A seller on eBay reportedly has initiated libel proceedings in a British court based on the online feedback given by the customer. The customer wrote that the cell phone yet purchased through eBay was damaged. The seller claimed that this feedback was “unreasonable” in view of the fact that the customer had received a full refund.
By Jon Swaine
Oct 23, 2008
Chris Read used the auction website’s feedback facility to claim that the device he was sold by Joel Jones, a 26-year-old businessman from Suffolk, did not live up to its billing.
“I was told the phone was in good condition, but there were scratches all over it, a big chip out of the side and it was a different phone. I paid for a Samsung F700 and got a Samsung F700V,” Mr Read said.
After returning the phone and asking for a refund, Mr Read, 42, a mechanic from Herne Bay, Kent, posted his feedback, saying: “Item was scratched, chipped and not the model advertised on Mr Jones’s eBay account.”
The facility is designed to reassure would-be customers that a seller on the site can be trusted, or to warn of bad experiences that suggest doing business with them is risky.
After making his comments, Mr Read received an email from Mr Jones, who sells used electronic goods, claiming that the comments were damaging his business and threatening legal action unless Mr Read deleted them. He also received a refund.
Mr Read said: “Obviously I was shocked. I just replied saying I stood by my comment and would go to court if necessary.”
Soon after the email exchange, Mr Read received a pre-court letter from Mr Jones, demanding that he agree the comments were unreasonable. The businessman warned him that if he did not respond within seven days, he would be taken to court and face costs of £175 as well as “substantial” lawyers’ fees.
Mr Read said: “I can’t believe someone can be so petty. I only wanted to buy a phone. All I had done was left an honest opinion and everything I said was true.
“I thought that was why the feedback service was there. It’s not like I wrote anything malicious or nasty.”
Defending his decision to proceed with court action, Mr Jones said he believed that the feedback was “unfair, unreasonable and damaging” given that he had given Mr Read his money back.
“I’m like Tesco,” he said. “If you don’t like the goods then you get a full refund. Surely that is great customer service and deserves positive feedback.”
“I am being punished by eBay because of it and the items I have for sale are being pushed down the search listings.
“I’m losing money by the day and my business could go under because of it. I’ve been left with no option but to take legal action and I’m sure I’ll be successful.”
Insisting he had done nothing wrong, Mr Read said: “I’m prepared to fight my corner.”
Copyright The Telegraph (2008)