By RICH FOLEY
It’s been awhile since I’ve reported on my buying activities on the eBay auction website, mostly because I haven’t done that much lately. I did, however, manage to make what will probably be a life-long enemy, all because I had the nerve to ask for what I was promised.
Back in November, I bid on a diecast replica of a NASCAR race car. The seller had a huge selection of cars available, including one somewhat hard-to-find one I had been looking for. Even better, he offered as a bonus an additional car of his choice to the winning bidder.
No one else bid on the auction, so I won the car at the minimum bid, plus the additional mystery car, all for a grand total of $15, shipping included. I paid promptly and patiently waited to see what the bonus car might be.
A box arrived fairly quickly, but I was disappointed to see only the car featured in the auction. No bonus car, no note, just half of what I was expecting. Usually when an eBay seller makes a mistake, they bend over backwards to make things right because having good feedback from buyers is crucial in impressing potential buyers, and earns the seller better rates from eBay. But after eight years, I discovered a seller that just didn’t care.
I e-mailed “David” in New Jersey, pointing out that I didn’t get a bonus car and asking when I could expect it. I received a reply saying that offer was no longer valid. Oh, really? I then asked whether or not he stood behind his listing and he tried to blame some unnamed “they” who supposedly didn’t update the auction. That sounded like a problem between David and this “they” person, but David made it clear that he was done dealing with it.
Maybe he’d had previous success stonewalling and trying to bully other customers (somehow, he had a 100% positive feedback rating), but I didn’t feel like letting him get away with it. I gave him four or five days to consider his position, which probably made him think I had given up, then gave him negative feedback, dropping his rating to 99.8%. That was enough to set him off.
He replied to my feedback by calling me a crybaby, then left feedback for me, calling me a “moran.” I laughed when I saw that. Did “they” teach him to spell, too? Then eBay got involved, asking if I wanted to open a formal complaint since I’d left negative feedback. Why not?
In my complaint, I asked for the second car. David refused, offering a refund if I sent the car I received back to him. This would have cost me almost $11 in shipping and fees to get $15 back. I offered to settle for a $7.50 refund, since I received half of the two cars I expected. He refused again.
I finally opted for the eBay mediation process, in which each side makes their case and an eBay arbitrator’s decision is final. Again, I stated my position and asked for a $7.50 refund. I don’t know what David told them, but I would have liked to have seen his face when he received the verdict.
The arbitrator awarded me a refund of the entire $15, which they had already retrieved from David’s PayPal account and returned to me. In addition, I got to keep the car I received. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Who’s the ‘moran’ now?”
Kristi in California, however, holds a better opinion of me. A few weeks ago, I was thinking about a bank in the shape of a spaceship I had as a child. I did a search for it on eBay, asking to be informed of similar listings. Within a week, eBay sent an e-mail with Kristi’s auction item, which turned out to be a duplicate of my old bank.
The bidding was already higher than I wanted to pay and I noticed that Kristi didn’t have the combination to the bank, mentioning the “fun” you could have trying to open it as a selling point.
It’s pretty sad that I still remembered the combination of my own bank more than 40 years after getting rid of it, but I decided to have some fun myself. I e-mailed Kristi, telling her the story of my old bank and that I didn’t think I wanted to pay what the bidding had reached, but offering my old bank’s combination in case she wanted to try it.
“WOW!” Kristi e-mailed back after successfully using the combination. “That was the tip of the week!” She added that she would amend her listing to include the combination. When I checked back a day later, she had even given me credit by name, calling me a “great eBayer.” Take that, David from New Jersey!