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Friday, May 13, 2011

The Telephone Table - Part IV

Oh my goodness!
I never expected such an outpouring of love and support all because eBay kicked me to the curb.  I’m an outcast; an eBay leper and you still love me.    
I can’t thank you enough.
And my telephone table, well let’s just say my elbow was just on the mend when I turned the telephone table over while painting it and found a whole other panel of furniture staples. 
Pick, pick, pick.
One by one, I pull them out and it gives me more time to reflect on my eBay woes.
When I realized my store had been shut down, I was certain there was some mistake. 
Still, I had a feeling who had given me low ratings on the star system and I was certain this had contributed to my demise.
I had been in contact with a seller who had purchased a pair of Gap jeans from me.  These jeans were typical, nothing written inside the tag other then the size and material.
However, the customer emailed me when she received her package, outraged I had sent her a pair of Gap ankle jeans.  I emailed her back, groveling in the way us sellers do when we’re questioned about something we’ve sold and I offered her a full refund, including shipping costs.
Why did I offer her everything back?
Why was I so wimpy?
Because of eBay’s policies, I know I have no ground to stand on.  I’m literally teetering on a sinking ship.  If I refuse a refund to this customer, I’d receive negative feedback.  If I refuse to return shipping costs, I’d receive negative feedback.  I had learned it’s just easier to refund a customers money then to question/justify why their request isn't valid.
So I never questioned her supposed Ankle jeans, I didn’t even go there.

I refunded her money and although she left positive feedback, she left a low ranking on the star system for “item as described”.
I was kicked off eBay because of a pair of ankle jeans.
Does anyone know what ankle jeans are?
I’d had 3 other instances like this one.
I’d sold a pair of Girl’s XL (size 16) overalls.  The customer was certain they would fit her toddler and when they didn’t she wanted a full refund, plus shipping.  I refunded all her money, but she left me poor star ratings.
I sold a blue cocktail dress.  The seller received it and said it was more navy then blue.
She left me poor star ratings.
Out of 563 sales in December, I had 7 poor ratings, note all were positive feedbacks, but the 8th one pushed me into the point of no return.
Ankle Jeans strike me down!
Did I call eBay?
Did they listen to my concern?
It’s not like I was selling cats and sending out dogs.
I was selling Gap jeans that a customer interpreted as Ankle jeans.
“What I sell is so subjective,” I told the manager, certain he’d look through me emails, see all the money I’d refunded, recognize that I work with my customers in a professional way, but he didn’t do any of that.
He simply said because I’d preformed below standard, I could never sell on eBay again.
“Never,” I said, certain he’d misinformed me.
“Never,” he said.  “You’ll have to find some other venue to sell on.”
“What other venue?” I asked, knowing all too well there is no other website in the world like eBay.
“I can’t answer that,” he said, “But in this economy, eBay has to stay competitive with other on-line bidding sites.”
“I’ve never heard of any other on-line bidding sites,” I said, unsure what site could be giving eBay, a billion dollar company, a run for its money.
“eBay is getting strict and we only want the best of the best selling.  It sucks to be a manager because I’ve shut done thousands of accounts like yours because of this new star system, but this is the way it is.  And don't even think about opening another account.  If we find you, we'll shut you down again.”
I didn't realize eBay had it's own internal mofia?
I went around and around with this manager. 
I tried the “Please help me, I’m just a stay-at-home mom who’s making extra money for my family” card, the “I don’t understand, this is so confusing to me” card, the “I’ll report this to your supervisor” card, the “My mom’s a journalist and she’ll write about this injustice in the New York Times” card and nothing worked.
It was like dealing with the federal government.

My case was not looked at individually, basically a computer kicked me off because of one too many strikes.
What would justify kicking someone off eBay.
Maybe if that person is a terrorist?
Yes, I can see kicking them off.
Embezzling money?
Stealing identification?
Hacking into other peoples accounts?
Selling drugs?
Auctioning off their toe nail clippings?
After my call with the manager, I was left wondering what happened.
I haven’t had a traffic ticket since I was 17.
I graduated Magna Cum Laude.
I qualify for a home loan.
I pay my taxes!
And I’m not just kicked off eBay for a time, but told I can never, ever sell on eBay again.
A part of my credibility is gone, forever!

“Where do I go from here,” I said to the counselor that night after I told him my sad story, my eBay gone wrong narrative, my account of belly-up trash.
“You always find a way,” he said, my own 6’5 Polish cheerleader.
“But honey, I write about eBay on my blog.  Kelly and I are finishing up the book My Dear Trash.  How can I possible do this if I’m banned from eBay?”
“You still have a story to tell and you still have other outlets to sell.”
Where else can I sell $1.00 day overalls for $40.00?
But, I know my husband is right and now I have to see which direction God wants me to go.
Maybe I’m staring at it in this telephone table.
Maybe I’m staring at it in my manuscript.
And maybe it’s staring back at me in 5 beautiful little faces.
It’s important to keep things in perspective.
Next week, I’ll share what I’ve learned and how you can protect yourself from eBay.
And, I’ll feature my telephone table because it’s just about done.


  1. I am so very sorry! That is so very scarey to me! E-bay helps us pay our bills, I'm worried now that this will happen to me! SO sorry!!!

  2. I'm so sorry! As a newbie ebayer, this scares the pants off of me! I am hoping it will supplement our income, but maybe I had better have a backup plan too.

    Thanks so much for sharing what is obviously a painful experience. I look forward to reading more about what you have learned.


  3. Iam really surprised that a lot of people havent quit selling on e-bay, because of the recent increase in fees. I can not believe that they can legally charge a FVF on shipping. I blows me away. Google online auctions..Maybe etsy???? I havent listed anything on e-bay since the increase..I really don't want to go there. Every thing happens for a reason. Something better wll come!! Take care! Rhonda

  4. I've never sold nor bought anything on ebay and I never will now. I do follow your blog and am outraged on your behalf.

    But here's the thing.... this "challenge" is how the world moves forward. Perhaps it's time to set up your own one woman ebay type online store. The hardest part is going to be getting the site recognized by the consumer, but I know you can do it. There are incentives to offer customers to spread the word, and your blog is great advertising.

    That may not be the solution, but my money is on you discovering the next best thing in online sales.

    Go, Laura!

  5. This is horrifying, I just don't understand how eBay can stay viable if they continue down this road. They are going to lose so SO many sellers. Thats money in their pockets, it really defies logic. Also why does your store still show you as a registered user? Are they afraid to actually put you as a nonregistered name as it will make people ask questions?

  6. Hello Dhamma. I was told I could still buy off eBay, but I could no longer sell. I'm going to be shutting down my account anyway.

  7. From what I have read of your story, I would not take this personally. You have a wonderful blog and have done a wonderful job on Ebay. It sounds like this is a big money corporation not looking out for you, but for it's own financial interests. It is all about Ebay, and no compassion or interest in your feelings. I would take this as a lesson that only makes you stronger and makes you fight even more for your dreams. I agree with afistfullofweeds* to
    look into Etsy. That is a great website. Good luck with your next dream.

  8. I wanted to email you earlier and ask you about this. I stopped selling a couple of years ago because of this new "buyer friendly" attitude. I've also refunded money, bent over backwards to right some "wrong" and they left me neg. feedback anyway! It's NOT RIGHT! I then found CL and have LOVED it. I sold clothes on ebay, but started selling "junk" and old architectural salvage on CL. I also learned NOT to leave any feedback until the buyer left me feedback first. Ebay has gotten away from what it started out being. I wondered back about a month ago when I found your site if you had had any "trouble" like you are mentioning now. I am sooo sorry but I do LOVE your site!!!! You've been an inspiration!

  9. I agree with what everyone else has said! Like Cindy said, it's how the world moves forward. You have really done all you could/can to make Ebay work, so it must be time for a new avenue. That doesn't make this nice, or fair though. Sounds to me like Ebay is stirring up a revolution... perhaps you can be part of it! I think you are fantastic for sharing your journey with us. Keep it up.

  10. You have no idea how sorry i am !

  11. I've had those same kind of customers on Ebay. I stopped selling there. They know what kind of power they have and they abuse it. And, while I haven't been kicked off Ebay.. I was kicked of FB once for the same thing. .. a computer making decisions rather than a person. It's so devastating and hurtful and I'm very sorry.

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  13. eBay not trying to remedy a situation because of THEIR star ratings is ridiculous - almost makes me not want to start selling on there again. Sorry this has happened to you. FYI: Etsy is strictly for handmade or vintage items, so most of your clothing probably could not be sold on there - I looked at going that route, as well.

  14. I would call back and talk to another person and then another person if that person won't help you. You never know and I have known of it working.

  15. I would share this link to Ebay and the fact that you are writing a book.

    This is crazy!!! And scary. They have too much power now. Maybe we all need to favour another auction site and make it really popular.

  16. Laura -- My experience with Ebay so far has been, the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Call them again. Ask for Trust and Safety. You'll get a different CSR and they may be able to help you. I was given selling limits in the beginning, and I reached the limit and they put a hold on my account. Could sell the rest of what was in auction, but nothing else, for 30 days. That's what I was told one day. The next day, pretty much the same thing. The next day, talked to Trust and Safety and she worked with me.
    Try it. You have nothing to lose.

  17. Laura, I agree with the previous commentor. Ebay is very flawed, you should call back. It seems to me that it doesn't make sense to kick off someone with over a 5000 fb with only what 3 negs? That star system is stupid. I can see not letting you have the powerseller thing or whatever but if you only have 3 negs, that I am sure is an over 99% positive rating. I know I have seen sellers with lower ratings than that. How is it that the star system can trump the fb system, not right. I would definitely call. Although you I am sure are frustrated, hurt etc. think about it in business terms and money making potential. It's definitely worth a couple calls. Wishing you all the best, Rebecca

  18. You guys should start your own online bidding site. I began selling on ebay after reading your blog and, although, I don't make nearly the money you do, usually I can bring in a few hundred bucks a month. Their fees are killing me though. You have an amazing following and your own auction site would kick ass. I'd be there.

  19. Wow, I can't believe they actually told you that you could never sell on ebay again. Can't you open an account in your husband's name? I sell clothes on ebay once in awhile and just received an email today from a newbie buyer telling me that skirt she had bought from me wasn't white. I had it listed as "pink / peach". Ugh! I'm thinking "are you kidding me?"

    I hope you can figure something out, eBay is definitely going downhill!

  20. I sold on eBay for several years until about four years ago when their fee system first started changing and increasing significantly. My kids were getting older and life was getting busier anyway. Every time I think about getting back into it I hear a story like yours. Makes me glad I got out of it. If you have any consignment stores in your area you should look into selling your clothing through them. Here we sometimes have special consignment sales. I've never tried it, but I know others that have done well at them. Good luck!

  21. I don't understand how eBay would know if you opened another account with another person. Put the account in your husbands name. or your neighbors or what ever. I hope you can work it out. I'm glad you don't spend a lot on inventory.
    I have items to sell and have had my first "goofy" customer. I hope she doesn't mess me up. eeek
    Can you have a store that sells used clothes on Amazon ?
    ~ Christie

  22. Wow that is mind boggling. I didn't realize that they policed things with such a heavy hand!

  23. are you sure that you cant open an account thru your husbands name? thats what i did!!!!! please dont give up !! i need you ! you and kelly inspired me to keep on going!

  24. Ebay is not what it was when I started on there @12 years ago.
    Buyers have all the advantages, although the sellers are the ones who have made ebay rich! aargh, it grinds my gears and I am sorry this happened to you:(

  25. You have inspired many people to sell on e-bay, promoting their business the whole time. So sorry about how they handled this. They need sellers in order to have the buyers. Shame on them. Yes, God has other BIGGER plans for you!

  26. This makes me so angry! But I was thinking, every good book (I'm referring to My Dear Trash) has a twist, and this would definitely be it! This is the perfect opportunity to illustrate overcoming adversity (ankle jeans, sheesh!!!) and not to rely on the assumed integrity of a huge corporation.

    When I started selling thrifted outfits, I specifically avoided ebay b/c I didn't want to pay fees, and I feel as though its somewhat saturated with items. I tried Etsy but as someone pointed out, clothing has to be either handmade or vintage. Then I discovered It's not perfect, but it's free! Now I'm also posting my outfits on (also free). They are integrated with Facebook so I'm hoping to get more exposure that way. The trick is marketing your items (which ebay essentially does for you), but you have already built that with this blog! You're halfway there woman, you just don't know it yet! Down with Ebay!!! Hugs!

    Amber Lena Fashion
    outfits FOR SALE from $10!

  27. A couple of other sites you might consider selling on are Addoway & Bonanza! I would also keep calling....Hugs!

  28. If Ebay makes the rules up as they go along do the same.
    Google stealth unlinkable Ebay and Paypal accounts.
    I have 5 accounts they can not link back to me. If they shut down one I open another. Ebays tracking methods are easily defeated, Avoid Paypal as well as they are a horror story run by the same Indian people you wasted your time on the phone with.