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Gene Weingarten: After all the lies, I'm bidding eBay adieu

WASHINGTON — This column was written entirely while on hold with eBay customer service.

John: My name is John. What is the nature of your problem?

Me: The nature of my problem is that I've been on hold for one hour and 11 minutes, listening to staticky Beethoven. Every 30 seconds a woman's voice has told me the call was important to her and then a man's voice has told me that someone will be with me "in just a moment." So eBay has been serially lying to me four times a minute for a total of 284 lies. It was in the middle of the 285th lie when you picked up and told me your name was John, which I am thinking, from your voice, is a 286th lie.

John: My name is really John.

Me: Where are you, John?

John: San Jose.

Me: I don't think so.

John: We are located in San Jose.

Me: You are not. Admit it.

John: Okay. We are an offshore center. Calls are routed through San Jose.

Me: Two hundred eighty-six!

John: How may I help you?

Me: You can admit your name is not John.

John: My name is John.

Me: It is not. Is it? Is it?


Me: Two hundred eighty-seven!

John: What is the nature of your problem?

Me: My original problem now seems so trivial, compared with the length of my wait, that it no longer matters to me. If that is eBay's business plan, it is brilliant! But now I'm just so angry, I am going to be totally unhinged. I am going to ask you, for the record, if eBay embraces the Big Lie as an homage to Joseph Goebbels, or is your policy just similar to, but independent of, actual Nazi ideology?

John: We've been trying to accommodate members as fast as we can …

Me: By subjecting your customers to this sort of wait, is eBay actually trying to exasperate people into cerebrovascular accidents, otherwise known as strokes?


Me: Okay, I will now tell you my little problem. (I do.)

John: Let me look into this.

Me: Whatever you do, don't put me on … (Seventeen minutes of staticky Beethoven, and 68 more lies.)

Melanie: Can I help you?

Me: (I explain my problem.)

Melanie: I'm with PayPal, not eBay. That is an eBay problem. Let me …


(One hour and 44 minutes of staticky Beethoven, and 416 more lies, during which time my cell phone alerts me it is running out of juice. So I plug it into the nearest outlet, which requires me to sit on the floor with my laptop, which soon alerts me it is almost out of juice, so I stretch both cords to their maximum length, with me supine between them, under a table. At the 1-hour-and-45-minute mark, which is past midnight, the time eBay closes, the following occurs:)

Woman: Your call is very important to us.

Me: I am a reporter for the Washington Post.

Man: Someone will be on the line to help you in just a moment!

Me: I will be writing about this, and I am officially asking if you have any comment.

Woman: Your call is very important to us.

Me: Noted. (Click)

Gene Weingarten can be reached at Chat with him online at noon Nov. 30 at

Gene Weingarten: After all the lies, I'm bidding eBay adieu 11/20/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:22pm]
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