Thursday 16 September 2010

Ebay ethics

Ethics begin with an E
Like most expats, I rely heavily on the Internet for my creature comforts. Greece has always been a little expensive for some things but now after incurring the wrath of the IMF and Eurozone central bank for some little accounting errors things are getting out of hand.

I started slowly with my online consumer habit doing a little Amazon from time to time but now I do Ebay. I first treated Ebay with huge caution, think about it buying from unknown entities half-way around the world and not knowing what you’ll get and if it’ll arrive at all. Often buying or bidding on stuff that’s new, used or even pinched. Think about it, there is no way such a thing could work BUT it does and it works well, in fact to date I've had less problems with ebay purchases than high-street ones. That is not to say that everything has been perfect but Ebay vendors tend to bend over backwards to rectify any dissatisfaction whereas I've had all sorts of problems with traditional retailers. So why does it work so well? In a word, trust, trust because dissatisfaction is dealt with quite harshly by Paypal and of course there is the feedback system whereby buyers can log their complaints for all to see and the vendor gets a little rating next to their name and if this drops below a certain level there is no confidence to buy.

So feedback is the key, few have 100% but there will always be a few who cannot be satisfied but in reading the comments you can usually figure out valid complaint from whinging. But lately I’ve noticed a trend for feedback rigging that has become all the more insidious.

It started with a laptop battery that I purchased from beyond the bamboo curtain, I was very happy with the purchase but I received an email from the vendor requesting 5-star feedback. As I said I was happy so I dispatched with my usual ethic of As are saved for Sundays and obliged the chap with a clean sweep of stars.

Well, the other week I found myself a couple of glasses down and alone cruising the net for all sorts of tosh when it occurred to me to search Ebay for Swiss watches (as you do!).

I found this: Swiss Automatic Mechanical 6 Hands Leather Mens Watch

There were no bids so I put in the minimum 99p and forgot about it. Two days later I got a congrats mail from Ebay.

The watch arrived a week-10 days later and I opened the padded envelope with anticipation. It was indeed automatic and the movement could been seen through a window in the back. It felt heavy and substantial BUT the strap, despite having 'genuine leather' embossed into it was from a very plastic cow. The stopwatch dials moved when the buttons were pressed, no I know what you're thinking, they didn't function when I pressed the buttons they moved one step when I pressed them. In a word it was monkey! That said, I wore the watch and told everyone of my Ebay monkey bargain, truth was it kept good time and at a cursory glance impressed but I was now in a dilemma. Do I state the item's misgivings in the feedback or not. The vendor had emailed me requiring 5-star feedback but I stuck with my ideals and left negative feedback stating that it was not as described but for the money was OK.

Then I got a mail from the vendor: 

Would you please withdraw the bad feedback for us? It is very very important for us. If your feedback stay on, eBay maybe limit my account and not allow me to sell anything. Please do us a favour. When you go to my shop next time, we are very glad to offer the item discount for you. Thank you very much for your cooperation.


    so I replied

    OK here's my dilemma. I don't want to cause you

    problems but... the strap is not leather the stop-

    watch dials are for show and do not function. Now,

    for 99p I wasn't expecting a genuine Rolex but you

    were not honest. I have an obligation to other

    ebayers to give them the truth if you will not. If

    they still choose your product, which is ok for

    the money, they will do it with open eyes.

    I have always bought from ebay without fear but if

    I do not support my fellow buyers that trust will

    break down.

    Hope you understand

    What can i do for you that you can help us to remove the feedback.


      honesty is the best policy!

      What shoud we do that you think is honesty?

      Watch is working and keeps quite good time. BUT

      stopwatch does not work because it is not intended

      to function. Strap is still not leather and i

      doubt it ever will be. The watch is still not from


      can you change any of the above.


      Hi there,

      Thank you very much for your email.

      I'm really sorry that the watch band is leather but not genuine leather, it's desgin this, and out watch are made in Hong Kong as showed in advertisment.

      I'm afrid that you can not buy a leather watch from Seitzerland just in GBP 14.98.

      Even there's no problem with the watch now, let's refund you GBP 3.00 for the inconvenience caused and you help us to remove the feedback, ok?

      What's your suggestion?

      Please accept my sincerely apology for this inconvenience.

      Looking for your reply soon.



      So at the end of the day me keeping schtum was worth 3 quid.

      Honorable gentleman take folding?

      Now here's my point, if I remove my feedback then others will and all that will remain is kind words about Jolly and his monkey watches. At what point do we begin to chip away at our integrity and what obligation do we have to others to be honest.

      Am I being prissy about this? Tell me.

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