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Ebay Sellers Hell

I recently purchased an horse saddle off of e-bay. I received it 5 days later, however the shipping box that it came in was very damaged with all the sides bashed in, and I imagine it only survived the journey on the good graces of some very considerate postal workers who re-tapped it several times. Fortunately, upon unpacking the saddle, it was not damaged, but I did note the leather was very dry and a bit scuffed, a fact that was not disclosed in the eBay add or pictures.

I am not sure how familiar readers are with eBay, but part of the purchase process is to leave the seller “feedback” in the form of a positive or negative comment and few star-based ratings. These are then filed as part of the transaction so that future buyers can recognize good sellers vs. those to avoid. As I was still overall satisfied with my purchase, I left positive feedback, and noted that the shipping was quite fast. However, I only rated the seller at 3-stars for qualify of product (since the saddle was dry and scuffed), and 3-stars again for shipping (since the box barely made it in one piece). However, three stars is still average and acceptable, and I gave 5-star ratings in the other three categories.

This brings me to the horrible etiquette blunder. The next day, I receive a call on my cell phone, whilst at work, from the woman from whom I had purchased the saddle. She proceeded to verbally berate me and scream at me for ONLY leaving her a three star review in the aforementioned categories. She was incredibly rude and pushy and didn’t let me get a word in. When she paused for breath, I apologized, but I was so flustered I didn’t think to explain about the box or saddle condition. She continued to rant at me how “just” a three star review would damage her reputation. Then she promptly hung up.

I was just appalled at her behavior! I am certain that eBay does not provide sellers with phone numbers so they can verbally abuse people who give them honest reviews. If she felt it was necessary to contact me about it, a message via eBay would have been more appropriate, and website moderators could have stepped in if warranted. I would have been happy to explain my reasoning in further detail, via an appropriate medium.

Unfortunately, since I had already left a positive feedback, there was no way to write a second review abolishing her bad behavior and warning potential other buyers. But I hope she finds a toasty little corner in e-hell. 0425-13

Ebay has a strict policy about using seller or buyer contact information to harass, annoy or solicit so check how you can report that behavior. Possibly the Resolution Center can address that issue.    You can also post to one of the Ebay community forums to get further input on how best to handle this seller.   “Feedback” would be the sub forum I’d choose.   You didn’t need to apologize to her and in retrospect, she obviously deserved the damaging review.


{ 66 comments… add one }
  • psyche May 2, 2013, 4:44 am

    I know how you feel. I buy from eBay now and then, but not often because I have found that once I factor in the shipping, I might as well just buy it from a brick annoond mortar store. Plus I get annoyed by the sellers demanding-as soon as I put in he order, mind you-nto give the merchant a five-star rating, supposedly on the grounds that it helps the merchant serve you better.

  • Just call me J May 2, 2013, 6:00 am

    Anything less than a “perfect” 5 stars in all categories review is the same as “neutral” feedback from the calculation formula’s standpoint… and even one piece of “bad” feedback like that can devastate small vendors, who often use their “perfect” feedback record to justify their occasionally higher prices.

    That said, how this vendor chose to handle it was beyond inappropriate, and you should follow admin’s advice and report her for harassment through eBay’s official forums if you want to do something more than just vent to us about this boor of a vendor.

  • Lou May 2, 2013, 6:01 am

    I’ve noticed a lot of angst from sellers over these ‘star ratings’ – whilst I was planning my wedding I spent half my life on eBay and found more than a few sellers with quite blunt demands posted at the end of the item description, directing buyers to either leave 5 stars for everything or to contact them before leaving anything less than 5 stars. It seems to go against the whole point of eBay’s feedback system – I realise that there will be some buyers who leave neutral or negative feedback for no good reason, but surely not that many, and I’d imagine that if you’re any kind of a seller the genuinely positive feedback will outweigh any nitpicky or malicious ratings. I can’t believe the seller was able to obtain your phone number and thought it was appropriate to ring you for a scream!x

  • Gig May 2, 2013, 6:31 am

    This reminded me of an incident on Amazon! Thankfully the seller didn’t call me up and yell, but they did do quite a bit of complaining via e-mail at me. I was looking for a Christmas present for my sister, and came across a book by one of her favorite authors that was listed as “signed by the author”. This authors other more well known books that had been signed were far too expensive for me to purchase, but this was a smaller publication and an offshoot of her other books that was lesser well known. The normal price for this book in question was under $10, and was listed as signed by the author in the description for almost $100. I’d never had trouble before ordering books that were signed, all had been genuine from several different sellers, and this seller had five star ratings across the board for the previous six months. So, I went ahead and purchased the book with it being delivered to my sister as I lived in a different country at the time and wouldn’t have time to send it myself with the rest of the package for her family. About a week after Christmas I asked her about the book and she said she had received it. When I asked her if she had seen the authors signature in it she had to go get the book and look through it. She told me that the only signature in the book was the one the publisher had printed on the front page…just like the other book she had just like it! I contacted the seller, to let them know the book would be getting returned and why. They tried to blame the “false” description and inflated price to a new worker who “didn’t know what they were doing.” I had written back that new employee or no, it was obvious it was not an original signature (my sister took a picture of both of her books and sent it to me.) and that regardless that employee also represented their buisness with false product listings.(I was totally polite about it, I just stayed with the facts of the matter in general.) In the end, my sister had to pay about the same price as the book would normally be, just to ship it as the seller wouldn’t pay for the shipping, and I did not receive a full refund for the total cost of the book paid for. I left an honest review with three stars as I coudn’t prove one way or another if the false advertizing had been on purpose or a mistake. The seller then sent me several e-mails afterword telling me that the review needed to be higher or it would hurt their buisness. After the second e-mail, I just responded that if they messaged me again complaining, I would take it as harassment and lower the rating to two stars and alter the review to mention the badgering. They didn’t write me again.

  • Lo May 2, 2013, 6:53 am

    I would definitely report this incident to Ebay.

    The problem with Ebay is that it’s so hit and miss when it comes to the sellers themselves. They aren’t salespeople. They have no reason to prioritize “customer service” so long as they get the product out as advertised and in good time. They do have a lot to lose with feedback so it’s to their benefit to be as prompt and correct about the product as possible. She seems to think that Ebay is some validation machine that provides her with positive reviews to sell her product as long as she sells her product, nevermind what happens to it after it’s left her hands. It’s not your responsibility to give her a good review, it’s her responsibility to earn a good review.

    This seller is obviously not concerned with your satisfaction with the product, only in protecting her own reputation. All you’ve done is tell the truth. It is a shame that you can’t go back and recant your average review (a 3 star rating in two catagories?? how is that offensive to her??) to make it a negative review which she definitely has coming to her.

  • Dominic May 2, 2013, 7:15 am

    It’s been some time since I’ve bought/sold on eBay, primarily because I got very tired of dealing with products that weren’t as described. I collect a particular pattern of Fostoria glass, but so many times the items I purchased would arrive not in the condition described, or with obvious flaws that weren’t in the description. I’d had my share of shipping problems, too (nothing like getting a box full of broken glass!). But the first step if one is dissatisfied is to contact the seller, before leaving a negative review. It sounds like the OP didn’t inform the seller that she was not happy with the quality of the item and the packaging. Most sellers want to keep their ratings high, obviously, and will work with the buyer to fix problems or compensate for issues like this.

    I’m not surprised that the seller was upset, but harassing the buyer on the phone is totally unacceptable. The OP should definitely report the seller to eBay.

  • FunkyMunky May 2, 2013, 7:22 am

    Anything less than a 5 is a ‘bad’ review. It negatively impacts their seller rating. Sounds like this lady deserved it though.

  • M. Sulinski May 2, 2013, 7:36 am

    While it was certainly rude for the woman to call and berate you, I’m not sure the feedback you left her was all that great.

    While one might think that 3 starts out of 5 is above average, in the ebay world it really isn’t. Also, how can you give the seller bad feedback on shipping for receiving a battered box? It sounds like this was the fault of the delivery service, not the seller. You stated that the contents still arrived intact and undamaged. At this point, why wouldn’t you just give her 5 starts for shipping?

  • Mae May 2, 2013, 8:10 am

    How awful! I would pursue the matter, especially how she managed to get your cell phone number. I have bought several items from E-bay and left a low rating for a product that was not as described but the seller did not contact me.

    Since she never gave you the chance to explain your low rating, I would try to let it go, after pursuing how she got personal information.

  • Leah May 2, 2013, 8:18 am

    The last time I left a star rating on eBay, there was a note on the page reminding me that the star ratings left by each person was kept confidential from the seller, so I’m curious how this woman knew what the OP left for her.

  • Wendy B. May 2, 2013, 8:19 am

    You also have the option of leaving a neutral review, which would have been equally appropriate.

    But before leaving any review, you really should have contacted the seller, via eBay, and noted that you couldn’t leave a completely positive review because of the condition of the saddle. Furthermore, it was her responsibility to make sure that the saddle was properly packaged (at least wrapped in bubble wrap or the box stuffed with newspaper or peanuts) just in case there were shipping issues.

    When she called and berated you, you could have also reported her to eBay for abuse. I learned early on when buying or selling (especially selling in my case) to document EVERYTHING and be prepared to submit all of your evidence and an account of what happened. In fact, if it hasn’t been too long since this all happened, you still can.

  • ferretrick May 2, 2013, 8:52 am

    Over on the right of the page admin linked to is a report button. Report this person to Ebay. Telephone harrassment is way, WAY over the line, and if you make Ebay aware of it they will deal with them promptly, up to and including banning them from the site.

    Years ago, I had an Ebay seller rip me off with tools that were old, rusty, and broken and nothing like what was described in the ad. After I left negative feedback, the seller obtained my phone number (it’s not difficult if you have an address) and called and screamed at me, using profane language and threatening violence. I reported him and he was banned. I was very impressed with Ebay’s service.

    Report. Seriously.

  • Yellow Rose May 2, 2013, 9:12 am

    You are far more polite than I would have been, I’m afraid. As this was a personal transaction and not for an employer, I’d have hung up on her in mid rant. No world-class, you must be thrilled customer service mode for her.

  • cassandra May 2, 2013, 9:13 am

    If you contact eBay they will delete your feedback and possibly suspend the seller for a few days. What she did was totally against the rules.

  • XH May 2, 2013, 9:29 am

    The box might have actually been mangled by the post office – and re-taped to try and cover for it. That might not have actually been her fault.

    I’ve had the post office pretty much destroy a package before. It’s a thing that happens pretty frequently.

  • SweetPea May 2, 2013, 9:35 am

    There is a way to go back and alter a review, although I can’t bring to mind what it is. I gave a seller a negative review once, and they sent me this VERY long detailed response on how to change it to a positive review on their behalf. Not that I did – my review wasn’t rude, but it was the truth, and asking me to change it so they are viewed better? Talk about entitled.

  • SweetPea May 2, 2013, 9:41 am

    ** Add on to my earlier comment. When I talked about how you could (in theory) change the Ebay review, I meant that it would be good to add on your experience with the woman who called to attack you. If I was going to purchase from this seller, I would want to know that if I didn’t appreciate the condition of the item, any honest feedback would result in me being yelled at.

  • NostalgicGal May 2, 2013, 9:57 am

    There are people that have sued those that leave them less than a 5 star review feedback.

    I would go straight to the eBay resolution center, and have them handle it from there. The phonecall is BEYOND what is allowable under their rules and the seller is in the wrong.

    You, OP though, should have done a Contact Seller before leaving less than a 5 star. It is your right to leave a good, bad, or neutral feedback, but. If you are less than 100% satisfied, contact the seller first, and THROUGH eBay’s methods for doing so. You want this totally documented. And the contact is why you ARE less than 100% happy… before you leave your feedback. IF you and the seller can’t reach a happy point there is arbitration through eBay. THEN leave the feedback.

    I have had an eBay account since 1998, never selling, always a buyer, and some things I bought were less than what I thought they were when arrived (and a careful CAREFUL combthrough of the the description before feedback, every time I got EXACTLY what they described. I learned and do ask before I buy, etc, if I truly want that item…) If it was ‘my fault’ in that case, they got a good review and ‘exactly as described’ in the feedback. I have had a few shipping issues, and I contacted the seller first. I have always gotten ‘satisfaction’ even if it was to sort out that it was ‘file damages with shipper’.

    Ratings on eBay are a commodity that is a tangible value, and yes, sellers want that 5 star.

    In this case, go over the listing one more time, if you have the transaction number you can find the listing for about 3 months after auction or buyItNow closed, and double check every nuance posted. Every picture. If it looks dull, then you got exactly as described. If it seems to gleam with a fresh oil finish and that’s not what you got… and it also looks like you had an issue with ‘shipping’. If there’s a hole in the side of the box, that FedEx, UPS or USPS is going to get a filing right there, even if the contents are okay. Even if the shipment wasn’t insured. They need to know that stuff is getting damaged in handling.

    Contact eBay about the phone call, and go into resolution/arbitration. Yes a rating can be changed, even removed, but it’s not an easy process.

    If you ever have the similar case, and especially if the seller contacts you right after you have received item and pushes you to get the feedback posted… go through eBay channels and immediately contact the seller back, and list your concerns politely before you leave the feedback. ALSO TAKE PICTURES. If the box was sitting there holed and gobbed with tape before you even opened it, take pictures. Open it and take more pictures. Document!

  • meegs May 2, 2013, 10:04 am

    I personally think its rude to leave less than great feedback without contacting the seller first and giving them a chance to explain/rectify the situation.

  • Lisa Marie May 2, 2013, 10:13 am

    Why don’t you text her back and tell her about the shipping & saddle condition and say she is lucky she didn’t get a worse review. Better check your own feedback and see if she left you a zinger. Personally, I don’t leave feedback unless I get good feedback first.

  • Ashley May 2, 2013, 10:30 am

    I believe in leaving honest feedback no matter what. I wouldn’t have faulted her for the box, that’s mainly the post office’s fault. My fiance and I ended up at a distribution center once trying to track down a package and there were employees basically throwing boxes at each other until they noticed we were looking, at which point they started following whatever protocalls they have in place. Not saying ALL of them do that, just saying that I now know with certainty that not all employees care whether the box says “fragile” or not.

    I’d absolutely let Ebay know that she called you though. How did she even get your phone number?

  • VanessaGa81 May 2, 2013, 11:02 am

    I would have contacted the seller as well, but it doesn’t seem like it would have done much good if she’s that unhinged. Whether or not the OP should have done so seems beside the point to me, as that obviously does not justify tracking down someone’s private cell phone number and screaming at them. I have had only one bad experience on EBay. I did not receive a package I paid for. It was marked as shipped by the seller and when 3 weeks had gone by I asked for a tracking number and was told it would be shipped “tomorrow”. Two weeks went by and I asked for a tracking number and got no response. I went through the usual protocol of opening a case with EBay, advising the seller to offer them a chance to resolve the situation, and never got an answer. My money was refunded. Then and only then, I began receiving emails explaining that the seller had been “busy” and telling me I should have waited, ect. I ignored them as they were actually pretty polite, just annoying and I’d already gotten my money back but if she had called me, I definitely would have reported that.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith May 2, 2013, 11:09 am

    I’m a picky person when it comes to parting with money for product no matter who the vendor is. This vendor doesn’t appear to have shipped the item in the condition it was supposed to be in as advertized in the photos and doesn’t appear to have bothered with a container suitable to shipping an oddly shaped, bulky and heavy item. If it shipped with pieces that are metal and heavy (stirrups or other pieces) unsecured, that could have also contributed to the box being damaged from the inside during transit. Bottom line- she doesn’t deserve even the three stars you gave her and others don’t deserve the carelessness and rudeness she may exhibit as a vendor.

  • Barb May 2, 2013, 11:21 am

    On my Ebay Seller Dashboard, it states —
    “It is against eBay policy to question buyers about the ratings they left.”

    Report her.

  • Victoria May 2, 2013, 11:39 am

    I’ve got a few items to mention – the company I used to work for did a large amount of business on ebay, so much so that we had an ebay representative that worked for us and one other customer exclusively. At one point we were making so little money on ebay we decided to only post items we couldn’t turn over in the store. That meant items with loose threads, a hole along a seam, make-up mark from someone trying it on, and other easily fixable things. Every fault was disclosed in the auction, it was made clear that all items were customer returns, or old stock, and we offered a 14 day return period for anyone who was not happy. We still had people call screaming at us for shipping an item that had a bit of make-up on the collar.

    There are so many buyers on ebay that use it to gain free items. If you refuse to refund until they ship the items back, they’ll threaten to leave only one star and negative feedback. They tell you they’ll only leave five stars if you refund the money and let them keep the item. Ebay is a buyers market, the sellers have NO advantage.

    If you go below 4.8 stars average, you lose everything. They’ll limit you to a certain number of postings per month, or none at all, you don’t receive a bulk discount, and your postings will not show up in the first few pages of a search. That’s pretty much death to online sellers that make a living on ebay.

    While the seller handled it absolutely horribly, you really should have contacted her to allow her a chance to make things right before dinging her feedback. If someone only sells 10 items per month, that low star rating could stop her from being allowed to sell at all, and may have destroyed her livlihood. If you had contacted her, she probably would have offered a discount, or allowed you to send the item back for a refund.

    I know that previously there was a line telling buyers to contact the seller if they weren’t happy. Is that no longer happening?

    • admin May 2, 2013, 12:38 pm

      Regarding your comment that “many buyers use Ebay to get free items”, about ten years ago, long before the star rating system was in use, I had an unfortunate run in with a less than stellar seller who filed criminal charges against me claiming I was part of a large Ebay fraud ring. She had grossly misrepresented the item in the auction description and we could not reach a resolution about return of the item and a refund. I did not see why I should be financially penalized for return shipping because of her faulty auction listing and she refused to give me a total refund amount claiming that she had never had to refund any auction because all her clients loved her stuff. I sought advice from the Ebay sellers forum as to what was reasonable for me to request and provided photos of the item in comparison to the auction listing. Seller came on the forum thread as well insisting I was part of an Ebay fraud ring that tried to get free stuff from sellers and claimed that law enforcement was reading the forum posts.

      A day later in the early evening, I was called upstairs from my office by my husband and introduced to a county police detective. The seller had filed criminal charges against me and this detective was a specialist in mail fraud cases. After shaking his hand, I admit to bursting out laughing at the absurd extremes the seller had gone but my husband was not amused. I answered questions and handed over copies of the emails between me and the seller. After the detective left, I promptly got back on the seller forum and informed them of what had just transpired. They were collectively aghast at this tactic and as opposition to the seller grew, she screeched that anyone who sided against her had to be part of my Ebay fraud ring and in need of investigation as well. This did not endear her to other sellers.

      Either one of the forum members was an Ebay employee or knew an Ebay employee because within hours I was contacted by Ebay via email and later by telephone. The employee spoke with me several times, went to bat for me with the Sheriff’s department and made sure I was taken care of. The seller was banned for a period of time from Ebay.

  • Huh May 2, 2013, 11:40 am

    All of the comments here are making me glad that I do not use eBay anymore. Anything less than 5 stars is bad feedback? Why all the other stars then? Why isn’t your two choices “Fabulous” or “Terrible” for feedback then?

    How did she get the OP’s number? Definitely report that!

  • Taragail May 2, 2013, 11:44 am

    I don’t understand how it is rude to give anything less than a 5 star rating without contacting the seller. You owe the seller nothing more than the purchase price agreed upon. The seller owes nothing less than the item in the condition stated. If you are an average seller, you get average feedback. If you want exceptional feedback, be an exceptional seller. If you want to be crazy, go to Craig’s List.

  • James May 2, 2013, 11:46 am

    The seller is way out of line here and I can only agree with what others have said, she needs to be reported to ebay.

    As a general point, I’ve sold quite a bit on ebay and if a buyer is unhappy with something I do appreciate an email letting me know & giving me a chance to make things right, before buyers start posting negative feedback or giving bad ratings. Occaisionally the postal service will savage something I believed was well packaged or I will not notice some minor flaw in an item, which is simple human error that I always tried to rectify in such a way that the buyer is not inconvenienced.

  • Ann May 2, 2013, 11:49 am

    I’ve never used ebay so can’t help there, but no one gets to use an instrument of convenience to yell at me. Is it really that impolite to hang up when you’re being berated, especially from a stranger?

  • Amanda H. May 2, 2013, 12:20 pm

    I’m not trying to defend the seller in the OP here (because she was way out of line), but I will chime in to verify that yes, anything less than 5 stars actually does hurt a seller’s ratings.

    Here’s a guide on ebay itself about the Detailed Seller Ratings (the 5-star system): http://www.ebay.com/gds/A-Guide-to-DSR-apos-s-Detailed-Seller-Ratings/10000000008158602/g.html

    And a relevant paragraph: “First of all, one of the most important things to understand about DSR’s is that it’s a rigged system. eBay tells buyers that a 4-star rating is still a “good” rating. However, the fact of the matter is that anything less than a 5-star rating hurts a seller’s standing! DSR’s are misleading and harmful in the extreme when misused.”

    It’s unfair to the sellers, really, because eBay leads the buyers to believe that they have a range of options when it really *does* boil down to “good” and “not-good,” with four whole options that equate to “not-good.”

    It’s quite similar to a lot of phone surveys you take after dealing with a service rep. I got a phone upgrade recently, and the rep in the store who helped me out actually pointed out to me that even though there are a range of answers to choose from on the survey about his service, anything less than the highest rating actually dings him. I’ve also heard this from other service reps I know. Companies claim there’s that freedom of choice but the service reps still need to score “perfect” or else.

    TL;DR: The star rating system is not as fair as it seems, and is certainly not accurate. If you have an issue with an item you bought, try contacting the seller first to square things away. And by all means, report the crazy seller in the OP for harassment, because that was just uncalled for even if the OP gave her unwarranted negatives across the board.

  • SS May 2, 2013, 12:37 pm

    Everyone keeps asking how the seller got her phone number…. the seller already had your name and address (in order to ship the product). It is very possible they were able to obtain the phone number as well by doing a google search with your information. I just tested it with a friend’s name and address since I know they have a land line and the very first link that comes up lists my friend’s phone number.

  • Angel May 2, 2013, 12:58 pm

    I’ve had good experiences with Ebay. But this sounds just awful. I would contact Ebay for a resolution on this. I didn’t think sellers had the right to contact you by phone.

  • June First May 2, 2013, 1:01 pm

    As a seller and buyer on ebay, I’ve been on both sides of this.
    My most recent ebay purchase was much smaller than I expected, but I re-read the listing and realized I had misinterpreted it.
    At one point, I sold a set of ceramic tile coasters. I was following up with my buyers to make sure everything was fine, when the coaster-buyer told me they had arrived in many pieces. I was mortified and refunded their money immediately. The buyer seemed surprised that I did that, but I wanted to make it right.

  • JesBelle May 2, 2013, 1:02 pm

    Any time you are asked to rate a business, less than a perfect 5 is negative, even when leaving scores on those online surveys for big chain stores. I know that it is completely illogical. 4 should be for adequate, average transactions and 5 should be reserved for “really went out of the way.” Everyone from E-bay sellers to the people staffing the HQ at those companies knows this, but they know that the people who really matter (buyers and CEOs respectively) only want to see 5’s. I used to be an Amazon seller and I learned a few things during that time. 1 — Most buyers are just looking at the number, not the comments, so “4– No problems.” doesn’t count as positive since it drags your score down. 2 — Sellers will make mistakes. Sometimes when you are trying to describe an item, you can miss faults. Sellers are often checking and describing lots of items while buyers are just looking at one item. 3 — Sellers WILL get a negative review, now and again, often through no fault of their own. You need to reach out politely to the buyer, apologize for the problems (even the ones you didn’t create) and try to rectify them and earn that good review. If that doesn’t work, you need to just let it go, and move forward. If you can’t do that, you’re not cut out for this business.

    Also, people who are less than satisfied need to contact the seller before leaving less than perfect ratings. Really, it’s rude and passive-aggressive not to. If you bought a defective item from a local brick-and-mortar, you wouldn’t picket them, or post signs around their store to say how crappy they are. That review is front and center on every potential transaction for a seller so leaving negative feedback is pretty much the same thing. Instead, you would give that store a fair opportunity to make you happy. (Or, I suppose, you’d just bad-mouth the place to your friends, but your friends already know that you are a permanently dissatisfied crank who didn’t even try to take the item back and they won’t take you all that seriously. Other Ebay buyers don’t know that.)

  • Kovitlac May 2, 2013, 1:50 pm

    I don’t understand why so many people are claiming, “you should have contacted the seller before reviewing,” What’s the point of reviews at all, then? If a seller relies on making things up later, and if I have to contact them and deal with the hassle for another 1-2 weeks, I’d rather just not give them my business in the first place.

  • Boohaha May 2, 2013, 2:03 pm

    Ebay itself must go down! As a small business owner, we used to do a lot of business on ebay, but had to leave the venue because of some of what has been described already here. We had several buyers who would call us, claiming we had agreed to something other than what they received. We had one buyer who put up quite a feedback, giving us a low rating because we had sold him a product for “x” amount of money and he realized he could have bought it somewhere else more cheaply (not a lot a difference, but as a small business owner, we don’t pull down the big discount wholesale prices as other big businesses, so yes, our prices are higher) WE usually always maintained the highest rating you could get, so when we chose to no longer do business on ebay, we got a call from them asking where we went. We explained the drama, the tirades,the beggars, and the swindlers weren’t worth it. But apparently enough other people still think that it is because it’s still a huge business for them. Now as for Amazon……..

  • Melissa May 2, 2013, 2:22 pm

    The seller’s actions were inappropriate. However, it sounds like the buyer also does not fully understand eBay’s feedback system and exactly how it affects a seller’s business. Anything less than a “perfect” 5 star rating in all categories is very bad for the seller. Most buyer’s do not understand this. Perhaps a few too many buyers like this is what pushed this seller beyond the breaking point. It’s hard to say. The appropriate thing to do would have been to contact the seller prior to leaving any feedback. At least this way, you’ve given the seller the chance to make things right (either through a discount or return of the item).

  • Library Diva May 2, 2013, 2:25 pm

    It seems like Ebay et al have created a perfect situation for something like this to occur. The general public wouldn’t realize that anything less than perfection hurts the seller to the extent that it does. They should revise the way they do this, and stop locking out people with less than perfect feedback — lower the bar a little and lock them out when it slips below 3 stars instead of below 4.8. It’s not only unfair to sellers, but it opens the door for this kind of insane behavior, which was of course, quite out of line.

  • Double You May 2, 2013, 2:29 pm

    What puzzles me about this story is how the seller would know about the 3-star ratings, as these ratings are anonymous.

    Also, if I feel something wasn’t 100% right, I will not be giving a 5-star review. I once bought a single trading card I had been looking for for a long time, but the shipping costs were quite high: €7 (about $9), which is the rate for a registered letter. However, the item arrived by regular mail, in a plain white envelope with a 65 cent stamp on it, which means I was charged about 10 times the actual shipping cost. That’s no 5-star service, so I will not give a 5-star rating, even though the item itself arrived on time and in good condition.

  • Mae May 2, 2013, 2:47 pm

    I am surprised by some of the comments.

    Why is it on the OP to change her feedback, if she was honest about it? If E-bay wants to treat its sellers in such a manner then maybe the seller should find another site to sell on (I’m sure there is more). Why risk taking a hit on your livelihood if someone is unhappy with a purchase? It just seems like bad business to penalize your sellers on a single bad review.

    The seller called OP, on her cell number, which was probably not as easy to get as a land line number, to yell at her over her feedback? No, not acceptable. If the seller had contacted OP through the approved E-bay channels, then maybe OP could have gotten resolution and left higher marks.

    As far as the shipping method, OP should file a claim for damages. I saw the tv piece where the delivery people (USPS, UPS, Fed-Ex) just threw customers packages over fences, on their porches, etc.

    I had a special robe made and embroiderd for my elderly father’s birthday and was going to ship if from the local UPS store. I asked the CSR at the store if we could mark it fragile or indicate that it should not have things stacked on it. She said, quote “It won’t make any difference, hon, because they don’t look at those stamps. If they do notice them, they will throw it around on purpose.” WTF??? I took it home, packed the wrapped box in a plain box, put lots of plastic wrap & kraft paper to secure it and send it by USPS.

  • Cat May 2, 2013, 2:53 pm

    eBay makes a point of telling buyers that the sellers are not supposed to know how you rate them. I wonder how this information was available to her.
    If an item is not as it is depicted, I contact the seller first to see if he/she is willing to do something about it before I contact eBay. This lady just sounds like a lunatic who has a paranoid delusion that people are out to get her using eBay.

  • Slartibartfast May 2, 2013, 3:35 pm

    I’ve been on both sides of this, but on Etsy:

    I sell jewelry on there. All but one of my buyers have been happy, and everyone who leaves me feedback leaves five stars. One customer, though, left me a negative feedback because some of the beads on her necklace discolored when she wore it. I totally understand her frustration, but I do wish she had said something to me about it – I would have been happy to send her a new necklace (and let her keep the old one too). As it was, I didn’t see her feedback until a month or two later, past the point where I could do something about it. I did send her a new necklace anyway (without any demands to change her feedback rating!) and threw out the rest of the beads in that batch, but if I had known of the problem right away I might have been able to send her something she wanted instead of just my best guess.

    From the buyter’s side, though . . . I ordered some metal pendants from another Etsy seller. They arrived fine, but the quality was horrible – they were cast poorly and many of them had blobs of metal in places there shouldn’t have been irregularities. The seller made a practice of sending double quantities “for free” with each order, and now I see why! Even with the double quantity, slightly less than half were usable so I ended up not getting what I paid for. I left honest neutral feedback that yes, the shipping was fast and the double quantity was appreciated, but the quality was lacking. The seller sent me a long email complaining that I should have told her first – but what could she have done? Obviously her stock was really cheaply made, and that wasn’t something she could have changed.

    In general I guess I’m in favor of contacting the seller if there’s something they could actually resolve – accidentally broken product, need a refund, whatever. But if the stock is clearly not as it’s being described, I feel it’s more important to be honest with future buyers than it is to protect the seller’s reputation.

  • Green123 May 2, 2013, 4:21 pm

    This is not just an etiquette issue. It is a harassment-by-telecommunications issue. The OP did nothing wrong and should report the eBay seller for calling her in such a way. eBay sellers have no right to contact buyers by phone unless they have explicit permission to do so.

  • 2cats May 2, 2013, 6:08 pm

    To answer a couple of questions that people have been asking:
    – the seller likely had the OPs cell phone number because it was part of the contact info the OP herself has linked to her eBay account. Once you are in a transaction with someone, they can access your contact info quite easily.
    -it’s also quite easy to find out what star ratings your buyers leave “anonymously” for you. Yes, it’s against eBay’s policy to do so and to contact buyers about the DSRs, but I guarantee that any seller with an iota of interest in maintaining the hefty fee discounts that are tied to DSRs and feedback is tracking the details. And, no, I have no intention of spelling out how it’s done.

  • Catvickie May 2, 2013, 7:04 pm

    I sell a lot on eBay currently. It is apprciated when a buyer contacts me first and if it is an error I made, I will offer return postage to be paid to their Paypal account after the item makes it back to me. I have had people be leery of that and open a case anyway: all that gets them is the return of purchase price and original postage. If they do that, I will not offer a postage return refund, so it is a matter of trust. I can see why people do not have a lot of it because there are terrible sellers and buyers out there.

    All my postage is free to US buyers because we are now competing with Amazon and online stores. You have to stay up to date and use common courtesy with buyers, no matter how irate thay may get–it is all a part of customer service. I have NEVER called a buyer up for any reason–there are enough tools built into eBay that they are not necessary.

    That said, I think the only reason that seller knew anything about the star rating is because it is the only thing she sold that month. Other than that, there is no way to tell what each person put down for a rating.

    Most of the above comments are spot on!

  • Noodle May 2, 2013, 9:03 pm

    It’s been about a year (maybe closer to two) since I’ve ordered from eBay but I thought the star ratings weren’t visible to sellers. All they could see were the positive, negative, or neutral along with the few words you could write. Maybe it’s changed since then?

  • Tara May 2, 2013, 9:31 pm

    Did the OP pay by Paypal? I think my contact info is available there….

  • CorkedXHead May 2, 2013, 10:19 pm

    I am genuinely surprised how many people are defending the seller. Even if it’s in a backwards sort of way. “Well sure she was rude BUT”. Yeah no, no buts. The seller was rude and the OP was under no obligation to reach out to her and allow her to “fix” the problem. And even if she did fix the problem, the OP is still under no obligation to raise the amount of stars she gave (though she should of course mention it in her review). Because honestly, even if you fix the problem…the fact that there was still one in the first place is troubling.

    Personally, I like knowing that the seller’s descriptions might be unreliable at times. I may not have the time myself to go through the hassel of shipping it back to them or contacting them if my item comes in a condition other than the one described. So I may choose to buy something from someone else, who does not require me to go through heaven and hell to get the item that was described.

    And I’m sorry the rating system sucks for sellers. But honestly….tough! If you can’t afford the fees unless you have the perfect score to get the discount…maybe you should be selling somewhere else. It’s not the buyer’s responsibilty to make sure you get discounts.

    And JesBelle- It’s not remotely comparable to buying from a brick and mortar store. And you sound really…angry about this whole thing. Nine times out of ten…the seller deserves the negative review. Did you get a lot of negative reviews on Amazon or something?

  • David May 2, 2013, 11:58 pm

    I stopped buying on Ebay because of the rating system. I got tired of writing ‘great seller. shipping was prompt, item exactly as described. 5 stars’ every time I wanted to buy an item. Sometimes you just want to buy it with all the hassle. And then the demands for ratings before they even shipped me the item…

    The seller was completely out of line.

  • ItsyBitsy May 2, 2013, 11:59 pm

    JesBelle, I must respectfully disagree. I buy from Amazon regularly and it’s what people say about an item rather than the star rating that sways my decision. I don’t think I’m alone in this.

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