Americans For Open Records (AmFOR) is against "secret" policies and practices, not only in government but ALSO in private sector business, including on eBay. AmFOR's Petition to Stop Ebay's Illegal Business Practices (copy below) is at www.causes.com/campaigns/72001-stop-ebay-illegal-business-practices. "Like" us on Facebook at Facebook.com/EbaySecretPolicies.
On 12/2/15, AmFOR mailed the following COVER LETTER, PETITION and list of 313 SIGNERS to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
– and apparently it worked to force eBay to change some of it’s policies such as banning Buyers who exceed their secret quota roadblock for justified returns and refunds.
TO THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
Americans For Open Records (AmFOR), and the undersigned, believe eBay Corporation utilizes vague or secret policies, practices and quotas, in a manner contrary to its User Agreement at pages.ebay.com/help/policies/user-agreement.html and contrary to Fair Trade laws and practices. This Petition details some complaints regarding eBay "secret" policies and practices including: a policy that rewards high volume Sellers who misrepresent items for sale, and bans low volume Buyers who seek a refund for misrepresented items via eBay's alleged "Buyer Protection." We also suggest a law requiring promptly notifying users of security breach. And so we invite comments and further complaints on this Petition page, along with eBay policy updates, for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate.
SECURITY BREACH POLICY
There is no nationwide law forcing companies to notify customers of data breaches by hackers, and most companies, including eBay, are vague about the extent of the damage. On May 21, 2014, eBay posted a notice acknowledging "a cyber attack that compromised the eBay user database" which contains our encrypted password, but eBay did not send out emails to all users, misled users that "we believe your account is secure," yet asked all users to "change the password," not only on eBay but also on every site where we used the same password." Even worse, eBay REFUSED to immediately close my 0-balance accounts on demand, (Account closure request SR: 1-26924454359 SR# 1-26924454359) citing a variety of contradictory policies, including that their automated system preventing closing accounts "for 30 days," or "for 180 days," or "several months," or "forever" (they seem not to know which), rendering an account "dormant but not closed" and therefore our personal and financial information still remains vulnerable. We request that the Free Trade Commission and others propose and support laws requiring prompt and direct notification of security breaches, immediate closing on demand of $0-balance paid accounts, especially upon discovery of a well-publicized breach, and provision of free credit reporting as Target did when they had a similar massive breach and as attorney-investigators have recommended at www.webpronews.com/ebay-hack-leads-to-official-investigation-by-multiple-states-2014-05.
SECRET, ARBITRARY, POLICIES and QUOTAS THAT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST LOW VOLUME BUYERS WHILE REWARDING FRAUD BY HIGH VOLUME SELLERS
In 2015, eBay announced another new draconian policy to take effect in 2016, but which is already being implemented. It allows Sellers to accumulate "negative" Buyer Feedback, sell items "not as described" or "never received by the Buyer" if satisfactorily resolved with the Buyer, but also, if the Seller is unwilling to refund so that there is no resolution, and the Buyer opts to utilize eBay's "Buyer Protection" by opening a case seeking a refund, the Buyer is permanently "suspended" from buying or selling on eBay. Ebay's announced policy already being enforced is as follows:
"Starting February 20, 2016, Seller performance will be measured by the following metrics:
- Defect rate: A new simplified defect rate will include just Seller-canceled transactions and cases that are closed without seller resolution. The following will no longer impact your defect rate: ◦Buyer feedback, including negative and neutral
- Detailed Seller ratings (DSRs)
- Items not as described requests (including returns) that are successfully resolved with your buyer [yet Buyer is banned for refunds]
- Items not received requests that are successfully resolved with your buyer"
How can Buyer and Seller "work out" a dispute when the Buyer knows she will be banned if she prevails and accepts a refund? Since the Buyer can only know that the item is "not as listed" AFTER paying and receiving the item, the Seller's error or deliberate misrepresentation is rewarded by exemption from "Fair Trade" policies and rules while I, as Buyer with 100% Positive Feedback score and "Above Standard" performance, was prohibited from receiving proof of allegations resulting in my being "banned" like a criminal for requesting a $12 refund-- even though the suspension prevented Customer Service from completing the claim process so there was no Buyer Protection refund from eBay but I easily obtained the refund from PayPal instead. If WalMart refused justified refunds, they would lose customers. If an Insurance Company cancels you for making a claim, that's illegal. This is more than "Buyer Beware" -- It not only encourages and rewards Seller fraud, it makes eBay complicit in the fraud by favoring the perceived bigger fish over the victimized Buyer. And the FTC needs to investigate this fishy practice.
HIDDEN DOUBLE FEES
Since early 2012, as if folks weren't having a tough enough time staying afloat in a sinking economy, eBay has been charging Sellers 9% of Seller's COST for shipping -- at the same time representing that eBay is discounting Postage COST and Tracking if purchased via eBay, and hiding any mention of the double charges on a hard-to-find sub-page of it's "Seller Fees" page. The U.S. Postal Service's email response to was that they didn't find it a violation of Postal Service policy -- including the USPS policy about "fair and equally applied fees." But hiding a secret policy until the puzzling fee shows up on one's eBay Seller' monthly Invoice just compounds the shameful practice.
SHILL BIDDING STILL RAMPANT
If you Google the words "ebay shill bidding" you''ll find numerous websites with complaints of shill bidding on eBay, including alleged "legal" shill bidding by consignors, going back to 2011. This "unfair trade practice" steals from both Buyers and competing Sellers. If you found recent evidence of shill bidding on eBay, please post your Comment below so it can be investigated by the FTC.
One eBay Buyer posted: "I have lost over $4,000 to a 'Power Seller' who laughed when I tried to reason with him and had no fear of eBay recrimination as he felt secure in his 'Power Seller' status. And we all know the reality, eBay does nothing and really could care less as long as they get their cut of any transaction. All the rest is simply window dressing… Ebay chooses to hide under the desk in any problem, claiming they are simply a conduit between a Buyer and Seller thus have no responsibility for the outcome of any transaction that takes place on the gateway they provide… creating a status of 'Power Seller' as the best, most worthy, most trusted Sellers and so carefully and craftily created 'Protection and Safety,' actually protecting the unscrupulous Sellers by allowing them to use phony IDs which eBay does not bother to verify, thus creating a perfect platform for fraud and criminal activity…
RESTRAINT OF TRADE, PRICE FIXING, TARGETED CONSUMERS
Under eBay's User Agreement section captioned "Abusing eBay," they may restrict or suspend your membership "if we think that you are acting inconsistently with the letter or spirit of this User Agreement or our policies" Nowhere does eBay explain that the "spirit" is that of a "rewards system" which not only requires that Sellers and Buyers produce a secret "quota" or dollar amount of profit for eBay but also penalizes those who do not....for example:
Posted at an eBay forum: " I have found major discrepancies regarding who is being allowed to sell different high dollar and popular items on ebay. and eBay is keeping the actual policy and its implementation TOP SECRET! EBay's Trust and Safety Department and Customer Service will not provide a member with a copy of the policy document, what type of limits and blocks are being put on their account, and why their account has been targeted.... the response sent by customer service to me is accusatory, slanderous, libelous, and is a personal attack on my character.... This policy is not being used to protect buyers! It is being used to hurt Ebay members that who are not 'Power Sellers' and are being discriminated against by eBay! ":
Arbitrary Seller restrictions on selling designer goods has the reverse effect of "Price Fixing" HIGHER prices (and therefore higher fees for ebay) by allowing only their "Power Sellers" to sell such items at higher prices. I attempted to sell a "pre-owned" pair of Coach designer shoes for $15 that originally cost about $100 new and listed it as such. Ebay removed my listing with a message stating in vague terms that I "exceeded a restricted quantity" of an item in any of several categories...but would not specify WHAT POLICY (specifically) I was violating and WHAT CATEGORY and WHAT SPECIFIC QUOTA AMOUNT I was limited to, even when I emailed and called to appeal, nor how ONE pair of shoes violates their quota. ...What was most aggravating was the accusatory messages telling me I was "suspended from selling for 90 days" for "violating a policy" that I WASN'T ALLOWED TO SEE. When I was let out of eBay jail, I sold the same pair of shoes for $15 on eBay by captioning the listing "C-O-A-C-H" instead of "COACH" brand which automatically triggered eBay's computer to prevent my listing from competing with higher priced new and used Coach shoes.