eBay Don’t Reply to Letters – Shame on You

I have previously opined that the best way to get anything done in a world where electronic communication is cheap is to send a letter.  I  believe that the physical nature, and relative rarity of a letter means that it is less likely to get lost in the system.  Writing letters straight to the managing director is usually a very quick way of getting things done.

My theory has come unstuck with eBay, who have amazed me with the ineffiency of their customer service.  Recently, an error in the configuration of my listing software caused me to list around 10,000 shop inventory items for a very short period of time costing me around £1,000.  I was pretty upset, thinking of all the things I could have spent the money on, but then I cheered up.  I know, I thought, I will write a letter to the head of eBay UK, who will surely see that this was an honest mistake and refund me the additional fees. Genius I thought this can’t fail.

So I wrote a nice letter to Mark Lewis, Managing Directory of eBay UK, explaining what had happened and appealing to his better nature.

Dear Mr Lewis,

I am an independent eBay seller trading under the ID hellobabydirect.  I was shocked yesterday to receive an eBay invoice for £1000 on sales of £3000 when my previous eBay invoice had been for around £200.  I quickly established that the reason for the huge bill was that my listing software had been wrongly configured and that it listed around 10000 shop inventory items for a very short period of time.  Each time a listing was added and then removed I was charged £0.10.

As a start up business money is tight and I am humbly writing to ask you to refund me the additional fees that I incurred due to this mistake.  I have been a loyal and rule abiding member of the eBay community for several years and write an enthusiastic blog about eBay which can be found at www.trevorginn.com.

Yours sincerely,

Trevor Ginn


I got not reply, so I sent a follow up letter.  Still no reply.

Not to be put off, I sent a letter to Doug McCallum, Senior Vice President for Europe, who did not see it fit to reply to me either

Finally, in a last ditch attempt I wrote to John Donohoe, CEO of eBay Inc, and, you guessed it, no reply.

Now, I think that it is reasonable for a polite letter  to receive a polite reply, even if the request is rejected.  I think it says a lot about a company if they do not have the decency to reply to customer communication.


  1. Dan Wilson says:

    I’m surprised you’re surprised. ;O)

  2. Trevor, you’re writing to the wrong people. Pick up the phone and called you PAM if you have one or PS support if you don’t. Mark, Doug and JD don’t deal with accounts queries.

  3. Philip Sheppard says:


    Interesting article, and I am not surprised. I do like your theory, though, and have even had parking fines quashed with a nice letter to the correct person.

    Perhaps Sue is right, you have just targeted the wrong person, although a polite reply is the minimal response even from the ‘wrong’ person.

    I would quite like to know how this story pans out, after all if it is eBay’s fault, they really should cough up. What exactly happened? Was it an oversight on your part that led to the error or were the listings incorrectly placed because of eBay’s software?

    Good luck!


  4. Trevor,

    Any director of a UK company has home address registered with the government. There’s a organisation to whom you can pay five pounds or so to get the information. Then you can send a letter to their home address.

    I will ask my contact and get back to you with further details. SG

  5. eBay is quite a big company and I’m sure that they get many similar complaints. Surprising still however that they wouldn’t simply respond or forward it to the right department.

  6. Mark Kenny says:

    Good luck in getting it back – maybe they’ll read your blog and rethink things.


  7. Matt Murphy says:

    Maybe try sending a rude letter?

  8. Webologist says:

    I am not surprised the big cheese did not reply to you. You probably would have been better off contacting customer services to start with, with full details of the malfunction. This error could obviously affect other clients.

    Top management will at best forward your complaint on to someone else to deal with, but most likely they will not even read your mail. Now if you arranged a round of golf with them, you may make some more progress!

  9. e-DUDS says:

    We are a tiny company, but we reply personally to all emails and comments (except that Russian porn one I get everyday!!). EBay are bigger, so they should respond. And better. And faster!!

  10. Errol Williams says:

    Does anyone know how to contact someone in authority at eBay other than customer services –
    I have recently become the victim of a scam where I believed I was dealiing with eBay, but someone had lifted their system and emailed me what appeared to be a bone fide eBay invoice – which I paid by bank transfer to a bank in Spain for the sum of £6100 – believing in good faith that I was purchasing a motorhome. I even had confirmation of shipping which was also false as it turned out. I admit that I was too trusting. In the event, eBay must have known there was a problem as the item was subsequently removed from their system, but not before I had committed to purchase at the “buy it now” price. eBay customer services state that as the transaction was not processed through their channels, it is not their problem. Neither the Police, Trading Standards or anyone else seems the least bit interested. If anyone has the email address of eBay management I would be grateful to receive it.

  11. eBuster says:

    I run the site eBuster,co,uk and have sent eBay 100’s of emails concerning fraud and count myself very lucky if I even get an automated response and find they never address the concerns raised such as script injection of pages, shill bidding gangs, false login pages, scamsters that open multiple accounts and much more.

    If you have been subjected to fraud on eBay the first thing to do is take a copy of all the relevant pages including adverts, inbox messages and feedback and then and only then contact eBay to report the member as eBay all to often remove the adverts in an effort to hide the matter under the carpet and in the UK they are doing this with the blessing of both the police and trading standards department as I have discovered myself.

    Chances are you will get no joy with eBay having been scammed but often these scammers have several accounts on the go so try google using phone numbers to link the various accounts and contact other people who have been scammed and in many cases you will find the person has been reported many times before and eBays reaction is to turn a blind eye and hope you give in before they do.

    If you have been scammed or suspect an eBay member is a fraudster then drop by the site ‘ebuser’ and put a ‘Watch’ on the members so that eBay pages are archive and other members can be warned warned.

    When it comes to crime eBay are part of the problem and not the solution so god knows what they are doing by providing special training for our police force when last year only 70 convictions were made for on-line fraud and yet 1000’s of police have apparently been given this special training.

  12. eBuster says:

    Just a quick update

    Well eBay got the site shut down using a gag order from the DCMA but managed to pick on a page that was not hosted by eBay but the site is back up now and my old host provider said eBay want’s to call in the FBI.

    Now i know i have not been friendly towards the police in the UK when it comes to dealing with cyber crime on eBay but don’t you think the FBI is taking it a bit to far.

    Keep an eye on the site and if it’s down then thats one up for eBay and one down for freedom of speech

  13. eBuster says:

    Trevor console yourself with the knowledge that even during these difficult times your turnover and profit could never had gone down as much as eBay between Q1 2008 and Q1 2009 but I won’t spoil the surprise and will just point you towards yahoo finance.

    Turns out the DMCA notice from eBay was a spoof as were the claims in it about the FBI and you would had thought my old host provider DiscountASP.Net would had known when they read the bit saying the FBI has asked eBay to ask DiscountASP,Net to seize all logs and data related to the site but alas no they swallowed it hook line and sinker and since DiscountASP.Net would not forward these messages to me until I threatened them I had no way off knowing and then it took me just a day to prove they were fakes and all they could say is it was not their job to check the messages were authentic and you would think they would have after I proved conclusively the pages mentioned in the DMCA notice was never owned by eBay in the first place.

    I’m in the process of moving to new loyal host who has been made aware of the problem and I have made some new friends along the way at phishtank.com who are doing a grand job which got me thinking about adding a new feature so users can report items and not just eBay members and the system will keep a digital copy of these adverts in case they are needed later.

    And Trevor I’ll take a copy of your comments at the top and publish them on the site if that’s OK with you and no the site is not all about Buyer power it’s about fraud on eBay that eBay knows about and yet turns a blind eye.

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