The choice to include eBay as a defendant in the suit, however, is clearly not well thought out. Med Express has filed a precedent-setting, must-win case against a company that effectively has unlimited resources. eBay will eviscerate this company in court and almost certainly ensure that they never do business through the site again. Since no attorney in their right mind would have advised such a move, this sounds like a misguided individual that managed to borrow enough money for the filing fee rather than a serious attempt at litigation.
But eBay has a near 0% chance of losing here, the safe harbor is very clear. Given how little eBay tries to protect anyone but eBay already, I can't see why they would ever stay in this voluntarily.
However, let's assume this will end up in federal court because ebay/et al will remove it there (there is complete diversity, ).
Past that, I won't claim it's not common federal motion practice to combine 12(b)(6) and rule 56 motions, or 12(b)(6) and 12(c) motions.
Yes, a 12(b)(6) and rule 56 motion can be filed at the same time, not one instead of the other.
However, in the 12(b)(6) and 12(c) case, often one is clearly instead of the other, because 12(c) is only used after pleadings are closed, and 12(b)(6) would have to be made before a responsive pleading if one is required (if no responsive pleading is required, yes, you can make it whenever, including at trial)
Just because you can combine them into the same motion out of simplicity doesn't make them not "instead" of each other.
So this bad feedback wouldn't have bothered me.
But I guess some / many people don't check the details. When you have two sellers listing the same item with similar 'buy it now' prices and packaging I guess feedback is the only other metric someone can check.
Since ebay sellers cut costs and profits as far as possible having similar prices is pretty common.
Additionally your detailed seller rating or DSR determine how much of a discount you get on the extremely steep eBay feed. Again for major sellers, especially people selling ultra low margin items such as phone accessories the 20% discount on ebay's final value fee will mean the difference between being able to competitively price their product and simply going out of business.
It depends. For me, the seller is fully responsible for shipping, and any added postage, while well outside the seller’s control, is attributed to the seller. I also do not want the seller to correct an error, I want the seller not to make an error.
If you fail at that, I will leave bad feedback, and if it causes you to go out of business, I couldn’t care less. Do your job better next time.
Wow. One small mistake and they should go out of business. Are you treated that way in your job?
In a retail business, your customers want to be served by you and are willing to pay for that privilege. They don't particularly care what it takes for you to provide them with the service, or what the consequences to you are if they express displeasure over the value not received for the money spent. You are not a charity that deserves to exist on principle. They have no commitment to you. In a real sense they fire you every time they choose to go to your competitor (be that Walmart, Amazon, or wherever) and feel absolutely no remorse over it.
People move from a contracting relationship to being employed explicitly because they want more security. That's the deal. Firing employees is asymmetric because every time you do it, all of your other employees get concerned that the same may happen to them. Also an employee represents a fairly large sunk cost to you in your search to find one, and training - reasonable employers don't throw that away lightly.
These are at opposite ends of a spectrum. Generally the closer and more complex the relationship between two commercial entities, the more important maintaining that relationship becomes, and the more that you care about maintaining the business relationship. Someone who bought something from you once on eBay doesn't have a relationship to care about, and really doesn't care. An employer/employee relationship is very close and complex, so you care a lot. Any kind of frequent commercial relationship (be it going to a restaurant you go to regularly, dealings with a supplier, etc) will likely be somewhere between those extremes.
This seems quite reasonable. If you're trying to run a store, the details of what is required matter to you, not your customers. If the consequence of negative feedback is that you're replaced by a more competent store, most customers are quite happy with that.
It is not a valid reason to put someone out of business. If eBay chooses to put someone out of business over a one-line review that reveals a $1.44 oversight, then eBay is the culprit here, not the complainant. The person complaining shouldn't have to care: it's not their fault that others are overreacting.
Sorry- no idea there was postage due. This has happened alot from USPS lately.
Does this really happen? You take the package to the post office, they weigh the package, charge you money, give you a receipt, and then later demand money from the recipient in order to finally deliver the package?
I gave him negative feedback and he went ballistic, saying "You should have sent me a message privately, rather than give me bad feedback! I've been on eBay for ten years with no bad feedback. I would have made it up to you."
I explained that his kind of behavior was exactly what bad feedback was for.
eBay feedback is badly broken if people aren't supposed to actually use it.
"Order arrived with postage due with no communication from seller beforehand."
To which Med_Express replied:
"Sorry- no idea there was postage due. This has happened alot from USPS lately."
In August 2012, another user posted the following negative review:
"Items were listed as new and they were used, they worked good but used"
In this case, Med_Express replied:
"They were new, but you can return them. We'll even pay return shipping!"
Looking at this wholly from a customer service perspective, I think that the two replies are dramatically different. In the first case, their reply passed responsibility over to USPS and made no mention of any compensation. In the second case, the reply specifically disputed the buyer's allegation, but also promised to make things right.
I think that most buyers are sophisticated enough to weigh the negative feedback with the seller's response. And, in this case, I think that Med_Express_Sales damaged their own brand with a less than satisfactory response.
Glad someone is at least acknowledging that both parties are acting ridiculous. Granted, the seller has now taken it to a whole other level by getting litigious, but still, both are coming off like giant children.
For whatever reason, either accidental, or deliberate, the postage was short $1.44. Not a big deal. The Med company offered to make it right, but the person left negative feedback over it anyway.
Imagine if this was just an error. To have someone drag your name down even after offering a remedy has got to be beyond frustrating -- especially in an ecosystem like eBay's.
I do totally understand the seller, they have done everything they could to make the buyer happy. The buyer, instead of giving a chance to the seller to make things right just left a bad feedback. I guess anybody can see how unfair this is.
Feedbacks and reviews are supposed to give a hint to potential buyers about the service or product they will get. The truth is that more than often they are a "weapon" for frustrated buyers to revenge and damange the seller, without being anyhow responsible for it. This is unfortunate becouse bad reviews and bad feedbacks damage sellers not only with their reputation but also kill sales. Having a bad review on Amazon means to simply not sell that very particular product, doesn't really matter if the bad experience was due to inexpertise of the buyer or from a delivery problem (all things that are completely out of the sellers control).
When you are a young company, it's hyper-frustrating to be damaged and see your sales killed or importantly reduced by a customer that was unhappy because of something you couldn't control in any possible way. While in such a situation the company must anyway step-up and take action to mitigate the problem (and they did as they offered a refund) the buyer must be responsible for actually damaging their business. It requires experience to understand that sometimes customers are just trolls spoilt by life and to just let it go. If you have a great company providing excellent products and services you'll make it up with future orders :)
eBay asked the shopper to review her transaction: overall her experience was negative (not enough postage) so she gave a negative review.
She gave negative feedback because her experience didn't match her expectations. It's a reasonable thing to do.
It doesn't seem reasonable for the company to lose large amounts of transactions due to one negative feedback. But that isn't the buyer's fault, it is how eBay is organized.
Then again, I never made a dime at Amazon, only just lost money and collected positive ratings...
EDIT: I am being downvoted up the thread for taking a position that is not popular. I agree with Med Express that Ebay is culpable for this, as much as this must put me in the wrong legally. Where are the metamoderators?
A 1-star review is the lowest rating that you can give. The seller took the item to the post office and mailed it, postage paid. For some reason it arrived with postage due. Now Med Express will probably be required to keep a reserve on their Ebay account for the next 6 months.
Maybe it gained weight in the mail?
Maybe buyers should post reviews that are fair and balanced. Was the item as described? Received on time? Damaged in transit? Did you communicate your issues to the seller, did they make an attempt to remunerate your concerns?
If the pope hat article is remotely accurate, I would not have given this company a 1-star review. They did everything they could.
So it now comes down to expectations and how to match expectations to + 0 and -. I for one absolutely expect items to be as advertises and delivered within the timespan indicated. For that, sellers get a 0. If they deliver faster and/or a better item, they might get a +. If they fail to meet my basic expectations, they get a -. Hence, by these standards, the - was perfectly justified.
For some reason given this information, I changed my mind. When the buyer had 5 stars to choose from (in my mind, and I thought they granted only 1) it seemed abominable to leave the bad rating, given facts. Seemed to me like their customer service was worthy of at least 3 stars.
Now knowing that the scale is only three wide, it seems like a reasonable thing to do, leaving a rating of "minus".
Think about what would happen if this were the other way around. For example, buyer returns an article, sends it through the post, and for some reason it ends up at Med Express door with postage due. They leave a negative feedback on eBay about the user.
The Internet would then also be up in arms about the company, 'abusing' its position to harm an underdog user.
It was a bad customer experience - of course her response is negative!
eBay have designed it this way, but many users probably aren't aware of the consequences of leaving feedback.
You'd write a complaint card in a hotel with nary a second thought and no ill consequences. To be sued for what appears to be the same thing online is at best a gross overreaction.
When you keep in mind the effect bad feedback has on a seller, you really should stay your hand unless you feel they were really out to screw you (or you're just plain vindictive).
It's a buck in shipping. I'd pay it, blast them an email asking WTF, maybe leave a neutral at worst. Bad feedback is reserved for fraud, IMHO.
Then again, the seller in this case appears to be a litigious asshat, so fire away.
As someone who has never used ebay, this way of thinking sounds ridiculous. I can't imagine that this is what the average persons thinks negative feedback means (it means "my experience was less than satisfactory" pretty much everywhere else) and this sounds like an enormous problem with ebay.
My point was just that novice buyers have no conception that 'bad' doesn't mean what it means in the rest of the world. Maybe eBay need another level -- "Vindictive", say? ;-)
Of course, the user would not sue the company, but just use the Web to do some "swift justice" by spreading the word.
I couldn't care less about them. Until they went to court, that is. At this point the buyer should win because between these two assholes she's the one who did nothing illegal.
Now, if you meant negative feedback, then you'd be correct.
In my book everybody acted within acceptable reason until they sued him for leaving a true review on ebay.
That's exactly what feedback on a per-transaction basis is for, isn't it? If a seller has a habit of sending things with underpaid postage, then a potential buyer will be able to see the pattern in the feedback history and choose not to buy. If it's a one-off, then a potential buyer will see that. The feedback history just represents fact.
If, on the other hand, buyers do not post negative feedback for such incidents, then a a seller habitually sending items with underpaid postage will appear the same as a more reliable seller. This renders the feedback system useless in this kind of case. It also makes it hard to find reliable sellers, and encourages less reliable sellers to remain in the system.
There are no winners in this situation.
"Negging someone on eBay for a buck in shipping is a pretty crappy thing to do"
That's just not true - that may be your opinion but that's the opinion of a very small number of people. The majority - an overwhelming majority - believe that it one valuable part of such community feedback systems to provide a way for buyers to notify other perspective buyers of potential problems.
Yes it is. I can forgive someone for being ignorant of the way the eBay feedback system works, but when you push that button, you are not just "notifying other perspective buyers of potential problems". It hasn't been that way for years. Not since eBay removed the ability to leave negative feedback for buyers, anyways.
If I were the seller in this case, rather than going to court, and negative feedback was still around, I'd have left them the same with something like "PITA buyer, - feedback for being off $1 in shipping. AVOID."
What you are actually doing when negging a seller is deciding "This seller made me so mad that I am going to cost them large amounts of reputation, raise their fees, restrict their ability to list, and possibly help drive them out of business". This is not an idle threat. Feedback is calculated over a 12 moth period, meaning if you only sell a couple things a year and get a single neg, you'll trip over all of the eBay restrictions and fee increases.
Now let's get some perspective here. The seller delivered the item, as described. There are no complaints about the item itself, so we can assume the buyer is happy with it.
Buyer's willing to mark the whole transaction as terrible over a freaking dollar?
There are some levels of shenanigans to which this is an appropriate response. $1 is not.
The more I think about it, the more I think there may be some merit to this case. If the seller offered to make the problem right and the buyer hit them anyways, given the effect that hit will have, is it possible they have a case?
Why not? The proper course of action (provided the buyer didn’t mind waiting for the delivery) would have been to reject paying said $1.44 and let the seller try to ship again. By then, the delivery certainly would have been late, easily justifying negative feedback.
Furthermore, the seller even acknowledges that this particular problem happened a lot lately, so they really have no excuse whatsoever for underpaying their shipments.
Oh, and it may be a good idea to think about what ‘-’ means – to me, it doesn’t mean ‘terrible’ but ‘there was a problem’, and postage due is a problem (as is late delivery). I don’t want to buy from people who deliver late/with postage due and I am happy if ebay ensures that people delivering late or trying to get another $1.44 from me are stopped from selling on the platform.
 http://feedback.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewFeedback2&... ‘Sorry- no idea there was postage due. This has happened alot from USPS lately.’.
This was a mistake by the shipper for mis-weighing the package (as they note in the feedback "This has happened alot from USPS lately." - maybe they need to get themselves a new scale) it should get negative feedback, and if this is the tactic they take to get rid of that negative feedback, then that seller shouldn't be selling.
You don't know that. Say the seller has a faulty scale and does large numbers of transactions at once. 100 packages go out, and 100 postage due complaints come in.
Oops. Clearly the seller is a scumbag. </s>
In their defense, at least they offered to refund the extra shipping cost, but relying on not being caught to save a small amount of money is not worth it in the long run.
Blaming the seller is a bit like blaming someone who calls the cops on a loud party, for bad behavior by the cops.
I first registered on eBay (only as a buyer) about a decade ago, and I've been an active seller on eBay's properties (DeRemate.com and MercadoLibre.com) for a long time.
Negative feedback used to be very common and appropriate in cases such as this one, sellers on MercadoLibre get negative feedback a lot.
eBay's official guidelines (just checked) for leaving feedback are just:
"Share honest Feedback to help members buy and sell with confidence. Give sellers detailed ratings to let them know where they're doing a great job, and where there's still room for improvement"
and on the link to the help page:
"Before leaving neutral or negative Feedback, contact your trading partner to try to resolve any issues."
it doesn't say "leaving negative feedback will destroy the seller" or "Negative feedback should be reserved for very rare situations. Additionally, negative feedback should be left only after you have tried desperately to resolve the situation with the buyer or seller in question. "
which is what one user-created (by a seller) help page says
Maybe eBay should guide users better, or get better grading tools. I haven't left negative feedback in a long time (just checked, the last four years I've only left positives), because my transactions all went smoothly (props to eBay and their sellers).
Edit: the buyer definitely didn't even attempt the first step (contacting the seller). I would have. They acted too fast (maybe in anger or something, they had a bad day, who knows).
What you are actually doing is noting dissatisfaction with the buyer through the system eBay has set up. The consequences you describe are a result of the system, not the willful action of the buyer. Savvy and unscrupulous buyers might hope that those are the consequences, but one neg doesn't directly translate into that quoted intent.
And if you take that action as a buyer, you are either ignorant of what that negative feedback entails (which is understandable, eBay doesn't go out of its way to post this except on seller only pages.. they DO however say that you are supposed to contact the seller, and in fact if you attempt to leave negative feedback, they stop you with an "are you sure you haven't done X Y and Z" page before actually submitting it)
Or, the buyer knows, and decides that these consequences are worth ruining someone over a dollar.
I think you're being a tad over-zealous with your talk of "ruining someone".
>I think you're being a tad over-zealous with your talk of "ruining someone".
Hardly. Remember, eBay feedback is calculated over 12 months.
If you have a chain of good sales, don't sell for a while, sell again, and something happens that causes the buyer to leave a neg, you are in deep shit with eBay.
Your listing fees will be higher, your number of listings will be restricted, you have funds availability holds from PayPal.. it's a real mess. Lesser things can and have put people out of business.
If you are primarily an eBay seller this can completely ruin your business.
Now, obviously this is the absolute worst case scenario, but the point is the amount of negative feedback you need to start getting really nasty restrictions put on you is miniscule. Anything that drops you below 98 or 95% positive (haven't been a seller for long enough that I honestly forget the exact number) is enough.
Going back to the subject of the TFA, (and we're venturing deep into conjecture territory here, but bear with me) what if they ended up with a faulty scale that weighed everything a pound less than it should be, and as a result a cluster of buyers ended up with packages postage due?
If it weren't for eBay this would be no problem. You make it right with your customers, refund them, maybe give them a future discount for their trouble, hopefully most of them are happy and you continue on your merry way.
Instead, the buyers are encouraged to vent on the feedback system, which is tied directly into how the platform treats you. Even if you make it right, there's nothing stopping a buyer from trashing on you, and your recourse is precisely jack and shit.
There are three very important things to remember here:
1. eBay is enough of a jerk to sellers that you should really think twice before submitting bad feedback, especially if they fixed their screwup. This is what neutral is for. The seller got you your item but did so in such a way that you don't want to increase their reputation.
2. Enough bad feedback (and "enough" is a very, very small number) most definitely can ruin an eBay seller's business.
3. eBay is a terrible company ripe for replacement.
Edit: I would also note that while generally I think popehat does good work, the part around "Mr. Amodio responded with an open, contemptuous, and contemptible threat to abuse the legal system" is...not so good; the following quote does not come from Mr. Amodio and does not contain anything obvious that would indicate either an open or contemptuous threat to abuse the legal system.
Someone can for example leave a feedback stating 'item fake, seller a fraud' without the slightest piece of evidence (item may simply be from a different batch the customer is used to or defective) and there is nothing you can do, no process.
Also when you want things from eBay such as a higher selling limit they raise individual negative feedbacks in an accusing way despite them being 0.1% or less of total feedback.
I don't think this seller would have been effected by the feedback but I can certainly understand their frustration. The negative press from the case will do far worse for the seller. What buyer will feel safe buying from them?
I'm an European, I guess we just don't get it (the US legal system or the gun laws).
Clearly the only answer is to engage in business with this entity for lowest value items available and then post negative reviews of their legal behavior.
It looks like Med Express didn't have the opportunity to fix their mistake before Nicholls started posting negative reviews. I don't understand why everyone is hating on Med Express. Imagine a similar hypothetical: If I made a mistake and offered immediately to correct it but instead was blasted via social media before I had the chance to correct things how would I feel? I'd be pretty upset.
This is what the system is for, actors that are personally unknown to each other, not a part of the same small scale geographic community, seeking a resolution to a perceived wrong.
Who on HN thinks Med Express should have been compassionate and understanding of Nicholls response without regard for the fact that repuation is critical to the survial of Med Express on eBay?
The feedback only commented that they had to pay shipping costs and that it wasn't mentioned by the seller up front. What is the problem with truthful statements using a system designed to give feedback?
> If I made a mistake and offered immediately to correct it but instead was blasted via social media before I had the chance to correct things how would I feel? I'd be pretty upset.
And that would give you the right to use any means to get back at the person? This wasn't social media. This was a forum designed for feedback.
They could also just leave him negative feedback...
I cannot fathom why people prefer guessing things that are publicly available and only takes a few seconds to check.