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Attorney Sues eBay over Negative Feedback 408

Mephie writes "MSNBC is running a story on an attorney who is suing ebay over negative feedback a seller left about him. It sounds like a classic case of buyer leaves negative feedback for seller; seller responds accordingly. The plaintiff claims he'd not be filing the suit if he didn't feel ebay's policy needs revision, stating 'They can control content and for them to fail to do so is unconscionable.' Yeah. That's great."
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Attorney Sues eBay over Negative Feedback

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  • by MissMyNewton ( 521420 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @06:55PM (#5159084)
    ...or he'll sue you too!

    ("sue you! sue everybody!" - Jerky Boys)
  • by macsox ( 236590 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @06:57PM (#5159096) Journal
    i am issuing a subpoena to all reader to be deposed in my action against CmdrTaco, et al., for damage done to my technological reputation by poor or uninformed moderation of my comments.

    it is clear that the macintosh operating system is indeed superior, indicating that a recent 'troll' moderation was slanderous, and it is too funny to make that beowulf cluster joke -- another indication of improper and damaging moderation.

    my lawyers will be in touch.
  • The comments... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2003 @06:59PM (#5159107)
    ...are the best part about eBay's system. It doesn't always work, but it seems that the honest half of the honest/dishonest feedback ratio is much higher than in normal venues.
  • by gatesh8r ( 182908 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @06:59PM (#5159110)
    "I was selling various pieces of crap, er... 'Fine Wares' and I got negative feedback from one of the sucke... er, 'buyers', and he's lying to destroy my image! SUE! SUE! SUE!"

    C'mon, you idiot. Not everyone is going to be pleased with your business, and eBay can't say "Only say positive things about the buyer, even if they screwed you over!" People have opinions, and eBay allows you to voice them on the buyer. eBay isn't going to change their policy now over something that has made them sucessful. Deal with it; not everyone's going to distrust you if you manage to keep your positive feedback up.

    • by TCaM ( 308943 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:12PM (#5159193) Homepage
      While the line may appear to be fine at times, there is a difference between libel and a simple statement of fact. If you are ripped off by someone on ebay simply document it as much as is possible. Then condense this factual information into your feedback. When you use the feedback as a tool to make statements about someone that are not provable or are a personal attack then you are veering into the area of libel or slander.
    • Cmon... even with all absurdity aside, demanding 2.5 million dollars (plus 100k from the actual comment writer) is a bit much. Is this guy so pretentious that he thinks the value to his precious reputation is worth 2.6 million total dollars? Unless this guy sells Monets, I'd say he's bidding a little high.

      If he misrepresented his items, and the buyer didn't like it, he can't very well sue the buyer for speaking the truth. Always remember that truth is the ultimate defense against slander/libel. This case, while ridiculous, should come down to the merits... either the items were misrepresented, or they were not. If the seller tried to pull a fast one, and is just upset that he got called on it, then tough... he should be countersued by all parties involved, including Ebay.

      Honest feedback is the only thing that Ebay has going for it. Think how great it would be if every place you bought stuff from (car dealers, mechanics, electronics stores, LAWYERS, etc) had this feature...
  • by instantkarma1 ( 234104 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @06:59PM (#5159112)
    Although libel is obviously not protected under "freedom of speech", the banning of certain words (such as fraud, liar, cheater, scam artist, con man) as proposed by this lawsuit, certainly lends itself to a slippery slope.

    How can individual words represent libel out of context? Who is the judge of this libel-ous words? Where does it stop?
    • The suit may not, however, also be calling for bans on words such as l1ar, ch3ater, 5cam art1st, c0n man, etc.

      The words themselves may not be libellous, but when they're put into feedback regarding a particular user, the whole statement probably is libellous. IMHO, IANAL, RTFM, RSVP, RSPCA

    • truth has always been a defense for libel. if they ask the person who left the feedback if it's true, then its not libel!

      look back to early american history!

      *the governer fucked my wife* was published (not like that, but same intent). someone responded with "its true!" and therefore not seditious libel (given this isn't seditious, but thats where we get the 1st amendment from)
  • by happyhippy ( 526970 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @06:59PM (#5159113)
    "The lawsuit also demands that buyers and sellers, who use aliases in eBay transactions, register their screen names with the state of California as fictitious business names, and that eBay be forced to collect state sales tax."

    Is this an underhanded way of getting ebay to pay tax? And the rest of it a smoke screen?

    • "The lawsuit also demands that buyers and sellers, who use aliases in eBay transactions, register their screen names with the state of California as fictitious business names, and that eBay be forced to collect state sales tax."

      OK, I'm stupid, what's a screen name?

      All I know is that I have about 20 e-mail addresses distributed over seven domains, and I never engage in any form of on-line e-chat. (Compuserve's CB system cured me of that right quick a number of years ago.)

      Oh. Screen name. AOL. Never mind...

    • Doubtful. If the users are forced to run as a business, they then become more accountable for their actions. They can be tracked down and sued, as the dirty dealer a) is a business and b) has a business presence in your state. So the next time someone ruins your auction by bidding high and then backing off, you can them sue them in federal court and force them to appear or face judgement in absentia.

      I'm not saying the lawsuit is a good thing, just that it would have that interesting side effect.
    • by raju1kabir ( 251972 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:20PM (#5159243) Homepage
      "The lawsuit also demands that buyers and sellers, who use aliases in eBay transactions, register their screen names with the state of California as fictitious business names, and that eBay be forced to collect state sales tax." Is this an underhanded way of getting ebay to pay tax? And the rest of it a smoke screen?

      Nope, exactly the opposite.

      The sales tax thing is a way of putting pressure on eBay to settle; this is a classic crooked lawyer blackmail tactic (go ahead and sue me, Grace; you're a disgrace to the profession and this is the sort of barratry that would see its perpetrator disbarred in more genteel times). It's potentially far more costly to eBay than any judgment they could reasonably expect to pay for the bogus libel claim. eBay throws him a bone, he stops making noise about the sales tax, everyone signs the papers and goes home.

      • by mrleemrlee ( 192314 ) <`ten.tsacmoc' `ta' `1eelrmeelrm'> on Saturday January 25, 2003 @09:21PM (#5159695) Homepage
        That's the problem. EBay shouldn't be the one to hold the liability for the customer's libel (if it is such). This is an area where libel law falls down in the Internet age. Historically, the owner of the printing press could be held liable for libel. However, (as Slashdot's little reminders constantly tell us), in an era when every post is its own little printing press, the Web site owner should not be held liable for the words of the customers.

        I have no problem with the feedback-leaver being sued for libel. However, holding EBay liable for its users' libel isn't the way things should work. The law must adjust to the new medium.
    • Can anyone explain how an individual has standing to obtain injunctive or declaratory relief requiring someone else to pay taxes?

      I'm not up on California law, but this part of the claim looks like a PR stunt.

  • by York the Mysterious ( 556824 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:00PM (#5159114) Homepage
    Last summer I stopped selling on eBay. I had been selling since Nov of 97 to make a few bucks on the side. I'd probably sold 2000-3000 items and 99% of the transactions went perfectly. Over that summer I had a huge number of people leaving me feedback for totally bogus reasons. People would pay with a money order with no return address and no note of what it was for even though I e-mail out detailed instructions. When I didn't mail the item (since I didn't know what the payment was for) they would just leave negative feedback without e-mailing me first. I would also get negative feedback from people a week after they made payments. They claimed I had failed to ship items even though these people were paying for parcel post mailing which takes up to 2 week sometimes. I think that there is a new wave of people on eBay that forget they are dealing with people and not businesses. Remember catalogs quote 4-6 weeks. Dont expect a week off ebay. If you need it the next day go to CompUSA or Fry's and pay full price. If you dont want to pay full price dont expect lightning fast delivery and perfect items. They're on eBay for a reason.
    • by kmellis ( 442405 ) <kmellis@io.com> on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:20PM (#5159241) Homepage

      Aside from the fact that your customers were acting stupidly, you undermine the main point of your post:

      I think that there is a new wave of people on eBay that forget they are dealing with people and not businesses.
      ...with these two phrases at the beginning:
      ...to make a few bucks on the side. I'd probably sold 2000-3000 items...
      Dude, you were a business, not a person. You weren't someone selling a few knick-knacks they found in their attic.
    • I don't buy this for a second... nearly all of the people I've done business with on eBay have had perfect feedback. Not because I look for people with perfect feedback, but because in general, anyone who's serious about eBay will not have more than one or two of the kind of comments you were getting.

      If you RTFA, you'll see that ebay advises that they don't moderate feedback, and any feedback you leave is your own responsibility. That's the beauty of it... everyone needs to understand that USER feedback is left by USERS. Each is responsible for their own words. To hold the medium accountable is just plain stupid. I wouldn't trust eBay if it were otherwise.

      BTW if you are buying/selling thousands of items on ebay, then you ARE a business. Ask the IRS...
    • What gall! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by philosophyandrew ( 598363 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @08:19PM (#5159496)
      Let me get this straight -- it is Ebay's fault that a seller can't keep straight what he has sold and ends up not being able to associate payments with auction. And what gall: to complain about buyers who have the termerity to give negative feedback when the item they paid for never arrived!
    • by rjamestaylor ( 117847 ) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Saturday January 25, 2003 @08:19PM (#5159499) Journal
      No kidding. I had an auction for some items my company asked me to sell, so I placed a large Dutch Auction. Unfortunately, the company took just over half the items out of the auction (*sigh*). Bidding was starting to pick up and I didn't know what to do -- I had enough product to cover the existing bids but didn't have the quantity stated in the auction any longer. I checked with eBay and realised I needed to cancel the auction. My first cancellation.

      A number of people contacted me and inquired what had happened. Most asked if they could still get the item. I told them I would honor the opening bid price (which was realistically what the winners would have paid, anyway, due to the large number of items in the Dutch Auction). Almost all of these people bought the item.

      Then there was one guy who wrote to me and said: "This is bullshit! I will have you banned from eBay." I wrote back and explained what had happened and that I was not B.S.'ing but rather trying to be honest by cancelling the auction in accordance with eBay policies. I also told him that every other inquiry I received showed decorum and respect and I had worked out a way to get the product at the low price that was bid to those who asked. He responded, "Sorry, I didn't know the policy. new to ebay." I wrote back and told him to check his bleeping attitude and, no, I would not be working out a way to help him.

      People are behind the "screen names." Learn it, live it.

  • About six months ago in London a guy sued his credit card company for declining a charge he made. He said the decline caused him to lose face at a business dinner and since he had available funds it was wrong.

    Porbably won't get very far either.
  • they don't censor (Score:4, Interesting)

    by diamond0 ( 456988 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:01PM (#5159122)
    eBay doesn't censor user feedback, so wouldn't they be considered "common carrier" and therefore immune from liability for libel?
    • Re:they don't censor (Score:3, Informative)

      by sakeneko ( 447402 )
      eBay doesn't censor user feedback, so wouldn't they be considered "common carrier" and therefore immune from liability for libel?

      No, because it takes specific action by the government to make a company or industry a "common carrier." I believe eBay's policies are appropriate for a common carrier, but they are not currently a common carrier.

      IANAL, of course....

    • by Gyan ( 6853 )
      Actually they do. No URLs allowed (I'm not talking about links). Also, if you get suspended from eBay, you can't leave feedback for a legitimate transaction which occured when you weren't suspended. No profanity either.

      Point being, they do have rules. If violated, feedback is removed. I suppose you could ask eBay to include libel/slander as well.
  • by MimsyBoro ( 613203 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:02PM (#5159129) Journal
    ISRAEL, Jan. 24 An Israeli programmer who says he was libeled in Slashdot Inc.'s "comments" section of its Web site has sued the online Geek News site for refusing to remove statements he says damaged his Karma. Analysts say the case, sparked by an online comment about Linux, cuts to the heart of what makes slashdot work: the power of moderators and meta-moderators to keep an eye on each other.
    In his lawsuit, MimsyBoro demands 2.5 million Karma points in punitive damages from Slashdot and [(-5) Redundant] from Neeley. A spokesman for Slashdot said the company would not comment on pending litigation.
  • I'm pretty sure this guy was the lawyer for Bernie Shifman [petemoss.com] about eighteen months ago.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:04PM (#5159139)
    In soviet russia the lawyer sues,...um, well I guess thats just in the US.
  • Please... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Heem ( 448667 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:04PM (#5159141) Homepage Journal
    According to the article...

    "alleging in the online forum that the magazines he bought had arrived late and in a worse condition than advertised"

    It's not like he said anything all that bad - They probably did arrive late, which could be blamed on the shipping company or any other factor, And the part about them being in worse condition then advertised was also probably true, but that is open to interpretation.

    Why do people have to be such whining little babies these days? so someone left you bad feedback, which, was more then likely true. EBay gives you a chance to publicly reply to feedback - simply reply there stating your own side of the story and leave it at that. If a user has to worry about being dragged into court for leaving negative feedback, then nobody is going to leave feedback and the system is going to be ruined.

    And where does he get these figures?

    "In his lawsuit, Grace demands $2.5 million in punitive damages from eBay and $100,000 from Neeley."
    I'd like to see him prove that one bad feedback is going to cost him that much.

    • Re:Please... (Score:3, Informative)

      by cduffy ( 652 )
      What he started the lawsuit over was the fellow who sold him the magazines (yes, probably late and in worse condition) left retaliatory feedback calling him dishonest, saying he should be banned from ebay, and otherwise making him out to be a Very Bad Person to do business with simply because he called the magazines late and in worse condition.

      Then when ebay refused to remove the seller's retaliatory feedback, all this happened. Yes, the lawyer's making a bigger deal out of this than he should -- but the seller is scum for calling him a con artist (and such) just because he said in feedback that the magazines were late.
    • Well I'M certainly not going to ever hire him to be my lawyer.

      But I guess that's more due to his actions (e.g. the lawsuit) rather than the online comments.

      I'm also not sure I'd be involved in a multi-million dollar lawsuit either. People don't sue poor people, it's like getting blood from a turnip. (note he's suing the seller for $100K, and eBay for 2.5 million) ;)

    • Why do people have to be such whining little babies these days?

      Well, duh. He's a laywer.

      "In his lawsuit, Grace demands $2.5 million in punitive damages from eBay and $100,000 from Neeley."
      I'd like to see him prove that one bad feedback is going to cost him that much.

      Again, lawyer.

      Christ, if I brought lawsuits against everyone who ever said a negative thing about me I'd --

      wait a minute! I'd be filthy rich!

      I'll sue you!

      I'll sue you all!

      I'll sue you all to hell!

  • Feedback headaches (Score:5, Interesting)

    by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:04PM (#5159143) Journal
    Actually, I figured it was only a matter of time before this happened. I believe eBay does caution you to state your complaints concisely and accurately, without letting it reflect negatively on the individual themself. (I don't recall the exact wording, but they do try to warn you about it right before you leave a feedback comment.)

    I can see how it could be taken as libel/slander if a negative comment was left in a certain manner.

    Generaly, it's been my observation that the feedback feature is very useful, but needs to be taken with a few grains of salt, too. I know I've had times where I wanted to warn others of a problem with a produce being sold, but didn't want to completely "slam" the seller - so I left neutral feedback. Sometimes, this seems to anger the sellers so they retaliate by leaving me negative feedback for no good reason.

    (EG. I recently bought 4 sticks of memory for a PowerMac 7600. The eBay seller said the memory being sold would work in a 7500, 7600, or several other Mac models. When the RAM arrived, it was not the right type for my 7600. I was able to get an RMA for a quick refund of my money (good!), but the inflated shipping price I initially paid was *not* refunded. In essence, I was out over $20 because of an incorrect statement on the auction listing.) I left a neutral feedback to warn others that it didn't really work in 7600's - and the seller left me negative feedback saying "Don't use feedback for this! Use our RMA process." (Duh!)

  • Excuse me? (Score:5, Funny)

    by analog_line ( 465182 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:05PM (#5159150)
    Although eBay has successfully fended off similar suits, an erosion of the feedback system's credibility could be devastating, said Rashtchy.

    Excuse me? This is eBay we're talking about here, right? You mean the feedback system actually has credibility? Did I wake up on an alternate Earth?
  • by Occam's Hammer ( 463213 ) <occam444-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:06PM (#5159162)
    If Ebay was somehow responsible for every feedback left on their site, they would shut down rather quickly. Fortunately these kinds of lawsuits are being thrown out of court at a pretty good pace (most recently Obesity v. McDonalds)

    Ebay clearly states: "WARNING: Once placed, comments cannot be retracted. If you later change your mind about someone, you may leave a follow-up comment to explain the misunderstanding. See the Feedback Forum for an explanation about how your comments affect a user's feedback rating.... eBay cannot remove a comment once it is submitted, nor edit a user's feedback profile. For this reason, we encourage you to contact your trading partner directly by email or by telephone before leaving a negative feedback comment."

    The purpose of the ebay feedback system it to create social governance. If you have one or two negative feedbacks out of a hundred or so, I will still buy from or sell to you. If, however, you have a 50% negative feedback I will not. That is the point.

  • He sounds like ye has the same spirit as the lawyers in this article [washtimes.com] that are ambulance-chasing the Bush Administration, from the front of the ambulance. See my log or web page for more comments toward them.

    For once, I can say that we sure could use FEWER lawyers (by individual choice, not government edict) and MAYBE they would spend their time on important things instead of this nonsense. Idle hands and all...
  • by Proudrooster ( 580120 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:10PM (#5159181) Homepage
    Does anyone know this loser's EBAY ID or email address? I would like to give this guy some direct negative feedback. In case you didn't read the article, not only is he whining about his (allegedly deserved) "negative feedback" but

    The lawsuit also demands that buyers and sellers, who use aliases in eBay transactions, register their screen names with the state of California as fictitious business names, and that eBay be forced to collect state sales tax.

    So not only does he want better EBAY Karma, but he wants to try and destroy EBAY via judicial legislation. I don't think the court has the power to make every Ebay'er in California register, but you never know how judges will interpret the law in these uncertain times.

    Ebay is the world's largest yard sale and should remain sales tax free!
    • IANAL but, I don't have to be a business to buy anything in California and I don't have to register a fictitious business name in Sacramento Co. to sell anything either. You can sell your house, your car, your Michael Jackson albums all without registering with the state as a business.

    • Does anyone know this loser's EBAY ID or email address? I would like to give this guy some direct negative feedback.

      You can't, unless you first do business with the guy. The feedback system is linked to specific transactions -- you "earn" one feedback comment per transaction with a buyer or seller.

      Feedback is also limited to 80 characters (as I recall), and can't include URLs to more info. That means that, if you deal with a fraudulent seller or buyer and set up a web site with all the documentation, you can't leave the URL for people in Feedback. :/

      The feedback system isn't a bad idea, and I haven't had any major problems as an eBay buyer. However, after doing a bunch of business on eBay last year and becoming familar with the place, I've grown MUCH more cautious. Feedback is a LONG way from foolproof, and the other mechanisms for troubleshooting are not much help if the seller is a crook rather than just slow and inexperienced.

      • You can't, unless you first do business with the guy. The feedback system is linked to specific transactions -- you "earn" one feedback comment per transaction with a buyer or seller.

        Sorry about that. I have an EBAY ID and can lookup a seller's email address and view his rating and feedback. I wanted to make an assessment of his behavior and send him a personal email with my thoughts on his lawsuit. :)

        This guy obviously wants attention, so I thought I would give him some. He'd have to come to Michigan to sue me. It's really cold in Michigan this winter and I doubt any Californian would want to leave Sunny CA! I don't even know what the sun looks like anymore.
  • Read the last P (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mlknowle ( 175506 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:11PM (#5159191) Homepage Journal
    Obviously, the guy is a whiner... but the last paragraph of the MSNBC article is interesting:

    " The lawsuit also demands that buyers and sellers, who use aliases in eBay transactions, register their screen names with the state of California as fictitious business names, and that eBay be forced to collect state sales tax."

    This seems to have little to do with his complaint; but making everyone register with the state Secretary of State would be a big deal! So your name would be Your Name, d.b.a (doing buisines as...) screename. Christ, what a mess... Can someone who is a Calfornian and or a lawyer comment on paying sales tax on USED items? I know that here in RI, sales tax is only on (some) new sales - used goods (and many new goods) are exemt.
    • " The lawsuit also demands that buyers and sellers, who use aliases in eBay transactions, register their screen names with the state of California as fictitious business names, and that eBay be forced to collect state sales tax."
      This seems to have little to do with his complaint; but making everyone register with the state Secretary of State would be a big deal! So your name would be Your Name, d.b.a (doing buisines as...) screename.

      No kidding that is a BIG deal, and no kidding it has little or nothing to do with the lawyer's complaint. IMHO the lawyer included this proviso to pressure eBay to settle the complaint before a court could consider this demand -- the very idea probably scares eBay's execs into the year 3000.

  • Ridiclous (Score:2, Interesting)

    This guy is obviously a product of the "I-can't-take-responsibility-for-my-actions" generation. If someone gave him negative feedback, then he should act to rectify the situation immediately, not sue the messenger. That's like suing the ISP that allowed someone to send you a bad breath notification. hahaa
  • by leerpm ( 570963 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:18PM (#5159233)
    I am suing you for the slanderous use of my name when exploding in emotion while experiencing blue screens of death, spam from Alan Rasky, and those lovely pop-up ads :)


  • by Metallic Matty ( 579124 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:21PM (#5159252)
    Clearly, the anonymous cowards who troll me should be handled accordingly by slashdot. I am offended to receive their negative feedback; and I hold slashdot fully responsible! /end insanity
  • Honestly, who the hell cares? There are plenty of people, myself included, who hate that Ebay shit. Online auctions, buying questionable products from questionable sellers, piss-poor, complicated interfaces (especially EBay's). Blech. EBay is like Slashdot... it's own little self-contained universe of people who live there. He may have had his reputatino damaged within EBay, but EBay isn't the public at large. It's not like slander in a newspaper. It's one fucking website.
  • by Bob MacSlack ( 623914 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:29PM (#5159290)
    So I guess this is just pointing out that anything anyone says on any site you have control over is your responsibility. You are responsible for verifying any and all statements for truth to protect yourself from being sued. Is this the way its supposed to be?

    Somehow, I think Ebay gets a lot of baseless complaints from people about feedback left by other members. So why would this one be any different? Did he come to them with concrete evidence that the comment was untrue? I didn't read anything like that. Do they have the right or responsibility to moderate what are essentially opinions? I think not.

    Why does everyone seem to think that just because a message is hosted by a company, that they should be responsible for its content? If you have a problem with what someone is saying about you, you SUE THEM. If someone spraypaints totally untrue statements about me on the sidewalk, who am I going to sue? According to this guy, the city is responsible because its their sidewalk. Come on people, think before you sue.

    I nominate you Robert Grace, for biggest douche in the world. (ok, maybe not biggest, but you're still a douche. enough southpark reference for today...)

    One more thing though, about this sales tax plan. WHAT? Ebay sells nothing, so there is nothing to tax right? Unless their services are taxable, this is just pointless fluff to throw at them.
  • $20 feedback removal (Score:5, Informative)

    by EABinGA ( 253382 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:31PM (#5159307)
    From: Squaretrade [squaretrade.com]

    You can have your negative feedback removed as part of an arbitration process, IF both parties agree and pay $20.

    Q. What circumstances will eBay will consider removing Feedback?

    A. In limited situations eBay may remove feedback without a ruling or settlement agreement from SquareTrade. See eBay's Feedback Removal Policy for more information.

    eBay will remove feedback after filing a case with SquareTrade in two situations.

    1) Feedback can be removed after you file a case with SquareTrade and there is no response to your case filing if:

    -At least 14 days have passed since you filed your case;
    -The feedback was left less than 90 days prior to this case filing;
    -All necessary case notices were sent to the respondent and SquareTrade received no response either online or by email;
    -Filer used the same item # and eBay IDs as recorded in the feedback record (note that a separate case must be filed for each item #); and
    -The item bought or sold must not violate the marketplace policy.

    2) Feedback can be removed after you file a case with SquareTrade and receive a response from the other party if:

    -You have obtained the help of a SquareTrade Mediator;
    -Both parties agree to the removal in a Settlement Agreement;
    -The item bought or sold must not violate eBay marketplace policy; and
    -All other terms of the mediated settlement have been completed.

    {Note: there is no time limit to resolving problems - feedback can be removed through mediation even if more than 90 days has passed.
  • by Warin ( 200873 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:33PM (#5159312)
    When it clearly states in the feedback section that you should talk to the other party BEFORE posting negative feedback to try to resolve complaints... I am amazed that people dont do so.

    Out of 20 or so auctions I've won on eBay, only once have I wanted to leave negative feedback. A guy quoted shipping of 18 dollars US, and in the end, the USPS shipping he used was only 8. I felt sort of angry that he'd ripped me for 10 dollars but in the end we just agred NOT to leave feedback for the auction, as the draft I sent him was (according to him) 'uncashable' and he ended up waiting an extra week for a different pay type to show up.

    Moral of the story is that if you have a negative experience, and don't get any satisfaction from the person, leave negative feedback as a last resort. Otherwise, just never ever deal with that person again. It's pretty easy.

    As for this moron and his suit, exactly how much libel can be fit into 80 characters? And how bad could it really be? I mean... come on! Man, I am glad I live in a country where spurious litigation is thrown out so fast it would make this blood sucking parasite's head spin! Maybe there would be less of these sort of nuisance lawsuits if, when it is thrown out, the plaintiff is made to wrestle an aligator...
    • by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:53PM (#5159396) Journal
      You said he quote 18.00 for S/H but it only cost 8.00 for shipping. Unless the auction in question said 'buys pays actual shipping charges' he did not cheat you. Charging a lot for S/H is not cheating.
      • It my not be cheating but as a costumer you certainly feel cheated. $10 for what? I doubt his time is that expensive, and I don't doubt that he has either other business to attend to on the same trip out, or that he has other packages he needs to send.

        The best way to do it is to figure out how much it will cost to send BEFORE hand, and be as upfront as possible with your buyer. I was selling some GeForce 3 Ti200's a year ago and I listed all the prices as they were, albeit rounded up to the nearest dollar for convenience's sake. Call the post office and ask how much it'll cost to send, ask about insurance if you're sending expensive, possibly fragile items, etc. And then on your auction give them all the options, would you like insurance? how quickly do you want it to arrive, etc.

        This does not take as much work as it sounds like (christ, I'm sure USPS/UPS/FedEx have this information on their webpage if you can sift through it all), AND it leaves the buyer feeling satisfied that you actually give a rat's ass about them, with very little extra work involved.

  • If I ever get negative feedback (4 times), I simply contact the person and explain what happened, and he/she posts a "follow-up" along the lines of "Oops, my bad" "Showed up the next day" etc. THAT'S ALL YOU HAVE TO DO! Duh... It's not perfect, but it's far-from-chaos.
  • by ccnull ( 607939 ) <null@fi l m c r itic.com> on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:45PM (#5159370) Homepage
    6 months ago I would have said this guy is a crackpot like everyone else on the forum -- but then a complete idiot left me negative feedback on my 200th or so sale on eBay -- the only neg I've ever gotten.

    This is what happened: Newbie buyer provides mailing address (this is for a Half.com transaction BTW -- where Half is a huge middleman in the operation) of something like 100 North St., with ZIP code, etc. I ship the item Media Mail as specified... 2 weeks later it comes back to me No Such Address. I file a trouble report with Half.com. Hear nothing. File two more. Hear nothing. Eventually after 3 weeks have passed, the newbie tracks me down and angrily wants to know where his package is. I tell him what happened, and by this time I've already fully refunded his money. He is completely oblivious to what's going on -- does not believe I shipped the package (I even scanned the envelope and forwarded the original order with his bogus address -- "That's not my address!" he tells me...) All to no avail. He dings me with a negative feedback claiming I didn't ship the item.

    Eventually I take this up with eBay but apparently the guy has been such a nuisance his account has been deleted. They won't do a thing about it, even though a dozen emails explain the situation... and after several weeks even the buyer says he FINALLY understands what happened and will remove the negative feedback. Alas, he's been deleted, so he can't remove it.

    I sell a lot of junk on Half and eBay and though I have a 240something rating, there are some buyers who simply will not bid if you have a single negative rating. I can certainly understand that, and I may or may not take the time to dig down as to why negative points were received. I don't blame the idiot for giving me the negative point -- I blame eBay for not employing common sense in removing it.

    The lawsuit is right in that the policy is totally unworkable and is abused frequently. His call for fictitious business names and tax collecting might be a bit much, and in the end I doubt this guy will win his case. What will have far more effect is when a similar case becomes a class action lawsuit -- and then eBay might finally realize how rife the system is with abuse.
  • by Adam9 ( 93947 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:47PM (#5159376) Journal
    Breaking news: After an attorney won a lawsuit over Ebay for receiving negative feedback, a well-known goatse.cx troll was awarded 20 karma by the district court after winning a lawsuit placed against Slashdot (OSDN). The troll claims that the ASCII art of the main picture on goatse.cx was "Interesting" and "Funny."

    CmdrTaco recently stated that Slashdot is already planning for an appeal.
  • As a Russian (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:51PM (#5159389)
    As a Russian all I can say is if your courts take this case its a sad thing. Here civil cases almost never go anywhere. The government can kill 129 people in a botched rescue attempt and they arent responsible for a thing. In America Ebay refuses to fix some pricks feedback and he sues them! Yeah life is fair. Frankly lawsuits are generally a good thing. In Russia they are rare and that is the single bigest cause for Russias problems there is no way to resolve problems without bribing someone in the government. So ultimately I dont know if lawsuits are goof or bad. They create a financial burden on society since unproductive people can sue productive institutions for vast sums, but they do address problems that otherwise would fester and ultimately destabilize society. Russia is slowly developing a workable civil law system, but its years away.
  • I hereby... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Aknaton ( 528294 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @07:54PM (#5159401)
    sue all of those trolls who falsely claimed that BSD was dying, and for causing mental distress to those of us who actually use BSD.

    "Here's a nickel kid, get yourself a real operating system."
  • If he's feelin' froggy, I say go for it:

    I think this guy's a fucking asshole. I think he should be sued for being an asshole.

    Now, come and sue me, bright boy. My words are my own. Slashdot is only the conduit by which I post them for the world to see. I bear full responsibility for my words.

    Idiots like this are why the justice system is completely fubar and needs to be overhauled.
  • by nochops ( 522181 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @08:09PM (#5159459)
    Does this mean that I can start suing the moderators who mod me down as "Flamebait" or "Troll"?
  • by jefu ( 53450 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @08:25PM (#5159518) Homepage Journal
    According to "Penn and Teller's Bullshit", a new Showtime production focussing on hoaxes and hoaxers, they could not call the people involved "liars", "con men" and the like, nor could they claim that they were lying or cheating or so on.

    They could call the people involved "assholes" and "motherfuckers" and say that the hoaxes were "bullshit". Go fig.

    An interesting first episode, by the way. Probably worth following.

  • by adzoox ( 615327 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @08:28PM (#5159532) Journal
    Transactional feedback and limiting comments to few remarks was a good idea on eBay's part. If you have ever read a Yahoo negative .... well.... some can go on for pages. It's beyond absurd.

    As a seller, I can see how ONE negative comment in my 1500 affects some bidders/sellers opinions. I have 10 negatives. Some are unfair comments. (IE, "Broke after a couple of uses" - how that's my fault, I have no idea) I think ALL negatives should be be "warned" and then posted 30 days later if no mutual resolve. For instance. If I want to post a negative, I should have to go through the same laborious process a seller has to go through to get a fees credit. That system prevents mass fraud because it is COMPLICATED. Often negative feedbacks and Neutrals for that matter are posted hastily and emotionally. I think if the negative poster had to wait 7 days for a response and then another 10 days for the comment to post (maybe a time for the receipient of the negative to work something out with Squaretrade) a lot of problems could be avoided.

    One thing I have come to realize is that there are just rear ends every 1000 or so people. It doesn't matter what went right and what you can do, you are wrong and a scammer. The problem is, when people with big wallets and even bigger mental and social instability are able to get something in the media's eye and they lash out against eBay - it HURTS MY SALES TOO.

    Have I done everything right on eBay? No. Have I made mistakes? yes. Have I learned anything? Yes. I encourage all to read and actually learn from my eBay ME page. I have been on eBay almost since it's inception. I find the issue of this article and the previous article about "scamming on eBay" very informative. I hope you find my eBay ME page informative as well and how I typically can avoid feedback problems. Also note how I handle my feedback by actually clicking on the number next to my name.


  • if he wins (Score:5, Funny)

    by 2MuchC0ffeeMan ( 201987 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @08:30PM (#5159539) Homepage
    if he wins, i'm gonna sue everyone on every internet forum who has ever flamed me.... who's his attorney again?
  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @08:39PM (#5159566) Homepage
    1. Build up a reputation on eBay selling any old junk.
    2. Stop delivering and wait for a negative feedback.
    3. Sue eBay for $2.5 million
    4. Profit!

    All these years, I've wondered what step 3 could be. I should have realised that the only people that every profited from the .com boom were lawyers. We humans can learn much by observing their strange behaviour.

  • He's got a point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vocaro ( 569257 ) <trevor@vocaro.com> on Saturday January 25, 2003 @08:40PM (#5159568)
    The individual bringing the lawsuit is clearly overreacting, but he does have a point about eBay's feedback policy. Their feedback system has no preview mode, and there is no mechanism to take back one's own feedback comments in the event of a simple mistake or typo.

    A couple years ago, I accidentally gave a seller a "negative" feedback rating when I had meant to click on "neutral". eBay refused to let me retract my own comment, and neither the seller nor I was happy with the result.

    I suspect the "no retractions" policy is mostly a way for eBay to save money in their customer service department.

  • by PanBanger ( 465405 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @08:42PM (#5159576)
    Trial was great! Would preside over again! A++++!!
  • The Irony (Score:3, Funny)

    by stinky wizzleteats ( 552063 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @09:22PM (#5159701) Homepage Journal

    Okay, so ordinary people develop a community and set of ad hoc standards which accurately inform everyone and serves as an adequate conveyance of trust. In so doing, we create the online mechanism of ensuring fairness and justice.

    Then a lawyer comes along...

  • by Skuld-Chan ( 302449 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @10:12PM (#5159905)
    I left negative feedback for a guy who was advertising a somewhat rare anime calendar, but what arrived was a CDR with some scanned pictures of a calendar.

    Asked for my money back, with the threat of going to ebay - he gave me back my auction cost, but not the shipping. I claimed that I wouldn't be out 12$ if it wasn't for him - I complained to ebay, but they claimed his seller rating proved he was a good seller.

    Anyhow - after leaving negative feedback saying that the auction description was fraudulent he wrote back saying "Yeah....whatever! >8^P"

    Out of prinicple I would have sued this guy if I had the money since what he did was pratically mail fraud (which the postmaster - according to what he said to me is where what someone says your getting is different that what you are actually getting)
  • by kien ( 571074 ) <kien.member@fsf@org> on Saturday January 25, 2003 @10:37PM (#5159986) Journal
    I remember in the 80s when software companies tried to enforce DRM...and ran head-first into the will of their customers. So they gave it up for a few years but now it's back.

    So what's the threshold that must be reached before companies, organizations, and lawmakers realize that they're pissing people off? I was too young to care back in the 80's...I just bought whatever cartridge allowed me to make backups of my C64 games and pressed on. But there must have been some point at which the software companies realized that they were wasting more money on ineffectual copy-protection schemes than they were making on legitimate software sales.

    I wonder if any of you folks with more historical background can offer some insight about issues like this. This E-Bay case is barratry. I'm sure there have been eras in the past where lawyers ran amok, else there wouldn't even be a word such as barratry. So at what point does Joe_Everyman and Sue_Everywoman get pissed off enough to spout off?

  • by rtphokie ( 518490 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @10:56PM (#5160056)
    I put a WiFi access point I was no longer using up on eBay, within hours someone had clicked on "buy it now". I emailed the guy a bunch of times but he never responded. After 7 day's I'd had enough so I left him negative feedback, within minutes he'd retaliated leaving me negative feedback.

    Looking at this clown's feedback, this looked like this was how he got his jollies. Usually used "buy it now" so that the seller wouldn't have a chance to remove the bid.

    So I filled a non-paying bidder complaint, and a request to have the feedback removed. Ebay not only removed the feedback (mine and his), they suspended the idiot's account, and refunded the fees on the auction, all within 36 hours of my complaint. Sure Ebay has a few hoops to jump through but they dont make it needlessly hard. If this lawyer really thought the feedback was wrong and it was going to cause him harm he should have gone through things the right way and not run off to court. Heck he could have hired an arbitrator for $20 and gotten it removed.

  • by Arethan ( 223197 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @10:58PM (#5160063) Journal
    Honestly, I'm not surprised by this. eBay has had a poorly implemented feedback system for quite a while now. The main problem with feedback, is that the other guy gets to see the feedback you left right away. This causes 2 problems.

    Firstly, no one wants to be the first to leave feedback, since they are then helpless to react if they leave nice feedback and get bad feedback in return. Secondly, the idea that you can retaliate to the feedback you were given is completely fucked.

    The best way to fix eBay's feedback system is to make a transaction's feedback completely invisible until the transaction is fully completed. That means that you don't get to see what feedback the other guy is leaving you until you've BOTH left feedback. This keeps everyone honest. If the deal goes sour in one person's eyes, then it will be reflected appropriately.

    The biggest drawback to this system is the ability to stall feedback from showing. By never leavnig feedback, you could effectively keep a transaction in limbo. Thus, if you knew you fucked the other guy over, you could easily just never leave feedback and your rating would be unaffected. The solution to this is to enforce a timelimit on feedback. Once the other person leaves feedback, you have 30 days to leave feedback of your own. If you let the time limit pass, then you are assumed to have left neutral feedback, and a nice generic comment. Something like "".

    Anyways, until eBay fixes this, I pretty much ignore the raw numbers that feedback provides. The aggregate data is completely useless. *shrug* Maybe they'll catch a clue and fix it one day.
  • by GLowder ( 622780 ) on Saturday January 25, 2003 @11:17PM (#5160109)

    I've sent numerous emails to EBay asking why they won't change their policies. I've yet to get a reply.

    The main problem is that many Sellers hold Buyers hostage for ratings. The Seller refuses to leave a feedback for the Buyer, until the Buyer leaves a Positive Feedback for them. This puts the Buyer at a huge disadvantage, if you're not satisfied, and leave a Negative Feedback for the Seller, you run the risk of him retaliating with a Negative one for you. This artificially inflates Seller's ratings.

    If a Buyer makes an appropriate payment, either instantly with some form of internet payment, or 'the check clears the bank', he/she has fulfilled his part of the transaction, and should be given their Feedback immediately.

    Only when the Buyer gets the package, in good condition, has the Seller fulfilled his half of the transaction, and be eligible for their feedback to be made.

    The only way to make it an equitible marketplace is to just require that Sellers don't get Feedback until they've left feedback for the Buyer. For Sellers who feel like noone will take the time to leave feedback for them, put in an "Automated Positive Feedback" after say 15 business days. This gives Buyers about three weeks to leave a personalized Positive (or Negative) Feedback, or else one would assume things went well, and the Seller should therefor get their Positive Feedback.

    Problem Solved.

  • Found his eBay ID (Score:4, Informative)

    by topher_k ( 622399 ) <topher@kerst[ ].com ['ing' in gap]> on Sunday January 26, 2003 @12:04AM (#5160227) Homepage

    This guy (Roger, not Robert, by the way) uses the ID rgrace@metnews.com.

    You can view his feedback profile at http://cgi2.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?MfcISAPI Command=ViewFeedback&userid=rgrace%40metnews.com&i tems=25

  • by KC7GR ( 473279 ) on Sunday January 26, 2003 @02:18AM (#5160630) Homepage Journal
    Having read the article, this little snippet near the bottom provided much food for thought.

    "The lawsuit also demands that buyers and sellers, who use aliases in eBay transactions, register their screen names with the state of California as fictitious business names, and that eBay be forced to collect state sales tax."

    Interesting! Now, ignoring the fact that the buyer was a lawyer, and taking into account that the whole spat is alleged to have started simply because of comments in the 'Feedback' areas, why in the Multiverse would the filer of this lawsuit want to use it to try and force two other requirements that are (in my view) utterly irrelevant to the original issue?

    Perhaps someone should have a look at any connections Mr. Grace may have to the State of California's Franchise Tax Board, or other California state politicians, direct or otherwise.

    On a more personal note: I sincerely hope this is one lawyer that loses his case, big time! Regardless of the condition of the magazines, it sounds like he does indeed need to "get a life." I know from direct experience that it is simply not possible to sell for more than a year or so on Ebay and -not- get a negative feedback or two. It Just Doesn't Happen that way.

  • by Kymermosst ( 33885 ) on Sunday January 26, 2003 @03:39AM (#5160792) Journal
    The suit asks a judge to force the cyber-auctioneer to filter words like "fraud, liar, cheater, scam artist, con man" from the site...

    That's amusing. A lawyer demanding that Ebay filter all words that most people use when describing lawyers.

    Those are exactly the words my father used when his attorney charged him $600 for a three-minute phone call that blew the $25,000 deal my father was negotiating.
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Sunday January 26, 2003 @10:18AM (#5161662)
    I wonder if maybe EBay isn't just interested in having their cake and eating it too. One of the reasons Ebay is so monumentally successful as a business is that they have all the margin and none of the responsibility. Get ripped off? Not our problem. Get untrue feedback? Not our problem. Not our problem. Not our problem. We didn't get our cut of your sale? Now its our problem, and our only problem.

    I've bought only 2-3 things off of Ebay, primarily because I don't want to get ripped off and I'm a little disgusted with their willingness to create a marketplace but not enforce any rules of fairness or any kind of justice.

    I'm not naive -- I know that the more they get involved in sales, the less profitable it is for them. But because their sole interest is making a percentage off of sellers they seem to have every incentive to just generate sales of any kind, regardless of the integrity of the sale.

    I'd have more faith in Ebay if they didn't just create a market, but created a market that did more than just pay lip service to honesty and justice.

APL hackers do it in the quad.