I've been buying and selling on Mercadolibre for about twelve years now and until recently, things have been going pretty smoothly.
A couple of weeks ago an invoice appeared for commission I had already paid and that's where the fun and games began.
Bear with me, because this could an El Queso style post.
Two or three years ago, Mercadolibre announced, to much fanfare, that used products would no longer be subject to commission - that's right, it would be free.
We all rejoiced, but a little too prematurely it seems. What they omitted to clarify was that if you exceeded 20 sales per annum, which most serious sellers do, a commission of 13% would be applied. We all had to live with that since the system is, for the most part, very efficient. The product categories and sellers' locations are narrowed down particularly well, for example.
When you sell a product your account is credited the net amount IE the price minus the commission, which is understandable, otherwise they would end up with a negative cashflow, because people don't like paying their bills.
I can live with that and necessarily have to load the price a little to compensate for the commission. This has worked well for me for many years, until recently, when, because I wouldn't pay the invoice (since the commission had already been paid), they dipped into my account and took part of what they believed I owed them. They did this again on two further occasions when a sale went through, which reduced my Mercadopago account to zero.
It's important to point out here that Mercadolibre do NOT want you communicating with them directly and make it as difficult as possible to so. Their rather optimistically titled HELP tab simply offers you suggestions, assumes you're an idiot and always brings you back to square one. A Google search reveals a toll free phone number for Mercadolibre as per the image below, bearing in mind that atencionalcliente.com.ar is not related in any way to Mercadolibre.
This phone number leads you nowhere because if you don't know the internal extension (how could you?), you have to press #3 which then directs you to the help page on their website and the line goes dead.
On the Mercadolibre website, there is no address or telephone number or indeed any link which would enable you to contact them directly. However, by chance, I found this link which brings up three options. Send us an email, we'll call you right back or you can chat with us.(clearly you need to log in to your ML account for this to work)
I opened these options over two weeks ago, didn't bother with email and went straight to 'please call me', which they did within 40 seconds and I was the talking to a call centre in Columbia or it could have been Venezuela. Having explained the problem to the operative, I was assured that they were aware of the problem and they would sort it out within 24 hours, which I didn't believe for a moment.
As the days passed and my account was pillaged by them, with further pillaging to come if I sold anything more, nothing was done to correct the error, so I suspended all my pending sales until they were able to sort it out.
For two weeks, nearly every day I had chat sessions or phone calls and was assured that the problem was being addressed. Which is wasn't, so they were either lying to me or simply hoping I'd go away.
I don't go away that easily, especially when I know I'm being screwed around.
I finally managed to talk to them again and put Adri on to them saying she was my accountant and they gave her the same old flannel, but this time with a claim ticket number, again saying that the matter would be dealt with 'as a priority.
I didn't believe a word of it.
I then decided to visit their new US$35 million offices on three floors in Vicente Lopez, visited by none other than President Macri in 2016. As expected, they do not receive visits from the general public such as me, even if I'm a customer, so I was referred to their head office at Alem 518 in Microcentro, which came as no surprise at all.
Today I made the trek to these Microcentro offices (also on three floors), this time with Adri, my accountant and translator and discovered that they don't let people into their offices either, because, I was told, they don't have room.
BUT, they do come down to see you.
Within a few moments a representative came down, with no written notes and only a vague idea of what my problem was. We were given a re-run of the chats and phone calls, which I didn't find acceptable at all, especially when he said that the problem would be looked at as a priority.
I then asked him why I should believe a single word he was saying and this seemed to shift him up a gear, finally prompting him to note my email address and phone number, with an assurance of...you know the rest.
To my surprise, I received an email from him half an hour later, saying that the problem may be solved by Friday, but of course, G20.
Sometimes known as MercadoChorros, they have a reputation that stinks and frankly, if this is solved and they give me my money back by Friday, I would be very surprised indeed.
It's worth mentioning that a friend of mine had $70,000 taken from his account by them a few years ago and he too had to visit their offices. He got his money back, but not without a fight.