EBay Decides To Contact Tim About His Laptop Auction Problems

Timothy, our hapless eBay seller who kept having problems listing his laptop on the auction site, was contacted by a Real Live Human from eBay the day after we posted his story. “Garrison” apologized for the frustration, and said he’d be making a note on Timothy’s account to keep it from getting shut down by other agents. He also suggested several listing options that were pretty well-covered by our commenters in the original thread.

Here’s Tim’s email:

Just FYI: I have listed the auction for a sixth time (mostly because I think it’s funny now to watch eBay have to refund my listing fees repeatedly). About 15 hours after you posted the story, I got the following email from a human being at eBay:

Dear Timothy,
Thank you for writing eBay in regard to the issues with the laptop computer you have tried to sell.
I have taken the time to review your account and would first like to apologize for the frustration this has caused you.  It is very understandable that you would feel upset with the current activity and circumstances on your account.
Your auction was removed because there were concerns that a third party was potentially accessing your account and attempting to list the laptop for sale.  Please understand that the precautions that were taken were with the intent of protecting your account.
I will be adding documentation to your account to alert eBay agents that you are the legitimate owner of the account and are the one listing the laptop for sale.
I would like to share some recommendations with you about some features that could possibly assist you if decide to list your laptop computer for sale again.  First, you may want to use a feature called a bidder block.  To find out more about it and how it works, you might want to consider looking at the information in the eBay Help pages, at this
You could also do a search for “bidder block” in the search field and that would bring up more information about the process as well.
Another feature that I would like to recommend would be the “Requiring Immediate Payment” feature.  Detailed information about this feature can be found at:
This feature requires that a person make payment immediately after clicking on the Buy It Now button.  The payment must be made with PayPal, and your auction will remain open until the payment is made.
Although this is not available for an auction-style listing, if there is a set price you would be willing to sell your laptop for it could help with the problems you’ve mentioned.
Please consider these as options if you decide to list any merchandise with eBay in the future.
Your trust and confidence is valued by us.  We want to earn that trust and confidence once again.
It is my pleasure to assist you. Thank you for choosing eBay.
eBay Customer Support


Thanks for your help getting a real response from them!

“It’s Now Completely Impossible To Sell A Laptop On Ebay”
(Photo: Getty Images)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Truvill says:

    They do know this website exists, right?


  2. The Big O says:

    Hooray for humans!

  3. LUV2CattleCall says:

    I’m hoping/assuming most Consumerists will see right through this….. There is no reason this incident had to be brought to the attention of so many before the aforementioned actions were taken. I’m sure there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of others in the same boat as Tim was.

    And while I get why eBay would suggest the “require immediate payment” method – they really need to develop a viable solution for auction-style listings. Afterall, they are mainly an auction site, and the Buy It Now is just an extra feature…not the other way around.

  4. ceriphim says:

    “for the SIXTH time”???

    Hell, even my dog learns faster than that.

    Stop using ebay or I’ll spray you with the supersoaker.

  5. freshyill says:

    I would never try to sell anything of any real value on eBay. There was a time when it could be done, but eBay has been overrun with scammers. Not to mention that the entire buying and selling process is a huge pain in the ass.

    Forget this.

    Use Craigslist and buy locally with confidence, plus you can usually get almost immediate results if you live in a populated area.

  6. MissPeacock says:

    I think it’s sad that you have to post on the Consumerist before a company will “take it seriously.” They should be doing this as a standard course of business.

  7. Toof_75_75 says:

    LOL @ The Supersoaker!

  8. nick_r says:

    But for the love of God, Garrison, HOW DOES HE RESET HIS PASSWORD?

  9. TheDude06 says:

    Ive sold medium level electronics recently on ebay (first time in 5 years) and i found the experience to be better than ever.

    Once you sell, youve already got the money, you can one-click print a pre filled out mailing label and you are done. another click, and you schedule a package pickup. you dont even have to go to the post office with ebay anymore!

  10. Lambasted says:

    Piecemeal responses are not going to solve the global problem on eBay. Yet sadly, I think its impossible for eBay to go back to the “good ol days”. Days before scammers sniffed the eBay air and smelled money. Before Power Sellers and retailers opened for business and ran their eBay stores like a commercial enterprise; thereby pushing mom and pop selling their attic treasures to Page 30 on listing results pages.

    The genie is out of the bottle now. eBay stood back and let it all happen. Greed tends to do that. Not to blame them too much though, who wouldn’t want to become multimillionaires. Although, there are ways of running a business that don’t entail inviting crooks to feast upon customers. But unfortunately eBay receives a cut of every transaction and has no incentive to stop the criminal activity. That is until it sees revenue decline as people flee to more reputable sites to buy and sell their wares.

  11. rgshredder says:

    ebay = satan
    paypal is it’s bitch (saddam)

  12. Bourque77 says:

    @MissPeacock: Well yes but if you are just one unhappy person with no media attention or a blog they dont think you can do much damage to them apparently. I feel cheated the real e-bay human didnt even say they were taking it seriously do they not know how things work around here?

  13. Buran says:

    @MissPeacock: I tried. My post never appeared. I never got a call from paypal, either, to apologize for keeping my money even after I produced proof that the charge was fraudulent.

  14. RonDiaz says:


    Ha, you nailed it. I hope every day for a competitor to PayPal. I used them all but they all went under, Citi’s Yahoo’s, Western Union’s, etc. Paypal is great until there is a problem then it is bye bye your money fraud or not.

  15. crazbiskit says:

    does anyone know if the amazon bidding service is any better?

  16. se7a7n7 says:

    despite what most of the commenters are saying here eBay is one of the best ways to sell your stuff. Sure there are scammers, but no one can say that there aren’t scammers on Craigslist. Craiglist is also a great place to find prostitutes.

    Selling internationally is a great way to get more bids/money for your items. I sell 30 – 50 items a week through my eBay consignment store and about 25% of my items get sent internationally. Keep in mind that people spending Euros are basically bargain shopping when they buy things from me because of 1 British pound equals almost $2!!! 1 Euro equals more than $1.50.

    I’ve never been scammed. I get phishing emails that are supposed to look like PayPal messages but they’re blatantly obvious and I just forward them to Paypal, which shuts them down.

    Sometimes people try to pull one over on me but I just set my ground rules and stick to them, no problem.

    Last week I sold a vintage TV lamp that I thought was worth maybe $10 if I was lucky… I sold for about $120 because it was a very rare and unique one. The TV lamp collectors who shop eBay knew exactly what it was worth and went crazy for it, try to do that on Craigslist.

    Don’t get me wrong, I use Craigslist to find stuff people are selling for much less than it’s worth. Last night I bought a box of MASK & GI JOE toys from the late 80s for $30, just one of the items in the box sells for up to $150 on eBay…FTW

  17. humphrmi says:

    Didn’t he have problems listing his laptop on E-Bay? How does their first suggestion, using bidder block, help that?

    Oh right, canned response. No way possible to filter out the bullshit parts that don’t make sense. Good thing a human didn’t send it… wait.

  18. Dillenger69 says:

    That’s the response he should have gotten the FIRST time he contacted them.


  19. Pink Puppet says:

    @Buran: Unfortunately, calling Paypal is like jumping into one big black hole. I’m currently working for a Powerseller on eBay that does thousands of dollars in transactions a day and we can’t get a real person to talk to us the bulk of the time.

    It’s weird, though, considering our eBay rep just calls to chat about how business is going sometimes. You would expect some uniformity.

  20. tvmitch says:

    Lesson 1: If the item is electronic and worth more than $500, sell it to U.S. bidders only, maybe Canada too. Hard and fast rule for me as a Powerseller. Only confirmed addresses and verified PayPal accounts need apply – I instantly refund any payment that doesn’t meet those terms.

    Also, I’ve had eBay cancel my items because they said my account was hacked and someone was trying to list something, etc. My password is seriously 16 characters long, almost a completely random string. So I think they give that excuse when something else goes wrong.

    I don’t trust eBay or PayPal at all, but I have no choice with what I sell…and 99% of the time, things generally go smoothly.

  21. ceriphim says:

    Personally, I’ve always found this equation works well when trying to sell or buy nearly anything:

    Craiglist = FTW

  22. christoj879 says:

    Real Live Humanâ„¢

  23. weakdome says:

    @se7a7n7:Craiglist is also a great place to find prostitutes…:

    Really? Is this from experience?
    And, do they accept PayPal?

  24. Buran says:

    @pinkpuppet: I did call them, the rep couldn’t close my account because apparently the computers were screwing up. He said he’d do it later when the system came back up.

    Account is not closed. Still.

    I’ve asked for EECB info on the Consumerist Forums and no one has coughed it up. You’d think that with a site this full of problems, someone would know…

  25. midwestkel says:

    This looks like canned responses that I get from eBay. They have a name at the bottom but they were canned, I know because I got the same email response 3 times with a different issue from 3 different people.

  26. se7a7n7 says:

    @weakdome: No, I don’t use hookers. Was just pointing out that Craigslist isn’t made of gold.

    I was going to point out that people have gotten raped and killed by using Craigslist but I know those are very isolated incidents.

  27. DomZ says:

    The e-mail is exactly what I suggested in the comments of the OP.

  28. bonzombiekitty says:

    My understanding is that you can block certain bidders, but you have to know who the bidders are that you want to block, correct?

    If this is so, instead of having a black list (“these people cannot bid”), E-bay should allow for a seller to use a white list (“only these people can bid”). Using a simple simple e-mailesque system, a bidder should be able to notify a seller of his/her intent to bid on an item, and the seller must approve the bidder. This will give the seller an opportunity to weed out bogus bidder as well as have a good recorded history of the bidder accepting certain terms of the sale.

  29. Parting says:

    @tvmitch: If you sell to Canada, use USPS and warn your buyers that they’ll have to pay duties/taxes.

    From USA to Canada, companies like UPS and Fedex charge outrageous brokerage fees (65$ and up), while USPS works with Canada Post to charge a flat fee. (Lately it was 8$)

  30. Parting says:

    @bonzombiekitty: That’s a great idea, only it would mean that eBay makes less money off crooks. So : never gonna happen.

  31. LUV2CattleCall says:


    As much as I hate sticking up for eBay, they actually already have this in place. It’s a good idea for things like cars, but otherwise, it’s a great way to make sure no one/hardly anyone bids on your item…

  32. Darkwish says:

    While I doubt eBay even realizes this site exists, a lot of employees do visit this site on breaks and personal time and will often escalate things to the right department to be addressed.

    The responses the guy got in the previous article likely came from someone in India. It looks like this one came from a rep in North America.

    Yes, a lot of the message is “canned”, but let’s see you try typing the same info over and over by hand 20-30 times an HOUR. The “canned” responses will address 95% of the things people write in about, if only they’d READ the responses! And yes, there are some idiot reps that don’t bother to read the emails and just give canned responses to get their numbers. This one was a customized response from someone that actually took the time to look into the problem.

    As for Craigslist, there’s tons of scammers on there too. You just don’t have nearly the same amount of potential buyers since it’s more geared towards local sales. eBay is also a major shareholder in Craigslist.

    It may not seem like it, but eBay does a LOT of work at trying to stop all the scammers and they are constantly making changes that make it harder for the scammers. Unfortunately, there are a lot of stupid people that fall for phishing scams, use insecure passwords or have spyware installed on their systems.

    I’ve never had any issues with PayPal, so all I’m going to say is this: eBay and PayPal are SEPERATE companies! PayPal is a financial institution and there are a lot of federal regulations that need to be followed. However, I don’t think that excuses the dismal customer service I keep hearing about.

  33. Darkwish says:

    @Victo: eBay doesn’t make any money off of scammers since all the fees get refunded and it hurts the legit buyers and sellers and eBay’s reputation. This means that they LOSE money from the scammers as well.

  34. Trai_Dep says:

    @se7a7n7: I’m confused. You mention CL hookers as though it’s a bad thing?

  35. Cliff_Donner says:

    @Darkwish: eBay and Paypal are NOT separate companies. eBay acquired Paypal several years ago, and currently is pushing to maximize their profit in their newly-acquired subsidiary by attempting to require Paypal payments (rather than checks, money orders, or other on-line payment services) as an exclusive method of payment for eBay transactions.

    Also, Paypal is NOT a financial institution that is subject to “a lot of federal regulations.” So far, Paypal has managed to skirt these regulations. The FDIC, and other Federal institutions that regulate banks, have nothing to do with Paypal.

    Also, eBay only refunds fees on scams that it deigns to acknowledge. Both eBay and Paypal have numerous loopholes one has to jump through before a loss due to a scam will be recompensed.

    I’ve been an avid ( . . rabid . . ) eBay user since 1998 and find their latest ham-handed changes to be outrageous and anti-User to the extreme. Sorry, I can no longer be an eBay booster.

  36. heavylee-again says:

    @Lambasted: I’m impressed how often you deliver concise, intelligent and nicely worded bitch-slaps. I shall now call you my friend.

  37. snoop-blog says:

    I only sell pure crap on ebay. The kind of stuff that if you seen it in person, you wouldn’t pay $2 for. I make up really vague descriptions so the buyer can never leave negative feedback.

  38. snoop-blog says:

    However, I did buy a rocking air guitar, once owned by JFK, from ebay. So it hasn’t went all to hell.

  39. Concerned_Citizen says:

    Why didn’t he say anything about restricting sales to U.S. accounts only and stating that you only ship to verified paypal U.S. locations? Instead the guy just listed stupid ebay features. Lets focus on the basics before paying for more ebay features.

  40. He never even mentioned the problems the support system has. In my experience it ALWAYS sends the “reset password” email. The rep should have acknowledged that as a problem.

  41. LUV2CattleCall says:


    I wish eBay would put you astroturfers to work – actually dealing with problems instead of just claiming to do so. I say so because your little thesis is nearly WORD FOR WORD from several others I have seen online…

    Also, like someone said, Paypal IS NOT a financial institution in the way that a bank is. Imagine if your bank started arbitrarily withholding your money because only 94.9% of the people on your street like you…

    Also, while it’s true that eBay refunds your final value fee (a not insignificant amount thanks to the recent hike), they make you twist their arm to get back the fees from the “extras” such as Bold, Featured Plus..etc.

  42. MrEvil says:

    @freshyill: Craigslist is only viable if you live in a major metro area number close to a million or more people. There’s plenty of us that don’t. My town recently got its own Craiglist page and the number of legitimate users of that I can count on one hand. I thought I’d try selling an old Desktop on there since it was free. I got three responses and all three were scammers.