Insanity knows no limits. Neither, it seems, do the feelings of a hurt eBay seller.
Chris Read, a 42-year-old English chap, bought a Samsung 700V phone from Joel Jones on eBay.
"I was told the phone was in good condition, but there were scratches all over it, a big chip out of the side and it was a different phone. I paid for a Samsung F700 and got a Samsung F700V," Read told the Daily Telegraph.
He returned the phone and got a full refund, but, thinking he might help other less-than-witting purchasers, he left a comment on eBay's feedback link.
Please read how willfully nasty were Read's words: "Item was scratched, chipped and not the model advertised on Mr Jones' eBay account." Um, and that appears to have been it.
Jones, on reading this deep indictment of his exemplary business practices sent an e-mail to Read, threatening to sue for libel. The gist of his e-mail seems to have been that Read's highly emotional invective had adversely affected his business.
And so, my friends, we are going to the place where judges still wear toupees.
Read is determined not to have his eyes scratched out by a scratchy phone seller: "I thought that was why the feedback service was there. It's not like I wrote anything malicious or nasty."
Jones, however, has a very interesting argument, one that many a marketer of underperforming gadgetry will surely consider for their next campaign: "If you don't like the goods, then you get a full refund. Surely that is great customer service and deserves positive feedback."
He claims that, because of Read's hideously honest comment, eBay has sent him down toward the nether hell of its listings pages.
One can't help wondering, however, whether Jones might put his legal mallet away and instead put his own comment next to Read's feedback.
Perhaps he could explain that his two-legged dog, Horatio, had inadvertently scratched the phone as it was being packed. Or that the chips were caused by his moody schizophrenic budgerigar, Sarah.
Surely Jones is seeking sympathy rather than justice. Because even if he somehow persuaded a court that he was right (which would seem a little unlikely), he will always be known as the scratchy phone seller who sues his customers.
Mr. Jones, can you imagine what the comments on the eBay feedback page will look like after the court case? Surely this was just one piece of feedback. And am I right in thinking that everything Mr. Read wrote was, well, true? So how was it, as your suit maintains, "unfair, unreasonable, and damaging?"
Many eBay sellers get hundreds, even thousands of comments. Did you not get any positive ones? Is that it? Do you just need a little love?
Don't they have a Judge Judy in the U.K.?