eBay Trust & Safety & Live Help Fails Miserably – Cornerstone Commercial Supply Update

This is a follow up to: Communication Should Be Open And Live Help Communication at eBay

Cornerstone Supply

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?

Damages?

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.

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0 Responses to eBay Trust & Safety & Live Help Fails Miserably – Cornerstone Commercial Supply Update

  1. Sue @ TameBay July 14, 2008 at 10:18 am #

    I wish I could be surprised by any of this. It’s an extreme example, but it’s by no means unusual: I’ve been talking recently to one seller, for example, who was suspended for 30 days, allowed back, and has now been restricted… and he STILL doesn’t know what the problem is. eBay will not tell him. I do not understand the logic behind that stance one little bit.

  2. Cliff Aliperti July 14, 2008 at 12:26 pm #

    Hey Scott,

    Sorry this happened, I’m with Sue though, not surprised.

    Back when eBay banned cash payments I had a similar experience. Try as you might, eBay doesn’t really provide the greatest tools to hunting and eliminating banned references from “inside” your listings (which is why I was in such a panic over the new links policy–for all I know I still have listings with links inside them, but I tried my best!).

    Back then I just had a line mentioning “cash payments” accepted from outside the U.S. at the time of the ban. I eliminated it, in what at the time was over 5,000 listings, and I eliminated all of these references by whatever their deadline was at the time. I missed about a dozen references to cash payments.

    When you relist individual items through eBay it warned you that there was a use of a banned word, and I’d go in and change it if this happened–but I didn’t list that way all that often. Instead, I used eBay’s bulk relist inside Selling Manager and it issued no such warning.

    So I had a handful of listings removed by eBay at the time, even a couple which didn’t make references to cash payments being accepted, but were instead article titles I had listed from inside the magazine back issues being sold which just used the word “cash” in the titles.

    In the end eBay gave me a 3-day vacation from selling (they didn’t shut down my entire account, just made it impossible to list new items). Not as bad as this month-long ban, but annoying. If I remember the incident correctly I found that when I went inside a few hours early to relist I was banned for another 24 hours just for trying to list on the site during my ban.

    It didn’t hurt much in the long run, but I really worried at the time that it would tarnish my reputation with customers attempting to buy during the 3-day period.

    So yeah, I agree, a little communication would have gone a long way.

  3. Henrietta July 14, 2008 at 12:33 pm #

    Nothing surprising about this at all. Most small (low feedback) sellers would simply have given up and gone away.

    Here is the big thing, this is the organization which is going to anonymize communication between you and YOUR buyers. They are going to anonymise it so thoroughly the buyer’s email address will not even appear in PayPal.

  4. Michael @ CharmLinda July 16, 2008 at 12:18 pm #

    Ebay seems to stick their head in the sand on many issues that are simple. Think of the money wasted and lost by this. By both ebay and the seller. Multiply that by thousands. They push the DSR and customer service on us like its the holy grail.

    Ebay talks a good talk, but refuses to walk the walk.

    Its the customer service stupid!

  5. Michael @ CharmLinda July 16, 2008 at 12:25 pm #

    In reference to the ebay account being hijacked….It was….by EBAY themselves!

  6. Former Ebay Seller July 17, 2008 at 3:30 am #

    Here are numbers, where you can complain:

    http://tinyurl.com/5fopuf

    ENJOY and ring em off the hook!

  7. JJH July 17, 2008 at 3:21 pm #

    Having recently had dealings with T&S over “unwelcome buying” and the absolute secrecy in their response to the complaint (worthless) and having a listing yanked for “Keyword spamming” for using “like new” in a title, this story makes me both laugh and cry. The trust and safety department is worthless. I will not waste my time trying to contact them again. They were of no help in both cases, and lied to me in both cases. They are worse than the CIA and other secret national security agencies.

  8. roo July 21, 2008 at 12:10 pm #

    Scott,

    This case is similar to something ongoing with my Dad’s account. He has over 36,000 items in his eBay Store, and was hit with decreased visibility starting in May.

    After numerous hours with T&S, they alerted him to the fact that he was violating rules regarding “Western Union” being offered in his listings.

    The problem is, that he is NOT offering “Western Union”. He simply has a statement going back to about 2003 in several hundred GTC listings that says he will NOT accept cash or Western Union.

    The problem is robots. The robots can’t tell the difference between NOT Western Union and We Accept Western Union.

    Furthermore, eBay will NOT identify the listings that are in violation for him. I even brought this to the attention of T&S at eBay Live (with Brian Burke in the center of the group I was speaking to), asking them for ANY way to identify the listings so that the changes could be made. They said it was impossible – my Dad had to go through 36,000 listings one by one.

    So, while fixing a problem like this is part of the issue, and their communication is another part, the core of the issue is eBay’s robots. They are flagging sellers who have really not caused a problem, and in fact the robots themselves ARE the problem.

    Please get a response from eBay on what they plan to do about either discontinuing policing by robots that don’t work, or fixing the mess they make QUICKLY when they fail.

    roo

  9. JellyBellyWorld August 4, 2008 at 2:01 pm #

    Today I closed my eBay account, this company makes EVERY attempt NOT to communicate with its sellers. The new feedback system is a joke, I had a winning bidder attempt to scam me and when they could keep the merchandise and get the money they placed on hold from me by filing with Paypal that the item was not as described. Paypal saw that the winning bidder, who was told to return the item shipped to them so the seller could verify what they were stating. The winning bidder gave Paypal a bogus tracking number and Paypal quickly saw past that attempt deception. The winning bidder, knowing they didn’t get what they wanted attacked my eBay account by leaving negative feedback but also attacked what are called DSR numbers……this is a new system ebay has designed so they can grade sellers in four catagories…..if the winning bidder wants to lie, they can, eBay has told them all this will be done secretly so the seller will never know what is happening. EBAY has seemingly made ever effort to create problems for their sellers, when I and others have attempted to talk to anyone of any real depth of information for assistance………NOTHING. NO REPLIES FROM EBAY. I MADE PHONE CALLS ASKING, PLEASE CALL ME. NOTHING. I EMAILED TRUST AND SAFETY MULTIPLE TIME…….THE TRUST AND SAFETY DEPARTMENT IS A JOKE, THEY ARE BUSY SENDING OUT FORM EMAILS AND NOT ANSWERING REAL QUESTIONS. AS FOR MY ACCOUNT?? THIS SCAMMER LEFT ME NEGATIVE FEEDBACK, WHICH EBAY HAS BEEN SAYING…..WE ARE NOW LOOKING CLOSER WHEN SELLERS STATE THEY RECEIVED UNJUST FEEDBACK AND WILL REMOVE IT. EBAY TRUST AND SAFETY TOLD ME TO GET LEGAL COUNSEL AND OBTAIN A COURT ORDER TO GET THE LIES LEFT BY THIS WINNING BIDDER REMOVED. A LAWYER AND GO TO COURT??????? HOW MUCH WILL THAT COST AT THE VERY LEAST??? MAYBE $200-$300 ????? EBAY HAS BECOME MORE AND MORE OF A JOKE FOR RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS ON, THEY ARE TELLING SELLERS…….WE HAVE STANDARDS FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE THAT WE EXPECT YOU TO MEET, IF YOU FALL BELOW THAT CUSTOMER SERVICE LEVEL WE WILL TAKE YOUR LISTINGS AND LOWER THEIR VISABILITY ON OUR WEBSITE. HOW IS EBAY, A COMPANY WITH SUCH HORRIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE, SERIOUSLY LOOK WITH A STRAIGHT FACE AND SAY……….WE ARE THE ONES THAT WILL SET THE BAR FOR STANDARDS THAT YOU MUST MEET………..EVEN IF EBAY DOES NOT. THIS COMPANY IS TOTALLY OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY, I WILL NO LONGER SELL ON EBAY ONLY BECAUSE IT MANIPULATES AND PRODUCES LIES AND GOES UNCHECKED BY ANY OUTSIDE SOURCES. IT ANSWERS TO NOBODY BUT THEMSELVES AND DON’T FEEL THE NEED TO BE CUSTOMER FRIENDLY BECAUSE THEY DON’T NEED TO……..ATLEAST THEY ARE THINKING THAT. EBAY WILL LOSE MARKET SHARE TO OTHER WEBSITES AND WILL CONTINUE ON ITS DOWNWARD MOVEMENT FOR THE SIMPLE FACTS………..THEY DON’T COMMUNICATE, THEY MAKE NO EFFORT TO COMMUNICATE AND HAVE MADE EVERY ATTEMPT FOR PEOPLE TO EASILY COMMUNICATE THEIR COMPANY. THEY JUST DON’T WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU OR ME………… I THINK EBAY ONLY WANTS…………..OUR MONEY. SHUT UP, DON’T EMAIL US, DON’T CALL US………JUST GIVE US YOUR MONEY.

  10. hgunz77 August 18, 2008 at 9:51 pm #

    Here is my horror story, I had move from nextel to verizon and decided to sell the old phone. The old phone was pretty beat but in good working order, So I decided to sell the phone for parts for whatever I can get and the sale was final. Some buyer purchased the phone for $45. The buyer decided to write a negative feedback and afterward demand that I replaced the phone with a new one at my cost. A new phone was $300. I did not agree to his demand. The buyer complaint to paypal and after 60 days paypal did not honor a refund because it was correctly described on the auction. On the same day the buyer created several fake users on ebay and purchased all the items I had for sale on ebay. The buyer then wrote negative feedback for all of them. One item in particular was purchased and in 2 minutes a negative feedback was written. For this Ebay trust & Safety decided to block my account for seller performance.
    For the last 4 month I have tried contacting the trust & safety at leat 8 or 9 time. I produced everything I had from the paypal email and case number to the previous buyer’s threatening emails. They have had me fax personal information. I have contacted their live help.
    Absolutely no use. My account is still blocked and I have lost all my listing fees just because someone attempted to scam me for a new phone. I have been on ebay since 2001 and it has been the saddest situation I have ever seen with Ebay. Ebay has turn in to a disaster.

    I really don’t know of any other site to go. They have quite the monopoly in the trading area.

  11. Former Ebay Seller August 21, 2008 at 12:43 am #

    New video: Ebay tools exposed:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwPLD60CgFY

    They found the video and it is like world war III in there, come see.

  12. Payt Pryor October 27, 2008 at 2:42 pm #

    THE TRUST AND SAFETY DEPARTMENT IS ANTI-SELLER, ANTI-BUSINESS AND ANTI-RESPONSE; WHEN YOU HAVE A PROBLEM; THEY SEND A GENERIC LETTER; AND THREATEN TO SUSPEND YOU , IF YOU CONTINUE TO CONTACT THEM(EVEN THOUGH THEY DO NOT ANSWER A “SINGLE CONCERN YOU EXPRESS OR ANSWER A SINGLE POINT THAT YOU MAKE”; DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR; THE EBAY TRUST AND SAFETY DEPARTMENT IS PREVENTING SELLERS FROM LISTING(THAT IS WHY FOR ONE REASON THEY ARE ANTI-BUSINESS) THEY ARE ANTI-BUSINESS ALSO , BECAUSE, YOU CANNOT HAVE MORE THAN ONE SELLER NAME; WITHOUT BEING SUSPENDED: WHY? T THEY SAY , BECAUSE YOU ARE UNDERMINING THE EBAY SPIRIT AND INTEGRITY(WHAT!!!! WE , THE SELLER ARE ATTEMPTING TO SELL ON YOUR FOOLISH SITE; FORGET IT; SOMEBODY NEEDS TO SUE OR INVESTIGATE THE EBAY TRUST AND SAFETY DEPARTMENT AND RID IT OF THE COMMUNISTS!!!!!

  13. Bob the Seller November 20, 2008 at 12:34 pm #

    EBAY’S NEEDS TO LAYOFF ALL TRUST AND SAFTETY DEPARTMENT PERSONELL…WHY?? THEY KICK HONEST SELLERS OFF WITHOUT ANY RECOURSE. . HOW ONE WAY IS THAT!!!!!
    SECONDLY, WITH THE LISTING ENDING POLICY : THE VERO MEMBER: GET THIS!! DOES NOT EVEN HAVE TO REPLY OR CONTACT A SELLER ; WITH A “WHY OR REASON” THEY REQUESTED ENDINGS. . WHAT IS HAPPENING IS EBAY’S T&S DEPARTMENT IS ENABLING SELLERS TO BECOME VERO MEMBERS AND THOSE NOW “OFFICIAL VERO MEMBERS” ARE KICKING OFF”OTHER COMPETING SELLERS”!!!
    THE EBAY TRUST DEPT HAS MADE THIS POSSIBLE . . YOU MAY BE NEXT. . MOVE TO ANOTHER SITE!!!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Phone Support Number- Customer Care From eBay? « Trading Assistant Journal - July 17, 2008

    […] yet to speak with a real person. All in all, I appreciate the effort, especially after the recent 20 Day Trust & Safety Cornerstone Commercial Supply debacle.  Connie Carpenter of Cornerstone sure could have used this […]

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