It seems to me that eBay was intended, at least originally, for ordinary folk like myself to buy and sell unwanted items from their homes. In my opinion, it is now deteriorating because of the power sellers and eBay shops taking over.
The problem is that anyone who sells a large number of items is not hurt by the odd negative feedback, and therefore doesn't have to offer any level of customer service to buyers who are not happy with the goods or service they receive. They can also leave negative feedback in retaliation, which will have much more of an impact against an ordinary person's lower feedback score, especially if that buyer is also a seller. Sadly, I'm sure this puts many buyers off leaving deserved negative feedback.
As a sad example, my wedding day was booked for 24 June, and my partner and I were using a local hotel for the service and reception. We have a two-year-old daughter, and knew she wouldn't stay the pace until midnight, so booked a room as close as possible to the function room where she could go to bed when she was ready. We checked several months beforehand that our baby monitor would operate between the bedroom and the function room.
Two weeks beforehand, the monitor started playing up, and we decided we had better buy a new one. On Monday 12 June I bought a baby monitor from 'homephonesonline', plenty of time for it to arrive. When I hadn't seen it by Friday 16 June I began emailing the seller on a daily basis explaining the situation without getting any response. On Wednesday 21 June I phoned homephonesonline, and was told that a bag of items had gone missing in the post and I would receive a refund within half an hour.
There was still no refund that evening, so I sent another email to ask what was going on. Still believing there would be no problem, I went out on Thursday morning and bought a monitor from Boots. That evening I received another email from homephonesonline to tell me that a replacement item had been shipped after all. I replied to say it was no longer required and asked if I could have a refund if it was returned - I was told I could.
The monitor arrived in its original box bound up with lots of parcel tape. I didn't want to peel all the tape off only to have to re-pack it, so stuck two labels on it - one with the return address, and the above with the eBay item no., my eBay id and a note that a refund had been agreed. I sent the parcel back by special delivery.
Despite the fact that it was delivered and signed for the next day, and that there is proof of this available on the Royal Mail Web site, homephonesonline would not give me a refund. The argument was that it was too difficult to locate the returned parcel within their 'system' because there had been no paperwork included within it. Eventually I got my money back via a Paypal dispute.
This in itself is bad enough, but the worse thing about this situation is the way I was treated. Emails were not returned, phone calls were not returned, and in my last phone conversation with 'Lee' at homephonesonline, he was incredibly rude to me, said I had no common sense and that I should take him to court to get my refund.
On looking at the feedback against this seller, there is other negative feedback indicating rudeness and a lack of help when buyers have not been happy with their goods. This seller currently has a feedback score of 99.4% with over 20000 positive feedbacks. He/she sells approx 1000 items per month, most of which are perfectly satisfactory I'm sure, but there is clearly no comeback in the event that they are not.
I should leave negative feedback, but I don't think it would even change the score in this case. And I have already seen that negative feedback is left in retaliation by this seller, so with my current feedback score of 100 and as a seller myself, I cannot afford to have that reduced to 99% by retaliation.
Can you imagine dealing with a shop or store and being spoken to like this? Can you imagine returning an item, handing it over and seeing proof that the shop took it into their possession, then watching them toss it in a corner and say they couldn't find it? Or that they wouldn't give you a refund because the paperwork was not in the box? Nowhere else but eBay can a salesperson get away with this behaviour.
From now on, I only buy from people like myself, or shops and power sellers with 100% feedback and no less. I guess I was niaive not to do so in the first place. I just wanted to make sure that other people get this view without having to go through a similar situation.