EBay installs new team to mediate in buyer/seller disputes

SAN JOSE, Calif. (ACNI) – EBay has stepped up to the plate and addressed the 800-lb. elephant that has loomed large since the online-commerce giant launched its site in 1995: the problem of no definitive referee to resolve buyer/seller disputes.

In an April 14 posting in its News section, eBay’s Senior Vice President & General Manager, North America, Stephanie Tilenius, announced that the company has now established “an entire team devoted to finding new ways to help [eBay users] improve their efficiency.” One of the key areas the team will oversee is the resolution of squabbles resulting from claims including non-receipt of purchased items or items said to be different than as described in the eBay seller’s ad.

“The goals of the new process are to keep buyers on eBay by giving them a more familiar e-commerce resolution experience, and to reduce the time buyers and sellers spend resolving issues,” Tilenius said. But that doesn’t mean the process will be a single-step solution in which eBay is the stage-one ombudsman.

“Direct communication between buyers and sellers will continue to be strongly encouraged,” Tilenius said. “[but] buyers and sellers will also have an option to call eBay.” A tollfree number will be available, as will an internally generated dispute form available on the eBay Web site, which initially would be the default option available to non-U.S.-based users.

EBay will also be taking it a step further by providing financial backup in some cases. “We’ll be taking a more active role, and in certain cases when we determine the seller was not at fault we may [issue a refund to] the buyer at our own expense,” Tilenius explained.

Another unexpected boon to buyers is eBay’s decision to exercise control over eBay-transaction-related disputes within its PayPal subsidiary. Beginning this quarter, Tilenius said, such disputes will be directed to the newly deputized resolution team at eBay.

“Until this transition is complete, both the current PayPal and new eBay processes will be in place, so sellers will need to continue to monitor the PayPal resolution center as well as incoming communication from eBay,” Tilenius said. “We are gradually transitioning the dispute process, and anticipate that the change will be complete before the holiday 2009 selling season. Once complete, the new on-eBay resolution process, backed by eBay customer support, will serve as the primary entry point for buyers who are unable to resolve disputes directly with eBay sellers.”

Deadbeat bidders, be forewarned. Tilenius said that later this year eBay will be announcing “improvements to the process for resolving seller claims of unpaid items.” The goal she said, is to enable users to sell “more efficiently and profitably on eBay.”

A soft launch of the new dispute-resolution protocol is expected to roll out around June 15.

Copyright 2009 Auction Central News International. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.