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Friday 12 October 2007

eBay dodgy dealers - what to do? [Lurks]

I bought a fair amount of stuff on ebay because it tends to be odd items which are often tricky to find from regular online web shops, and I'd rather not create an account and type in my credit card yadda yadda just to buy something for a fiver. I have to say most transactions go okay although maybe 50% of them arrive fairly slowly or need some sort of chasing.

Strangely the worst treatment comes from these sort of semi professional shops operating on ebay. The problems seem to kick in when you want anything like customer service that you'd expect from a shop.

A had a recent nightmare with some guy operating as roundtheclockshop. I bought six bulbs off this chap, some kind of obscure bright ones for SAD purposes. Unfortunately I made an error and despite the fact the shop listed both ES and BC bulbs, I bought the ES ones - which were no use to me. I figured it out and asked if he'd replace. No communications days go on. I request contact details and get a phone number. Dial through a few times no answer.

Eventually I get a response - I've swapped them for you, you just need to pay now. So I do. Whammo, the useless ES bulbs turn up in the post. Great. Again just can't get email response, wont answer the phone. I'm a bit fucked really and I don't have forever to wait for this guy and his weekly e-mail checkups. So I just order some better ones of someone else (which turn up next day, bosh).

I end up leaving a neutral for this shop. It's not really their fault I ordered the wrong ones so a negative didn't quite feel justified but you know the guy did promise a replacement BEFORE I paid for the auction so you could argue the guy has messed me around too.

I post a neutral of: "Item okay but failed to send alternative product as agreed. Poor communications."

He responds with: "Item for exchange has been sent stuck in postal strike beyond our control sorry"

Which is a blatant lie. No replacements have been sent. It gets worse still, the guy then posts retaliatory negative feedback for me: "Totally unreasonable customer items sent for exchange then cancels the order."

Yes... except no items are sent and I didn't cancel the order. This guy has my money. I have product no use to me. Exactly who is wronging who here? Bottom line is that I walked into this not being naive about it. By being the first guy to cast a stone you're basically screwed on the ebay system, particular if you post a positive or a neutral. I learnt that the hard way when some dickhead left me a negative feedback after I left a positive, for deigning to simply request if I send money using electronic banking rather than writing a cheque.

However I thought about this for days and I thought that the whole system basically gets fucked up like this. No one ever leaves negatives because they don't want the negative in return. Your position of strength is simply to imply you'll leave a negative and a web shop with thousands and thousands of sales is quickly going to bury anything you send and shift their percentage a hell of a lot less than yours will be.

I thought about it some more and concluded that really I have quite enough feedback myself and any negative I get (2 out of 238 or something) really just wont have any baring on me selling something, which is the only real time that your feedback is important. So I just decided to actually do what was right rather than what was necessarily smart.

I think ebay is a useful resource for all those obscure shops using a common e-commerce system but this does leave a bad taste in my mouth. The ebay system itself just doesn't seem effective in combatting asshole dealers. It's my view, really, that if you've paid for an item through paypal right away, the retailer should not be able to leave feedback for you at all. He has a job, deliver item as described to the address given and that's that. Maybe that'd be better?


  1. I mostly buy on eBay, it's only very occasionally I'll flog off stuff because, well, I simply don't have any crap to sell. So 99% of my transations involve me leaving feedback for a seller.

    As the buyer, I refuse to leave feedback first. As far as I'm concerned, the moment I have supplied a delivery address and payment is received, my end of the transaction is complete and feedback should be left. Yes I know there could be later issues with late delivery, damaged items but there is no influence or responsibility I have for those. I pay, end of story. Arrives damaged? Not my problem and should not affect my feedback score.

    Consequently, I don't leave a lot of feedback because sellers don't want to leave it first. I'm not arsed about feedback, positive or negative but I'll never be first to the plate in leaving it. As long as there's this Mexican stand off, nobody loses.

  2. eBay is basically broken, just like the back pages of your local rag, rancid with shysters. It has this Help Center which you presume will help you. See, it looks corporate and shit. Only its really clunky (because all e-mail avoidance forms like that always ALWAYS are) and eBay take a while to reply to stuff.Even then, eBay only really care (have time for?) the problems which could became a legal minefield if they don't control it, ie. the financial transactions.My recent problem was utterly utterly minor and inconsequential, but since we're on the subject: Bought something cheap, turned out it was a Chinese knock-off and absolutely not the product being advertised with straight lies on a number of counts. Help Center has a "report fake items", presumably to catch the sellers of Levi jeans knock-offs and the like. You have to fill this in for each item the vendor has listed (um, lots?). As seller sells and relists more items, you have to report more fake items... painting the Forth bridge basically. eBay send you multiple e-mails that they're doing something really important any time now....nothing happens.Oh, and you ask for guidance from the eBay buyers and vendors who live in the place 12 hours a day in their kooky forums, and they say "leave neutral feedback". Neutral?! The guy lied in his listings That's clearly what negative feedback is for. Why this reluctance to leave negative feedback? Fuck my buyer rating, its not a goddamn club.Too scared to leave a neg because of the bickering it causes? Then you're spineless!Its just a money machine now. Even though Paypal works, its full of charlatans, has lost many of the bargains you used to get years ago, and must be treated with asbestos gloves.


  3. I can second the thing about eBay's shit support. Okay, they have an enormously high volume of transactions to deal with, but it's not like they aren't raking in the cash to put the staff and systems in place, is it? Instead they cut corners, as Beej says.

    I still smart about the PS3 situation before it launched here in March. I got my hands on a Japanese one last November, had it in the UK, took a photograph of me holding it /next to Downing Street/, which I figured ought to give it some authenticity, and put it on the site. Of course the auction gets pulled almost instantly and I'm sent a mail telling me that you're not allowed to sell import PS3s unless you fulfil certain criteria. I look down the list and see that I can tick every box with merit. I ask why it was delisted. They send virtually the same email again. Twice. When I try to relist it having taken all their nonsense into consideration, I get a threatening email instead.

    Not only do they cower in the face of Sony's desire for them not to allow import PS3 listings, but they aren't interested in helping anyone who follows their stupid rules either. I've barely used the site since - if I'm going to sell DVDs or owt, I use Amazon Marketplace instead. I lose a bit more money in some cases, but it's fuck all hassle, and I'd rather Bezos had a percentage than the sort of cunts who place more value on placating big companies who do nothing but rampage around ruining everyone's day instead of the sort of rank and file consumer upon which their rotten empire was built.

    And of course this is before you get to all the stupid twats who actually sell things on the site, constantly acting like gits because they know they can get away with it, as Mat describes.


  4. Oh yeah, I wasn't really getting into the whole eBay is evil thing since I considered that proven a long time ago. They're the worst sort of customer service scumbags really. I had exactly the same thing as you. I used to build FM transmitters specifically to sell on eBay. Some guy selling crappy mass produced ones complained about my listing and it was binned, again all you get is the same emails sent to you from eBay.

    Then they went and suspended my account over it. Refused to listen to reason, just kept sending the same emails. Couldn't or wouldn't cite a single rule that I had broken or anything. Forced me to fax through a document to say I wouldn't be naughty again before they reopened my account. That left an extremely bitter taste and really from then on I resolved not to engage in any substantial business surrounding eBay.

    What we actually need is Google to go up against eBay. I think they would fundamentally get what's required and have the resources to invest in the project. They might even come up with some sort of innovative mechanism to have users assist arbitration somehow. I wish someone would do it because eBay clearly has not the desire to tackle their abysmal brainlessly automatic support policy nor the fundamental broken nature of the feedback mechanism in dealing with shady individuals.


  5. Not a bad hope to have. At the moment some of these big fuckers are basically in a race to become Skynet, and I know whose robots I'd rather be killed by :)