Tracking your Sold eBay ItemsFirst, I want to thank all of the many writers who offered support and encouragement and ideas on this issue. This one situation was the instigation for me ending my 10 year relationship with eBay. I joined eBay in 1999, and over the years earned a feedback of 731, with 100% positive. This one incident with ebay buyer featfan007 ruined all of that. First, the situation itself soured me on eBay as a whole. Then my foray into the eBay forums to discuss the issue made me decide permanently that eBay's current environment was toxic.
The background. I am not a daily eBay user. Every six months or so I go on a cleaning spree, perhaps deciding to get rid of a bunch of CDs for 99 cents each. I go on eBay, list them, sell them, and am done. It's a fun garage sale for me, something I look forward to as a fun excursion. I have NEVER had a serious issue with any sale, and never had any issues about delivery confirmation or insurance. I thought, incorrectly as it turns out, that sellers were responsible to get an item into the system properly. We had to send out exactly what we promised we would. The buyer could then buy delivery confirmation if they wanted to, or insurance. I am fairly sure it was this way in 1999 when I began and as I never had any issues I never thought to question it. Many people I've talked with felt this was still true, so I am not alone in my misconception.
I always OFFERED delivery confirmation and insurance on my listings, but most people didn't care about it. So it saved them money, which they appreciated. The few people who bought it were ones who bought big groups of my CDs.
So in August 2009 I did what seemed to be my final set of CD sales, to empty out the house of CDs. It was a big batch for me, just over 90 CDs all at once. Everything went smoothly. featfan007 won four of the CDs. Again, this is fun for me, not a money maker, so I list them at 99 cents each with cheap shipping. I say on each auction:
"I do ship internationally and try to ship as inexpensively as I can. Note that I ship in PADDED envelopes so that your CD gets to you safely! So those are slightly more expensive than a cheap thin envelope but I think it's worth it, so your CD gets to you in pristine condition. Shipping to Canada is the same as shipping to the US, which is $2.99 for a single CD (that covers the padded envelope and postage and everything else). Prices rise slightly for multiple CDs based on weight and the larger envelope or box and so on."
I also said, in my payment instructions:
"Non-US: please contact for pricing. I will ship as cheaply as I can, but shipping across the globe often costs much more than shipping to a nearby US state. If you want Confirmation / extra shipping tracking: please discuss your desire BEFORE you make the payment. These options will cost extra."
I will comment here that the eBay forum members were very harsh in seeing this :) They called me an idiot for giving buyers any shipping options. They said I should charge them as much as I possibly could, and not let them avoid any costs. Also, they pointed out that current eBay rules state that *I* as the seller am responsible for covering the package's costs if the package does not reach the buyer. So I should force the buyer to pay for delivery confirmation, to protect ME from fraud. Also, they said I should force every person to pay into insurance, so that I am covered in other situations.
I didn't know any of this when I created the 90 auction listings. It had never occurred to me that fraud had become a huge problem worthy of this level of attention. I didn't realize that the changes to the eBay feedback system had created - according to many people who have contacted me - an environment where fraud is proliferating. At the time I was still in my 1999 "flower child" mentality, that I was sending out joy and origami into the world, and people were happy to get it.
So featfan007 saw my pleasant offer to let him choose to pay or not pay for delivery confirmation, and he did NOT pay for it because he knew the system - that I was 100% responsible for the package (he stated this later). If I wasn't going to MAKE him pay for Delivery Confirmation, then that was my mistake. He asked for the cheapest mailing possible - media mail. He also added "please pacl with grateful love and care . i would like to get them in the great condition stated thanx" (exact wording and spelling).
As I was in the please-buyers mentality, I did just what he asked. I found a good box, added packing material, added in origami, printed my invoice on pretty stationary, and taped everything up solidly. I even drove it an hour to the hub so it would get out more quickly. I've been mailing from locations around here for 13 years and have found a marked difference in delivery time based on where I bring the item. So off it went.
Media mail can take 7-14 days at a minimum to reach its destination. I've seen media mail take 30 days or more. However, it wasn't even a week that featfan007 wrote. "just checking in. still have an eye out for the cd's . Any help like a deliver confirmation would be so helpful?"
I knew that something was not quite right when I got that message. He knew there was no delivery confirmation, he had chosen not to get it. Again, at the time I rarely ever used delivery confirmation, maybe one person in a hundred even mentioned it. I'd never, ever needed one! Why was this guy so deliberate in mentioning delivery confirmation - and only a few days into the delivery cycle on media mail? Still, I try to always be polite and helpful - sometimes buyers are elderly and get confused. I answered gently and tried to explain things to him. I explained he hadn't wanted a delivery confirmation, so there was none. I mentioned Media Mail could take another week at least. He agreed that he'd been hasty.
The very next day, featfan007 wrote again: "still have not recieved the cd's. can you please send me a dc#". One day later! Again I began to get nervous, I had never experienced this type of behavior before. Again, I wrote back explaining that media mail is slow mail, and that there wasn't any delivery confirmation. Again, he responded: "thanx for the quick reply. i don't mind waiting a month. there's nothing time sensitive. let's give it a nother 2 weeks and hope it shows."
Three days later - FeatFan007 writes again: "wanted to drop you a line. let you know I still have not recieved the cd's in a box as you stated. i think the usps may have ate the shipment?" Apparently he was not willing to wait for Media Mail's time delivery. A few hours later on the same day, he wrote "are you going to issue a refund?"
I took in a deep breath and relaxed. He could be elderly. He could honestly be forgetting our conversations. I responded that we had just discussed this a few days ago and agreed to wait for the normal MediaMail shipping period. He wrote back: "i forgot lisa i had surgery and the drugs are strong. let's continue to wait . it's not time sensitive like a concert ticket. i'm sorry my bad"
However, his agreement to wait and be patient was emphemeral. A short while later when I received this email from FeatFan007 -
"you could have added a delivery confirmation to the box for .80 cents . dont say you can't. I put a delivery confirmation on every order Well I know my rights and I have paypal buyers protection. I have no need to buy insurance . I am insured by paypal. please don't make me open a paypal non reciept of merchandise don't blame me i'm the client"
So again he was demanding a refund - before MediaMail's stated shipping period. He knew I didn't have delivery confirmation. I had no way of proving the package did or did not get to him. He was pretty much guaranteed a refund simply by stating he did not get the package, even if it was within the media mail shipping period.
Looking at his feedback, I discovered that several other people in this same time period were also having the same situation happen, where packages sent to him apparently never reached him. Are there more than three issues but only three happened to be mentioned in the feedback area? eBay has no way of listing auctions that were NOT given feedback on. Those auctions could be unhappy people, with no voice.
I wrote to ebay about the issue, because I had never encountered it before. They did not bother to respond. While I was waiting for clarification from eBay, FeatFan007 writes me - "Just wondering if you heard from Ebay? Still no box. I would like to come to a resolution with you. Since I have no box of cd's and you havent gotten them back. How about we both take 50% responsiblity? Split the difference and call it a day?" I agree to this resolution and promptly send him the half he wants. He then promptly refuses my payment, opens a complaint and presses me for the full payment. Finally frustrated, and getting no guidance from ebay on how to handle this situation, I sent him a full $20 which was all of his fees plus more.
So on FeatFan007's side he has made an income on the transaction.
Also, the box of four CDs is still missing. It has never come back to me as undeliverable or such. My labels are very firmly taped on (with tape over the entire label to keep it rain-safe) and have computer-print easy to read letters on the return label.
On my side, I am out:
* the four CDs which I could have resold
* the ebay fees
* the paypal fees for his payment (he had locked the original transaction so I couldn't "refund" it)
* the payment to the USPS
* the hours of effort I put into resolving the issue
Even though he got a full payment, the saga did not end there. He apparently still wanted more. A week later I received an email -
would you like your feedback or?
So now he was wanting feedback from me on the transaction? He wanted me to give him a good rating for this situation? Looking at his other feedback, there were numerous cases where he scolded someone for giving him less than 5 stars, saying that only 5 stars were acceptable. So not only did he want feedback, but he wanted perfect feedback.
I was not intending on leaving ANY feedback - which I admit was cowardly of me. I wanted to leave negative feedback based on everything that happened - especially the repeated messages of him saying "I'm fine waiting" and then "where are my CDs!" the next day. However, I had a 100% rating and didn't want to ding that. So I was willing to let someone I considered a problem ebayer to remain flawless to keep myself safe. It makes me ashamed to think of that. It is my duty as a member of the ebay community to leave HONEST feedback. However, looking at the other entries, it appears the other sellers who had problem had the same challenge! How, as a seller, can you leave feedback for a buyer which isn't glowing, knowing that they can cause you serious reputation harm if you're less than perfect in your comments towards them?
You would think we would now be resolved. He asked for feedback. I suggested he leave it first, and he refused. Even though I can't leave an actual negative rating for him - and he can "destroy" my perfect streak. This is why most sellers I know expect the buyers to leave feedback first.
Still, this was not the end, though. Again, the items that FeatFan007 had purchased were four CDs (four separate auctions which I combined shipping on). On each CD's eBay page I link to a full page review of that CD. I also link to a multi-article set of instructions on how to convert CDs to MP3s and other music types. I have had these remote informational links on every single CD I've sold (and I've sold hundreds of them) over the past ten years. These links have always been accepted by eBay.
So FeatFan007 - immediately after his feedback message, but before I had an opportunity to respond to it - added a complaint about the Led Zeppelin CD he purchased. He complained that the listing had these two links in the text! This is AFTER he bought the CD, after the transaction was complete, after he received his full refund for his purchase. He was now taking the time to say that a listing he found useful, that he chose to purchase from, had links in it that should not have been allowed.
Remember, this listing was over. What did he want, for me to write eBay and ask them to remove an expired listing? A listing for CDs I no longer had, because they had been mailed off to him? Even if those listings were active I don't think I have the ability to edit the existing descriptions - I believe I can only add additional notes TO those descriptions.
This whole transaction shook me to my core, being so entirely unexpected and different from every one of my previous transactions. I went onto the Ebay Community Forum to get support and ideas - and instead I was called stupid for not forcing all buyers to buy delivery confirmation, stupid for not requiring insurance, stupid for sending origami presents in my packages, and stupid for even listing 99 cent CDs on the system at all. Apparently only idiots use ebay for casual sales, and only complete idiots provide friendly bonus items or use nice stationary or do anything else buyer-friendly. Rather than finding support in the forums, I found such a mercenary, use-the-buyers mentality that it turned me off of the entire eBay system completely.
I told the forum that I wasn't in this to make a profit. I liked having my house get clean and organized, while sending my CDs off to loving new homes where they'd be enjoyed. One lady sharply retorted that she throws away 200 CDs every week! She taunted me that rather than a loving home, my CDs were end up polluting a landfill.
Not only that, but they were telling me ways to play semantic games with the ebay rules. eBay says you can't charge people for insurance. So they said to hide the money in the handling fees and just not CALL it insurance. You don't pay the USPS according to the forum members, because that's your money going elsewhere - instead you put the money into YOUR OWN BANK ACCOUNT and if you never use it you buy yourself nice dinners out with it. You dine on steak with handling money you charged your buyers for. When I objected, saying I wanted to explain to my buyers exactly what their money was going for, they again called me stupid and said I was obviously not listening. Surely it was simple to just 1) charge the buyers as much as you could and 2) put the money into your bank account. No need for the buyers to know anything.
The forum members simply couldn't understand why this bothered me, and why I wasn't just agreeing with the system. They decided I must be an idiot for not doing things the way they did. I found that I could not participate in this system any more.
On an encouraging note, the one week in the ebay forums clearly demonstrated to me just how different the modern ebay was from the 1999 flower child ebay I had adored. It was a serious wake-up call about current ebay policies, current ebay buyers and current ebay sellers. It also shook me free of my dreamy love of ebay. It meant I no longer cared about the 100% rating I had, since there was no way I would support ebay going forward in any way. It meant I could finally do what was right, finally do what I should have done from the very beginning - leave HONEST full feedback for FeatFan007 giving as much accurate detail as I could in the feedback area provided.
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