Computers rule on some eBay UK disputes

By Dan Wilson May 13, 2015 - 2:30 am

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.

  • Kieran
    2 years ago

    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.

  • Rich
    2 years ago

    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.

  • james
    2 years ago

    ebay doesnt have a sense of humour.
    or even sense.
    let robots rule the world, then blame the robots.

    blame the idiots that programmed the robots, and the idiots that left them in charge.

  • Gareth
    2 years ago

    Computer says ‘no’.

  • Joe
    2 years ago

    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.

    • sukuk
      2 years ago

      Actually the CSR was correct. Unsure as to why the case was found in your buyers favour, however you should send an e-mail or call them up about it as this is not the norm.

      Unsure if you are American or not, however American eBP csr’s are horrible and will most of the time auto close in favour of the buyer.

      If this was a return request or a SNAD your buyer only can “win” if the item has been sent back and this can be proven. if not, you win.

      I’d strongly like to advise you to contact your countries CS and get it sorted.

    • Joe
      2 years ago


      Thanks, but I’ve tried all that. I’m in the UK BTW. I’m well aware that buyers need to return the item to win a case, but they found in his favour anyway. I’ve tried about half a dozen times to get them to reverse but as I said, they told me that the decision was final and there was no point in asking any more.

    • sukuk
      2 years ago

      Sad to hear you’ve had no success with the UK CS, however from personal experience dealing with cases like yours, I don’t think we’ve ever ignored a request for internal escalation.

      As is to be expected of most callcenters, you just have to keep trying till you find the one CSR that wants to go out of his way and help you instead of closing your request and getting one step closer to his/her daily target.

    • james
      2 years ago

      “If this was a return request or a SNAD your buyer only can “win” if the item has been sent back and this can be proven. if not, you win.”


      “proven” being, provide any tracking number at all, dont matter what for, we’ll take that as proof of anything you like.

      e.g. – claim to return a quarter ton of bedroom furniture using a royal mail second class letter.
      provide the tracking number showing delivery of a second class letter.
      ebay will accept this as “proof” of delivery of a quarter ton of furniture spanning a dozen parcels.

      no appeal will be entertained. even when you provide images of that tracking number, on that ENVELOPE, stamped with the customers originating postal centre, and return address, and clearly not containing any wardrobes whatsoever.

      you’ve no idea how often ebay CS have literally helped steal from me.

    • sukuk
      2 years ago


      It’s incredibly annoying to hear that you’ve had horrid experiences with your localized CS. I know first hand the options a CSR has and I know out right that we can do a lot for you even when your case has been decided.

      It’s unfair and frankly the fault of the dog lazy CSR that he / she won’t lift a finger.

      The whole stick a stamp on an envelope analogy could be true, and I’ll not refute that it happens, however if you as a seller receive the envelope full of whatever when you in fact sent a painting, you can easily dispute this by requesting shipping info and then comparing the weight of your original package and his. I’ve seen cases similar to this go around and have sellers needing to contact upwards of 10 CSRs just to get the CSR that understands what 1+1 is and escalates the issue.

      I understand this is the same for many CS outsources, however it pains me when I see honest sellers losing out on truck loads of cash due to human laziness.

    • tinker
      2 years ago

      ebay sellers are their daily target and we have the holes to prove it

    • Joe
      2 years ago


      Do you work for eBay? From your comments it sounds like you’re saying that.

      In my case, I went as far as asking for the agent who gave me bad advice, to receive training and/or disciplinary action. She continually gave me the wrong date as to when I could escalate the case, and told me I would definitely win the case.

      The next agent told me that she was sorry the previous agent had given me bad advice but there was no procedure to rectify this, so this first agent will continue to give sellers bad advice to the detriment of their account.

      I was then given a link to an out of date policy regarding feedback removal (replaced by defect removal). I asked why they gave me an out of date link, they replied apologising, and gave me the same incorrect link.

      By now I realised I was wasting my time. I did contact a senior manager at eBay who refused to comment.

      This is how eBay treats sellers, like they are nothing. Buyers are gods, sellers are the source of all evil. I have been selling on eBay for nearly 10 years and I don’t think I have ever been treated like a valued customer by any CS agent I’ve dealt with.

    • brian
      2 years ago

      Hi, have you only spoken to the CS in Dublin? If so, instead call Ebay WITHOUT a one-time passcode, WITHOUT entering your phone number (and dialling 141 first, to block your tel. no being received by Ebay’s phone system). This anonymous call ought to get you through to CS in Manila, and if you pretend to have just been cut off by the Resolution or Appeals team, they will put you through to the team and they will reverse the decision, take the FB off etc. I know, it’s unbelievable that you have to do this, but thats Ebay…trust me, CS in Dublin are trained only to say ‘No’; if you can get to Manila, they are much more pliant and actually do follow their own rules (usually). You might even get someone who speaks English well enough to be helpful – I’ve done this tactic a few times with Ebay problems, and it does work.

  • Bunchy
    2 years ago

    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.

    • brian
      2 years ago

      That was in a Daily (Hate) Mail article bashing Ebay; they couldn’t resist chucking in some factual inaccuracies like this one – it is completely untrue that the ‘highest feedback wins’. If that were the case, the winner would almost always be the seller, and we know that isn’t what happens!

    2 years ago

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

  • LJ
    2 years ago

    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

    • james
      2 years ago

      you can shorten that to just:
      “Don’t listen to an eBay CS adviser”. ever.

  • Paul
    2 years ago

    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.

    • james
      2 years ago

      i sell flat-packed furniture.
      i dont mind if my customers are not time-served joiners or DIY experts.
      they may have questions about the assembly, anyone who’s ever sold furniture would understand this.
      i completely resent ebay constantly punishing me for helping my customers.

      and then if they cant be bothered finishing the assembly, completely refuse to follow the instrucions, ebay will side with them, and either tell them to send me back whats left (as if its any use to me now), or let them keep it and refund them anyway.
      – and the customer leaves negative for me, because they cant be bothered assembling a self-assembly item, or dont read instrucions. so thats legitimate feedback on my performance.

  • janet
    2 years ago

    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!

    • Kieran
      2 years ago

      The problem is that some buyers interpret or treat this policy as:

      “Get the item you ordered AND your money back”

      In this age of online ordering people hide behind their computer, they think stealing from a seller is OK because they are not seen doing it and the police will not come knocking, a bit like the problems with music and movie piracy online, people think it is ok to watch a movie they did not pay for online.

      I bet that 99% of these people would not dream of stealing from a physical shop, would they pick something off the shelf and walk out without paying?, if you had a phyiscal shop you do not put a sign in the window saying “Shoplifters Welcome” which is basically what ebay have done with their platform.

      The usual story i get is that it did not arrive in the post, so i had to buy it locally and i want my money back (95% of people who “want their money back” are scammers in our experience), yet many of the items we sell are so specific that i would be amazed if you could find them in any shop in the country, we see through the BS because we know our business well, even if you try to call their bluff they will still win in the end by opening a case on ebay.

  • theheadphonecompany
    2 years ago

    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!

  • Lisa
    2 years ago

    eBay – before you stick your nose in my business – get your own house in order. EVEN your staff think your policies are “Blinkered”.,19.htm

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