Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed May 6 2015 20:30:55

Does a Computer Decide Disputes on eBay?

By: Ina Steiner

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Problems between buyers and sellers on eBay are a fact of life, but a new report questions how the marketplace handles such disputes. The money section of the UK Daily Mail newspaper, This Is Money, says it receives many complaints from both buyers and sellers who run into problems and who say they are unable to get a satisfactory resolution from eBay and PayPal.

Something that jumps out in the report is an allegation that eBay often uses computer software to judge the dispute rather than humans. 

When something goes wrong, buyers and sellers are encouraged to sort out disputes themselves. If they can't, eBay can step in to rule on the outcome. But instead of looking at the individual cases, Money Mail can reveal that the "judging" is often carried out by computer software rather than humans. The computer generally rules in favour of the party with the most positive feedback. Moreover, in a dispute over an item sent that allegedly wasn't received by the buyer, eBay's computer software will look at whether the seller updated their account to say an item has been sent.

What makes the article so compelling (we cover more about it in Thursday's Newsflash) is that the article put names and faces to the eBay users who run into a so-called "brick wall" at eBay and PayPal when trying to resolve a dispute.

eBay told the newspaper a computer is just one part of deciding whether a dispute is in a user's favor:

"If a buyer and seller can't reach a resolution, the case is escalated to eBay and although there are some automated parts to the process - for example, checking if a seller has uploaded tracking information which proves delivery - all cases have the opportunity to be reviewed by someone in eBay's customer services team."

What is your experience? Are you able to reach a human when you run into a dispute? And is there anything wrong with using computers to aid in the dispute process?




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by: flybuy This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 6 20:50:40 2015

As a buyer I have succeeded winning cases.  As a seller I try to resolve matters before they result in a case opened.  Some buyers will not give the seller a chance to do that however.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed May 6 22:21:09 2015

There is a reason The Daily Mail is referred to as The Daily Fail: There are a lot of mistakes in their stories, and sometimes they just completely make up stuff.

Having said that, I am very suspicious of eBay's statement that, "... all cases have the opportunity to be reviewed by someone in eBay's customer services team." What does "have the opportunity" mean? And I had to laugh at "customer services team."

 

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by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 6 22:25:00 2015

More support for the widely-held position that eBay simply programs bots to handle dispute resolution. However, I am quite dubious that FB score has anything to do with it. Sellers with low FB have scammed me, despite a 1000+ score on my account. But, we all know that sellers' satisfaction is "guaranteed" thanks to The Hoe.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 6 22:59:34 2015

"The computer generally rules in favour of the party with the most positive feedback" ....

If this was the case, I'd win every dispute .... Sorry to say its NOT this way at all.

Most of them are handled by the Filipino women who eBay enslaves at some god awful rate.

Asking eBay to step in (more like step in IT) is useless as eBays MBG trumps all and that policy says "buyer wins always".

Im not sure where the paper got its information from .... but its NOT correct.

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by: aim04744 This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 6 23:46:24 2015

Yes I do believe that a bot is closing cases in many cases. Though I do not believe it is based on who has the best feedback. That will always be the buyer now.  

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by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 00:15:55 2015

The ebay customer service people are too inexperienced in nearly all cases to be the judge, jury and executioner.  

They are put by their employer in a position that requires lots of knowledge, analysis ability and experience, and they are not nearly up to the task.

It's not fair, to them or to their customers.  I have had smart, qualified ebay employees on the phone who were able to understand complicated issues quickly.  And I have had some that were in way over their heads.  

I don't have a solution, but I suspect that a person who would be qualified to work in this area of ebay customer service would be able to earn at least $75,000 a year.  

So it's obvious why we don't get good enough workers. It makes perfect sense.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Thu May 7 00:18:07 2015

I would happily submit to a bot deciding cases based on the party with the most favorable feedback.

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by: Cloud This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 01:24:29 2015

Based on the criteria listed as the deciding factors I should be winning every case. Unfortunately that could not be father from the truth.  

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by: brokentoys19 This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 02:28:50 2015

Yes - Obviously.

Since ebayers are just noise, why force real live employees to listen to them? Humans are only used by ebay for repuation defense, to troll social media forums and quell bad news. Everything else is a "bot". Each dollar saved can go to important things, like bonuses for executives.

But "bots", algorithm, or even "computer" are such crude terms.

Ebay, being what it is, likely has some flashy internal names for it, such as "Intelligent Dispute Intervention & Objectivity Technology Systems", or maybe "Corrective Relief Automatic Programming".

But don't be worried. It's a shoe in that they work every bit as well as Cassini, Guardrail and any number of other world class eBay features.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu May 7 02:46:12 2015

I have been told on several occasions by several different CSRs that if you escalate a claim in Ebay, it is then decided by computer software and most likely, no matter what is said in the claim it is closed in the buyer's favor.

A real person does not get involved UNLESS one party or the other calls in to Ebay.  That is the ONLY time a real person looks at things.

I NEVER escalate a case unless I am on the phone with a CSR at the time of escalation.  It is not in a seller's best interest to do otherwise.

If you have a closed case that you are trying to get something done about, calling in and putting placing it in appeal can get a real person reviewing it.  However it is not always very easy to get them to do this.  Often the CSR will try to think of any reason they can so as to not do this.

The claims process on Ebay is more than just a mess.  It has gone far beyond that.  It is a money costing black hole for both the seller and for Ebay.  They [Ebay] wastes so much money on this policy it just boggles my mind.  So much CSR time and other complete wastes.  It would not be that difficult to streamline it and make if far more efficient than it is.  

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 02:50:30 2015

Can't wait to read more about this--as I am STILL reeling from the idea that I am DEFECTIVE because some one  tried to scam ME!!!!!

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by: Leesantiques This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 05:15:21 2015

Wow! I never suspected this.

The last line in the quote tells a lot though, it seems to me:

"all cases have the opportunity to be reviewed by someone in eBay's customer services team."

All cases have the opportunity - but that doesn't mean that all cases are in fact reviewed by a real person, nor does it address how extensive, i.e. something beyond rubber stamping, that review is.

No wonder calling customer service is such a waste of time!

Lee

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by: angryllama This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 05:21:29 2015

That newspaper article "misspoke" when they cited that highest feedback would receive the WIN in the disputes. This was due to a misunderstanding that AWFUL buyers, SCAMMING Buyers, Tin-Foil Hat Crazy Buyers, who DO NOT EVER SELL have "perfect 100 percent" feedback as by ONLY BUYING they have NO risk of ever receiving Negative or even Neutral feedback.  A more accurate statement by the author of that newspaper ATTEMPT to explain things would have been that whichever party as ZERO Negative or Neutral feedback would win each time. OK, before anybody jumps on this... DEFECT RATE would also be the justification to rule against Seller.  Just got an unjustified DEFECT yesterday.  Ignorant Buyer YES IGNORANT BUYER chose to notify me that their $6.39 DVD had not yet arrived via Item Not Received when OTHER REASON for contact would have allowed me to LEAD HER BY THE HAND to see that SHE was always free to do her OWN tracking check on her Missing DVD package. Ignorance on the part of a Buyer should just never be a defect on the part of a Seller.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 06:40:23 2015

I can't speak to computers and disputes, but I believe a computer bot is used to ban from the community forum.  As I have been banned several times, the latest is for 30 days.  When I called CS to complain, I was passed through 6 departments -- YES! six! and no one knew how to fix the problem. or how to lift the ban!  That told me that there's a bot running through the message boards looking for certain key words (like Etsy) and will ban you.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu May 7 07:09:40 2015

Marie says "I NEVER escalate a case unless I am on the phone with a CSR at the time of escalation.  It is not in a seller's best interest to do otherwise."

I agree with this. I had a escalated a case last week by a bonafide "liar buyer". I first spoke to a CSR and he then connected me to someone else. She could not have been nicer, and she ruled the case in my favor within minutes.

Telephone contact is the only way to go in these cases. Don't let a brainless bot decide the case or you will likely lose the case.

This new "seller pays return shipping" policy has increased both "item not as described" and returns.  I will fight each one of these when a buyer is being dishonest.  

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by: GotToGetOut This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 07:23:40 2015

Marie, I used to read your posts and they were usually positive comments about Ebay or at least a positive slant.  Lately, I'm seeing that even you are convinced Ebay's defect system is ridiculous as is their process to handle complaints.  

Ebay says they want buyers and sellers to handle things on their own if possible but they make it very difficult for buyers to figure out how to put in a request to the buyer without making it a defect that affects the seller's account negatively.  In fact, buyers don't even know about this.  Plus, once Ebay gets involved in the claim, the money is held for 30 days or until the problem is resolved.  That's just another way for Ebay to have money sitting around in their coffers so it looks like they have more money than they do.  It's an accounting practice companies do all the time but it catches up with them.  I have a feeling it will catch up with them pretty quickly after Paypal breaks from their financial accounting, especially if this money is now accredited to Paypal!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Thu May 7 08:46:56 2015

''Money Mail can reveal that the ''judging'' is often carried out by computer software rather than humans. The computer generally rules in favour of the party with the most positive feedback.''


The Supreme Court should be shaking in their collective boots.  Imagine that as they die off one by one they are replaced by appointed ''bots''.

Then imagine ''likes'' and ''followers'' could sway a Bot ''court'' system like this.  Scary.  


I see news / business articles  predicting how the employment landscape will change in the not-too-distant future due to robotics, software, etc... replacing people.

eBay's dispute system - a Dickensian ''ghost of Christmas yet-to-come''?  

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by: ajeweler This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 09:44:39 2015

I believe that e**y bots do close cases, then the seller has the chance or option to escalate to buyer protection, when this is done then a rep will speak with seller, of course you have the two hour dreaded hold, then a real person is involved, the next step is the rep decides that seller must take return no matter the policy placed in listing. once buyer places tracking into system the refund is completed seller is charged return shipping, then if seller gets a different item back they again must call e bay again and appeal the case, if won will receive only cost of item and original shipping however I am not sure if return shipping is given back to seller, if lost all is lost. however you still will receive if you are the seller a DEFECT on your selling and will be told it will be removed only to find out it simply is not going to be removed not now not ever then 13-14 months it will go off your dashboard

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 10:05:31 2015

If the paper meant - "yes theres a computer program that closes cases ... in favor of the buyers 24/7/365" then yes - Id believe that!

ONLY when a seller calls in can you get a human being - who then will PRETEND to care, but then tell you "losses are part of business - heres another one for you". Just ask eBay if they would like to eat a loss - your seller fees and watch them clam up, chickens that they are.

The process as is of course is just yet ANOTHER fraud that eBay and JD created. He earned his $23 million by thinking up ways to steal.

Always finding for the buyer via eBay's MBG program is UNJUST ENRICHMENT - which btw is a crime in all 50 states in case eBay forgot. Except they didnt and are using the magic "when you sign on you are giving us the right to steal from you" line - which most people believe. eBay knows full well that the people who want to sue (because of things like this) cant afford to, and those that can afford to - dont have to - they are rich and eBay bends the rules for them anyway.

Shame on eBay. Maybe they can cook up more lies (like the Paypal/eBay split).  

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This user has validated their user name. by: IDKwhoIare

Thu May 7 10:15:45 2015

Ebay seems to have tried to make it easier to contact CSRs in the sense that they are not hiding the contact info as deep as they once did and clickable links to ''help'' appear everywhere.  That being said, the help is practically useless.  I made contact with CSRs from the Resolution Center twice yesterday and frankly, they might as well be a bot.  Misinformation, no information, rote reading from prepared lists or policies and powerless to help even when they are sympathetic and/or see that there is a mistake. eBay's claim that only parts of the process are automated and a human has an opportunity to review any case...what is the point under the circumstances?  The human doesn't seem to have the power to override anything.  

As for the other kind of bot...they are only as good as the human who programmed them.  They seem to produce half-a$$ed results which means the programming is faulty, whether it is inadequate due to not enough parameters to help with with decisions or too much to be effective - who knows?  I doubt eBay does either.  What I don't see is that an eBay bot is programmed to automatically default to a human  when faced with conflicting data or under circular logic problems or the like, so that is where it becomes wrong to have their ''aid'' in a dispute process.  Like their human counterparts, their knowledge is limited, however their power is not.  Leave it to eBay to get it back-a$$wards.

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