Thursday, July 24, 2008

Making Noise Successfully, a Primer UPDATE

Ed over at Buildaskill Blog made a post on Tuesday, which was picked up by AuctionBytes yesterday on the subject of some dubious business practices by eBay.

To summarize, it appears that eBay is taking payment for services which it then fails to provide. How shocking! What a surprise! Undoubtedly a glitch, worldwide but, by an amazing co-incidence when eBay suffers these kinds of glitches, they are always financially beneficial to eBay.

If you are a US seller and believe that you have been defrauded there are actions you can take to press your complaint. First you should download the relevant eBay invoices, put them on a CD so they are safe.

Go through the eBay email complaint procedure. Be sure to keep and print all responses, no matter how inane. Next complain in writing to eBay. You will need to send the complaint by certified mail to eBay Inc. 2145 Hamilton Ave., San Jose, CA 95125, with a return receipt. Keep your correspondence short and to the point. Make copies.

You should fill out a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. This will almost certainly accomplish nothing meaningful, but it is worth doing. It gets the complaint on record and eBay has to respond, quite often the response is completely different from what you received through your initial email complaints. Expect this process to take a month or longer. Add copies of your complaint and responses to your file.

The next step is the Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency. The FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints. The FTC collects complaints about companies and business practices. The FTC enters all complaints it receives into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database that is used by thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement authorities worldwide. These collected complaints can help detect patterns of wrong-doing, and lead to investigations and prosecutions.

You can also make complaints to the Complaint Assistance Unit of the Division of Consumer Services of the California Department of Consumer Affairs by contacting them in writing at 400 R Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, or by telephone at (800) 952-5210.

Complaints can be filed with both the Attorney General of your State and the office of the Attorney General of the State of California Keep copies for your file.

Complaints about e-commerce companies or websites located across international borders can be filed at

If you decide to hire an attorney, please be sure to read the eBay User Agreement. Merely by going to the eBay website you have agreed to be bound by the User Agreement which states you can only file with a court located in Santa Clara County, California.

Finally, remember, when making a complaint, make it in writing. Generally a spoken complaint as in a telephone conversation does not carry the same legal 'weight' (if any) as a written complaint. Go forth and make noise!

8/3/08 UPDATED INFORMATION -Notify the National Fraud Information Center operated by the National Consumers League, a nonprofit consumer organization. Call 1-800-876-7060 or visit This organization has numerous top media contacts and will get consumer complaints of fraud against companies broad media exposure, i.e. - Television news, major newspapers and internet electronic news medias.

Y'all come back!

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