Modern nightmare: getting in touch with eBay staff

A couple of years ago my company bought the software package QuarkXpress from someone at eBay. Recently we tried to upgrade that version to the most current one, but Quark declined the upgrade saying the version was already upgraded. This upgraded version is registered to the person who sold us our old version, which is a clear violation of Quark’s licensing policy. But even though this person – who is known to Quark – is using a pirated copy Quark still declares this as not being their problem…

So it’s up to us – or more precisely to me – to try and resolve that issue so that we can upgrade the package. So I browsed my old email archives (glad I still had them) and finally found two mails between the vendor and myself. Unfortunately there was no address and not even a name, but I had the eBay auction number.
Next I tried to access that auction within eBay, but since it was older than 90 days it wasn’t there anymore. However I still found the rating and by this I could access the vendor’s profile. He’s still active in eBay. Since I intended to write a (snail mail) letter to him, I needed his name and address. So I set out to contact eBay regarding that issue.

Have you ever tried to contact eBay?

First attempt: footer navigation, imprint or contact address. Nothing!
Second attempt: “My eBay”, contact link or contact form. Nada!
Third attempt: Help center, contact form. Hooray, it’s there! Oh… category selection. None really fits. Ah… this form might do it. It requires the auction number. Duh! It rejects my 3 year old number. Well, I randomly selected one from the current auctions to make it submit.

Once I got the email-CC of my request I thought that I’d only had to wait for an answer. Ha-ha!

The answer came half a day later and said that they could see no association between me and the auction in question. Well, of course there was none since I randomly picked an auction to make the form submit! But the REAL auction number was inside the text. I politely pointed out this fact and repeated my question. The answer came the next day, saying basically ‘Who are you and why are you emailing us?‘.

Er….Pardon? So I repeated the whole issue, gave auction numbers, mentioned account names and again asked for the name and address of the vendor. The answer came half a day later, saying again basically that they don’t know who I am. It turned out that the email address registered with eBay was an internal mailing list inside my company along the lines of ebay@… – never meant to SEND email, only to receive it. My own emails were sent under my regular account – so there was an address mismatch. And some eBay policy somewhere says that in this case – even if correct names and passwords are quoted – no information may be disclosed. Not that there was a unique tracking code attached to each email, and the initial email originated from eBay’s own form center.

It took me a couple of more and more irritated emails to find out about this policy. One of the customer reps (I got a new one upon each mail exchange – despite the tracking ID) hinted that I could of course change the eBay mail address in the “My eBay” area. Which I did.

So, finally, I made everything right, and finally I was eligible to ask the question I intended to ask all along: name and address of the vendor! I shivered with anticipation as I hit Enter…

… only to get the answer half a day later that they couldn’t find the auction because it’s older than 90 days, and that I “should contact them earlier the next time!”. The question for the vendors name and address was studiously avoided.

Epilogue:
The vendor in question is listed as an eBay PowerSeller. He’s still selling similar software packages and he is posting a sales tax identification number alongside with his auctions – not easy to find – but present as required by national law. It cost us 10 € for a database query to get the name and company address associated with that ID number. Tomorrow’s mail will deliver our letter to him. We’ll see what happens.

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