Inpenetrable, useless customer support: eBay is lame

Stephen D. Williams sdw at
Tue Jan 13 13:18:06 PST 2004

An eBay representative named "Karen" (no full name, no phone number, no 
email address; intelligence agency officials are less obscure with their 
identities than CSR representatives deathly afraid that someone might 
really want to solve a problem in more than one conversation) called me 
back.  She mentioned that they instituted some "email verification" step 
last summer that might be sensitive to delays or something.  They 
suggest that people just "change their email addresses" to some thing 
that works, like AOL or MSN.  They have recieved a lot of complaints 
from "people who set up their own email service".  How dare they!  
Outside the establishment!  In other words, they have added a 
non-published requirement to the protocol that is incompatible with 
standard MTAs.  And no, she couldn't escalate or in any way contact the 
developers, although she did mention that there was an eBay deveoper 

How convenient. 

I pointed out that I function essentially as an ISP with other users and 
support other ISPs.  She said it had been a problem that they've heard of.

I'm all for anti-spam measures, but you have to be willing to debug them 
when they break.


Stephen D. Williams wrote:

> I've run my own email server with my own domain since 1992, with the 
> same email address.  I've help setup ISPs, corporate servers, 
> firewalls, large email gateways, etc.  I know a little about Internet 
> email.
> So, for a variety of reasons I think, you know, I need to reactivate 
> my long dormant eBay account.  There's one small problem: their 
> automated applications for password reset (or MS Passport 
> verification), and probably things like auction update notification, 
> are not able to successfully send me email.  I'm looking directly at 
> my Postfix logs, their server doesn't even try to connect.  Probably 
> it's something simple to fix, maybe my server is even on a spam host 
> list (erroneously) that I don't know about.  Only someone looking at 
> their systems will be able to find out.
> Their customer support system can send acknowledgements (providing 
> that email from * reaches my server just fine), but all I get 
> are lame, shallow, front-line responses, mostly offering to reset my 
> password again.  I specifically state that the standard newbie 
> response isn't going to work and that they need to forward a request 
> to tech support.  "Your password has been reset, bla bla".  I tracked 
> down a phone number and used the live web help, all with the same 
> result really.  The CSRs don't seem to have the ability to escalate 
> anything, have a supervisor "no one is available", or have any other 
> avenues.  It is essentially suggested that "next time they'll really 
> pay attention", just wait 24 hours...
> This is of couse what lack of real competition gets you, not to 
> mention that everyone who knew anything probably cashed out and 
> retired long ago.  The lack of customer and technical support is 
> offensive in some companies.
> ebay is now officially lame.
> When I have more time to waste, maybe I'll use LinkedIn to see who I 
> know that knows someone at eBay.  Or maybe I'll just try FoRK! ;-)  
> Arghh...
> sdw

swilliams at Personal: sdw at
Stephen D. Williams 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 20147-4622 AIM: sdw

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