Saturday, March 8, 2008

“It would sure do me good/to do you good/let me help…”

Yesterday, I prepared all the items sold in my recent eBay auction so that they could be shipped today, and also arranged for the postal carrier to pick them up at my front door because…well, I don’t want to go another ten rounds with my evil nemesis Smock Lady—because I might end up doing something I’ll later regret. I had all the packages sitting on the bench on our front porch, and I specified when arranging for pickup that the items would be on the front porch.

For reasons unknown, I just happened to glance out the window a few minutes after 12:00pm…just in time to see the postal truck go skating by our mailbox. The truck then stops at our neighbor’s box, and I managed in that nanosecond to not only grab a piece of paper with the pickup confirmation number but find my flip-flops and yell out the front door: “Hey! You in the truck!

The truck turned around, and as it turns out, it’s not our regular postal guy but a part-time gal, whom I helped in carrying the packages down. This, by the way, is the reason why I started taking the packages to the Post Office in the first place; so I wouldn’t have to rely on these individuals who apparently have the attention span of a six-year-old. (Believe me, as an auditor I’ve watched people who do not have the common sense that the Good Lord gave a billy goat, and I know you have to think two steps ahead of them.) In a nutshell, not only am I inconvenienced because I can’t put these packages in the Post Office bin…but now I’m inconvenienced because I have to peek out the front window like Gladys Kravitz to make sure these yahoos are doing their job.

And people wonder why I’m cranky.

Let me just take a quick moment to thank everyone who bought stuff from the current and past auctions. They include such luminaries and good folk like Harlan “Low Overhead” Zinck and his faithful Indian companion Tom Brown, Linda of Yet Another Journal, Rick at Cultureshark, Bill the Splut at Thought Viper, “Federal” Operator 99 at Allure, and of course, Stacia of She Blogged by Night fame. Faithful TDOY readers like Todd, Joel, Edward, Joe, Jim, Grant and Mike offered healthy assists, as did many of the In the Balcony gang, including Laughing Gravy, Chandu, Paladin and riddlerider. If I’ve left anyone out, I profusely apologize—but I want to thank everyone not only for helping to make space to walk around in here at the House of Yesteryear but for revealing to me that there is actually a floor in my bedroom. (That little bon mot comes courtesy of my mother, who's having a ball relating it to Jay the Bug Man, the Molly Maids, etc.)

Some time back, I sold some books to a buyer and upon receipt she e-mailed me to inquire about two specific books that somehow didn’t make the trip. I searched high and low at her request, and came up with zilcho—so I e-mailed her back to let her know that the odds of my doing something truly boneheaded like mixing them up with someone else’s items were even money. I refunded her money, but the tone of her e-mail suggested that she was really disappointed I couldn’t send the books. In a rare bit of inspiration, I scouted around Alibris and found the missing books—both of which were priced a penny less than what I sold mine for…which is immaterial, because what I paid to send the doggone things was adequate penalty for being such an idiot in the first place. After completing this transaction, I then e-mailed her to let her know I tracked down the spare copies and that they would be winging her way soon. A week later, I received an e-mail from this lady (via PayPal) paying me back for the books; it would appear she never received my e-mail announcing the books' arrival and she assured me that it wasn’t really necessary—the refund would have sufficed. But she wrote something that, to my mind, justified any additional expenses I may have incurred:

Your actions speak volumes about your integrity as a seller.

Now, I’m not writing this because of an overwhelming need to demonstrate my smug superiority—I’m writing this because it’s all too rare for an individual to compliment you on what should pretty much be a given when buying and trading on eBay…or any other online site, as it were. Case in point: last year, my sister Kat purchased a discontinued game from a seller for a friend but upon receiving the item discovered that many of the game pieces were missing. She e-mailed the seller to inform him/her of this, and the seller responded with “the picture speaks for itself”—meaning that the photo promoting the item was an accurate depiction of what s/he sold. (Kat: “Not too accurate…the game has all the pieces in that photograph.”) Kat posted neutral feedback for the seller, explaining that the item sold was not an accurate representation of what she purchased (in layman’s terms, she was “ripped off”) and the seller retaliated with a big ol’ “f**k you” in a negative response.

When Kat told me this over Christmas, I asked her what steps she took to report this to eBay, and she wearily responded that it just didn’t seem worth the time and effort…if attempting to settle the situation by her own mettle didn’t work, she couldn’t see what good it would do to involve the people running the jernt. I hate to admit it, but she’s probably right. I have a situation right now in which I’m trying to decide on the proper response; I purchased some DVDs from a seller who said they couldn’t offer combined shipping because the items I’ve ordered would probably come from different warehouses and be shipped separately…and then I get an e-mail from them yesterday informing me that all items would be shipped together. I spent $28.95 to ship $5.09 worth of discs—and like the jackass I am I agreed to pay it, simply because I did buy the items and I don’t welsh on a deal. What I’ll most likely do when I receive the package is contact the seller and point out the difference between what I paid and the actual cost of the s&h and request reimbursement for the difference. If this does not happen, I will contact eBay (my understanding is that they take a dim view of this sort of practice, labeling it “fee avoidance”) for help and if that doesn’t happen, well, it’s open season for negative feedback, kiddies. I’ve honestly never had to resort to sort of tactics in the past…but then, I’ve never been ripped off in this creative a fashion before.

EBay announced in January that soon sellers will be allowed to leave only positive feedback for buyers—regardless of the experience. There might have been a time when I would have subscribed to that, but recent events have left me a bit more ambivalent. I’m not certain if I’m going to get back into the eBay thing once we make tracks for Athens (my mother is convinced I’m making money hand-over-fist, and I’ll probably have to burst that bubble at the first opportunity) but in the meantime—don’t be shy about e-mailing me if you have a problem with an item you bought. I still want to set an example, even if it seems everyone else is lukewarm to that idea.

2 comments:

operator_99 said...

Yup - its the framed Federal Operator 99 lobby card that served as the "inspiration" for my online handle. Most people think it had something to do with Get Smart - you however, cracked the code. :-). Loving the books.

Stacia said...

The post office goes out of its way to hire people who exude just the right amount of benign evil.

You are one of the best sellers on eBay I've encountered, so don't worry about bragging, because it's not bragging if it's true. Recently, I've had a lot of trouble with eBay buyers and sellers both, and I can't figure out why things have gone downhill so much over there. It's a shame.