eBay Extortion

I like eBay. I’ve bought and sold there and have a spotless feedback record. It really does scratch an itch.

Unfortunately, with a recent purchase I’ve discovered another part of eBay and it’s quite upsetting.

With Steffie going to school and packing a new cellphone, I thought it would be nice to buy a cable and software so she could move photos and ringtones on and off the phone without have to include Cingular in the equation.

There were a bunch of cable combos advertised, but I chose one reasonably close to me, in Brooklyn, NY.

I won the auction on August 23, paid for it almost immediately and that sat back and waited. When nothing came after a few days, I sent a note to the seller.

I need this before my daughter leaves for college. Has this gone out?

All the best,

Geoff Fox

The answer came back positive. Yes, he said, it was on its way. So I continued waiting.

Then, on August 30th I sent this.

Last week I asked if this item had shipped and you said yes. I have not received it. Please send me the insurance information so I may file a claim. I am in Connecticut. I could have crawled from Brooklyn by now. My daughter leaves for school in a few days and it was needed before then.

Geoff Fox

The cable finally came Tuesday, September 6. It was postmarked August 31, long after the seller said it was on its way and long after we had taken Steffie to school.

The cable and software weren’t worthless, but they were less valuable. I would have to wait until I saw Stef again to give them to her and show her how to use them.

When you buy on eBay, you have the chance to show your pleasure or displeasure, and I showed mine. I checked the mark for negative feedback and began to type. Space was limited, so I measured my words, but here’s what I left.

Said “on the way” 8/26. Actual postmark 8/31. Rcvd 9/6. Needed it 9/2.

And so it stood, until earlier today when I got a message from the seller. It was: eBay Feedback Withdrawal Request for Item 5800711527. The message read.

sorry for the delay i am sure that you dont what to have a negative feedback

In other words, if I don’t withdraw my valid complaint, he’ll soil my reputation.

On eBay, your reputation is worth a lot and I’m worried about what to do. I consider this extortion on the seller’s part.

EBay’s terms and rules take an interesting turn here.

There are many things the Investigations department doesn’t investigate, including simple misunderstandings, failure to communicate, and interpersonal disputes over which eBay has no control.

Here are some examples of what eBay doesn’t investigate:

* The other party left negative feedback on me after I left it on them.

We are afraid eBay cannot remove these comments. Per our User Agreement, we do not edit public postings.

On the other hand, he has made a premeditated threat.

I’m not sure what to do. I have reported this to eBay and am awaiting a response from them. If they can’t help, I might have to withdraw my truthful feedback, leaving other users in the lurch, because I have to guard my own online reputation.

This can’t be what eBay had in mind for feedback. It’s certainly an outcome I never expected. It is, to say the least, upsetting.

4 thoughts on “eBay Extortion”

  1. Geoff: I just got my cell phone software package yesterday for my Motorola Razr V3. I sure hope you have better luck getting yours to work than i did! I spent most of the day today working on mine and I still don’t have it working. I went to the users forum and lo and behold, most of the posts are for my exact same problem. Phone sits on initialize for ever. Seems my problem is my pc not recognizing the correct modem. I have already tried it on 3 computers. I will tackle again tomorrow. Good Luck!

  2. I share your frustration of being caught in the feedback situation. After hundreds of 100%positive feedback, I left a “neutral” feedback for a seller who deserved a negative: she forgot to send the CD until a month after the sale, sent it to me instead of the friend I was giving it to, and had asked her on 3 occasions (including the paypal form) to use that alternate address, plus it reeked so strongly of smoke, it was untouchable. She left a negative for me (despite my “neutral” for her) and then, a month later she wrote to apologize and offer to retract the negative, yet she never followed up on that.

    As an occasional seller, I have encountered several non-paying bidders–one said her child had done the bidding, without her knowledge, while others have never bothered to respond at all. These people definitely deserve to be given a negative, but if I justly leave that for them, they are likely to give me a completely undeserved negative. So frustrating how some people abuse the system. And, it is much too bothersome of a process to try to get Ebay to refund the fees a seller must pay, when a winning bidder doesn’t follow through.

  3. It used to be, from my experience, that the seller would normally leave feedback after receiving payment from the buyer. Now sellers wait until the buyer leaves feedback so that if the the buyer leaves negative feedback the seller can threaten the buyer with negative feedback (as in your situation) in order to remove the buyer’s negative review, or simply retaliate with negative feedback. Perhaps ebay should implement some kind of time period after a payment has been made in which the seller is allowed to leave feedback.

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