EBay has used a bot designed to detect fraud and policy violations to remove an authenticated listed item from its marketplace. The listing was eventually reinstated but only after an initial appeal was rejected and the seller got James Spence Authentication involved.

EcommerceBytes reports that an experienced seller who specializes in autographed items had a listing flagged by a bot for removal. When the seller complained and asked a human representative to intervene, the latter deferred to the bot’s decision.

The unnamed seller told EcommerceBytes that the item, a Michelle Obama deluxe signed edition book was purchased factory sealed directly from Barnes and Noble and later authenticated by James Spence Authentication, which is listed at the top of eBay’s “recommended authenticators.”

When the seller appealed to EBay he was told that about 25% of autograph listing removals are done by AI without any human intervention. Many sellers have complained about this, arguing that incorrect listing removals waste their time and can damage both their accounts and livelihoods.

In its notification to the seller, EBay admitted that the decision to remove the listing was made “using automation or artificial intelligence.” He appealed the decision but the initial decision was subsequently upheld after a review.

The seller then got EBay’s recommended authenticator involved and soon received a further response from EBay saying that “after an additional review, we were able to approve the appeal.”

The seller said their experience shows EBay’s autograph-authenticity enforcement mechanism doesn’t work and told EBay that its marketplace has many clearly fake autographs available that are not removed — even when they are reported by experts like himself.

“I wasted several hours trying to get EBay to correct its error when I should have been listing and selling. I understand that autograph authenticity is one of EBay’s trickiest product category issues but even compared to five or ten years ago, the company is failing miserably in this area,” he said.

EBay removes authenticated listing “for a second time”

The unnamed seller contacted AIM Group following the publication of this story to inform us that EBay removed their relisted Michelle Obama book for a second time sending the exact same form letter saying it was based on “automation or artificial intelligence.”

The unnmaed seller told AIm Group: “James Spence Authentication meanwhile contacted me saying eBay told them (not me) the listing was removed because this was the first time this specific book had been authenticated by JSA, and the solution was to have them authenticated AGAIN using their Letter of Authenticity which is much more costly and typically required only for items valued at a few hundred dollars or more.

“This makes no sense considering 1) eBay didn’t remove the dozens of non authenticated (sealed and unsealed) editions of this exact same signed book and 2) there are untold thousands of other autographed particular books and items that JSA has never authenticated before.

“This incident demonstrates eBay’s utter incompetence in the autograph arena and how little it values the time of its sellers. While I understand my quarter century of selling on eBay means even less than my measly 5 figures in monthly sales on the platform, it’s still evidence of just how poorly managed the company is.”

Other users in the comments section agreed that EBay’s use of AI was problematic. One respondent said that similar issues were prevalent on other marketplaces, including Etsy, which is reportedly removing items with the word “bone”  in their name.

AIM Group has contacted EBay for comment and will update this story if a response is received.

*This article has been updated after the EBay seller contacted us with additional information. Despite repeated requests EBay itself has not responded.*

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