Legal action threatened in eBay row

A SUFFOLK-based businessman has threatened legal action after he was left negative feedback on internet auction website eBay.

A SUFFOLK-based businessman has threatened legal action after he was left negative feedback on internet auction website eBay.

Joel Jones, who sells electronic goods on the site, was furious after Chris Read posted a negative comment about a Samsung F700 mobile phone he had bought.

Mr Read, 42, a mechanic from Herne Bay, Kent, said the £155 handset was scratched and chipped and was not the model he wanted and he had already waited for more than a week for a refund after returning it to the seller.

After describing the condition he received the phone in on the feedback section of the website, he received an email from Mr Jones asking him to retract the comments.

Mr Read told a national newspaper: “There was absolutely no way I was going to remove the feedback. What I wrote was a valid and honest opinion of the item and the service I received.

“It's not like I wrote anything malicious or nasty or called him a conman or a fraudster.”

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He said he then received a formal letter from Mr Jones, warning him that if he did not sign an enclosed statement admitting the feedback was “unfair” he would be taken to court and liable for court costs of £175 along with "substantial" lawyers' fees.

Mr Jones, 26, said he had given Mr Read a full refund and defended his decision to take legal action. “Given that Chris received a no-quibble refund, the feedback was unfair, unreasonable and damaging,” he told the newspaper.

“I am being punished on eBay because of this as sellers who have negative feedback appear lower down the screen in searches.

“I'm losing money by the day and my business could go under because of it. I've been left with no option but to take legal action.”

Richard Ambrose, head of trust and safety at eBay, said: "Our feedback system allows buyers to make informed decisions about who they trade with based on the experience of other users.

"However, on the rare occasion that something goes wrong we always encourage users to contact the seller in order to resolve the matter amicably."

An eBay spokeswoman later claimed Mr Jones would not have been affected by the negative feedback on its own in eBay search results.

She said it is only if a user's detailed seller ratings falls below a certain level that this happens and these are anonymous ratings given by buyers.

Have you had problems using internet auction websites? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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