First off, if you have not already done so, please read the first two articles about Cornerstone Supply's eBay seller account mystery block by following the links above...
OK, back now? I have been sipping some coffee, waiting patiently... Good Coffee
Now that you are "up to speed" on what has transpired previously with our client Cornerstone Commercial Supply... I must apologize, because our last article left you the reader hanging, with Cornerstone blocked from listing on eBay and eBay not returning calls or emails for over 10 days...
Lets end this cliff hanger!
Let me first reveal happily, Cornerstone Supply is now back listing items and selling on eBay! The block has been removed...
The pressure is off, the clients eBay block has been removed! Yet eBay Trust & Safety still has not returned an email or a telephone call.
That's right! We have now over 20 days have elapsed, without a single reply from Trust & Safety (promised reply within 24-72 hours). (eBay never even confirmed the block had been removed, when we found the cause of the problem).
Why Was Cornerstone Blocked from Selling on eBay?
We received many fine suggestions from the community of eBay sellers about why Cornerstone's listings might be blocked?
- Some said it was the video which displayed a link to a free video editing program - removed those videos, that was not it...
- Some said it was the telephone number and address in each listing... Not the problem
- Some said it could have been the linking to suppliers from the me page - nope...
- Others suggested interesting and odd things, but basically everyone was off base by just a smidge...
Since I could not get any information from eBay, and believe me, I tried... And the client Connie Carpenter tried... Remember Connie? The Christian Missionary?
Connie said this in an email to me... "It still upsets me that we have not received any e-mails or communication from eBay at all. I think they needed to talk to us and let us know what is going on. I have e-mailed them once and you e-mailed them. You did a live chat and I did 2 live chats. I even talked to a supervisor and was promised I would get a response from them. Absolutely nothing. That furiates me. At least it is fixed"
Yes, it is fixed, but really, we can not give eBay any credit for helping us resolve what ended up being a very minor problem in Cornerstone's listings, which in turn became a two week ordeal and loss of income.
eBay started out by giving us some very well documented stone walling.
After our attempts at normal channel communications, I made some high level inquiries within eBay corporate via some friends I happen to have. Unfortunately I do not have a direct Trust and Safety hot-line or contact.
Apparently, neither do my friends at eBay corporate headquarters in San Jose (who will go nameless). My friends and contacts were also powerless against the "black hole" of communication which encircles eBay Trust & Safety.
One of my friends at eBay did return with what he said was direct word from Trust & Safety....
This "word" was that my clients account had been compromised.
The account had been breached by a hacker in Romania and... even if they had received any contact from the eBay member, they could not respond, because it could be the hacker trying to breach their security. Now this sounded serious, yet fantastical.
- If a Romanian hacker had breached Cornerstone Commercial Supplies account, why had there not been any fraudulent buying or selling? - There had not been...
- If eBay or eBay Trust & Safety had enough concern about this situation to block the account from selling, why would they not also block the account from buying or transacting any business at all?
- If eBay Trust & Safety was so concerned and they could not communicate via email with the account holder because of this breach in security, why did they not pick up the phone to call the customer at the established business telephone number, on file with eBay and posted on each and every page of the eBay store?
- Why not call immediately to tell the eBay client, the eBay member, eBay's customer, that they have a possible security problem which could also reach into other aspects of their business and life?
- Why not contact the business for over 20 days? Are they trying to catch the Romanian red handed in the account?
The answer is simple, there was never any Romanian, no security breach, and my friend at eBay was lied to by someone at Trust and Safety. Simple as that...
Why do I know this?
Because I worked at figuring out why my clients listings were blocked by eBay. None of this made any sense and when eBay did not respond for over 10 days, I stopped waiting for them to help us with an answer.
- The answer would have been so simple to give...
- The answer was not a breach of security, it was no massive violation...
- The answer was one word.
Turns out, it was as simple as that... Cornerstone, as do all my clients, uses default text for payment preferences, shipping information, return policies and the like. This information is entered as defaults in our AuctionLogic software suite for each client.
Bidpay was a payment processor accepted on eBay until they went out of business in December 2007.
Effective December 31, 2007, BidPay.com, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of CyberSource Corporation, discontinued operations.
eBay decided it would tell sellers that they must remove all references to Bidpay in the payment options text for each auction or listing. We did this... But we missed one instance in another tab where this word existed in Cornerstone's listings. The word Bidpay had been inserted somehow in the shipping information. No link, no fraud, no real breach of security...
Just one word... BIDPAY
Yes, eBay had said they would need this reference removed in a general statement some time ago. But they never told Cornerstone this was the problem preventing them from listing on eBay. The "Live Help" person could have revealed this information on the first day of the block when we contacted eBay to find out why listings had been blocked. I mean, really... why all the cloak and dagger tactics with Trust and Safety?
Bidpay is no longer in business!
No one could possibly lose money or process a payment through this non-existent payment service, so why was this a T&S issue at all? Why does eBay consider the mere mention of a defunct payment processor, buried within the shipping terms of a small business, reason to shut that business down and not tell them why for over 20 days? Are they that protective of PayPal that the mere mention of a former competitor can cause this much damage?
My client, one of eBay's newest brick and mortar small business customers, is very disappointed in eBay's role in this fiasco.
Yes, we missed a word in Cornerstone's default listing text, our bad... But with all of the possibilities of what could have been the problem, from videos, to me page links, to suppliers and then Romanian hackers (information provided directly from eBay - incorrectly), who was looking for one small word?
And how easy it could have been for the person at "Live Help" to have said.. "Oh yes, your account is blocked because your mentioning a former competitor of PayPal who is no longer in business in the shipping section of your default terms & conditions with font size 8 text and no link". "There's your problem"
We would have said, "oh.. wow, OK eBay, that's an easy fix, lemme get rid of that nasty little word for you right now". We would have resolved this problem in 10 mins instead of about 2 weeks and dozens of hours on the line with "Live Help" and in writing emails to Trust and Safety. Why would this small problem be so highly guarded and protected from the only people who could resolve it? The eBay seller controls the text in each listing, so why not communicate with the seller to say... "Seller - We Have a Problem", remove this text from your listing.
COMMUNICATION - ALL WE NEEDED
We needed to hear something from eBay, some kind of information that was not disinformation or ominous references to "Trust and Safety must speak with you about this issue". When the stated policy is to return emails within 24-72 hours, how can eBay justify a 20 day and counting lack of communication? How can eBay possibly tell its sellers that we need to communicate better with our buyers, when instances like this one, are not rare at all when dealing with eBay San Jose?
Cornerstone Supply could not really show any significant damages in this case, (unless stress and worry are considered) simply because they are so new and they don't yet sell a massive volume of goods. Frankly, the people at Cornerstone are not at all interested in such discussions, they simply wanted to try and continue to build the eBay business they had started. They wanted to know how to fix the problem, and how to avoid it in the future.
They never found out... Because eBay never bothered to call or write.
Step it up eBay - fix your own communications problems, before determining the sellers need to fix anything else. We can not work with you, if you will not even speak with us.