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Sun Nov 30 2008 11:41:07

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

By: Ina Steiner

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Here's an interesting thread on the eBay discussion boards in which a seller accuses a buyer of fraud. The buyer comes forward and calls the seller's claims slander. The product in question: an iRobot Roomba 580 Vacuum Cleaning Robot.

The thread makes for an interesting read as the saga plays out. It also gives some insight into the common challenges faced by buyers and sellers in claims of fraud, and by eBay and PayPal in making a ruling - and how "bystanders" in the forums view the companies' approach in dealing with claims.

Whatever the outcome of the Case of the iRobot Roomba, it demonstrates that dispute-resolution problems remain, despite eBay's radical changes to its feedback system made this year.

Third-party services have developed solutions to aid in eBay disputes - BuySafe and Fair Outcomes come to mind. But eBay has chosen not to embrace these innovative services, leaving some eBay buyers and sellers to duke it out on discussion boards.  





Comments (46) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

by: Patricia

Sun Nov 30 12:59:45 2008

Sellers are getting ripped off by buyers left and right and most often with absolutely no recourse.  To run a business where the seller puts up his items and then is subject to losing that item plus the money paid for the item should be illegal!  Ebay rakes in their fees so they just look the other way.  This is coming back to bite them right in the ...!!!  The very least they could do...if they don't want to handle customer service themselves, is to allow one of these companies to be paid to mediate a dispute!  Ebay looks more arrogant and ignorant every single day!  They've reduced themselves to ripoff artists!  I hope they realize what they're doing to their future business.

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sun Nov 30 13:15:39 2008

Two things every serious seller should know:

There's a General Mail Facility (GMF) in many medium and large metropolitan areas and, as far as I know, each of them has an Expedited Mail specialist.

I recommend that every seller get to know their Expedited Mail specialist. They're open to any shipping problems that ebay and PayPal policies might create for their customers (sellers -- the Post Office KNOWS who their customers are!).

The seller in the thread Ina mentions has done the right thing by opening the return in front of Postal employees. T believe that EVERY return should be opened in front of a Postal employee.

1. Assist you in filing a mail fraud complaint with the Postal Inspector or can file it themselves. Be sure to get the telephone number (and a name if available) of nearest Postal Inspector so you monitor their progress of their investigation.

2. Provide written corroboration of the contents of the package. Remember the Postal employee can NOT say the package the package didn't contain what it was supposed to because the emplpyee has no legally tenable way of knowing that.

3. Contact your Expedited Mail specialist for any further assistance.

The following isn't intended as legal advice but as general information to help sellers protect themselves from that small percentage of con artist ebay buyers.

A seller can file a small claims action against the buyer in small claims court where the seller lives. The seller's business is located within that court's jurisdiction, and the transaction originated inside this court's jurisdiction.

Once the case is filed in your local courthouse (Clerk of the District Court's Office or something similar), a seller plaintiff can and should subpoena the defendant/buyer using a subpoena called Subpoena Duces Tecum specifying that the buyer/defendant bring any and all written records related to the transaction as well as any and all product in their possession arising from the transaction. All subpoenas carry the weight of a court ORDER.

A seller should also subpoena their feedback and DSR records from ebay. If ebay is slow to produce these records, the seller/plaintiff should ask for a postponement. If ebay still refuses to produce the documents the seller has subpoenaed, go to court on the date specified and submit your own feedback and DSR records that you've downloaded from ebay as evidence. (any evidence submitted during a court proceeding is called an Exhibit followed by a number.)

A plaintiff/seller should send the buyer/defendant a copies of all transaction records via certified mail including a printed copy of the product description page, PayPal transaction record, copies of all emails to and from the seller to the buyer and vice versa, and the seller's feedback and DSR records if ebay has failed to provide them. A seller should also be prepared to explain to the court why the buyer's feedback records are now irrelevant.

In cases when a buyer returns an empty box or anything other than the original item(s) and if you the seller opened the boxes in front of a Postal employee, you may also subpoena those Postal employees to testify in small claims court to what they saw when the package was opened.

You MUST send by certified mail any evidence you accumulate after filing your case to the defendant/buyer. A seller sjould check with their local court clerk's office to determine what that office routinely sends the other party and what they don't. These materials are called "discovery," and should the dendndant actually appear for court, the judge could dismiss the case if the plaintiff/seller has failed to send the defendant/buyer any and all evidence the seller acquired pre trial.

The buyer likely won't show up for court, however, and the seller can then ask the small claims court judge for a default judgment for the plaintiff/seller and specifically request:

1. That the defendant be ordered to pay any and all documented (cost of the item, original shipping charges, listing fees, non refunded ebay/PayPal fees, etc. which thes eller should have submitted as evidence during the proceeding) expenses the seller can prove they incurred be paid by the defendant.

2. All court costs the seller incurred which includes the filing fee, any postage costs, and any other provably related costs directly related to the case.

3. A written order to ebay to remove the feedback by a specified date (as early as the court will agree to) and DSR ratings left by the defendant.

Ebay has a documented history of either ignoring court orders or has been notoriously slow in complying with them so it's crucial to have a quick feednack/DSR removal date specified by the court (every day an undeserved negative and low DSRs remain in your record damages your business) reputation). Also a seller should ask the court what remedy he or she has IF ebay drags their feet in complying with the court order.

Finally, a seller should remember that the terms libel, slander, and defamation have specific legal definitions which vary slightly from state to state. Often these legal definitions do NOT support wild accusations from those utterly unfamiliar with what legally constitutes libel, slander, and defamation.

IMO, it's doubtful that the seller is his dicussion thread committed "slander," but I could be wrong.

Under this unfair new feedback/DSR system, a seller may lose the first round of the fight but likely can prevail with a court.

Last, the seller should get a certified copy of the court's judgement agaisnt the defendant and mail a copy to the Sheriff's Office in the buyer's county and ask the Sheriff to collect the judgment.

Filing a small claims action isn't rocket science, and small claims courts understand sellers aren't usually attorneys and that you will be nervous.

When a seller wina one of these cases (guaranteed if the defendant doesn't show and the seller has evidence that the defendant was notified of the court date) and a seller should feel empowered and not be at the mercy of every con artist buyer!

This sounds far more complicated than it actually is so a seller shouldn't be frightened to do it.

Seller Empire, Strike Back!

Death to ebay corp.

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

by: Ben

Sun Nov 30 13:35:51 2008

if there's a thread where patricia can complain and slam ebay, she'll find it. too bad she doesn't put that effort into selling!

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sun Nov 30 14:06:47 2008

@ Ben

And perhaps -- just perhaps -- if you put that much or more effort into improving your 'customer service' contacts, "Patricia" wouldn't have to take to the boards for some community advice.

Ebay is the most supremely slammable and despicable corporation in American history second only to Enron and possibly some other whose stories have yet to filly emerge from the Bush Wall Street scandals.

How long would you continue to work for ebay if they didn't pay you?

What a tool. Those who can, sell. Those who can't work at ebay corp.

Death to ebay corp.

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

by: tony tucker

Sun Nov 30 14:12:57 2008

ebay is the nazi regime of the corporate internet ...... only not as nice.

( ten years of selling on the site )

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

by: Patricia

Sun Nov 30 14:22:20 2008

Hey Ben - which part of my post was a lie or wothout fact?  If the shoe fits...Ebay deserves it you-know-where ;-)

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

by: ray

Sun Nov 30 15:51:18 2008

@Patricia
"The very least they could do...if they don't want to handle customer service themselves, is to allow one of these companies to be paid to mediate a dispute! "

YES YES YES
We all know that ebay/paypal has the worst customer service (well actually NO customer service).   Ebay and paypal business and reputation rests on BOTH the buyer and seller having faith that they will be treated fairly. Do they really believe a half baked idea of DSR rating will solve all problems?

They really need to provide a way to resolve disputes. BUT, I strongly feel that EBAY SHOULD OUTSOURCE IT AND PAY ALL COST ASSOCIATED. Then, and only then would I believe that ebay actually cared about the sellers and buyers satisfaction.

IF ebay required the seller or buyer to PAY for a fair outcome then that would only lead to ebay profiting off poor performers.

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

by: Patricia

Sun Nov 30 16:17:19 2008

@Ray - my feeling has always been that they don't want us to succeed and they don't want to give us a fair shake.  Their whole system seems designed to disqualify us at any time.  For example telling buyers a 4.0 is good and suspending sellers who get a 4.1!!!  You don't need the roof to fall on your head to see where they're headed.  This DSR system they set up allows them to continue to collect fees from sellers while they usher in their diamond sellers and allow them to set up - probably with no fees...then they intend to cut us ALL loose.  That's how I've seen it from the very beginning.  Hope I'm wrong but everything I've seen so far points to yes, this is exactly what they're doing.

The very idea they come here and personally bash a poster shows their desperation that 1) we know what they're up to; and 2) what they're up to is failing them!!! ;-)

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

by: Richiemagoo

Sun Nov 30 16:26:35 2008

PayPal's policies foster blatant fraud! There are actually videos on youtube and other places telling unethical people how they can scam Ebay sellers through these policies and receive merchadise for free!!
    The abolition of mutual feedback has been another debacle which makes it now impossible to identify problem buyers, or to tell when a good buyer might actually be making a legitimate complaint (Under the current atmosphere on Ebay, one is naturally predisposed to be suspect of all buyers).
   Where's the seller protection that PayPal often advertises? Where's the retaliatory feedback removal that Ebay promised? (Instead, Ebay now punishes sellers based on DSR's and feedback often left by non-paying bidders and scammers)
    I stopped selling on Ebay in January 08, and have now closed my Ebay and PayPal accounts. Good riddence to them both!
    Anyone who values their reputation and the concepts of fairness and honesty, should not be doing business with the morally bankrupt Ebay!

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

by: Daisy

Sun Nov 30 17:15:46 2008

Ebay must have a legion of diamond sellers lined up to begin selling on the platform. I can't figure out any other reason why they would treat smaller sellers in such a disgusting manner.

Do these people know what they're doing? I guess, we'll see.

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

This user has validated their user name. by: Bob

Sun Nov 30 17:16:23 2008

Ebay fully allows feedback extortion.

It states in all of our listings that we charge a 20% restock fee for returns, and the buyer must check an agreement during the checkout process that confirms they understand and agree to this exact policy. They can not complete checkout if they don't agree, and we do not want to complete a sale if they don't agree.

Recently a customer told us the size of a laptop case was too small (dimensions are accurately posted in listing) and then told us that he would leave us negative feedback if we charged him the restocking fee. We reported this to ebay and they wrote back that it's not feedback extortion.

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

by: Chris

Sun Nov 30 17:26:35 2008

wish we could view that thread. ebay removed it.

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

by: noneya

Sun Nov 30 18:19:05 2008

Guess ebay needs to remove Noisy and bad PR threads from the boards to keep it all shiny happy & tra la la
Close your paypal accounts, move to another site that allows your to transfer your ebay FB (bonanzle?) and start building a better store somewhere else.
The end is near.

Down with Ebay, Up with Sellers!

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

by: Noneya

Sun Nov 30 18:48:00 2008

I did get a chance to read the thread before ebay deleted it. In case you missed it:  
Buyer bought a Roomba, buyer wanted more parts than were listed as coming with the Roomba. Apparently there is a special upgrade kit from Roomba with extra parts, Buyer apparently expected parts that were not listed to be included as well. (Isn't this what asking questions before bidding is all about?)
Buyer originally wanted 75. partial refund (a free gift with purchase) Seller refused to give a partial and offered to take the item back and issue a full refund. IMHO Buyer wanted his cake and some free money too.

PP refused to issue a refund until the item was returned to the seller, the buyer(went totally off the rails into crazy town and) sent a box of junk to make it look like the item had been returned.

Fortunately for the seller, she was smart enough to open the returned package at the post office documenting that the goods returned were just 7 lbs of foam and plastic. While the box she originally sent contained a 14 lb Roomba.

Unfortunately for the Seller, Ebay doesn't have their back even in the face of outright documented scamming. The seller got Negd and Ebay did nothing.  

The really tragic thing is that the buyer is also a seller. The buyer should have a sense of how frustrating this sort of thing is. What a crappy thing to do to another seller.

I wonder WHAT it REALLY takes for ebay to boot a bad buyer? Oh wait, I forgot.. even a truly craptastic buyer is better than a ''GOOD'' seller.

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

by: Pat

Sun Nov 30 19:05:34 2008

What I find interesting is that eBay has pulled that particular thread. Speaks volumes.

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

by: vooodoooo

Sun Nov 30 20:43:47 2008

What is really surprising is all the people who whining and complain and keep right on selling. Those that sell on ebay any length of time have no reason to as they know what they are getting into. Get smart folks - get out and go somewhere else.

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

by: beller buyer/seller

Sun Nov 30 21:23:34 2008

Is it really too much to ask---all we ask is just to be treated fairly?

For ebay to ACT justly.




Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sun Nov 30 22:55:50 2008

Addenda to my above post regarding small claims action.

A plantiff/seller should also preserve the package and contents when a buyer returns either an empty box or returns anything other than what the seller sent them and present them as evidence during a small claims actionasking the postal employee to confirm that this is why they saw when you opened the package.

If a buyer/defendant refuses to pay the judgment, a seler/plaintiff may report it to the credit bureaus in the buyer's area by sending a copy of the judgment to the credit bureaus.

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sun Nov 30 23:00:33 2008

If there were any more of a compelling argument that ebay needs to be run by adults rather than emotional adolescents with raging hormones, it's the fact that ebay management either directs or encourages their employees to past vicious comments about their own customers on blogs.

This has to be unique in the annals of corporate America.

Ebafia is the most deceitful, duplicitous, and despicable corporation in the world run by te the world's most immature and despicable executives.

Death to ebay corp.

Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute   Cleaning up a Messy eBay Dispute

by: Eric

Sun Nov 30 23:11:56 2008

Ina, can you get a comment from ebay as to why they removed that thread? That would be an interesting read!

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