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28 July 2010 @ 03:52 pm
Pain-in-the-ass sellers on eBay  
Back in June, I was goofing around on eBay and bid on a few lots of manga. They were for various series I'd wanted to read - The Wallflower, Othello and Bleach - but couldn't be bothered to pay full price (or even half price) to get the comics.

I ended up winning three auctions from one particular seller, who apparently was cleaning out bookshelves to fund her daughter's first birthday. Two auctions arrive and everything's fine. I leave positive feedback and feel very happy about everything. The third auction, which ended a few days after the other two, arrives about a week later and it is a mess. The manga - seven volumes in all - were put into one of those flimsy cardboard boxes department stores use for giftwrapping. This was then wrapped in cheap inside-out Christmas wrapping paper with the address written in black sharpie. Nothing else was used to pad or protect the books. For this, the woman had the balls to charge $10.00 S&H.

The box arrived with a hole in the side. The books had clearly been bounced around rather brutally, but thankfully none of them were missing. One had a nasty crease in the side thanks to the jostling. Some of the others looked battered and beaten. The actual postage on the box was only $3.35, so I kept thinking "Would it have killed her to use some of the remaining $6.65 to buy a normal mailing box strong enough to survive the US Postal Service?"

I sent the following message (I probably could have been nicer):
The box that was used to ship the Othello books was very flimsy, since it was made of a very thin cardboard, and it tore during shipment. Several of the books arrived damaged, with creasing on the covers. Considering I paid $10 for shipping, and the actual cost of the postage was $3.55, I am really disappointed that some of the high shipping & handling charge wasn't used to buy a sturdier box.
I was quite pleased with the books I bought from you earlier, so I was really surprised when these books arrived. I'm not sure what kind of feedback to leave yet.

At this point, I would have been happy with an apology. Just a simple "I'm sorry to hear the books arrived damaged, is there anything I can do?" would have resulted in a "Oh, thank you for apologizing, don't worry about it." I mean, an offer to refund part of the auction would have been even better, but I was really just wanted acknowledgment of my disappointment.

Instead I got this:
Im not sure how to respond to your "i dont know what kind of feedback" response...is that some attempt at blackmail? like "give me money or i leave bad feedback?" because if so im pretty sure those kinds of tones are against the terms and service of ebay. as for the shipping, the box was securely sealed and brought to the post office for mail. there was no insurance paid for so it so whatever the post office decides to do while theyre shipping it to you should be brought up with them as that would be the problem with the carrier not the drop off. you got all the manga at a really great price as is. the price of shipping was a flat rate, not custom quote to your specific delivery so if you had any concerns about the price of the shipping you should not have bid on the items. I have seen many scams like this from people before, i will not fall victim to it. your other items arrived fine like youve previously said, so the fault here is in the delivery of the post office, not the sender.

...um, what? So much for my apology. Le sigh. As the seller, it's *your* responsibility to ensure the books safely make it to my front door. If they arrive busted up, yes, the post office did it, but it's also your responsibility to package the books so that a little rough 'n' tumble won't destroy them.
Also, would it kill you to use some capitalization? (That's petty, but it's *such* a pet peeve.)

So I replied:
I was just being honest. I don't know what kind of feedback to leave because I've never had items arrive that were damaged during the shipment process. I do not appreciate being accused of trying to blackmail you.

Since the books were damaged when they were in the mail, halfway between you and me, I think it would be fair to refund half of the shipping cost. I think this is fair since you don't do returns; normally, if books arrive damaged I can return or exchange them at the store I purchased them from.

I mean, that seemed fair, yes? No? I don't care. She was a b*tch in her e-mail.

She replied a day later:
so if i did refund the shipping, you would leave positive feedback?

She seemed to be showing some interest in working the problem out, so I tried to be nice in my next message:
"Only half the shipping, since it was damaged halfway between you and me. Yes, I would leave positive feedback, because the problem was resolved quickly and professionally."

I hear nothing from her for nearly two weeks.
When I get back from Ashland and she *still* hasn't responded, I get kinda annoyed, so I open a case at eBay's Resolution Center. I mention that I assume that the seller's been busy and just forgot about our discussion, so this is just a reminder, and copy & paste the e-mail discussion.

Naturally, she's as reasonable as ever:
"as stated,this buyer has received 2 other shipments from me,both of those were perfect condition.if you review my feedback left from buyers you will notice that all theirs are perfect as well. This buyer did not purchase insurance therefor I am not responsible for something that happened in transit by the shipping company.when i brought it to the post office it was in pristine condition and i have no proof that the items indeed did arrive in the condition described.she could have done it herself for all i know since there were not any other shipments that this happened to.also,this could have been complained about for any number of reasons, my belief is buyers remorse,but again,there was no buyers insurance purchased on this so if she has an issue it would be with the post office since it the item was presented to them in perfect condition as they would not mail something that had rips or tears in the box,obviously.no refund because it was post office error not seller error "

they would not mail something that had rips or tears in the box,obviously
(Obviously someone doesn't use the postal services often. Most of the employees at my local post office are sweet as pie, but the employees I've met over at other branches were dumb as bricks.)

By now I'm pretty freakin' cranky, so I escalate the claim to eBay's customer service, and lo and behold the entire amount of the auction - both the auction price and shipping costs - appear in my Paypal account fifteen minutes later. No surprise about the outcome - companies *always* decide in favor of the buyer - but I had only requested a refund of half the shipping costs, not the total auction.
This result actually made me feel rather bad, since I really didn't want to take all the seller's money from her. I mean, I *do* still have the books and have no intention of returning them. I thought about contacting her and offering to give some of the money back again, but eBay says we shouldn't contact each other and besides, part of me is glad she's being punished.

Except she's not. Any guilt I felt quickly evaporated when I found out that because eBay ruled that "neither seller nor buyer is at fault" I got my money back, and she got to keep hers. eBay paid for the refund.
I had no idea eBay paid cash out like that. It seems a little crazy for their business. But maybe they figure it's the best way to retain both buyers and sellers? It's been years since I sold on eBay, but I know that on Amazon they *always* side with the buyer, always, so it's really important to play nice with others when you sell there.

Now that I've written all that out, it sure does seem petty. I think years of working in customer service has made me into a petty, small person. I would have let this all drop if she hadn't accused me of blackmailing her in that first e-mail. Now, it almost looks like I *did* blackmail her because, in the end, I got all my money back *and* the books.

I left her some nasty, nasty feedback, all the same.
miss kagentscuiy on July 31st, 2010 12:28 am (UTC)
I would have done the same o_O I bought a scanner on ebay and the box was ripped open in transit and the top half of the scanner was hanging out... the guy didn't even bubble wrap it, I was infuriated.. especially when I plugged it in and it didn't work. He was a lot more polite about it, although not the greatest - he said he wouldn't refund me if I mailed the scanner back and it turned out to be in fine working condition. I ended up messing with it and was able to get it working, so I didn't have to deal with getting a refund. But for god's sake, if you're sending an expensive piece of electronic equipment, at least use a box sturdier than something you pulled out of the grocery store dumpster.

I hate it when sellers charge and arm and a leg for shipping and then send it the cheapest way possible. I mean, I know ebay has been raping sellers with fees and charges now, so you want to pad your shipping price, but $6.65 difference is A LOT. She could have sent it priority and included insurance for that price. You can buy manga on half.com for .75c with $3 shipping. It wasn't fair to overcharge to begin with, and her attitude was unforgivable. What happened to polite customer service? Regardless of how much of an asshole someone is (which you weren't), if they're buying from me, I'm going to be polite to them.. it's just common courtesy.

Edited at 2010-07-31 12:30 am (UTC)
Suzik00kaburra on July 31st, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)
Oh man, that scanner thing *sucks*! I can't believe the guy wouldn't pad it with something, if not bubble wrap than at least wadded-up paper!

I was really surprised by the lack of decorum in her responses, especially since I was a repeat buyer who had purchased from her before. I mean, I can see being rude to someone who just appears out of nowhere and immediately starts complaining (although I still think it's a bad idea to be rude to anybody) but if they've given you money before, that ought to be an indicator that they aren't just trying to screw you over.
I think the fact that she jumped on the offensive so quickly was an indicator that she knew the packaging was inadequate. 'The lady doth protest too much' and all that.
Minphantomminuet on July 31st, 2010 02:20 am (UTC)
As well you should. I've engaged in over a thousand Ebay transactions, and that kind of attitude is unacceptable.
Mark: WTF?ying_ko_4 on July 31st, 2010 03:12 am (UTC)
I am amazed at the level of Stupid that rears its ugly head in online communication. Bethca the seller would never have spoken to you like that face-to-face.

You were in the right, and the seller was clearly in the wrong.

I probably wouldn't have left the bad feedback though...but I understand why you did.
Mr Baggins: Pensivemrbaggins1 on July 31st, 2010 06:31 am (UTC)
Good for you
I bought a lot of vintage wristwatches on ebay during the last year. some pretty expensive for me, and one, luckily the cheapest one has gone missing - I never bothered to follow it up as it was simply not worth the hassle - but its good to know that e-bay takes complaints seriously.
Suzik00kaburra on July 31st, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Good for you
It's a lot harder on international transactions, I think, because shipping really can take 3+ months going between some countries. I know when I've traded books it's taken 4-5 months to get some packages from the UK or Australia. By the time you realize something is definitely lost, the 90 day window to complain has ended and you're hosed.

Bummer to hear your watch went missing :(
Mel Marshmelsmarsh on July 31st, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC)
Good for you!
Kuruma Chidorichidorichan on July 31st, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
It's actually no longer ebay policy to even have the buyer pay for optional insurance! They clearly state that the seller is responsible for lost or damaged mail, so if THEY want insurance to help THEM get their money back, they can add that to the shipping cost. But they took away the "do you want insurance?" option to the buyers.

..So what is she talking about, it's your fault for not purchasing insurance?
whimsicalbeauwhimsicalbeau on August 2nd, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
Her emails were just nasty and rude. Maybe she SHOULD have lost the money.
captured: This is why we can'tcapuu on August 3rd, 2010 05:57 am (UTC)
Good for you. Her behavior was atrocious and she deserved the bad feedback.

I had a similar experience earlier this year with a jacket that the seller didn't mention in the least was infused with cigarette smoke. Their responses were weakly oblivious to accusing, and honestly, it began to sound like I was talking to three different people on one account, which made everything fishy. In their raging defenses they let slip how they'd yoinked the jacket from a theater set they'd worked at...which made me browse their Things For Sale and realize quite a few items seemed Five Finger Discounted. That their account was less than a year old.

In addition, they charged $14 for the shipping, but the crappy upcycled box that arrived (which reeked of cigs, too) was shipped for $7.

DESPITE EVERYTHING, all I had wanted was the $7 difference they obviously didn't use on shipping, but their response was immediately defensive and ugh. I should have taken the eBay refund route - they do get to keep the money, BUT they get a big fat strike on their account. The more eBay has to refund of their mistakes, the faster they get to eBay shutting them down.

But like I pansy, I only left them neutral feedback and low stars. Yearning for karma won out, zo; They earned plenty of strikes in the following months and had to flee anyway.
Suzik00kaburra on August 3rd, 2010 12:43 pm (UTC)
Eeew, that's awful! Clothes that reek of smoke are the worst; I bought some pants on eBay last year that were like that and it took forever to steam the stench out. I totally wussed out on complaining to the seller, but after I found out that sellers can no longer leave negative or neutral feedback for buyers I decided I'd get really aggressive if another eBay auction left me disappointed. I'm glad to know they get strikes if eBay has to pay out for them, but I'm kinda shocked that your seller was selling stolen goods for so long. (I guess I shouldn't be; when I worked at Bath & Body Works we had several "customers" we suspected of being eBay resellers.)

Sorry about your lousy experience.