Negative eBay Feedback Could Land Buyer in Libel Suit

A man who bought a damaged phone on eBay and left negative feedback could be sued for libel.

Chris Read paid $250.53 for a Samsung F700 mobile phone described on the seller's eBay page as being in "good condition".

When he received the phone, it was a different model with "scratches all over it and a big chip on the side", he told the Daily Mail.

Read, a 42-year-old mechanic and father of five, returned the phone and obtained a refund from the seller, Joel Jones. He then left negative feedback about the sale on eBay, which the seller claims is defamatory.

The online auction service enables users to rate and give feedback on other buyers and sellers according to their experience. The higher-rated sellers can get priority listing over lower-rated competitors in search results, which can affect their sales.

In a case that could have repercussions for all eBay users, Jones, 26, is now threatening to take Read to court for libel unless he retracts the negative feedback.

Jones claims the comments have damaged his business, known on eBay as onsalexuk, and they were unfair due to the immediate refund.

"I'm losing money by the day and my business could go under because of it. I've been left with no option but to take legal action," he told the Daily Mail.

eBay has a mediation service to handle feedback disputes, but a company spokesman said Jones never contacted them about the incident.

Read said he was couldn't believe the pettiness of the move, but was prepared to go to court if he had to.