Does eBay Think It Can Resolve Issues by Ignoring Them?

I had planned to leave eBay out of my writing schedule today, preferring to relax a while and contemplate a book. But as I scanned the spines on the shelf yesterday evening a radio, on low in the background, suddenly grabbed my attention. I heard something like: “600 UK eBay stores are on strike”.

This was not a local station, this was probably the biggest UK news and current affairs station run by the BBC. I listened as they reported the store closures and referenced the troubles eBay has. They then interviewed one of the eBay protest organisers. The interviewer rushed through his list of questions and the, now familiar, mix of issues vibrated from the speaker. Fees up, visibility gone and eBay’s poor customer services all got a predictable airing.

Given the BBC does not run any advertising, I heard the names of eBid and Amazon touted as alternative sites for fed up eBay users to try. I had to smile to myself knowing how much such a plug would cost a business on a national commercial station.

But as I became used to the idea that, at last, the mainstream media are waking up to this story, I waited eagerly, expecting to hear a spokesman from eBay confront the issues and defend the policies that precipitated all the unrest. Without time to start recording, I grabbed my notebook and pencil. At last, thanks to the BBC, I was going to get some quotes from eBay.

The BBC, love them or not, are a highly professional media organisation that reach around the globe. On visits to the US, Malaysia, Spain and Greece it was nice to watch their TV News channel piped in to the hotel room. It’s a reminder of home when you’re travelling and it’s a reminder, too, of the influence and reach of the BBC. I take it for granted that when they report on a dispute of any kind you can bet your bottom dollar they will try to offer a view from both sides of any divide. But I waited and waited and there was absolutely nothing whatsoever from eBay during the entire report and interview. Not a single peep from them. I wouldn’t be surprised if some listeners were left with the impression eBay was shut until Monday!

I simply cannot believe the BBC didn’t invite eBay to participate or comment in some way. It’s inconceivable to me. This is the BBC for goodness sake! I can only draw one conclusion from this observation. It appears to me that eBay are deliberately ignoring these protests and the issues being raised.

It seems no matter how loud the peasants riot outside the iron gates, the Lords and Ladies inside have decided these lowly people aren’t worthy of recognition by their ‘community’, and they just carry on eating cake.

I am now convinced eBay is expecting to ride out these protests in the belief they can ignore it long enough for the storm to blow itself out. But whether that proves right or wrong I, for one, am not impressed. I expect better quality customer relations from this size of business and I fear they have completely misjudged the mood of their user ‘community’.

How many people, rightly or wrongly, assume a veiled admission of guilt whenever the right to remain silent is used as the sole means of defence?

It was made clear in the BBC interview that the protesters are now cooperating together internationally. Apart from the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and even Italy were all mentioned. eBay built their empire from the amazing communication abilities opened up by the Internet. They exploited the dawn of the net age and won big time. But surely they, of all people, should understand the global nature of the web and how easily their customers can talk from one continent to the other now?

I was able to find the protesters direct email address quite easily via eBays own forums. If anyone at eBay wants it then please use the ‘contact me’ link at the top of this article. I offer this help as I’ve been told emails sent in to eBay frequently appear to get lost or go unanswered .

There are times when silence can be potentially very destructive. I will sign off this piece with a quote from Winston Churchill; “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war“.

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