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back to article eBay glitch wipes out 11 year-old account without a trace

eBay users on both sides of the Atlantic are reporting potentially serious site glitches that have confounded customer service representatives trying to diagnose and fix the problems. The glitches, while unrelated, both appeared to involve database problems that prevented users of the online auction house from carrying out basic …

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Joke

Why should they be encumbered by the past?

They're obviously trying to reinvent themselves as Web2.0 these days, so why should they care about things like reliability, or faithful users which predate AJAX?

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Google auctions PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

when are google going to get on this ?

Its been a shoddy auction experience in the uk since yahoo exited

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Death by deletion

Oh, no! The poor guy has suffered death by deletion. 11 years of eBay life has been wiped out by a "glitch" in the system.

Anybody know if this has happened on Second Life?

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They should go to backup...

Every major data center in the world has backup records and so should eBay. I work for a major hospital system and we have backup records that go back a year. eBay should be able to find the missing records and restore them. If they don't have backup records, shame on them and they are flirting with disaster.

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No Accountability

you hit it right on the nose! Following the familiar pattern of many large modern company's, eBay is succeeding in driving away their customer base and making it extremely difficult to do business on their venue. Senior management is killing the organization and the livelihoods of many well meaning businesses. Meg Whitman has got to go while eBay can still be saved!

Fuck eBay.

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Anonymous Coward

So Whats new????

Ebay has been suffering from all these problems for years.

I'v had stuff sent to me for no reason (although on contacting the seller they have confirmed that I was the winning bidder and had paid by paypal) even when my ebay and paypal accounts showed nothing. I'v had an account disapear (ID Theft, which Ebay couldn't do anything about as the thief changed all my contact details and EBay refused to deal with me as I couldn;t answer any security questions correctly) EBay sucks, come on Google, at least with you I could see the sellers house before I bid, If it's some scroat from Wythenshaw I'll know not to bother.

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@Thomas

Nail on head.

There should be tape/NAS back up of data going back years, I think the tax man in the UK requires financial records going back 5 years.

Screnario:

Ebay support:

"When was the last time you successfully accessed your account Mr/Ms. X".

Mr/Ms. X:

"November 3rd 2007".

Ebay support:

"OK Mr/Ms. X I have requested the search of November back up media for your account. We will contact you within 24 hours".

Mr/Ms. X:

"Thank you, bye".

Ebay support:

"you're welcome, bye".

and within 24 hours it is proven if Mr/Ms X is a scammer or the real thing.

Am I being idealist here or is the above kind of service to be expected?

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Anonymous Coward

always please to help at eBay's

Not too surprised,

After sendind a couple of emails to signal that I was receiving receipts for bids I did not place, I got the standard reply from eBay customer services : highly irritating and unhelpful.

On the plus side I get the perfect view on what the highest bidder is prepared to pay, interesting to avoid paying too much.

Looks to me like a major security issue, just hope they're not sending the PayPal account details the same way.

I'm pretty sure the "edaaffa0a4d340a9102214" is the encrypted value of the User's pseudo, nice way to work out the AES, DES3 or may be just DES :o)

'av a look @ http://www.addsimplicity.com/downloads/eBaySDForum2006-11-29.pdf and laff

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Anonymous Coward

It's a pity...

...that companies are not required by law to have adequate backup and recovery systems in place if they want to pass their annual audit.

And what sort of helpdesk monkey can't understand that if you're claiming your account has been hijacked, you won't be able to answer any security questions? Why don't they have the intelligence to speak to their counterparts at PayPal to get problems sorted out?

What is wrong with these people?

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Google Auctions?

Want to talk about lack of accountability? Try talking to Google about their near monopoly on Usenet spamming, GMail spam through hijacked accounts, or them hosting criminal drug spammers on Blogspot.

"Thank you for your note. This is an automated reply. If you're reporting a

spam email with a Google return address, please be assured that it did not

originate with Google. Google does not permit others to send unsolicited

email through its mail servers."

Imagine getting something like that when you've lost a few hundred dollars.

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Ulp!

I also have my first name as my user ID... registered since 1997, 100% feedback.

Scary stuff.

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Fuck ebay

They have no accountability, complete deniability, utter irresponsibility, and they're assholes to boot. They provide a useful service, yes, but the way they go about doing it makes them less trustworthy than a hungry fox in a hen house.

Until they implement some form of policy that sees them accept responsibility for their fuck-ups, I'll be staying well clear of them.

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RW
Paris Hilton

The bigger they are, the harder they fall

Coming on the heels of an unhappy experience with Amazon, this report makes me think that these big online monopolies inevitably lose contact with their customer base and fail to remember that if they don't solve their customers' problems, they're toast. I don't mean malfunction type problems but problems like "do they have that book I want?", "what it will cost to ship it?", "what kinds of payment are accepted?", and similarly mundane but essential issues.

Amazon appears to me to be working so hard to force recommendations down one's throat that the basic functions of their system have been seriously degraded. They don't seem to realize that there are alternatives and if you put too many speedbumps on the information highway (to use some archaic language), customers will turn to those alternatives: they're only a click or two away.

Ebay is shooting themselves in the foot in other ways, but the spirit of the exercise is the same: damn the customers and full speed ahead.

Give me Craigslist any day of the week.

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2 winner glitch

Yeah - I had a fun glitch recently. I listed one item, and ebay let two people buy it using buy-it-now. So I had a payment from each of them, each of whom thought they'd won.

I had to spend my own money refunding the difference, & ebay has been USELESS in helping me. They say they're not responsible for "interruptions of service" & refuse to budge. Ebay? Ebastards more like...

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Alert

My (lack of) Space

Similar thing happened to me with my MySpace account. I woke up one morning to find that there was no sign of my account and all the help desk had to say was -

"MySpace will not restore deleted accounts. If you deleted your own account, please create a new account and note that if you wish to remove it, the deletion is permanent.

If your account was deleted by MySpace, please review our Terms of Service in order to better understand our community rules. If you wish to create another account on MySpace, please heed these rules in order to avoid future deletion."

No matter how many times I asked the question 'Why was the account deleted?' this was the only answer they were willing to give so now I have a Facebook account :-)

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Unhappy

rivals to ebay in the UK

there is a UK auction house - ebid.

I did long ago sign up with QXL, but gave up on them because there were so many dodgy items and sellers. they would also spam me. not sure if its improved, but I don't get the spam any more!

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Backups of databases

You are all right, they not only should have a backup of their systems, they are legally required to under the data protection act, as they have a duty of care of your data. The problem is that if they are using a cheapass backup system and a chepass database (I don't know what they are using, but it's not hard to belive is it?) they may not be able to recover individual records or tables, this would leave them in the situation where they can't recover an individual user, but they can recover everything in one go. I've seen this method quite a lot with companies who want to save a quid or two. They all eventually end up trying to work out how they are going to recover individual bits of the database...

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@ adnim

You see, you've fallen at the very first hurdle in your idealised world

Scenario:

Ebay Support:

eBay doesn't have support - it has a (pretty stupid) bit of AI software that throws almost, but not quite, completely unrelated automated replies at you!

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Unhappy

Deleted

Deleting things seems to be eBaY's new way of solving problems. Probably another of their automated scripts gone wild. I have had several auctions deleted only hours from completion due to words or phrases which breach one or other of their policies but where fine for the prior 7 days. eg. "please contact me for more info" - the "safety" team suggested I was trying to avoid paying fees by trading outside of ebay. On contacting customer "no"services, I was told the auction had been removed and there was nothing they could do, well other than relisting and waiting another 7 days (to have it deleted for another inane reason)

I have been told the scripts just have key words to look for and take no account for context...

Role one someone else creating a competitor to Fleabay, they are just getting to big and greedy for everyones good.

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refusenik

No doubt about it, ebay and amazon don't care about anything as long as they get their cut. I didn't want accounts with either of them (or paypal) but in this crap country what alternative is there for getting anything different to what's available in the high street. Any high street - they're all the same. Don't trust google either.

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Unhappy

ebay and Paypal scum

Ebay and Paypal exist to serve ebay and Paypal. Purely for profit, and no customer service whatsoever. I have had numerous problems in the past with people buying goods, paying for them on credit card, receiving the goods and leaving feedback saying they were pleased, and then telling their credit card company that the goods didn't arrive. The credit card company then claimed the money back from Paypal, who claimed it back from me, even though feedback had been left, and tracking numbers had been supplied for parcels. This meant I lost the goods and the payment. Bitter and Twisted ? Yes, I am. Customer service meant nothing to ebay or Paypal, and they exist purely to make money in whatever way possible. I was still charged for the listing fees, so they still took their cut. It doesn't surprise me that they have lost these accounts, and have no way to retrieve them, and in fact have no idea where they have gone. I hardly ever use ebay anymore, and wouldn't give them the time of day. In fact, they'd probably lose that then charge me for the fact that they'd lost it.

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Anonymous Coward

Customer service

seems to be a globally dying art. Service reps are only interested in getting rid of the query as quickly as possible, knowing that, when the increasingly angry and frustrated customer calls back, they will be routed to someone else.

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Ash
Flame

"Consistency of service"

Having been fleeced for £200 and getting £2.24 back, I can confirm that their service is indeed consistent with the other reports of scamming;

Shit.

Thanks for reading.

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Pirate

LESLIE, GOOGLE AUCTIONS HELL NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Are you mad??? Google are hell bent on keeping all your data, tracking everything you do and having enough data to say who you are where you live what your email address is and what websites you visit and then store it all , waiting for some hacker to come along and find out alllllll your dirty secrets.

Google, I'd rather trust Microsoft!!!

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RE: Google Auctions?

That reply from Google reminds me of schools responses to acusations of Bullying "We don't have a problem. Nothing wrong here. Thats true because I say so" *Fingers in ears* "La la la la la I can't here you la la la la"

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Flame

They couldn't care less

"Hi, We're eBay and we are the hegemonic provider of auction services. Yes, we don't give a shit but frankly we're so big we don't have to. Where are you worms going to go? QXL? Don't make me fucking laugh. Just shut up and keep paying your money, there's a good soldier."

That's the really existing marketing place not that made-up-invented-place that only exists in economics books that says economic-Darwinism will eliminate all the shit companies. This is monopoly capitalism.

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Anonymous Coward

The ebay philosophy

Change first, test people test it later. If not too many people complain, we'll announce the changes. If there are lots of complaints, we'll keep quiet about the problems until after they're fixed.

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Syd

I hear a lot of people...

... requesting that e-bay hire a better class of monkey to man their customer services help-desk, but...

I seem to remember even louder howls of anguish when their fees went up!

If you pay peanuts...

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Unhappy

delays...

I frequently receive ebay outbid notices several hours after receiving an email telling me that the auction has ended and I didn't win.

I can't say I'm surprised.

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@ the 'Fuck eBay'ers...

You're absolutely right of course - the experience and service is completely shoddy. I've had several run ins with eBay before, who palm you off to PayPal - and then PayPal send you back to eBay, it's ridiculous.

The problem is they can get away with it because they know that no other service on the web comes close to what they do. eBay knows they have no competition on the web, and for the foreseeable future, this will be true.

It's a shame - but they're starting to not give a crap, because of this fact. Poor show.

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My eBay problems

I stopped using eBay after I complained about sellers expecting me to provide feedback before they would. I complained and got no response. Effectively it means that if I pay and don't get an item, then leave negative feedback, they just leave tit for tat negative feedback for me.

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ebay 2 big 4 its own good

The ebay 48hr paypal update fob off is just that, I have a customer payment showing in paypal that 11 days later is still not in ebay and the ebay customer order details have vanished so I don't know who to send the item to!

I have had my ebay account restricted for selling too much of the same thing - we are a computer software stockist and reseller, they've never heard of clearing excess stock so we must be fraudsters making multiple copies. So they restrict our selling, no questions asked, automated replies whenyou query it, no appeal.

Ebay and PayPal have some of the worst instransigent uninformed customer service around.

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Jobs Horns

Ever heard of a little thing called the REST of the internet?

Nothing else works or is safe anymore it seems, why should keeping one or two's accounts straight matter?

Do you trust an outfit like that?

Stick a fork in it.

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Pirate

Scum

Vote added, as I've said before, eBay still haven't rectified my account. 1 year and counting.

Dullards.

@Simon B, the question is not who sets up a credible alternative to eBay, it's whether someone will. I'd go for Pirat-eBay ;<)

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The best part about eBay is...

...their racket on arbitration.

Used to be you could simply get eBay customer service to arbitrate in a case of fraud or false feedback. Now, you have to pay for arbitration just to have the case heard, even in instances where it is bleedin' obvious that the seller/buyer has committed fraud.

The best example I have of this is when I worked in a music shop. We shipped a keyboard synth to a guy. He claimed it didn't work. He used the e-mails from the keyboard company's engineer to back up his claim. When cc'ing the engineer in a response, the engineer came back as saying "I never said this; Dude, if you want to quote me in the future, quote what I say, not what you wanted to hear."

Obviously a situation in which eBay could reverse the negative feedback but chose to instead try and make money off the process.

Fuck eBay. Everything good is beginning to show up on a host of other websites. Sure, you've got to visit a lot more, but it's worth it not to deal with eBay until another big auction house crops up.

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Dodgy Platform

Reading about deleted accounts prompted me to log in just to check that my account still exists. Fortunately it does, and has done for more years than I remember.

While I was there, I checked the URL to see what platform the site runs on:

"http://my.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll"

...A ".dll" extension on a "document" can mean only one thing - the whole damned site is built in .net and runs on the most insecure and unstable platform imaginable (Windows). It also means that its back end database is almost certainly the goddamned awful piece of software known as MS SQL Server.

I'm not intending to start (yet another) Windows-'Nix flame war - we're talking server-side platforms here, specifically internet facing platforms. Given the volume of readily available hacks for flaws in Microsoft web server technology, people still seriously trust this company with their money online?

By the way, what ever happened to the online auction site which was taking off around the time that eBay started up? Was a 3-letter name starting with 'Q' if I remember correctly. Everyone was using it in the day, but somehow everyone seemed to end up using eBay instead...

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Boffin

@Martin H Watson

I agree completely. Sellers should be made to leave feedback about how reliable/trustworthy a buyer you are (i.e. did you pay, that's the whole point about allowing sellers to leave feedback?) before they receive feedback from the buyer. It's a shit system and as a buyer you effectively become a feedback hostage every time.

It's a broken system and the quality of the data in the feedback scores is low/untrustworthy because of this.

Kev

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Alert

@Anonymous Coward - Dodgy Platform

Oh jeez, yet another uninformed Nix fanboy with clearly no actual experience of running a large scale hosting operation on Windows (or Unix probably).

FYI - eBayISAPI.dll is an ISAPI dll written in C++ and is used to handle front end requests.

Properly patched, secured and maintained windows boxes are no less secure than unix boxes. I work for a shared hosting company, we've not had a single break in (i.e. machine hijack) on any of our windows boxes, it's usually customer ftp accounts that get broken because the customer used a daft password but all the attacker can do is hijack the site. We've had more exploits on the Unix platform due to PHP and sloppy security practices by arrogant unix fanboys like yourself who think they know it all, but clearly don't. As far as stability is concerned, we host on average 1200 sites per windows box running ASP, ASP.NET (both versions) and Perl. These boxes are rock solid and any trouble we get is usually because of a customer abusing resources which we monitor for and nail quite quickly.

Love

Windows Fanboy

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Flame

Re: Dodgy Platform

As I understand it most of the eBay auction application is written in Java with the search written in C++; databases are all Oracle and the indexing is done on Sun kit. In fact as far as I'm aware most key eBay systems are run on Sun kit which Sun is proud to boast about: http://www.sun.com/customers/servers/ebay.xml. This really has nothing to do with Microsoft, despite this rather hopeless attempt at flame-bait, does anyone really still talk in drivel like"specifically internet facing platforms"?

Many of the biggest accounting and billing fuck ups were all done on systems that had nothing to do with Microsoft, just look at the nightmares people have with banks, utilities, phones, credit cards, etc.

The site you're talking about is QXL that I recall found a niche in the market as it would let people trade all the undesirable things eBay wouldn't allow like porn, sex toys and the like. No one really used QXL because it was crap and unreliable, ironically subverting the useless diatribe about Microsoft above as QXL actually was, and is, run on an MS platform.

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Flame

Deja Vu

The stories match exactly the problems I have had with Ebay, and why I don't use PayPal any more, or Ebay at all if I can avoid it.

Paying for "Won" auctions that 24 hours later say I didn't win, paying with a credit card on one account and having the money taken from a totally different account and incurring £75 in bank charges with no refund or apology, locked out of THREE accounts in four years.

Can I have a quick swipe at Amazon while I am here "Free delivery on Orders over £16.99" ?? Like FCUK !! £21 order incurred £22 in postage because "We had it shipped directly to you from three different suppliers."

Use "1 click" at your peril.

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Title

I've also had experiences of eBay's 'customer care' team. Their modus operandi appears to be -

1. The user is a liar. Once you've proven that this is not the case...

2. The user is stupid. Once you've proven that this is not this case...

3. see 1., above.

4. after looping 1-3 a few times, or if feeling bored, freeze account and ignore user. That'll teach em to be so demanding!

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Boffin

Let's get some legal framework in place

I suggest that everyone with horror stories about eBay & Paypal start to write letters to their local MP in the UK demanding legislation to protect customers and force them to keep full backups. I'd also push for regulation similar to the FSA for these kinds of entities when operating in the UK, no matter which country they are based in.

All those in favour say aye!

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@Windows Fanboy & Anon Coward

"Properly patched, secured and maintained windows boxes are no less secure than unix boxes"

Utter bollocks.

Windows webservers are usually running IIS, which when I last looked, runs at least partly in kernel-mode. As a result, when cracked the hacker gets full control of the machine. Do some research on the defacing scoreboard sites and see who they are hitting.

Well done for leaping to stupid conclusions like "another uninformed Nix fanboy with clearly no actual experience of running a large scale hosting operation on Windows (or Unix probably)" ... because in fact my previous job was supporting a farm of windows and redhat servers at a big London web design house.

Are you quite done with the "arrogant" and "fanboy" remarks? I think you've done a good job of making yourself sound like a simple-minded windows admin in the process - blaming PHP security flaws on Unix is pretty fucking dumb, since it runs on top of most webservers regardless of platform.

If you're going to label people - get it right: I'm an OpenBSD "fanboy" if anything.

@Anon Coward - yes people DO still use "drivel" like "internet facing platforms" because a lot of companies out there DO still put windows boxes on the 'net with no firewall, and a suprising proportion of those who do bother with firewalls don't seem to know to put 'DENY ALL' as the first rule.

The point I obviously failed to make is that eBay has had big security problems for the last few years, with apparently someone inside their systems running admin level hacks at will. If the site is using URLs containing ".dll" then its almost certainly running a MS webserver ... a quick check suggests that guess was right:

http://toolbar.netcraft.com/site_report?url=http://www.ebay.co.uk

Clearly someone out there likes Microsoft though, as they're catching up in the webserver market:

http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2007/10/11/october_2007_web_server_survey.html

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Thumb Up

what? no backup?

the mind boggles.

tho I understand it's tough to restore an entry or two, but if it's a known issue of a number of deleted accounts, it shouldn't take that long to restore them. Dedicate some newer staffer to get em' redone, maybe even a couple of days-slow but at least the info would get restored.

This is why I use eBay and PayPal as it was meant to be used-not like a bank, and not as a means of support. No money stays in PP accounts, which is linked to a small checking account that has just enough to cover transactions. Nor would I rely on something like eBay to host a livelyhood.

Hell, it's these "businesses" that have practically ruined eBay. Thousands of listings of the same product at the same price-usually higher than a dedicated merchant sells 'em for,drop-shippers who are just middlemen who clog up the works.

Maybe enough bad hype will clear off the dodgy businesses and the get-rich-quick daytraders and make eBay the online garage sale it used to be.

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Go

seems like stefan's undeleted

http://myworld.ebay.com/stefan/

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Anonymous Coward

Restricted Sales

Adding my tuppence - my sister's ebay account was restricted due to the nature of her product and their inability to differentiate - she is a creator of educational resource media which is supplied on disc. Ebay decided that it was impossible for her to own the copyright to all of the items she sells and suspended her account.

A competitor of some sort would certainly be welcome, especially in the UK. But I think that we are in the minority thinking this - I have not really touched ebay for years and started to warn people against it. They didn't want to hear though, and nor should they. For the unconnected general public, ebay is one of the 'internet' things that they've just discovered and they are in the first flush of romance with it, like with all these other damn things.

I think that the majority of people will soon be ready to move their internet experience forward in whatever ways. It's obvious that people will discover at some point that it is much easier to code your own basic webpage than to set up a myspace page. Perhaps the ISP's (and maybe I'm talking to BT really, since they make it absolutely as difficult as possible to administer their internet accounts) will start to provide a more useful introduction to the internet, and attempt to make basic page creation and upload easier. Then maybe we can see more truly quality networking sites (among which i count ebay) which are of use to communities. Perhaps sales should take place on separate sites for different types of items. The task of replacing ebay could be split up and advertised in the specialised areas. More like Abebooks, I suppose even though they are no model of good business. At least they let you advertise your actual real world existence though. Selling stuff via forums or the like may allow you to get a real idea of the seller.

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Stop

Feedback is useless

Slightly off-topic, but the feedback system on eBay could be improved so easily. At present, no one will leave negative or even neutral feedback for fear of retalition.

The way to solve this is have a period of, say, 10 days where neither party can see the feeback left for the other. After these 10 days you lose the right to leave feedback and any feedback left is made public.

That way, people would say what they think and not just AAAAA++++++++ when the item fails to arrive...

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Jobs Halo

@ Sean Healey

I do agree with most of what you said, but for fsck sake, when you talk about the DENY ALL rule, please tell me you start counting from the bottom of the list...

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Boffin

OEZ NOEZ MY RATINGZ!

Sorry, but the EBay rating system was broken for so damned long that I rarely take a sellers rating into consideration.

Giving someone "positive" rating of "A+++ ZOMG GREAT SERVICE" for following the terms of the agreement, and the item being in the conditions described is like giving a 30% tip for a waitress that services you well enough that you have no complaints, but not so good that you were impressed.

My wife tried to give someone a Neutral rating for something she bought in "Like new" condition that was definitely "Used". She stated she was still satisfied with the product, but that it was definitely not "like new". She got flamed by the seller, and ended up not using ebay for over a year.

Now people cannot see their feedback until they GIVE feedback. That's the right way to do it, but people still need to give appropriate feedback.

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Anonymous Coward

Competitors

Is ebay really a monopoly? In NZ a local company, trademe.co.nz competes successfully, are there no equivalents elsewhere?

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