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Ebay says that it is merely a “platform” where buyers and sellers can meet and so it has no financial responsibility towards its buyers. Occasionally it may help a buyer to recoup losses but it is a long drawn-out process.
The recent court victory by the Louis Vuitton Group does not seem to have affected ebay in any way and it has stated that it is to lodge an appeal. For those of you who may not have heard about the Louis Vuitton case, here is a brief summary:
A French court has ordered eBay to pay 40m euros (£31.6m; $63m) to luxury goods group LVMH ( Louis Vuitton Möet Hennessy) for allowing online auctions of fake copies of its goods. LVMH claimed that eBay’s French site had not done enough to stop the sale of counterfeit bags and perfumes. The brands affected include Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Givenchy. An eBay statement said LVMH was trying to “protect uncompetitive commercial practices at the expense of consumer choice”.
As fatuous arguments go, this is in the top five. What they are appear to be saying is this :
“We are providing a platform for counterfeit goods to be sold because it is in the consumer’s interest. We are the good guys and we do our best.”
Ebay charges fees through its listing fees and through Paypal and has made millions from the sale of fake goods. Ebay claims that it has invested £20m over the last two years in a project to remove counterfeit goods.
It has a system system called VeRO, or Verified Rights Owner, which is meant to let luxury brands report any suspicious listings which can then be removed from auction. Our experience of this “system” is that it appears to be a cottage industry within eBay and is reactive rather than proactive.
That means that if you try and sell a counterfeit item, you are likely to be safe, unless someone complains.
Spygun’s dealings with eBay suggest that they are not a bad bunch of people, i.e. there is no “naughtiness with intent”.
However, they do very little to inspire confidence – especially the management. It may be that the current set of management skills within the company is out of sync with the current size and growth rate of the business. That happens sometimes – if a company is expanding at a rate of knots, it takes time for the personnel within that company to catch up. No doubt, over the next few years, eBay will be importing the skills set that it needs.
At present, senior management has removed itself from the outside world and if you are a client of eBay, there is no way that you will be able to speak to anyone except someone who is only authorised in eBay’s “cut-and-paste” style of communication.
Even “one-up” supervisors rarely speak to the outside world. The modus operandi appears to be for the front-line troops to talk to clients and if there is a question that is not in the manual, they go away for a few minutes, speak to someone who knows and then attempt to regurgitate what they have been told to say. The problem for the customer self-amplifies whenever there is more than one question.
Spygun has emailed Senior Management at eBay on several occasions and is still awaiting the first written response. I’ve had a couple of phone calls from the Executive Escalations office – I suppose that the Exec Escalations people are the equivalent of the Pope’s Cardinals. After all, one does not expect an email from the Pope.
The only suggestions are : If you are telephoning ebay, prepare a flask of coffee, a box of sandwiches and possibly a book or magazine. Secondly, if you want a query to be answered by email, develop a taste for badly-written blandishments. Whether you write to the CEO or “Trust and Safety” of Customer Services” – it is always the same person who seems to cut-and-paste the reply.
Ebay is a rapidly-improving exponent of a culture of “Teflon management”. That is to say that when it suits them, they are only “the man in the middle” and never an accessory to any crime. Nothing sticks – not even to the fan.
Here’s a lovely quote from eBay:
“Any inconvenience that this situation may have brought you is deeply regretted. I also apologise for the confusion brought by the previous response.
Please be advised that eBay is only a “platform” for this transaction.
We are not trying to avoid potential responsibilities but just clarifying our role. We are not exactly the “seller” of this item. We only bring buyers and sellers together.”
I have put together a Case Study based on ebay’s dealing with a recent selling/buying problem that Spygun experienced . I will publish it soon and it is hilarious!
Spygun would love to meet whoever wrote the eBay “Book of Words”.
I bet she was at Woodstock.