Can posting your opinion on eBay cost you in real life?
So far Michael Steadman of Florida has spent $7,000 for his, and he isn't yet done defending himself in a $15,000 defamation lawsuit brought by the man who sold him a reportedly defective time clock.
Steadman bought the clock for $44 in 2008, and said it arrived in three pieces that didn't fit together or even seem to be the same model. He got a refund through PayPal's buyer protection plan and sent the merchandise back, but wanted other potential buyers to beware.
So on the profile of emiller1313, he wrote: "Bad seller; he has the ethics of a used car salesman.''
Steadman thought that was the end of it until a process server arrived with a court summons.
It turned out that emiller1313 was a Miami Beach lawyer, and he wanted damages for ruining his 100 percent customer approval rating and "commercial reputation.''
"The laws don't work for us. Because I don't have the money to fight them, I'm losing,'' Steadman said. "It's not right. I'm speechless.''
Steadman recently lost his lawyer in the Miami-Dade County Court case because he ran out of funds.
Seller Elliot Miller said in the lawsuit the time clock was "plainly offered for sale with the following language: 'we can not give you any guarantees and must offer it on an as-is, where-is basis only.'''
Steadman said he joined eBay about six months earlier hoping to find bargains for his new welding shop. He thought he lucked out on the time clock, which he said Miller advertised as tested and proven to work.
Now, he says, "I warn everyone that goes online not to leave feedback.''