ebay...again Complaint - Stay Away from EBAY
BEWARE OF EBAY CRIMINAL, MATTHEW BECCUE OF BATAVI -- I started selling on EBAY in 2002, but until recently I was reluctant to buy anything that cost more than $100.00. Although EBAY’s “Trust and Safety” staff supposedly oversee the transactions, I often wondered whether EBAY would help victims recover money that they lost to dishonest sellers. It was so easy for me to sell on EBAY; I figured that criminals could too. As EBAY’s popularity and prosperity grew, I came to believe that it would be bad for business if EBAY let its web site become a venue for criminal activity. If a crime occurred, I thought that EBAY would chase the criminal and compensate the victim, but when I became a victim, I learned otherwise.
On March 22, 2006 I paid Matthew Beccue of Batavia New York $3,850.00 for a Nikon D2X camera. Beccue had been an EBAY member since 1997 and was credited with 140 transactions and 99.3% positive feedback. After EBAY notified me that I had won the auction and after receiving the EBAY invoice, I sent Beccue my check, but he never sent me the camera. When I turned to EBAY for help, it diverted me to an ineffective dispute process that did nothing for me or against Beccue.
Away from the flashy ads and promotions, an obscure page on EBAY’s web site tells buyers how they can file a dispute against sellers (and vice versa). For thirty days, buyers and sellers must try to settle their differences without EBAY’s intervention. During that time I notified EBAY that the seller had cashed my check, but would not send me the camera or respond to my emails, but EBAY seemed oblivious to the possibility that a felony had occurred on their web site. Until the thirty days had lapsed - giving Beccue enough time to cover his tracks - EBAY would only repeat: contact the seller and try to work things out.
EBAY further exasperates victims by refusing to speak to them. All correspondence must be by e-mail. Only a few “power sellers” (EBAY’s money-makers) have the privilege to speak directly to EBAY. I expect that EBAY does not talk to buyers because they are ripped off so frequently that EBAY cannot give them any level of personal attention. In a feeble attempt to provide a personal touch, EBAY offers “Live Help” – a chat room where you can exchange messages with an EBAY staff. I chatted with Chad who typed so swiftly and composed his English so perfectly that I suspect he lives in India. Once I saw that Chad was giving me the same canned responses that I had received by e-mail, I interrupted him and asked, “Will EBAY do anything for me or should I call the police?” After some hesitation, Chad typed, “Call the police”.
I now hope that the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center will recover my money and punish Matthew Beccue. But even if he goes to jail, Beccue could return to EBAY under another name and bank account and resume stealing. I say this because EBAY does not screen sellers or reveal much about them. Moreover, EBAY does not go after sellers who steal, but they will file a law suit against a buyer who submits a fraudulent claim for the $175.00 (maximum) compensation that EBAY offers. In my case the $175.00, is not much more than the $80.00 that EBAY made on my transaction.
When I finally convinced EBAY that my claim was legitimate, it promised to pay me its token compensation. EBAY then changed its mind. I was notified (by e-mail, of course) that because I did not close the dispute, EBAY would not compensate me or penalize the seller. The e-mail included a link to the EBAY web site where I was instructed to open the dispute (again). I replied that enduring EBAY’s dispute process for another three months was not worth the $175.00. A few days later EBAY sent me an apology and the $175.00, but they never mentioned Matthew Beccue. Curious about his fate, I sent EBAY the following message:
Yesterday, June 22, 2006, I received from EBAY the $175.00 reimbursement for the $3850.00 that was stolen from me during an EBAY auction on March 22, 2006. This token compensation along with EBAY’s impersonal and ineffective dispute process clearly reflects an indifference towards crime on its web site. For my sake as well as those who shop on EBAY, please tell me what happened to Matthew Beccue - the criminal who stole my money. Did you try to find him? Will you prosecute him? Have you banned him from EBAY, and if so how will you keep him from returning?”
EBAY never responded, so I posted my story on their community discussion board where it attracted comments from sellers who have a financial interest in EBAY’s success. Most of them agreed that crime is so rampant on EBAY that it cannot chase the criminals or compensate their victims. A buyer’s best defense is to use a credit card and hope that the bank who issued the card provides the protection that EBAY lacks.
Others criticized me for not thoroughly reading EBAY’s user agreement which states in part,
“We [EBAY] have no control over and do not guarantee the quality, safety or legality of items advertised, the truth or accuracy of listings, the ability of sellers to sell items, the ability of buyers to pay for items, or that a buyer or seller will actually complete a transaction.”
In retrospect, I should have thoroughly read this lengthy agreement before joining EBAY, and all shoppers should read it again before making a purchase. Far more compelling than this article, the user agreement makes the case to Stay Away from EBAY.