By Mark O’Neill
Contributing Writer, [GAS]
A British eBay seller is to sue a customer for libel just because said customer left him negative feedback on the auction site.
Chris Read claims that he paid £155 ($253) for a Samsung F700 mobile phone but he claims that he received a F700V instead. Not only that but he also says that the model he received was damaged. So he sent the phone back to the seller Joel Jones. Mr Jones says that he promptly refunded Mr Read and expected that to be the end of it. But Mr Read then went on and left a negative feedback on eBay – and that’s when things turned ugly.
Mr Read says that it is his right as a customer to leave a feedback on his experience with Mr Read. This is definately true. He does have that right. But Mr Jones says that that feedback is damaging his business and he would sue for libel unless the comment was deleted from eBay. Read refused and the lawyers pounced.
I have been buying and selling on eBay since 2000 and I wrote an eBay column for 2 years, so I can say this with all certainty – Mr Jones’ lawsuit is going to backfire in his face big time. First, Mr Read’s comment is not libellous or inflammatory – it is the truth and he has a right to say it.
Secondly, by suing, Mr Jones is only drawing more attention to the negative feedback and the disgruntled customer. If he had kept quiet, that negative feedback would have got buried eventually and forgotten about.
Thirdly, Mr Jones is going to get a bad reputation via the media as the man who uses lawyers to strong-arm his customers into shutting up whenever there is dissatisfaction and dissent. How will his sales be after the court case? Any better? I doubt it.
Via Times Online