Thursday, March 11, 2010

eBay is teh suxx0r

11 March, 2010

eBay – Customer Service
2145 Hamilton Ave.
San Jose, CA 95125


A few days ago, I began the process of closing my eBay account. As I have received no inquiry to date as to why I would choose to take such an action, I am taking the liberty of writing this letter to advise you as to my reasons.

When I first started using eBay nearly fifteen years ago, it was a wonderful resource for anyone wishing to save money on items they wished to purchase. For a number of reasons, I've been obliged to establish and use several different log-ins on eBay, but have been a fairly frequent buyer.

The last few years, however, the eBay experience has become progressively less pleasant. Recently, I found myself sufficiently annoyed and aggravated with it to come to the conclusion that it simply wasn't worth the bother using eBay any longer:
  • Sniping has become a much greater problem on eBay as time has passed; it's now at the point that there are actually Firefox web browser plugins to facilitate the process. This, despite the fact that I offered a simple and direct suggestion that would make sniping an untenable activity: if a bid is received within some small time (I suggested 30 seconds, as I recall) before an auction ends, then extend the auction time by some small fixed amount of time to give the non-sniper time to respond. While my suggestion was acknowledged with a generic platitude, I doubt that it was ever given the consideration that I believe it should have. I can only wonder at how many people have given up on using eBay when an item they had legitimately bid on and “won” went to someone that “sniped” them in the last two seconds without them having an opportunity to re-bid.
  • Mis-listed items are now a much greater problem than they were when I first started using eBay. Some weeks ago, I reported a grossly mis-listed item and (again) got a generic non-committal response. Annoyed, I then took the time to submit roughly a hundred such instances in an effort to get somebody at eBay to realize how aggravating it is for us users to have to try and wade through all the inappropriate items in a category. I wasn't surprised in the slightest when absolutely nothing happened regarding the items that I reported; they remained in a patently wrong category for the entire duration of their respective auctions. Clearly, I can't know how many warnings a seller may get before being penalized for mis-categorizing items; what seems fairly apparent is that the number is too high to be effective, and that the actions taken by eBay lack sufficient impact to prevent recurrences. I would think that if eBay were to implement a graduated scale of punishment, such violations would drop dramatically: a first offense simply has the item de-listed with a warning to the seller. A second offense, and the item is not only de-listed, but not allowed to be auctioned again for some fixed period of time (a few days, perhaps). If there should be a third violation, ALL listings by a seller are removed. A fourth results in all listings being removed and the seller being blocked from posting new items for several days. Finally, a seller that commits a fifth offense could have all listings removed and banned from eBay completely. Please note that such a progression gives sellers ample opportunity to learn from honest mistakes, and greatly discourages DIShonest activities.
  • The ability to customize my eBay activities is something that I greatly miss. For example, I refuse to purchase items sold out of China and Hong Kong; each time I search for a tech or computer item, I have to explicitly go into an “advanced” search and indicate a maximum distance for sellers to try and block results from those areas. Sadly, eBay does not provide any mechanism by which I can set any kind of baseline criteria to be used for all my searches.
The above is not an exhaustive list of my reasons for closing my eBay account, but rather just examples of the most egregious.

I don't have any reason to think that eBay will change any of the above just for me; all I hope to accomplish with this letter is to bring the matter to the attention of someone that might accidentally have the power and authority to see that the issues are looked into, and perhaps even addressed.

In addition, I will be closing my PayPal account, as well. My reasons for taking such action is simply that I wish to express my objections to the gross lack of openness, fair play, and responsibility demonstrated by the mishandling of the situation that cropped up with Cryptome.

Finally, I would like to say that while established policies and procedures are good things to have, they are best supplemented with common sense and good judgment.


David K. Merriman

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