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Friday, December 16, 2005

EBAY Getting Some Unwanted Attention

My experience is that EBAY sucks. I don't use it, and I don't think it is especially cool as a tool for getting things. Now, I am clearly aware that the vast majority of people disagree with me. These people number in the millions. My problem with EBAY is that their customer service sucks (or does not exist), and their ratings system is stupid.

I tried to deal with an EBAY situation for my father. He had a 100% good rating. Then he contracted to buy some item from an antique shop somewhere in North Carolina. He sent his money via Paypal (a good idea), and did not receive his item for over three months. After several phone messages and e-mails to the antique dealer that did not get a response, he wrote that if the dealer did not respond to him he would be forced to leave negative feedback. He ultimately received no response, and they did not return his money to him. At that point he contacted Paypal, and after an investigation, they got him his money back and he left negative feedback for the antique dealer.

It was only at that point that he heard back from the antique dealer, who left negative feed back for my father in response to his negative feedback (You are starting to see how stupid the system is). The dealer requested arbitration and mutual removal of the feedback from both parties, in fact, there was a clear pattern of this antiques dealer doing just that several times - however, until you are involved in a dispute, it is a difficult pattern to recognize, so even if you did due dilligence, nothing seemed untowards unless you were familiar with the process of complaining through EBAY. Anyway, my father said he was not interested in arbitration. He was also unwilling to remove his negative feedback - he never got his items and lost some small amount of money in charges associated with the refund he received from PayPal.

My father requested that EBAY remove the negative feedback from his account. As a matter of principle, it was important for him to have 100% good feedback. His contention was that the dealer was guilty of feedback abuse - that is, the dealer did not fulfill their part of the bargain, and then used its ability to give negative feedback as leverage to try and get both sides to erase the feedback. Essentially, you cannot give negative feedback unless you yourself are willing to take a negative feedback hit - even if you did nothing wrong.

So, my father requests that EBAY investigate the matter, which he did by e-mail. Apparently, EBAY will not have a live human speak with you on the telephone. It was literally impossible for me to speak with anyone on the telephone. Moreover, their e-mail arbitration system was useless. They would never respond with actual findings. Finally, I e-mailed them about a month after the initial complaint. The next day he received an e-mail saying that EBAY thought he was guilty of feedback abuse - no reasoning was provided. The next day there was a strange e-mail that said they were investigating - it was as if they kept starting over but never getting anywhere. The worst part about the whole thing was that if they had let us speak with a real person (by phone or e-mail) they could have settled the whole thing. Instead, my father just cancelled his account (over 250 transactions without a complaint), and EBAY lost his business. He could have sued the antique dealer for fraud or defamation, but it really wasn't worth it to him to go through a court battle over a $300.00 item. Still, the whole thing could have been dealt with by even the least remotely qualified customer service department. Instead, all we ever dealt with were automated e-mails.

Having been through that, it is with some considerable glee that I read this article about how Law Enforcement is getting sick of all the fraud and theft reports that are generated by EBAY:

EBay is also under fire from law enforcement officials and manufacturers
over levels of crime on the site and the levels of cooperation they receive.

Trading standards officers who regularly investigate crimes perpetrated
on the site have accused eBay of being "obstructive" in the way it shares
information. North Yorkshire Trading Standards says eBay can take up to two
months to provide the names and addresses of suspects it is pursuing.


EBay is suffering because their business plan doesn't include, to my knowledge, an even remotely effective plan for customer service. Serves them right. In fact, in my opinion their complete negligence with respect to monitoring their accounts or providing any customer service makes them complicit in what they can't deny is likely tens of thousands of fraud cases. Still, EBAY blames you for that fraud.
eBay blames its account holders for not installing proper security on their home
computers and for replying to so-called "phishing" emails.

But the thing is, even if you recognize fraud on your account it takes too long for EBAY to do anything about it. That is because, in order to maximize its profits, EBAY said, effectively, "screw the customer." If a mistake is made, let them deal with it. Normally, I don't complain about this attitude, but that assumes that EBAY allows their customers the tools to correct the problems on their own - EBAY doesn't. Instead it has a half-assed "Feedback" system that doesn't work to deter people who are dishonest or who hijack accounts. It only serves to harm people who are honest merchants.

Adidas told the BBC that it monitored up to 12,000 auctions involving its
goods every day on the British site - yet it estimated that up to 40% of all
Adidas products available were counterfeit.

Many big brands are far from happy with eBay's response eBay says it has a special relationship with brand owners, who can notify the site of auctions involving counterfeit goods which will then be taken down within hours. However, the Ben Sherman clothing brand says it recently took eBay five days to take down an auction of counterfeit clothing - by which time much of it had been sold. "I think one must say that it's highly unsatisfactory," said Barry Ditchfield, Ben Sherman's brand
protection manager.

"With all the amount of profits that eBay makes, then there is ample scope for additional staff. Frankly, it is totally unsatisfactory, not just for Ben Sherman but for all brand holders. EBay have rejected the accusations, saying that the company has a good relationship with law enforcement officials.

Like I said, I don't use EBAY, but my experiences with them lead me to believe that they sacrificed customer service in the name of profit. Hopefully, the market will make that a decision that backfires - and allows competitors to come in and force EBAY to put out a better product.

Until then, I hope they keep taking hits to their reputation. Say it with me now, EBAY sucks! Cancel my account!

Kid H.

6 Comments:

Blogger ZooooM said...

I absolutely agree with your assessment that customer service is sacrificed for profit.

And until there's a large enough competitor, I doubt it will stop.

I have used e-bay, but rarely. I've got something like 15 transactions.

I once listed an item with the incorrect shipment method - the listing stated I'd send the item next day air instead of media mail usps...

Some guy wrote me a scathing e-mail about how that would make the price of shipping more than the final cost of the item, unless of course I had some overly inflated belief in the value of my item. In which case, I was clearly in need of help.

I basically wrote back "I have a whole 8 transactions on this service over 4 years. It's pretty obvious this is an error on my part. Whoops by me. So I lose a whole .30 or whatever when nobody bids on it. Or wait, someone might actually bid on it after sending me an e-mail asking if the shipping information was a mistake?! Thanks for the sternly worded warning, but I think you might be taking this whole e-bay thing a lot more seriously than YOUR mental health professional would like."

The internet is like a magnifying glass on the sunshine of crazy. Try to stay out of the beam.

3:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are totally right with ebay. I now have to go to law enforcment and I think the person knows ebay isn't going to comply with law enforcement. I mean what if I did that! My butt would be in jail. I have had the same bidder opening new accounts and bidding and not paying. I block them...after lengthy emails to ebay they remove them and the next thing you know they are back on with another id. This is clearly harassment and thier names are getting so message like. Today thier new ebay name is waistoftyme they bid and it's the same person. They even use the same name just change it around from Francis and Peggy Castaldo to F & P Kastaldo always some part of thier real name and address. Always Pawling New York and Fenwood drive they just change the number from 53 to 13 or 45. Ebay continues to let them on again and again I can not block them and all I get is canned emails. There is no one to call and get this. When they do finally respond and remove the person and then they get back on with another id...I have to open a new complaint they won't add to the one they just did! I am going to be going to the police since this has been happening since July and there is no way to block a 0 bidder. However is ebay going to cooperate with law enforcement. I highly doubt it!! I feel like going to my local news station or something it's just rediculous!!

So I agree 100% as ebay has no customer service worth a damn!!

Susan

10:55 AM  
Anonymous 3littlekittens said...

Susan,
I am an ebay seller and have just had my first run in with F & P Custaldo at #45 Fenwood Dr. Pawling, NY 12564 and would love to talk to you about this. After reading your post I don't feel any better. I spent a great deal of time on ebay live chat today and I felt I had to print out the exchange. I only wish I had found your post before I contacted them.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EBay owes me $152.50 and has either kept it or let the seller who never sent a thing keep it. At the time they guaranteed that the seller would either provide the item or a refund and I got neither. Instead they just suspended me so they could get away with this.

They use SPYWARE in addition to being the "cookie king" (ebay puts more cookies on your visit than any 10 other sites combined!). They sent an e-mail to my ex-husband's e-mail account and the only way they could have had that address was to get into my e-mail contacts. EBay also has big security gaps. I had hundreds of e-mail from Chinese sellers this past fall when the Chinese found out how to get through security. My new e-mail address was over-run with mail from this. EBay stated that it was because I had included my e-mail address in my messages to other users; something I never did. EBay just does not want to take responsibility for anything!!

The abuses you suffered are common and there is no way to get your money back. The system is rife with rip offs. Ebay will not suspend someone who brings them big bucks no matter what the seller does. Then new seller policy has no more "teeth" than the old one does.

Feedback is a system of abuse all of it's own. Ebay states they don't tolerate retaliatory feedback but if you look at one negative feedback there will be another from the other party involved in the transaction. And a user can call you all the name they want in the feedback including some that should never be used having to do with race, color, creed and physical &/or mental disability. They claim feedback is not public and is therefore exempt from having to post feedback about the transaction and use a minimum of good manners. So a user can call another user anything they want. This can also happen on the forums. I know of several instances when name brand groups have asked ebay to remove the comments involving those types of name calling ebay doesn't do a thing.

Ebay says they don't tolerate profanity and yet I received three of the foulest messages through their message system. I reported them and they did nothing. The message system has a "report this message" at the top and yet they claim they can't see the message that was reported. What's more is they expect you to believe it. Why would they have this if they couldn't see the message.

Their stand on it is that they can't do anything about it. I found the same member had posted profane feedback for a buyer and reported it to ebay. Their solution??? Remove the feedback so that this seller who also has a history of mutually removing feedback and negative feedback. So now this seller gets off with no negative feedback for a transaction he most probably deserved.

I have had a seller send my item to someone else and then when it was returned he kept it. In the meantime he had me send the item I received by mistake with me paying postage to the rightful owner-who had received and returned my item and returned it to the seller. He resold my item (a very rare item) a month later and even though I told ebay they did nothing!

When you report a problem with the seller they reply by "scripted" message (the only kind eBay uses)that they will look into the situation. They tell you that there are consequences to the user's behavior and list them but none of it ever happens. I have watched and watched!

I even told Paypal who refused to refund me and my extra postage & did nothing to the seller. I asked them if they didn't care that someone was committing fraud and since it was an "old" transaction they did not care.

Finally I had my credit card company reverse the charge and guess what??? Paypal reversed it on my account then.

Another thing all eBay users should be aware of is the policy put into effect at the beginning of 2007. EBay no longer guarantees your purchase when paid by check, money order, cashier's check, direct charge card or other methods like this. Since then they guarantee your purchase ONLY if paid by their other company Paypal. To me this seems quite Mafia-like ~~ "paying for protection!" They say that since the buyer s=does not get charged Paypal fees the buyer isn't paying for protection. And yes it is the seller that get charged fees but it is all the same~~someone is paying them for that protection and this is a great method to make more money as people want that protection and with good reason~~like my $152.50 paid by postal money order.

It's high time the government made all internet companies provide superior customer service because there are very few that provide much at all. EBay's is the absolute worst and they need to provide it and to stop hiding behind scripted replies, "starry-eyed" Live Help (who believe eBay can do no wrong and will take care of everything) and suspensions or just plain ignoring a user.

Another thing that people need to be aware of is what I saw happen repeatedly over the Christmas season. They allowed "envelope sales" (raffles) for big ticket items like the Playstation 3. An envelope sale is one where you buy an envelope. Supposedly the seller make up a certain number of envelopes and has different prizes in each one or no prize at all. Then when a person buys one of these envelope the seller opens an envelope and tells the buyer what they won. The thing is I saw a couple of winners post feedback for having won $10.00 (what the envelope cost) and sometimes a $15.00 or $20.00. I asked eBay is this was allowed and of course they just ignored the question. Then I called them and asked . At first the customer support said it was all above board and allowed. Then I asked them how we would know who won the item. They said feedback. I watched 50 of these auctions and never did anyone post for winning the item. Even when a big company when it has a contest has to send any one who requests it a list of winners. But on EBay the seller didn't have to provide information to anyone!

Of course eBay isn't going to remove this type of auction because with eBay there is just one bottom line- the $$$$$$. That's what is important to eBay-not the customer ,the money. If they truly cared they would provide superior customer support.

If you hear that eBay has lowered it's listing and selling fees you heard right. However it isn't quite like the spin they put on it "users wanted lower fees"; and seller did want lower fees. However eBay is not a benevolent care-taker. EBay lowered fees because business is dropping quite fast and even eBay stock has taken several dives. Like all businesses at this time they are grabbing for anything to keep them alive in a troubled economic future. EBay always has eBay’s interest’s at heart and nothing more.

And one final thing everyone should know; once you are on ebay's mailing list you will never be removed no matter how many times you ask. Of course you can bock it but I want to be removed once and for all!!

4:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment is for 3littlekittens. This is Susan the person being harassed by the pawling new york freak. I will check to see if there is a 3 little kittens on ebay as a seller other than that I do not know how to contact you. I don't know when this was posted as I was never notified of a comment and don't even remember if I had a password to this account or not.

2:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

REAL NAMES of the SCAMMERS:
Francis & Margaret Castaldo
45 Fenwood Dr. Pawling, Ny 12524

They also scammed me. BEWARE.

6:10 PM  

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