Dear Editor:At the beginning of April 2010, I had a buyer try to scam a refund from me over some items purchased on eBay. Leaving an immediate negative FB, he claimed they arrived broken, but never contacted me first. Following up with a seller this buyer had bought from recently, I realized that this trend would continue unless I nipped in the bud. I told him I knew what he was doing; he responded he'd send a picture of "how you packed the box", but never mentioned the items themselves. Who would throw the items away, but preserve the box & packaging? He changed the packaging story three times in emails to me, and laughed about ruining my record...and it wasn't the first time he'd done so.
While many people would consider a negative feedback with a comment like "liar and thief" to be a minor matter, I do not. I have spent 8 years building my business reputation; I create custom jewelry, and have worked hard to please my customers & earn their trust. Because of one buyer who thought I'd be an easy mark, I can no longer point to my previously 100% positive feedback as proof of my commitment to my customers.
David Steiner graciously allowed me to post my subsequent effort to have eBay & PayPal investigated for unfair & unethical business policies on the forums. I am asking folks to write to ABC's 20/20, attention Chris Cuomo, with their stories. Mr. Cuomo is both a lawyer & respected journalist. Many folks have told me that the media will not respond to this effort. In light of the recent efforts on financial reform (such as Goldman-Sachs) I believe the timing to be optimal for these policies to be scrutinized for consumer protection.
Andrew Cuomo, the Attorney General of NY (where I reside) has announced his candidacy for Governor as of this past Sunday. This is significant because he is the brother of Chris Cuomo on ABCs 20/20 program. Now that his status has been established, I mailed a Priority Mail packet to him as of today. Some things I asked him to look at:
-PayPal holding money for 21 days or more, much of it random, without explanation
-Basing payment holds on feedback status (for eBay)
-PayPal withdrawing funds from bank accounts without prior authorization
-PayPal acting as an escrow service by demanding you keep a balance, for ANY reason
-PayPal allowing for refunds with no returns (Walmart wouldn't let me do THAT!)
-PayPal determining "counterfeit" items without having the physical item in hand, & refunding customers
-Looking into eBay's "Operation Catalog" project in the event they are breaking copyright laws by gathering pix from the folks who didn't opt out in time (they have permission to use the photos, but eBay doesn't)
-eBay & PayPal allowing buyer disputes/refunds with no proven contact with the Seller first for resolutionA seller recently let me buy from her under a new ID (I fully explained my former account situation to her). I didn't leave a negative or file a dispute (she got all 5s and a positive), but out of curiosity I went thru enough motions to see how easy it is for a buyer to lie, and leave negative feedback without giving the seller a fair chance to resolve a problem.
I have written to NY's AG office in the past, on behalf of a friend with a consumer complaint, and had an excellent response out of them. I also sent hard copy letters to each Senator & Rep in Congress, one for their DC office & one for the local.
All it takes is a few minutes of your time to email or file a consumer affairs complaint with your state's AG office. Things CAN change if enough people speak up. The "noise" of today is tomorrow's avalanche~
Best of luck in your selling endeavors!April