Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Just wanted to chat, that's all

Let me preface this by saying, as others have before, that there is an awesome post directly below this, so don't miss Wilson's Apocalypse Album candidates. Nicely done Wilson.

Anyway. Be prepared, this is long. But that won't stop me from giving it a long introduction. Today, for work, I was trying to contact Ebay about their Marketplace Research tools. It's really, really hard. First, they want you to email them about your problem. They give you, like, 8 subject options, but none of them have to do with what I'm looking for, and there is no "other" or "miscellaneous" or anything. And you can't proceed without selecting one, then a subtopic, and so on. So then I called 3 different customer service numbers (that I had to find by googling, I couldn't find them on their website). All of them were just labyrinthine recordings, that initially try to redirect you to the applicable page on their website, and when you continue on, finally just disconnect you. Awesome. Thanks Ebay, that was helpful. So I figure I can surely speak to someone at investor relations. Sure enough, I'm having a nice conversation with Ellen, but she tells me she can't transfer me to anyone at Ebay. Only upon speaking with her supervisor do I find out that they're not even a part of Ebay, they're a contracted investor mail center. Strike 3. But am I out? Not hardly!!! For then I finally discover on their website the difficult to find Live Chat! which they are clearly excited about, what with the exclamation mark and all. So, below is the transcript, unabridged, of my Live Chat! session with Selina L., who, by the way, was an awesome sport. As a side note, I feel like Live Chat! should be pronounced in the same hushed but excited tone as "Jazz Hands!" That's just me. Here we go (sorry this is long):

You are successfully connected to eBay Live Help. Please hold for the next available Live Help Agent.
4:54:34 PM System
Selina L. has joined this session!
4:54:34 PM System
Connected with Selina L.
4:54:39 PM Selina L.
Hello, thank you for waiting and welcome to eBay Live Help! My name is Selina. If you are a registered member, may I please start by having you confirm your User ID and first name?
4:54:59 PM
I'm not a registered member. My name is Jay.
4:55:09 PM Selina L.
Hi Jay ! How may I assist you today?
4:55:28 PM
Well, I'm trying to find some information on the Marketplace Research tool.
4:56:17 PM
I had some pretty general questions, but I spent the last hour or so trying to find a way to contact someone by phone.
4:56:26 PM
I found out that was quite impossible.
4:56:48 PM
Could you answer some questions re Marketplace Research?
4:57:40 PM Selina L.
Here in Live Help, we can only effectively address general support-type questions. To assist you better you could write to them at
4:58:10 PM
Is there really no possible way to speak with someone at ebay over the phone?
4:58:30 PM Selina L.
As of now eBay offers support by email and chat
4:58:39 PM
That's amazing.
4:59:05 PM Selina L.
Once you've subscribed to the Marketplace Research program, you can access it through My eBay by following these steps: 1. Click "My eBay" at the top of most eBay pages. You may need to sign in. 2. Click the "Marketplace Research" link under the "My Subscriptions" heading on the left side of the page. (Don't confuse this with the "Subscriptions" link under "My Account.")

4:59:45 PM
My whole point in trying to speak with someone is to ask questions about the tool before purchasing it.
5:00:55 PM Selina L.
For more information about Marketplace Research follow this link:
5:01:24 PM
That isn't more information, that is the information I already have. I need more information than is provided. I have questions about it.
5:03:14 PM Selina L.
You can get when you click on email us link at email us at
5:03:27 PM
There must be an office, where people work on/with the Marketplace Research tool. They must have phones. I don't need a toll free number, it could be a long distance number, that is not a problem.
5:03:53 PM
No, I've tried that, but the subjects are very specific, and not about what I'm looking for.
5:04:45 PM Selina L.
I am sorry, I have tried to provide all the information that was available at my end.
5:05:46 PM
If I send an email to, what department is that? Can I do it directly from my email account, or do I need to do it from the website?
5:06:12 PM Selina L.
You can do it from your email address
5:06:19 PM
You also mentioned, would that be more appropriate?
5:07:03 PM Selina L.
mpr is for market place research. You can also send it to marketing @
5:07:45 PM
Ahh, thanks. It is pretty unbelievable that there is no customer service phone line, don't you think?
5:08:05 PM
How long will a response take do you think, from
5:08:58 PM Selina L.
It should not take long as it is a separate section.
5:09:38 PM
Do you get a lot of frustrated people trying to contact ebay by phone?
5:09:44 PM
Or am I the only one?
5:10:27 PM Selina L.
eBay may work on it as chat is introduced just one year ago.
5:10:54 PM
Did they have phones before the chat?
5:11:15 PM
Smoke signals? Morse code?
5:11:28 PM Selina L.
Earlier we only had emails.
5:11:40 PM
5:11:57 PM Selina L.
5:12:11 PM
You don't even have a phone, just a computer monitor at your desk?
5:12:33 PM Selina L.
Yes, that's right.
5:13:05 PM
What happens when two departments need to contact each other?
5:13:11 PM
Chat as well?
5:13:22 PM Selina L.
We interact through emails
5:13:32 PM
That must be a quiet office.
5:13:51 PM
Do you ever have a cricket in the building, and it just drives you nuts?
5:14:02 PM Selina L.
Yes, it's very quiet. We do listen to music some times.
5:14:40 PM
Can you speak aloud?
5:14:58 PM Selina L.
5:15:31 PM
Are you allowed to bring a cell phone in the building?
5:15:43 PM Selina L.
Not at all
5:15:54 PM
5:16:17 PM
So it's phones in general. The ebay corporation just hates phones.
5:16:38 PM Selina L.
5:17:25 PM
Do you ever get startled by the sound of a phone ringing when you're not at work?
5:17:46 PM Selina L.
5:17:51 PM
That would be the most surreal experience I could imagine, not having phones in an entire office
5:18:07 PM
How high up the corporate ladder does the "no phone" policy go?
5:18:15 PM
I mean, CEO's gotta have a phone, right?
5:18:22 PM
Probably a blackberry at least.
5:18:43 PM
If he visits, can he bring his blackberry into the chat room/office, where they're not allowed?
5:18:50 PM Selina L.
I haven't seen any one carrying it with them. Must be in the locker room
5:18:54 PM
he or she I should say
5:18:58 PM
I don't know who it is.
5:19:29 PM
What happens if you forget and bring your phone inside and it rings?
5:20:10 PM Selina L.
We are not allowed to carry it. There are security checks.
5:20:47 PM
What about walkie-talkies. Well, two way radios. We called them walkie-talkies when I was a kid
5:20:54 PM
But that term does sound silly now
5:21:02 PM
Can you carry them? Does security carry them?
5:21:15 PM Selina L.
Security carries it
5:21:55 PM
Is your ebay office the only office in the building, or are there other companies on other floors as well?
5:22:03 PM
And if so, can they bring phones in?
5:22:45 PM Selina L.
I would not have information on other office policies. As of our office, it's not allowed
5:23:12 PM
Were you surprised when you took the job and they told you that?
5:23:19 PM
No phones.
5:23:29 PM Selina L.
Yes, a little surprised
5:23:42 PM
Do you ever play the Cake song "No Phone" in the office, and everybody laughs? Quietly, of course.
5:24:10 PM Selina L.
5:24:47 PM
You think ebay execs are secretly furious that people sell phones over their website?
5:24:56 PM
Or maybe even openly furious???
5:25:46 PM
Oooh, and if you have like a corporate party, like a christmas party or a happy hour, or some event, company picnic, whatever, and it's not at your office, are you guys allowed to have phones there?
5:26:35 PM Selina L.
It's not allowed because we want to ensure that there is total confidentiality when dealing with members. We deal with member's accounts and would not want to take the risk of other members listening to passwords and other confidential information.
5:26:50 PM Selina L.
This is totally in the interest of safety to members accounts.
5:27:31 PM
Oooh. I kind of understand that. But credit card companies have phone banks. That's pretty sensitive info.
5:27:45 PM
Social Security has phone representatives.
5:27:52 PM
Banks do.
5:28:18 PM
Do people need better protection for their ebay account than their credit and bank accounts?
5:28:43 PM Selina L.
We do not want any members accounts to be hacked because of leakage of information from our end as it may cause loss to both members as well as the company.
5:28:58 PM
You seem pretty trustworthy, Selina, you wouldn't hack an account would you?
5:29:27 PM Selina L.
We do not have access to member's account. We only have limited access
5:29:34 PM
Besides, I don't have an account, so I have no problem with you speaking aloud about any of my information.
5:29:45 PM Selina L.
We know what an account means to a member
5:30:12 PM
I'm still not really following how having phones in the office might crack account security.
5:30:40 PM Selina L.
You may overhear someone else's communication
5:31:25 PM
But you only have limited info, you just said that.
5:32:07 PM
Oh, you mean "I" may, not "you" like one of the other chatters
5:32:10 PM Selina L.
Yes, but no body can hear it. Only I can see my member's information
5:32:58 PM
I still don't know why ebay accounts would be better protected than credit card and bank accounts.
5:33:03 PM
They use phones.
5:33:08 PM
5:33:15 PM
It’s actually really convenient.
5:34:00 PM Selina L.
We find chat to be more convenient
5:34:10 PM Selina L.
We do value your feedback
5:34:25 PM
But you're shutting me up aren't you?
5:34:29 PM
5:34:45 PM Selina L.
Not at all. To provide suggestions or feedbacks regarding a new feature we've introduced, send an email to
5:35:18 PM
Is chat considered a new feature? It's not that I mind chat, it's just that it's nowhere near as helpful.
5:35:40 PM
What if I want to provide feedback regarding a feature that doesn't exist?
5:35:50 PM
Like speaking to a human on the telephone.
5:35:55 PM Selina L.
Feedback from members will help them to incorporate new ideas
5:36:09 PM
Whoa....That just got me thinking...You're a human, right? Not just a chatting machine?
5:36:45 PM Selina L.
Yes, that's right. I am a human
5:38:13 PM Selina L.
It’s been a pleasure chatting with you today. Thank you for coming to eBay Live Help ! Have a great week ahead !!
5:39:33 PM

Frankly, I had quite a bit more to say. And honestly, I really don't know whether to believe her or not. What do you guys think, was she being just as sarcastic as me? At first I thought she was, but then she kept going, and into detail. I think I don't believe her about the cell phones, and of course there are phones in some of the offices, maybe even at her desk/cube. But she did explain the security reasoning for not USING phones quite well, so maybe it's legit. I should spread the online rumor, and then just let Snopes take care of it.

Anyway, what started out as an unbelievable pain in the ass ended up as funny blog post. See what you can do when you keep an open mind and look on the bright side of things? Oh, wait, I still don't have the information I need to provide my boss. The unbelievable pain in the ass never left, I just delayed it. Damn. So, yeah, I hate Ebay now. Cheers.


Wilson said...

Turing Test FAIL

Thomas Hall said...

This is just amazing. I am dying.

Ben said...

i honestly believe this is up there with the .002 cents = .002 dollars verizon phonecall

Ryan Smith said...

Best. Post. Ever.