Economy

eBay users lash auction giant over collapse of big trader

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Why didn’t eBay warn us? That’s the question being asked by a growing number of eBay users caught up in the collapse of large trader EBS International, which was placed in liquidation last week, leaving hundreds of customers without goods they have paid f

Why didn’t eBay warn us? That’s the question being asked by a growing number of eBay users caught up in the collapse of large trader EBS International, which was placed in liquidation last week, leaving hundreds of customers without goods they have paid for.

eBay’s forums and message boards have received a flood of posts from angry customers trying to figure out what went wrong and whether they will get a refund. eBay’s payment subsidiary PayPal announced yesterday that it has set up a special fund to reimburse customers who used PayPal to pay for the goods sold on the site, which traded as Ebusiness Supplies.

But many want to know why eBay allowed the trader to keep doing business. Some posts from users suggest eBay was warned of problems at the store some time before its collapse.

On top of this, an avalanche of negative feedback from buyers who had not received goods they had paid for made it clear at least a month ago that there were serious problems at the site.

eBay seller Robert Vandermeer believes Ebusiness Supplies customers could stand to lose several millions of dollars. He believes eBay has some explaining to do.

“eBay has allowed this to continue for a very long time. One has to ask are they motivated to even act, given how big this seller was. I think eBay have a lot of answering to do.”

But eBay spokesman Daniel Feiler says the company is unable to issue warnings to users about specific sellers because of privacy laws. “But I wish to assure users that due course was followed in this instance.”

While Feiler would not discuss the specific Ebusiness Supplies case, he did say eBay does monitor sellers closely and has a specific process to deal with problem sellers.

The first step is to “reach out to the seller and provide them with some education about how they can rectify the situation they are in”. If that doesn’t work, eBay will place restrictions on the seller’s account, such as not allowing them to list new items. “We keep them active on the site, but they are not allowed to list any new items. That allows the seller to discuss problems with buyers.”

The next step is to suspend the seller’s account and then raise the matter with the police or appropriate regulator.

“I can say we followed our procedures in this instance.”

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