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Saturday, March 3, 2012

*%&^ eBay! A tale of lies, deceit, and them owing us $400.

  Good Morning...  Rebecca here.  I don't even know where to begin.  The beginning, I guess.

Obviously, we started this business last March.  We took baby steps in the first few months and finally when we realize we were profitable, we decided to open an eBay account.  Now, both Brian and I had our own personal eBay accounts and we each had eBay accounts for our respective businesses prior to this one-- but we didn't want to use those accounts.  We're trying to do everything legitimately.  We wanted to  be on eBay under the name StorageHeroes and do it the way it should be done.

No dice.

I could sit here and whine and bitch and complain and tell you all these lies about eBay, or my personal opinion, but fortunately-- I've been saving all the documents and have recorded the phone calls, so readers, we're going to leave it up to you to decide.

Here goes nothing.

August -  We open our eBay account.  They tell us we are not eligible for a business account and that the name StorageHeroes is taken.  We open the account under the name storage_unit_treasures.

Here's our first e-mail from eBay:

Everything looks normal, right?   So I thought.  So I made my first listing.  A French Connection dress.  Here's that e-mail:

It was one item and it was $24.00.  Not sure why it raised red flags, but for some reason it did.

I soon received a suspension e-mail:  

I made the phone call, but it didn't matter...  even before I made the phone call, they pulled my listing:

Upon making the phone call, I found that eBay's verification process was allegedly to have me fax a copy of my Driver's License to an eBay fax machine.   It was NOT a 1-800 fax number, which meant that I had to pay long-distance fax fees, but on top of that, the area code was not California.  I asked where the fax machine was headquartered and was told that it was "outside of the United States."  I asked them to disclose what country it was located in, and they would not tell me.   I refused to fax my information, and asked if there was anything else I could do.  They basically told me no, there was nothing else I could do.  Exasperated,  I gave up after they hung up on me.

Flash forward to February.  We came across a really nice 96 piece Depeche Mode lot in a storage unit, and I knew that we could sell it locally but that we could get almost double for it if we listed it on a site that has a larger reach.   It was time to look into eBay again.

I logged into my other account, and found that there was now an option where businesses could log in as businesses and not as individuals.   So, I opened a new account (for some reason "StorageHeroes" was now available, so that was a yay and I picked that name right away)  and put all of our new business information.  I waited a few days this time, so it was not a brand new account, and even bid on a few items as a buyer.

Days later, I listed the item and had a bid within a few hours.   The Depeche Mode lot was listed at $400 and that was our opening bid, not even counting the shipping fees.  We were pretty excited about it.   Since they removed our other items, I was kind of fearful that I had done a lot of work for nothing, but I was happy that we had a bid.  I waited a few days though to list anything else, just in case.

It's a good thing I waited, because I received an e-mail from eBay letting me know that I was suspicious and they needed more information.  There were a couple of different ways I could verify myself, and that I should click on the "increase seller limits" tab to proceed.  I followed the instructions.

The options were various, but one of them was to link to another business account I had with eBay.  I did that, and was successful in increasing both accounts to $5000 limits.  I received a nice congratulations message.

Here's a screenshot of my new limits:

I waited another day or two to make sure THAT change stuck, and then I proceeded to list a BUNCH of items.  I stayed up until 3am and listed about 20 items.

Here's some of my completed listings:

And e-mails confirming the listings:

Now, if you notice-- the very top e-mail from eBay in bold is one letting me know that my listings were removed.  I went to bed at 3am and received this message at 8am, less than 5 hours later.  To say that I was pissed off when I woke up that morning is an understatement.  I should also point out that they removed the item with the $400 bid on it!

I log in to my account because I'm of course confused, and this is what I see:

I click on the Contact Us link, because I've done this before, and I know this means they want me to call them.  After clicking the link, I get this:

Frustrated to a maximum level now, I'm still trying to keep it cool.   I make Phone Call #1 to eBay.  They hang up on me, and this audio is not available.

I then make Phone Call #2 to eBay.  You can hear this conversation below.  They ended this one by hanging up on me as well.  Basically the best parts of the phone call is when they tell me in direct terms that they "do not want my business"  and that I have "violated the spirit of eBay".  They say I am restricted and can no longer list or buy on eBay.  They hang up on me.

I get this e-mail a day later:

Because they've only given me 48 hours to contact them to avoid being suspended forever, and because the last time I failed this step and know that there is NO APPEAL, I decide to call them the next day, but to make sure Brian is with me this time (he doesn't believe me at this point, I don't think).   Phone Call #3 is recorded below and is even more ludicrous.

Here is our intro video to the whole situation:

 Here's phone call #2, back from February.  Remember, it was just me on the line with the woman, but Brian and I do "Mystery Science Theater" to the call:

Now it's time to really get serious.   Our phone call together to eBay... Phone call #3 from this morning:

While we were on this call, we received an e-mail.  Here's a copy of the e-mail.  You'll hear me opening it (and freaking out) during Phone call #4.

And finally, phone call #4 with some final thoughts:

So the moral of the story folks, is %*$& eBay.  If they'd like to contact us to resolve this, we are more than willing and amenable to any agreement they can come up with.  But for now, we'll be focusing on Craigslist, Etsy, and Bonanza, and we'd advise you to do the same.  It's cheaper anyway and they have much better customer service.  And if you've never used Bonanza, at least just check them out-- you'll be very pleasantly surprised!  They are an up and comer but have a ton of really new and exciting features.

&%*^ eBay.

Until next time,

Storage Heroes


  1. I have had the same issue with Ebay, it is annoying,

    What i did is bought a few things first, then listed one item, complete this, then the next week put 2 items, and slowly built it up,

    I didn't mention anything as to were i got the items from, as eBay dont like that as they consider them stolen, this might be why your getting suspended...

    I once even got a email from them about my Java Moss that i grow in my fish tank to prove that i owed this product, and that i have purchased it and asked for my supplier details. (i grow this my self)

    any issue that you maybe having is the way Ebay, keep track of people, they use your Internets IP address, if you log out of ebay, and delete all your cookies, and then change your IP address, some will change if you disconnect, and some you will need to call your provider,
    Never sign in on the 2 that they have blocked again, and dont use the paypal account, sign up new ones on a new gmail account and slowly, work it up, you will be fine...

    good luck!
    A fellow storage seller, and ushipper from Australia!


  2. Wow! Thank you for sharing this. Sorry you had such a bad experience, I think eBay is out of control, very one-sided with their policies.

    I will check out Bonanza, good tip.

  3. OK...I'm really not sure why you are having these issues. I have been selling on ebay since Nov. 2001 and I have no limits at all. In fact, I am a top rated power seller with an ebay store and there is no limit on what I can list. They do have alot of rules, but they also have the largest audience as well. So, you have to take the good with the bad if you want to sell there.

  4. Interesting, you should send to news stations....maybe they can investigate and be able to contact someone at EBay!

  5. I've had similar issues on a personal and a business account this year, after 15 years of ebay/paypal usership and a perfect record.

    Not quite as bad, but valid listings removed because I mentioned the items were legitimate (sealed retail software), and 21-day holds on incoming payments along with outright lies in email from Paypal customer service about which transactions were affected by 21-day holds.

    I ended up with a personal contact at the SIIA (whitelisted now, since I do pay attention to the software I sell and even tell them and eBay why they mismarked my auctions) and a desire to check out places like bonanza and gumroad, and to get my bricks-and-mortar storefront going sooner so I can sell in person. :)



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