Sunday, October 07, 2007

Ebay In Person...Or Was It?


My deepest apologies, once again, for letting life get in the way of this blog-thing. As you know, in my last entry, I was reflecting upon Karma after my (ugh) Ebay account was hacked. And then I received the invitation to Ebay In Person. It was in the last week of September.

It was at a tres’ luxurious hotel on the East Side in midtown Manhattan. As we walked in we were handed little notebooks with Ebay on the front and pens that said Ebay. Inside the large conference room was a large buffet, set with food and drink that my seller’s fees were paying for. Of course I wore a stunning 50s blue and black brocade dress and carried Bucky with me. The various Ebay personnel wore name badges and fixed smiles as they greeted us. I nodded politely, ate some expensive hors-deouvres, and mingled as best I could. It seemed that most of the attendees were buyers, and a few part-time sellers. Waiters bearing more expensive nibbles circulated among the crowd. I speared some sweet and sour chicken for Bucky, and a small beef burrito for myself.

An avuncular bearded type who called himself Griff was the subject of much adulation—apparently he has a radio show on Ebay. He bore a remarkable resemblance to that fellow who used to do the oatmeal commercials, what was his name—Wilfred something-or-other. Apparently he wanted us to call him “Uncle Griff.” I suppressed a sneer. I’ve never understood the need that some people have to be thought of as Uncle This or Grandma That…don’t they have their own relatives to annoy?

After what seemed an endless cocktail party without cocktails, we were all seated at round tables for the Question and Answer session with the various Ebay staff members. Their clothes—black shirts with “Ebay” on them and pants—made both the men and women look oddly like male Mormons.

“Uncle Griff” was in charge of the Q&A, running through the crowd to hand off the microphone to various audience members. “Spotters” around the room selected who would ask a question. I managed to give the spotter near me a seductive look and indicated that I wanted to ask a question. When other audience members posed their questions, the only description that applies is that they were given word for word the same canned answers that we received in emails, but now earnestly delivered in person.

(It crossed my mind that Ebay might actually be a cult..)

When it was my turn, I stood up holding Bucky, which really got the cameras going. I smiled as if unsalted butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth, praised Paypal’s Resolution Center, thanked them for moving Reproductions in Vintage, and then asked:

“Earlier this week hundreds of Ebay accounts were hacked. Their names, IDs, and credit card info were on the Trust and Safety Board. When I went to look, the board had been taken down. My ID, which I treasure, which is integral to my good name, had been hacked. When I called the credit card company, they said the initial charges were coming through Ebay. What do you intend to do about this, may one ask?"

The gentleman in charge of Trust and Safety looked gravely at me. He replied that most of their action was being taken on the security side on prevention, that it was hard to keep ahead of the scammers. However, “we’re leading the industry in that area.” Oh? As far as one could discern, the only institution that had fewer leaks than Ebay was the government.

The endless Q&A went on. Some of the answers seemed to be outright lies, if only from anecdotal experience, and the rest was personably impersonal. I lost interest, and took Bucky and self for a short stroll. When I returned, it was almost over.

I sat back down in my chair, we applauded dutifully, and the Ebay employees stepped off the podium. The gentleman in charge of Trust And Safety pulled up a chair next to me.

In a voice that suggested that he was speaking to a small, idiotic child, he asked me to describe the whole experience in great detail. So I did. The gentleman took notes.

He gave me an enormous smile and said, “Elisa, there are people out there who want to make Ebay look bad. This didn’t come from Ebay.”

I did not correct his familiarity in using my first name, but retorted: “The charges came from Ebay. That’s what the credit card company told me.”

“No, they didn’t. They came from somewhere else.”

“That’s not what the credit card company said. The charges were from Ebay.”

No, Elisa, they did not. You did everything right, changing your passwords and canceling your card. That was good thinking on your part, Elisa! We’re going to be issuing a press release about it in a few days.”

To be honest, I was afraid he was going to pat my knee, and then I was going to have to tell Bucky to attack him. However, with a reassuring nod, he closed his notepad and moved on to another poor soul.

The audience was filing out into the unseasonably hot September night, and that's when I saw her. If only because she was wearing a garment completely unsuited to the weather.

A vintage cheetah coat with otter collar and CUFFS!

"Stop that woman!" I cried, but it was too late. She had slipped out of the double doors and into the night.

A few days later, I received a follow-up email, informing me that Ebay is one of the safest sites on the Internet. Hmmmmph.

Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog

1 comment:

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

"..don't they have relatives of their own to annoy?" Heeee,hee!! I love your one-liners. Another wonderful post, Elisa - I think you are wasted in here, this character should star in a full length book of her own.