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.