eBay retaliatory negative feedback retaliation
March 29, 2007 6:15 PM   Subscribe

I won an eBay auction, but the seller didn't have the item in stock at the time of the auction's completion. Two weeks later I was given a full refund via PayPal. I left neutral feedback (pretty neutral experience, wouldn't you say?), and got retaliatory negative feedback from the seller, along with a request to have the feedback mutually withdrawn. How can I stick it to him?

The guy has 100% positive feedback, so I'm assuming he achieved it through similarly scumbagish means. He now has the item in stock, and when I demanded the item at a discount he offered $2 off. It was a $56 item--fat freaking chance.

Did he break eBay's policies enough (by not actually HAVING the item he was selling) that I could file a claim against him? Does it matter that he now has the item in stock and is offering it to me at a similar price? It's my understanding that I'm not obligated to accept any alternate deals from a seller.

He's obviously a vindictive prick (though I suppose one could argue that I am as well), so I have no desire to continue doing business with this guy. Should I just put my tail between my legs, withdraw the feedback, and be done with it? Or is there a specific eBay policy that he's broken that could justify a claim against him?

Bonus points: If he hasn't technically broken eBay policy, is there anything more nefarious (and legal and within eBay policy) that I could do to "get back" at him?
posted by tipthepizzaguy to Computers & Internet (29 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Move on.
Avoid him in the future.
posted by Dizzy at 6:20 PM on March 29, 2007

I would not do business with this guy again, especially not without the support and protection eBay has to offer. Don't give him any more of your money. That'll show him!

Seriously, turn off your computer. Read this post again tomorrow. It's not wise to act (or post) in anger.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:21 PM on March 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

This sounds similar to an eBay scam where the highest bidder withdraws after the bid is over and the item is offered to you (the second-highest) at a lower price. At the very least, the feedback war is sketchy.

It may be worth a shot to send and email off to eBay (though I've found them to be less than friendly - almost robotlike). No harm in asking.
posted by divabat at 6:25 PM on March 29, 2007

I think retaliatory negative feedback is against eBay policy. Email them the situation along with any emails involved and then forget about it.
posted by DU at 6:28 PM on March 29, 2007

Well...I've been here, and it sucks...but I think you should mutually withdraw the feedback and move on. Its only eBay, really.
posted by Asherah at 6:41 PM on March 29, 2007

Response by poster: @ThePinkSuperhero:

I know. I'm usually a very rational and laid back guy (too much so even). But every once in a while I need to cut loose on someone who at least mostly deserves it just to keep myself sane.

Serenity now... INSANITY later...


Unfortunately, retaliatory feedback ISN'T against eBay policy.
posted by tipthepizzaguy at 6:44 PM on March 29, 2007

Ditto. Tell him that neutral feedback is not negative feedback, but if he doesn't back down you're going to make it negative feedback, and you're planning to contact eBay and report him for both retaliatory feedback and trying to sell an item he didn't have.

If you have a blog, I'd also write about this experience there in order to warn other eBayers to stay away from him.

Maybe I'm just a vindictive prick too, but Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Brittanie at 6:45 PM on March 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Tell him to withdraw his negative feedback of you first, then you'll withdraw the negative feedback of him as a gesture of politeness. After all, you don't intend to tarnish his reputation, but at the same time, your feedback is to be expected, given the fact that he didn't have the item in stock.

You were just doing the normal thing, and he is just being rude.

This way, you don't go out of your way to fuck anybody, and you stand your ground. And you don't look like an ass if you withdraw your criticism and he doesn't. Right now you're on the good guy side. Stay on that side, and hold your ground.
posted by phaedon at 6:46 PM on March 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

This happened to me too. I was sold substandard goods, returned them but was out of pocket £15 for the postage. So I left neutral feedback and received negative in return. After a protracted slanging match via email I with drew my feedback and he withdrew his. Shortly after that he made his feedback private. Kind of defeating the object.

I was sooo angry at the time that this guy had got the better of me, and angry at myself for loosing it with him. Now I don't care. Time is a great healer. Sleep on it. You will feel better.
posted by gergtreble at 6:48 PM on March 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh I meant to add.

E-bay were no help whatsoever in this situation, I got them involved when the guy refused to return my money even after I had returned the item to him.

I suppose everyone needs one bad e-bay story. You have one now!
posted by gergtreble at 6:51 PM on March 29, 2007

You can't change/edit feedback on eBay without intervention from eBay representatives. One of their accepted reasons for removing feedback is "retaliatory feedback." Write eBay, explain the problem, and 9 times out of 10 it will be removed. Cut n paste the emails from him stating the item is not in stock, etc. Include all the pertinent information and ask that the negative feedback be removed under their "no tolerance" provision for retaliatory feedback. Your neutral feedback was perfectly acceptable for the seller selling an item that wasn't in stock - his negative was clearly retaliatory. If you can't already tell, I've been though a similar situation and eBay took care of it promptly.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 7:02 PM on March 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Don't withdraw the feedback. Take your lump and post a response to the neg he gave you. It's the only way other unsuspecting eBay buyers might catch on to his shady practices and not do business with him.
posted by clh at 7:04 PM on March 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

I would not leave a feedback "response" until you deal with eBay as detailed in my post above. Don't stoop to their level with any anger, etc. They have violated eBay's "retaliatory feedback" policy and eBay WILL take care of it. Stay above the fray and let eBay handle it.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 7:08 PM on March 29, 2007

Please, please, please don't give up on this. eBay feedback is very important and it's essential for other people to see so they can make sensible decisions when buying and selling. In this case, it'd be a negative for him, and no feedback to you.
posted by wackybrit at 7:53 PM on March 29, 2007

Actually, here's another vote for 'walk away'...

Here's the thing: eBay is there for the sellers, who pay them the majority of fees, not the buyers.

If you head over to www.ebaysucks.com or the consumerist, you'll see tons of stories about ebay screwing buyers and rewarding sellers and not taking steps against bad sellers.
posted by SpecialK at 7:55 PM on March 29, 2007

Best answer: He wasn't breaking the rules if he followed the regulations for pre-sales.
posted by thomas j wise at 8:00 PM on March 29, 2007

I had the same exact thing happen to me, dinged me for my one negative feedback. I replied with "Left neutral for seller who didn't have product. Did they expect positive?", figured anyone checking my account would see what the situation was, and let it go.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:29 PM on March 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The seller hasn't thought this through very well. Withdrawing the feedback converts the feedback you left for each other to neutrals. The comments will still appear in the profile but will count as neither positive nor negative in the score. So going through with the process will have no real effect on the feedback you left for him and will have a positive effect on your feedback score. So you can stick it to him by doing exactly what he asks.

First leave a follow-up comment on the feedback he left for you that gives the facts of what happened (no opinion or comment).
posted by winston at 8:29 PM on March 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Whatever you do, don't withdraw the feedback. As an (infrequent) Ebay shopper, I appreciate the honest feedback on merchants.

It's amazing how people who screw others on Ebay still feel entitled to positive feedback. WTF?
posted by jayder at 8:49 PM on March 29, 2007

Please don't withdraw the feedback, especially if you're primarily a buyer.

Sellers don't care about buyer feedback, so long as you pay in a timely manner, and it's not utterly atrocious.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 9:37 PM on March 29, 2007

Oh, and report it to eBay, but expect no response.

I reported a seller who was:
a) selling illegal copies (openly admitting it)
b) ripping off ebay (they openly stated that their buy it now price was £1, and the shipping was £20, because they wanted to pay lower ebay fees.

And they did nothing. So it's not just that they're seller-friendly, they're just incompetent. Sadly, it's hard for the other auction sites to get enough traffic to be as useful.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 9:41 PM on March 29, 2007

I've had retaliatory feedback done to me too. It's my one and only negative feedback, and since I don't use eBay that much it lowered m rating down to 90% at the time. I left negative feedback after a seller didn't answer any messages sent through the eBay system for weeks. She left a negative on me saying she didn't get the 'email' (note I sent all messages thru the eBay system) and that I was 'unfair'. WTF. I asked in the very active eBay forums about this, and they advised to just let it go and that other sellers wouldn't hold it against me. And it hasn't affected me negatively since then. I do wish eBay would police the feedbacks a bit better than they do, since feedback is such a major part of the whole process, but there it is.
posted by derMax at 2:33 AM on March 30, 2007

This is how the ebay feedback system is flawed. Sellers should always have to give feedback first, it makes obvious sense.. Ebay know this.. but also know that it would increase the amount of honest negative feedback and this would lower their sales.. so they purposely don't enforce it.

Ebay are crooked as a frenchmans nose, you owe them or any of the other foolish ebay users anything.. withdraw your feedback why bother harming your rep.. you get nothing for it.
posted by complience at 3:27 AM on March 30, 2007

1. Create a new eBay username.
2. Buy a bunch of his cheapest stuff.
3. Bomb him with negative feedback on it, whatever happens.
4. Laugh maniacally.
posted by reklaw at 3:38 AM on March 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

... and I think this might work even if you just win the auctions with that new username and never pay for anything, come to think of it. Just make sure it can't be traced back to you.
posted by reklaw at 3:41 AM on March 30, 2007

Response by poster: I'm primarily a buyer, but I do sell my used college textbooks on half.com. I'd rather not have a 93% feedback score, so I think I may eventually withdraw the feedback like winston suggested. Before I posted this question, I had already left a response to the feedback:

"Retaliatory negative. Seller didn't have item in stock so I left them neutral."

@thomas j wise:

I read the policy you suggested and re-checked the listing... As far as I can tell, he was in violation of eBay's terms. I'll try to persue a claim against him using that, unless anyone knows of something else they think I could add to his rap sheet.

Also, something interesting to note: Shortly after my question was posted (and after 6 hours of silence on my end of our bargaining), he sent me a PayPal invoice for $50 -- $6 off the original price. Along with it was a half-hearted appology for wasting my time (but not for the retaliatory negative).
posted by tipthepizzaguy at 4:48 AM on March 30, 2007

Did the auction mention he didn't have the item in stock or was it an obvious pre-order for a yet-to-be-released title? If either of these is the case, you are in the wrong and not the seller.

Further, you don't specify that you requested a refund from Paypal, which I assume you did as they don't arbitrarily return cash. If so, did you tell the seller you were going thru these steps prior?

My advice to you for the future is to never leave non-positive feedback for a seller until they've left feedback for you. You will get screwed every time. Further, I'd suggest that immediately after you pay for an auction you won, email the seller and say "Just following up--payment has been sent via paypal. If you did not receive it, kindly let me know. If you did, please leave me positive feedback for my prompt payment and I'll notify you as soon as the item arrives." Some sellers will refuse (the people who make their living on there) but the average joe will comply.
posted by dobbs at 7:54 AM on March 30, 2007

What exactly was the negative feedback he left? Seems to me that this makes a big difference. Did he lie, or did he say "What a pushy motherfucker, I didn't have the item, I gave him a refund, and he had to go and make an issue out of it"?
posted by bingo at 8:06 AM on March 30, 2007

So let's recap: The guy wasted 2 weeks of yours, gave you a full refund in a timely way, and offered you an 11% discount for current fulfillment. The negative feedback sucks but he's offered to withdraw it.

You need to re-orient your perspective. You have not had a bad ebay experience. You've had a good experience. Take the $50 offer, mutually withdraw your feedback, and enjoy your purchase. Salting the earth doesn't benefit anybody.

I'll tell you what's a bad experience. I put up an item for $0.01, and it got exactly 1 bid. I shipped the damn thing out, which cost me more than the $6.95 I'd quoted for shipping. The guy didn't want shipping insurance so I didn't pay for it.

Item never arrived and I never could find out what happened to it. After the guy's second email, I refunded his $0.01 plus the shipping cost. I would've sent him another one - but I'm not Wal-Mart, I didn't HAVE another one. So all told I'm out about $10 on the transaction. Big deal, right, it's what you do to keep your buyer happy. That's what ebay's about, right?

THEN the guy left me negative feedback, and would not withdraw it.

It's almost like some buyers expect the sellers to do things that are physically impossible. You know what, though? Things that are impossible aren't going to happen for you. So when you get angry and vindictive because your impossible demands weren't met, you're behaving in a way that hurts you and doesn't help anyone else.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:25 AM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

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