(e)Buyer beware - how not to do customer services

12 December 2008

Blogs mean nobody can be silenced when they have something to say. That's bad news for companies with sloppy customer service; screw around with people who want to buy from you, and they'll make sure everyone knows about it.

By day, Andrew Scott is the founder of Rummble, a startup that designs location-based apps for iPhones and the like. He's a busy guy with precious little time, and like the rest of the human race, always has an eye out for a bargain. So when he spotted one on ebuyer.com, he decided to snap it up.

Unfortunately, Scott's experience of ebuyer.com started badly and rapidly descended into the seventh circle of hell, as he explains on his blog:

Tempted by their cheaper than anywhere else prices for a Samsung 22″ monitor for my new graphics guru recently employed, I ordered from them last week.

1. I was going to pay on my personal card. They requested a copy of my PASSPORT and a bank statement. Annoyed, but wanting to simply get the goods, I complied and sent the scanned copies to their email address. Days later, still no delivery. We phoned;  they had no record and had canceled the order. We’d had no email or communication. FAIL No.1

2. we tried ordering again. This time I paid on my company mastercard; they didnt require the passport or bank statement this time, but they wouldn’t accept the order to be delivered to our London office, when the card was registered to our Cambridge office.

3. Reluctantly accepted to have delivery to the Cambridge office, so telephoned this time to ensure the order went smoothly. So we ordered BY PHONE and the guy said they would be delivered the next day, as they were in stock. I even paid extra for fast delivery.

Having arranged carraige from Cambridge to London, I called today to check things had arrived. NOTHING HAD ARRIVED. Tried to call, they had a cue of 9 people infront of me. Dug through my email, it turns out they sent a CANCELLATION OF ORDER EMAIL a couple of days ago; it had gone in my junk (good to know they use a good emailing service). The email gives NO useful information about why it is cancelled; the items were IN STOCK, so they cant be discontinued. We certainly did NOT cancel the order.

Did Scott just catch ebuyer.com on a bad day(s) or is his account a fair reflection of their customer service? Your tales of glory or despair are, as ever, very welcome.


  • Matt
    I've had nothing short of superb service from eBuyer! Everything arrives before the due date. R.E Junk email, with most companies you need to set your email to accept emails from the companies you use!
  • Dan
    Ebuyer have always had rather poor customer service if things go wrong! I've ordered a DVD player from them, gone on holiday for 3 weeks (delivery house was occupied) came home 3 weeks later - where is the DVD? Had to use their website to ask them at the time (as they had no phone support at the time) and they replied that they had forgot to ship it, it was still in their warehouse! Many times their 'next day delivery' has not been true too, good job they are no longer the only really cheap IT supplier!
  • Chris
    Total rubbish, ebuyer Customer Service is the best there is
  • anthonylei
    ebuyer has served me well except once with a logitech mouse which is not their fault... got a replacement fairly soon never have the honour to use the customer service
  • Simon H.
    I had a similar story actually, about two years ago. I had previously ordered and received a 20" monitor using my credit card, but when a few months later I tried to order a hard drive using THE SAME CREDIT CARD and address, for less money than the monitor, the order was cancelled without notification. Then I tried to log in to see what was wrong and was told my account was restricted. After that I couldn't even browse the website, which left me feeling a little bit like a criminal. Eventually I was emailed an explanation that I needed to verify my identity by sending a copy of my passport. I argued that they already trusted me before with the same credit card and address, for more money, so why not now? I also refuted the need to send a scan of my passport - surely that is not secure and liable to identity fraud. Consumers, it turns out, have rights too... A few emails and calls later, I finally decided to challenge this practice under the Data Protection Act, which states data collected must be relevant to its use and not excessive. I emailed that they would shortly be receiving written confirmation of this, as well as a request to view the data they had stored. Next day the order was re-opened and processed without any further hitch. The point is eBuyer are usually good, but they do select a few random accounts for excessive and not entirely legal scrutiny. I'd advise any customer to refuse to send a copy of their passport to any online retailer. Security issues aside, it's an abuse of your rights under the Data Protection Act.
  • gordon
    never had a problem with ebuyer, and i've used them a lot over the years. you can't please everyone all of the time.... :) if you want to find a company that gives you real ball-ache look at o2. upon opening a business account recently, i had to provide, passport, driving licence, proof of address, proof of trading and a £400 deposit.... took em bloody ages to send the phones out too... !
  • Gus
    Can't complaim about ebuyer. Always fast delivery and good prices.
  • MightyP
    I have used ebuyer for a number of years, and have only had one bad experience which made me stop using them for about six months. The problem I had was with a faulty printer, after filling out the RMA request all communication was through enotes, which was a real pain. I was told I had to contact Epson to replace/fix the printer, I spent the next two weeks arguing that it was their responsibility to replace the printer as it was a dead on arrival, in the end I got nowhere and had to contact Epson who indeed did pickup and replace the printer. I am sure I was right in my complaint, and was quoting the consumer protection act in practically every enote. It did end in a happy solution even if it wasn't the one I wanted, this was in 2005 and at least you can telephone them now
  • Geoff A.
    Also an eBuyer fan. Very good returns service. Quick delivery. Superb.
  • David P.
    Personally I have never bought anything from eBuyer but I've heard of countless horror stories from people ordering from them. For this reason I steer clear of them.
  • Mark
    David Parry: Considering most of the replies on this post, you are talking completely out of your arse. I've never had a problem with them either. Also is anyone else thinking its a bit strange that this blog posting is about a guy in IT, who doesn't appear to know how email works... "(good to know they use a good emailing service)." ... err yeah OK mate. FAIL.
  • Josh
    Ebuyer are fantastic! honestly how can you blame them because an email they sent to you went into YOUR junk folder, hilarious! and you guys are supposed to be somewhat computer/tech savvy *rolls eyes*. The other points are #fail aswell as there for security reasons to protect you, had someone go a hold of your CC card and tried to use it on ebuyer you would be THANKING them for having rigorous security checks and protecting you from fraud! This article is shite.
  • Richard
    Why is this even considered worthy of posting?
  • Slim
    Ebuyer are ok until something goes wrong, last thing i ordered was advertised as 100 cdrs but i turned out to be a 10 pack. I emailed but they didnt care and fobbed me off with a copy paste reply at first. My 2nd email got me a useless email saying they'll update the website but again avoided answering were the other 90 disks are. The CS is useless, but if your lucky ennough you might not need them
  • Joe
    A few years ago ebuyer did have a reputation of having quite poor customer service but that has completely changed in recent years. Their returns policy is excellent compared to other cheap computer store and they have the best range of delivery options from any website I've seen
  • Jonathan
    I've had no problems with ebuyer. I purchased a 32" lcd tv (Vistron) from them in January for £320. It went wrong in September and they refunded me the full £320. So I went a purchased better, due to the loweing of lcd prics in the 9 months, and cheaper 32" Sony lcd tv from Pixmania for £330 delivered.
  • Dominic
    I have used ebuyer for about 5 years now at least, spent thousands of pounds, never had a single problem. Not once.
  • chilliman
    Ebuyer are rubbish, almost as bad as 7dayshop.com when it comes to customer service.
  • Big D.
    I have bought thousands of pounds of stuff over the years from eBuyer. Mostly a good buying experience, but the odd one or 2 problems with Customer service. They can be brilliant, or they can be shit. . . I had the same experience regarding the sudden reluctance to process an order on a card I had used for ages, and when I kicked off about it, they said something about flagging up unusual buying patterns. . . but I was buying same old PC stuff I always buy. . . I stood my ground and got my order. . Another time I had an SD card go faulty after about 10 months and they replaced it without question, and didnt even make me have the hassle of sending the dead one back. . To be honest, when I have paid for next-day delivery, and the item doesnt arrive they usually credit my account with a complimentary Free Delivery on my next order, if I ring and complain. . Thing is though 90% of the time its down to the Lazy courier driver who just cant be arsed once it gets past mid afternoon, and usually they just leave it on the van for the next day. . CityLink are terrible for this. . . I recently sat in all day waiting for an order, when tracked it said it had been loaded onto the van that morning. About 4:30pm I started checking the tracking every 5 mins or so, when at 4:55 it said there was no-one home and a card was left. . I was fuming. rang up citylink, kicked off and within 5 minutes the courier was at my door with a sour face. . . .
  • Big D.
    . . . . Thing is the volume of throughput they have must be massive, so its only natural that the odd order goes tits up. I'm sure if I was the one that had shit service off them I would be kicking off too, but on the whole I cant complain about my buying experience with them.
  • JeffT
    I have not had a problem with ebuyer often items are sent out earlier than expected and faulty items are returned for replacement or refund with no trouble except for the enote system being slow. As for emails going into the junk folder that is your fault not theirs. Don't you ever check your junk mail?
  • Rob L.
    I spend around £1000 a month with Ebuyer, vritually every problem i've had with them has been with sh*ttylink, at the end of the day we are getting what we pay for.
  • Twizzle
    If they have a phone service now - all well and good, I can't comment on that but their system of contacting them notes to complain was nothing short of ridiculous at best !!
  • sionyboy
    If people took to heart every scare story involving an etailer then no-one would buy things online. Never had a serious problem with them, a few hiccups over the years but as mentioned above, that was solely the fault of Citylink. I don't understand why this geezer didn't press 'back' on his browser as soon as he was asked for his passport and other ID and just go sign up for google checkout. Makes me wonder if perhaps he was a bit simple and maybe all this fuss was caused by his own stupidity. It does happen y'know, the customer isn't always right (especially the thick ones).
  • gordon
    ebuyer even take paypal payments now..... :) How good is that..? You could have had the item shipped anywhere!
  • Wopster
    EBuyer are pants. Ordered a wireless router some months ago, based on the text description and model number - the picture was a different model. The item that was delivered was the one in the picture. No telephone support so went through their "ENotes" system (again, pants) and after a few days was fobbed off. Tried to arrange return as this was entirely their fault and was told there would be restocking charge! A couple of years ago I bought a CDRW drive which was faulty - took 7 weeks to sort out, despite doing everything by their rules. I suspect most of the people saying that they're a good company have never had to return anything. Don't be tempted by their low prices - there's a reason they're cheap - lack of customer support - It's definitely worth paying a couple of pounds more to never have to deal with them again.
  • The S.
    Methinks there are a lot of ebuyer employees posting on here. Ive order a few things from them and each time there has been an issue ranging from being sent an SD card in a 3 foot square box too being sent a used GPS device which was scratched and had the previous users data still on it. Theyre not the best, thats for sure.
  • Scatman J.
    I can honestly say that I have not had any 'real' issues with their service. Minor ones at best and those were resolved at a reasonable speed. I think this article is a little OTT in terms of being post-worthy.
  • Jamie
    Never had anything but stellar service when having to return goods or have products that have failed in warranty returned to be replaced or repaired. ...and no i am not an Ebuyer employee.
  • Rory
    "This time I paid on my company mastercard; they didnt require the passport or bank statement this time, but they wouldn’t accept the order to be delivered to our London office, when the card was registered to our Cambridge office". Please don't tell me you see this as a negative. If you do, you're nothing short of a retard.
  • Bernie K.
    Another non-Ebuyer employee who thinks they are the bees-knees, first port of call for me everytime. I have bought from them for years and will continue to do so. Returns can be drawn out but they always get there. I returned an external 120 GB hard drive that failed after 10 months. The refund paid for a 250GB replacement. Good prices and unsurprisingly, they are an internet seller that uses the internet for returns too... that's what keeps the prices keen.
  • Rory
    Sorry for the double post but have found more things that have annoyed me. 9 people ahead of you in the queue? Why is this even relevant to announce? I rarely have 2 or 3 ahead of me when I call, wouldn't suprise me in the slightest if you'd called at a busy period... are they supposed to employ a rediculous amount of call centre staff JUST for the hour or two peaks they get throughout the day, just so the same staff can sit around and do little to no work when it goes quiet again? Also, you have absolutely enraged me by trying to blame a company for their e-mail going into your junk folder. You are nothing short of an idiot. What worries me is your career is based around the use of computers. By the sound of things it would be best if you found a change of career, because obviously the absolute bare minimum basics of computer use are too much for you.
  • Harry
    I've been compelled to give my experience of Ebuyer, which has been nothing short but brilliant. I've returned items, swapped items, cancelled items and recieved items quicker after having gone for the super saver option and all correspondance has been quick and to the point. I've been shopping with ebuyer, on and off, for the past 5 years and can say that they have never let me down. Obviously I might have been lucky with all my transactions, but the general concensus is that ebuyer is one of the better online retailers.
  • keith
    I have had numerous items from ebuyer, and have never ever had the slightest problem with them in any way whatsoever prices are amazing delivery is allways good emails ok paying ok nothing but the highest praise.i wish a lot more companies were as good.i have shopped with them for years having had from bits and bobs to expensive televisions
  • John T.
    I've used Ebuyer a lot over the last 7 years or so and have only had a problem with them twice. The first (about 6 years ago) was the worst when a CD burner they sent me failed to burn any disks and they continually ignored my 'enotes' requesting an RMA (for nearly a month!!) until I threatened setting the trading standards on them. The second a couple of years later was another faulty product, but this time they responded very promptly and sorted out a replacement quickly enough. There's been a couple of other occasions I had to return items, but that was my own fault for picking the wrong things. Only thing I would note if you do have to return an item: Ebuyer do not arrange delivery (at least not for smaller items) and will not refund you the return postage unless you really nag them about it. Regarding their shipping: I've found the 'next day' service has not failed me yet, but I've also found the Supersaver option often takes just the one day more. With the latter being free (for orders over £50) it's a bit of a no brainer which one I usually choose (if I don't need the order the next day then the other paid for shipping options are a waste of money).
  • Andrew S.
    @Rory Sorry you feel enranged. Just to clarify email going to junk. Junk folders on email are -other than those filters manually dictated by the user- guided by a number of factors including 3rd party white lists and blacklists or sometimes content analysis of the email itself. However, in general more often than not email clients (in my case Outlook) and certainly all good web clients use filters provided by blacklists who track servers, IPs and domains from which junk email is sent. The metrics which are used to decide if a server is worthy of blacklisting are multiple, including a sudden spike in traffic or frquent reports from users hitting "report as junk" in email s/ware. It is a huge problem for genuine companies, especially startups like one of my current companies, which cannot afford to utilise 3rd party services to send out email which will end up in your inbox not junk folder. However, ebuyer is not a startup, has consirable volume and turnover of revenue and can afford to ensure its emails are sent from a 3rd party who can manage this or resource it internally to correctly manage their own servers. Clearly many people are satisfied using ebuyer and that is great; we all as business owners or service providers make mistakes, but usually mistakes are taken care of as they first occur. In this case mistake evolved into a saga of inconvenience- more than one mistake it was many things, hence my decision to vent on my personal blog. I might add however, that I have ordered from Amazon for nearly a decade and not once yet (fingers crossed) had a customer service issue to yelp/blog about. As for sending items to an alternate address, obviously I offered proof of address for the business, which they would not accept. Finally, those shouting that this post is unblog worthy, should note the dialogue it has generated. Bloggers, as journalists, often prod with stories which will generate engagement and strong views in return...this I'm sure, is no exception. The Retard.
  • g j.
    Well my experience mirrors that of the person in the article. Ordered a computer for my son using the same card and account I have used with them for the last 4 years. Ordered on Sat and came in from work Mon at 4pm only to find they had cancelled the order because I had failed to send a scan of my passport or driving license. Never mind the fact the emails asking me to do this and the cancellation email came 3 minutes apart. Now I neither drive nor fly!! When asked about where it says you have to send personal documentation on the T&Cs on their site they pointed me to a section where they say they will ask a third party intermediate to ascertain your address etc. Nothing on their site asks you or advises you that they will ask for documentation. Eventually after a heated argument they finally said they would accept a copy of my birth certificate and a utility bill!!!!! After all that they eventually sent the item but I had to pay for delivery whereas delivery on first order was free. I am very unhappy at their excessive demands and am going to follow simons advice above and request the data they store on me as I think asking for a birth certificate is more than a little excessive!!!!!
  • Mike H.
    Very disapointed with eBuyer. Placed an order, cancelled some RAM, they delivered it anyway, had it collected, rang them days later to see where the refund was, "What RAM?" they told me, FFS I said, eventually got refund but spent £10 on phone calls! Got them to refund phone calls as I had to chase their mistake. They also ask for your mothers maiden name to create an account, very strange that one, security risk I'd say, specially if you give them credit card and passport details, I suggest using your missues mothers maiden name to be safe. Their telephone queue is very strange too, whilst trying to get through to returns, I jumped from position 4 to 16 to 8 to 20 to 3 to 13, how? I don't believe there is a queue, they just keep you waiting on the 0845 number for 15mins, nice little earner that one ebuyer. Won't be buying from eBuyer from now on. FCUK you ebuyer. Merry Christmas
  • thrustmaster
    I have ordered from Ebuyer many times and never once had a problem. Always delivered on time or earlier also. Being a large company you will always get the odd person who will have a bad experience with them.
  • Sedgwick
    Ebuyer have always been great for me, can't fault them for price or service, the only online computer store I've had problems with were Dabs who's CS was awful.
  • Mark
    Mike Hock: You are a retarded fuckwit with zero intelligence and a mouthful of complete shite. You are a complete tool.
  • David H.
    Shit customer service. Avoid at all costs. Cheap prices? In fact they are not really cheap at all if you shop around a bit.
  • Arther
    I've had quite a few troubles with eBuyer in the past which include late deliveries, wrongly delivered items, damaged goods and sometimes poor customer service when dealing with such problems. But then I've had orders that have gone through without any problems so it's hit or miss with them. I now only order from them if they're the absolute cheapest by a fair amount otherwise I find shops such as microdirect much more reliable.
  • dwl
    I have used ebuyer for many years and had _very_ few problems. Their CS has improved a huge amount in the last couple of years and IMHO they are as good as Amazon.
  • rah
    Nothing wrong with their CS, the rare times I had a problem I found their Webnote system very simple to use and always got prompt replies and actions. To be honest you could blog about any company, no company in the world has 100% satisfaction.
  • Jacob M.
    I'ver spent thtousands with them, and never really had a problem, even on returns. However, I do know others who have suffered nightmares with them, so they do frequently screw up, as all these replies testify. I've never had to send a passport scan, or a drivers license scan, and I wouldn't do it. If anyone has done this, can I suggest this is probably illegal if they store this information on computers, under the Data Protection Act, so you might want to send Ebuyer a Subject Access Request (usually £10) for all info they store on you, and make a complaint about them to the Data Protection Registrar. J.
  • Al A.
    Ebuyer are fine until something goes wrong, then their customer service is a nightmare. I've had a lot of stuff from them at work and it's mostly been okay, but the orders that went wrong have wasted whole days of my life. They do have a tendancy to overpack stuff too, which is a bit unnecessary.
  • EBuyer M.
    OK Folks we can stop posting now, everyone knows how amazing EBuyer really is, get back to work.
  • PaganWolf
    I know even the big places get it wrong at times. and that does seem to be a fail of epic proportions. On a personal level I've had nothing but great service from ebuyer. Purchased a 1tb hard drive 9 months ago. It started getting errors and losing data. Phoned them up. They took it back with no quibbles, replaced it, tested it, told me I wasn't losing my mind. They were fabulous.
  • Anonymous
    eBuyer are generally good, they delivery quite fast. However I must say that their returns service is appalling really. Scan.co.uk are a far far better alternative. Ofcourse now we know why ebuyer are cheaper - skimping on customer service.
  • Steve M.
    I no longer even check for good deals on ebuyer.com as their delivery charges were extortionately high for delivery to Northern Ireland! Last time I checked it was still part of the UK and not some small island in the pacific oceon which warrants a £15 delivery charge! Shame on them.
  • Jim P.
    This is not a fair reflection of Ebuyer. Yes their customer service sometimes could be better, but 99 times out of 100 everything goes really smoothly and their prices makes me go back. Think this guy is just a born whiner and needs to read his email.
  • Timbo1234
    I agree, eBuyer are the worst company for CS on the Internet. Like a lot of people I was more than happy with them until an order went wrong and then they were a nightmare. In the end an order which was in stock when ordering and had a stupidly expensive next day delivery charge added on took over a week to deliver after being told it had been despatched the day of order. Avoid these muppets!
  • Mark
    eBuyer have always provided me with excellent CS, no complaints so far.
  • Peter
    I tried placing an order for Laptop thrice till now, once via google checkout, once directly over phone and once on line. Thrice I got e mail that my order has been cancelled. I called them again they said I cancelled it, I was taken on surprise ride. Then he said it might be security problem but if I give then Visa 3 D secure password he may be able to process it. What the hell, why should I give this. Then I get a call from my Credit card fraud monitoring division as 3 similar payments of £600 have been done by me. What the hell, I am kicking myself and will ever never use them again. Now I have to sort out this credit card Headaches. I am using Amazon since more than 10 years, never ever had any problems. Why did I choose these People over Amazon, I am repenting. I WILL NOT USE EBUYER EVER.

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