Friday, August 17, 2007

eBay Customer Service - How they screw you by not giving it and how you can screw them taking it

I don't remember exactly the day I got an actual assigned eBay rep, but I have one. I remember getting an email from someone named Steve. Steve thanked me for my business and let me know that I had done so well that now my account was a "managed" account. At that point I was bringing in about $3K/month in fees to eBay.

Now, when I have problems I don't have to deal with the impossible cluster of online forms and canned answers. I call Steve.

Steve never picks up the phone. He screens his calls. I can picture Steve in his cubicle. The phone rings, he looks at the caller ID, and lets it ring. Voice mail picks up, I leave a message (which is usually urgent, otherwise I would not call since I prefer email) he listens to it and he calls me back. Sometimes it takes no longer than 2-3 minutes, which is what has made it obvious that he checks to see what I want before calling back, but he always calls back.

It is nevertheless upsetting that with the amount of business and money I bring to this company Steve the Ditwit won't just pick up the phone when it rings. I am ok with the arrangement because although unprofessional I know how it works.

That is the privilege of being a big powerseller: I get someone to call me back, but it is also one of the most infuriating things a large company could do: treat the small guy like crap.

EBay has a market value of $42.1 Billion. Their revenues just for 2006 were $6.7 Billion with gross profits of $4.71 Billion. Meg Whitman's salary is $11M, and her insider trades just for 2007 are in the $50M range (

Let's think about those numbers for a minute: eBay has a market valuation of $41.1B. How much money is that?

To give you an idea, a sense of proportion: there are 117 countries in the world with a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) that is LESS than $42.1B. The first one on that list is Croatia, with $42.1B, the last one is Kiribati, with a mere $60M. Some of the countries in between are Guatemala, Lithuania, Lebanon, Iceland and Paraguay, to name a few.

eBay had enough revenues just in 2006 to purchase (cash only please) the entire country of Nicaragua, all of it.

And yet, you cannot get a customer service rep on the phone.

eBay purposely makes it as difficult as possible to allow you to get in touch with them. "Oh, do you have a problem? A question? Perhaps you feel you need to speak with someone? Please check our FAQ's, they will surely help you. No luck uh? Your account has been hijacked you say? Right.. Please check out our forums and their helpful online communities. Still nothing? Click here to chat with one of our handy reps in Bangladesh. Need a phone number? Please fill out this form and tell us what you want to talk about. Oh, look at that! Our system has detected that your question can be answered by the following FAQ" and back all over again.

There are companies out there that have a fraction of the revenues that eBay has while managing a much more complicated marketplace (Southwest Airlines comes to mind, they were in the news recently) and it takes three rings to get a human being at the other side of the line.

Do you feel it should be so hard to get in touch with eBay's customer service? I bet you don't.

So, how about some unlisted numbers to get some customer service when you need it?

eBay's Unlisted direct numbers:

(408) 558-7400
(408) 376-7400
(408) 558-7401
(408) 376-7425

Toll Free (listed in a few places)

Fax numbers:
Employee's Extension: press 1
Dial by name directory: press 0
Customer Service: press 2
Operator: press 3

PowerSellers Toll Free Direct Line

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