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was conceived in 2003 in a moment of absolute exasperation with the unreachable, impersonal, heavy-handed monolith that is eBay and its Safe Harbor minions. I was determined to put eBay's so-called "Trust and Safety Department" procedures on display for all to see. It was time to poke a few holes in the walls that eBay had built around its operations and let some sun shine in. I promised myself I wouldn't let a few months and a few easy sales lull me into complacency over the non-stop eBay aggravation. It was happy hour time, and I made a Molotov Cocktail just for y'all.

As a longtime eBay seller, I found eBay's complaint process to be absurdly tipped against the very people who helped build eBay into an online success story. Despite my initial good faith attempts to abide by eBay selling policy, eBay's "Trust and Safety Department" repeatedly shut down my auctions. Much to my chagrin, this happened in two wholly unrelated categories for totally different reasons (in Music — original cassettes incorrectly deemed "potentially infringing" on copyright and in Books — 50's and 60's vintage fetish magazines deemed "offensive" and unsuitable even in the Mature Audience category). In a baffling turn of events, a third conflagration erupted over some Japanese toy listings! With no opportunity to refute auction closures, a seller will mire in the so-called Safe Harbor of auto-reply e-mails and ever-shifting interpretation of eBay's wide-open rules. Despite endless nauseating references to a "community", eBay is about as community oriented as your nearest Wal-Mart and is as callously corporate, blindly bureaucratic, and decidely disingenuous as they come. eBay is so big at this point that it no longer has to consider any sense of fair play when dealing with the small-timers who pay for the privilege of contributing to eBay's corporate coffers. Don't like it? Too bad. eBay OWNS the market. They're often the only game in town, and they know it.

Much of eBay's appeal and indeed the image it promotes lies in the idea of individual economic empowerment. It certainly helped bring the be-your-own-boss workplace to many homes around the world, mine included. This freedom, it turns out, has a higher price than Final Value fees. eBay's effect on collectors and collectibles has been double-edged, not all bad but certainly not all good either.

For all the criticisms you read here, note that I don't pretend to hate eBay enough to stop using it altogether. eBay has become an indispensable resource. As a collector, ignoring buying opportunities on eBay has become virtually impossible. As a seller though, I'm taken every opportunity to move my business elsewhere, and I thank eBay for pushing me in another direction. Good riddance! Still, eBay's Safe Harbor Investigation Team wield way too much capricious power, and I've just one of many who've felt their misguided wrath. While the Department of Justice shelved its ill-conceived Operation TIPS, the program thrives within the eBay "community".

Aside from venting my own frustration, the goal of negative-feedback.com is to encourage other eBay sellers to share similar experiences and sling a few pebbles eBay's way. Give Safe Harbor and eBay's Community Watch a small dose of the bad PR they deserve whether in blogs or forums or newspaper articles. Sure, it's all pointless and futile in the shadow of the eBay colossus but take inspiration from our man Sisyphus and roll that grudge up the mountain for all to see... maybe on its way back down a couple of Safe Harbor minions will get flattened. Then do it again.

Many sellers fear reprisals from eBay simply for speaking out. That fear is a powerful tool especially when eBay sales are an individual's sole source of income. One person suggested I do a private registration for this domain to conceal my identity and keep things on the down-low. My thoughts can be found on pick-up bumper stickers around town: Ain't Skeert (translation: "I am not scared"). If eBay cuts me off one place, I'll just grow back in two others (dig the hydra). Thanks to shady Safe Harbor practices, PayPal machinations, VeRO heavy-handedness and that notorious eBay aloofness, the community of the disaffected grows daily. Seven years after this page was originally posted, those ranks are legion. I'd also love to hear from eBay defectors, people who've seen the monolith from the inside, employees with insight into a "judicial process" that would make Kafka proud.

Disgruntled with eBay? Join the club! Let's light up and get some glass flying...


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Your MASTER OF ACRIMONIES is Ryan Richardson

(online since November 2003)