Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed May 23 2012 20:33:36

eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

By: Ina Steiner

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A man who purchased a $6 sports collectible on eBay says he is being sued by the seller. Television station WFTV.com in Florida said Hector Serrano, who purchased many sports memorabilia items on eBay, left negative feedback for Beantown Collections citing a bad experience.

It appears the seller filed in Massachusetts Small Claims court, and it may have more to do with trying to get the feedback removed than about the money. In most cases, eBay won't remove negative feedback left by a buyer - unless they get a court order to do so. Negative feedback can cost sellers money and hurt their standings in search results, and of course enough negative feedback can be grounds for suspension.

While such cases could make buyers think twice about leaving negative feedback ratings, they could also make buyers think twice about buying anything at all on eBay.

Here's the news story on WFTV.com.

Would you ever sue a buyer for leaving you negative feedback?




Comments (46) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 23 20:44:47 2012

I'm surprised it hasn't happened before now.  

When feedback just stung that was one thing.

Now with the DSRs and eBay tampering with your standing in search results and charging you extra fees there is real money involved.  Much more at stake today.

This won't be the last time.  

This is called libel.  

The defense for libel is truth, but there's not that much truth in feedback anymore.  Now, you can get neg FB and bad DSRs even if you did *everything right*.

Ebay's position that they don't intervene has now gone out the window and eBay is right in the middle of the transactions.  

They will be sued next, in fact if the seller in the article hasn't sued eBay too he made a mistake.  Ebay is going to have to be brought in.

You have to be careful what you say in writing, publicly.  

As to thinking twice about buying on eBay, nah.  Just remember what mom used to say:  ''If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all.''

The one way buyer>seller feedback is used vindictively more often than not today.  It's not an opinion, it's nothing like that. It's to get back at the seller.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: NaruMessenger

Wed May 23 21:52:31 2012

If the seller sued eBay he would wind up NARU!

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 23 21:56:47 2012

Narumessenger said:
>If the seller sued eBay he would wind up NARU!

They wouldn't dare. Not in a million years.  

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

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

Thu May 24 01:58:45 2012

How deep are the pockets of Beantown Collectibles?

Ha ha, let them try the eBa'al mafia tactics on real consumers. Beantown Collectibles is going to be hung out to dry by eBa'al and picked clean by the lawyers.

Companies have to have a lawyer in Small Claims Court. Beantown Collectibles must have a huge profit margin to take on this case and all the others that are sure to follow.

This will be more bad buyer PR for eBa'al. Will they stand behind their seller?

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 02:20:09 2012

Small Claims Court in Massachusetts - You can sue or be sued in this Court without being represented by a lawyer.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 07:47:19 2012

The question for the court to decide is ''what is feedback''?

If its a customers opinion on the service provided, then a customer leaving an unwarranted negative should be open to being sued - not eBay.

eBays anti seller rep is well known, but whether or not you can prove anything in court is another matter.

PLUS eBays TOS that every signed says you forgo the right to sue them anywhere but CA and that you agree to binding arbitration (thier venue, thier crooked judges)(the fix is in).

eBay has plenty of money to spend on laywers, they arent the least bit worried about ''you'' sueing them (or me or anyone else).

Id be interested in seeing where this goes - Ive had my share of vindictive negative feebacks for things out of my control (quality of an item .. sue the manufactorer), postal delays - sue the post office) but in eBay land those are the sellers faults.

I hope the seller wins, and eBay and the buyer learn something .. but I dont think they will (knowing how the courts generally dont like to clamp down on free speech)

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: Stockmiser

Thu May 24 09:09:04 2012

Keep in mind that ''free speech'' pertains to govt control or speech, and not about civil liability for speech.  While a court is unlikely to tell someone they cannot speak, that has nothing to do with a person's responsibility for what they say.

In this specific case, I don't see where the buyer misrepresented the facts or was being malicious.  He simply stated what had actually happened, and asked for an appropriate remedy (the item or a refund).  It should not have taken the seller a month to resolve this, especially if he was that concerned about his FB.

With all the obvious cases of malicious FB we see - and even buyers outright scamming sellers AND leaving neg FB - and lying about the actual facts, thereby committing real libel - it's a shame that this buyer is the one being sued.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

by: etailer This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 10:21:39 2012

It is surprising that these types of lawsuits are not filed more often by sellers.

FEEDBACK SYSTEM
This is what happens when it is not a level playing field.

eBay has created an environment for abuse. If the online tracking provides Delivery Confirmation and the buyer disputes it by opening an INR case, buyer loses the case.  This is when there is an incentive for the buyer to get abusive.

Since eBay sellers can not leave Negative feedback for the buyers, and buyers are given the liberty of leaving non factual/ abusive/ malicious/ misrepresented details about the seller in feedback, it is bound to upset sellers whose livelihood is threatened with poor feedback and low DSRs.

INCOMPLETE INFORMATION/ REPORTING
It is inappropriate to provide only the buyer's viewpoint.  Buyer claimed that the package was not delivered - Action 9 (WFTV) does not provide details whether the online tracking provided Delivery Confirmation.  Seller is unable to do much if the package has been delivered and shows as delivered by the shipping company.  Despite that the seller provided a replacement.

OTHER THOUGHTS ABOUT EBAY
With the introduction of mandatory returns that sellers have been coerced into providing for ALL items beginning June 2012, buyer abuse is likely to increase exponentially.

It is incomprehensible for eBay management to conceive of and devise a business model that expects the sellers to provide rock bottom pricing and then expect the sellers to provide Return Policies that mimic those of Macy's or Target.  Even more bizarre is eBay's expectation for sellers to provide returns for intimate apparel!

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 11:48:06 2012

etailer said:
>It is incomprehensible for eBay management to conceive of and devise a business model that expects the sellers to provide rock bottom pricing and then expect the sellers to provide Return Policies that mimic those of Macy's or Target.

Or as I mentioned in another thread, Nordstrom, where you can buy a $500 cocktail dress for $500 and get free shipping.  

I found the same dress on eBay for $35. Given the savings do you really need free shipping, easy returns, etc?  Or are you saving enough?  

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

by: Kelly This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 12:37:01 2012

When I first read the summary of the case I thought ''good for the seller! It's about time someone stood up to the feedback unfairness on eBay!'' Then I read the seller's feedback and watched the news story. I have to side with the buyer. I know there's FB abuse on eBay (been a victim of it myself) but this buyer's situation could've been handled much better by the seller.

Not only has the seller ''lost'' packages or sent wrong items many times before, but some of his responses to buyers are just plain rude and unprofessional. My favorite: ''NO CONFUSION , YOU CANT READ , U GOT REFUNDED FOR BEING A JACK-AS***''

Wonder if he's suing ALL the people who left him neuts & negs?  

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 12:53:27 2012

Ebay leaves the door wide open for lawsuits between buyer and seller.  There is no give and take...99 percent of the time the seller is wrong in Ebay's eyes.  They've taken the easy way out and left the burden solely on the seller.  Most of us have run up against that one buyer we have to "appease"....its wrong and this seller obviously has the money to pursue justice.  Good luck to them!  I hope they win!!!

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles

Thu May 24 13:29:42 2012

I read both feedbacks. The neutral & negatives from the seller and ''left for others'' from the buyer. The seller has the same problem of ''lost'' mail over and over.

If he sue this buyer. I must believe that he sue the other 3 buyers that posted a negative after this one in the story.  

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 14:24:30 2012

If the buyer lied in the feedback and the seller can prove it, the buyer is going to pay. It does not matter if the seller has other negatives, it is all about whether this particular buyer lied.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 14:26:12 2012

Yes absolutely, there are many buyers who are out to get free merchandise. They are using the feedback system when the seller will not cave in

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

by: purplerose This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 14:59:36 2012

I was about to post what Kelly has already mentioned, quite well too. If anything this seller has made a mountain out of a mole hill and he has revealed himself as an unprofessional seller. Congratulations beantown-collectibles - you just slit  your own throat.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

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

Thu May 24 15:25:36 2012

I'd sue in a Massachusetts minute provided there was little or no factual basis for the negative feedback, and the evidence existed to prove same.

If ebafia wants to stop the bad PR about feedback lawsuits, then they MUST

1. Restore the seller' s ability to leave feedback for buyers. If as ebay clearly states on many of its pages that feedback keeps the "ebay community safe and informed," then they should revise these pages or allow sellers to warn the community about bad buyers.

2. Make major changes in their Criminal Protection Policy that currently teaches and facilitates felony fraud against sellers.

A lot of people stopped shipping on ebay a long time ago -- not because they feared getting sued by sellers but because has become so draconian in its policies, so incompetent in its tech, and apparently so utterly inept in catching fraudsters.

While the set of alleged facts in this case would be my first choice upon which to file a lawsuit, it nevertheless will be interesting watch if we ever find out what the out of court settlement is.

I suspect the entire point is obtain a court order directing ebay to remove the feedback which is well worth the small of amount of money the seller spent filing the case.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: windsorbear

Thu May 24 16:07:22 2012

I can see more changes coming because of this... one of these will happen in the near future... A)Buyer Feedback will be made anonymously and without reference to what was bought, or B)Feedback will be eliminated and only anonymous DSR Ratings will be used, or 3)eBay will add to its TOS that under no circumstances will sellers be able to sue buyers or eBay.  By doing so, seller will violate eBays TOS and account will be immediately terminated.  It will be interesting to see which of these will happen.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 16:13:14 2012

windsorbear said:
>eBay will add to its TOS that under no circumstances will sellers be able to sue buyers or eBay.  By doing so, seller will violate eBays TOS and account will be immediately terminated.

That would violate public policy, and so would be illegal.  

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Thu May 24 16:28:46 2012

Let's see how this works... eBay targets sellers for demotion in search and charges them the highest fees possible based on opinions of buyers.

When sellers lose discounts and are demoted in search their business crumbles so they look toward ebay to restore a balance.

eBay seeing they will now be able to collect higher fees and remove the seller from receiving Final Value Fee discounts tells the seller they need a court order to get negative feedback removed.

In order to obtain the court order for feedback removal, and protect the profitability of their business, the seller needs to sue the buyer.
Cutting to the chase, eBay's Feedback and DSR system is the perfect storm for buyers getting sued for posting their opinions on eBay's feedback system.

In this case, the buyer will have to spend hundreds, possibly thousands to be represented in court over their purchase of a $6.00 item on eBay, and if the buyer loses the suit, stands to possible lose hundreds or thousands of dollars more.

Unless eBay fixes what THEY broke, I see many more cases like this in the future. Buyers will stop purchasing on eBay for fear of being sued, and eBay will endure a public relations black eye every time one of these cases attracts media attention.

eBay's executives must be so proud of their handiwork.

Perminate Link for eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback   eBay Seller Sues Buyer for Leaving Negative Feedback

by: Serious Fun This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 24 16:41:16 2012

This has actually been quietly going on for quite some time. I've heard stories of sellers who were lawyers suing buyers (cost effective for them).

I do think it is more of a tool to remove negative feedback than to gain monetarily. Especially if the feedback contains slanderous, untrue, or libelous remarks.

We have, on a couple of occasions, subtly mentioned that an untrue feeback remark was legally putting the buyer in a position for legal action. It sometimes works and the buyer will agree to remove it.

I would only recommend it for the types of remarks specified above. If someone is just unhappy, no matter how much you tried to please them, then I don't think a court is going to side with you.

Unfortunately, eBay is making it more and more obvious to buyers that they will side with them, no matter what. So, more buyers are emboldened to try to inflict damage on sellers.

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