I still suffer from the recurrent problem of sellers not disclosing faults in the pens that they offer for sale, but eBay has finally begun to see sense. Sellers may say that they will take no returns but eBay now adds the rider that sellers may be forced to accept returns if their items are not as described. That’s a major victory, and I think that I, probably along with many other buyers, can take some credit for that.
My biggest gripe has always been that I ended up out of pocket to the tune of the cost of sending defective items back to sellers. When sometimes there are two or three “not as described” items in a week and they have to be returned by a signed for service, this is not an insignificant cost. I had taken, in my boilerplate claim to sellers, to adding the phrase, “I will require a full refund including return postage as there is no reason why I should be out of pocket over an item that was not correctly described.” EBay seems to have taken some note of that as well. Whereas at one time they made it clear that sellers would not be responsible for postage costs for returned items, that has now disappeared and in one or two instances eBay administrators have actually made a refund of postage to me themselves!
This does reduce my loss over these defective items but it does not address the problem of the time wasted in making and pursuing claims. Some sellers make it as difficult as they can for the buyer to be compensated, arguing about the facts of the case and using time-wasting tactics in the hope of wearing the buyer out. Though with great reluctance, I have taken to giving negative feedback to sellers who have not been cooperative. I’m not sure that this does anything to address the issue and I believe it remains a gaping hole in eBay’s feedback system. Perhaps there should be a penalty for inaccurate listing. In many cases, I have no doubt that the deficient listing is unintentional, but even there a penalty would encourage greater attention to the condition of the item they wish to sell. In many other instances the damage is so blatantly obvious that there can be no doubt that the seller has taken a chance in full knowledge and in the hope that a buyer will accept the item despite its defects.
A penalty which formed part of the feedback report and was visible to all would be likely to have a beneficial effect in reducing the number of defective items offered for sale. Either that, or we hang, draw and quarter them and place their heads on a pike as a warning to the rest.
9 thoughts on “Moaning And Griping”
Thanks for a great and important post.
As you say, ebay’s new policy is a welcome improvement. I had a case recently where I received a Yard-o-Led pencil that looked as though it had been stored in sea-water .. Seller was stroppy and recalcitrant; I received a full refund via the resolution centre but stupidly forgot to demand the cost of return postage. Since the item was hardly worth the cost of stamp, I sent it back ordinary 2nd class; if it got lost – well he can sue me!
Another instance was trickier: a pen described as “near mint” and “in brilliant condition.” This one arrived looking lovely as per the photos, but inside a horrible gummy mess. The seller was one of those who states “no returns” (caveat emptor!) but in fairness he did offer a refund which I did not accept, preferring to take the loss of the repair as I want the pen. I asked for a contribution to the cost of the repair which was refused. The point was that I expected to receive the item I thought that I had bought! The seller said “I would answer any questions about the item” but as I wrote back what question was there to ask? “Brilliant condition” speaks for itself as far as I am concerned. I have posted neutral feedback just because he offered the refund.
I am learning (I am new to pens). Now unless specifically stated to the contrary, I assume that a pen requires repairs!
Thanks again for a great post.
Though I don’t have all the facts to hand it looks to me as if you are unjust to the seller in the second instance. When buying pens in eBay one assumes that they are not restored unless it is specifically stated that they are. Description of the condition of an unrestored pen is about its external appearance and if it is free of blemishes, appears little used, has good trim and is altogether in good externally apparent condition the terms “near mint” and “in brilliant condition” may well be justified. One assumes that the seller of unrestored pens does not know the condition of the pen internally. Indeed, one hopes he has left it strictly alone, as damage can be done by people opening pens when they don’t know what they’re doing.
In my many years in eBay I have been extremely parsimonious in handing out adverse feedback. I have done so in the last couple of years but only when sellers worked really hard to get it. Their eBay sales may be the seller’s livelihood and one should not make that much more difficult for them lightly. A single negative can ruin a seller’s reputation and a neutral has pretty much the same effect.
Yes, of course I can see that side of it, but in our subsequent exchanges – which were perfectly civilised – he said “well I hadn’t tested the pen” Why did he not include “Untested” in the description as many other sellers do?
I still insist that the description was misleading, and I shall henceforth always be extra careful when “no returns” is specified. He got neutral feedback only because he offered a full refund (I included this in the statement). Otherwise it would have been a negative.
You’re missing the point! There is a clear and unmistakable demarcation between pens that have been restored and those that are sold in an unrestored condition. The seller cannot be castigated for what he did not offer and it seems fairly clear that this seller did not offer a pen which had had the sac removed and another sac fitted or anything like that. He was simply offering a good-looking pen in the condition that he found it. There would have been no reason for him to say, “pen not tested”. Yes, some sellers say that. Other sellers make a point of telling you that they know nothing about pens. Yet others inform you that their photographs form part of the description. All of this is meaningless boilerplate inserted in the hope that it will give the seller some leeway should the pen prove unsatisfactory.
When I was a seller in eBay (and thank God I no longer am) I had my sales set so that no one with less than 25 feedback could bid. It wasn’t something I liked doing. I had been brought to it by unpleasant experience: people new to eBay who were unreasonable in their expectations and had a hair-trigger attitude to bad feedback. A single transaction with an eBay novice can ruin a seller’s account with an unjust neutral or negative feedback. Having an unjust feedback put right is a difficult and time-consuming process, on those occasions when it can be done at all.
Ha ha! “Meaningless boilerplate” indeed.
Well there is obviously a bit of a gulf here – I have enjoyed the discussion though – but I’ll have one more stab at it.
I have had in the past a fair bit of experience selling on ebay, and only once or twice did I have the misfortune to come across difficult types.
Another case was where I sold a signed copy of a Hergé book – “Tintin and the Broken Ear” it was. The buyer contacted me saying he was disappointed because the book was paperbacked and not hardcover; I hadn’t stated “paperback” but there were photos. Anyway I offered him a discount and he was very happy. If I had been like the seller I referred to earlier (or for that matter the bloke with the Yard-o-Led) I could have said – “Well it was signed, you saw the pictures, tough!” But I didn’t.
I am going to suggest a parallel. Let us suppose that one bought a car, or a camera, or a washing machine on ebay; the item in question is described as being “in brilliant condition.”
And then you find that the shiny car doesn’t go, or the “immaculate near-mint”camera will not make a photograph, or the “washing machine in brilliant condition” refuses to wash.
You contact the seller and he says “You could have asked a question, I haven’t tested the item. – I don’t drive/make photographs/wash clothes.”
How does that sound? I see no difference between a non-functioning pen and a non-functioning car/camera/washing machine!
Anyway, that’s probably enough eh?!
All the best.
It’s not a good analogy, Paul. It would only be comparable if one was buying veteran or vintage cars, which can be bought in either restored or unrestored condition. Again, one is in no doubt which is on offer.
It sounds as though you believe that all the pens that are brought to eBay should be in working condition. For a variety of reasons I am very thankful that that is not the reality.
I missed this one.
Well no, I don’t expect them to work (especially now) in general,- and I quite naturally take your point (‘variety of reasons’) but “brilliant condition” and “near mint” without any reference to lack of testing, I take to mean functional!
If it had read say “brilliant cosmetic condition” then I might have taken the hint!
Heh! You’ll learn through time if you don’t get blacklisted by sellers for being trigger-happy with bad feedback.
Ha ha! Well, I wouldn’t call myself trigger-happy, but certainly it’s something to watch. Meanwhile the black-listers can read some of my positives e.g.: “Pleasure to deal with an educated erudite buyer – pity the rest.Top Buyer.Thanks”