Les Misérables – The Trials of Tribulations of Running an eBay Shop

Or

The Inevitability of Being shat on from a great height

Or

Crime and Punishment

Or

To Kill A small business

Or

OK, I think you get the point. Since I started my eBay store over three years ago, I have been stressed, depressed, and white hairs have begun to come through (admittedly, this may also have something to do with my age/my five-year-old, but I blame eBay.)

And it’s not just the stresses of running a business; I know how running a business feels. Running a business on eBay is a different kettle of fish altogether.

First, there’s the customers. I’d say maybe 85% are fine, lovely, easy to deal with people. Then there are about 10% who are sneaky. They buy something, or make an offer and then make a complaint (usually that a vintage or antique item of furniture isn’t brand new) and ask for some money off which I’m quite convinced they planned to do from the beginning) with unspoken threat of negative feedback if you don’t comply hanging in the air next to them. Then the final 5% of hideous, sometimes psychotic creatures (or should I say cretins?) who seem to buy things just so they have something to complain about.

So, yes that is business – customers are like that in the ‘real’ world too. However. (Yes, that was a deliberate full-stop.) Then there is business on eBay. For it doesn’t just stop at a (potentially) spittle-spraying tirade of anger from the 5%, followed by a refund and general agreement amongst staff not to allow them on the premises again, but they can then leave you a negative feedback online.

Of course, we’re all familiar with eBay’s feedback system and how horribly it can be abused. But did you know that sellers are no longer allowed to leave negative feedback for customers? So that customers can behave however they want with no comeback? Honestly, it’s true, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. There is then a 1-5 starring system where buyers can rate you on things like, ‘item as described,’ ‘postage and packaging charges,’ speediness of delivery (or whatever it’s called.)  If eBay deem that you have had too many ‘hits’ in these areas they can now restrict your account from selling. Or even close you down altogether.

So, what this means (to the uninitiated) is that your account can be at 100% positive feedback but if you’ve had a few crap ratings for ‘item as described’ or lack of ‘speediness,’ then your account gets closed down!

The real problem with this system is that there are always two sides to every story – after all, that’s what happens in a court of law – but eBay don’t want to hear your side. They are simply far too quick to judge the seller. Thank the lord I don’t have to sell on eBay anymore, I think I’d have gone up the wall by now.

A few of my customer complaints (for comedy value.)

1/ The customer who bought a dining table and chair set that was advertised as a project requiring refurbishment – she complained about the condition.

2/ The gentleman who bought a 1920’s glass cabinet, came to collect it, pulled it apart with his bare hands then demanded a refund because he had broken it, plus compensation for his petrol and travel.

3/ The woman who bought an item of furniture then became furious with me because she didn’t know what she’d done (a newbie presumably) and seemed to think I was somehow forcing her to buy from me. I kept politely pointing out that she had pressed the ‘buy it now’ button which was a committal to buy. I only told her that because she was so angry with me, I’d already agreed to cancel the transaction but she continued in her fury. Metaphorical spittle in the eye was certainly taken on this one.

The stupid thing is, I love eBay, it’s my first port of call when I want to buy something. But there is no need for them to hold sellers to account so severely. No other selling websites do that. And at the risk of sounding childish – it is extremely unfair.

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