Saturday, August 27, 2016

eBay Seller Protection OR eBay Seller Exploitation ?

I sold a hard drive on eBay and buyer claimed it was not working. When I asked him for proof, he didn't respond for 5 days. Finally, I opened a case with eBay - eBay straight away decided in buyer's favor without looking at the incident that the buyer was not responsive.
Further eBay sent the buyer return label for my old address (I didn't realize that simply updating primary address does not automatically update return addresses ), and billed me for the return shipping label without notifying me of the wrong address. The buyer shipped the return 7 days later, that's when it got updated on eBay on wrong return address.
I called eBay on situation, and the customer service rudely argued with me that I should have right address on the file. Who would imagine one has to update at 4 places ? Further I argued eBay could have sent me notification when they forcibly created the label. Well, he didn't heed and said they could keep the case open for few more days.
With no hope, I contacted the carrier - the representative mentioned the item will be forwarded to my new address in 7-10 business days. I called eBay customer service on the situation. The person mentioned the case would be open until buyer or seller takes an action. Surprise !!! After 2 days eBay closed the case saying the deadline has surpassed, and refunded the buyer.
I contacted eBay again, and the representative mentioned there was no information in their system that I was promised for the case to be open for few more days. I asked for reimbursement of at least the selling fee eBay charged on me, but was rudely mentioned that eBay is not a charity. I asked to talk to his supervisor who allowed to reimburse the selling fee.
Finally I received the item from carrier, and found out that the box not in same packing condition I had shipped to the buyer. The box didn't have external or internal protective covering (e.g. no bubble wrapping to protect the disk inside). Even, the USB cable was missing in the package. I checked the hard drive with a spare USB cable, and it seemed to be working fine.
Viola, this proves that the buyer had misused the eBay buyer protection. I reported this on eBay "report a buyer" portal but didn't see any way to upload the proof I had on the return package. I called eBay (again) and they said since the case is closed, they cannot do anything. The customer service didn't accept my offer to send proof that buyer is wrong. He mentioned that someone will investigate on the buyer's pattern and suspend his account in future if they see it happens to more sellers. So it implies to me they will not do anything.

After tweeting about this blog, a representative from eBay reached out and seemed genuinely interested to help out. The person saw through the proof I had, and replied me:

@kaushalgala I reached back out and the appeals team has agreed to award the appeal. It appears you weren’t actually charged for the refund yet so they canceled the collection. I’m happy to report that this is resolved.  

However, I saw that there was an eBay transaction of $30 to refund the buyer, and was still not refunded back to me.  I reached out to eBay on Twitter on the situation, and seems there was a new person handling my case. This person mentioned:

I searched our system for that billing agreement ID xxxxxxx, and there isn't record of a $30.00 charge.

I had to stress again the details of the transaction. A new person named Lyndsey D. replied back:

The buyer returned the item expecting a full refund. When the item couldn't be delivered back to you due to an old address, we tried to pull the refund amount from your PayPal; however, it was not there. We then paid out of pocket to refund the buyer and was working on getting that money from you to pay us back. We have stopped trying to collect that money at this time so you no longer owe us the amount we paid to refund the buyer, nor do we owe you.

I replied back stressing the fact that if the collection is stopped I should have seen $30 refunded back.

To this, the person replied with a strange contradicting response:

 Hi Kaushal,

After digging thoroughly through your account, we are able to confirm that a $30 charge was indeed debited from your PayPal account for the return. With that being said, we will not be refunding the amount of $30 as it was a legitimate charge.

I apologize for any misinformation you've received in the past. I will be addressing that with those particular agents. In this type of return, the seller is held responsible in refunding the buyer.

Thanks,
Lyndsey D.

Bummer !!!  Should I laugh or get angry at this double standard behavior from this eBay representative ?  I can understand the person is trying to prove eBay policies, but in the process fails to understand and acknowledge the policies failed to be fair, moral and ethical to sellers.

I informed Twitter@ebay of my mistreatment via link to this blog, and receive the response below:

We understand your discomfort with this decision, know that we review each case thoroughly. We trust members to understand that when a decision is final and unappealable it is so according to the terms and conditions and policies of eBay signed as part of the user agreement. I understand this is not the answer you were expecting but we hope we were able to explain the situation clearly.

Well, what can I say anymore ?  If they really understand my discomfort, they would have read my last communication with the buyer and should have seen the proof the buyer sent me a bad return. Thier policies mentions that they protects sellers if the return is not as expected. Unfortunately, in my case, the decision was done before I got bad return, and all eBay is trying to do from this point is to workaround customers using policies as an unnecessary weapon. 

I have been selling stuff on eBay without issues since 2007, but never had issues until this horrible event. Imagine selling high profile items to such buyers through eBay. With such a bad seller protection, I could have lost more in shipments, and still could do nothing about it. I am surprised at the conflicting information by the same eBay representative in particular, and eBay customer service in general. If eBay cant stick to their words and lies to me that I was misinformed, how I can trust eBay in future anymore.

I know that I am right, else I would not have expressed this mistreatment. 

So the conclusion for me, based on this experience is:

- No matter how hard a seller tries to prove his point, eBay customer service and policies will support a buyer, even if the buyer has no proof or is lying. The policies are not meant to protect a seller. 

- If one gives 10 /10  stars to Amazon for Customer Service,  I would give 1-2 stars only for eBay. In other words, eBay customer service is one of the worst. I may have lost few bucks in this transaction, but eBay has lost a genuine seller like me. I have lost respect for eBay service, in general.
- Prefer Amazon trade-in for selling used items in future. They tend to give nice rates with shipping covered - hassle free.

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