Monday, December 15, 2008

An open letter to Ebay

I just got off the phone with a service representative of yours and I am left wondering why I even bothered to ask for satisfaction from your company. Despite the fact that this email is also just as futile, I will send it you just to get some things off my chest and also copy it to my blog so my loyal 17 readers can also see why monopolies are a bad thing. (and I'm a Libertarian no less!!)

I freely admit that there are many things about your policies and procedures that I dislike. (don't get me started on your current feedback policies) My expectations of being satisfied over a recent dispute I had with your company were biased as a result. However, I was hoping for a pleasant surprise and that Ebay would do the right thing. I think the fat tuba player in the marching band had a better chance of getting a date with the homecoming queen than I did of getting just compensation from you.

Allow me to explain the situation-

I partake of the option that you offer to have my monthly Ebay invoice automatically withdrawn from my Paypal account. I plan my Paypal withdraws to my bank account around your schedule of when you apply the invoice. I get invoiced on the 15th of each month and then the automatic payment is applied around the 1st of the month. I've noticed that sometimes it can be done on the 3rd or as late as the 4th, I am not picky if it gets withdrawn a few days late. But recently when my November 15th invoice had not been applied as of Friday, December 12th, I had grown concerned that something wasn't correct. Worried that I wouldn't have enough money in the Paypal account since I was withdrawing the money that day (as I do every other week), I went and used the option to pay my invoice with a one time paypal payment. I paid the entire invoice amount up to that day. The amount paid was $672.32.

This morning my brother, who handles the banking, informed me that Paypal withdrew a few hundred dollars from our bank account. Paypal only does this, of course, when a payment needs to be made and there isn't enough money in the Paypal account. I was surprised as I had made the Ebay invoice payment prior to withdrawing the money out of our Paypal account. I checked my Paypal transactions log and saw that Ebay had applied a payment of $483.12, which was the total amount that my November invoice was for.

Angry and upset, I immediately called your customer service system that is provided for us "Silver" power sellers. (I often wonder what extra services the Gold and Plantinum power sellers receive, is there an executive washroom?) After explaining the situation, the rep quickly looked into it and discovered that recently Paypal had problems and the Ebay invoices were delayed for over 10 days. Thus I accidentally double paid my invoice when I submitted payment on Friday since there was a pending invoice payment that was waiting for Paypal to apply it (unknown to me). After this discovery I made the following points:

1) I was never notified of the situation by Ebay or Paypal through email or announcements made on the home pages.
2) I am a small business and having surprise withdraws (even small ones) made from our bank account can get costly if we end up bouncing checks. The mistakes of both companies (and I know Ebay owns Paypal) could lead to a chain reaction of overdrawn amounts.
3) I wished to know if there would be compensation if I did indeed bounce a check or two (which I admit is unlikely, but possible)

The service rep informed me that a refund of the extra payment could be made to my Paypal account. I agreed that would be part of the solution but I wanted to know what would happen if I were get bounced checks and if Ebay or Paypal would compensate us. The service rep then checked with his supervisor for my request. Having waited the usual 5 minutes or longer when being placed on hold by a large corporation, the service rep came back on the phone and reiterated that he could refund the extra payment and said nothing else. I then brought up the reason why he had to scurry for a supervisor and make me wait on hold and he then told me that Ebay would not issue compensation of any sort for this inconvenience.

I the owner of a small business and when I sell a defective product or make a mistake, I work with the customers until they are satisfied. I've issued full refunds, extended discounts, sent extra supplies. All in all, I probably lose money when I'm trying to make things right. Sure, there are some customers who may act a bit unreasonable but overall I do the right thing and often I do more than what's expected. Even if I didn't feel ethically bound to do as such, I have to provide this sort of customer service because I have competitors who will provide the same sort of guarantees and service.

Ebay has the luxury of being a virtual monopoly for online auctions. Overstock and Amazon hardly make a dent in your sales. As such, you are just as bad as AT&T was in the 70's and Comcast in the 80's when it comes to customer service. A small overdraft seems inconsequential to you whereas it can really hurt a business like mine. Saying you're sorry and nothing else is not acceptable. Plus you try to squeeze every little penny out of both your sellers and buyers. You've changed your policies this past year to boost your fees while appearing to do us a favor in your emails to us.

And yes, I have no real choice to go to another site and sell my wares there as I know you are really the only game in town. So, despite my angry protestations, I will continue to list my items there. I am still your little bitch and you will continue to abuse me as I come back asking for more. I can only hope that you won't make even more mistakes like this and then offer me nothing for it. Perhaps I can dare to dream that some young computer whiz will come up with an online site that will be better than yours and make you fairly compete or become obsolete.

Small businesses that use your site are the backbone of this country and in poor economic times like these we are in grave danger. Your bread and butter is starting to turn stale and all you're trying to do is cut off the crust instead of helping us. Your greed will be your undoing.


Brian Klaus
Vice-president, *********** Inc.

1 comment:

Brian said...

I received this email yesterday at 10:10AM-

"Thank you for writing to eBay's PowerSeller Customer Support Team. We
have received your email and will be responding to you within 24 hours.

Thank you for your cooperation and assistance.


eBay PowerSeller Customer Support"

I haven't seen a response yet and it's now going past 25 hours, I may write a follow up letter.