Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu Apr 18 2013 22:08:25

Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

Just how far would you go to try to get a negative rating removed from your eBay feedback? One seller was willing to take his buyer to court last month, and while he's not the first to do so, it appears he uses it as an ongoing strategy to keep his eBay Detailed Seller Ratings (DSR) ratings pristine.

In Friday's EcommerceBytes newsletter, Kenneth Corbin looks at the recent sale of an "Olympus G92104 Microscope Light Source with Shutter Attachment" for $175 with a shipping cost of $12. The buyer said she had to pay postage due upon delivery of $1.44, so she gave the seller a negative feedback. When she refused to withdraw the neg after the buyer offered to reimburse her, the seller filed a defamation lawsuit.

This is only the most recent case of a seller suing an eBay buyer. This blog post from April 2010 outlines a number of similar cases.

However, with a little digging, the advocacy group Public Citizen that was helping the buyer fight the lawsuit claims that the seller has sued buyers before in order to keep a clean record on eBay.

With all the attention, the seller apologized and said he was withdrawing his lawsuit. "We fully support her right and all of our customers right to leave any feedback they desire - true or otherwise! The issue involved "Detailed Seller Ratings" or DSR's. The low ratings caused us to lose our "Top Rated Seller Plus" standings. Based on our current volume, this was a potential fee increase of tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a year."

It's true that low DSRs can cost sellers money both in terms of lost TRS discounts, but also due to being disadvantaged in search results. However, Terry Gibbs disputed the seller's claims in this blog comment.

What do you think of this curious case, and what does it say about buying and selling on eBay these days?




Comments (56) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

This user has validated their user name. by: Map

Thu Apr 18 23:00:49 2013

Ebay told me I would have to place lawsuit against one of my customers because ebay would not remove my customers negative comment claiming that "i pulled a bait & switch". So this man had to sue because ebay left him two options 1 pay higher ebay fees by loss of TRS or 2 get a court order to remove the feedback and repair the DSR. Ebay is going to make every seller give free return shipping to avoid negative DSRs. Get ready sellers to loose your top rated seller status. This is ebays invisible fee hike, that will make millions more by taking away our 20% discount. You corporate people at ebay are laughing your asses off and have facts that many sellers are being bankrupted.  

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

by: Gina This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 18 23:48:09 2013

Thankfully ebay has changed it's stance on feedback.  No longer can one spiteful creep of a customer who constantly changes his username so he can hit and harass good sellers then slam their good name with nasty, NASTY feedback!!  (This particular nasty user found and called me an old word which ebay hadn't yet banned, the past tense of tweet!  He then went on to change his username so he could continue his rampage of slander and sleazy name-calling!)
Now, if only we could tell other seller what an absolute jerk that customer is...so other sellers could avoid him!!!  Now ebay will not only remove his horrible comments, they might remove the negative too!

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

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

Thu Apr 18 23:49:27 2013

What I think us pathetic is the buyer crying over 1.44 less then 2 bucks! But when a seller undercharges by mistake, buyers never pay the monies lost to seller error. I think more buyers should be sued for this type of transactions. They might learn how to be realistic in the future.

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

by: Truk This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 18 23:57:44 2013

I feel Med Express's frustration you do business in a professional manner,take care of buyer issues when contacted and still get a negative and low DSR's
I don't believe the buyer made them aware of the extra charges to give them a chance to make things right

Ebay's created  a very tenuous situation for seller's your business can be destroyed restricted or banned from Ebay with-out ever having a chance to make things right with buyer's

Buyers can leave DSR's and ebay just assume's that every buyer is well qualified to do so this system could actually cost a seller into the millions by the loss ebay as a provider with no recourse but the help of someone in India that realistically is less than capable or simply not authorized to make any decisions
What other choice did this seller have?
Turn to Ebay for help?

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

by: MADandCracked This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 00:09:15 2013

Isn't it funny how sellers are always ready to side with other sellers without even considering the feelings of the buyer.
I have had quite a few packages arrive with postage due. I used to pay the amount due and then let the seller know about the extra charges. Then one day, this one seller got very angry with me and said "I never authorized for you to pay the extra" and basically told me that I was out of luck on getting refunded. Now, I send the packages back if postage is due. I will never pay for extra postage again. When a seller lists a product at $3.00 and you pay the $3.00. You shouldn't have to pay another penny ... not one!

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles

Fri Apr 19 00:12:39 2013

"On Thursday, Ars Technica reported that Public Citizen discovered that the seller, Med Express, had a history of suing buyers over negative and neutral feedback ratings."

Guys, do you read all the story? It looks like isn't the 1rst time.

Lets be fair. The seller underestimate the shipping. Next time use Flat Rate Boxes.  

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

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

Fri Apr 19 00:16:06 2013

Given the highly slanted playing field ebafia gives sellers, I'm a long time advocate of using the court system as a last resort to obtain justice since we get virtually none from ebafia in spite of all their 'seller protection' hype.

However, I also think the plaintiff had better have virtually an airtight case clearly demonstrating buyer wrongdoing, defamation, retaliation, or outright misstatement(s) of facts, etc.

For example, the seller wouldn't have a case if the buyer could produce a receipt for the postage due she says she paid.

Courts look askew at nuisance lawsuits, and if the defendant could have or in fact did produce a receipt, then the seller had no viable case.

Additionally, this company appears to have a pattern and practice of suing its customers to deny its alleged liability and for the purpose of obtaining or maintaining a better market position something which a court would consider.

In most if not all states the legal defense against defamation is the truth of the allegation(s) made.

In either scenario a summary judgement could be requested and the seller could face paying both sides' legal expenses.

The real bad guy here is ebafia, and I don't I need to explain why to anyone here.

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 00:19:44 2013

it would have been nice if the buyer had contacted the seller first, but other than that the feedback is poretty straight forward and honest.  if as the seller says "this has been happening a lot" with the postage due, perhaps he should try to find out why it is and what he can do to prevent it in the future.  this almost sounds like it was a negative feedback waiting to happen.

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

by: doboy This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 00:22:16 2013

If ethe seller used eBay or Paypal shipping to print the label and pay the cost, it would not be unreasonable to come to the realization the site's calculator is off again--a very common occurrence.  Don't blame the seller then--blame eBay or Paypal.

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles

Fri Apr 19 00:50:42 2013

Years ago as buyer in Yahoo Auctions. I received a pay postage of $5 for an underestimate. I send an e-mail and the seller try to ignore. So I took the photo of the receipt in the box and contacted him again. He refunded $5.

Lets be fair. eBay isn't a paradise place or the good guys. But if we are going to make responsible them for a bad seller. God protect us all because we are blind.  

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 01:07:19 2013

Whatever your intend it, there would always be 1% A**holes.  And you need 0.1% A**holes to make you lose tens of thousand USD.  This is why I TOLD ebay to hide my TRS badge.  TRS make you a target by EXTORTIONIST!

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

by: Cassie This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 01:16:06 2013

Ebay failure is towards recognizing if your going to have a feedback system it should have a review and guideline for posting why.......there are fakes that take down competitors or extort for less or free. You can't have a ranking system for buyers or sellers and not manage it nor willing invest in its credibility. If legalities required it demonstrates some poor business management in business integrity of course there are a lot of will fake and exaggerated listings everywhere on e-bay know enough not to post a real honest listing with proof against a higher ranking power-seller same item who is posing as vintage/antique while the item is less than 5 years old & still in production.

It boils down to the $$$$ as a uninformed buyer is a lucrative goldmine you just don't disrupt the apple cart to prove the if organic, specific type and local grown - they will make refining the apple seem like your comparing oranges while your really not wanting to get stuck with a lemon deal!

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

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

Fri Apr 19 01:29:43 2013

I used the threat of a small claims lawsuit to have a buyer remove a false and libelous comment. If he had refused I certainly would have at least seriously considering suing him although as a practical matter, you either need to have a staff attorney or an attorney on retainer to actually follow through especially if the culprit is out of state. I have neither. The issue is eBay lets buyers leave almost any kind of feedback they want and even presenting proof that the comment is false means nothing.

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 01:53:43 2013

Ya know, it's really this:  Years ago we used to remark how darned nice all the buyers were.  Everyone was so helpful and cooperative.  

I can't say it was all because of the interlocking two way feedback, but at least part of it was.  Everyone tried to work it out. To cooperate, to reach a satisfactory accommodation.

Now, with one way feedback there is no attempt to cooperate, no reason to work it out, and no reason anymore to consider anyone else.  

To add to that there is the bare fact that if you get a few bad DSRs ebay will take away your discounts, tell paypal to hold your money for 21 days, maybe stop you from selling at all.  It's serious business, isn't it?  No joking matter.  It could easily cost you thousands of dollars.

The buyer paid postage due.  Well, it happens, doesn't it?  The seller did the right thing by apologizing and offering to reimburse her, which would be fine with any reasonable person, now wouldn't it?  No, that wasn't fine with the buyer, she still had to twist the knife.

I have recently calculated postage and when I took the item to the post office they wanted an extra $6, and I ended up shipping it UPS for no more.  I don't understand that but clearly the post office is an undesirable vendor for me.  If I had just shipped it would it have arrived with $6 postage due?  Probably, and could that have pissed off the recipient?  Yeah.  Was it my fault? No, I used the online USPS tools to calculate the postage and I didn't get a satisfactory answer from the clerk.  Not my fault!

So forget the spin ARS put on it, forget the weak minded responses in the comments.  

The seller made a mistake, or maybe didn't.  

The buyer was not satisfied with an apology and had to make a statement.  She should have just accepted the apology and reimbursement and chalk it up to a small mistake, and it could have been a USPS mistake.  Now she is sued, and she deserves it. She should pay.  

And I hope to avoid dealing with difficult, uncooperative, inconsiderate buyers on ebay.  Thankfully I have few of those.  

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

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

Fri Apr 19 03:38:04 2013

In many states, a seller does NOT need an attorney to file a lawsuit against a buyer in Small Claims or Limited Actions courts.

In fact, most of the these will not allow attorneys to argue these cases on behalf of a plaintiff. It's a court for settling small disputes in front a neutral judge.

If suing to recover money or property, these courts have dollar limits  e.g, $1,000., $5,000, and so on.

If suing for deliberate misstatements of fact (lies in real life), you can present evidence to the court disprove the feedback. If you win or if the defendant fails to appear for trial, you can ask the judge to send ebafia a court order to remove the feedback which is what ebafia recommends :-))))

You simply need to find out which court in your locale handles small claims and file a double spaced, word processed or typed complaint with the court clerk giving the names of the parties involved and setting forth the facts as you see them.

You can attach any exhibits such as item descriptions, proof of purchase and payments, mutual correspondence, print outs of feedback, shipping receipts, relevant portions of ebafia's user agreement, copies of 'protection' plans and requirements, etc.

Filing a small claims action normally gives both parties subpoena power which you can use to subpoena emails from your ISP and your buyer's ISP if messages weren't sent via the ebafia messaging system, and ANYTHING from ebafia that would be helpful or essential in any way to proving your case.

Probably long out of print, there's a wonderful vintage book called "Sue the B*st*rds" that covers everything you need to know to sue in small claims court.

Checking reputable online sources would also be useful as well as checking with any of the free legal clinics that many law schools have for the public.

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

by: tawhite This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 05:01:04 2013

I'm just waiting for the first eBay Buyer vs Seller suit to show up on Judge Judy. I'd love to see her nail these opportunistic, dishonest buyers who've turned eBay into their new welfare system.

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

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

Fri Apr 19 05:27:10 2013

I use FedEx - rarely when I use that service do they actually use the fee they quote when I ''pay'' for the shipping label online. My bank account, ultimately, is usually dinged $1.00 to $3.00 more. I have a call into FedEx as I have ''tired'' of this ''bait and switch''.

The point I am trying to make is that:
(a) Shipping often costs the Seller more than they have collected if they are honorably trying to charge the exact shipping cost
(b)The Seller, in this case, paid for shipping and it was the carrier that ''tagged'' the Buyer without even notifying the Buyer there was an issue.
(c)The Buyer, in this case, who quibbled with $1.44 excess shipping charges has a right to ''exact'' shipping, is mandated exact shipping by eBay, and, in the case, got exactly what he/she was signed up for but not what he/she was quoted in the sale. And they use eBay's own system to voice their displeasure.

I agree with the Seller here - it is eBay's inflexibility on removing unfair feedback, the fiscal repercussions from eBay, and eBay's own policy that requires a lawsuit be filed in order to resolve the issue that leaves eBay at fault here.

Obviously this Seller has resources to bring legal action. Most Sellers, as eBay is well aware, can not resort to this path, and the ultimate feedback for poor eBay policy is collateral damage for the Seller. Which, interesting enough, ultimately, fiscally benefits eBay as they impose sanctions with increased fees on the Seller by excluding them from an ''exclusive'' pier fee program.

Lawsuits are the secret to perfect feedback. But the benefit is only available to those that can afford access to the legal system.

Personally, I hope he/she does not withdraw the suit. There is a lot more at stake here than bad feedback issues for this Seller.


----------------

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 06:57:39 2013

Postage due could be due to to a few overzealous US Postal workers.  I paid over $8k to $12k each year to USPS.  I printed my labels before packing.  If I underweight, I add stamp for 17 cents per ounce.  If I overweight, I could not get money back.  So on most days, I have overweight.  Once in a while, I could missed an ounce.

Some buyer OWED to be blocked or even sued for being BAD.  

ebay and US Postal workers are WORST from recognizing seller situation.  USPS don't give me $100 back for overpaid postage.  But penalize us by putting us up against the buyer.

USPS should bill the seller or return the package for under postage.  They should not have sent them all the way to buyer.  

ebay should have 0.2% (or 2 per year) rule on feedback and DSR attack on postage due.  

Buyers should be blocked by sellers if they spot this.  I just added one and guest who this buyer is.  I do roam my competition sites and add on my BBL frequently.  

As we all know, DSR attack are most unfair to Small American sellers.  Diamond and MEGA sellers is immunized by ebay.  Ebay hired account manager to wipe out bad DSR and feedback.  98% of American non-selling buyers don't know this hardship to their fellow American.  We have 2% population who are NUTCASE and ebay built a system to ruin Small American sellers by not providing them same protection given to MEGA sellers.

If buyer is also a nutcase but a seller, they normally attack the feedback only and leave the DSR minimum of 3 stars.  For non-seller and a nutcase.  we got WORST combination.

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 07:04:34 2013

To put in perspective.  By the way, for postage due parcel, the buyer have to drive to the post office to get them.

I once have an postage due parcel. I suspect, they were junk mail.  USPS is #1 PROMOTER of JUNK MAILS.

But the postal clerk won't let me open and check the content till I pay them 75 cent postage due. So I paid and learned my lesson.   Drove miles to the US Post Office back and forth.  Paid 75 cents. AND met UNCOOPERATING Postal Clerk wanting more postage fee from recipients on JUNK MAILs they PROMOTED.

Perminate Link for Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?   Are Lawsuits the Secret to Pristine Feedback on eBay?

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 07:12:57 2013

If I remember right, not long ago, someone emailed Ina and said ebay asking seller to sue buyer is another EBAY HOAX.   After the seller won't the case, ebay won't remove feedback and DSR until the JUDGE ordered ebay to do so.  But the judge could be local and not jurisdiction in State of California.

I think BUYER and SELLER should be SUING ebay for promoting SELLER against the BUYER in court lawsuit that lead to NOTHING.

Again ebay's policy is to pit BUYERS against SELLERS and not pointing finger at ebay.  

Ebay promotes HATES!  There is NO ebay community.   It is why ebay SOCIAL NETWORK would be a huge failure.   Ebay is a SOCIAL OUTCAST.


Click to view more comments
1 2 3  [Next Page]


Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page
.

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 
Email:
Password:
 
 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.