Ethical dilemma - eBay item supplied as "gift" via Amazon. Now what?
June 16, 2020 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Seems that this eBay seller doesn't actually keep any stock. Instead when you purchase on eBay, they use their personal Prime account to buy a cheaper item through Amazon and send it free. Against eBay's TOS. I use eBay to avoid Amazon, so was annoyed to receiving this "gift" (no return details or invoice) this morning. Left neutral feedback. Now they're trying to bribe me to remove it. What to do?

Can I just say first that I loathe Amazon's business practices, so if you're a fan, I'd really appreciate not hearing about how this isn't such a big deal. Thanks.

But I'm wondering what the ethical thing to do is. I decided not to escalate to eBay (could have had their account frozen / deactivated) but left neutral feedback stating very plainly that the item was fine but came packaged as a "gift" from Amazon.

It's fortunate that the item was ok, as I'd have had nowhere to return it if not, since there was no invoice or eBay receipt in the box. Nothing except a small chit of paper referring to an "order of 13 June" (the day after I ordered the item on eBay) and "We hope you enjoy your gift."

Just got a long email from the seller designed to tug at my heartstrings, "family run business", "because of the pandemic had to move stock to an Amazon storage warehouse". This is bullshit. Amazon's own guidelines state that if you're using them to fulfil eBay orders then you should opt for neutral packaging and put in your own invoice.

They've offered me £5 to remove the feedback. Eugh. I don't want £5. I just want not to be forced to use slave labour. But I'm feeling bad for potentially screwing up their sales. And maybe they are a family business. And the actual item was fine.

What would you do? What have you done if you've encountered similar situations?
posted by doornoise to Shopping (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Lol sure they are a "family business" - they and every other person who bought that pamphlet about how to get rich quick by drop shipping from Amazon.

If the review is factual leave it up.
posted by muddgirl at 12:13 PM on June 16, 2020 [30 favorites]

posted by saeculorum at 12:14 PM on June 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

To restate, they intended to deceive you, they are still trying to deceive you, and they are asking you to take money to help them continue to deceive other buyers.
posted by muddgirl at 12:15 PM on June 16, 2020 [18 favorites]

Best answer: Ignore and move on. You did fine. They're the ones violating Ebay and Amazon's Terms of Service. As a potential future buyer, I appreciate the feedback you've offered.
posted by hydra77 at 12:15 PM on June 16, 2020 [12 favorites]

Best answer: I probably would have reported them to Ebay. At this point, I would just not respond.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 12:15 PM on June 16, 2020 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Report them to eBay. If you don't want to do that, then leave the review up and do nothing else.

Also, this mefi thread from a few weeks ago makes me wonder if they're also using these eBay orders to inflate their Amazon review rating.
posted by mekily at 12:18 PM on June 16, 2020 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I removed an accurate negative review from eBay once and have regretted it ever since. Your review was honest. Leave it.
posted by FencingGal at 12:42 PM on June 16, 2020 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I had this exact thing happen to me. Item cheaper on Amazon, I knowingly and intentionally paid more on eBay to avoid doing business with Amazon, received "gift" package from Amazon.

In my case the item wasn't what I wanted anyway. I went through the "gift" return process with Amazon, was given an Amazon credit, which I also didn't want.

So I contacted eBay to request a refund through the seller (as it said on the item description that cash refunds are provided). They contacted the seller, who gave the refund.

I was on the fence about leaving a negative review. I opted not to since they rectified the situation, but if they hadn't I definitely would have done so.

You are justified in leaving your factual non-emotive review in place, and in my opinion their offer of money to remove it makes you even MORE justified. If they are uncomfortable having their business practices plainly stated in public, then they shouldn't be doing those practices.
posted by tentacle at 12:55 PM on June 16, 2020 [6 favorites]

Yeah, I'd say that if it's against eBay's TOS, they should be happy that you aren't reporting them and asking for a refund (which TBH, is probably what I'd be doing in this scenario).
posted by Aleyn at 2:06 PM on June 16, 2020

Basically everything being sold on ebay is either personal used items or some form of retail arbitrage. You can't buy on ebay without avoiding the latter. This guy just did a very direct version of it.

If you're unhappy about it I would just return it and mention it in the review. This seller didn't know this would offend your moral sensibilities, they're just trying to make a buck like everyone else on ebay.
posted by bradbane at 2:12 PM on June 16, 2020

Why are you not reporting it to Ebay, when they have the power to do something about it? I mean, it's up to you how you feel about Amazon, but this is sort of like being mad at the post office that somebody sent you a bill instead of a check.
posted by stormyteal at 2:52 PM on June 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

My experience of the Ebay feedback system is that justified negative feedback can be silently removed with no explanation, the whole system is broken beyond repair and so I no longer leave feedback, positive or negative, for anything.

So don't feel bad about leaving negative feedback, but also don't be surprised if your feedback magically disappears in a week from now. Also if you do remove the feedback, don't be surprised if the promised £5 never appears. Amazon is terrible, but Ebay is just about as bad.
posted by Lanark at 3:55 PM on June 16, 2020

eBay allows drop-shipping - but it may contravene their ToS depending on the listing e.g. pictures, wording, stated item location, etc.

Offering inducements to remove feedback definitely is against eBay's ToS, and I would have (& in the past have had) no compunction about reporting anyone to eBay for that alone.

Whether or not eBay will do anything about it is a different matter, though ime they do take feedback manipulation somewhat seriously.
posted by Pinback at 4:54 PM on June 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Why aren’t you posting honest feedback? The ‘seller’ lied, they broke the TOS, they’re trying to bribe you and the reason they don’t want negative feedback is so they can continue doing it. If you’re so against it, there is a really clear cut way of helping to stamp it out by calling attention to it.

I mean, you’re welcome to just leave it, sure, but I get the feeling you’re mad enough about it to post here and complain. By turning a blind eye, giving them money, and removing negative feedback you’re basically not just saying you’re ok with it, you’re actively supporting the practise. If you DO give negative feedback, it may get removed but at least you know you did what you could with the little power you have. Fight the man ;)
posted by Jubey at 5:08 PM on June 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

It's standard retail arbitrage. I wasn't aware how it can be against eBay TOS. I don't think it's against any Amazon rules either.

As others have said, if your stance is that you're opposed to this practice the solution is self evident. Leave accurate feedback. Furthermore, making a refund through eBay will give you a return address (whether amazon or) if they ask you to return the stock and will probably reduce the lifespan of them using their account like this.
posted by turkeyphant at 5:11 PM on June 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

You won or used 'Buy It Now' on ebay and paid a price you deemed fair. The 'seller' delivered. They deserve positive feedback. Plain & Simple.
If want to play ethical police, send an email to ebay and/or amazon and report them. Not up to you to play this role. You got what you wanted out of the deal. How it was done shouldn't be a factor so much. Are you upset that the seller was able to find the product at a cheaper price then you did? Narc or don't, but the feedback shouldn't have been neutral.
posted by TwilightKid at 6:49 PM on June 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Just for reference:

Drop shipping, where you fulfill orders directly from a wholesale supplier, is allowed on eBay. Remember that if you use drop shipping, you’re still responsible for the safe delivery of the item within the time frame stated in your listing and for the buyer’s overall satisfaction with their purchase.

However, listing an item on eBay and then purchasing the item from another retailer or marketplace that ships directly to your customer is not allowed on eBay. Activity that doesn’t follow eBay policy could result in a range of actions including but not limited to: administratively ending or canceling listings, hiding or demoting all listings from search results, lowering seller rating, buying or selling restrictions, loss of buyer or seller protections, and account suspension. All fees paid or payable in relation to listings or accounts on which we take any action will not be refunded or otherwise credited to your account.

posted by roger ackroyd at 9:42 PM on June 16, 2020 [8 favorites]

Check the eBay story on the front page of the blue. It makes eBay look much worse ethically than Amazon.
posted by w0mbat at 1:51 AM on June 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

I just had this happen to me on NewEgg, so be careful there too.
posted by advicepig at 6:42 AM on August 3, 2020

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