the scratchy phone seller who sues his customers

They say all publicity is good, but I somehow doubt that’s the case in this situation:

When Chris Read received the £155 mobile phone he had purchased from Joel Jones on eBay, he found it was the wrong model and was not in good condition, as advertised.

The 42-year-old mechanic from Kent returned the phone, and, on October 3, used the feedback facility on the website, designed to warn other buyers of potentially untrustworthy sellers. He wrote: “Item was scratched, chipped and not the model advertised on Mr Jones’s eBay account.”

Mr Read subsequently received an e-mail from Mr Jones, a 26-year-old businessman from Suffollk who deals in second-hand electrical goods, saying that his comments were damaging his business, and threatening him with legal action unless he deleted them from the site.

Mr Read said: “I was told the phone was in good condition, but there were scratches all over it, a big chip out of the side and it was a different phone. I paid for a Samsung F700 and got a Samsung F700V.”

Although he received a refund for the erroneous product, Mr Read decided to stand his ground, and told Mr Jones he would go to court if necessary, which would be a legal first for such a libel case.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Read was sent a pre-court letter from Mr Jones, which asked him to agree that his comments were unfair. The letter told him that he had seven days to respond, or he would face court action, “substantial” legal fees and costs of £175.

Mr Jones, who sells under the username ‘onsalexuk,’ defended his action, and said: “I am being punished on eBay because of this as sellers who have negative feedback appear lower down the screen in searches than other people. I’m losing money by the day and my business could go under because of it. I’ve been left with no option but to take legal action.”

Chris Matyszczyk a Technology writer from CNET said: “Surely Jones is seeking sympathy rather than justice. Because even if he somehow persuaded a court that he was right (which would seem a little unlikely), he will always be known as the scratchy phone seller who sues his customers.”

I’ve used eBay long enough to know that a few negative feedbacks won’t stop people from buying from a person. When I’m purchasing something on eBay, I always take a look at the feedbacks of the person I’m going to buy from. When you’ve got people or companies selling quantity of stuff on eBay, there will almost always be complaints filed against them: that’s not just the nature of selling stuff on eBay, it’s the nature of selling stuff anywhere. Bottom line: Jones overreacted, and just torpedoes his eBay business far, far worse than one single negative feedback could’ve done.

I looked up this guy’s eBay profile and scanned his feedback. Read these:

“he was very quick getting the phone to when he said it will be there it was”
“great item. good condition and came within good time”
“Super fast delivery…accurate description of item sold…great ebayer!! A******”

Now look at the feedback he received over the item in question, and — most important! — his reply:

So here’s how this guy killed his eBay business: first, he’s got to learn some customer service skills. “Oh, hey, sorry, let me refund your money or replace the product.” Second, motherfucker, don’t publicize your negative feedback! Check it out, you’re on the Drudge Report, dude. You built up a 98%+ positive feedback rating on eBay and now you’re going to have to start all over because there are a whole heck of news and blog reading people who are going to be steering clear of your auctions because they’re going to be afraid of what to do if you mail them the wrong stuff.