Turbo Lister is a free eBay listing tool and, as such, in some ways you get what you pay for. Most of the time, it is a fantastic tool for listing items and can save the busy seller a lot of time.

But the rest of the time, it is buggy, sometimes only with little annoyances and sometimes in very big ways. For instance, a few months ago, there was a bug that all listings changed to Flat Rate Priority Mail Envelope as the only method of shipping. This happened as soon as the listings were uploaded so a seller wouldn’t know unless he or she checked the items online afterward.

Now, this was a huge problem. A flat rate envelope costs much less to ship than most actual shipping costs so sellers were getting burned because eBay was only billing the item at the flat rate 1 pound rate no matter how much the seller put the item weight in as. What was even worse is that it took them nearly a week to finally fix it! eBay, obviously, did not offer to pay the sellers the extra to make up for the error.

There is a popular conspiracy theory that eBay releases huge bugs like that to make sellers distrust the free software and go to one of their paid listing services. I don’t know if I want to attribute that much evil thinking to this, but I do know that Turbo Lister seems to be pretty low down on eBay’s list of priorities which is frustrating because, when it works, it is a fantastic tool.

Now my least favorite bug and the one that has been causing me the most grief since it cropped up a few months ago involves the synchronization. One of the features Turbo Lister has is that you can access all of your ended auctions (since you installed the program which is a really handy thing to have an archive of listings from years ago) as well as all of your scheduled and active listings. I really like this feature and use it a great deal to edit listings and find old listings. In order to provide this service, every few minutes Turbo Lister synchronizes it’s records with what is live on eBay. This is where the bug comes in.

Sometimes, during this routine synchronization, it will randomly relist old listings. These listings are usually many months old (meaning they are already sold and you don’t even have them anymore) and can be auctions, store inventory or fixed price listings. It also usually happens as you are calculating fees for new listings or doing a program update for some reason. Unless you are very aware of your inventory at all times, you may never even notice that TL snuck these undead listings in on you, especially if you sell a lot of similar stuff all the time. I suspect this issue is actually much more widespread than has even been reported for the simple reason that some sellers didn’t even notice, especially if they always sell the same stuff.

This has happened to me three times so now I am on the lookout for it, checking my live listings compulsively each time I see TL synchronize. I always double check what I should have listed with what is actually listed, but there is no way to stop it from happening so I still get caught. The first time it happened it was just one random old listing. The second time it happened it was about five listings. The third time was today and Turbo Lister just coughed up 14 (!!!) random old listings. I caught them all and quickly ended them before they were purchased or got bids but I was still billed for the listing fees on those 14 listings.

The first time it happened, I just edited the phantom listing into a new item and left it like that, though I did contact eBay support and let them know about the issue.

The second time it happened, I contacted eBay support and asked for a credit for the 5 items. The guy I spoke to gave me a really hard time. He said that he would refund them but only as a one-time courtesy because I am a PowerSeller and that next time I would have to pay the fees. Then, after saying he’d heard about the TL bug, he told me that I probably had set these items up to auto-relist and that was why they had listed, not the bug. This was slightly hilarious because the listings were actually so old that they pre-dated auto-relist (they were from a few years ago) but it was like trying to tell a cat about physics so I gave up. But the theme of the conversation was, “Yeah, there’s a bug but we still somehow find it your fault.”

The third time just happened and I am waiting with baited breath as to whether they are going to make me pay for 14 listings I never authorized to list in the first place or not. I have a strong feeling that they are, even though I caught the listings pretty fast so they were up for only a few minutes.

What worries me most about all of this is eBay’s attitude. If they did 2 seconds of research, they would see how old the listings are, that they already sold, that they are no longer even on the eBay site they are so old, that they pre-date auto-relist, that they weren’t listed through the site etc but instead support just offers blind guesses and tries to blame you. It’s as if they are offering this software with a Use At Your Own Risk attitude and are unwilling to pay for the costly mistakes it causes which is odd when they are the ones that maintain the program!

As annoying as this bug is, I would deal with it if I knew that they were going to protect me and refund my fees as long as I ended the listings within x hours. But if it’s going to relist more listings each time costing me more and they refuse to refund. . . that is going to become a big problem.

But, maybe they will prove me wrong. I would love if they came to bat tomorrow with a refund, apology and a TL patch but I am not holding my breath.

I have, however, tried to turn off synchronization. No telling if it will stay off or if there is no way to turn it off but I am willing to give up those features I liked to stop playing Russian roulette with old listings.

I just sent my list of 14 item numbers to support so I won’t know until tomorrow what the verdict of this is. I will post an update when I know.

In the meantime, Turbo List with one eye open if you know what I mean.