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Wed Dec 9 2009 23:48:32

eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies

By: Ina Steiner
Sponsored Link
To the Editor:
I'm a bookseller and have run into a problem. A fellow bookseller suggested that I write to you.

My eBay powerseller account is showing my account status as follows:

performance: above standard
policy compliance: high

But my account was suspended tonight for an odd issue at half.com.

Apparently, half.com is now using robot discovery to find "listing violations" and based on these "listing violations," eBay just indefinitely suspended our twelve-year-old eBay account. All of our eBay listings have been removed. Our half.com sales are very few, but eBay is 20-30% of our total income. This really hurts in the middle of holiday shopping.

Since my eBay record is really outstanding and since these half.com issues are based on some very odd readings, I would like to offer eBay a compromise. Please restore my eBay account, and I will promise not to list on half.com from now on.

Out of 3200 books, the half.com robot has had complaints about just a handful of listings. A couple of these are honest errors, but most are just very odd, like nothing I've ever seen in 15 years selling books online. I've been a bookseller since 1995, and am an "old school" bookseller who carefully describes the condition of every book. It appears to me that my extra care has gotten me into trouble with the half.com robot, and I just hate to think that customers who were contacting us with questions yesterday and today are now seeing that our account is suspended.

In one case, my husband used a phrase like "advanced reading level" to describe the difficulty level of a child's reader - and the half.com robot flagged the listing as an "advance reading copy," which is a promotional copy sent to reviewers prior to publication!

In another case a new book, never read, had a very faint, very small stain at the fore edge, so we graded it as Very Good. This is 100% within professional grading standards, but half.com has recently added to their requirements that "stained" books are unacceptable and can't ever be sold there. (I'm not sure that the human author imagined this.)

I just learned that half.com has changed their condition requirements for ex-library books. If an ex-library book lacks a dust jacket and has stamps, stickers and a card pocket, it can be graded as high as Very Good, but if the dust jacket is present and protected in Mylar, the book cannot be graded better than Acceptable. This is honestly just bizarre.

Mylar is generally a plus in an ex-library book (some of which really are collectible), because it protects the valuable dust jacket, but every bookseller understands that every stamp, sticker and cardpocket is a defect!

Most books published since 1970 have been identified with an ISBN. In some cases half.com has an ISBN assigned as "paperback" when the book with that ISBN is really a hardcover, so they reject our listing if the inventory database that we submit is accurate where the half.com has errors. (We submit corrections to the Amazon.com catalog whenever we find a binding error, but half.com does not offer professional booksellers the option of submitting corrections.

Recently, we've been getting more e-mails stating that an occasional item has been removed from their catalog for something like this, but for us these have been no more than a source of amusement. We received a notice flagging something that a human would understand, we accepted that one of our items had been deleted, and we moved on.

We have never heard of any other account being suspended for this issue.

What frustrates me is that if we had decided not to describe our books at all, half.com would still love us! If we were like many sellers, we'd just say "excellent customer service" and leave every used book's appearance a complete mystery until delivery! Sellers who practice this way generally have below average feedback. The half.com robot would love them, but the customers wouldn't, and customers, not robots, are the ones that we most need to please.

Other friends tell me that they are also getting more and more of
"policy violation" letters and one friend just advised me that one of
her listings was flagged and she was warned for describing a CD as Used: Like New/ Her comment was, "This CD is really new; I just opened the shrinkwrap to replace a cracked case." All I can imagine is that the robot thinks she's selling a cracked CD.

I would like to see my eBay account restored as soon as possible, but today I'd like other booksellers to be aware of this risk. Honestly, if anyone else has been getting occasional notices from the robot, I would urge people to put half.com on vacation until the robot is better educated. For now, the small number of sales that half.com produces for most of us just isn't worth the risk of losing a far more valuable eBay account.

To be honest, I'm also very disappointed that as a long-term eBay seller and Powerseller, I did not receive a courtesy call from eBay before my account was suspended. I would have been happy to permanently delete all of my half.com listings in order to preserve my good name at eBay and my ability to serve customers there.
Thank you,
Valerie

Reading EcommerceBytes Letters Blog: eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
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Readers Comments

eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: Cowbell
       
Thu Dec 10 01:47:29 2009
I hear you. Several of my CD listings were removed for being "improperly graded." Odd thing was, they were brand new, and described only as "sealed." My only guess is that they were reported by a competitor to preserve their ridiculously high prices. Half doesn't check on reported items. They just pull them, if they do anything at all.
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: We got hit too
       
Thu Dec 10 04:07:09 2009
We were also suspended for "at least 30 days" because after numerous warnings and error listings on half.com. We have been selling books & other media over TEN+ years have great feedback and send out orders same day or next day. This is depressing and hurts us greatly. Didn't see this coming. Half was the last avenue ebay didnt ruin, until now.
Honestly, I thought we were the only one booted because we did get a few "warnings" that certain books were removed because of old, vague rules : No isbn#, book is too old, not EXACTLY the same book ie same book but different publisher or edition, Video is not exactly the same, CD had HOLE PUNCHED filled in, many odd "errors" that frankly all other book sellers list on half everyday. For example just look at Pokey Little Puppy : there are over 100 different versions which one is acceptable to half? odd errors, etc.
"AT LEAST 30 DAYS" means after 30 days MAYBE just maybe if we are good and no longer complain here or elsewhere they might let is back in.
In the meantime, Our Ebay listings 4000 items gone, Half.com 15000+ listings are gone, It Says we are NOT a registered user(right next to out shooting star), and on half claims our Inventory is "on vacation".
Yes, every media seller should also list elsewhere ie Abebooks, Alibris, Amazon, Bonanzle, Craig's List, Biblio, iOffer, wenzy, and dozens more, but let's face it, half & ebay are where the eyes are ..right now.
PLEASE HELP US SELLERS get some justice on what half & ebay did to destroy so many sellers.
INA can you help us? Ming The merciless did you get hit by this Half.com war on sellers?
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: US AS WELL
       
Thu Dec 10 05:00:09 2009
We also got the boot for at least thirty days becuase of many warnings of books not exactly as the isbn #. HELP! We rely on half.com and our Ebay account was suspended right along with it.
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: File a BBB Complaint
       
Thu Dec 10 05:17:20 2009
Sellers that got the boot from Half.com/ebay can file a complaint with the Calif BBB. I don't know if they can do anything, but if enough sellers let them know they were suspnded by corrupt ebay/half maybe just maybe they will reconsider:


BBB of Silicon Valley
(San Jose, CA)
1112 S. Bascom Ave.
San Jose, CA 95128
Phone: (408)278-7400
Fax: (408)278-7444
Email: info@bbbsilicon.org
Web: http://www.bbbsilicon.org
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: Solomon Valley Books
       
Thu Dec 10 06:11:25 2009
I get the emails that I have listings removed. I rarely sell on ebay but I don't want my ebay account shut down....goodbye Half I am removing my approx. 3000 listings today! I don't get enough sales on Half to make it worthwhile anyway's.
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: L
       
Thu Dec 10 11:08:12 2009
"stained" might get through the robot radar as "s-t-a-i-n-e-d" or "$tained" or "this item has a smattering of different coloring in one or more spots, that was not initially there"

With an explanation/spelling disclaimer to buyers that:
"we reeley kin spel kurrectly but the F$$king row-bott crawlers don't no inny bettter then too $$$k-up feepay sellerz evvry chance they git....yoo r deeling with a kumpunny manigged bye kumplete morronz"
: )
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: j.g.
       
Thu Dec 10 11:16:25 2009
My problem with half.com has been that their feedback was connected to the feedback system of eBay which as we know has problems. I put my account on vacation awhile ago and never turned it back on.  This is another instance of errors on ebay's part cutting off a person's livelihood on nothing more than a whim.  Today I'm suspending all of my listings.  Who know when the robot will decide to invade my vacation listings?

I know this sounds like a ridiculous question, but have you tried calling ebay on this and talking to someone who can do something about it?  A seller of your caliber should be able to get through to a human and rectify this situation.
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: YES we called
       
Thu Dec 10 11:50:40 2009
We called that morning that these emails went out & spoke with some woman at ebay. She claims she didnt know anything. She said to be sure to answer the email, and plead our case! and ask for a reduced sentence. Two days letter we get the canned response from Alphonso at ebay that we are suspended FOR AT LEAST 30 days, and after that time we may ask for reinstatement! So mean., wow, talk about the crime of the century. DO NOT list book club edition books as you might even get the electric chair.
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: j.g.
       
Thu Dec 10 12:14:28 2009
I think you have to keep calling until you reach someone who can make some difference. Keep asking to speak to that person's manager until you do or reach a dead end. This is so unfair. If you can't get customer service to listen, try writing a respectful letter to the board or to the CEO. Make records of every conversation and response you get and take names. If you get no response, contact your congressman. There are enough people hurting for jobs in this country, and you shouldn't be one of them! You already have a viable one and you shouldn't be kept from performing it by computer error. My suggestions sound naive even to me. But they're worth a try.  
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: Just a Thought
       
Thu Dec 10 17:27:24 2009
How long ago was it that eBay said they wanted to close Half.com, and then reversed their decision due to seller outcry?

I would say that Half.com was given a reprieve from the gallows, not a pardon, and now sentence is to be carried out, one suspended seller at a time.
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: cds-books-n-more
       
Thu Dec 10 22:55:24 2009
We were kicked off of Half.com and thus kicked off of selling on eBay as well - all because of the idiotic Half.com bots! When we were kicked off, our feedback on eBay was nearly 8,000 - all gone now because we tried to accurately describe our items on Half.com. We were kicked off of Half/eBay because in the descriptions of our items on Half.com we stated "NOT a BCE" for books and "NOT a promotional CD" for our music CD listings. We were told we cannot use those 'words' - BCE and/or promotional' on our descriptions. So because all 2,500+ listings on Half had that text in them and we did not remove it, we got kicked off. Five years of 99%+ feedback on eBay/Half all down the drain - all because we accurately described our items. eBay/Half does not care at all about the small seller who describes their items accurately - they much prefer an item description of "Great customer service!" (which of course describes nothing about the actual item). Or Half prefers the seller who says NOTHING in their description that they are selling a promotional CD, and it is then left up to the buyer to raise it as an issue (my step-daughter bought a CD on Half as 'NEW' - when it arrived it had a notch in the case, thus indicating it as a promotional CD, but since the seller does not state that in their Half.com description, then it is okay as far as Half.com is concerned). I am so glad Amazon lets a seller accurately describe their items!!

Ina, if you ever want to contact us to hear our story, feel free to do so.
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: Billy
       
Fri Dec 11 00:21:40 2009
Dont ever put the word * NOT * in your Half.com Description. That word is a Red Flag for the Robot.

Just trying to Help

eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: Unanswered complaints
       
Fri Dec 11 05:37:30 2009
In ebay speak is suspended= kicked off for good? We were told 30 days suspension and after we may ask to be reinstated. Does that mean are 185000 postive feedback is gone? How about the 10,000 inventory "on vacation"?
There are a growing number of Half.com sellers filing complaints at San Jose BBB(better business bureau) but i don't know what they can or will do. In the meantime i see more selers on Biblio, Alibris, Wenzy but lets face it half/ebay are where the most eyes are.
Exampple of a BBB filed complaint :

Our inventory was removed for issues that EVERY seller on half.com uses. Such as no I sbn# on books, Hole punched on CD was filled in, etc. This suspension is unfair and unwarrented.

Complaint Summary


We were sellers on half.com and their parent company ebay for over ten years. we have been suspnded "for at least 30 days" because of vague rules.
Resolution Sought


Remove the suspension and restore our inventory on both half.com and Ebay.com



Additional Information
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: Rob
       
Fri Dec 11 09:30:47 2009
I may be totally wrong, but I suspect Buy.com is griping that they aren't generating enough book sales which is fueling alot of this. Since many book sellers on half.com also list books on ebay.com, one easy  way for Ebay to thin out Buy's competition is to issue all these suspensions for frivolous reasons.

I'd bet money that the day will come that Ebay owns Buy, or at least attempt to own that company as well as other large scale retailers so that Ebay will have greater control and larger margins per sale.


There is so many obvious counterfeits on Ebay, and they do very little to clean up genuine criminal activity, yet they're handing out suspensions to legitimate book dealers like folks hand out candy at halloween.

There has to be a deeper, tight lipped reason going on behind the scenes fueling all these crippling suspensions of legit book businesses that have great track records for both service and products.
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless
       
Sat Dec 12 19:25:30 2009
I believe Rob is absolutely correct.

I suspect that if even the stronger and more draconian ebafia policies coming this spring don't exterminate the 'right' ebay sellers, ebafia will find some pretext or another to suspend sellers who have the audacity to compete with the ebafia's Diamonds.

Don't get mad, get even. While I support writing the Business Bureau use the skeleton of a complaint sent to your congressperson or senator.

Ebafia has some of the BBB BoD. However, ebafia must respond to BBB complaints which requires time and resources.

Document your claims. Don't just say "vague policies" -- document what those are and how your account on one venue was closed for alleged policy violations on another site.

Squeaky wheels get the grease. Ebay corp sellers need to be much louder (more "noise," please) and much, much squeakier.

Spend a few minutes EVERY day spreading the truth in your community and on the internet (blogs, news report comment section, Usenet) about this criminal enterprise. Spend a few minutes EVERY day filing complaints with as many state and federal agencies you can think of.

We can make the ebay brand history by spreading truth.

Based on the generous and likely far fetched assumption that The Ho works a 60 hour week, he makes $70,513. an hour.

How much do make an hour?

eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: Shawn Tyler
       
Sun Dec 13 00:51:14 2009
This just happened to me as well. VERY disappointing as it has also suspended my eBay account as well. Over 1,000 feedback ratings and not ONE negative, not even one. I was rated as a "TOP SELLER" and a "POWER SELLER" yet after just about 5-10 so called 'policy violations' I was suspended. Reason stated was 'chronic mis-listing.' Ridiculous. I probably can't even fathom how many people's lives they've hurt in doing this.

Like everyone else said - you are better off with a canned comment like "Legendary bookstore!" than ACTUALLY DESCRIBING THE BOOK, or else you will face the consequences of doing good business which is of course = SUSPENSION.

I am hoping that they will fix this and re-instate good people's accounts.

I think if you have a 99% or even 100% (like I did) rating you should be given the benefit of a phone call, a warning e-mail instead of the ridiculous 'listing violation' e-mails which I deleted and regarded as stupid, but little did I know was Half.com's path to my suspension.

Even when I get my account re-instated, I honestly am so scared of re-listing items that I literally will put a canned description in so that way they can't possibly suspend my account again for a 'listing violation.' All other sites, I will put the real description...

eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: Right ! Get Mad & Get Even
       
Sun Dec 13 07:32:34 2009
Get Even. It is cumbersome, but we started listing our Media on other sites Biblio.com, Amamzon.com & Alibris.com. Before the scourge, We always did tell our customers that half.com & ebay are corrupt and anti-seller. Maybe that's why we got zonked as well for 30 days (AT LEAST). Sounds like after 30 days they want us to feel remorse for the crimes of listed book club editions or UK imports. We didn't allow and still will not allow combine shipping & handling, blocked bad buyers for asking silly questions and in ebay's evil eyes were not their kind of seller. They want lap dogs that do not question any illegal or nefarious activity they do daily on ebay oh half or paypal.
Funny, how we received an email from ebay yesterday that some 10 items we were bidding on, that they cancelled our bids when they blocked us, were reinstated, but can not still access feedback, answer email, or listing or buying.
It trully is abusive.
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: R.M.
       
Sun Dec 13 12:40:14 2009
Ebay seriously needs an ombudsman to bridge the huge chasm between sellers and management.  When arbitrary and capricious rules affect the livelihood of the people, it's time to act.  No, we can't exactly form a union, but isn't there some office that could be established by Ebay that would perform the function.  Customer Service is not working.  The canned answers and the threatening attitudes that we have read about here in Letters during The Great Ebay Outage of 2009 have told us that.

How do we get Ebay to set up an ombudsman program that we can go to with serious complaints like the ones above?  Any ideas here?
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: Union
       
Mon Dec 14 01:56:56 2009
There needs to be a Ebay Sellers Union
eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies   eBay Sales Suspended over Half.com Anomalies
by: @union
       
Mon Dec 14 05:04:10 2009
YES, but you and i know ebay will stomp us if wqe even try try something like that. Gotta get some US agency involved as our advocates.
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