a barrage of harassment and bullying emails from eBay, demanding that I owe them over £330 due to a ruling in favour of the buyer
● eBay sent me a surge of demanding and bullying emails, stating they were going to pass the supposed debt to a collections agency
● They have ignored more than 20 of my emails claiming (on the telephone) they never received anything. That is UNTIL I posted a complaint on Twitter. Suddenly this prompted a response and since then they have received my latest email. How very odd.
In fact when was getting the run-around from eBay, I requested a manager to contact me back. Jan Victor (Manager, eBay Customer Service) did make contact with me claiming she had read the correspondence and was unable to help me. Unfortunately, she was talking about a different item to the one I sold, and I can only assume another eBay customers private file. After pointing this out to Jan Victor, she never responded and none of her staff ever mentioned it despite me referencing it several times.
So this leaves me scratching my head and wondering why this apparently professional and fair organisation with which I have demonstrated an outstanding customer record for 14 years, has suddenly treated me so unfairly and thrown me to the wolves.
A brief synopsis of the case(Case ID: 5100725670)
● I sold a Canon camera lens which I had been using up until a week prior to selling. I thoroughly checked and inspected the quality and condition of the lens in order to be confident of its condition when posting my description.
● With years of experience of accurately describing and detailing items that I’ve sold on eBay, I referenced aesthetic scratches on the body of the camera lens in my advert, but also that there was no damage whatsoever to the camera glass itself.
● Upon receiving the lens, the buyer emailed to say there were scratches on the glass and dust inside the lens. I offered to refund the buyer and take the lens back however, the more she described this apparent damage, the more certain I was that this was not the lens that I had sold.
● The buyer raised a case with eBay and I was able to offer my feedback to her. eBay asked the buyer to return the lens which was fulfilled. Upon receipt of the returned lens, it was immediately obvious that this lens not the same item that I posted to the buyer originally.
● Same make and model BUT NOT my lens. There were scratches on the glass which WERE NOT there before I posted it to the buyer and lots of dust inside. So now I have a lens which isn’t mine and don’t want.
● eBay emailed to say they had ruled in favour of the buyer, advising that they had provided a refund and then proceeded to send me a series of emails insisting that I owed over £330 and if I didn’t pay the debt would be passed to a collections agency – now that’s service with a smile!
So what is my complaint and how did eBay really ‘investigate’ this case?
This is the most important question that’s been asked – what has eBay actually done? They ruled in favour of the buyer without ever contacting me for my testimony. eBay then ignored 20 of my emails directed to them, claiming to never have received any. They never responded to my messages through the eBay site whilst the case was going on?
As a seller, why is my testimony and statement of fact any less valid than that of a buyer whom eBay were incredibly quick to side with? Does my excellent and unquestioned feedback over 14 years count for nothing? Funnily enough the more research I did, the more I found a sea of online sellers all of whom had suffered the same biased fate.
Please note: these were all sellers and never buyers, a running theme on feedback websites online. This does not instil much confidence in eBay for me as a seller, as it appears to highlight a loophole for people who are clearly out to abuse the system. My buyer in this instance had been involved in a similar dispute previously according to her feedback. Perhaps eBay ignored that precedent behaviour!
How easy has it been for me to contact eBay?
Email – As mentioned above, I’ve sent over 20 emails to eBay which they claim never to have received. How can this be? Strangely their email server worked perfectly well when emails from eBay chasing me for money, were sent!
Using the dispute resolution eBay system – Originally I sent my feedback to the buyer about the lens but at no point did eBay get involved. I tried later to contact eBay through their system, following their recommendation, but the case had been closed and it wasn’t an option.
Social media – Only when I resorted to use of a very public domain and forum- that of Twitter was the first time that I received a response from eBay. It felt truly refreshing after having so many emails ignored.
Phone – After being lead on a wild goose chase over the phone, I eventually spoke with Liam Gorman (call recorded 09:35am / 18th April) who told me the case was closed and eBay categorically could not do anything to help.
When I spoke with another eBay representative by telephone, a lady on 18th April, she informed me that “eBay doesn’t have time to speak to everyone who makes a case, they just don’t have the time.” This would lead me to believe that eBay DID NOT investigate my case thoroughly or impartially and indeed factually. eBay simply took the easy option and took untruthful testimony of the buyer which from my own investigations is common. This is far from the professional behaviour I would expect from what we’re marketed to believe is a safe and trusted intermediary or third party.
Why eBay can’t be trusted
So where does this leave me?
According to eBay the case has been closed and as I missed the deadline by sending emails which weren’t acknowledged, I have lost my chance to appeal.
Let’s be very clear that I will continue to appeal a supposed missed deadline following a one-sided and unprofessional investigation and a ruling that is biased, unfair and does not adhere to any professional standards at all. Yet there is apparently nothing further that eBay can do even though it’s their game and their rules.
If you have suffered the same fate as me with eBay, please leave a comment below and tell me about your experiences. It may not have been resolved fairly on this occasion (although I have launched a claim through Small Claims Court), but I am confident that through the power of social media or The Peoples’ Voice, we can warn and stop similar unfair treatment happening to others. IF I do not have the result I want through Small Claims, I WILL be taking this claim through the Civil Courts. eBay have behaved illegally and it proves just how flawed their business model truly is.
eBay have since responded with ‘cut and paste’ emails approximately 40 times. They have never asked for the photographic evidence which I’ve informed them several times I have. They refuse to reopen the case. They have ‘sold’ this debt to a collections agency. They have threatened to block me from eBay (which they did after 2 weeks anyway). They have displayed nothing but utter contempt for me as a customer and continue to illegally chase money they refunded to a client, without an investigation, just because of their money back business guarantee. Legal proceedings are in place.
UPDATE: I took EBay UK (because I signed up to an account in the UK) to court after 8 months of back and forth. Unfortunately they hid behind the fact I should have taken EBay Europe (Luxembourg) to court and the judge threw it out. If you are thinking of launching a claim against them, please get in contact and I can advise you on what I’ve learnt. In the end I paid the money they claimed I owed and washed my hands of Ebay.