More Grumbling

I awarded the second negative feedback of my life this week. The first was some time ago when somebody ripped me off over postage. This one was over that eBay perennial favourite, the cracked fountain pen cap. The pen was an English Parker Duofold Aerometric in dark blue, and visually it was perfect. A visual inspection’s not enough, though, especially with English Duofolds which are notorious for cap-lip cracks. Running a thumbnail around the lip is the litmus test and, sure enough, my moving thumb stopped sharply as my nail encountered a crack. Once alerted to its presence, it wasn’t invisible; the darker line of an aged crack was immediately apparent.

The seller had feedback of a mere 27 and this appeared to be his first sale of a fountain pen. I tried to let him down gently by saying that such a small crack might easily have been missed, but I wanted my payment and all postage costs back. My attempt at being conciliatory fell on deaf ears. The buyer came back vigorously denying that the pen was damaged in any way when it left his hands. I asked Customer Support to open a case and we duked it out for a couple of days. The seller was aggressive and devious which did not endear him to me. In the end, I lost patience and escalated the case to Customer Support to make a decision. They immediately gave me back my payment and original postage.

Result? Well, of sorts, but I still had to return the pen to the seller. I have no option but to protect myself by using a tracked, signed for service which costs £3.65, which means that I – the innocent party – am out of pocket over the transaction. I shouldn’t be. I should have been the proud possessor of the Parker Duofold in good condition that was offered for sale and that I believed I had bought. Well, you may say, £3.65 isn’t going to break the bank. I agree, but these days, as I said in an earlier post, I’m getting three or four misdescribed pens a week and they all go back at the same cost.

Anyone can make a mistake. I make a few myself, but I don’t expect anyone else to pay for them. If you buy a pen from me that turns out to be deficient I’ll take it back without a murmur and I’ll pay back your additional postage costs. That’s only equitable, after all. If I buy from any respectable trader online, I won’t get stuck with the cost of returning goods. It’s only a certain type of eBay seller – mostly of the “sell anything” variety – who believe that any mistakes they make must be paid for by someone else.

EBay is aware of this problem. I and others have brought it to their attention time and again. They’re sympathetic (sympathy’s free) but they say they cannot help. Agreed, they can’t reach out and take the money out of the seller’s pocket, but I have no doubt that they could find ways to apply pressure if they wanted to. That leaves it up to me to apply whatever sanction I can, and that’ll be the negative feedback. I do so not in a spirit of vengefulness. That would be petty-minded. I do so to educate; to help sellers to understand that not only will their mistakes affect my bottom line, it will harm theirs too.

4 thoughts on “More Grumbling

  1. Deb,
    I too have left negative feedback only a spare few times and for good reason. I primarily feel that I’m doing a service to the buyer. Harming the seller is not my first intent, although I realize that may be a consequence. I find it most interesting that on two occasions the seller has emailed me with the intent of coercing me to change my feedback to neutral or positive by offering to give me products or appealing to my sympathy. I am like a rock in those instances, leaving sellers and their shoeless children in the street, even more convinced than ever of the seller’s culpability.

  2. I have just finished a case with a very well known ebay seller, where i have waited nearly three months to get my money back for a pen that never arrived at my home. It has been an exercise of patience, and i had to thretaen the seller, which i don’t like (but worked surprisingly well), with telling my story in several fora.
    Once i got a pen from you, Deb, that i asked to return as there was some minor issue. You behaved extraordinarily well (it was a typhoo tea pen, you might remember). I got very impressed, as it was the first pen i had to send back, and i thought it would be a nightmare, and you made it so easy!
    I don’t see the point in having a customer unsatisfied. This is a small world, and pen aficionados may read about a bad seller and never buy form him/her.

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