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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
One thing history has taught, is that monopolies can be almost unbelievably inept and unresponsive because the lack of competitive incentives. Simply put, if there's no obvious competitor to which you can lose customers, you tend not to have much focus on providing exceptional service.

Much like with government bureaucracies, rules and procedures can defy logic and employees often just don't really care about the service they provide, or are unable to have any meaningful impact because of the system within which they work.

eBay is a prime example and here's a few short summaries of just how logic and common sense fail to have any impact on them time and time again. You won't believe just how downright obtuse eBay, its systems and its employees really are, but none of this is embellished... just the facts:

Listing are Illogical:

I've had listings flagged and removed on multiple occasions for "Brand Misuse" because I disclosed that watches contain movements from outside manufactures. For example, disclosing that the Concord Impresario Triple Date runs the Zenith El Primero 410 movement apparently makes me being guilty of SEO manipulation, trademark violation and who knows what else.

Long customer service discussions ensued (repetitively) to explain that mechanical watch buyers generally want to know what "engine" is inside, much like purchasers would want to know whether a PC contained a Intel or AMD chip or a mower was powered by a Briggs & Stratton or Tecumseh engine. Sometimes CS agents get it, sometimes they don't, but it never makes a difference because they are powerless to do anything about the system.

Similarly I've had deployments removed for mentioning the watch for which they were made to fit.

I've even had listings flagged for policy violations because they contained links to.... wait for it...... my other eBay listings.

These are not one-off occurrences, but have repeated themselves over a period of years.

Pathetic Policy Violations:

Over the years I've been sent many emails warning me about "policy violations" threatening everything from account suspension to financial penalties and sales fees for attempting to share "private contact information" with prospective buyers. I occasionally call to try and figure out what their "system" has "detected" as I find the threats rather annoying.

On one call I was informed the email that triggered this notice was one I sent to a buyer where I included a the usps.gov tracking url for the purchase they had already made.

In response to another threat, the triggering event was because I offered to follow up with the buyer if the item went on sale in the future (it was an item where I didn't control the price). When I asked the CS agent repeatedly how I could phrase that without violating their policy she kept telling me I could only contact the buyer AFTER the purchase was complete.

I kid you not, I reworded the question over 15 times, explaining the buyer was not willing to purchase at the current price and the desire was to let them know if the item's price was lowered in the future so that they could purchase it. She kept parroting the same answer, over and over and over. I am 90% sure I heard her giggle more than once during this exchange as I think she was being deliberately obtuse for her own amusement.

Dispute Resolution Illusion:

There is no actual dispute resolution. It's a marketing gimmick. The eBay "system" will almost always simply default in favor of the buyer. No human is involved, no facts are reviewed. A human might get involved above a certain dollar amount or upon an appeal over the phone, but otherwise the "system" is akin to insurance companies that used to simply deny all initial requests and only review appeals.

I had one buyer open a return request against me for a new in box computer RAID controller that specified it could only be returned if still new in box and uninstalled, which is pretty common for computer components. The communication chain between buyer and myself indicated that buyer wasn't sure it would work and was further advised it was not returnable once installed.

Naturally, buyer went ahead an installed it anyway, couldn't figure out how to get it to work and then opening a case against me. I called and CS reps assured me on more than one occasion that the buyer would not be able to return the item as he had not complied with the pretty straightforward terms. eBay's automated dispute resolution system sided with the buyer without human review, despite notes entered by the CS agent documenting the buyer's actions. Buyer then returned a physically damaged controller board.

Another buyer didn't want to pay a restocking fee or return shipping on another devise and admitted this in emails. He then opened a case claiming the item did not work to escape paying either cost. He apparently forgot that he had sent me his own photos with his own camera showing the item worked (while asking unrelated questions). I uploaded the buyer's own photos and called CS who admitted there the buyer's own prior emails and photos were pretty self-evident.

Regardless, the buyer escalated the case at 5 am on a Saturday morning at at 5:36 am the "dispute resolution system" again automatically sided with the buyer despite multiple separate calls to CS who documented the details including the buyer's prior emails and photos. As a bonus, Buyer mailed back a box with 2 charity casino poker chips and a cut wire instead of the item he purchased.

I only "lucked out" in the end because the buyer used a return label provide by eBay and mailed it back from a foreign country as opposed to New Jersey to where it was shipped. That's a violation that affected eBay, so they cared.... nothing else about the case mattered to them.

This absurd behavior is nothing new. In one of my first eBay transactions many years ago, I sold a box of US Mint coins still sealed/unopened as shipped from the mint. Immediately upon receipt, the Buyer opened a case against me because he didn't like the way one of the pieces of tape looked on the shipping box.

I'm not kidding.

That your listing might specify "no returns" or "buyer pays for return shipping" is a fiction designed to make you feel comfortable, but know that it only applies to buyers who are willing to be honest.

When a buyer on eBay changes their mind, and doesn't feel like playing by the rules, they can literally come up with ANY excuse, it really just does not matter whether it's real, or even logical if it were true.

This buyer did not and could not even dispute that the box exactly matched the listing photos. He didn't have to, it does not matter.

The buyer also admitted right up front that he had already mailed the coins to a "coin-grading" service in another state.... where the box would be opened, thus proving he no longer even had possession.

The reality is that he just wanted to the "option" to return the coins for a full refund if he didn't get the professional grading he was hoping to obtain.

Despite numerous phone calls, eBay's "dispute resolution" system automatically found in favor of the buyer regardless. My "appeal" was almost immediately denied as well.

I only eventually got my money released because the buyer couldn't ship the coins back within 10 business days (remember, he no longer even had possession of them) and thus agreed to drop his case.... but this was all evident in his earliest emails where he admitted he had already mailed them out for grading!

No logic, facts, photos or documentation have ever made any impact on eBay whatsoever.


Simple Accounting:


Finally, I should also note that every billing error I've every discovered within the eBay system has always been in their favor. Coincidence I'm sure, but let me suggest that if you're not reviewing your monthly invoice carefully, you don't know what it's costing you, literally.

Your Examples?

I do want to say that many of the CS agents working for eBay have been very nice people, and many have even been very helpful. I've had instances where they've reimbursed me small sums because it was so obvious that the "dispute resolution system" was erroneous. Still, the advice and answers they have provided have been wrong more often than they have been right.

Further, it doesn't change the fact that eBay as a whole is a textbook example of the many problems that result from monopoly power.

Any one else have any too absurd to be true eBay stories to share?

Who knows, maybe if the thread lives long enough a politician or Attorney General who's NOT accepting campaign contributions from eBay or their lobbyists (should such a mythical creature exist) might actually decide this Monopoly needs to be broken up or restrained.
 

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The bigger the business the littler the accountability. That's how it works. Little guy takes the risk, big business takes the money.

I find it amazing that we are so particular about a members positive feedback, and then we deal with Ebay that has like a couple of million bad deals...
 

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I agree with you OP. I don't have as many examples, but they once removed a listing, without my knowledge, because it did not comply with their parameters. It was listed exactly the same way I had listed a half a dozen I had sold previously. When I called CS I got someone who just parroted something from a script without any specifics of what needed to be changed from the listing. I decided it was more trouble then it was worth, especially for the 10% bite they take. I have not listed one on EBay since.
I have since sold one on WUS and am in the process of selling another. It has been pretty seamless.
However, I don't agree that just because a company is large their CS will suck. Amazon still maintains the best CS on the planet from a buyer's perspective. If Bezos decides to create a workable platform for small private sellers, EBay will either have to change or cease to exist. Fortunately for me, I now keep the vast majority of watches I buy.

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I'm sure your examples are accurate and, indeed, discouraging to you.

Maybe I've just been lucky, but in close to 600 eBay watch transactions both as seller and buyer, I've not once been flagged for a violation or had anything but positive dealings with eBay. Sure, I gripe over their ongoing attempts to grab more and more of my sales revenues, but it's still my best source of sales results, way more successful (unfortunately) than my experiences on our own Sales Forum.

So, OP, what are you going to do about eBay, and where will you go that will give you the same exposure and results? Inquiring minds want to know.
 

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Wow, feel for you . . . I use eBay and have sold more watches (than on fora) and other stuff with no problems so far, just lucky I guess, good luck in the future!
 
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Wow, that's quite a rant. You do know that there are thousands of auctions, both real and virtual, run around the world, not to mention countless classifies, so you could hardly call eBay a monopoly - good market share, but not a monopoly. Also, many auctions attract premiums of over 20%, so double what eBay charges: oh, and they don't have a cap at the top end, whereas eBay does, nor are there any protections offered. I'm not saying eBay is perfect, but you'd be hard presses to find the availability (as a buyer) or market reach (as a seller) at any price.
 

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eBay is the first place to look for many..... me included. And while I'll have no problem buying low-cost watches on eBay. I will not trusted to buy any higher end watches. It's best to stay away! You can probably get a better deal from a trusted seller here on the forums.


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I've bought an sold nearly 3000 items on ebay, going on almost 2 decades. During that time, I have never, not once, received any of the kinds of warnings you describe. I read the rules, and followed them. Maybe you should do the same.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
So, OP, what are you going to do about eBay, and where will you go that will give you the same exposure and results?
Never suggested or even hinted that I was not still an eBay seller. Sharing the risks, realities and pitfalls doesn't mean there are not benefits.

eBay isn't technically a monopoly, just a really big company.
If you consider a Monopoly as a company with little competition in its space and no practical substitute (a common definition) then it very much is. Note Stoshman's comment above.

But, this does depend on how you view eBay. Are they a Monopoly if measured under just the blanket of ecommerce, then no. As just another auction site, no again. So you are not wrong, per se.

But when you look for mass exposure for individual sellers (not consigning to some auction house to manage the sale like Christie's) where you can sell items both large and small, then in this regard I'd suggest they qualify (though perhaps not necessarily in all countries).

Wow, that's quite a rant. You do know that there are thousands of auctions, both real and virtual, run around the world, not to mention countless classifies, so you could hardly call eBay a monopoly - good market share, but not a monopoly.
See above.

Also, many auctions attract premiums of over 20%, so double what eBay charges: oh, and they don't have a cap at the top end, whereas eBay does, nor are there any protections offered. I'm not saying eBay is perfect, but you'd be hard presses to find the availability (as a buyer) or market reach (as a seller) at any price.
I don't recall arguing there were no benefits or that other options were better in every regard.

I've bought an sold nearly 3000 items on ebay, going on almost 2 decades. During that time, I have never, not once, received any of the kinds of warnings you describe.
I've only had half your sales, and only 1 decade, but I don't think your experience means the risks are not real.

I read the rules, and followed them. Maybe you should do the same.
I'm not sure if you just enjoy trolling or perhaps didn't fully read the post.

Neither offering to let a buyer know if a price is reduced at a later time, or providing tracking information after a sale is consummated or linking to your other eBay listings are a violation of eBays rules.

If you actually think disclosing that the watch your selling has a Zenith, ETA, Lemania, Myota (or whatever) movement is a violation of some rule (or logic) then I guess we'll just have to disagree, but it then follows that all of their listings for boats, computers, phones, mowers, snowblowers, etc must be stripped of any reference to the engine/processor unless it's made in-house.
 

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You may not wish to disclose where you are but I wonder if eBay in different regions of the world just happens to have a different quality of service/a work culture difference. I work for a very large company and have worked in different regions s and although we all get the same training and internal policies and codes to follow and are 'one buisness' you simply do see big differences in how people approach the work and deliver results due to cultural and societal norms amongst other things I suppose, in their region. Seems you are sadly an exception that proves the rule?

life's too long to worry about how short life is
 

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Everyone keeps complaining (myself included) that Ebay charges a whopping 10% auction fee to the seller. But most real auction houses charge 20 -25% to both the seller and buyer, essentially double-dipping.
In the case of Ebay the seller does all of the work and Ebay is just the platform for the item. I suppose they could try to charge more but there is a point where people won't cross. With all of its faults I believe
Ebay still has the largest viewing audience. Gotta pay the piper I suppose.
 

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I recently started selling on eBay and was doing well until I was hit by a $75 automatic service charge that I never signed up for. Aren't the selling fees enough? I looked into it further and it seems eBay is notorious for this. Soon they will start charging $200 a month. I'm shutting my account down. In my opinion ebay is absolutely and should burn in hell.

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
In case my prior examples were not amusing enough, this one really takes the cake....


Your eBay account has been restricted

Following our last email about offers to buy or sell outside of eBay, we determined that you still aren't following the policy.

As a result, your eBay account has been restricted for 7 days.

Being restricted means that all buying and selling activity, along with a long list of threats and potential fines and penalties including fees for listings that don't actually even sell.

The "proof" from a multi-billion dollar company is where the painful gallows humor starts:

Regarding Item # (redacted)

You provided or requested contact information prior to checkout or arranged to either take the transaction off eBay or arrange a time to meet.

Violating Text: " you would have to send another $45 separately after the sale to my PayPal and then I'll mail it Express."

That above is verbatim from their notice to me.

Astute readers might notice that there is no evidence of any offer to take a transaction off eBay or arrange a time to meet, or any other violation either.

Oh well, a phone call should clear it up, right?

I called and explained to the Globally Located Cost Effective Customer Service Representative (GLCECSR) that the buyer asked for a lower price, so I used the eBay "Respond with an Offer" button to do just that, based on our agreed upon price.

Only after receiving the offer did the "buyer" (using that term loosely) then demand overnight shipping, despite my listing clearly specifying USPS Registered Mail.

He persisted and I agreed to research the cost and messaged him (though the eBay system as permitted) that if he accepted my offer as is, I would ship as the listing specified, but if he wanted Overnight shipping, the difference in cost would be the $45 extra that would cost above what was built into the listing.

I also pointed the GLCECSR to the appropriate messages to document this as well.

Now, for those that aren't intimately familiar with eBay, the problem is that once I sent the "Offer" to the buyer, it's open for 48 hours with no way for me to amend or retract it (which is different than if a Buyer uses the Make An Offer button) to add the fee for the Express Overnight shipping this buyer was demanding.

In any event, the offer remained open for the buyer to proceed and however they wanted it shipped, the sale would go through eBay.

Naturally, as can be expected, demanding "problem buyers" usually turn out to be just "problem people" in general. And despite absolutely having to have the watch on Saturday, (this was all late Thursday night) I didn't hear from him again until 1 week later.

So the following Thursday night (I'm not kidding) when the offer had long since expired.... the buyer messaged me to give me the "good news" that he was ready to proceed (lucky me).

As I had already had this same guy "negotiate" on 3 or 4 other watches this year, only to always walk away at the last minute, I immediately blocked him and then ended the listing right then and there to make sure I would not have to waste any more time with him.

Given this, how could anyone fail to see that there not only was no agreement to sell off eBay, but that I clearly wasn't going to sell this watch (or any other watch) to this guy?

The GLCECSR had access to all the eBay messages, the wasted negotiations on other watches, the demand for Overnight Shipping, the expired offer, his then returning a full week later (despite being in such a rush) and my immediately (and I do mean immediately) blocking him.

For over an hour, (no exaggeration) the GLCECSR explained to me every which way (except logically) that despite there being no offer to take the transaction off eBay and clearly there actually being no transaction at all, that I still violated their policy (somehow) and was thus "Restricted" and the "Appeals" department has "reviewed the case" and "unfortunately not found in my favor" and that was simply all there was to it.

She couldn't provide any further evidence for reference or offer any actual reason beyond "You violated our policy" so this is just about the perfect example of totalitarian bureaucracy.

You might expect that I would have been enraged or maybe distraught, but I've been selling on eBay for 11 years and realize it's really just par for the course.

I only even bothered to persist with the GLCECSR for so long as it became a personal challenge to prevail... I mean, how could I lose?

But, having failed miserably, I just called back the next day, (during regular business hours) spoke to someone without an accent (and an IQ of at least 100) and in less than 5 minutes the restrictions were removed and the account was duly noted.

It was a rather jovial conversation as we both marveled at how hard I tried to explain logic the previous night and at how the obviousness of the situation could have so entirely escaped the prior "customer service" representative.

The Rule to Remember is: Don't bother calling after normal business hours, or at least realize that if you do and you get a lemon, that no, you actually cannot make lemonade... but you can call back the next day.

When all is said and done though, eBay is a Monopoly in their space, and they act like one most of the time as well.

Sadly, this is not even the only recent example since starting this thread, it's just the most interesting one in a while. :)

PS: nothing in this post has anything to do with their fees, or implies that the service they do provide has no value.... and just because someone else might not have had such miserable encounters with their inane policies doesn't mean they don't exist. I've never been mugged, shot, stabbed or carjacked myself, but that doesn't mean these things never happen.
 

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You speak as if you are without fault, without guilt, and all that is ebay is wrong. I don't agree--it is what it is. It is in fact huge vehicle providing individual sellers and buyers worldwide access to millions of other buyers and sellers. It comes at a cost--fees are high, rules are inflexible, etc. The more sense you and understanding you bring to the game, the better you can play the game. I have had more than 3000 interactions over the course of the last two decades, and have not EVER received any of the recriminating notes, warnings, or whatever from the administrators, nor have I ever even received a single negative feedback--the good record is NOT a result of luck, it is simply a result of understanding the situation, and following their rules. I do NOT go to Ebay first to sell watches (I go here), but they are an excellent last resort, and for other things I buy and sell, they are my first choice. You reap what you sow.
 
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