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Maia Szalavitz Headshot

The Wrath of Ebay: Visions of Corporate Hell

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For a reason which they refuse to disclose, eBay decided recently to suspend my account.

I don't know why -- maybe it's their idea of a lengthy April Fool's joke. It's definitely a catch-22 -- and one of those little things that eat your time and incite rage for no good reason. It brought to mind a numbing future of irresolvable circular aggravation -- the way corporations crush humanity without purpose. Ok, perhaps that's a bit over the top. You decide.

I have never sold anything on the site -- and only bought one or two items there, ever. They decided I had a user ID which I never created and therefore would not allow me to respond on the site because I didn't know the password to the account I never had.

My actual account was suspended because it was linked to the fake account -- or at least, this is why I presume it was, since I can't access it.

Every email to them was met with increasingly bizarre replies. At one point, they asked me to fax my credit card information [*not* my actual credit card number, they told me to black this out-- this is one of the many ways I know it was not a phishing scam], a copy of a utility bill and a copy of a photo ID to them -- which I did. They told me not to write back for at least 48 hours or this would "delay" their reply. When I wrote back long after the allotted time, they couldn't find the fax and because I didn't know the fake User ID, I couldn't send a new one.

Finally, I got a phone call. It was from a number linked to Ebay corporate headquarters-- I checked (sign number 2 that this was not phishing). This person confirmed I was who I claimed to be and said he would pass the information along to the other department. I gave him my real account info.

Then, I received this lovely email from the Orwellian "Trust and Safety" Department:

Our decision to leave your account suspended indefinitely stands. We
are unable to provide you further explanation beyond what has been
provided in our previous emails. If you no longer have a copy of this
email, or did not receive it, we recommend that you check the message
center in your "My eBay" pages. Any further appeals received may no
longer receive responses.

I tried to call the guy who had called me-- but the phone number dead-ends in a machine that tells you to email. I tried emailing -- but received the same response, this time signed by someone called "Greedo." And of course, now they have my billing information, etc. and my real account info -- so setting up a different account would likely be impossible.

Welcome to a world where you can never talk to a real human, cannot get the name of a supervisor, are barred from even talking on the phone for a crime the company won't even explain!

Have a nice day!

[Update Number two: My experience was *definitely not* phishing or a scam-- all my contacts were with the real eBay phone number and the real eBay email addresses and the real eBay fax number. I replied directly on the site at certain points-- and I went directly to ebay.com to do so.I checked all this before I replied to it because I am very aware of such scams].

[Additional update: I have been told that some of the replies I received were actually from ebay's automated "bots"-- so I didn't just feel like I was talking to evil robots, I *was* talking to evil robots! However, I have also been contacted by a kind human so I think this may finally be sorted out-- I will update when I know more]