Re: eBay buyer faces libel action after leaving negative feedback
- From: "PDR" <peter.rieden@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2008 09:07:10 -0000
"_" <jtayNOSPAMlor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
Excuse the top-posting - it's merely to explain the cross-posting; those
uninterested can skip ahead now; there's no comment following...
On Sat, 25 Oct 2008 01:18:18 GMT, Your name wrote:
A man is facing legal action for libel after leaving negative feedback
an item he bought on auction website eBay.
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
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,
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
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
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
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
of it. I've been left with no option but to take legal action."
He called Mr Read's comments "unfair, unreasonable and damaging", because
he had received a "no-quibble" refund for the phone.
Mr Read, however, said: "I can't believe someone can be so petty. I only
wanted to buy a phone. All I had done was left an honest opinion and
everything I said was true.
"I thought that was why the feedback service was there. It's not like I
wrote anything malicious or nasty."
An eBay spokeswoman said that the dispute had not been brought to them,
added that: ""We are very disappointed that this seller has chosen to sue
rather than to attempt to resolve the buyer's problem amicably." She
explained that one negative comment was unlikely to affect Mr Jones's
status on the site, which still rates him with a 98.7% positive feedback
However, as the law of libel - that of publishing a false or defamatory
statement which damages someone's reputation - applies online as well as
print, Mr Read could have a case to answer if the court decides his
comments qualify as libellous.
He said: "I'm prepared to fight my corner."
Chris Matyszczyk a Technology writer from CNET said: "Surely Jones is
seeking sympathy rather than justice. Because even if he somehow
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."
Earlier this year, eBay banned sellers from leaving feedback for their
buyers, which means that Mr Jones was unable to retort to Mr Read's
criticism. A Facebook group called "eBay Sellers Want Feedback Rights" is
calling for this decision to be reversed, and eBay has admitted it needs
review its dispute-handling procedures.
A new system will be launched later this month to allow sellers
legitimately to ask buyers to revoke negative feedback if a dispute has
If the feedback was factual and accurate then the buyer has nothing to fear
and the seller is just making a right royal pratt of himself. If the
situation was as described and the feedback was accurate then any damage to
his business would have been caused by his actions in mis-describing the
product rather than the resulting negative feedback.
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