EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 272 - October 10, 2010 - ISSN 1528-6703     7 of 7

AuctionBytes Soundoff: Letters to the Editor

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In every issue, readers soundoff about issues important to them. From feedback to payment services, from fees to posting policies, AuctionBytes Soundoff gives you a chance to air your views. Send your letter to the editor by emailing with "Letters to the Editor Blog" in the subject line. (Remember to include your name as you would like it to appear.)

Visit the Letters to the Editor Blog, here are links to letters published from September 26th to present:

eBay Switches Expensive Shipping to Top of Invoices - link to letter

Amazon Product Ads Show Unavailable on Mobile Searches - link to letter

Rebuttal to eBay on Buyer Protection Program - link to letter

An Open Letter to eBay CEO John Donahoe - link to letter

eBay Sellers Report Technical Difficulties - link to letter

One eBay Buyer Can Affect Seller's TRS Status - link to letter

A Major Pitfall of eBay International Trading - link to letter

PayPal's Announcement Leaves Questions Unanswered - link to letter

eBay Ads Send Shoppers Away - link to letter

eBay Slow to Respond in Account Hijacking - link to letter

eBay Seller Objects to Feedback and PayPal Policies - link to letter


Did you see the Ebay message from JD taking all of page 1???? It wreaks of Please shop here we have no business.... I hope it shows up in this link...


eBay's BUYER protection is a JOKE - they offer ZERO SELLER PROTECTION and the fraud is getting worse than cannot leave negative or neutral feedback on a sell - their theory is seriously FLAWED.


Hi Ina,
This just came in.
Note the message at the bottom about the Buyer Protection plan.

I have never seen a company so desperate. They are making such an issue of the BPP... it's on the home page, at the top of My eBay Page, on the newly redesigned sign in page, on every listing page, in announcements to sellers, in press releases.... the list is endless, and buyers are going to be sick of this in no time.

Whoever came up with this marketing strategy obviously discounts the fact that when it becomes necessary for a buyer to use the protections, that buyer has already had a bad eBay experience.

I am shocked that a multi billion dollar company believes calling attention to the buyer protection plan is a sound marketing strategy. It's like saying we know we are going to disappoint you, but we can fix that by returning your money.

The lack of marketing skills is reflected is this horrible strategy. If this is the best marketing plan eBay management could come up with, I would hate to see the lame brained ideas that did not make it.

If eBay is counting on making this the holiday season marketing plan, eBay sellers are going to find this holiday season to be a major disappointment.


I can tell you how to validate the process and prove how horribly flawed it is from a merchants perspective...go to eBay, buy ANYTHING for ANY AMOUNT. Pay with PayPal, which they own (plus they REQUIRE a seller to either accept PayPal or a credit card - how many private users have credit card processing at their fingertips?), and complete the transaction.

After you receive the item, file a "significantly not as described" complaint (PayPal will immediately freeze the funds in the seller's account) and then promptly ship back ANYTHING but what you bought - if you want to lock it in ironclad, just match the weight of the original parcel and send it back signature required. eBay/PayPal will immediately REFUND your payment and debit the sellers account (you just lost all your money and merchandise, by the way). If the seller account does not have enough money in it, they will file a collections notice on the seller and if they do not pay then, they will SUSPEND the seller until the reimbursement is made.

They will NOT listen to the seller, only send automatic pre-canned responses which most of the time are not even close to being applicable to the situation.

I have had items such as BRICKS and empty bottles returned and there is NOTHING I can do. I recently sold a small outboard engine and the buyer filed the claim and shipped back a parcel that weighed, by documented UPS records, 49 pounds LESS than the parcel I shipped - and the engine had parts removed, broken and replaced - in other words, total JUNK returned. eBay will not review the UPS documentation, will not refund my money, will not do ANYTHING - they say they will put the buyer on "watch" and see if a pattern other words, they will do NOTHING.

And one of us is an established business who has been an eBay user since day one....with THOUSANDS of positive feedbacks....

I can't get my item back, I can't get my money for the item, I can't get eBay to review the case, I can't file a negative or neutral feedback on the buyer to even WARN somebody else! SO regardless of the "TRUST US" crap eBay is puking out, it's truly a CROCK - and can be proven pretty easily. Fraudsters learn fast, and this scenario is happening more and more...and it will get worse.


Letter To The Editor: "Words Mean Things"

Dear Editor,
At least the eBay spin-team is honest enough to avoid LYING outright... but they're very skilled at choosing the right words, and they're very talented in knowing what they should NOT say as well.

Nevertheless, a careful reading of this page reveals a little bit more than they probably wanted to.

When explaining the advantages of the eBay Buyer Protection program, the following text appears: "Do I need to send the item back to the seller? If you've opened an item not as described case for a purchase covered by eBay Buyer Protection, then you must typically send the item back to the seller before getting a refund. "

Read that carefully, folks! Pay special attention to the fact that eBay avoids giving a straightforward response such as: "YES, buyers must return unwanted items the item to the seller."

Instead, they use weasel-words that are undeniably vague. Specifically, note the use of the word "typically". What exactly does eBay mean when they use this word? The word "typically" could mean anything at all!

Anyone who's familiar with "eBay-speak" will realize that eBay is signaling that buyers will NOT have to return the item 100% of the time! Such carefully constructed sentences indicate that there is a lot of wiggle room when it comes to not having to return "unwanted" items to the seller... it's a homing beacon to dishonest buyers.

It's worth noting that eBay doesn't even bother to suggest that buyers will need to return the item "most of the time". Even though a phrase like "most of the time" is fairly vague... it does help to quantify things, and a rational person could assume that "most of the time" suggests a percentage between 90-95% of the time.

There can be little doubt that if eBay's policy was for buyers to return unwanted items "most of the time" or "almost every time"... then eBay would have said so! Unfortunately, eBay chooses subjective words like "typically", and eBay gives us absolutely NO CLUE as to how often buyers are required to return unwanted items.

We know that the word "typical" suggests that something is "common"... but the word certainly doesn't tell us that something is prevalent.

We can deduce that the "typically" does not mean "most of the time". Therefore we can conclude that the phrase is probably trying to disguise the fact that the actual number of times that buyers must return unwanted items is much less than 90% of the time.

When dealing with eBay, you have to pay attention to what they DO say, as well as what they DO NOT say. We know what they WANT us to believe... but I'm not buying it. ~~ Are you?
A Loyal Reader


Hi Ina,
I am curious if anyone has information as to why Lorrie Norrington, eBay's President of Marketplaces, has exited the company.

Today's Yahoo finance info discusses Donohoe's "Amazon Format". It really appears eBay wants to break off the auction selling option.

Would love to hear other people's insight on these topics. Thanks.


Customer Service has disappeared on eBay for sellers. Long holds on the phone. Live chat seems to always be down when I have a problem and I can't even find an email address after answering a gazillions questions trying to get the virtual whatever to cough up a suggestion how to solve.

Recently I spent 2 and 1/2 hours and 2 hours respectively either on hold or trying to explain to untrained Customer Service reps the simple problem I was having and the simple solution that would correct the situation.. Each time after being on hold for extended times (while they supposedly were searching for the answers) the line went dead. These instances are not the first time this has happen to us either. I personally think they time you out.

For a company who expects the selling membership to fall over backwards and jump through hoops to sell and provide top customer service, you would think they could at least be a good role model in that area. 9 years on eBay.


I recently received my first negative feedback after 6 years trading on Ebay. It was inaccurate and defamatory.

I rang Ebay and they agreed that I should submit a form to have it removed. I downloaded the form and with some difficulty uploaded it with copies of the emails from the buyer and a statement of facts from myself.

True enough they removed the offensive and inaccurate comment but the negative still remains on my DSR's ruining my up until now 100% feedback record.

I may be missing something here - surely if feedback is simply wrong and clearly defamatory then it should be erased completely? Or can any seller say anything they like with impunity safe in the knowledge that they will have no comeback and the sellers reputation will be besmirched in any event?


The very reasoning behind Ebays promoting Free shipping, as they have said roll over your shipping expenses into higher sales price. Of course this would be a plus for Ebay.. That than means they get a higher percentage from your sale, as of right now they do not get any percentage of your shipping fees..

Pay Pal does, which I think is wrong, but they are charging for a service.

Now Ebay wants a bigger chunk of the action.. Which by the way, is getting smaller and smaller as the sellers on Ebay are sick of it and moving their business elsewhere..

Can you imagine getting any sales attention from buyers by charging 3 times what something is really worth. We as sellers cannot afford to lose any more buyers, by taking on the high shipping prices the USPS charges.


Would you PLEASE write a book and get it published asap, title it.... "How John Donahoe Destroyed eBay"?

You're a much better writer than I, and you being well known from AuctionBytes would be much more believable than an unknown person like myself.

Please consider doing this, for all of us whom JD has destroyed.

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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