E-BAY DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND REVOLUTION:
AN INVESTIGATION ON A SUCCESSFUL ODR MODEL
Luca D P
Information and Knowledge Society,
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Ph.D. Candidate.
ABSTRACT: With the continuing growth of electronic commerce and markets a need for consumer
protection has become a priority. e increase of transnational trades through e-markets has raised the
number of low value high volume disputes in the ecommerce arena. erefore, to eectively protect
consumers alternative forms of justice should become available and accessible to anyone who oper-
ates online. In the last two decades, we have assisted to a signicant development in the practice of
resolving disputes via the internet and other modern digital applications. However, Online Dispute
Resolution (ODR) has not advance as rapidly as the number of disputes for which there is no access
to justice and no eective redress2. Since its creation, eBay has been at the forefront of creating and
developing resources for supporting ODR processes. Its Dispute Resolution Center is one of the
biggest ODR systems in the world and has been considered by many the most successful example of
Online Dispute Resolution. is study aims to examines whether eBay ODR system embodies prin-
ciples of fairness, due process, accountability, and transparency. Additionally, this study will present
a qualitative analysis of data collected from over two hundred reviews left by eBay consumers on the
Better Business Bureau website with the aim of investigating issues experienced by eBay sellers and
buyers with eBay Resolution program.
KEYWORDS: Online Dispute Resolution, eBay Dispute Resolution, Consumers, Consumer Protec-
tion, e-Commerce, Better Business Bureau.
1 Luca Dal Pubel is a Ph.D. Candidate on Information and Knowledge Society at the Universitat
Oberta de Catalunya and an adjunct professor for the International Security and Conict
Resolution program at San Diego State University. His is email address is ldal_Pubel@uoc.edu
2 M. Ethan Katsh and Orna Rabinovich-Einy, Digital Justice: Technology and the Internet of
Disputes (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2017).
131 E-BAY DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND REVOLUTION: AN INVESTIGATION...
e innovation of information and communication technologies and the raise of
internet have reshaped the world economy. Consequently, social interaction has changed
dramatically in the last two decades. Every day millions of trades are taking place on
a virtual market square increasing prots for businesses around the globe. According
to the recent report presented by the United States (U.S.) Census Bureau of the De-
partment of Commerce3, total U.S. e-commerce retail sales for 2017 were estimated at
$453.5 billion, an increase of 16.0 percent (±1.2%) from 2016. Total retail sales in 2017
increased 4.4 percent (±0.4%) from 2016. E-commerce sales4 in 2017 accounted for 8.9
percent of total sales while in 2016 accounted for 8.0 percent of total sales. Because of
the spread of the internet and digital payments, the number of digital buyers is expected
to grow to over 2.14 billion people worldwide in 2021, up from 1.66 billion global dig-
ital buyers in 20165. It is estimated that in 2020 four trillion of business transaction will
take place online6. With such a rapid expansion of e-commerce more and more people
trade, purchase, and negotiate online creating virtual interactions that are often the
cause of real disputes. However, despite the variety of marketplaces available, consumers
still nd hard to access justice remedies and resolve disputes when they arise out of on-
line transactions. As noted by Schmitz and Rule, “Most resolution options available to
consumers resemble those available decades ago: a 1-800 number, a complaint form, or
an unsatisfying online chat process.”7 Costumer services are often dicult to reach with
consumers spending time on the phone on hold and customer service representatives
that may at times not have the authority to provide remedies8. Also, some companies
may restrict the remedies available to consumers by adding arbitration clauses to pur-
3 U.S. Census Bureau News. https://www.census.gov/retail/mrts/www/data/pdf/ec_current.pdf
(accessed January 20, 2018).
4 e U.S. Census Bureau denes e-commerce sales as sales of goods and services where the buyer
places an order, or the price and terms of the sale are negotiated over an Internet, mobile device
(M-commerce), extranet, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) network, electronic mail, or other
comparable online system. Payment may or may not be made online.
5 Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/251666/number-of-digital-buyers-worldwide/ (accessed
January 20, 2018).
6 Retail & Commerce, “Worldwide Retail Ecommerce Sales Will Reach $1.915 Trillion is
Year,” Emarketer.com, August 22, 2016, https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Worldwide-Retail-
Ecommerce-Sales-Will-Reach-1915-Trillion-is-Year/1014369 (accessed November 19, 201).
7 Amy J. Schmitz and Colin Rule, “e New Handshake: Where We Are Now,” International
Journal on Online Dispute Resolution 3, no. 2 (2016): 85.
132 Platform economy & labour market
chase contracts. Instead, some others have understood the importance of providing fair,
accessible, and eective redress to gain consumer’s trust. As stated by Nadler, “A major
concern for retail e-commerce is that it is often dicult for consumers to ascertain
which websites are trustworthy. Websites lack many of the features that people typically
rely on when making a judgment about whether a company is reputable.”9 As reported
by the Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe, e-commerce in the European Union
(EU) is growing but only 15% of consumers buy online from another EU country and
8% of all companies sell cross-border10. It has become clear that to boost e-commerce
is necessary to increase trust in online purchases and trades. Such e-condence also
depends on responsive redress systems that can be available to the individual when on-
line transactions do not go as expected. Online Dispute Resolution provides solutions
especially for low-value cross-border disputes. As noted by Ebner and Zeleznikow, “e
unsatised purchaser of an item on eBay is more likely to prefer an online process for
achieving redress rather than pursuing litigation with the seller, who may be based in
another country.”11 Considering the most recent data that suggests that the average val-
ue of global online shopping orders as of 4th quarter 2017, by device ranges between
$94.59 and $147.0312, it seems obvious that more traditional forms of dispute resolution
including Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) such as arbitration do not represent
optimal solutions for low-value claims in the context of e-commerce. In the last decade,
much innovation in Online Dispute Resolution has come from the private sector due to
the high cost of maintenance and the diculties of applying common national and in-
ternational laws and jurisdictional. Already large-scale online transaction providers such
as eBay, Amazon and Alibaba provide their own low-cost dispute-resolution systems
with the primary goal of not resolving large number of disputes but instead maximizing
the number of successful transactions13. Among those, eBay Dispute Resolution Center
has an incredible successful story in dealing with consumers’ dispute and it is now one
9 Janice Nadler, “Electronic - Mediated Dispute Resolution and e-Commerce,” Negotiation
Journal 17, no. 4 (2001): 334.
10 Digital Single Market. Boosting e-Commerce in the EU. Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/
digital-single-market/en/policies/ecommerce (accessed November 30, 2017).
11 Noam Ebner and John Zeleznikow, “Fairness, Trust, and Security in Online Dispute Resolution,”
Hamline Journal of Public Law and Policy 36, no. 2 (2015): 144-145.
12 Statista. Average value of global online shopping orders as of 4th quarter 2017, by device (in
U.S. dollars). https://www.statista.com/statistics/239247/global-online-shopping-order-values-
by-device/ (accessed December 30, 2017).
13 Katsh and Rabinovich-Einy, Digital Justice: Technology and the Internet of Disputes, 6.
133 E-BAY DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND REVOLUTION: AN INVESTIGATION...
considered one of the biggest ODR provider in the world14. It is estimated that eBay
Resolution Center resolves over 60 million disputes between small traders every year15
through a platform that allows traders and buyers to resolve their disagreements through
direct communication and for the most part without a third party human intervention.
Such evolution in resolving low-value high volume online disputes has started an
eBay-inspired Revolution in the civil justice system16. In a 2015 report17 from the Unit-
ed Kingdom’s Civil Justice council on the potential of ODR for low value civil claims,
eBay was included as an example of working online dispute resolution system. Further-
more, eBay’s Dispute Resolution center has gained the attention of both researchers and
entrepreneurs in the ODR world.18 Its dispute resolution system is built around a model
of problem diagnosis followed up by automated negotiation and ends with (mediation
and) arbitration19. Such model reects the stages of an ODR proceeding indicated in the
Technical Notes on Online Dispute Resolution adopted by the United Nations Com-
mission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) at its forty-ninth session in 201620.
is article investigates whether the ODR procedures applied by eBay’s Dispute
Resolution comply with the principles of principles of fairness, due process, account-
ability, and transparency as set by the UNCITRAL Working Group III and adopted by
the UNICTRAL in its Technical Notes on Online Dispute Resolution. Additionally,
this study will analyze over two hundred reviews left by eBay consumers on the Better
Business Bureau website21. is data will be examined with the aim of understanding
key issues experienced by eBay consumers with eBay ODR mechanisms.
14 Jie Zheng, “Access to Information and Justice: Where does ODR lead us to?” Mediate.com,
August 4, 2017, https://www.mediate.com/articles/ZhengJ1.cfm (accessed December 2, 2017).
15 Louis F. Del Duca, Colin Rule, and Kathryn Rimpfel, “eBay’s De Facto Low Value High
Volume Resolution Process: Lessons and Best Practices for ODR Systems Designer,” Year Book
on Arbitration & Mediation 6, no. 10 (2014): 205.
16 Nigel Morris, “Online courts modelled on eBay to settle legal disputes.” Independent.co.uk,
February 16, 2015, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/online-courts-modelled-
on-ebay-to-settle-legal-disputes-10047780.html (accessed November 26, 2017).
17 Civil Justice Council’s Online Dispute Resolution Advisory Group. Online Dispute Resolution for
Low Value Civil Claims, https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Online-
Dispute-Resolution-Final-Web-Version1.pdf (Accessed November 26, 2017).
18 Zheng, “Access to Information and Justice: Where does ODR lead us to?,” p. 1
19 15th ODR Conference. https://20160dr.wordpress.com/2016/04/14/odr-platforms-ebay-resolution-
center/ (accessed November 30, 2017).
20 Ocial records of the General Assembly, Seventy-First Session, Supplement No. 17 (A/71/17)
21 Better Business Bureau. https://www.bbb.org/losangelessiliconvalley/business-reviews/internet-
shopping/ebay-in-san-jose-ca-204015 (accessed December 11, 2017).
134 Platform economy & labour market
2. UNCITRAL WORKING GROUP III ON ONLINE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
e UNCITRAL Working Group III on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) was
established in 2010 with the aim of creating standards and mechanisms for online dis-
pute resolution that could oset the lack of adequate redress for international disputes
arising out of cross-border e-commerce transactions22. As noted by Esther Villalta23,
the United Nations (U.N.) recognized that small claims that result from transnational
e-commerce needed a legal framework that would favor eective means of resolution
and ultimately contributed to the expansion of global commerce and economic growth.
Moreover, it was generally accepted that traditional judicial venues like national courts
cannot overcome the issues of conict laws and jurisdiction making hard for consumers
to access justice remedies and resolve disputes that originate from online transactions.
erefore, the U.N. gave mandate to the Working Group III to suggest specic rules and
standards that could be applied by ODR providers worldwide to both Business-to-Busi-
ness (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) transactions24. However, the challenge for
the Working Group laid in conceiving rules that would overcome the dierences and
restrictions imposed by national laws regarding pre-dispute agreements to use ODR. A
disagreement arose inside the Working Group between those jurisdictions like the U.S.
that allow pre-dispute agreements to arbitrate with consumers and consider the result-
ing arbitral awards valid and enforceable, and those jurisdictions like the member states
of the European Union that deem pre-dispute agreements to arbitrate as non-binding
upon consumers25. Moreover, some delegations pushed for ODR processes compatible
with the 1958 New York Convention, even though the secretariat had warned delegates
to consider “whether the application of the enforcement mechanisms provided by the
New York Convention should be regarded as an optimal solution for small value claims
in the context of ODR26.” For ve years, the Working Group worked on drafting proce-
22 Clara Flebus, “Report: UNCITRAL Working Group III on Online Dispute Resolution—A
change of focus in the outcome document,” NYSBA International Law Practicum 29, no. 1
23 Esther Villalta, A., “ODR and E-Commerce,” in (Eds.), Collective ecacy: Interdisciplinary
perspectives on international leadership, eds. Mohamed S. Abdel Wahab, Ethan Katsch and Daniel
Rainey (e Hague, NL: Eleven International Publishing, 2012).
24 Ocial records of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Working Group
III (Online Dispute Resolution), Twenty-second session, A/CN.9/WG.III/WP.105, para. 2.
25 Flebus, “Report: UNCITRAL Working Group III on Online Dispute Resolution-A change of
focus in the outcome document,”60.
26 Ocial records of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Working Group
III (Online Dispute Resolution), Twenty-second session, A/CN.9/WG.III/WP.105, para. 75.
135 E-BAY DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND REVOLUTION: AN INVESTIGATION...
dural rules for ODR and tried to propose compromising solutions. Firstly, with a two-
track system that separated binding arbitration from other non-binding ODR process-
es27, and then with a three-stage process that would comprise negotiation, negotiation
settlement facilitated by a third neutral party, and a nal determination presented by
the ODR administrator to the parties that would include a non-binding recommen-
dation or a binding arbitration. In February of 2015, both the US and the European
Union suggested that work be abandoned since no consensus could be reached as to the
content of said rules. ough, in July 2015 the UNCITRAL Commission decided to
redene the Working Group’s mandate to develop a non-binding document that would
“reect elements of an ODR process, on which elements the Working Group had pre-
viously reached consensus, excluding the question of the nature of the nal stage of the
ODR process28” (arbitration or non-arbitration). e UNCITRAL Commission gave
the Working Group a year to produce the document that were to be completed by the
end of its thirty-third session29. At its thirty-third session, the Working Group agreed to
submit the draft outcome document entitled “Technical Notes on Online Dispute Res-
olution” to the UNCITRAL Commission for its consideration and eventual adoption30.
e UNCITRAL Commission nalized and adopted the Technical Notes on Online
Dispute Resolution at its forty-ninth session31 in 2016. In adopting the technical notes,
the General Assembly recommended to all states the promotion and the “use of the
Technical Notes in designing and implementing online dispute resolution systems for
cross-border commercial transactions32.”
2.1. UNCITRAL Technical Notes on ODR
e UNCITRAL Technical Notes on ODR, were adopted to “foster the devel-
opment of ODR and to assist ODR administrators, ODR platforms, neutrals, and
27 One track of which would end in a binding arbitration phase (“Track I”), and one track of
which would not (“Track II”). See Ocial records of the United Nations Commission on
International Trade Law Working Group III (Online Dispute Resolution), irty-rst session,
A/CN.9/WG.III/WP.133, para. 4.
28 Ocial Records of the General Assembly, Seventieth Session, Supplement No. 17 (A/70/17),
29 UNCITRAL Working Group III, irty-third session took place in New York from February 29
to March 6, 2016.
30 Report of Working Group III (Online Dispute Resolution) on the work of its thirty-third
31 Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, Forty-nine session,
A/71/17, paras. 203-218.
32 Ocial records of the General Assembly, Seventy-rst session, A/RES/71/138.
136 Platform economy & labour market
the parties to ODR proceedings.”33 ey are expected to contribute signicantly to
the development of systems that oer resolution and settlement of disputes that arise
from cross-border low-value sales or service contracts concluded using electronic com-
munications34. ough, the notes are not intended to be used “as rules for any ODR
proceeding and do not impose any legal requirement that is binding upon the parties
or the people/entities involved in administering or facilitating an ODR proceeding”35.
Instead, they are proposed to be of assistance regardless of the structure and framework
of an ODR system, which may oer a variety of dispute resolution mechanisms such as
conciliation, negotiation, mediation, facilitated settlement, and arbitration. Moreover,
the Notes describe practices and procedures of ODR mechanisms that should be based
upon principles of fairness, due process, accountability, and transparency, and should be
simple, fast and ecient. Regarding the procedure, the Notes describe ODR as a process
that may include three stages: negotiation, facilitated settlement, and a third nal stage.
In the rst stage of proceedings — a technology-enabled negotiation — the parties
negotiate directly with one another through the ODR platform36. If that negotiation
process fails, the process may move to a second, “facilitated settlement” stage, in which
the ODR provider assigns a third neutral who helps the parties to reach an agreement37.
If the facilitated settlement stage also fails for any reasons or where one or both parties
to the dispute request to move directly to the next stage of proceeding38, a third and
nal stage may be commenced in which the ODR administrator inform the parties, or
set out for the parties, possible process options to choose39. Regarding the proceedings,
notes indicate also that the ODR process requires a platform for generating, sending,
receiving, storing, exchanging or otherwise processing communications40. Ultimately,
the notes provide specic direction on the commencement of the proceedings, the rst
two stages, appointment, power and functions of the neutral, language to be used, and
governance of the proceedings.
33 UNCITRAL Working Group III, irty-third session, A/CN.9/WG.III/WP.140, para. 1.
34 Ocial records of the General Assembly, Seventy-rst session, A/RES/71/138.
35 UNCITRAL Working Group III, irty-third session, A/CN.9/WG.III/WP.140, para. 5.
36 Ibid., para. 19.
37 Ibid., para. 20.
38 Ibid., para. 41.
39 Ibid., para. 21.
40 Ibid., para. 26.
137 E-BAY DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND REVOLUTION: AN INVESTIGATION...
3.1. e-Bay Inc.
Founded in 1995 in San Jose, Calif., eBay is a multinational e-commerce corpo-
ration and one of the world’s largest marketplaces41 for the sale of goods and services
by individuals and businesses. Currently, there are 100 million eBay registered users
who operate in 23 countries42. In 2016, eBay enabled $83 billion of gross merchandise
volume (GMV) and delivered for the quarter ended September 30, 2017 a GMV of
$21.7 billion, increasing 8% on an as-reported basis and 7% on a foreign exchange
(FX) neutral basis43. e company expects net revenue between $9.53 billion and $9.57
billion, for the full 2017 year. eBay operates through its Marketplace, StubHub and
Classieds platforms. e Company connects buyers and sellers around the world and
has 164 million active buyers worldwide44. Its platforms enable sellers around the world
to organize and oer their inventory for sale, and buyers to nd and purchase it. e
Company’s platforms are accessible through an online experience (desktop and laptop
computers), from mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) and by application pro-
gramming interface (API) (platform access for third-party software developers). Born as
an auction website, eBay now oers a variety of products from electronics to collectibles,
from sporting goods to heavy equipment.
3.2. e-Bay Dispute Resolution
As stated in the Technical Notes on Online Dispute Resolution adopted by the
United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in 201645,
there has been a need for mechanisms of resolving dispute which arise from online
cross-border transactions. Consumers and businesses operating on e-marketplaces agree
41 Worldatlas. e 25 Largest Internet Companies in the World, http://www.worldatlas.com/
articles/the-25-largest-internet-companies-in-the-world.html (accessed November 30, 2017).
42 BBB Accredited Business Prole. https://www.bbb.org/losangelessiliconvalley/business-reviews/
internet-shopping/ebay-in-san-jose-ca-204015 (accessed November 30, 2017).
43 eBay Inc. Reports ird Quarter 2017 Results. https://www.ebayinc.com/stories/news/ebay-inc-
reports-third-quarter-2017-results/ (accessed November 30, 2017).
44 eBay Inc. eBay Q2 2016 Company Fast Facts. https://static.ebayinc.com/static/assets/Uploads/
PressRoom/eBay-Q22016FactSheet-Investor-Site.pdf (accessed November 30, 2017).
45 Ocial records of the General Assembly, Seventy-First Session, Supplement No. 17 (A/71/17)
138 Platform economy & labour market
in promoting fair, equal and eective online redress especially for low value cross-bor-
der disputes46. erefore, online dispute resolution should increase access to justice by
providing consumers with eective and economic redress mechanisms that would meet
their legal needs and increase consumer trust and contribute towards building a more
competitive market47. As noted by Schmitz and Rule, large internet intermediaries like
Amazon, eBay, and PayPal, “realized very early on that the consumer trust problem was
creating friction on the internet and that solving it could provide a valuable market ad-
vantage48.” An empirical research done at eBay49 on the Economic Benets of Eective
Redress, conrmed that providing consumers with online solutions to their disputes
enhances trust and increases usage of the market place regardless the outcome; more so
in an on-line, business-to consumer transaction, where the business is not supported by
a well-recognized brand name and the consumer might have doubts about the quality
of goods, or the legitimacy of the business itself50. De facto, eBay represents the greatest
examples of the success that large online marketplaces have in providing ODR. Since
its creation eBay Dispute Resolution has resolved millions of disputes becoming the
second largest dispute resolution provider in the world51. eBay has developed an e-
cient automatic process that enhances online negotiation helping buyers and sellers to
communicate more eectively when there is a problem with a transaction. eBay’s goal is
to let buyers and sellers to solve transaction issues between themselves before escalating
to a level where eBay must intervene. Nevertheless, in case they cannot nd a solution
on their own, eBay users can bring their claim to the eBay Resolution Center which
eBay denes as the most secure way for sellers and buyers to communicate when either
has a problem with a transaction52. e eBay Resolution Center oers a multifaceted
approach to resolve problems. To start the resolution process an eBay consumer can visit
46 Del Duca, Rule, and Rimpfel, eBay’s De Facto Low Value High Volume Resolution Process: Lessons
and Best Practices for ODR Systems Designers, 217.
47 Pablo Cortes, “Online Dispute Resolution Services: A Selected Number of Case Studies,”
Computer and Telecommunications Law Review, 20, no. 6 (2014): 172.
48 Amy J. Schmitz and Colin Rule, “e New Handshake: Where We Are Now,” 97.
49 Colin Rule, “Quantifying the Economic Benets of Eective Redress,” University of Arkansas
Little Rock Law Review, 34, no. 6 (2012): 767-776.
50 Janice Nadler, “Electronically-Mediated Dispute Resolution and E-Commerce,” p. 336.
51 In 2012 eBay Dispute Resolution handled over sixty million disputes with an 80 percent satisfactory
outcome second only to Alibaba’s Dispute Resolution system that handles over hundreds of
millions of disputes. See M. Ethan Katsh and Orna Rabinovich-Einy, Digital Justice: Technology
and the Internet of Disputes (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2017).
52 eBay Seller Center. http://pages.ebay.com/seller-center/service-and-payments/case-resolution.
html (accessed February 8, 2018).
139 E-BAY DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND REVOLUTION: AN INVESTIGATION...
the eBay Resolution Center page and click on the following options: under “I bought
an Item”, the buyer can choose between “I haven’t received yet” or “I received an item
that does not match the seller’s description”; under “I sold an Item”, the seller can select
“I haven’t received my payment yet” or “I need to cancel a transaction”53. If the problem
is not among those listed by the Resolution Center, the eBay customer is directed to the
Customer Service page where additional information is given about tracking an order,
returning an item for refund, or cancelling an order54. Because eBay is primarily a forum
that connects buyers to sellers rather than an online retail site, eBay has struggled to
maintain the same reputation for safety and good customer service of retail platforms
like Amazon.com. To address this problem, eBay has taken steps to enforce some basic
requirements on sellers regarding return policies55. e eBay Money Back Guarantee
was created to help facilitate the return of defective, damaged, or otherwise ‘Not as
Described’ items. Under eBay Money Back Guarantee, the seller has three business
days to respond to the buyer with a solution (through either a replacement, a return,
or a refund). If the seller does not oer a solution or the buyer is unsatised with the
solution, the buyer has 30 days to ask eBay to step in and help otherwise. In this case,
eBay reviews the case and decides within 48 hours. Once a decision is made, buyers and
sellers have 30 days to appeal the decision by providing appropriate documentation56.
To be covered by the eBay Money Back Guarantee, the buyer has certain obligations.
Generally, the buyer is responsible for accepting the purchased item when it arrives.
If the buyer does not receive the item, the buyer needs to report that the item has not
arrived by submitting a form. e buyer has 30 days from the estimated delivery date to
inform the seller that the item was not received. Once informed, the seller has 3 business
days to provide a delivery update, oer a replacement, or give you a refund57. If the item
received does not match the seller’s description or the item is damaged, the buyer must
request a return no later than 30 days after the actual (or latest estimated) delivery date
and if the seller does not respond within 3 business days, the buyer must ship the item
back to the seller within 5 business days from when the buyer starts the return. If the
seller shipped a replacement or exchange and the buyer has not shipped the original item
53 eBay Resolution Center. https://resolutioncenter.ebay.com/ (last accessed February 8, 2018).
54 eBay Customer Service. https://www.ebay.com/help/home (accessed, February 8, 2018).
55 Aron Hsiao, “How eBay’s Buyer Protection Works”, ebalance.com, January 23, 2018, https://
February 8, 2018).
56 eBay Money Back Guarantee Policy. https://www.ebay.com/help/policies/ebay-money-back-
guarantee-policy/ebay-money-back-guarantee-policy?id=4210 (accessed February 8, 2018).
57 eBay Customer Service. https://www.ebay.com/help/buying/returns-refunds/get-help-item-hasnt-
arrived?id=4042&st=7#section2 (accessed, February 8, 2018).
140 Platform economy & labour market
back within 20 business days of the buyer starting the return, eBay charges the buyer’s
PayPal for the replacement or exchange58. Because eBay is now selling quite a few very
high-priced items including major equipment and cars, it has instituted specic buyer
protections for such items. Under the eBay Business Equipment Purchase Protection
(BEPP) program for items purchased on or after September 1, 2016, a buyer’s capital
equipment purchase is protected for up to $100,000. For items purchased prior to Sep-
tember 1, 2016, the capital equipment purchase is protected for up to $50,00059. eBay
Vehicle Purchase Protection (VPP) provides protection, against certain losses associated
with fraud, up to a maximum amount of a buyer’s purchase price paid (not exceeding
$100,000)60. eBay also oers a protection policy for sellers to assure them that they op-
erate in a marketplace they can trust. eBay protects the seller from many events outside
seller’s control such as: an item that arrives late but was shipped by the seller on time; a
returned item that has been opened, used or damaged; issues relating to carrier disrup-
tions; bugs, or severe weather; issues with a buyer that retracts their bid or doesn’t pay.
eBay supports sellers in dealing with eBay Money Back Guarantee requests61. Lastly, the
eBay Security Center allows consumers to report concerns regarding a buyer or a seller,
possible scams, and fraudulent activities which are investigated by a security team62.
3.3. Principles of Fairness and Due Process
As discussed in Chapter 2.1, the UNCITRAL Notes on ODR suggest that proce-
dures of ODR mechanisms should be based upon principles of fairness and due process.
To understand whether eBay Dispute Resolution complies with such principles, it is
necessary to dene what principles of fairness and due process mean. In dening the
concept of fairness, we could say that a dispute resolution mechanism should provide
participants with a fair and equal process. However, to determine if a process is fair and
produces fair outcomes, we need to consider the concept of due process. Due process
can be dened “as a course of formal proceedings carried out regularly and in accordance
59 eBay Business Equipment Purchase Protection. https://www.ebay.com/help/buying/paying-items/
ebay-business-equipment-purchase-protection?id=4637 (accessed, February 8, 2018).
60 eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection. http://pages.motors.ebay.com/buy/purchase-protection/
(accessed, February 8, 2018).
61 eBay Customer Service Seller Protection Policy. https://www.ebay.com/help/policies/selling-
policies/seller-protection-policy?id=4345 (accessed February 8, 2018).
62 eBay Security Center. https://pages.ebay.com/securitycenter/ (accessed February 8, 2018).
141 E-BAY DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND REVOLUTION: AN INVESTIGATION...
with established rules and principles called also procedural due process63.” Due process is
composed from two fundamental principles. e rst principle nemo judex in parte sua,
can trace its origin in roman law64. It means no person should be a judge in a case in which
they have an interest. e second principle audi alteram partem or fair hearing, means
that each party should have an equal opportunity to present evidence and law65. e rst
concept ensures that the third side in a dispute resolution process treats each party equally
and impartially; the second concept ensures that each party can participate in the process
and present their case, and have the right to appeal the case of the opponent. As described
in Chapter 3.2., eBay gives equal opportunities to the users to initiate the resolution pro-
cess by going to the Resolution Center page and choose among the options given to the
buyer or the seller. e automated process oered by eBay seems to be designed to oer
no systemic benet to one party over the other. Additionally, when a dispute regarding a
transaction arises eBay allows the parties to negotiate directly before stepping in. In case
one of the parties opens a claim, eBay noties the other that a case has been opened. e
seller has three days to respond to the buyer, and the buyer has four days to respond to
the seller. erefore, we may conclude that eBay guarantees that each party participates
in the resolution process by providing equal, fair, and impartial opportunities to report a
problem and open a claim, and by assisting the parties through its customer service. In the
event the parties are not able to resolve the dispute on their own and eBay has to intervene
and render a decision, both the seller and the buyer have the right to defend themselves
by sending information to support their case. Once a decision is made, both parties have
30 days from the day the case is closed to appeal the decision by providing the appropriate
documentation through the eBay Resolution Center. e right guaranteed to sellers and
buyers to defend their case and rebut the case of the opponent, may suggest the eBay Res-
olution Process applies the second principle of due process.
3.3.1. Accountability and Transparency
As suggested by the UNCITRAL Notes, any ODR schemes must be transpar-
ent and clear on the process use to pursuit dispute resolution. In order to trust online
63 Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/due%20process (accessed February
64 A Latin Brocard that can be found in the Codex Iustinianus repetitae praelectionis (534 C.E.),
C. 3.5.1. e Codex, formally Corpus Juris Civilis (“Body of Civil Law”), is a collection of laws
and jurisprudence developed and issued by order of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I from 529
to 565 C.E.
65 Jaap van den Herik and Daniel Dimov,“Can the eBay’s Community Review Forum Fairly Resolve
Disputes,” Proceedings of the 23rd Benelux Conference on Articial Intelligence 4, (November 2011),
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1955505 (accessed December 2, 2017).
142 Platform economy & labour market
dispute providers, users should rely on transparent and accountable resolution mecha-
nisms. Without transparency and adequate knowledge of their rights and obligations,
and of the process needed to obtain a resolution to their dispute, consumers cannot gain
sucient insights regarding the alternatives oered. e principle of transparency makes
available the information that parties need to know when participating in a resolution
proceeding. Under “My Account Settings”, eBay users can access the Dispute Center
where they can nd information on how to resolve a problem they are having with a
transaction. eBay provides information on what to do when an item is not received or
it is not as described, when a payment is not received, and when users need to cancel
a transaction66. To start a resolution process, eBay users need to ll in a standard claim
form to identify the type of dispute and the solutions available to them. erefore, we
may assert that eBay provides customers with transparent and accessible information
regarding their rights and the steps needed to process and resolve a dispute. As noted by
Devanesan and Aresty, “it could be argued that transparency of ODR processes is not
a necessary element of the system67.” Disputants may not care about the technological
steps taken between the moment they le a claim and the moment a decision over a dis-
pute is made. If they believe that the decision is agreeable and satisfactory, they may not
want to know what kinds of algorithms work to produce recommended outcomes. Con-
sumers look for fast and easy ways to resolve their issues in order to minimize the risk
of losing money and not getting the product, they purchased and expected. However, a
disputant’s sense of fairness in each dispute resolution depends on both the outcome and
the process of dispute resolution68. A crucial step for increasing transparency in ODR
processes is to ensure that parties are aware of any disputes initiated against them. When
an eBay buyer or seller les a claim the other party is immediately notify and given the
opportunity to solve the problem before eBay steps. Another important factor for the
dispute resolution process to be transparent, is that users can have access to information
throughout the various stages of the proceeding. In this regard, on their account eBay
sellers and buyers can nd and track open requests or cases, or retrieve information
regarding requests and cases that have been closed. Finally, to trust that an outcome is
fair to them, disputants needs some knowledge on who is deciding their dispute (a hu-
man-decision vs. a computer-decision), how the documentation used to support their
case is evaluating, and whether the decision process is uniform and predictable. Under
66 eBay Resolution Center. https://res.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ResolutionCenter&ssPa-
geName=STRK:ME:LNLK (accessed November 28, 2017).
67 Ruha Devanesan and Jerey Aresty, “ODR and Justice,” in (Eds.), Online Dispute Resolution
eory and Practice,” Mohamed S. Abdel Wahab, Ethan Katsch and Daniel Rainey (e Hague,
NL: Eleven International Publishing, 2012), 279.
143 E-BAY DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND REVOLUTION: AN INVESTIGATION...
the eBay Case Resolution page69, both buyers and sellers can get the information needed
to know how and when a decision is made and what documentation they may need to
upload to defend or appeal a case. We may conclude that trust and transparency seems
critical to the eBay experience. One of the benets of eBay ODR platform, is its acces-
sibility and transparency, as well as being able to provide users with clear information
which enables them to nd a solution to their problems. When transparency exists, it
provides a powerful tool for enabling sellers and buyer to hold the opposing side ac-
countable. eBay hold sellers accountable through a public reputation system, allowing
buyers to leave positive, negative, neutral review for sellers. At the same time, eBay hold
buyers accountable through private reporting from sellers; it relies on sellers to inform
when a buyer has violated policy. rough its feedback system, eBay aims to protect and
award sellers and buyers and make them accountable for possible unprofessional and
4. BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU
Founded in 1912, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a nonprot organization
consisting of 106 incorporated local organizations in United States (U.S.) and Canada.
BBB provides service to businesses and consumers all over the U.S., Puerto Rico and the
Caribbean territories, Mexico and all of Canada except for French speaking Quebec. In
2016, more than 384,000 businesses were BBB accredited and 220 million direct-ser-
vice interactions were provided by the Better Bureau system to businesses, charities and
the public70. BBB is one the most important resources for consumers who seek back-
ground information on businesses and charities. Moreover, it protects consumers against
unfair, misleading, or fraudulent advertising and selling practices.
4.1. BBB Rating System
As stated on its website, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings represent the
organization’s opinion of how a business is likely to interact with consumers71. e BBB
69 eBay Case Resolution. https://pages.ebay.com/seller-center/service-and-payments/case-resolution.
html (accessed November 28, 2017).
70 Better Business Bureau Annual Report. https://www.bbb.org/globalassets/local-bbbs/council-113/
media/annual-reports/2017-annual-reports/2016-cbbb-annual-report.pdf (Accessed November
71 Better Business Bureau. Overview of BBB Grade. Retrieved from https://www.bbb.org/council/
overview-of-bbb-grade (accessed November 30, 2017).
144 Platform economy & labour market
rating system is based on information that attain the business obtained directly from
businesses and from public data sources, and includes complaints received from the
public. BBB assigns ratings from A+ (highest) to F (lowest). In some cases, a business
may not be rated due to insucient information or because the business’s le has been
reviewed or updated. Proles generally explain the most signicant factors that raise or
lower a business’s rating. Yet as stated by the Better Business Bureau, BBB ratings are
not a guarantee of a business’s reliability or performance. It is recommended that con-
sumers consider other available information about the business besides the business’s
4.2. BBB Customer Reviews
On BBB.org consumers can access BBB online data base and search for businesses,
read their prole, le a claim or leave a review. According to the BBB 2016 annual re-
port, more than 340,000 consumer reviews were published. Both consumers and busi-
nesses reported feedbacks to be important when researching companies on the BBB’s
website. To them, feedbacks allows for positive experiences to be shared on the website73.
In fact, BBB allows any consumer to leave a positive, negative or neutral review on a
business but also provides businesses with opportunity to challenge whether a consumer
had an interaction with their business and to respond to the reviewer online. Businesses
that prove the reviewer is not truthful can have the review suspended while BBB inves-
tigates and requests evidence of the interaction. No anonymous or third-party reviews
are accepted on BBB.org, and reviewers are required to verify their email address. BBB
monitors and tracks IP addresses and investigates when many reviews come from the
same IP address. Once a review is submitted, Businesses are notied and have an op-
portunity to respond before it is posted publicly. After the submission of the review is
veried or the time allowed (10 days) to respond is expired, the review is posted and
stays on a company’s BBB Business Review for three years74. If a business addresses a
customer’s problem posted on a customer review, the customer can choose to withdraw
the review. Customers can also update the information in their original review. Howev-
er, consumers are not allowed to leave a negative review and le a formal BBB complaint
on the same issue. ey can either chose to post the review or have the BBB help them
with the resolution.
73 Better Business Bureau Customer Review F.A.Q.s. https://www.bbb.org/north-east-orida/reviews/
about-bbb-customer-reviews/customer-review-f.a.q.s/ (Accessed November 30, 2017).
145 E-BAY DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND REVOLUTION: AN INVESTIGATION...
5. EBAY CONSUMER REVIEWS
For the purpose of this articles, a quota of 22975 consumers reviews were collected
on eBay’s BBB prole from December 2016 to December 2017. Of the 229 reviews,
215 were negative, 8 positive and 6 neutral. 57% of the reviews were left by sellers and
43% by buyers. Reviews centered on a wide variety of issues, including problems with
transactions, items not delivered, items refund but not return to seller, defective items,
shopping or selling frauds and scams, protection policies, and customer service. As to-
day, eBay Inc. has received 3.74 out of 5 stars based on 270 Customer Reviews and a
BBB Rating of A+76.
5.1. Data Analysis
e data obtained is qualitative data. e data collected were analyzed considering
the research objectives. Consumer reviews were read several times to obtain a sense of
the overall data. At the same time, memos were written, such as short phrases, ideas or
keys words, in the margins to facilitate later analysis.
is chapter presents the ndings resulting from the analysis of 229 eBay consumer
reviews. e analysis synthesized the eBay buyers and sellers’ comments and is organized
around the following major thematic units: fairness and process (5.2.1), consumer pro-
tection (5.2.2.) customer service eciency (5.2.3). ese themes allowed careful analysis
of the perspectives of eBay buyers and sellers.
5.2.1 eBay Consumer Perception of Fairness and Due Process
e rst theme explored by the data was that of eBay user perception of fair-
ness and due process applied by eBay Resolution system. Due process77 represents a
fundamental principle in all legal matters and proceedings. It guarantees that all legal
procedures set by statute and court practice must be followed for everyone so that no
75 is represents the actual number of reviews that were posted on the BBB’s website by eBay
customers from December 1, 2016 to December 31, 2017.
76 BBB Accredited Business Prole. https://www.bbb.org/losangelessiliconvalley/business-reviews/online-
shopping/ebay-in-san-jose-ca-204015/reviews-and-complaints (accessed February 24, 2018).
77 e universal guarantee of due process can be found in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Consti-
146 Platform economy & labour market
prejudicial or unequal treatment will result78. It is based on the principles explored in
chapter 3.3. of impartiality and fair hearing. Parties in a proceeding should receive a fair
and equal treatment by a third impartial party. A decision should be made by a third
impartial and independent judge based on evidence presented by both parties. Parties
should also be allowed to appeal the case of the opponent. e Technical Notes on ODR
adopted by the UNCITRAL commission, encourage providers to implement practices
and procedures of ODR mechanisms based among others, upon principles of fairness
and due process79. In that regard, the analysis of the data collected from reviews left by
eBay users reveals major concerns regarding the principle of impartiality. Among the
users who left a negative review on the BBB eBay webpage, 33% of them (27% sellers
vs. 5% buyers) believe that eBay’s adjudication process is not impartial. Concerns were
raised especially by sellers80 who felt that when called to intervene and decide a claim
eBay “[ey] always side with the buyers.” Other sellers commented that if a dispute
arises eBay “[ey] will always rule in favor of the buyer,” or “unfortunately eBay always
favors the word of the buyer over the word of the seller 100% of the time.”81 Only a
small number of buyers left reviews claiming that eBay sides with sellers82. is suggests
that the issue of a fair and equal resolution process may concern more the sellers than the
buyers. In fact, sellers are concerned with the “cost of doing business” that consists in in-
sertion fees, nal value fees, shipping costs83, PayPal fees, and if they lose a claim opened
by a buyer there might be the risk of having to issue a refund without the certainty of
receiving their items back. ough, some buyers claimed of having lost many disputes
because eBay “takes kindlier their merchants than their buyers.” On the principle of fair
hearing, some sellers claimed that “eBay decides in favor of Buyer without hearing the
Seller”, and “believes Buyer’s statement without verifying facts.” Another seller reported
his personal experience and felt very dissatised with eBay dispute resolution process. In
his review, he stated “I have sent pictures to eBay but they still insist they made the right
decision of refunding the buyer. eBay rule is not fair to me and all other honest sellers.”
Most sellers felt like eBay would not consider the evidence presented by the sellers or
would not review the facts of the case to arrive at a fair resolution of the dispute. Most
of the cases dealt with the return of items by buyers as not described or defective. e
78 Dictionary Law. https://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=595 (accessed February 24,
79 UNCITRAL Working Group III, irty-third session, A/CN.9/WG.III/WP.140, para. 4.
80 22% of sellers left comments stating that eBay favorites or sides with buyers when deciding claims.
81 50% of seller’s negative reviews were about eBay’s “unfair” resolution process.
82 0.05% of the total reviews.
83 Aron Hsiao, “What Does It Cost to Trade on eBay?,” e Balance, September 3, 2017, https://
www.thebalance.com/what-does-it-cost-to-trade-on-ebay-1140175 (accessed February 25, 2018).
147 E-BAY DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND REVOLUTION: AN INVESTIGATION...
issue of eBay’s “Buyer Is Always Right” grievance policy concerning disputes between
buyers and sellers84, appeared in one of the plainti’s claims in the Campbell vs. eBay,
Inc. lawsuit. Also, it has been at the centered of a debate that may suggest an economic
interest behind eBay dispute resolution decisions in favor of buyers85.
5.2.2. Consumer Protection
e second major theme in the conceptual framework and ndings of this study
was the perception of consumer’s protection by eBay users, both sellers and buyers. As
noted by Neacsu, “Fast and easy development of e-commerce has led to the necessity of
consumer protection in cyberspace, where trade takes place, to ensure consumer safety
and security matters”86. For e-commerce providers, maintaining the trust and con-
dence of customers is a critical factor to business success. erefore, providing the best
possible consumer protection is paramount. e data collected in this study investigate
eBay users’ issues with eBay protection policies (Money Back Guarantee, Seller Protec-
tion) oered to both sellers and buyers. In this regard, 30% of reviewers (51% sellers v.
49% buyers) expressed concerns regarding eBay protection policy. Two were the main
issues of complain indicated by sellers in regard to the Money Back Guarantee policy
for buyers. First, sellers claimed that this policy promotes buyer’s dishonesty and fraud-
ulent behaviors87. A seller’s comment states, “I sold a pair of Prada shoes that were in
excellent condition. When the buyer got them they falsely claimed they were defective.
A case was opened against me. e buyer sends me a pair of shoes similar to but not the
same as the ones I sent. [...] “eBay refunded the buyer and also charged me for the re-
turn shipping.” Another seller claims that, “eBay’s policies are unfair to sellers and make
it easy for dishonest buyers to defraud them. […] I don’t recommend eBay for selling
nor buying. eir rules are not fair to sellers you have people that use items for the last
moment then request a return.” Many sellers reported their experience with returning
items as not described or defective. Some of them claimed that buyers used the items
and then returned them; others reported that a refund was issued to the buyer but the
purchased item was never return. One seller comments, “Policies as of 2016 December
84 Legal. Campell vs. eBay, Inc., https://www.leagle.com/decision/infdco20130906696 (accessed
February 25, 2018).
85 David Segal, “Lesson from a Doughnut Fryer Debacle: Let the eBay Seller Beware,” New York
Times, July 30, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/31/your-money/lesson-from-a-
doughnut-fryer-debacle-let-the-ebay-seller-beware.html (accessed February 25, 2018).
86 Nicoleta Andreea Neacsu, “Consumer Protection in Electronic Commerce,” Bulletin of the
Transilvania University of Braşov 9, no. 1 (2016): 301.
87 10% of Sellers reported similar experiences with the Money Back Guarantee program.
148 Platform economy & labour market
are set to be Buyer centric only. Seller policies do not prevent any abuse / fraud by cus-
tomer as their return policy is strictly accepting all returns on the trust of the Customer.”
is suggests that even though eBay’s rules require88 buyers to send disputed items back,
refunds are sometimes released before this happens. Sometimes buyers are refunded
even when they sent back used, damaged or in certain instances substitute items. is
bring up the second issue reported by sellers with the Money Back Guarantee Policy.
By eBay’s rules, when a buyer returns a damage or substitute item a seller can ask eBay
to intervene before issuing a refund. A seller has a week to resolve the dispute with the
buyer before eBay intervenes and issues a refund. However, a dishonest buyer can ignore
contact and open a claim directly with eBay. Reviews left by sellers, may suggest that in
some cases eBay will issue an automatic refund without considering the sellers’ evidence.
In his review a seller states, “You can order anything and within 30 days, say it was not as
described and open a claim to get a full refund. e judge and jury for the claim: eBay!
And they assume the buyer is telling the truth, no matter who the buyer is.” Another
says, “I sold an item on eBay. It was working without any issues when I packaged it and
sent it. However, the buyer stated it didn’t work and opened a claim. eBay decided to
side with the buyer with no input from me merely taking their word over mine.” e
overall seller’s experience raises issues about buyer’s accountability and how eBay may
enforce or apply policies to prevent buyers’ dishonest behaviors. Many buyers also left
negative reviews regarding eBay’s buyer protection policy. One buyer argues that “eBay
is quick in refunding but does not address issues related to packaging and shipping.”
Another buyer, feels like eBay “is quick in sending a refund if problems occur instead
of addressing the real issues.” Other buyers shared their negative experience with items
that were purchased but never delivered or items that were returned to the seller but a
refund was not issue. Other buyers revealed being victims of scams such as purchasing
non-existing items from reputable sellers. One buyer states, “eBay allows fraudulent
activities from Sellers to take place without protecting Buyers.” is may suggest a lack
of transparency of the seller that at times may appear to have a legitimate reputation.
Another specic complaint regarded the feedback system and policy. Sellers argue that
eBay Feedback policy is unfair to sellers and favors buyers’ abusive behaviors. Since
2008, eBay does not allow sellers to leave negative or neutral feedback for buyers89. ey
are only allowed to leave positive feedback. Instead, buyers can leave both positive and
negative feedback for sellers on any item sold until seven days after purchase. One seller
comments, “[they] won’t even allow sellers to leave negative or even neutral feedback on
88 eBay Money Back Guarantee Policy. https://www.ebay.com/help/policies/ebay-money-back-guarantee-
policy/ebay-money-back-guarantee-policy?id=4210 (accessed February 25, 2018).
89 eBay Protecting the Seller Reputation. http://pages.ebay.com/services/forum/sellerprotection.html
(accessed February 28, 2017).
149 E-BAY DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND REVOLUTION: AN INVESTIGATION...
a buyer’s account, yet will allow buyers to leave negative feedback on a seller’s account,
even if it is unwarranted.” Sellers argue that buyer can ruin their reputation by leaving
untruthful feedback. One seller states, “the buyer had left me a terrible negative review
which ruined my entire eBay account. No one is currently bidding on my items ever
since due to her negative feedback.” Complaints regarding eBay feedback policy, come
also from buyers. One buyer in his review says, “eBay allows sellers to defraud buyers and
when the buyer complains and the seller asks eBay to step in, eBay removes any trace of
the fraud by deleting the feedback.” Another buyer complained that was unable to leave
neutral or negative feedback for seven days because the seller was a Power Seller90. e
analysis of the data may suggest that buyer accountability and seller transparency should
be adjusted in order to make eBay a safer marketplace. Also, the analysis reveals that
both sides have concerns and issues with the eBay feedback system.
5.2.3. Customer Service Eciency
e third theme explored by the data was that of eBay users’ problems with eBay
Customer Service. As noted by Lu, Berchoux, Marek and Chen, customer service qual-
ity is an important driver and predictor of customer satisfaction91. Customer satisfac-
tion measures how happy customers feel when they do business with a company92. It
provides business owners with a metric to understand how well a product or service
meets or exceeds a customer’s expectation. A number of studies93 have investigated the
relationship between service quality and satisfaction, and may suggest that customer
service does inuence consumer’s choice of retailers and other service providers. In fact,
often consumers make their choices based on their perception of the level of customer
90 To become a Top-Rated Seller, also known as ‘Power Seller’, one must have an eBay’s account
that has been active for at least 90 days and have at least 100 transactions and $1,000 in sales
during the last 12 months.
91 Carol Lu, Celine Berchoux, Michael W. Marek and Brendan Chen, “Service Quality and
Customer Satisfaction: Qualitative Research Implications for Luxury Hotels,” International
Journal of Culture, Tourism, and Hospitality Research 9, no. 2 (2015): 170.
92 Cambridge Dictionary. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/customer-satis-
faction (accessed February 28).
93 Gordon H.G. McDougall and Terrence Levesque, “Customer Satisfaction with Services: Putting
Perceived Value into the Equation,” Journal of Services Marketing 14, no.5 (2000): 392-410;
Steven A. Taylor and omas L.Baker, “An Assessment of the Relationship between Service
Quality and Customer Satisfaction in the Formation of Consumers’ Purchase Intentions,”
Journal of Retailing 70, no. 2 (1994): 163-168; Jerey G. Blodgett, Kirk L. Wakeeld and James
H. Barnes, “e Eects of Customer Service on Consumer Complaining Behavior,” Journal of
Services Marketing 6, no. 4 (1995): 31-42.
150 Platform economy & labour market
service they expect to receive after the sale in case a problem arises94. Retailers and service
providers should strive to provide a customer service that help dissatised customers by
listening to their complaints and provide solutions to their problems. Consumers who
feel they receive a fair and respectful treatment when a problem arises, are more likely to
purchase again from the same seller95 and may even engage in positive word-of mouth
behavior96. e quality of the customer service is a critical to the long-term protability
and growth of a business. e data collected in this study show that 20% of the reviews
left by eBay users regarded issues with Customer Service. Of this 20%, the clear majority
(95%) reported a negative experience with Customer Service. eBay sellers and buyers in
this study often described their level of dissatisfaction in terms of interactions with eBay
representatives. Reviews such “customer service was rude”, “customer service talked to
me like I was no more valuable than the dirt beneath their feet” or “no apology, no con-
cern over the loss of my package […] and rudely telling me to just suck it up”97, suggest
that dissatised customers expected not only to receive a fair solution to their problem
but also to be treated with courtesy and respect. Another issue was the time users spent
on the phone dealing with costumer service. Many eBay users98 both sellers and buyers,
reported long waits before being able to talk to a representative or having to make several
calls before getting some help. Comments like “customer service takes forever and is
little more than an answering service”, or “huge waste of time and energy”, express the
frustration experienced by eBay users when dealing with eBay customer service. Some
consumers reported to have spent many hours on the phone with eBay representatives.
Others, were transferred from department to department without a resolution (“ve
calls, totaling over 2 hours on the phone did not resolve the problem”). Diculties in
talking to a supervisor were also described: “I beg them to talk to a supervisor, and then
someone higher than a supervisor. Most of the time everyone is too busy”; “I requested
a supervisor and they told me they were all tied up on other calls.” Many eBay users
complained about the overall professionalism of the customer service representatives99.
94 Jerey G. Blodgett, Kirk L. Wakeeld and James H. Barnes, e Eects of Customer Service on
Consumer Complaining Behavior, 31.
95 Ibid, 32.
96 Ibid, 31.
97 Of the 20% of eBay users who complained about customer service, 27% described customer
service as “rude”.
98 31% reported long waits and phone calls.
99 77% described eBay customer service as unprofessional, unhelpful, not trained, misleading, and
uninformed about eBay policies.
151 E-BAY DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND REVOLUTION: AN INVESTIGATION...
Representatives were referred as not trained, unprofessional, unhelpful100, unknowledge-
able of eBay policies, misleading and contradictory. Comments like, “customer service
representatives make up rules that are not even in their policies” or “when I spoke with
eBay on 3 separate occasions, I was told 3 dierent outcomes”, suggest that users ques-
tioned eBay customer’s service professionalism, knowledge and ability to help resolve
their problems. e analysis of the data indicates that once eBay users seek help by
contacting the customer service, two main factors may determine their satisfaction with
the service provided: whether the customer feels that the remedy oered was quick, pro-
fessional and helpful, and whether the customer was treated with courtesy and respect.
e experience of the UNCITRAL Working Group on ODR shows that attempts
to adopt uniform dispute resolution procedures for online setting has proved to be a dif-
cult task. It is observed that whenever proponents of Online Dispute Resolution face
skepticism about the true capacities of online dispute resolution, the same argument is
used: eBay ODR mechanism works. However, today even the eBay Resolution scheme
that resolves millions of disputes every and may well represent the very best example
of eective ODR, is facing harsh criticism. Some have argued that eBay ODR system
have been replaced by what is essentially a chargeback system101. Considering the prin-
ciples established in the UNCITRAL Notes on ODR, this study aims to investigate and
tackle some key issues experienced by sellers and buyers with eBay Resolution Center.
e ndings suggest that four are the main areas that may require consideration and
improvement: impartiality, customer service eciency, accountability and transparency.
100 In 35% of the reviews, the word “unhelpful” was used when complaining about eBay customer
101 Karim Benyekhlef and Nicholas Vermeys, “e Endo f ODR,” slaw.ca, October 1, 2015, http://
www.slaw.ca/2015/10/01/the-end-of-odr/ (accessed February 27, 2018).
152 Platform economy & labour market
BENYEKHLEF, KARIM and VERMEYS, NICHOLAS. “e Endo f ODR.” slaw.
ca, October 1, 2015, http://www.slaw.ca/2015/10/01/the-end-of-odr/ (accessed
February 27, 2018).
BLODGETT, JEFFREY G., WAKEFIELD, KIRK L. and BARNES, JAMES H. “e
Eects of Customer Service on Consumer Complaining Behavior.” Journal
of Services Marketing 6, no. 4 (1995): 31-42.
Cambridge Dictionary. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/cus-
tomer-satisfaction (accessed February 28).
Civil Justice Council’s Online Dispute Resolution Advisory Group. Online Dispute Reso-
lution for Low Value Civil Claims, https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/up-
loads/2015/02/Online Dispute Resolution-Final-Web-Version1.pdf (Accessed No-
vember 26, 2017).
CORTES, PABLO. Online Dispute Resolution Services: A Selected Number of Case
Studies. Computer and Telecommunications Law Review, 20, no. 6 (2014): 172-178.
DEVANESAN, RUHA and ARESTY, JEFFREY. “ODR and Justice,” in (Eds.), Online
Dispute Resolution eory and Practice, Mohamed S. Abdel Wahab, Ethan Katsch
and Daniel Rainey (e Hague, NL: Eleven International Publishing, 2012).
DEL DUCA, LOUIS F., RULE, COLIN and RIMPFEL, KATHRYN. “eBay’s De
Facto Low Value High Volume Resolution Process: Lessons and Best Practices for
ODR Systems Designer.” Year Book on Arbitration & Mediation 6, no. 10 (2014):
Dictionary Law. https://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=595 (accessed Febru-
ary 24, 2017).
Digital Single Market. https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/policies/ecommerce
(accessed November 30, 2017).
HSIAO, ARON. “Understanding the eBay Automatic Bidding System,” e Balance,
March 16, 2018, https://www.thebalance.com/understanding-the-ebay-auc-
tion-automatic-bidding-system 1140186 (accessed March 18, 2017).
EBNER, NOAM, and ZELEZNIKOW, JOAN (2015). Fairness, Trust, and Security
in Online Dispute Resolution. Hamline Journal of Public Law and Policy, 36, (2):
15th ODR Conference. https://20160dr.wordpress.com/2016/04/14/odr-platforms-ebay-res-
olution center/ (accessed November 30, 2017).
FLEBUS, CLARA. “Report: UNCITRAL Working Group III on Online Dispute Res-
olution—A change of focus in the outcome document,” NYSBA International
Law Practicum 29, no. 1 (2016): 60-62.
153 E-BAY DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND REVOLUTION: AN INVESTIGATION...
HILL, NIGEL ALEXANDER, JIM. e Handbook of Customer Satisfaction and
Loyalty Measurement London: Routledge, 2006.
KATSH, M. ETHAN, and RABINOVICHEINY, ORNA. Digital Justice: Technology
and the Internet of Disputes. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2017.
LU, CAROL, BERCHOUX, CELINE, MAREK, MICHAEL W. and CHEN, BREN
DAN. “Service Quality and Customer Satisfaction: Qualitative Research Implica-
tions for Luxury Hotels.” International Journal of Culture, Tourism, and Hospitality
Research 9, no. 2 (2015): 168-182.
MCDOUGALL, GORDON H.G. and LEVESQUE, TERRENCE. “Customer Sat-
isfaction with Services: Putting Perceived Value into the Equation.” Journal of Ser-
vices Marketing 14, no.5 (2000): 392-410.
NADLER, JANICE (2001). Electronic - Mediated Dispute Resolution and e-Com-
merce. Negotiation Journal, 17, (4): 333-347.
NEACSU, NICOLETA ANDREAA. “Consumer Protection in Electronic Com-
merce.” Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Braşov 9, no. 1 (2016): 301-308.
MORRIS, NIGEL. “Online courts modelled on eBay to settle legal disputes.” Inde-
pendent.co.uk, February 16, 2015, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-
news/online-courts-modelled-on ebayto-settle-legal-disputes-10047780.html (ac-
cessed November 26, 2017).
Ocial Records of the General Assembly, Seventieth Session, Supplement No. 17
Ocial records of the General Assembly, Seventy-First Session, Supplement No. 17
Ocial records of the General Assembly, Seventy-rst session, A/RES/71/138.
Ocial records of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Work-
ing Group III (Online Dispute Resolution), Twenty-second session, A/CN.9/
Retail & Commerce, “Worldwide Retail Ecommerce Sales Will Reach $1.915 Trillion
is Year,” Emarketer.com, August 22, 2016, https://www.emarketer.com/Article/
(accessed November 19, 2017).
Report of Working Group III (Online Dispute Resolution) on the work of its thir-
ty-third session, A/CN.9/868.
Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, Forty-nine ses-
RULE, COLIN. “Quantifying the Economic Benets of Eective Redress.” University
of Arkansas Little Rock Law Review, 34, no. 6 (2012): 767-776.
154 Platform economy & labour market
SEGAL, DAVID. “Lesson from a Doughnut Fryer Debacle: Let the eBay Seller Be-
ware,” New York Times, July 30, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/31/
(accessed February 25, 2018).
SCHMITZ, AMY J., and RULE, COLIN. “e New Handshake: Where We Are
Now.” International Journal on Online Dispute Resolution 3, no. 2 (2016): 84-101.
(accessed December 30, 2017).
Statista. Average value of global online shopping orders as of 4th quarter 2017, by device
(in U.S. dollars). https://www.statista.com/statistics/239247/global-online-shop-
ping-ordervalues-by device/ (accessed December 30, 2017).
Statista. Number of digital buyers worldwide from 2014 to 2021 (in billions).
(accessed January 20, 2018).
TAYLOR, STEVEN A. and BAKER, THOMAS L. “An Assessment of the Relation-
ship between Service Quality and Customer Satisfaction in the Formation of Con-
sumers’ Purchase Intentions.” Journal of Retailing 70, no. 2 (1994): 163-168.
UNCITRAL Working Group III, irty-third session, A/CN.9/WG.III/WP.140.
U.S. Census Bureau News. https://www.census.gov/retail/mrts/www/data/pdf/ec_cur-
rent.pdf (accessed January 20, 2018).
VAN DEN HERIK, JAAP and DIMOV, DANIEL. “Can the eBay’s Community Re-
view Forum Fairly Resolve Disputes.” Proceedings of the 23rd Benelux Conference
on Articial Intelligence 4, (November 2011), https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.
cfm?abstract_id=1955505 (accessed December 2, 2017).
VILLALTA, ESTHER A. “ODR and E-Commerce,” in (Eds.), Collective ecacy: Inter-
disciplinary Perspectives on International leadership, eds. Mohamed S. Abdel Wahab,
Ethan Katsch and Daniel Rainey (e Hague, NL: Eleven International Publish-
Worldatlas. e 25 Largest Internet Companies in the World. http://www.worldatlas.
com/articles/the25-largest-internet-companies-in-the-world.html (accessed No-
vember 30, 2017).
ZHENG, JIE. “Access to Information and Justice: Where does ODR lead us to?” Me-
diate.com August 2017.
155 E-BAY DISPUTE RESOLUTION AND REVOLUTION: AN INVESTIGATION...
About the Author
Luca Dal Pubel
Prof. Dal Pubel is a Conict Resolution and Online Dispute Resolution practitioner. He
teaches courses on Mediation, Arbitration, and Alternative Dispute Resolution for the
International Security and Conict Resolution program and Political Science at SDSU.
Also, he is a professor of Negotiation and Leadership at the Lorenzo de’ Medici – Marist
College in Florence, Italy. He is a Ph.D. Candidate at Open University of Catalunya.
His research and teaching interests are in the areas of Digital Justice, Online Dispute
Resolution, Alternative Dispute Resolution, e-Governance and Leadership.
Department of Political Science
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182