Disputing Sedo auction on their performance failure - a cautionary tale ...
Here's the jist...
After protracted negotiations with the buyer on a .co.uk domain through Sedo it seemed undervalued so I took their final bid to a 7 day auction commencing 08/02 and ending 15/02 (winning bid more than $8.5k).
12/02 Mid auction - I received a request for information from a potential bidder through Sedo's message board system and I responded to this requests within minutes.
13/02 I logged in and noticed that my response was still "unpublished" as it was awaiting Sedo moderation and fired off an urgent inquiry to Sedo support.
That remained unanswered and as my response to the buyer remained unpublished on the following morning I sent a capitalized urgent request to Sedo flagging the fact that the auction was due to end in a couple of days and that it was vital they moderate my response without delay.
14/02 Again this went unanswered and as my response to the buyer remained unpublished I fired off another support request.
15/02 - a full 3 days after my response to the interested party it remained unpublished and again I contacted Sedo requesting urgent attention and asking them to extend the auction to allow the interested party a chance to consider my response.
When the auction closed on 15/02 my response had still not been published and a couple of hours later I received this:
"Thank you for getting in touch with us. Comments have to be manually accepted before they can be displayed in the bid thread or auction page. If the comments were placed during non-business hours, it may take longer for approval. We will not be able to extend the auction for this reason. As the domain is currently in transfer, please contact the assigned Transfer Specialist with any further questions."
I responded through Sedo's transfer center:
"I am not happy with the way that Sedo has conducted this auction. I received a question from an interested party through your system on Friday 12/02 and responded immediately. Despite 3 separate support requests, only one of which was answered today, my response remained unpublished by the time the auction ended - a full 3 days later!
The result - I lost out on potential bids for the domain.
It is simply not acceptable that you take more than 3 days to moderate the response to a potential bidder's question on a 7 day auction and I am currently considering my options regarding the legitimacy of this auction as a result of your failure to provide an adequate moderation or support service.
I look forward to your response, and an offer of suitable compensation, regarding Sedo's failure in this matter."
18/02 a Sedo transfer agent contacted me by telephone.
I explained the nature of my complaint and he looked at the notes relating to the domain and agreed that it had been unacceptably managed not just on this occasion but in a previous auction - on that occasion Sedo canceled the auction as the winning bidder did not respond to them. Fair enough - but I had asked them to at least inform the other bidder in the auction that the domain was available again but was ignored.
The agent was polite, sympathetic and seemed very competent. I was reassured. During this call he explained that his manager was on holiday but that he was sure that they would compensate me if I chose to proceed. He also offered to cancel the auction there and then for me.
He suggested that I proceed normally and await the return of his manager and to see whether the buyer was legitimate. I agreed to do this on the basis that I would be compensated for what I considered their mismanagement of the auction process.
22/02 From Transfer agent: "Please be informed that the byuer (sic) got back to me regarding the payment that he has sent it via wire transfer and that we should receive it in the coming days."
22/02 my immediate response "Hi, thanks for letting me know. Could you please now confirm an offer of compensation commensurate with the failure in service I have received relating to this, and my previous auction, as we discussed."
23/02 From Transfer agent: "Hi, Some sort of compensation will definitely be put into consideration, but the person to make that decision on currently on holidays and will be back on Thurs. Hopefully the payment would have been received by then too."
26/02 I am notified that Sedo have received payment and are requesting the website assets from me. I respond:
"Before I get into any of this or even accept the validity of this auction I will require a clear offer of compensation from sedo in regard to the mismanagement and failures associated with their running of this and the previous auction for this domain.
Discussed in detail with agent on phone and still awaiting a response."
26/02 From Transfer agent: "We have received the payment for the domain and we can now proceed with the transfer, before we carry on the buyer needs to have the details on the website, hence the request. Regarding the compensation, I have just spoken to my director and he mentions that due to the fact that the initial cancellation was not because we did not do our work, but because the buyer did not send the payment. And also due to the back log our customer service team had (though they sent you a response), there would not be compensation on this one."
I respond: "I therefore refuse to accept the auction as valid.
It was absolutely clear from our telephone conversation that you recognized sedo's failures in this matter and that were I to continue with the transfer process rather than terminating it there and then (which you offered to do) compensation would be forthcoming....
...I can clearly not be held responsible for a "backlog your customer services team had" and my complaint relates to this auction and not the previous one. My minimum expectation from you as a result of this is that you waive your fees on this auction and offer some form of credit for the promotion of my other domains...."
So far I have heard nothing back. I am quite prepared to honor the auction if they take my complaint seriously -am I wrong to expect Sedo's auction and customer services systems to respond in some way within the 7 day auction period or to expect a reasonable standard of customer service on a $8000 transaction?
Last edited by Mark One; 26-02-2010 at 05:08:51 PM.