Alibaba and Ezbuy in war of words over online order dispute

Alibaba Group has fired back at online shopping platform ezbuy's allegations of bullying, stating that ezbuy's "scalping behaviour" will hurt the rights and interests of consumers and sellers, as well as disrupt regular market transactions.

Earlier on, ezbuy's CEO He Jian posted an open letter online to Alibaba founder and CEO Jack Ma, accusing the company of bullying. In the letter, he demanded to know why more than 1,000 of its Taobao accounts, which were initially operating normally before Singles' Day on 11 November, were banned from purchasing items on that day.

He wrote that if Alibaba suspects ezbuy of scalping, it can look into all the transactions made on the accounts over the years, adding that ezbuy is willing to provide Alibaba with evidence to support its investigation.

A quick check by Marketing found that ezbuy's service is returning to normal, as stated on its website. The backlogs of Singles' Day parcels are nearly cleared, except for a small amount that still has not reached the warehouse. However, its "Buy-For-Me" service for Taobao still remains unavailable until further notice. Ezbuy also guaranteed a full refund for any items not delivered.

In a statement posted on Alibaba's official press site, the company wrote the fact that ezbuy had more than 1,000 Taobao accounts and had to fulfill numerous orders within a short period of time, as well as increased prices to obtain profits, was an act of scalping. As a result, Alibaba has taken action against ezbuy and penalised it.

"Such a behaviour does not only hurt Taobao buyers, but also result in them not having a fair chance in purchasing products and disrupts the normal operations of Taobao sellers, causing their ratings to drop," the statement read.

According to article 3.2 in Taobao's user agreement, registered users are only allowed to have one account. If they are found to be using multiple accounts, Taobao will penalise the respective users by either freezing or shutting down their accounts, as well as cancel all orders and cease providing customer service.

Taobao added that if registered users are also required to compensate Taobao should they cause the e-commerce platform to incur any losses. The statement also read that there is a certain group of registered Taobao users who will abuse their rights as users and create multiple accounts , such as creating multiple accounts to carry out "malicious activities".

"Our policy has always been to suppport consumers or entrepreneurs on our platform that abide by the rules. We are always encouraging entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to expand on our platform. Taobao has also helped SMEs in China to reach overseas consumers, as well as offered support to overseas SMEs and entrepreneurs on its platform," the statement read.

According to He, ezbuy's issue with Taobao surfaced on 4 November, the launch date of ezbuy's Singles' Day campaign, when it was unable to place orders through many of its purchasing accounts. Despite contact customer support multiple times, the issue was still not resolved and ezbuy was told that the problem has been escalated to Taobao's management.

On 6 November, suspicious activity was supposedly detected on the Taobao accounts, which eventually led to the accounts being frozen. Subsequently, ezbuy released a statement apologising to its customers of its "Buy-For-Me" service for Taobao, who were affected by recent delays in receiving their orders.

"We regret the problems that had transpired in the last few weeks, specifically in the multiple delays that many of our customers had faced. Before this incident, we used to process orders, finish inspection and repacking within a few hours to a day. However, with the constraints raised during the past few weeks, it took us much longer to process our customers' orders and we are very sorry about the inconvenience caused," the press statement read.