Computers rule on some eBay UK disputes

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eBay have confirmed that, in some cases, automated computer systems settle disputes between buyers and sellers.

This is hardly a surprise and when you consider many of the disputes that eBay must deal with it’s hardly a problem either. An algorithm can easily judge when certain aspects of a sale have gone awry. Payment not received. Item not recorded as sent. No tracking provided. These are black and white issues.

But it’s in the edge cases and grey areas that human judgment can be vital.

eBay has given us a comment: “There some cases with specific criteria that are handled by computer assistance. In these instances algorithms are set to the same decision-making process as if handled by a customer service agent. If the case was to be reviewed by a customer service agent the outcome would be same as the decision-making process is aligned. All information within the case flow is reviewed to make a decision. Outcomes are based on the merit of the individual case.”

Clearly what does matter in these cases is the nature of any appeal made and it seems right that under current rules that appeals, where seller has done their best, that humans adjudicate fairly in the event of an ongoing dispute.

But even then there is little difference between a human and a computer unless the human has discretion and is trusted to make a balanced choice. A human working to an inflexible set of rules and unable to exercise nuanced judgement is little better than a machine in any case.

24 Responses

  1. There is no “balanced choice” for a human to make, the humans just act like the computer does, ebay might as well be one big computer, as it does not listen to sellers in relation to anything, be it an ebay case or ebay platform policy, we all know it is a waste of time talking to ebay about anything, because all responses are scripted or computerised.

    Buyers also know they only have to give the robot the right answers to get free goods or avoid paying to return something.

    The robots even teach and punish us mere humans by giving us by giving us defects if we do not follow the programming.

    Now the Terminators in the form of the ebay search algritham are trying to kill off the human sellers, i do feel like John conor sometimes trying to fight the computer and beat skynet lol. Ebay will probably be interested in buying Persona Synthetics from channel 4.

    ebay’s business model and future roadmap must be being designed by a computer too, it is no wonder there are so many sellers that have left and gone to other marketplaces.

    Bottom line is that we all know the potential outcome of every sale before it even takes place, it is pre scripted and we take a risk knowing that if we get a bad buyer or a problem with the courier we will probably be out of pocket, we all see straight through this marketing rubbish ebay put out saying they protect sellers too.

  2. I’d say the algorithms might be better, as at least they are not incompetent, or prejudiced to see things the buyer’s way.
    But it is a side issue, the feedback/defect system is based on the subjective decision of the buyer, and often triumphs over provable fact.
    It’s a real mess.

  3. eBay’s algorithm is simple;

    Buyer > Seller

    That’s all they do. I recently had a fraudulent case opened against me where the ‘buyer’ refused to return the item because he’d ‘thrown them away’. A person at eBay CS told me not to worry because if the buyer was refusing to return the item then I would win the case and the neg he’d already left would be removed. She told me to escalate the case and it would definitely be found in my favour.

    Needless to say, I foolishly escalated the case and it was found in the buyer’s favour within a few minutes, so he got to keep the ‘faulty’ goods, got his money back, and the negative feedback remained.

    eBay CS will tell you whatever they can to get rid of you, then leave the rest to the computer which basically gives the buyer what they want without any regard for the seller or any interest in the truth of what actually happened.

    Another agent told me that eBay is all about giving the best buying experience possible and that basically it was tough. I was told that their decision was final and to stop contacting them about it because they wouldn’t change their mind.

  4. I’ve seen it reported somewhere (some kind of disgruntled anti ebay newspaper article I think) that the computer sides with the id that has the highest feedback %.
    It’s always going to be the buyer seeing as they don’t get negs any more (unless they buy on selling id). Rather unfair to assume the id with the highest % of postiives IS the most honest.

    Will ebay confirm or deny this?

    Where did the journalist get this info from is also worth knowing.

  5. its really quite simple
    if your the seller your wrong dont waste your time trying
    treat it as a condition of trading on ebay

  6. To be honest this is not much of a surprise. When a case is escalated to CS the decision is normally found in favour of the buyer within 60 seconds of it being escalated. No human can read dozens of messages between buyer and seller and make judgement of the case in 60 seconds.

    Don’t listen to an eBay CS adviser if they tell you to escalate. Avoid this at all possible costs because the chances of it being ruled in your favour are practically zero, whatever the circumstances might be. I have had eBay CS advise me many times to escalate the case, and I will definitely win it due to the circumstances, and every single time it has been ruled against me. Cue hours of telephone calls, transfers between departments and E-Mails and they still don’t change it.

    Sad fact is that you have to allow a very small percentage of customers to rip you off, blatantly steal from you, and then trash your account with Negatives and low DSR and take it on the chin. It’s not worth the hassle or the negative impact on your account to fight it, no matter how innocent you are in the case

  7. The whole system is designed wrong from the scratch. If ebay do not understand the the “returns” are normal with distance selling / buying (no matter the reason) and yet insist in punish the sellers who accept the returns by giving “defects” ….well ebay is wayyy out of touch. That reminds me about that ebay executive who told us in the webinar that “if a customer needs to contact you after the sale that is a defect, they should have no reason to contact you at all”. Well that guy had no clue about online selling and should be fired immediately. the buyers have endless reasons to contact you and it’s a normal relation between the seller & the buyer.

  8. Ebays money back Guarantee…”Get the item you ordered or your money back GUARANTEED”….Whilst Ebay insist on this policy NO seller will ever win a case…Algorithms, Computer v Human e.t.c all just meaningless words to try to justify their biased system and to the end of the day their own policy will always mean BUYER WINS, SELLER LOSES!

  9. Whether its done by a computer or by eBay CS, the outcome is ALWAYS the same – eBay’s Money Back Guarantee ensures that eBay can and will steal from ANY seller for “their” buyer.

    eBay ONLY views buyers as “their” customers, with sellers being just the mere conduit to transfer $$ (or pounds in your case) from the buyers to eBay pockets.

    Sellers who have been victims of fraud and theft are collateral damage as far as eBay is concerned. With crass & rude comments by eBays CS (in the Phillipeans, San Jose and Utah) its no wonder that eBay Marketplace sales continue to slide.

    Exactly how many non defective defectives must a seller eat before eBay does as their help pages say and step in and put a stop to it?

    If you said NEVER, then you are right. eBay makes money on the postage and Paypal takes its %2 vig from you, so its win/win for eBay. Stealing from sellers = profit.

    Whether you escalate or do not, whether you are part of the High Frequency Returns Program or not, its immaterial – sellers ALWAY loose.

    Its like those movies where the “smart white guy” goes to a grungy Chinatown basement to play poker against the triads. The game is fixed, you will always loose and theres usually blood on the floor by the time its over.

    The Mafia steals from people with baseball bats and knives, the Yakuza with swords of folded steel, and the Triads with Tec 9’s …. eBay? via Paypal and its Money Back Program.

    Shame on eBay!


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