Ebay… I’m at a loss…
I carve bone items (Cattle Bone/Scientific Name: Bos taurus), but I don’t list them on ebay often, as I haven’t been carving as much as I normally do, and ebay is kind of a side gig. Regardless, a few months ago, I decided to list a necklace there that I carved using cow or cattle bone that has a turquoise cab inlay. (It is featured in one of the slides at the time of this post)
Now… before all the activists come out of the woodwork, please note that I AM a nature and animal lover. The bone I use was processed by me and is from cows that have died of old age or natural causes. My witness is my brother, who trudged through the farm’s “bone yard” to gather the last batch for me… it wasn’t pretty.
Initially, my listing was removed. At first, I was quite frustrated, because I felt like my bone origin description was very clear and descriptive, and that my descriptions had not differed from bone listings I had successfully sold there in the past(which were also removed and revised based on rep advice). However, I figured out later after speaking with a customer service rep, that female whales are referred to as “cows”, and I must be more specific about the species of bone in the description AND the title… ok… this was understandable. I changed the listing by including the species scientific name and by including the word “cattle” as advised by the representative.
Title as Posted(also in description) as discussed with a representative: Carved Cow Bone and Tibetan Turquoise Necklace,Cattle/Scientific name Bos taurus
The listing stayed up for a few listing renewals with no problems. However, last week, I left for vacation and took down my listings and finalized open orders. When I came back and relisted all my items, my bone listing was again removed and this time, my selling privileges and account was suspended.
After calling a customer service rep about it, he agreed that I had not appeared to have broken any community guidelines. My photos were high quality and were taken from different angles(see a few below), my title and descriptions listed the species of bone as required, and my description clearly stated that no illegal materials or ivory was used for the carving, as well as a complete description about where I get my bone. In fact, I went into way, way more detail than my usual descriptions contain for the sake of simplicity. He put in an appeal and told me I would hear something within 24 hours.
After 24 hours with no email or message, I called ebay customer service again. Another service rep went over the case and could also offer no info on what guidelines I had neglected to follow. He said he was sorry for the inconvenience and told me to contact the other customer service representative to find out about the status of my appeal….
Now…. this is particularly bothersome to me, because half of the time, one cannot even find the customer service number… much less hunt down a specific representative in a network that spans the globe! All the emails always say “do not reply”. I’m sure I’m missing something, but it shouldn’t be that hard.
He continued by telling me that he could go ahead and file another appeal to add to the one that I already made, but I would have to wait another 24 hours. I told him that I didn’t appreciate ebay playing with my business due to their office politics(not the right word, but I was frustrated), and by the time this is settled, my suspension time will likely be over anyway. In so many words, I also informed him that I’m seriously considering pulling out after this is resolved, and going elsewhere because I cannot be ebay’s ping pong ball for vague guidelines and ebay-end representative description approval disagreements. I made sure to ask if my account would be in good standing after the appeal process, and if it would remain so if I were to remove all of my listings after everything was settled. He said it would be, but at this point, who knows?
“I’m in a classroom with a teacher that changes his/her mind every two seconds in such a way that makes good ebay behavior impossible.”
I have never had this problem with any other venue, and as a top rated, power seller with great reviews and customer service, one would think that I would not have this much trouble.
I seriously don’t know what happened… ebay used to be a much more functional place. Now, it is kind of a source of anxiety. I mean… I completely understand and agree with the need for restrictions on ivory and other illegal materials, but after making sure to follow all the guidelines to the letter, and still having my listings removed and account suspended, one could easily conclude that their guidelines are either too vague and don’t properly convey what exactly they are looking for, or their system is selective and so unorganized that they don’t even know how to review flagged items according to their own policies. It’s a bit funny because, it’s like I’m worried about getting in trouble or miss-wording something and getting punished for it like I’m some sort of school child. But I’m in a classroom with a teacher that changes his/her mind every two seconds in such a way that makes good ebay behavior impossible.
As the kids say, ebay was my “side bitch” anyway. While I know their audience is vast, I really feel like I won’t miss out. Onward to amazon handmade… at least… we will see how it goes. I put in an app for the second time, and should “hear back in a week”. Last year, they said my stuff didn’t qualify as handmade enough… I guess I’m supposed to forge the wire myself? Invent the metal for it? Make a cows bone? Create my own precious mineral? ” *rolls eyes. Regardless, I do have a lot of research to do in regard to Amazon. Thus, it may be a while…
At this point, I don’t know how anyone could possibly complain about etsy. I think I’m going to go profess my love for them on their forums right now…
*** Up Date 6/8/2017***
After receiving another email informing me that my appeal was denied because I failed to put the word “bovine” or the scientific name of the species in the listing(I did), I called yet another service representative. The problem was that it is now June, and I have been slowly trying to revamp my listings to exclude active content. Because of the suspension over this bone mess, I was unable to.
This phone call proved to be successful after I told the customer service representative the entire story.
He stated that I need to put the species name in the listing and description. To this, I replied that had indeed put the species name in the title and description. I also asked him if perhaps the ebay customer service representatives were not able to see the listing that was removed? Perhaps that was the issue? He than informed me that he could indeed see it. I then asked him how I could be more specific than including the scientific name, and that the original customer service reps said I should use the word “cattle”. Thus, how could I possibly believe that putting the word “bovine” would change anything and keep me from further suspensions. I also told him that I feel like a ping pong ball on the table that is ebay guideline interpretations.
To all this, he stated “oh.. let me put you on hold so I can look up that scientific classification”. Plus one for google. From this, I can only conclude that the other customer service reps, including the department that reviewed all my appeals never once googled “Bos taurus”. After a brief hold, he came back and said let me put you on hold one more time so I can review my options for your account.
To make a long story short, my suspension was lifted because I was “not informed correctly, and mislead”. The removal of my listing was not reinstated however, despite the fact that yet again, he was able to find fault with it other than the word “cow”… which I was told was ok to include as long as I stated it was cattle bone along with the scientific name. – Yet another contradiction.
Regardless, he filed a new appeal for it to be reinstated. I told him not to worry about it, and that I wouldn’t ever list any of my bone art on ebay again… including my $500 skulls. I also told him that my entire goal was to make sure that my account was in good standing and to make sure ebay recognized that I was following the guidelines as advised. To this, he continued talking and advising me about listing bone items in the future as if I never made the statement. He also mentioned that they appreciated my professionalism and my commitment to customer service and congratulated me for being a power seller.
As if I would EVER again listen to the advice of an ebay rep again… at least not until they are able to have a concrete set of rules that they can all agree and train on.
As of this time, I do still have non-bone items listed. I’m still deciding whether or not to pull out of ebay completely, as all of this has left a very bad taste in my mouth. I pride myself on following rules and guidelines, and do not appreciate being in the middle of an internal tug of war over a companies policies.
I am still waiting on correspondence from Amazon in regard to my application. Once I find out, I will be better able to make a decision.