eBay Lawsuit Over “Neutral” Feedback

    April 24, 2008

Living in a Radically Transparent world is, it seems, not without risk. Apparently a Seattle man was recently sued for $10,000 because he left a “Neutral” rating for an eBay seller from North Carolina.

Sued! For $10k for using a system that eBay implemented to encourage feedback!!!

Shellhorn bought some Morgan silver dollars from a man in North Carolina. The price was fair, but Shellhorn says the coins were packed poorly.

“The coins were hanging out of the envelope, loose, with no packing whatsoever around them,” he said.

The seller wanted feedback. Shellhorn couldn’t honestly say the deal was good or bad so he took the middle ground.

“This is neutral feedback, not even negative feedback, but neutral. He sued me for $10,000,” he said.

The judge in Buncome County, NC did dismiss the law suit, but it still raises a serious question about the future of consumer feedback, if the consumer is fearful of leaving any feedback at all.

It’s amazing that someone would sue an individual for one “neutral” rating, but that goes to show just how important ratings are on eBay. It’s also scary that an attorney was willing to take on the case. What if the judge hadn’t shown any common sense? What if the court had ruled in favor of the plaintiff?

It may not have happened this time, but you can bet that this case will inspire someone to think they can remove legitimate negative (neutral?) customer feedback by taking them to court. And it will be a scary time for all, should a naive judge rule in favor of the company.