Melissa Earll filed a complaint against ebaY in 2010 alleging nonconformity to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. She wasn’t able to register as a seller,  apparently due to ebaY’s lack of  any deafness compatible human verification technology or the likes, and lack of concern that anyone may need it.

Ms. Earll wanted ebaY to change their seller registration procedure by allowing potential sellers to choose whether to receive a phone call, a text message, or an email for off-site identity verification.

The complaint was dismissed in August 2012. U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, Calif., ruled that the ADA, which makes unlawful the discrimination against people with disabilities,  doesn’t apply to online companies like eBay. The 1990 statute says it applies to “places of public accommodation.”

(Important point, the ADA was passed before the internet was pervasive.)

Now it’s back in the news and ebaY is looking bad. Right on the surface they come off looking like a bully. Top that off with some of the quotes in the cnn article:

“They said, can your mom or dad answer the phone for you,” said Earll, who lip-reads and speaks with the assistance of a hearing aid. “And I said, I’m a 47-year-old adult woman. No. I don’t live at home. No.”

and ebay’s responses, where they seem proud of having whooped a deaf lady in court, then stated just the opposite of reality:

eBay is pleased with the court’s decision to dismiss the case,” company spokeswoman Kari Ramirez said in a written statement. “eBay strives to provide all users with the best customer experiences possible, including those with special access needs. eBay will continue to stand ready to assist those who are deaf or hard of hearing become eBay sellers.”

or this humdinger:

eBay offers solutions to help the visually and hearing impaired, individuals with color vision deficiencies, as well as those with limited dexterity access eBay’s services,” said Ramirez, the eBay spokeswoman. On its website, eBay has a page devoted to accessibility issues, including a profie of Rick Willison, a pastor who became a successful seller despite a degenerative eye disease.

Accessibility - eBay Inc_e2_20130110

Click through to their accessibility page. Read the second paragraph text. It’s almost word for word copy and paste, except they were careful that time to omit any mention of deaf people, or them not being able to register.

It gets even more tragi-comical when you learn ebaY has verified her identity in person and she still can’t get registered.

Ms Earll plans to appeal. Experts are watching this, and rightfully so. It could go clear to the Supreme Court.

I guess Ms Earll and her attorneys weren’t aware of the ebay corporate mindset these days. Ebay is a website where everything is turned upside down, or mutilated beyond the point of reality. Seriously. It’s a world where Non Paying Bidders (NPB) result in a “successful sale”.  No communication rates people “5 stars” for excellent communication. Ebay members are required to lie when leaving feedback, and sellers are only allowed to leave “positive” feedback whether the experience was positive or not. Where a neutral is negative, because it’s not positive. Where the members are “just noise”

IT’s a long, long way down the rabbit hole…

More than anything else, Why would ebaY waste all this time and money to batter some deaf lady rather than have some of their whizzbang propeller-headed PHD types accommodate the need, and become real leaders, not some cruel hearted corporate Ogre?

I hope you ebaY folks have a great sense of accomplishment over this. Be proud. Chalk  up another Public Relations fail.