I’m happy about eBay. Really. I’ll say it as the first sentence to save the trouble for all the eBay bashers and haters (and there are plenty).
There’s much to complain about eBay – the commissions and fees, the not really supportive customer support (they don’t have a number to call to talk to a real person, as far as I know, until now), their seemingly arbitrary decisions when closing sellers’ accounts for fraud prevention reasons, etc. etc.
But, it seems to me that they are in fact trying to improve.
I’m an occasional eBay user, I sell stuff once a month or two, and buy stuff even less frequently. That is why the experience I recently had with the eBay conflict resolution team had left such a good impression on me.
Now, for the details:
I’ve selling clothes from my closet on eBay for the last several months. My last two sales were jeans. Yes, you read right, jeans.
That’s not the first time. In fact, one of my first sales on eBay, some 5 years ago, was a pair of my old levi’s. Someone actually bought a pair of old worn levi’s for around $10. I was shocked, and since then try to sell stuff from my closet that I no longer wear (or have never worn, as in this case). If you ask me – eBay would be the last place to buy clothes for me. I mean, how can one buy clothes without trying if it fits? Most sellers on eBay don’t accept returns (well, I most certainly do).
Yet some people do that. The buyer of my last pair of jeans did that.
And then got disappointed because the jeans don’t fit. Apparently she was expecting them to be the same as the similar jeans she bought before, and they for whatever reason were not. Well, that’s the reason I don’t shop for clothes on eBay. I know for all very well, that of two pairs of shoes of the same brand and model and size – one may fit me and one may not. Happened not once and not twice. So when she complained to me that the size doesn’t match the similar jeans she has – all I had to say is that I cannot take responsibility over the differences in measurement, because the measurements I published were from the label.
She opened a case with the eBay’s Resolution center, requesting a full refund from me, which I didn’t agree with. One of the choices provided by eBay to the sellers in this case is to “escalate” the case to eBay, for arbitrage. I chose to do that, since the most I could lose would be the full refund of the money to the customer. The result surprised me.
eBay refunded the customer on their own, out of their own money, and send me a confirmation that the problem was not my fault (or the buyer’s for that matter). I was not to refund anything, and the buyer got to keep the jeans (even though she claimed they’re unusable to her) at eBays expense. That’s very customer-friendly, if you ask me.
Why did they do that? Well, that’s the combination of buyer’s protection and seller’s protection problem, plus an attempt to improve their customer relationship. Sometimes it worth more to eBay to have two happy customers, than a disgruntled buyer who is no longer a buyer, an upset seller who is not going to sell any more, and bad PR on the internet. Well, for whatever reasons they may have – they did right this time. I’ll continue using eBay, and in fact preferring it to either Amazon Marketplace or Craigslist.