Negative Feedback: Worth Suing Over?

If you buy or sell on eBay, then you probably know how important feedback is, especially for the seller’s side of a transaction. Is it important enough, however, for a seller to sue an eBay buyer if the feedback is negative? Well, if you are a company called Med Express — it apparently is.

The story of the negative feedback begins in Ohio, which is where Med Express initially shipped a microscope light from, sending it to a buyer named, Amy Nicholls, who lives in South Carolina. When she received the package, she discovered that there was $1.44 in postage due. Nicholls paid the postage, but then turned around and left negative feedback for Med Express without contacting the company first.    

The owner of Med Express, who was obviously unhappy with the feedback, decided to sue both Nicholls and eBay claiming that the negative feedback caused damage to his business. In reality, what he really wanted to do was to force eBay to take down the feedback and give Nicholls a slap on the wrist. After all, she could have simply asked for a refund — right? Unfortunately for Med Express, this story isn’t quite as simple as all that.

See, Amy Nicholls happens to have a relative who once worked for the public advocacy group ‘Public Citizens.’ This means that when she contacted the group, they were quite happy to take up her case.

And it gets better, and stranger!

Next, the Med Express owner stepped up and claimed he never read his lawsuit and that he had no clue what was even in it. In a comment to a Public Citizen’s blog post he wrote:

I hope all of you will accept this as an open letter of apology from Med Express.

Please understand that our customer was never the target of this lawsuit. We had instructed our attorneys to ask for only $1.00 in damages. Her feedback was also never an issue. We fully support her right and all of our customers right to leave any feedback they desire – true or otherwise!

The issue involved ‘Detailed Seller Ratings’ or DSR’s. The low ratings caused us to lose our ‘Top Rated Seller Plus’ standings. Based on our current volume, this was a potential fee increase of tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a year.

The only way DSR’s are removed is by court order, and I was told that such court orders were not uncommon. I do deeply regret the wording of the lawsuit. I had not read it and only learned of the wording on the blogs. I too would have been outraged and for that I also sincerely apologize. It is the addendum attached ordering eBay to remove the DSR’s that was our only goal.

The only person to blame here is me. You have spoken and I have listened. A terrible wrong needs to be righted. I am instructing our attorneys to drop the lawsuit. I want to assure everyone that you may feel free to leave any feedback on our company without fear of reprisal. I have learned my lesson.

Ironically, Public Citizen didn’t just take his word for it and after doing a little further digging, discovered that Med Express has filed this same type of lawsuit before. They also discovered that based on the volume level of sales by Med Express, the company probably wouldn’t lose that much money over a loss of Top Rated Seller status anyway.

In the end, it appears that it’s more sour grapes on the part of the seller than anything else. While any seller can sympathize with him, this might be one of those cases where both sides just need to chill and go back to their own corners.

About our Guest Blogger This guest post was contributed by Kat Simpson. Kat is a trusted eCommerce author, speaker, educator, and entrepreneur. Kat Simpson has been a successful eCommerce merchant for over 10 years; is an eBay Education Specialist and Gold Level PowerSeller, as well as a successful Amazon merchant. Currently Kat is the hosts the popular weekly eCommerce Podcast That Kat Radio.


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