eBay: The story of lies, misdirection, and confusion.
For many who read our blogs, you've probably seen a lot of links going off to eBay for the hardware that we buy. Although there are probably better sources to get cheap electronics such as Amazon. However, eBay has always been our go-to source for a lot of bizarre things. This time around we purchased something rather mundane. What we ended up with is an eBay experience that is almost a teachable lesson on how fucked up business has gotten. Which are these 4 CD cases? We didn't need anything fancy just something to store my aging CD's into. Since the item is predominantly fabric and zipper you would think nothing could go wrong.
Counting would be a good place to start.
Well, for starters the buyer didn't even send all of the cases on the tracking order to us. Verified by the customs declaration on the package it plainly states that there were only 3 items in this package. Something that the buyer over in China usually has to fill out to allow a product to be exported over seas. Fairly common practice. The seller knew exactly what they were doing and with pictures captured, we began to open up a case for not only this reason. But because of the standard plastic shipping package, there was no protective outside resulting in the green case getting its corner trashed. So I placed a case requesting a partial refund for two out of the four cases. One of which is missing and the other got mangled in the mail due to poor packing. This was the seller's first response.
Dear friend,we shipped them seperatedly ,so they don't arrive at the same time,We believe it will arrive to you soon,so please wait for it ,ok?we will also ask the post office to speed up your parcle, thanks
Oh, I didn't know a group of people in China can tell the U.S. Post office to 'Speed up my parcel' for me. But getting beyond that level of stupidity the seller states that he shipped them separately. However, looking at my eBay dashboard I only see one tracking number. So I took the next logical step in my response:
Please provide tracking information for the second parcel. - S Their respond within hours was as follows:
we suggest make you full refund, because many day passed, but you still didn't receive the second item,so we suggest give back your money.it's that ok?
In many situations, this would be where the story ends. The seller is going out of their way to satisfy the customer. We happily responded with:
That is fine with me. - S A day has passed. No notification from PayPal of any refund. But instead, another message from the seller:
ok, can you close the case, we that we can refund the second package, cause the case you open is total for 2 package,
The seller is trying to convince us of the buyers to close the case on my end forfeiting any ability for eBay to step in and take action. If we proceeded to close the case at this stage out of sheer greed of expecting a full refund the seller can simply laugh and never refund us the money. On top of that since I have been a seller in the past you can issue a full refund even when the buyer is only asking for half. So to close a case is a line of bullshit right now. Off we go with our response:
No. The case-handling system keeps both the seller and the buyer honest during the transaction. To close it would indicate to eBay that everything is resolved which it has not. If you don't want to issue a full refund then that is fine. You can simply follow the instructions to refund two of the units. One for it being damaged in shipping. And the other missing.- S
Dear friend, Very sorry to hear that you got the broken item.We pack your item very well before shipping out. By the way, Hope you could take photoes and send it to us. So that we could help you resolve it ASAP. Thanks. We are looking forward to your reply. Any questions, pls don't hesitate to contact us. Thanks. Have a nice day
Yes, because placing it in a plastic mailer we tight as you can with three other cases is "Pack your item very well." On top of it, we thought it was blatantly apparent in the first Photo was happened to the green one so we took a better picture. So a better quality picture of the damage was sent. Where unlike most cd-cases that use either HDPE or another form of plastic to keep the backing stiff. These were made out of cardboard. These things get wet just once and they will instantly turn into mush. Never the less, picture sent:
Picture attached to the case. Just like in the first picture the backing of the green CD-carrier was crashed due to poor packaging during shipment. - S Now for their next response:
Really sorry to hear this. No matter how,as a honest and responsible seller.If only our products don't satisfy you. We can refund 50% to you without any requirements. And you do not need to ship it back to us. What is your opinion?
A responsible seller knows how to count. A responsible seller knows how to communicate to the country they are doing business in. A responsible seller does not change the terms of the interaction on every e-mail response. So now we're going from a full refund to only 50 percent for each item. Boy, shit changes quickly with these guys when they have to follow the rules. Anyhow, let's continue this conversation:
Unacceptable, You first state you're willing to give me a full refund if I drop the case on eBay. now you're saying you'll only refund %50 of each item that is missing or damaged? How is it my fault that one item was missing and the other you poorly packed? Why do I have to take a 50 percent restocking fee? I'd like a refund for 2 out of the 4 CD-cases as originally stated in my very first e-mail. -S
No response from the seller but after about 2 days he approves the refund request. You'd think NOW we're getting somewhere. But then the following automated messages start to come down from eBay.
Seller based return shipment loop.
Uh, not entirely sure how we're supposed to send back an item never received but sure! We can at least send back the green case that got damaged no problem! Now in most situations, if this was a standard return we would be responsible for the shipping charges and not the seller. But since the seller is in China they probably didn't like the price tag of paying to return something to their country. So they did the underhanded thing and simply not give us a shipping label. At this stage, since the seller accepted the return thus no further comments can be added to the case. This leaves us the buyer in a very ugly situation:
- We either simply not ship anything back. In which case, Ebay's automated system will, in turn, register the shipment back to the seller as incomplete and close the case in the seller's favor.
- We bite the bullet and pay almost double of what the product is worth to send it back to an address in china that has zero confirmation. End up being out even more money than the initial cost of the product itself.
At this stage since the buyer could no longer message the seller via the case notes. We then proceeded to contact the seller via Ebay's direct messaging system. I proceeded to relay what the eBay messaging system says word for word about:
"Seller onfine2009 let us know that they can't buy a return shipping label for you to use for Multi Colors 80x Disc CD DVD Portable Storage Case Wallet Hard Box Bag Holder ." and: "The seller is still responsible for return shipping costs, so contact them to arrange return shipping."
The seller's response is as follows:
ok, send back to us we will refund
Send a proper return label and I'll be happy to ship the defective part to you. - S
Now the seller decided he wants to play hard-ball because he's done the seller return loop to buyers in the past and it always works in his favor.
buyer pays for the shipping cost.
A total fuck you to everything eBay and I have been telling this seller. Now, this would be the point where the average buyer would probably feel frustrated and maybe even fly off of the handle at the seller's ability to selectively comprehend English whenever it suits him/her. But that is probably the worst thing you could do because of what we're about to do next.
Contact eBay directly.
When contacting a representative at eBay you're often are going to get a mixed bag of results. Some would just say whatever it takes to get you off of the phone. If that happens call back right away. The objective is to get the representative to open the case and to actually 'look' at what is happening. They're going to go through the case, the pictures. The interaction you've had back and forth between you and the seller. At this stage, I even encouraged them to go through my direct messages on eBay and they were able to read all of those as well without any problem. Since the seller can't count combined with a poorly packed damaged shipping and they were able to see that we were trying our very best to negotiate with the seller. eBay ruled in our favor and proceeded to refund us for the 2 defective units. So my interaction with the representatives at eBay was awesome!
Now, this would be the part of the blog entry that should end in a happy ending. After all, eBay ruled in my favor and although it sucks for eBay to do the refund themselves instead of the seller simply following any level of protocol when doing business in the United States. At least we got our money back right? Well, something strange happened in PayPal. Now only did I receive money from eBay. But 20 minutes later. I also received money from the seller. Huh, odd. But whatever. I'm happy with the way everything was handled by Ebay's support team. Then... The next day... A new message from the seller:
The case continues? I think? I'm not even sure anymore.
Sorry to bother you, we can resend or refund, what do you think of that?
I'm completely confused. They're behaving as if the case is still open. Bizarre . So, I responded with the following:
The refunds have already been processed by E-Bay support and no longer requires any further action on your behalf. - S They responded within hours:
you owe us money, but never mind, just give you poor guy as a gift
Oh, sweet Jimminy-Christmas fuck! Your charity and generosity is overflowing on this one! We can hardly contain ourselves! The refund is complete. IT'S OVER! What does this seller have to prove now? We said nothing in response to that because it's a statement and not a question. We're not sure if he's trying to guilt me into giving him money now. Or because he sent the refund via PayPal after the wrath of eBay came down upon the seller hard. But either way, it goes there's nothing more to really do! Two days later the seller sends ANOTHER message:
Dear friend, Very sorry to bother you again. some days has already passed. But we couldn't receive your any reply. Have you got our message? Or other? Very Sorry for our service again. Hope you could give us a chance to resolve the question. Thanks. We are looking forward to hear from you soon. Have a nice day
Now we're his/her friend again. They still think they are in control of a situation that is long past. During this stage we're not sure if the seller is suffering from some form of bipolar disorder or if the seller has multiple people logged into the same eBay account that do not talk to one another. Since everything is resolved it's time to lay the law down upon them once and for all:
There was nothing really to reply to in your last response. The situation has already been resolved by the eBay administration team. The only thing you said to me was a baseless insult on my financial status. I left negative feedback because of responses like the ones you give. You cannot communicate properly to your clients to run an effective business. Your lack of understanding of basic English is virtually impossible for anyone to come to any level of resolution with you. It's unfortunate that I had to get the eBay administrative team involved however I was left with no other option. - S
About five days after responding with this the seller has given his latest reply:
we know you are poor guy, so we give you as a gift, thanks
So, in other words, more insults on my financial status. Glad you cleared that up and it wasn't lost in translation. Also your generosity is just overflowing AFTER eBay already resolved it.
For those wondering what we placed on their negative feedback, we gave the following:
Seller cannot communicate effectively with English buyers. Beware!
Their response you might ask?
please contact and tell us the detail problem, we will help you solve it
Yeah, we tried. It failed. Then again: The seller likes using that line a lot! His positive rating is 98.7 percent for total feedback. With almost 200k in sales, the buyer can very easily drown out their poor practices by sheer brute force alone.
This entry was written up to document what we went through with a seller that changes their mind on an almost day by day basis. As well as the various social engineering tactics and loop-holes that sellers could deploy to entrap and keep the money from a buyer when doing neglectful business practices. To not understand the language of the country you are selling in is not an excuse to be a bad businessman. We suppose the best advice we could give in this situation to avoid the drama and storytime together is always to check the buyer's ratings. In particular, check their negative feedback to see how they handle their buyers. If they blow them off with a cookie-cutter based response system then perhaps its time to take your hard-earned cash to another vendor. But in the event, your seller wakes up one day feeling like their someone else. Or has multiple personality disorder. Stay calm. Work through it as much as possible. If you feel like you are getting trapped into spending more money or that you're going to lose your money. Contact someone. It sucks that it has to be this way. But integrity must be kept for server or else people walk away.
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