Sunday, January 11, 2009

Frustration Upon Frustration!

I don’t know what the heck eBay is doing over there, but sometimes I wonder if they are trying to run off their sellers, or at least the small guys like me. Recently I fired up TurboLister so as to put some things up on eBay, and I received a little warning on one of the items. The warning, in essence said, that PayPal will be withholding payments on certain items, chosen at random by PayPal, until one of the following conditions are met:

1. The buyer leaves positive feedback

2. 3 days after confirmed item delivery*

3. 21 days without a dispute, claim, chargeback or reversal filed on that transaction.

The only saving grace that I can see in all this is condition #2, so the sooner you ship your item, the faster you will get paid for it. However, this still puts you at the mercy of the Post Office, or FedEx, or UPS, or whomever you use to ship your items. Condition #1 is, in my opinion, absolutely ridiculous. This condition leaves you totally at the mercy of your customer. No payment will be released until THEY decide to leave you feedback. Some buyers don’t leave feedback for months if at all. Also, if the buyer wants to keep their payment to you in limbo until they have extra funds (in case they bought something that exceeded their budget), all they have to do is withhold feedback. Fortunately (I guess) condition #3 only allows the buyer to keep that payment in limbo for 21 days. I hope no one using eBay/PayPal really needs their money in this depressed economy.

I wrote to ebay and outlined to them my suggestions regarding this new policy. I told them, “It would be my suggestion that this policy be enacted for sellers who maintain a 95% or lower feedback score, or who receive more than say 5 negative feedbacks in a one to three month period, and then rescind the policy on those who can raise their feedback score back up to above 95% and/or receive no negative feedbacks for a period of between 6 to 12 months. This would not only create a sense of protection among buyers, but would also give those sellers with poor sales behaviors some incentive to become better sellers with better customer service. I am afraid that to impose this policy on all sellers, especially those with 100% positive feedback and no negative feedback, may encourage these "good" sellers to go elsewhere to sell their items.”

Their response was typical eBay. “Thank you for writing eBay in regard to your concern about new policy of holding payments on PayPal. I do appreciate your comments and contention in this matter and will provide some insight into this matter. Robert, please be informed that, eBay and PayPal are working together to help increase buyer satisfaction which, in turn, can mean more sales for you. We have found that after 21 days the chance of a buyer dispute or claim significantly decreases. In a small percentage of cases where it has been determined the risk of dissatisfied buyers is higher, PayPal may delay release of the payment funds to the seller until the buyer has left a positive feedback or 21 days have passed without a dispute, claim, chargeback or reversal filed on that transaction.”

It is too bad that although has implemented new feedback rules and the DSR to help prospective buyers determine if a seller is trustworthy, eBay itself doesn’t seem to trust those eBay sellers who maintain good ratings.

In addition to this, I had listed a lot of 3 airsoft pistols and a holster on eBay on Saturday the 10th. Ebay pulled the listing and gave me a “failed” rating in “Policy Compliance.” My earth shattering violation consisted of one of the pistols in the listing was an HK brand airsoft pistol. Apparently the H&K company (Heckler & Koch) reported the listing as a violation of their “intellectual property rights,” because not only did I truthfully describe the item as an HK brand pistol, but I (hold your breath), actually put a photo of the pistol in the listing!

Apparently, Heckler & Koch has decided that not only can you NOT mention their name, initials, or any identifying words in a sale listing of one of their items, you also cannot show a photo or picture of it. They go on to say that my selling of the pistol on eBay is “The unauthorized or unlicensed sale of merchandise bearing H&K's marks, or marks confusingly similar to,” which they say is illegal. I wonder if they monitor garage sales as well.

Personally, I don’t feel that I violated any trademark laws at all. In fact, according to the email I received from eBay included a “form” email from H&K which stated, “Guideline: If the product you are listing bears the brand or logo of a company, but it wasn't made or authorized by that company, don't sell it on eBay. Using a trademark without the trademark owner's permission infringes trademark law. For this reason, eBay prohibits members listing items which bear another's trademark but are not authorized by that trademark owner.” I did none of these things. I did not use another company’s trademark, and never stated or implied that the pistol was not manufactured by H&K. The pistol was and is a product of the H&K company. It was and is not a replica. In fact, I followed this guideline to the letter. Ebay’s response was again, typical. They thanked me for asking a question (which I did not ask. I simply told them that I had remedied the problem), and they gave me several FAQ links to “help” me find an answer to my unasked “question.”

Sigh. Just another example of the “Big Guy” trying to push out the “Little Guy.” If you would like to see how I remedied the listing, click here: Lot of 3 Air Soft Airsoft Pistols plus Holster.

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