Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dear Buyer, Thanks for returning the pound of chuck roast!

Oh, the trials and tribulations of being an Ebay seller! Occasionally I'll hear from a buyer complaining that I improperly packaged an item for shipping. In most cases, the item didn't get damaged. The buyer just wants to nit-pick, claiming I could have packed the thing a little better.

When I receive these e-mails, I have to fight my urge to respond with a wise-crack. Instead, I bite my tongue and put on my "customer service" hat. Believe me, it's hard to do sometimes. But I look at it this way-although the buyer is being a royal pain, what's the harm in replying in a nice, friendly manner? Even if I think they're dead-wrong, there's really no extra effort on my part in being customer friendly. All it takes is a few keystrokes. Heck, I can even make gagging faces and roll my eyes while typing the friendly response...they'll never know!

It's important to take this approach. Buyers who take the time to write and complain are just a mouse click away from entering negative feedback and low DSR ratings. So even if I think they're off their rocker, my response will usually contain an acknowledgement they were right, along with an apology. It usually goes something like this:

"Sorry to hear you were disappointed in how the item was packed. You're right, I am definitely going to be a little more careful when packing the (______) in the future. Thanks for letting me know. I hope you enjoy the (__________.)"

In this scenario the buyer is just looking to be reinforced and told they were right to complain. It's a psychological game your playing with them. Sort of like defusing a ticking time bomb! But your real intent is to simply calm them down so they don't torpedo you with poor eBay ratings. Most of the time this works with a nit-picky buyer. More then once, I've received a response thanking me for getting back to them. They'll even tell me how much really they like the item. When I get a response like that I know the bomb has been defused!

I bring this issue up because while a buyer can complain about poor packing, the seller can't do the same when the situation is reversed. Recently, a buyer returned a beautiful LL Bean shirt claiming it didn't fit him. (This despite the fact that I clearly stated the shirt size and measurements.) Knowing eBay sellers can't win this battle, I told the buyer to return the shirt for a full refund. Several days later I received the above "package" in my mailbox. The seller had tightly rolled up my beautiful LL Bean Shirt like some Persian rug. He then shipped it in brown grocery bag paper! I am lucky the police didn't knock on my door. This suspicious package looked like an illegal drug shipment that came across the Texas border. It also reminded me of a few pounds of ground chuck roast. The type "Sam the Butcher" use to wrap up and hand over the counter to Alice on the Brady Bunch! Inside this brown paper bag, I found my once beautiful LL Bean shirt. It was all wrinkled and crumpled, like something from the bottom of my son's clothes hamper!

Now here's where the double standard comes in. What would a buyer think if they received a shirt packaged like this? Wow, I could see my five-star rating plummet as soon as the wrapper was opened! But even though the buyer did an awful job packing the shirt, did I complain? Nope...I just bit my tongue and gave him his refund. So the guy got his money back and I re-washed, dried and ironed the shirt. I'll eventually re-post the shirt and make my money, but the eBay "double-standard" is frustrating and annoying!

Have you had some rotten "double-standard" sales like my "chuck roast" return? Share your sad story in the comment section below...
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26 comments:

  1. I had someone return some shorts and as soon as I opened the package the strong smell of smoke overcame me.
    I left the whole package outside until I could wash the shorts. Even then, the smell didn't come out and I ended up tossing them.
    It was really hard to not send a nasty note to the buyer.
    I love your blog, by the way.

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  2. Lindy- Wow, that's the worst! And just like my situation, really no recourse for you as a seller, right? It's a bummer!

    Thanks for writing in and liking the blog. I always enjoy hearing from folks.(That way I know someone is out there reading my blog!) Keep coming back for more....Dude! : )

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  3. I had a woman INSIST that a pair of new Tommy Hilfiger velvet jeans were not new (even with the tags on them) and then she also said they were not size 10 (tag read "10" - that must have been a lie?) and last but not least, they were MENS! Right, because all mens pants are now given womens sizing and shaped with hips. She couldn't return the item because she would have to pay to have someone drive her to leave the house, "would you cover that cost?" I ate it. I told her to keep the dumb pants and as soon as she left me feedback (positive thank goodness) I blocked her! Better to return $15-20 than get a negative. Argh. Thankfully these people are few and far between.

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  4. Kristen-Wow, you had the buyer from H-E-double hockey sticks! Some people are just off the planet, unbelievable!

    It feels good to"block' a bad egg buyer doesn't it? It may seem like in the big, vast world of eBay, it's unlikely a buyer would ever be buying from you again. But believe it or not, I actually had a "bad" buyer come back to bid on something. She e-mailed me asking why she couldn't bid? It was extremely satisfying telling her that she stiffed me a few years before and was now blocked from bidding....it was awesome!

    Thanks for writing in with your buyer nightmare story!...Dude!

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    1. That must have been a very satisfying email to send!

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    2. It felt great! I am like the proverbial elephant with a long memory!

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  5. Hi Dude! I had purchased a brand new child's plastic Disney Snow White tea set at a discount store. It was BRAND NEW with the Disney tag still attached. The lady that purchased it from me emailed me and said that it was used, dirty and scratched up inside. She said that it was "sealed with a generic plastic tag". Funny thing is they all had the same "generic plastic tag" and over the holidays I saw the same tea set in Target with the same "generic plastic tag". Her email to me said that she was contacting me first but she fully intended to go through the proper channels...which she did immediately. I emailed her back and told her that I was sorry that she was not happy with her purchase but I had purchased it brand new at a store and I saw no problems with the item. She wanted me to pay her return postage to ship it back to me. I told her that she didn't need to return it to me, I would refund her her money. I told her that she could either keep it, give it to charity or throw it away, it was her choice. In the end, she gave me bad feedback. I think people do that just to get free items, which is very sad for those of us trying to supplement our income.
    Keep up your blog Dude, I check your blog very often for your updates, you are a very good writer and your stories are really enjoyable!--- AJ

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    1. AJ-Looks like you also had a buyer from H-E-#-@! You just can't reason with those type of folks, I think they do it just to get their kicks. Although it may be fruitless, you may want to call eBay and explain the situation. They might consider removing the buyer's negative feedback. The buyer also may have a track record of pulling that stunt with other sellers just to wrangle refunds.

      Thanks for your nice compliments and for liking the blog. I am glad you're enjoying it! ...Dude!

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  6. You just made my day. I am laughing so hard. I once had a buyer who purchased a designer blouse from me and somehow decided to cut the bag open literally in half. The blouse obviously was cut in half as well. She then demanded a refund because she has no more use for the blouse. What can you do right? You have to pay for her lack of common sense. I refunded her money but she still left a negative feedback. My first one in 4 years of selling.

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  7. You guys are too nice! :) If I screw up or misdescribe something (which I did once with a cell phone - didn't see it had a chip), I will refund and take the item back. But if they just don't like it - or cut it in half!! - they are SOL with me... Most of my ebay items are second hand & not new, so I'll say they are AS-IS with signs of use, etc.
    I do have one negative feedback - the lady said "very poor condition for that much money" to a very used (listing had photos of wear) Thomas train she bought for $2.25. Some people are nuts!

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  8. I've only been seriously selling on ebay for a few months, but already have several! I found a set of vintage Peanuts books in shrink wrap at a yard sale for $1 - there was a tear in the shrink wrap, but the books were not damaged. I clearly stated this in the listing, but the buyer left negative feedback saying I didn't package the item properly and the shrink wrap had gotten torn. Since I made a profit of over $40, I simply responded to his feedback stating I indicated the shrink wrap was torn in the ebay listing. I HATE when people leave negative feedback with no contact - blocked!

    The second was a brand new children's bathing suit with tags. I offered free shipping since it was lightweight. Got a message from the buyer saying the stitching was coming loose, so I told her to send it back, BUT that I was on vacation, so I wouldn't get to check it out/issue a refund until I got home. She kept emailing asking when I was going to issue her refund. When I got home, I found nothing wrong so asked her where on the suit she saw the problem. Still couldn't find a problem (and told her so) at which point she opened a dispute saying I was giving her the runaround and refusing to issue a refund. BLOCKED! And I no longer offer free shipping on anything.

    Sad thing was I checked feedback on both of them and they were both sellers themselves! You'd think they'd be better behaved as buyers! I also hate that I can only leave positive feedback for buyers.

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  9. Anonymous-Wow, that was a brilliant move by the buyer, huh? Once again illustrating how the eBay system is rigged against sellers. She ruins the shirt AND give you bad feedback. If the transaction wasn't too long ago, you may want to call eBay to complain and get the feedback removed. For what it's worth, I think you have a case!

    Alexis- More power to you if you can dodge the negative feedback arrows! That Thomas complaint is a doozy! You just can't win with some nut-jobs!

    Amy-As a Newbie, you've had little bad luck there with buyers. Don't let it get you down, a bad egg buyer can be pretty infrequent, so you got them out of the way early. Hopefully you have some clear sailing for a while.

    I agree, once ebay took away the ability to file negative feedback on buyers the system was rigged to favor buyer no matter what they do. I tried to get around this once with a buyer who I had a bad experience with. I went into the buyer's feedback and typed in full caps: "WARNING TO SELLERS-BAD BUYER, UNREASONABLE!"

    It was my little way of striking back!

    Thanks all for your great comments!

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  10. Every once in awhile we all run into buyers from hell. I deal with them the best I can and also block them. Chances are they will not come back to buy but it makes me feel I have control at that moment.
    grace

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    1. Grace- Feels good to block them doesn't it? Given eBay's anti-seller policies, it's one of the few things we sellers have control over!

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  11. Same deal here. Seller that bought an item. Stated the condition was not as represented in the listing. I offered a full refund to include all postal costs. She claimed she couldn't possibly find the time to mail back my item for a refund. (Mind you, she had items up for sale at the time that she was going to have to mail.) We went back and forth. I kept it polite but firm that she needed to return for a full refund. She refused and left neutral feedback with a long negative statement for others to read, and then left a response to her own statement, again long. Sure to stand out to any other potential customers of mine. She wanted a full refund and to keep the item, and when I wouldn't play ball she made sure to impact me in the worse way she could.

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    1. That's brutal, some of those buyers seem to enjoy busting on sellers.

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  12. Love this blog. Been selling on Ebay for about a year, mostly vintage things. JUST started selling clothes and it horrifies me! How am I supposed to pack clothes so they aren't wrinkled?! I am so lost here. I've sold a few clothes and I have had a bad feeling every time I send them in those cheapo poly bags. Any help would be super mucho appreciated! :)

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    1. I try to fold my clothes neatly, then slip them in a recycled plastic bag. (Shirt, grocery, anything that fits) I've also used those zip-lock bags (the generic brands). If it's something the buyer only paid $10-$15 then I don't even bother with a bag. It goes commando! Ha!

      Thanks for Loving the blog, come back for more ! ...Dude! : )

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    2. Thanks! The way everyone talks, I thought I was missing something as to how to ship clothes but I think I'm all good to go! :)

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  13. No problem, good luck and write in again!

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  14. My buyer purchased 8 items, she was not happy with one item. I offered her a refund, for the one item, with original shipping included. She insisted that I pay for the return shipping. When I very nicely refused, she opened a complaint with ebay. Ebay issued her a full refund with shipping & allowed the buyer to keep all 8 items. She left negative feedback & low DSR ratings.

    I lost my "power seller" status, my funds from sales are now being held until the buyer either receives their item or leaves positive feedback and my above standard rating has been changed to below standard.
    I have over 2400 positive feedbacks, I've been a member since 1990.

    Who decided only buyers should could leave negative feedback?

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    1. I know, incredibly stupid right? It's all part of eBay's terrible decision to become more like Amazon. They DE-emphasized the original and fun auction concept and encouraged BIN...very frustrating!

      With the new feedback system, buyer's can basically try to blackmail sellers like in your example.

      Sorry to about what happen. Thanks for your story though, we all share your pain : (

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  15. I don't sell on eBay yet, since I'm just too happy selling books on Amazon right now, but I do have something to add:

    I started buying on eBay probably 6 or 7 years ago, in what some people call the "old days" of eBay. It was a different and dangerous place for buyers back then, which is why I think eBay has over-corrected so much to where it's now the sellers at a disadvantage.

    Actually, I didn't even know that eBay had removed the ability of sellers to leave negative buyer feedback, but I do understand it. Before they did that, an unwary buyer could easily be held hostage with negative feedback of their own if they left even truthful negative seller feedback. I saw it happen far too often, especially with newer buyers who didn't know to wait until they received feedback to leave it, and who could afford the negative much less than the seller with more transactions. The unscrupulous sellers would just give you mutually assured destruction if you didn't withdraw your bad feedback. I also believe there was little to no oversight by eBay, or recourse available to either party.

    Anyway, that's just why I think eBay does some of those type of things that are supposed to help buyers, but end up hurting sellers.

    Something else I hadn't realized had changed was that in the old days, it was the responsibility of the buyer to buy insurance, and if they hadn't opted to buy it, sellers were not responsible for lost or damaged packages.

    At some point, eBay did a complete 180 on this, and I like how someone put it in the Answer Center:
    "Do I need insurance on an expensive item?"
    "As a buyer? No, of course not. eBay Buyer Protection = better than insurance."

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    1. Alicia- You make some very good points, although under the "old" eBay, I don't think buyers were at too much risk with buyers. The buyer could always review the seller's feedback and as they say, if it looks, talks, walks like a duck...it's duck!

      The new sytem is really an unspoken, but concious effort by eBay to slowly force out little sellers in favor of bigger retail operations. They've pretty much admitted as such.

      You are exactly right about the insurance, why bother buying it when eBay is going to automatically make the refund anyway?

      Thanks for your great comments....Dude!

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  16. I think Ebay listens more on the buyer than the seller. My friend receives a complain saying the item is not shipped. They do investigation and won't listen with my friends appeal even if she show them proof of ship item and receipt of the registered post. They eventually takes out money from my friends account and gives back to the buyer.

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    1. Britany-Most definitely! Ebay always takes the side of the buyer it stinks! The whole system is rigged in the buyer's favor no matter what a seller says or does. I am still hoping for a new auction website to take on eBay, so us seller's get treated fairly. Maybe someday, right?

      Thanks for writing in....Dude!

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