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defamation of business reputation

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We have been selling items on amazon auctions for a few months. We had dozens of satisfied customers world-wide, and had begun a very healthy business. A customer bougt 48 magazines, and was unhappy with 4 of them. WE REFUNDED his money for those 4. He then entered 48 very nasty comments in our feedback section, calling us thieves, con-artists, sociopaths.. the list goes on. Bids were cancelled, citing his comments, and we haven't had a bid since. We want to save our business, but don't know how to handle this situation.


Senior Member
I am very familiar with ebay and this is not as bad as you believe. First, even though the buyer posted 48 comments, they are only ONE negative hit to your account (duplicate comments from the same person are not counted). Second, you have the ability within eBay's system, to post a response to the buyers comments. Do so. Post a quick explanation, like you did here.

Also, I might suggest that you contact eBay and ask them to review the posts to the feedback section and remove the multiples. Since you are their 'bread and butter' (a seller), they should accomodate you.

Finally, in order to consider any 'defamation' action you would have to prove your damages. This can't just be "lost sales". You would need to get a statement from each of the lost buyers that the reason they cancelled was due to the fraudulent post. Then you would need to determine your 'lost' value (imagined closing bid, less cost basis) for each cancelled sale. Very hard to do with the variables of auctions.

Steve Halket
Judgment Recovery of Houston
[email protected]
This is my PERSONAL OPINION and is not legal advice! Consult your local attorney for your specific situation and laws!


Unfortunately,(apparently) we were dealing through amazon, not e-bay. 48 comments ARE 48 hits. I don't see a place to post our story, but I will look further.
We contacted them, and they apoligized, and said although they normally don't remove feedback, he would talk to his supervisor about our situation.That was a week ago, and we haven't heard back.
Thank-you very much for your reply.

[This message has been edited by edncee (edited July 15, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by edncee (edited July 15, 2000).]


Keep in touch with Amazon. Also, start posting negative feedback on your buyer -- he wasn't satisfied, you refunded all his money, and he STILL made 48 negative comments about you. You can also file a criminal complaint against him (depending on his state) for defamation, etc. You can sue him for libel, defamation, interference with business prospects, etc. "thief" & "sociopath" are probably defamatory per se -- you don't have to prove specific damages to recover. However, this will take lots of time & energy for little payoff. You may be able to sue Amazon also - they used a feedback system that created a definite danger of this sort of thing happening instead of the 1-sale-1-feedback system eBay uses. Therefore they should be held liable when this totally forseeable situation developes. (This is really a bargaining ploy to make them remove the feedback.)

Ask amazon if they will allow you to create a new screen name & transfer your feedback, but trnasfer only ONE of the buyer's negative comments & allow you to post a response. Finally, you could just create a sole-proprietorship company & have the company register as a new seller & start building your feedback up again.

This is not legal advice and you are not my client. Double check everything with your own attorney and your state's laws.

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