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Thu Mar 18 2010 11:50:12

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

By: Ina Steiner

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Talk to an eBay seller, and they would be hard-pressed to give you an example of when an eBay glitch actually put money in the merchant's pocket. Invariably, eBay's screw-ups cost sellers money and time. AuctionBytes is increasingly receiving feedback from readers who question the timing of many of the problems and eBay's inadequacy in communicating these issues to its community.

Many of the complaints received contend that eBay's glitches are not mistakes - and point to end-of-quarter mistakes as shenanigans to beef up the company's quarterly financial reports. A recent example, which I wrote about on Tuesday, involving refunds through PayPal, prompted this email from a reader:

Why does Auctionbytes persist in calling an ongoing pattern and practice of stealing money from sellers "glitches?"

These are NOT glitches just like double listings, phantom relistings, and billing "errors" are NOT glitches. They are part of an ongoing theft and fraud strategy ebay uses, and I think it's about time auctionbytes called it out for what it is.

In the case of the PayPal refund problem, eBay actually inserted instructions onto a page so that sellers who needed to issue refunds to their buyers failed to receive credit for fees on the refunded amount. Another reader wrote to me in an email:

As the owner of a web site, like yourself, we certainly do understand that glitches happen. But if I ever have a Glitch that seems to rewrite an entire paragraph into legible instructions - TOTALLY out of the blue - I will be convinced of "ghosts in the machine.

What makes such problems worse is that eBay does not automatically credit sellers for its mistakes. Usually it's up to sellers to a) notice the mistake, and b) go out of their way to request a credit (the company does not make that easy).

Neither eBay nor PayPal notified sellers of the PayPal refund problem, despite having announcement boards that exist to notify users of technical issues (here for eBay and here for PayPal). eBay's failure to communicate glitches is typical.

PayPal spokesperson Sara Gorman wrote in an email to AuctionBytes on Tuesday about the refund issue:

This is a glitch and should be fixed sometime next week. This happens when customers search by invoice on their PayPal history pages. There are two refund sections: One that has the refund link and tells customers that they can refund up to to 60 days; and one toward the footer that states that they have to use the Send Money tab to initiate the refund. We know that this is confusing and are working to fix it as quickly as possible.

In a follow-up email, she said that "merchants should call PayPal if they used Send Money to refund their customers, and we will issue a credit."

One seller told me he spent 25 minutes with PayPal on the phone about the PayPal refund issue and said they failed to mention that there was a link on the page that he could use that worked properly and would have given him immediate credit for the fees.  

eBay is a mature company, and it has billions of dollars at its disposal to fix mistakes and ensure sellers are credited for overcharges. At a minimum, it needs to do the following:
  • Communicate such problems by posting them on Announcement Boards and in sellers' My eBay accounts;
  • Make sure customer service representatives are aware of such problems and make it easy for sellers to get quick and accurate answers;
  • Automatically refund sellers for glitches that occur rather than waiting for sellers to request the money owed them.
A seller wrote on a comment in the AuctionBytes "Letters to the Editor" blog about another problem - this one involving credits for Store fees, "The convenient manipulation and management of ''glitches'' by eBay to falsely enhance their bottom line should be investigated."

It certainly seems fair to ask what happens to money that eBay collects from sellers that is not owed to the company and is not returned to sellers.




Comments (48) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: fat frog

Thu Mar 18 12:04:49 2010

If anyone thinks Ebay really cares or will address any of the above concerns I have a bridge in Alaska Palin tried to sell. The only thing that matters to them and Donothole is the bottom line and as long as they continue to scam the sellers there bottom line will be fine to wall street and the pocket anaylists.

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: NOT a Glitch

Thu Mar 18 12:07:42 2010

These are not glitches - as glirches you would think would benefit either side. These are corrupt ebay's tools to steal from buyers. These are intentional and are illegal. So, just when is donuthole going to prison?

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: Lori

Thu Mar 18 12:23:08 2010

I am just a small seller at this time but I can't help wondering why some one with the know-how hasn't filed a class action suit against eBay.  I'm sure they're aware of our concerns & they probably laugh about them over their morning Starbucks!

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

This user has validated their user name. by: Doc
Web Site

Thu Mar 18 12:39:11 2010

Sorry i know this is somewhat off topic of the actual topic itself, BUT.. :)

Can we call the eBay Redirect that's been happening since 2005 a Glitch? I read that BS eBay PR Dept Reply eBay sent to Ina about the 07 Tahoe that was redirecting eBay site visitors to a scammer controlled website.

Funny a couple of weeks later after they claimed the redirect had been fixed, the same SUV was back and stayed up ALL WEEKEND!

Geez eBay Needs To Secure It's Website! The redirect site Harmonyebay.com probably snared several if not dozens of victims in nearly 6 Days and over 9000 Page Views.

These scammers are slick - and even have their own faux eBay live support chat line! I was able to make a movie of my live chat with the scammer. It's on www.ebaymotorssucks.com along with sme screen coverage of the page source of the eBay and fake listings.

Can any of you imagine making payments for 3-4 years on a car you don't own? It's happening and it's happening a lot!

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 18 12:41:41 2010

You don't have to be a mental giant to realize that none of Ebay's various glitches ever helped a seller - not ever.  Also, there are hundreds...maybe thousands of sellers who don't read these articles and are unaware that anything is wrong.  All that money goes into Ebay's coffers and adds to their dismal quarterly reports so that Wall Street is fooled.  These glitches don't happen at odd times...they are carefully manipulated to happen when the extra money is needed.

Class action suit????  I think sellers are tired of getting nothing and seeing attorneys get rich!  I believe the Attorney General needs to investigate this company but I guess Ebay's lobby is working overtime to avoid things like that ;-)

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: Larry V

Thu Mar 18 13:01:26 2010

If the Paypal incident were a "glitch" it wouldn't have re written the script.  It would have simply directed the user to the wrong page.  Ebay is run like our government.  They just don't care what the people are saying

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: Ken

Thu Mar 18 13:09:09 2010

Here is another eBay "glitch" that has occurred for MONTHS.
If you use a listing improvement like gallery plus that is free in certain categories] and use the double category listing option [where same listing is shown in two different categories], BUT ONLY one of the categories includes the gallery plus enhancement for FREE:

It will say prominently say it is FREE by the gallery plus enhancement, but the bottom of page shows they are CHARGING you the regular fee [since one of the categories you listed in does NOT include it free].

Can't say how many times I have almost gotten caught on that when listing something and am sure eBay makes millions doing it.

On a related note, how often to "pricing mistakes" at a B&M store HELP the buyer. Yes I will admit on rare occasion there is an undercharge [which has NEVER happened on eBay], but by and large it is always an overcharge [and a running total would certainly prove it].

Obviously there are a few actual mistakes [positive & negative], but if the tread points in ONE direction [or in the case of eBay ONLY goes in one direction] than the laws of averages dictates that it is NOT a mistake or at least NOT an "accidental" glitch.

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: yup

Thu Mar 18 13:09:31 2010

I used to think Ming was over the top with some of his criticism of Ebay.  But Ming was so spot on.  Ebay is corrupt, dishonest, and doesn't give a d#*% about customers.  Customers are a replaceable, so they think.

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: Dan

Thu Mar 18 13:33:06 2010

Once again!  Everybody cpmplaining about Ebay's corrupt business practices.  You all know it happens over and over.  So why do you all stay with Ebay, and keep taking it?  There's other online sales sites out there, a number of really good ones, too.  The opportunity is there to dump Ebay and sell elsewhere.  So give it some effort and try one or two of these other venues...you might be surprised.

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Thu Mar 18 13:42:12 2010

Go to the top of this page and search ''Auction Bytes'' for ''glitch.'' I got 707 results.

Start a blog. Make a posting for each ''glitch'', the date and the problem. Put the problem categories in the tags, then you can search for ''PayPal'' or ''shipping'' or ''Power Seller Discount''.

Where IS all the money INDEED!

Why isn't the Seller Advocate, Uncle Grift addressing this matter? His ''radio show'' calls are all screened and you are forced to give your eBay ID before they let you on the air.

Will this topic be allowed at eBay Jive: Atlanta? Think the Power-Selling Mom will address it at her party?

Uncle Grift, Jonnie D. - WHERE'S THE GLITCH MONEY???

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: RicRoe This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 18 13:49:16 2010

eBay holds sellers to what amounts to unreasonable high standards of performance, yet they consistently fail time and time again to afford their fee paying customers the same standards of service.

If a seller disappoints a buyer, sellers pay a steep price in terms of seeing their selling status reduced  and discounts removed.

eBay faces zero repercussions when their alleged "glitches" negatively impact the sellers experience. At best, they begrudgingly refund customers intelligent enough to spot an error, and retain the ill gotten gains from those that are too busy to examine each transaction and every line of an invoice for accuracy.

The level of hypocrisy with which eBay Corp deals with it's fee paying customers is both unacceptable and unconscionable.

Definition: glitch (glĭch) n.  - A minor malfunction, mishap, or technical problem; a snag

eBay's financial manipulations appear to be anything other than a glitch, rather they appear to be part of an ongoing series of deliberate acts designed to artificially enhance corporate revenues. Where financial irregularities are concerned, these "glitches" are anything but a minor malfunction or mishap.

Additionally, eBay fails to disclose the nature and frequency of these so called "glitches" in an effort to hide managements incompetence and dishonesty from the Board of Directors. Current management apparently believes that if they do not announce, it is not happening.

The childlike dishonesty of eBay's current management each time their hand is caught in the cookie jar is appalling. A multi billion dollar corporation should not have to resort to chicanery in order to prop up their bottom line on financial reports.

If there was an announcement for every "glitch" maybe the eBay board would see how badly current management is failing, hence managements ongoing practice of concealing the nature of each failed implementation. Why does the eBay Board continue to allow, permit and condone the high level of deceit which is apparently standard operating procedure for the current management team.

The practice of non disclosure of "glitches" which result in sellers being over charged is deceitful, dishonest, and may well be outright fraud. Placing a poorly worded paragraph which instructs sellers to commit an error which will cost them money and then stating it will take a week or more before the error is addressed and corrected clearly fails the smell test.

The lack of honesty and integrity displayed by current management reflects not just on an inept management team, but on the Board Members that continue to turn a blind eye on these all too frequent occurrences.

Sellers should not have to examine each and every transaction for correctness and then each line entry on an invoice to assure they have been dealt with fairly and honestly.

The lack of integrity displayed each time one of these "glitches" occur reflects a systemic lack of ethics which fee paying customers should not have to experience. eBay's Board of directors needs to compel management to adopt and adhere to a higher level of ethics, worthy of a multi billion dollar corporation.

eBay's Board should direct management to cease and desist all system and policy changes until such time as the issue of honesty and integrity is addressed and corrected.

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: Steve This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu Mar 18 14:27:32 2010

Yep, these glitches are real... So is Santa Claus & the Easter Bunny. Get your own website, use feeBay to drive traffic to it and enjoy real profits. feeBay is nothing more than a tool, use it for what it is. They DON'T CARE about you.

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: Fruity This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 18 14:33:41 2010

Could we expect them to say otherwise?

Glitch is codeword for looting

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 18 15:21:28 2010

Every time I read about such things, I feel as if I'm being slimed. eBay has a huge corrupt, "ICK" factor. They have deceived their sellers, denigrated them, stole from their pockets, made up stories to cover their misdeeds, gave nonexistent customer service, directed PayPal to not distribute seller's funds with the flimiest of excuses, made error after error in people's accounts and then never corrected them until the person discovered it for themselves.

Where is the honsety, the service, the carefulness with people's money, the trust making behavior, the believability? Where are the good people?

It is just disgusting.

To think that such a once fine company has come to this is beyond comprehension.

Yes, there is a man at the top who is directing all of this, but there are also many, many others working there who could help to make this company once again, great. But they are all turning a blind eye. They know what is going on.

How about some of you employees who are in the know, making some waves within the company for change. You can't all be corrupt.

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: Troglodyte

Thu Mar 18 16:36:06 2010

How about filing criminal complaints against ebay with the San Jose Police Department and the California Bureau of Investigation.

Their San Francisco field office number is (415) 351-3374.

Ebay/PayPal have a very, very long history of such thefts.

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: another side of the coin

Thu Mar 18 16:44:07 2010

Yes, this whole thing stinks. It seems everyone is afraid of repercussions from the mighty eBay. Employees fear for losing their jobs or if they have left there is the stigma of being labeled a rebel raiser for future employment or eBay stating it is just a disgruntled employee.

Then there are the sellers, whether still selling or not on eBay, the lack of transparency and not knowing the repercussions should they take a stand. Everyone knows eBay has a lot of people in their pockets. eBay has taken the role of Big Brother. They abuse, wear you down into submission.

But as with Madoff, Enron and all the other crooks, eventually, eBay Donuthole & Co will get caught. We all have to continue to stand up together for our rights and not let eBay wear us down. Keep talking, keep complaining, tell everyone and eventually this dam will break.

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: Gary

Thu Mar 18 16:51:42 2010

Forward this blog post to every business write you can find. Most have e-mail addresses available on their columns. If enough writers get this enough they will start writing about it.
A good site to start is businessinsider.com
They love this kind of stuff

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: zztopshlf

Thu Mar 18 17:24:56 2010

This is not a boating accident!

And it wasn't any propeller; and it wasn't any coral reef; and it wasn't Jack the Ripper!

How the hell can ebay make us conform to their DSR when if anyone were to rate them using the same standards, they'd be banned for life?

Someone needs to have the courage to ask this to donahoe. I've love hear his dopey response. Hypocrites!

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Thu Mar 18 17:31:25 2010

So, what’s new? You have all just discovered that the eBafia’s executive management team, headed by “Dr Death” Donahoe MBA, is a bunch of gutless, unscrupulous, barely functional, white-collar criminals? It’s been obvious for years: not only the way they deviously manipulate their fee structure, etc, to the disadvantage of sellers but also by the way they have chosen to deliberately criminally facilitate and encourage sophisticated shill bidding fraud, on buyers the world over, to improve their FVFs.

If ever there was a commercial operation that deserved to be under the constant scrutiny of a court-appointed “master” [auditor], eBay (and PayPal) are two such entities.

When is some competent authority going to shine a bright light under either of these two slimy rocks?

eBay/PayPal: Dead Men Walking

Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?   Do eBay's 'Glitches' Benefit Its Bottom Line?

by: fat frog

Thu Mar 18 17:32:55 2010

@zztopshlf

How can ebay make us conform???? Easy its their site, their playground, you will play by their rules or be sent packing.

Until some up and coming attorney general is some state gains enough gonads to start a investigation ebay will do as they please.

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