Fine, eBay. Here’s your $2. I hope you choke on it.
Just a head’s up – don’t use eBay to sell anything. Save yourself the time, effort, and money. That’s the tl;dr. But here’s the rest of the story:
So the iPhone 5 was coming out, and I very carefully determined the optimal time to start an auction for my iPhone 4. I wanted it to end after my iPhone 5 had arrived, and ensure that it arrived on a “good day” for last-minute bidders. I had spent a few hours on this, as I expected to get at least a couple hundred dollars and a good ending time could mean $50 or more on the price difference.
Mid-way through the auction, I saw that my little ol’ iPhone 4 was going for around $600, which is outrageous. Some quick Googling later, and I found out that this is apparently a very common phenomenon in the electronics category. Unscrupulous sellers will register fake accounts and bid up items competing against theirs to make their own auctions look better. The only solution is manually policing your bids and removing any from people with less than 3 positive feedback.
And that’s really the only solution! eBay offers tools to automatically block people with less than 0 feedback, but not any positive numbers. Further, eBay doesn’t offer any way to report these users (at least none that I found, and I looked for a while). So I spent the entire rest of the auction looking in on it frequently, manually pruning suspicious-looking bidders.
Finally, the auction wound down for a reasonable price. I contacted the winning bidder and… nothing. No response by email or through eBay or anything. I waited the requisite number of days and sent a second-chance offer to the next person on the list and… nothing. The same for the third and fourth. No responses from any of them at all.
A little upset, I decided to just leave negative feedback for the original bidder and relist. But… there’s no way to do that! Since I last stopped using eBay, they removed (or hid) the ability to leave negative feedback for a buyer, making their whole reputation system pointless and their automatic bid screening system useless.
Stymied at leaving negative feedback, I at least figured I’d relist, which I did with an additional paragraph about how I’d cancel bids from people with bad or no feedback scores. (Which is also difficult to do, by the way – a manual form found nowhere convenient to your actual bid list.) But the same exact thing happened, except this time the eventual winner didn’t read the auction clearly enough and didn’t realize that the phone was locked to a different carrier. All the other second-chance offers I sent out were completely ignored as before.
Frustrated, I cancelled that auction and decided to sell on Kijiji or Craigslist or through friends or something. I definitely wasn’t going to deal with eBay again.
Except that now I have to. It seems that they think I still owe them $2.00 for the privilege of wasting weeks of my life fighting scammers in their decidedly anti-seller system. I’ve tried to contact support by email, but that option doesn’t exist – the only option they provide for contact is a phone number that Google searches say can have up to hours long wait times that I have no interest in waiting through.
Eventually I found a vestigial web form for reaching out to customer support, where I detailed my case. It promised a response within 24 to 48 hours. Well, I got one within ten minutes, which directed me to phone them, and not to reply to that email because it is not monitored.
Look, in the end I just want to not constantly get these collection reminder emails. It’s not worth my time to spend an hour or more waiting for and then arguing with a customer support representative over this. So fine, I’ll pay it. Whatever.
But it definitely is worth a half-hour of my time to write up the truly awful, terrible, reprehensible experience I’ve had with eBay’s shitty service and customer support system.
eBay, I hope the word of mouth you get from this is worth the $2.00 it would have cost you to just refund those fees. You know, if you had a reasonable customer support system set up to allow for it.