Sometimes No Information from eBay is Better than Misinformation

Posted on September 29, 2008. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , , |


For many years I have called eBay Powerseller support and a few months ago, coincidentally the same time that I started blogging about eBay, I was assigned a specific Top Seller Account Manager and my phone calls to eBay are now being documented.  To this day I have never been able to speak with my Top Seller Account Manager (TSAM).  When I call in, I speak to different account representatives.  What I have consistently found is that at least half the Top Seller Account Managers I talk to are misinformed and give out incorrect information, especially technical information.  

For example, today I received an invoice request from a buyer who resides in Seoul, south Korea.  He sent an invoice request and asked me to ship to a U.S. address, which is not unusual at all in my experience.  We regularly receive requests from international customers who ask us to ship to freight forwarders on the East or West coast.  As long as the buyer pays with Paypal and the shipping information is a U.S. address then I gladly ship to that address because PayPal has an expanded seller protection which covers me.  Now, because I cannot send an invoice through the eBay system to an international buyer with U.S. shipping cost I have to send an invoice through the PayPal system instead.  However, the invoice request came to me without the buyer’s email address (instead the return email address was, as part of eBay’s new anonymous email policy.   

I made the mistake of calling eBay TSAM and asked how I was supposed to send the PayPal invoice to the buyer without his email address.  The TSAM did not address my question but instead tells me that I am wrong for asking the question.  The TSAM explains that I should only use the eBay system for communications and invoicing and that he has never heard of anyone sending an invoice directly through PayPal for an eBay item and that course of action is not recommended.  Of course I informed him that I have been given that recommendation many times by eBay representatives – to send a PayPal invoice directly for an eBay purchase.  He immediately became belligerent and demanded to know who from eBay would give me that advice.   

I tried to move on and I calmly asked the TSAM to explain to me why I was not given the email address of a buyer who was requesting an invoice from me.  After all, there was no fear that I might conduct a transaction outside of eBay because the person had already bought from me on eBay.  The TSAM responded that sellers were not to be trusted with email addresses of buyers because sellers spammed buyers who do not want to receive emails after the fact.  It was hard for me to control my laughter as I pointed out to the TSAM that whenever a buyer pays through PayPal we have their email address.  His response?  eBay and PayPal are different companies and if PayPal gives you their address then that is their choice not to protect the customer but eBay is going to keep the customer safe from email spamming.  

At this point in the conversation I was groaning inside.  I asked the young man who was helping me if he sold on eBay and he hesitantly said yes.  I said that is great and then asked if he was a Powerseller.  He said no then he paused and said he just hadn’t accept Powerseller status because he is “just keeping it real” by “only selling on eBay.. just selling.”  And then he asked why I wanted to know.  I explained that I was finding it difficult to communicate with him because he didn’t seem to understand my problem since he had no experience with international sales and had never heard of a buyer living in another country wanting to have their item shipped to a relative in the U.S. or to a freight forwarding company in the U.S.  The TSAM kept telling me that I was supposed to insist to the buyer that I would only ship to them in Seoul and that whether he sold on eBay or not doesn’t make a difference because he is “trained by eBay” and any answer he gives me “is the right one” according to him.  In all seriousness, I did not know whether to laugh or cry.   

Then the TSAM put me on hold to speak to another rep and came back on the line and confirmed for me that in this case I was to send an invoice through PayPal.  I calmly asked how I was supposed to do that when the Invoice Request did not include the buyer’s email address.  The TSAM became very frustrated and ended the call.  

Sadly, the technical information given to me by the TSAMs is incorrect or incomplete quite a bit.  For example, the last time I called Top Seller a nice young man gave me some information which I was sure was incorrect and he and I spoke calmly about the matter which involved PayPal seller protection  — he was insistent that PayPal covered sellers who shipped to a different address than the one provided in the PayPal payment “Ship To” Section and he was adamant that this change in policy had occurred in the last 30 days.  I thanked him for the information and then called PayPal and spoke to a representative who stated emphatically that the TSAM was wrong.  I called back and asked to speak to the same TSAM and the Rep who answered was rude and asked me what I wanted to discuss with the TSAM.  I politely explained that I had called PayPal and had learned something that I thought the previous TSAM should know.  Instead of passing me through, the rep grilled me and told me to explain.  When I did explain that I had called PayPal and had received information that contradicted what the TSAM had told me, the rep just said “well, PayPal and eBay and two different companies and we are not the PayPal subject matter experts.”  Okay, I understand that.  But my point is that if the TSAM is giving me incorrect information then he is giving incorrect information to others and I was just wanting to inform the TSAM about what I had learned and suggest that he speak directly with PayPal to get some clarification.  Instead, I am the troublemaker for calling in trying to correct misinformation.  

It is interesting that today at lunch I was sharing with the group of fellow employees what had happened on the phone this morning and right away another eBay seller had the answer for me.  It was so simple.  I just had to look up the sold item number in the Selling Manager Pro section of My eBay and the buyer’s email address still appears there in that section (not for long, though, I’m sure!).   

So, what did I learn today?  I learned that I need to stop calling eBay support for technical assistance because they give out misinformation more often than not and when questionned about the validity of the information, they become defensive and belligerent.  And I learned that, as a seller, eBay does not trust me with the buyer’s email address because I might spam them later or, heaven forbid, let them know that I also sell elsewhere.  eBay just doesn’t get it — No amount of strong arm tactics is going to prevent eBay sellers from informing buyers about alternate channels.  When the buyer opens their package from me and is pleased to find their item arrived in great condition and very quickly, they are also pleased to find a nice little note telling them that I appreciate their business and that they can find me online somewhere else besides eBay. 

I have a suggestion to eBay – instead of spending so much time and energy trying to stifle communication between buyers and sellers in an effort to prevent off-site sales, how about spending more time and energy making the eBay site a welcome place for buyers and sellers so that they would not have the desire to leave?  A good place to start would be to make the eBay platform technically functional again and to train customer service reps to be at least as knowledgeable as the sellers who call in asking for help.        


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9 Responses to “Sometimes No Information from eBay is Better than Misinformation”

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I don’t mean for this to be provocative, but given the system inadequacies and the abhorrent behavior you experience with TSAM, why do you continue to do business on eBay?

Of course, I agree 100% that eBay is lacking and inferior to all other services I have experienced. My question is not intended to challenge your experience.

This is the real problem with eBay & their staff trainers…..they don’t live in the real World.

It really is just not worth the stress dealing with these idiots anymore…as thousands are showing by leaving.

Don’t be fooled by 30 day listing specials (rise in listings for q3) the game is done

Mechelle, why does any responsible person continue to work at a job they hate and where they are treated with disrespect? They do it until they line up something better which is exactly what I am doing. Today I shipped 10 Amazon orders for higher end products. Ten orders on Amazon is only a fraction of the orders I receive daily on eBay. But my profit for the day on Amazon almost equalled my profit for the day on eBay. Unfortunately I have lots of product to liquidate that I do not want to sell on Amazon or through my retail store and eBay is the perfect place for that — to sell things cheaply and quickly. My goal is to be done primarily dumping on eBay by the end of this year and then use eBay as a “clearance outlet” on a much smaller scale in the future.


Brewsnews, thanks again for an enlightening post.

eBay’s incompetence continues to baffle me.

Absolutely! responsible people deal with what they must to get what they need regardless of how unpleasant the experience.

So I assume that you must recoup the cash you have tied in the product that you are liquidating and the items are not suitable for your other selling avenues, and any other option would not get the job done quickly if at all, so as much as you are not comfortable with eBay you must continue until you complete your liquidation. Is that about the gist of your situation?

I imagine this is a similar circumstance for those on their way out of eBay and those who are floundering and/or strangled by the eBay system. eBay knows this reality so is just fine treating its customers like crap. There is not another service such as cable, phone…. that I would tolerate being treated as I am by eBay. Unfortunately, for many people you and I included we have to suck it up because we currently don’t have another option to get what we need. Though eBay is becoming more useless by the day LOL

My point is eBay is an out of control deviant coercive monopoly and we are all to some extent at their mercy, which they appear to lack.

Oh, Mechelle, you really said it so very well.

[…] detailing my experiences with eBay Powerseller (Top Seller) Phone Support in an article titled Sometimes No Information from eBay is Better than Misinformation.  Yesterday, I received a phone call from my assigned TSAM and, in my opinion, we had a nice […]

Interestingly enough I was a TSAM at eBay up until 3 months ago when I was let go. Working at eBay is a strange experience. We spend six weeks in training on eBay, and then after that it really is just trial and error on how to learn to do eBay. Luckily I was an eBay powerseller so I knew more than most TSAMs but really that is the problem. Most TSAMs have never sold on eBay.

You have no idea how much work we do at eBay. We are all on different committees, doing different projects, and the eBay rules and policies change on a DAILY basis. We are never told why, and most of the time the change does not make sense. If you really get to know your TSAM and give them a chance you will see that they REALLY can make a big difference. The Salt Lake office in Utah sits directly across from the Top Seller Trust and Safety team (interestingly enough they are also called TSAM) and we work with them on exceptions all the time.

I WAS a gold powerseller on eBay. This past month has changed that. Go look at my seller ratings (discohristo) and you will see I am as good as it can get. I have a 99.4% feedback rating. So what’s the problem? The problem is i have been suspended indefinitely from selling on eBay because I have failed in the seller compliance policy. Can someone please tell me how in the world I have failed? If my customers are rating me so well, where is the failure? I am getting screwed by eBay because of this and I am having to look for a new job. I would have never thought that I would never be allowed to sell on eBay again after building such an awesome reputation for 8 years. What I did wrong will remain a mystery to me. My top seller account manager refuses to work with me and even told me she “appreciated”… the fact that i was frustrated with eBay’s decision to suspend me from selling. My account is active on eBay, but I am restricted from selling. They want me to buy. This only makes me want to leave negatives everytime i buy now with 1 star dsr ratings across the board even if my sellers did a good job. Why would I do such a thing? It’s what it’s going to take for eBay to realize that their system is seriously flawed. If all sellers have bad ratings, nobody will want to buy. It’s that simple. And then there will be no sellers. If there is no sellers, there is no eBay, because WE are who brings the buyers there.

By the way, who’s your TSAM? Is it Misty Hamilton? The whole time I was suspended for 30 days all I could ever do was leave her voice mail and she would reply in an email days later. Never did you she call me back as per my request. I reached her on the phone last week when I got suspended indefinitely. And the only reason I reached her was because she wanted to explain that an email that was sent to me by eBay that said my account restriction was lifted was a mistake. I threatened to sue and she hung up. End of story.

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