Ads Top

‘It has to be known what was been done to us’: Natick couple harassed by eBay tell their story for the first time


Ricky Powell wearing sunglasses posing for the camera: Ina and David Steiner are a Natick couple who are suing eBay after company employees harassed and stalked them. 

 Natick resident David Steiner was puttering in his garage on a sunny Sunday morning when a neighbor walking a dog called out to him: “Hey, your fence has been tagged.” 


Steiner, who with his wife, Ina, publishes a news website about the e-commerce industry from their home, thought his neighbor must be joking — who would be graffitiing his new white vinyl fence on their quiet, tree-lined street?


It was June of 2019, and he had no clue that the vandalism was just the start of a bizarre harassment campaign directed by senior executives at one of the country’s leading Internet companies, eBay. Ultimately, the events would shatter the Steiners’ peaceful suburban life, result in criminal charges against six eBay employees and a contractor, five of whom have pleaded guilty, and contribute to the departure of eBay’s chief executive.


The abuse would culminate in the couple fearing for their lives as they were stalked in their own neighborhood by unknown perpetrators in a slow-moving black van.


But that Sunday, Steiner was simply surprised and dismayed to see the word “Fidomaster” spray-painted across his fence. He tried to clean up the mess before Ina, who was out paddle boarding, returned home but he failed. Ina recognized that the name matched an anonymous commenter on their newsletter, one who was particularly critical of eBay.


“This was very unnerving,” Ina recalled in an interview with the Globe this week. “It didn’t make any sense.”


Had the person who was Fidomaster painted their name on the fence? Or was someone accusing the Steiners of being Fidomaster? Or did the term have some other meaning? “I Googled right away to see if it was something kids might be saying,” Ina said.


In their first interview with the news media, the couple spoke to the Globe for several hours in the offices of attorney Rosemary Scapicchio, who is representing them in a civil lawsuit against eBay. They provided additional harrowing details of their experience beyond those disclosed in court documents, which include copies of e-mails and text messages of eBay employees that federal prosecutors say show how they conspired to terrorize the Steiners.


The couple met in the mid-1980s in Western Massachusetts at what was then called North Adams State College and is now called the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. The two young students met at a party for a bandmate of David’s who was going away and immediately felt a connection and began dating. They married in 1988.


Around 1999, when eBay was still a young company and the World Wide Web was not the finely tuned commercial marketplace it is today, David decided to sell some of his video gear on the auction site. The couple also began haunting garage sales and yard sales to find collectible items they could sell online to make money. “We’d get up early, go through the classified ads, get your Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, and hit as many sales as we could,” Ina said.


They quickly realized that a growing throng of like-minded sellers was struggling to figure out how best to auction their items. The Steiners initially created a paper newsletter with tips and tricks to help other sellers, but realized after one issue that an online publication made more sense, even in 1999. Thus was born AuctionBytes, later changed to EcommerceBytes, and running the advertising-based publication is the couple’s full-time occupation.


For years, the publication thrived. Particularly while eBay was run by Meg Whitman, small sellers flourished and EcommerceBytes offered a wide variety of useful advice. One time, David explained to readers how he’d shipped a large item by Greyhound bus instead of a typical package delivery service, saving hundreds of dollars.




Read More Here: MSN News 

Powered by Blogger.