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.