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eBay glitch charges sellers double

Blaming the problem on a "technical error," the online auction giant is crediting customers' bank accounts for the extra charges.

Some eBay sellers got an unwelcome surprise over the holiday weekend as the company double charged their bank accounts for their auction fees.

Blaming the problem on a "technical error," the online auction giant began crediting customers' bank accounts on Monday for the extra charges.

"Some members who use Direct Pay to pay their eBay accounts reported double charges on their bank accounts in their current monthly billing cycle. We have worked with our banking provider to resolve the issue," eBay said in a note to members on one of its announcements boards. "We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience."

The company did not say how many members the billing problem affected. However, dozens of sellers reported problems on the message boards. eBay representatives did not return calls seeking comment.

The credits came too late for some sellers who reported bounced checks and being charged by their banks for insufficient funds as a result of the glitch. Atlanta seller Doug Watson, for instance, received a $30 charge from his bank for overdrawing his account after eBay tried to debit it twice for the $3,100 in auction fees he owed.

Meanwhile, other eBay users reported being inconvenienced by the glitch. Shelley Patrick, who sells baby clothes on eBay, didn't bounce any checks after eBay deducted $250 from her account instead of the $125 she owed. But still, the Mesa, Ariz., resident said money was tight.

"I couldn't even buy groceries over the weekend," Patrick said. "It was a big inconvenience."

eBay sellers have the option of paying for their listings, transactions and other fees by having the company automatically debit them from a bank account or charge them to a credit card every month. The company normally warns customers in advance of how much will be deducted from their accounts.

Sellers first reported the problem on Friday on eBay's message boards. The company acknowledged the problem on Saturday on its announcements board and in an e-mail message to sellers.

Although the company has begun to credit the extra charges, customers will have to contact eBay separately about any insufficient fund fees or bounced checks they incurred due to them, the company said in an e-mail to affected sellers.

"We understand that some of you may incur bank charges due to this incident. If you find that this is the case for you, please contact customer support," the company said in its letter. "We will work with each member on an individual basis to see that any issues with your bank account caused by this incident are resolved and minimize any inconvenience to you."

Meanwhile, some sellers say they won't allow eBay to directly debit their bank account again. Patrick, for instance, has already told her bank to refuse any more direct debits from eBay. After being double charged for nearly $50, Carla Maine, an eBay user from Elizabeth City, N.C., said she's considering telling eBay not to debit her account anymore either.

"This really concerns me. I found out from my bank there are no controls. There was nothing anyone can do," Maine said. "Anybody that has access to someone's account should be held accountable."

eBay last year ran into a glitch that overcharged customers for re-listing items on its site.

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