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August 19, 2008
eBay and the nuclear option
I decided to sell my iPhone on eBay last week. I just got the new 3G one. Bids were going well and the auction ended today. Just as I was about to invoice the winner, eBay sent me this email:
We recently learned that someone was using an account to bid on items without the account owner's permission. For this reason, we have canceled all bids on the following listing:
160271650734 - iPhone 2G 8GB 2.0 great condtion
All associated fees have been credited to your account. Please note that we're working with the account owner to prevent any additional unauthorized activity.
Unfortunately, we're not able to automatically relist the above item for you. To relist the item, you'll need to use either the Sell Your Item process on eBay, or another listing service.
If you have any concerns or questions, you can contact us by clicking "Help" at the top of any eBay page.
We're sorry for any inconvenience, and we thank you for your patience and cooperation.
eBay Customer Support
Good that eBay spotted suspicious activity. Bad that it deleted my entire listing. To relist my phone, I must start over. From scratch. Too bad for me, even if I had nothing to do with what went wrong.
eBay's reaction -- to cancel all bids, and delete my listing -- is typical among companies that rank cost savings above customer service. Let's call it the Nuclear Option: Protect the company with a companywide onerous rule or process, even if it inconveniences many people.
Some companies favor the nuclear option because they've quantified it as cheaper than delivering personalized service or diplomacy.
But the long-term costs for the nuclear option are significant. Home Depot CEO Frank Blake has had to spend the majority of his tenure cleaning up the radioactive waste left by former CEO Bob Nardelli and his repeated use of the nuclear option, whether it was trying to save labor costs by converting a big chunk of full-time workers to part-time, removing $1 billion of store inventory or spending billions on catering to professional contractors rather than its core customer base. All of which did nothing for the stock price and yet devastated employee and customer loyalty. Good combo!
I'm but one example; have you experienced other uses of the nuclear option at eBay?
Other blogs that reference eBay and the nuclear option:
Jackie - How are ya? :-) I have been experiencing the opposite of nuclear, where instead of being blown up I keep getting more interruptions. Countrywide Financial keeps calling my house and e-mailing me asking me to consider refinancing and an "annual mortgage check-up" or some dumb thing. As much as the nuclear explosion is absurd, the implosion is just as frustrating. Thanks for the insight on proper company support behavior through Web 2.0 technology! We can all learn from this in business. - Cheers! Corey
So any sweeping focus on cost-savings at the expense of the cusomer experience/service is "nuclear"? I'm just trying to clarify. Thanks.
After our first nuclear explosion with e-bay we reached out and found a great way to submit listings to e-bay without all the costs. For our fabrics, and more than likely for your phone, we need to have several photographs. E-bay charges per photograph after the first photograph while free use listing programs such as Auctiva (http://www.auctiva.com) offers the Seller up to 24 photo's to be included into each listing for the same cost as one when you use the e-bay listing programs. The nice thing about this, is that what you put onto e-bay, then remains at Auctiva and you can use your details to relist the item as needed.
Great writing and thanks.
Yep, that's iron-fisted ebay. Since the auction was closed they could have let it be so you could simply hit relist. I guess that would be too simple for the mental giants ;-)
I am using "nuclear option" to refer to these kinds of sweeping cost cutting moves that do not jibe with creating a remarkable customer experience.
So with eBay, someone in the org decided that it would be cheaper to just wipe out whole listings when something goes wrong, that to invest resources to program the system to keep the listing and make it easy for the seller to relist the item.
I too had a nuclear response (love the term!) from ebay several weeks ago when I listed a "like new" item. I was sternly reprimanded for using misleading terminology (although under the options I listed as used, and I clearly stated it was used). My listing too was deleted, all bids canceled, and I had to start over. I feel the better way would have been to ask me to change wording, but hey they didn't ask me. Great post today!
Jackie what happens if you relist and it goes for less this time? You are penalized because of eBay's action.
Yep, same thing happened to me last year trying to sell my laptop. Fraudulent bidders overbid on the item, way above the reserve, then they win and contact you and say how excited they are that they wont he bid and how you can send the item right away. Of course, no mention of them paying you first.
So I bet 1 out of 10 people get so excited that someone is buying your item for twice it's worth they just ship it. Robbed. And yes, after filing a complaint they did the same thing... they wiped my auction and I had to start all over.
I've never had any luck selling on ebay, only buying.
I had the same nuclear response from ebay. Wrote about it on my blog, cussing the whole time. Still haven't sold that laptop... Tried Craigslist and everyone wants me to ship to Africa for them. Yeah, right...
Nuclear is BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE!
Wow, yep Ebay definitely needs a better policy on that. Sorry to hear you got burned!
Saving listing info for easy re-listing would have save a lot of headaches and problems.
LinkedIn didn't want me to have a listing because Recruiting Animal was not a real name. So they suspended my account then notified me. It took me a week to get the LinkedIn group associated with that account transferred to another manager.
If they would have let me know first, I could have transferred the LinkedIn group to another manager in a minute.
Facebook regularly kicks people off for making a mistake. My friend, The Marketing Headhunter, is one example.
Robert Scoble wrote that Facebook is the new Rolodex so Harry tried to upload his address book to Facebook. They kicked him off without a warning.
Ebay - and their wholly owned Paypal.. read here - its super nova nuclear:
And my own experience:
Yep, I had the nuclear option happen to me three times in a row for the same item - my laptop. What a pain to relist the item, uploading all the pics again, retyping the listing, etc.
Well, for the second time I created my own html page and used that. Fortunately, although I didn't expect it, this made the third relisting a little simpler. Still annoying nonetheless. It kept happening with different successful bidders but the same situation - much the same as with Jim - the winning user wanting me to send it immediately, and to a different address than on their account.
The second and third winning bidders actually used the 'Buy It Now' option and when I looked into their ebay user details (as I was quite suspicious by this point) it showed that all on the same day they had registered a new account, bought the item, then closed their account. WTF?? I guess some people naively proceed with the sale without looking just a little deeper.
Surely there's something eBay can do. If not to prevent the fraudulent bidders, at least make relisting simpler. Yes, a relist option/button. By the way, after 4 'completed' suctions of my laptop I never actually sold it to anyone legit! Ended up selling it in the local classifieds, first time round LOL.
Great thoughts! I've had similar things happen with Ebay myself. If it weren't so stupid - it might be sad. They're truly working hard to destroy what's left of their tribe. After several bad experiences, I left Ebay and started selling on my own retail website. Now, I'm saving about $1000 per month in fees...
two other ebay examples:
I got a Nike T-Shirt at a local marathon. One size too big. Listed it on ebay, as NEW (since it was). Listing got deleted: Nike themselves complained about it since it might be a fake article -even though I had published pictures of all tags and indicas of originally-Nike which Nike had sown onto the shirt to prove it was a real, actual Nike-made shirt.
My sister listed Ugg-Boots which I brought her from Sydney (shortly after they had gotten fashy and trendy). Ugg is a generic term in australian english that stands for shoes or boots made of sheepskin, with the fur being on the inside. But some company had a trademark on the term Ugg. First in Australian, then in all other continents. When they tried to use it to kick other makers of uggs out of the market, these went to court and had the trademark removed - in Australia only. So now when you list on ebay an Ugg boot which is not from that certain company, your listing gets deleted for using a term which they've trademarked. Even though it's a generic word.
...reading others comments .. someone from UK once bought a camera of me, and asked to have it delivered to Nigeria, before sending the payment. When complaining to ebay that buyer was fradulent, they did send back my fees. But nothing else happened from their side. And no useful response to my email that asked them to work together with police.