Customer Service – damned if we do, damned if we don’t


I am always disturbed to read posts like the following one on the popular MyADSL forum.

Although many of the claims made in this thread are quite simply false, the fact remains that for some reason there is a perception out there that we are not providing good customer service and that is very bothersome to me. If you look at it closely, perhaps the main problem is that users are using the bidorbuy forum for customer service, which is not the intended purpose for it. In fact none of the moderators on the forum are employed by bidorbuy (including the admin). Like many other forums (including MyADSL) they are volunteers and do not get renumerated for their work.

For customer service, we have a professional helpdesk system set up where each time a user makes a query either by emailing us at or using the Contact Us form on the bidorbuy web site, the user gets sent back an automatic email with a ticket number (yip, just tested it – it is working). Therefore if you do not get a satisfactory response from our customer service team then you need to escalate that query (quoting the ticket number) to our customer service manager. If you still do not get any joy then you need to send your ticket number to me and I guarantee you your query will get dealt with promptly (within reason) and I will follow up as to why your query was not dealt with satisfactorily in the first place.

We do not support the selling of illegal goods under any circumstances. In the past months we have made our policies much stricter in this regard and have strengthened our relationships with other organisations to help us combat these problems (e.g. SAFACT, ICASA and copyright attorneys). In May this year we hired a full time Security Enforcement Officer, whose entire responsibility is to deal with such issues. It should be noted that in some cases e.g. when working with SAFACT they will ask us not to remove certain items that are suspected to be illegal (but they are not 100% sure) so that they can first do a test purchase making it more likely that they can convict the perpetrator (and there have been a number of convictions).

We disable and blacklist many users on a daily basis for various reasons (even if we cannot prove a user is dubious or not). For this practice we also take a lot of flack so it seems a case of damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

Another problem could be that the general perception of buyers is that when they buy something from a seller on bidorbuy if they have a problem with the seller then bidorbuy must sort it out. Our business model is that we charge a small commission to sellers for matching them with buyers at a price determined by auction (or Buy Now). It this then up to the buyer and the seller to conclude the transaction. I often use the example of classifieds. If you buy something from an advert in the classifieds of a traditional newspaper, and you end up having a problem with the seller, you don’t go back to the newspaper and complain, do you? It is a similar case when buying something off bidorbuy however we do implement additional measures such as our rating system, verified user programme, buyer protection programme and community watch to help protect both parties where possible. And if a seller is reported to us as being fraudulent or a user receives an abnormal number of negative ratings we will take the appropriate action.

What is the general perception? There is obviously always room for improvement but do we really have such bad customer service bearing in mind that we provide an online marketplace for buyers and sellers to trade and our business model does not involve arbitrating disputes between buyers and sellers (as is the case for other International sites with similar businesses to ours)?