Would you sue over negative feedback?

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Negative FeatEvery so often a story hits the headlines of a seller suing a buyer that left them negative feedback. Today’s no different, a US based sellers is suing their buyer who left negative feedback with the comment “Order arrived with postage due with no communication from seller beforehand”.

The Daily Mail reports that the item cost was $175 with $12 postage, but when the item arrived there was $1.40 excess postage to pay. With recent USPS postage changes and the seller response to the negative “Sorry- no idea there was postage due, This has happened a lot from USPS lately”, it would appear the seller hasn’t got a leg to stand on.

The seller even admits that the comment is correct, it’s not complaining about the cost, just the hassle of having to pay on delivery. However the seller’s argument is that the negative could be detrimental to sales.

The seller has sued the buyer and attempted to get a temporary restraining order on eBay which has been denied by the judge. They still appear to be progressing with the case though.

The problem with this case is that anyone reading the court case will probably not want to buy from a seller that sues their buyers. A bigger problem is that buyers will probably not want to buy from eBay if sellers routinely sue their buyers and that affects us all.

Negative feedback is never welcome, but most sellers accept that sooner or later it’ll happen and take it on the chin, especially if it is an honest comment as the seller admits in this case. Although I wish the seller no harm I hope they lose in court. Feedback has no value if you can simply sue to get valid negative feedback removed and whilst £1.40 is a trivial amount (and the seller offered to refund it), the buyer doesn’t care and shouldn’t have to care. It’s their opinion of the sale and how it went and much as a negative over underpaid postage is a minor annoyance that’s how it should remain.

9 Responses

  1. Save for the fact the retailer is suing the buyer (wholly not recommended!) this is a classic example where the retailer is being punished with a feedback system that is plainly too general.

    For Bubbles (lookupbubbles.com) we are looking into a feedback mechanism that allows buyers to rate the seller fairly for their efforts without allowing one incident, one part of their overall service, to tarnish a long established, & hard earned reputation.

    I would welcome feedback on what retailers believe would be a fair system to allow buyers the means to view & rate their services over and above others.

  2. Why do ebay persist with the use of the emotional language with words “negative” and “positive” in their feedback system.

    Now that ebay have for some time had a detailed seller rating scoring system based on 4 aspects of the sale then a rating should be based on the average DSR score for the sale and buyers should view average scores for sellers rather than viewing what is emotional language. Is there a need for a buyer to make any scripted comment these days?

    Any seller who averages over 4.6 for 100’s of sales has to be a seller worth buying from surely?

  3. I would say 9/10 the negative feedback we receive is because the buyer hasn’t read the details of the item or that the buyer has made no attempt to contact us about a damage or a fault.

    If we have honestly made a mistake we normally resolve it, it’s when we don’t make a mistake and they leave a negative that’s when problems arise and you feel like taking them to court!

  4. Amazon USA are the worst. If a buyer leaves a neg and ticks the box to say poor customer service (not displayed on feedback), amazon block the seller from appealing the feedback, even if it is against amazon rules or is a product review etc.

    I had a blackmail type email from a buyer asking for money back or they will leave neg. I asked him on what basis he would be leaving it – he said “cos I can”. I gently informed him I would report him to The Police for blackmail and he backed down. This is the length people go to and abuse the system.

  5. What makes me mad is when a customer will leave negative feedback due to an item not being silver, according to them.
    All the items we describe as sterling silver, ARE sterling silver and comply with all UK laws on hallmarking, sale of goods act, blah blah blah.
    When a customer then either leaves feedback or messages us saying IT’S NOT SILVER they are accusing us of breaking the law. They have no thought process before hand as to the accusation they are making.
    MOST customers have NO concept of the hallmarking laws in the UK and don;t care to know.
    To them a 925 stamp mark is a hallmark, Right…… WRONG.
    (hope it’s ok to put a link to the neg FB)

    The above is one customer that didn;t take kindly to me showing her one of the assay office websites with the laws.

    Anyway you can see it gets to me B-).
    I always advise people to go to trading standards and even give them the telephone number. If we are breaking the law they will write to us and let us know.


  6. How many times have we wanted to sue? ebay says feedback is a matter of opinion, and everyone has one of those, but are quite happy to let that override fact, even when you can prove it. I have always complained that there should be a “stupidity default”, to stop “stupid” or inaccurate feedback.
    Did the item arrive within the stated time? Simple; yes/no
    Not; did it arrive the next day when you wanted it for someone’s birthday in 2 days time?
    Was the item as described? Yes/no
    Not; was it as you “thought”?
    How many times have we had feedback saying “it was bigger/smaller than expected”. Why? Why would you think that, how big do you think 12cm is??

    The list is endless, as are the stupid questions;
    Item; round clock, 34cm…
    Q; 34cm? is that height or width?

    Item; Canvas picture of vintage bike, covered in geraniums, leaning against french farmhouse…
    Q; how many gears has the bike got?

    Feedback is like graffiti on a wall, sometimes can be good and enhance things, but some, just like crude a pen*s and balls – should be removed.

    You wouldn’t go to M & S and spray your complaint all over their windows, or if you did, it would be removed swiftly and you’d get your knuckles rapped.

  7. Your sentiments are probably correct on this one, but as we know there are instances where feedback is plain wrong. Under these circumstances I would hope you would think differently.
    I’m afraid that red stands out like the proverbial sore thumb. Personally I think Ebay should not use colours on feedback, let the figures stand for themselves.
    And then let the seller make his case to eemove the comment.

  8. Anyone else selling on eBay, and eBay itself should root for this seller to lose fast and big, as this type of story is why I’d rather eat a rivet than buy anything via eBay.

    “The cure for bad speech is more speech.” and “From many voices, truth emerges.”

    Much of Amazon’s success, in my opinion, is do to getting this right. And paradoxically, their one star reviews are often the most useful, making some important point about a product to keep me from buying it, or alternatively revealing nothing about the product, but much about the reviewer, in which case their review itself is voted down by other reviewers.

  9. I have considered it but I have also had enough to get them removed.

    It can be unfair, we have a 35000 feedback 100% pos, now every now and then we will get a neg, sometimes deserved and hopefully we will try and put it right and work with the buyer, sometimes more often when a buyer has no contact info and leaves it on the last day is just vindictive and wrong, over usually something they have mis read or misinterpreted,

    We have a Neut saying that the item was faulty, it was not and it works fine, so its a lie, I offered to send the item still in its packaging to eBay to verify it, they declined, so I have considered going down the court route taking the item to the court and show it was not faulty.

    The problem is with the above example if you have no negs your unlikely to pick many up, in the time you get a unfair neg it leads other buyers to consider leaving one too over a minute detail that they would not have left from the original.

    I think eBay should have leave a neg means opening a case and if the item is returned and the buyer paid out then there should be no negs.

    Those that leave a neg and keep the item can be just sometimes vindictive.

    Some negs are fair and a good seller would try to put that mistake right, but not be blackmailed into it.


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