20 March 2007 - 12:55
I have just been engaged in something of a mini-dispute with Ebay, relating to a listing of mine they removed. I was going to write a vitriolic post about my Kafkaesque battles with their computers and how they don't listen, but now I can't because, wonder of wonders, someone from Ebay actually listened and even apologized.
"All related fees were credited for the original listing, and you will need to re-list the item for it to show up in the search results and receive new bids. We have also left a note on your file indicating that the error was ours.
We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.
They didn't actually sign it, which is odd, but they did admit they were wrong!
The story is quite long and convoluted, but if you are or intend to be an Ebay seller it could be of interest, as one day it might happen to you! You have been warned!
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.
- I listed an Ebook of recipes for sale on Ebay.co.uk
- A few hours later I received an email signed "Ebay Trust & Safety" informing me that my listing had been removed because it breached "one or more" of Ebay's policies. They like to be vague.
- I wrote back to Ebay informing them that I had read their policies and my listing did not breach any of them, because the information in my Ebook was already in the public domain (This is one of the recognized exceptions in the Ebay rules). I therefore asked them to reinstate my listing.
- This is where it gets interesting. Two days later I received a reply stating "We removed your listing because it breached our policy on Downloadable Media". There then followed a long email telling me to read their rules and guidelines and containing the threat that if I relisted such items repeatedly I could be banned. This e-mail had all the hallmarks of a computer-generated response although it was signed by 'Ben'
- I replied to 'Ben' stating that in my opinion nobody had bothered to read my e-mail and repeating my argument that the information in my Ebook was in the pubic domain and asking him therefore to re-instate my listing.
- Two days later I received another reply from 'Ben' who said he would be happy to assist me further, by sending me another computer-generated reply and repeating the same assertions as in the previous 2 emails. Hmmm how helpful!
- I wrote to Ben again asking him to give me precise information as to the way in which my listing breached Ebay guidelines.
- Two days later I received a reply from 'Tawny' in which she(?) said that she was unable to give precise details as to why etc... and that I should read the Ebay policy on etc ... This still sounded like a computer-generated e-mail to me. Couldn't be a brush off could it ?
- I wrote back to Tawny/Ebay Computer copying and pasting words and phrases from her own e-mail in a cunning attempt to accentuate the unreal and surrealist ambiance of this whole 'interaction' and re-stating my arguments and also that I believed her e-mail to have been generated by a computer which had not read my previous e-mails
- The next day I received an e-mail from 'Charles' in which he said, surprise surprise, "We removed your listing because it breached our policy on Downloadable Media" and advising me to read the Ebay rules. This e-mail seemed even more like a computer-generated non-response than the previous one, and at this point I thought I was actually going backwards or my emails had fallen into an Ebay-generated black hole.
- I wrote to 'Charles' saying absolutely nothing - I merely copied two lines from his own e-mail and sent it back to him, to see what would happen next, so to speak. :-)
- The same day I received an e-mail from 'Leslie' stating (if you haven't already guessed) "I have furtehr (sic) reviewed your item and found the appropriate action was taken in this instance. Your item was removed because it breached our Downloadable Media policy". Note the spelling mistake, was this actually typed by a human being or was it a deliberate mistake thrown in to make me believe that it was? Hmmm - I have my doubts.
- I replied to 'Leslie' although I did not address him/her/ by name - I did not bother saying anything, I merely copied and pasted a paragraph from his own email and added the word 'Really??' with question marks for added effect.
- The next day I received a reply from 'Philomena' in which she confirmed that 'the appropriate action had been taken' and adding at the end of the email "Please note that although future emails from you will be read, we will not respond unless they contain additional information for review."
- I replied to Philomena. This time I included some 'additional information for review' just in case, and because I thought from the tone of the email that Philomena might actually be a person (perhaps I am too gullible?), I repeated the substance of my arguments from my first emails, which had been totally ignored by all and sundry, and added one or two further cogent and extremely pertinent arguments and observations and with an added element of 'reverse psychology' thrown in for good measure.
- Two days later I was surprised to receive a reply and much to my astonishment, I must admit, the unsigned e-mail (the one mentioned back at the top of this post), stated "We have returned your listing ....... We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused. Regards, " ! Victory and hooray ! I knew I was right all along ! Well done to me ! And also, let's not be churlish about it, well done to Ebay too !
I was exceedingly surprised that Ebay finally admitted they were wrong. Throughout the whole process I got the distinct impression that nobody was taking a blind bit of notice of what I was saying and that in fact nobody was reading my e-mails. I seemed to be dealing with a computerized system that merely churned out the next reply that it was programmed to churn out. I was also aware that people have been banned from Ebay for listing stuff they shouldn't and I didn't want this to happen to me as Ebay is actually at the moment (IMHO) the only really viable online auction site. But I was determined to see it through to the bitter end and eventually I either wore the computer down (!) or somebody actually took the time to read my e-mail and decided to look into the matter and decided that the actual facts of the situation proved that I was right!
The Ebay customer support definitely needs looking into as their responses are generally not responses at all, only regurgitations of their previous e-mails., which merely serve to obfuscate and exasperate, they rarely contain any useful information! But, I have to admit, at least someone (or something?) did eventually sort the matter out, and I am now a bona fide and unblemished member of the Ebay community again! It's just a pity it took so long and caused so much frustration and aggravation along the way.