ebay_feedback lawsuit skewed rules overshadow justice and common senseBuying anything on ebaY just became even less attractive. An ebaY buyer is being sued because she was sent an item with $1.44 postage due, which prompted the negative review.

Zeroing in on one report…

at arstechnica.com, this is being called a New anti-speech low, even though it’s hardly the first such lawsuit. In particular since ebay gutted the mutually reciprocative feedback system in 2008.

Sellers can no longer leave negative feedback reviews for bad buyers. Which removed an essential check and balance from the online marketplace. The policy change likely plays some part in sellers filing suit at least 3 times since then which I find with a quick google search. The last one I recall, about a year ago,  was a buyer sued over a review left for a $6.00 sports collectible item.

It looks like the seller, med_express_sales (1651) believes the negative will harm their business, and they’ve never heard of the Streisand effect.

The seller appears to be trying to buy use the law to bully this lady who followed rules and protocol for ebaY. There is no reported falsehood involved in the feedback comment. The seller acknowledges full well the postage due issue, and compensated the buyer/defendant, Amy Nicholls.  Now apparently a legal rights outfit, the Public Citizen’s litigation group has joined in to assist. You can read all about other such aspects over at arstechnica or elsewhere.

Toolhaus_Negative_Neutral Feedback received by med_express_sales_20130416

Here I’m going to show you something else. I notice the choice of phraseology used to describe med_express_sales, feedback “In the past six months, Med Express has 142 pieces of positive feedback and only one negative review…”  but before that they’ve had several, as toolhaus.org shows a total of 10 negatives and 18 neutrals, and zero withdrawn.

Current feedback pages on ebaY go back, [to clarify, the numerical amount of feedbacks shown at the top of the page] and negative feedbacks influence the sellers’ percentage score for 12 months. Where 2 negs are found for med_express_sales.  No word whether other dissatisfied customers who left negative reviews were hassled by the seller.

Ebay is a very surreal, often hostile environment thanks to several policy changes under the names of disruptive innovation and turnaround. Noteworthy is another aspect of the broken and lopsided feedback system: Negative statements left for a buyer that conflict with the positive rating. The term Kafkaesque comes to mind. I’m also wondering whether ebay may write new policies disallowing sellers to sue buyers? After all, what’s good for the goose

At any rate, which would you rather do? Save yourself $1.44 or $6.00, or $1000, or have an expensive  lawsuit filed against you because you chose to shop on a site with policies which result in such things simply by following their skewed rules?

I’ll leave you a link to a news video from yet another ebay feedback / First Amendment related lawsuit.

Oh yeah, PS: Nice headline there, arstechnica