EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 798 - July 06, 2004     3 of 4

Users Sue eBay over Billing Glitches

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eBay sellers Nancy Spaulding and Robert Cerreta filed a class-action lawsuit against eBay over its ongoing billing glitch. The lawsuit was filed July 2 and covers themselves and all other eBay sellers affected by the glitch. Spaulding, an eBay seller from Ohio, had picketed at the eBay user conference in late June to protest eBay's handling of the problem.

eBay began rolling out a new billing system in February, which caused eBay's records to show overcharges to a certain percentage of seller accounts, which have yet to be straightened out. eBay refused to reveal how many of the 45 million active registered user accounts were affected. An executive apologized for the problem in the Keynote session at its annual conference on June 25.

eBay first posted a message about the billing problems on its main Announcement Board on April 8, and it wasn't until June 30 that eBay said it had determined the cause of the incorrect account balance totals in a message posted on a discussion thread (

Dina E. Micheletti is a partner at Fazio & Micheletti LLP, the law firm hired to represent the class suit. She said eBay sellers have no need to do anything affirmative to join the case. "If it is certified to proceed as a class action (for which we will be filing a motion in the near future), eBay customers will be given an opportunity to opt out of the case if they do not want to participate; otherwise, they will be included automatically."

Fazio & Micheletti LLP is located in San Mateo, California, and has represented clients in Internet-related matters against LookSmart and

In addition to the billing glitch problems, the lawsuit claims eBay "improperly rounds up the charges on its customers' invoices; for example, if a customer owed $30.78, eBay would round up the amount owed to $30.80."

eBay's current billing problem is not the first time an eBay glitch has caused sellers headaches. A recent case occurred in May when eBay rolled out changes in the Shipping options on its Sell Your Item listing form. After listing an item, the shipping field changed and displayed in bright green letters the word "Free," even when the seller had included shipping charges. As a result, some sellers had to pay for the shipping. eBay never posted an announcement of the problem on either of its Announcement Boards.

eBay has come under fire lately from users in its discussion boards for not adequately testing new features before launching them and for not communicating technical problems to users. Many users are also upset about recent changes to category structures in many categories.

An eBay spokesperson could not comment on the lawsuit when contacted late Friday afternoon.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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