Why eBay has the worst customer service

ebay account suspension

I had an issue with my eBay account that dragged on for far too long and finally ended badly when my account was suspended for no good reason.  What you’re about to read is a case study of what NOT to do with your customers.

li san-ebay feedback

Having been a member since February 1999 with 100% feedback and more than 167 transactions — I’m only small fry — I’m really disappointed with the treatment.

The Problem

It all started when I moved to the UK and tried to list items for sale around September.  I was asked to verify my details, which I did with customer support over the phone.  Still couldn’t list.  So I tried eBay online chat with customer support, and it turned out to be the worst customer service I’ve ever had the misfortune of experiencing.

All I wanted to do was sell a pair of shoes...
All I wanted to do was sell a pair of shoes…

Basically I was transferred about 7 different times for more than 2 hours — having to repeat the problem to every new person — and no one knew how to solve my problem.  I was given different email addresses to send a complaint to, and was told several times that it would take a few days for someone to get back to me.  No one ever followed up.

I tried again about a month later.  Same headaches — getting transferred another 8 times for another 2 hours.  Speaking to support over the phone was no better.  Eventually I gave up trying, since I use eBay almost exclusively for purchases anyway, like clothes, shoes, skincare… you know, the usual girly items.  In the 14 years of using eBay, I’ve sold maybe one item?

It Took eBay 7 Months to Respond

And that was after I Tweeted a comparison to my wonderful experiences with Amazon’s customer service.  Did eBay only sort out their social media customer care this year or something?

I forwarded eBay the long thread I’d saved detailing the issue, keeping my fingers crossed that finally, the problem would be fixed.  Nope.  I had to follow up again on Twitter.

Poor K was just trying to do her job.  I work in social media myself so I can understand she’s just one link in a long employee chain, passing on angry customer comments and trying to make people happy.

eBay seriously needs to figure out a way to better serve their customers, and after ranting to friends, I realise others share my opinion.

Finally, what looked like the start of a resolution…

I received an email from eBay asking me for proof of my identity and confirmation of my address.  I’m as paranoid as anyone about sharing private documents, so I sent scans of my passport and a bank statement with the passport number and bank account number blacked out.

A few days later I received another email from eBay saying that my proof of identity was unacceptable because:

-Information has been blackout .
-The scan is only for part of the passport. We need a clear full scan of the whole passport with the edges.

The whole passport?  My scan was of the whole biodata page including the edges…  Confused, I sent a scan of my driving licence instead.

Bam! Your account has been suspended!

eBay emailed me a MC081 CIT NOTICE: eBay Registration Suspension – Breach of User Agreement.

We regret to inform you that your eBay account has been suspended.

*Why did we suspend your account?

From experience we know that certain items and actions are more associated with fraudulent activity on eBay than others. As a precaution, we suspend an account if it gives us cause for concern. We then ask for more before we reinstate the account.

Please understand we’re not accusing you of fraudulent behaviour. Our top priority is to ensure that eBay remains a safe and reputable place to buy and sell, so we’d like to confirm some of the information you’ve given us.

An account suspension in these circumstances is covered in the eBay User Agreement under the heading “Abusing eBay”. For more information, open a new browser window and paste this link into it:

http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/policies/user-agreement.html

*Here’s what you should do now:

Please send us all of the following information and we’ll review your account:

1) Proof of name
2) Confirmation of your registered address
3) Proof that the item/s you listed are in your possession

You can find out more details on the types of acceptable documents, as well as how you can upload your documents and here:

http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/account/verification_request_documents.html

Please be assured that eBay treats your personal information with the utmost care. We always destroy documents after we’ve reviewed them.

*What happens next?

Please allow three days for us to review your account after we have received your documents. We’ll then contact you via email. Your account will remain suspended until we receive and review these documents.

I’m not sure what “proof that the items listed are in your possession” refers to.  Do they want me to take a photo of myself with my passport and bank statement next to my face?

Or is the item the George Benson CD I tried to list for sale (don’t ask)?  The only upside was that this was probably the fastest they’d responded since the whole dilemma started.

Help! All I want to do is buy pretty things!

zara pink double breasted trench coat
Like this pretty pink coat, the last item I purchased off eBay.

I contacted a customer rep via live chat and as usual, was met with disappointment.  ”Wilma” basically told me to piss off and not to bother with eBay anymore, and warned me that I would not be able to create another account.  The strangest thing is that I was told that eBay cannot tell me WHY exactly my account was suspended, and that I should just read their policy.

In a desperate attempt I emailed eBay an appeal seeking clarification and advice.  I’m confused: should I even bother verifying my identity anymore?  It’s been 3 days, but if experience is anything to go by I may only hear from them in 2014, although they will most likely ignore my email.

Seriously, eBay, is this how you treat a loyal, honest customer of 14 years?  I’ve never experienced such terrible customer service before.  Is it because you can’t see your customers face-to-face that you think it’s OK to treat them like crap?

Li San
Is this the face of an identity thief?

For goodness’ sake, I’m just a young lady who wants to buy nice things at a cheap price online, not a bloody identity thief!  Please learn from Amazon, because their customer service reps are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable — oh, and issues are resolved within the hour.

3 Comments

  1. Seph

    Its always like this, even my account suspended for no reason until today. any how ebay lack with competators, it there one like ebay with many people then they will bow.

    • Li San

      Seph, thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’re in the same boat as me. I couldn’t be bothered fixing the issue with eBay, and it hasn’t made that big of a difference to my life. I just purchase things from Amazon or elsewhere instead :)

  2. Alec

    Ebay’s customer service is terrible, and their site is stagnant; they have not made any beneficial changes in the past several years. They’ve not made it clear that they wish to, either. Amazon, on the other hand has added Prime, Subscribe and Save, a streaming service, and are working on drone-based shipping. They’ve streamlined the customer experience and continue to do improve. It’s only a matter of time until people begin using alternatives auction alternatives (such as Bonanza, Ubid, etc.) and eBay begins losing sales. Ebay’s revenue in 2013 was $16 Billion and the idea that they don’t have the means to organize better customer service is laughable. The great thing about a free market is that, in the long run, the best companies are the ones that will survive. It would be nice, though, to organize some kind of eBay boycott, haha.

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