Refresh, refresh, refresh, 5-4-3-2-1-0. Autodynamics's no-reserve eBay auction for a 2008 BMW 3-Series M3 Dinan was over. At $33,700, Rene Beunier was the top bidder, and he was pretty stoked to get it for about $7,000 under typical dealer cost. When he called the dealership to arrange the deal, the receptionist accused him of "hacking eBay." After more protracted wrangling, the dealership is threatening to sue Rene for "tortious interference" and "defamation," unless he pays up $1,500.
Unlike their other auction types, bids in eBay Motor and Real Estate sales are not binding. All you've won is a chance to maybe buy the car. Or maybe not. The seller is under no obligation to sell it to you. eBay Motors might as well just be the classifieds at the back of the newspaper, just with a bidding interface dropped over it to give you a bunch of buttons to play with.
I spoke with Autodynamics's attorney, Ali Fazel of the law firm of Scardino & Fazel, who confirmed the story was pretty much as Rene described it in his thread on M3post. Where he differed was who was in the right, and who should pay.
"We can't sell a car at below wholesale value," he said. He blamed the car's listing with no reserve on a "glitch" with the car auction posting software Autodynamics used. Their attorney wasn't able to provide the name of the software. The dealer had offered to buy any other car that Rene wanted and sell it to him at dealer cost, but that doesn't work for Rene. "I'd like the car, for the price I paid for it on eBay," he wrote via email.
Now, here's where the $1,500 comes in: While Rene and the dealer were haggling, Autodnyamics sold the car to another dealer. "His lawyer sent a letter to the dealership who had bought the car from my client, and the dealership said you know what, I don't want to mess with this I don't want the car," said Autodnyamics's attorney Ali Fazel. "So, in essence, he tortiously interfered with a contract between two parties." (Here's a definition of tortious interference). The second dealer had put some new tires and done some other work on the car that Autodynamics was going to have to eat the cost of, and that's what they're seeking from Rene. Fazel was not able to provide an itemized breakdown of the dealer's costs in time for this post.
Reached for comment, eBay Motors released a statement saying, "With 4.55 million vehicles sold to date and an auto part selling every second on eBay Motors, it's a marketplace where millions of people transact on a monthly basis. Considering this volume, amicable transactions on eBay Motors far outweigh situations like the one described here, however unfortunate. This is due to the fact that eBay Motors has a combination of buyer and seller protections not found anywhere else on the web, including Vehicle Purchase Protection, seller feedback and vehicle history reports. We hope the buyer and seller can reach a conclusion quickly on this transaction."
"We're doing everything we can to avoid a lawsuit," Autodynamics's attorney said. But, "If he continues to malign my client or get his friends to say lies... I'm going to have to sue him," he said, referring to some of the negative postings others who have read Rene's story have made on the dealer's Google Reviews and Yelp page.
"Anyone who writes up anything or does anything on the internet discussing this who doesn't get the facts right is subject to getting sued," said Fazel.
So that's where it stands. Two uncompromising parties locked in a total death grip. Frankly, I think both cowboys should just walk away from this Texas showdown and live to shoot another day.