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back to article Man threatens lawsuit after negative eBay feedback

An eBay shopper may face libel charges after posting negative feedback about a seller on the auction site. Chris Read, a 42-year-old mechanic from Kent, wasn't satisfied with the Samsung phone he purchased on eBay, reports the Daily Telegraph. For one thing, it wasn't the right phone. It was also described to be in "good" …

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Unhappy

Hardly a shocking event

Give the way eBay treats sellers these days, this isn't entirely unexpected.

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Seriously What the hell?

Ok, the guy is complaining because he sold the wrong phone, not in the condition specified, and got negative feedback? I don't care if the guy got his money back, if a shop sold you the wrong thing, you would be narked reguardless of the fact you got a refund. The guy needs to grow a pair, man up and take the comment like man instead of a whinging child.

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Silver badge

Libel?

I admit it is a bit quick to jump the gun on the feedback when a refund was offered, but I don't see the guy denying anything in the content of the feedback.

If you shift dodgy stuff, then expect to get negative feedback ...what a tw@t.

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Only libel if it's false

Should be an open-and-shut case: Look at the listing, look at the phone, see if they match. If they do, it's libel; if not, the fault goes the other way for false advertising.

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Stop

Toys. Pram.

Nuff said.

Oh, AC'd because I don't want to be sued for saying the seller is a bit of a namby-pamby girly-man.

And of course, suing the buyer is going to give the seller lots of positive feedback...? Durrr.

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Bronze badge

wow

To think that a case like this would actually go to court, rather than be summarily thrown out as it so richly deserves to be. I hope that the punter not only gets his costs, but also counter-sues for malicious prosecution.

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Anonymous Coward

How about the other 5 negative feedback left?

Is he going to sue them too?

How about the person who returned the can of sardines? Sue him/her as well?

Or how about the person who left negative feedback for no email response? Sue them as well?

What's worse, negative feedback for a poor auction description & wrong item received, or negative feedback for "no email response"?

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barratry

Hopefully, Read knows the above legal term ... Jones has no chance of winning, and knows it. In theory he has no intention of actually filing suit ...

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Pirate

looky lou

seller has lots of negs and such!

http://www.toolhaus.org/cgi-bin/negs?User=onsalexuk&Dirn=Received+by

not sure why he is so bothered about just the latest, sounds like a seller i'd prefer to avoid

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further

more reading of the ebay listing shows me that it is indeed the F700 offered in the description, the F700V written on the box in the picture, but not in the description, thought to counteract this he states:

ITEM IS IN GOOD CONDITION

ITEM IS IN ORIGINAL BOX

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Bronze badge

Ummm...

From the reports, the seller doesn't seem to have denied the problems - just pointed out that he gave a refund, and isn't that sweet of him.

And sure, it's terribly sweet and all - fulfilling his legal obligations to sell things that are as described.

But I can't help feel that that doesn't actually wipe out the fact of the error in the first place, does it? If there really was a problem with the item shipped, then claiming he's can't have been libelled because he fixed the problem is bonkers.

Sure, the eBay feedback system is screwed - but that doesn't give sellers carte-blanche to sue people into pretending mistakes and errors never happened.

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Gold badge

Sounds like they're both being dicks..

It sounds like they're both being dicks to me. I mean, the buyer SHOULDN'T leave negative feedback if the seller took the item back... it was probably an honest mistake. Especially if he then received the right phone.

On the other hand, suing?

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Great

Maybe it will balanace out the pricks who love to scam and manipulate the sellers, Ive been ripped off by lots of buyers saying goods were not what they thought. When if they could read they might have noticed the detail in the auction.If often goes like this

buyer buys something

we email to confirm they have the goods and to request feed back. ( we leave them feed back anyway)

They reply a couple of weeks later saying its no good blah blah, or say they never got the stuff. (even when signed for) and then say "We will leave neg feedback if you dont give us our money back in full". I say return the stuff they say , "no I'm not paying postage FO". We can no longer win as we can not leave neg feedback about buyers, I know of one trader who has closed his shop as he was being scammed for the guts of 1000 per month. Ebay didnt seem to interested nor paypal.

Ebay also seem to like upgrading your shop to featured when they feel like it and not telling you.

The cost and risk of selling anything of any value on EBay has gotten to high, Ive cleared out my space and will close the shop in a couple of days. The 100 dollars it was costing me in fees n crap per month will buy me about 5k's worth of sales from google ads and sell directly from my own site.

Bring it on.

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Why this one?

He's had six negative feedback in the last six months, so why single out Mr Read? It's not like this was the one that cost him his 100%, or the only one mentioning scratches.

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only one action?

Odd considering that he has other negative feedbacks. As for this one hurting his business, perhaps if he had anything listed for sale it might increase his chances of selling something.

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not the right model??

If its dented or scratched fair, enough, but the specs between the F700 and the F700v (V for Vodaphone version) are the same, so whats the problem?

You would have thought the picture of the phone and box, with Vodaphone stamped on the top of the phone and the box with Samsung SGH-F700v , Vodaphone written on the side would have given the buyer a good idea of what he was buying?

Perhaps he saw the stock pic of the phone and ignored the actual pic of the item.

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Unhappy

Huh?

Ok, let me get this straight, this Read buys item A from Jones, Jones supplies a battered version of item B, Read posts a polite "negative feedback" and Jones is throwing his toys out of his pram?

Ok, what's next, you can done for slander for caling the guy who spilt your pint in the pub "a wanker"? Film & music critics can be sued for giving poor reviews? I thought "opinion pieces" were protected? Surely that is what feedback is?

Seems to me that Read was so far within his right to post his comment it is ridiculous, and that Jones has just been introduced to a fundamental law of business - you fuck up, then it directly & adversely affects your business. Read should be charging him for "consultancy fees".

I so hope to god that if this goes anywhere near a court that Jones is fined so harshly for wasting the courts time that he is put out of business.

Oh and Read, if you're reading this, sock it to him!!!

Jones, if you're reading this, you're a prick.

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Anonymous Coward

Ugh.

How can this man expect to win? If this sort of thing isn't already covered in the ebay T&Cs, then no court would actually take this on as a libel suit, as "item was scratched, chipped, and not the model advertised" is not libel in any way, even if the feedback-leaver was lying, it would not be libel. Whats next, taking people to court for giving an album a bad review? A TV show? Complaining about the price of a supermarket?

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Anonymous Coward

6 other negatives in the last 6 months!

Oh please, he's had 6 negatives in the last 6 months.. one more negative hasn't suddenly tipped the balance and screwed his business.

1) his ebay store is getting more bids

2) some griefers will be bidding just to win & post negative comments and start paypal disputes.

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Flame

Nuts

He's mad. His id is now buzzing round the interweb. This suit is going to do more harm than any negative feedback could. Anyway, he's had a total of 9 negatives. Why isn't he suing them.

Anyway, this is the whole point of the feedback system. Doh.

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Flame

What?

You have to be joking.

Guess this is one of those, "I can sue anyone for anything at any time" moments.

The guy who says his e-bay business is going under from negative feedback needs to look in the mirrir to see why he got the negative feedback in the first place.

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Complete defence

A complete defence to a libel allegation is simply that it was the truth.

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Sympathy for both...but it's a bit counter productive

I have sympathy for both parties here. The buyer didn't get the item in the condition described (according to him) and the seller did give a full refund. However taking a guy to court for negative feedback is OTT. Looking at his feedback profile the seller has had a couple of complaints about similar things but surely not enough to discourage a buyer. If anything, the seller would probably discourage buyers if they think they can't be honest in their feedback.

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Paris Hilton

Feedback

Why didn't he just give him a +0 feedback? After all, he did receive the refund...

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Defense against libel?

Is it a defense against Libel in those parts to have told the truth?

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Silver badge

Hmm...

Looking at the posted link, in the last 12 months he's had 9 Negative Feedbacks and 10 Neutral, so why threaten legal action now?

Perhaps leaving negative feedback instead of neutral was a bit harsh, given that the customer got a full refund, but threatening legal action because of this...?

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Bronze badge

Wow

Business must not be that good if he has that much time to waste

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Alert

eBay does NOTHING to cull the MANY DirtBag Sellers.

I bought a claimed new RC transmitter set from a seller and paid for it via Paypal just 20 minutes after winning the bid - I needed it fast for my kids new plane. I asked the seller, who had offered in the bid to ship it via Priority Mail with the normal USPS tracking number, to ship it right away. He wrote he would. Well three weeks later we never got it and after 6 demands for proof that he'd actually shipped it (even Paypal demanded it finally) and he never supplied it, Paypal FINALLY gave me a refund. Then the bastard had the never to file a "strike" that I'd never paid for it! (I had the Paypal confirmation number IN THE Dispute documentation!) What nerve this fraud had!

It was easier finding teeth in a hens mouth trying to get eBay to do ANYTHING! Did they penalize this fraudulent seller? Hell no. At least Paypal lists phone numbers and will talk to you; eBay hides everything for contacting them LIVE!

eBay sucks. And oh yeah I ripped the Seller a new asshole in his negative Feedback .... just try to sue me!

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Feedback loop

Unfortunately the ebay feedback system is too biased to be useful to any individual trader - by the time eBay tarders like this can even have a hint that they have poor trading practices its too late - their business /is/ fuct...

the eBay tarder is dead, long live the eBay tarder...

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Libel... Not so much.

In the US, three things must be true for a statement to be considered libel/slander.

The statement must be false.

The person making the statement must know that it is false.

The person making the statement must have malicious intent.

Open and shut case. It isn't libel. Whether or not the seller files suit, the buyer should consider suing for mail fraud and/or false advertising. I wouldn't think it was warranted if the seller wasn't such an overbearing prick, but, in my humble opinion (quick, take note that I believe this to be true) the seller is, indeed, an overbearing prick.

He is complaining that his business will suffer because of the negative feedback. Is he too stupid to realize that this is the point of negative feedback? If you fuck a buyer, that buyer can warn others so that they are not also fucked. Feh.

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What a moron

Read is a moron, he got the the exact phone he was bidding on, i hope he looses in court.

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from the front lines

Thank god for the new feedback rules. A few months ago, the buyer would've just gotten negged too, for telling the truth. Happened to me, fn asshole sellers.

Of course, the whole feedback system is shot. Everyone always gives +1 unicorns and rainbows. You get one negative feedback and it's a huge deal. There's no flexibility in the system. Then sellers expect that if they sell you the wrong thing but make it up for it afterwards, they don't deserve the atomic bomb that is a -1.

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Flame

negative vibes

The buyer had a pretty negative experience, so that should be marked by negative feedback. When I look at an item on Ebay I expect to see an accurate description so that I can make an informed decision about it, not only IF I am going to bid on the particular item because it is the item I want, but also what I consider the item to be worth to me in the condition warrented by the seller. To mislead in this area just wastes the buyers time and/or postal costs, and IMHO the seller deserves a neg listing to warn others that his listings may not be wholly accurate.

Given the neg.neutral listinge he has already attracted, the best thing he can do is go sit in a quiet room and figure out why so many of his buyers feel that he has been less than great to trade with. I too hope the case gets slung and costs are awarded to the defendant, small claims courts are not stupid, and the law is very clear. If this guy thinks he can "pretty up" descriptions of well worn goods, he faces a lot more negativitity around his username.

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Go

One More Reason

One more reason I avoid, at all costs, the boys of eBay. Caveat Emptor.

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Positive?

So he sends an item different to that advertised, in a condition not as stated, then, after fulfilling his obligations to refund the money, expects positive feedback - having wasted the punters time. If there's a growing malaise with british businesses of all sizes these days, it's that clearing up after your own slipshod work qualifies as customer service worthy of praise. Try providing a decent service in the first place before whining when someone has the temerity to moan.

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ha!

This guy has a tonne of bad comments both in his negatives, neutrals and even there in the positives. i hope he does try and sue and any decent solicitor will take him to the cleaners with just his awful phone selling record and poor service.

By doing this hes brought more attention to his shabby 2nd hand mobile phone business than anything else, and will probably go under.

Try providing a decent service and good phones rather than lying about them and sending them out slowly with no communication.

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Sick of scum on all ends

There are a lot of honest businesspeople on eBay that do their best to sell quality merchandise and take great care not to make false promises. These are actually the majority, believe.

Yet there are scumbags on all ends. There are buyers who will complain about a used item being in used condition, even complaining about marks and dents that were both described and pictured in the auction. Then there are sellers who will write their stuff up into the clouds without a hint of irony —maybe some "quality" handcrafted item— and what you receive looks like it was put together from junk by a talentless 4-year-old. If you are gracious enough not to demand your money back from such a seller since it's not really worth the trouble but cannot help giving negative feedback due to them also taking *weeks* to send you said turd for a fifth of what you paid in shipping cost while never responding to your inquiries, they will send you angry curses via mail — or what, take you to court? Hello?

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Coat

i wonder...

i just want to know where these idiots come from? is it something in the water or air?

clearly the seller is in the wrong. item was not as advertised it was scratched and chipped right?

buyer returns it asks for refund and gets it and leaves negative feedback.

that is perfectly normal even in real time retail. as in you get something wrong or broken you return it get money back or exchange if you feel mean or oranary exchange few unpleasant words and that is that.

and the seller gets huffy over negative feedback over wrong item?

geez can some one please beat his head into a wall or something? or better yet his parents for not teaching this twit any better

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Alert

eTatbay

You pays your money

You takes your chances....

I wouldn't touch the great tat bazaar if it was the only shop in the world.

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RE: not the right model??

Actually there is a freaking huge difference; since vodafone have a tendency to dick around with the phone.

For example (this is not exhaustive, just a sample of what I've seen on their phones when compared to the factory stock supply)

-- Almost all supplier-created AND certified software is removed so that Vodafone can charge you for the privilege of having software that's free anyway.

-- All games are removed. You must pay, infidel, via Vodafone Live! for games; and NO you cannot browse easily to the manufacturer's site via the phone to get them for free.

-- Typically removes and replaces quicklink shortcuts (just try using a Vodafone SE 850i for example). They are often replaced with stupid choices - like on touch-screen phones, access to vodafone live is where your cheek brushes it constantly. After a 4 minute call, you rack up an additional charge from the Live! malarky.

Resetting the software is typically expensive, and sometimes can destroy the phone, depending on the crap vodafone have installed to protect their "asset" that you paid for.

Besides which, I don't care if he gave the buyer a better model - it was a lesser model than advertised, moreover it arrived abused and worn. One out of three makes him silly for grumbling, all three? I don't think I have the discipline needed to leave a politely-phrased negative comment.

I'd want blood.

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Stop

Report to trading standards, so the seller faces criminal prosecution

A lot of the posters here, as well as the seller, seem to be completely ignorant of consumer law. The thing the buyer should do now is report the seller to the Trading Standards office of the town where the seller does business.

There are legal statutes and case law that define how good a description has to be. If the seller has broken the Trades Description Act, then giving a refund is not enough. The refund only covers the legal right to return goods received in unsatisfactory condition, under the Sale of Goods Act, for a full refund (including expenses such as postage).

If at any point the seller has lied about the goods or conditions, then the trading standards people or the police can look at the possibility of charging him with fraud. But that would normally only be persued when someone takes the money, but sends no goods.

The law is what the law says, not eBay, nor what commenters think.

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tw@t

I hope Jones looses this, just reading his feedback should be enough to know that you are not always going to get what is advertised. Saying it is a business - I hope he is paying his taxes because sticking your head about the turret will get it shot off by the taxman.

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Paris Hilton

Typical pBay cr@p

I used to buy things on qBay - but Sears Robot trashlet cured me of it. Bought a couple of tools from them and after the 3rd or 4th time - one of them came broken. It took forever for them to acknowledge this - and accept a return of the item. I left negative feedback (note that I had left positive feedback for all of the other items). From there on out I was blocked from bidding on the items at the Sears trashlet. This was their way of dealing with bad results - blame the customer. (I even complained to dBay and Sears (Central corp) that this was unfair. Both blew me off. Funny thing - I used to spend a lot at Sears - and through pBay - but no longer go to either place unless I absolutely have to. (I don't buy things from their subsidiaries either.) May they both go bankrupt.

Even Paris know how to handle things better. She also probably gives more of a $#!t about others then fBay and the trash compactors that sell stuff there.

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Libel?

It's only libel if the claims are incorrect, and seeing as 580+ feedbacks with 98% positive...this wouldn't be the only complaint the seller has recieved. Grounds for libel? Hardly.

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Paris Hilton

Negative feeback ?????

Wow the sellers complaint of receiving negative feedback and potentially taking down is business is a laff-riot. The negative feedback his aggrieved customer gave him is NOTHING compared to the bucketloads of shit feedback the crosslinking and postbacks this article has just done his business.

And for what it's worth with the profile he had BEFORE Mr Read bought anything I wouldn't have gone within 100 paces of the bugger.

Here's hoping he does go to the wall on the back of this spurious litigation...

Paris...cos she knows how to take feedback, negative or not

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Anonymous Coward

intresting

lets just spread the word for everyone to stay clear of this guy, then he'll never get back feedback again.

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Unhappy

Noooo Dont sue for libel.....

because it is total waste of time. Seriously, I sued someone for libel and lived to regret it. It took 3 years and in the end he counter sued ,the case was transferred far away up North and was a disaster for both.

Courts are SERIOUSLY bad for your health. If you have a problem with persistent posters of

libelous material and you have warned them (or they should realise) it is causing you alarm or distress, then issue a summons in a Magistrates Court (You can do yourself) and allege CRIMINAL harassment under PFHA 1997.

That is just my advice, dont rely on it soley.

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@Kanhef

So where did you get the idea that the truth can't be libelous? Are you thinking of malcious falsehood? That is a different matter altogether.

When making a claim for libel in English law there has never been a requirement to prove that the published words are untrue. In a nutshell you must prove that the words are defamatory, that they would be understood to refer specifically to you and that they have in some way been published to a third party. Obviously that the words were published and refer specifically to Jones are beyond dispute. So the only thing to contest is whether or not the words are defamatory. There is no specific definition in law of what defamatory, which is why lawyers make so much money.

Whether the words are defamatory could broadly be measured by the question: Do the words lower the claimant in the eyes of society in general? In this case with specific reference to the claimant's business. I think the answer would be yes.

However, libel actions can be defended on the grounds of justification, fair comment and/or privilege. In this case you would be looking at a defense of justification or one of fair comment. The very fact that the claimant gave a refund ought be enough to prove that the words are justified. However if the claimant has never actually accepted in writing that the phone was not as described then he could claim that the refund was a goodwill gesture, at which point it would be up to the defendant to prove that his feedback was justified or fair comment. In which case I think the defendant would need to prove that the claimant had not disputed the detail of the defendants claim for a refund. Had the claimant disputed the fact that the phone was not as described, but had offered a refund anyway then the libel will be harder to defend.

Many people make the assumption that the defendant does not have to prove anything. This is true in a criminal case where the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. However, in a libel case the onus lies with the defence to prove that their words are justified or fair comment or they have the privilege to make those comments.

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