Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wedding Tip #15 - Be a smart ebay shopper

I share this because I know a lot of brides purchase items from Ebay. I bought some vases for my own wedding this way. It's a great way to save money on some of the small details. It's especially good for things like vases, fake rose petals, or other items that can easily be re-used. Just be sure to know your rights as a buyer and leave plenty of time to purchase other items in case the Ebay transaction doesn't work out. The best thing to know is that Ebay stands behind their service and is available to help their buyers! After a great experience with Ebay's customer service I thought that the least I could do is to tell all of you how much I love Ebay and share my story so you know your rights as an Ebay buyer!

What I did:
I purchased a digital camera from a seller (lez266) and it arrived in the mail seemingly ok. I had to order a special memory card for it since it is an older camera model. Before the card arrived I couldn't fully test the camera. Since I had waited for the card to arrive the seller told me the window of return time had closed. (not true - see "what I should have done") When I emailed to report the problem I got a rude reply, even though I explained I had to wait for a card to test with, and was told to send the camera back to determine the problem. I was feeling really badly about the situation because it was a camera I had bought on behalf of my camera club at the soldier's home. So, I paid to ship it back and said I expected a refund or for the seller to pay to ship it back to me. Once they had the camera back the story was that there wasn't a problem and that I needed to send more money if I wanted it shipped back to me. At this point I felt naive for shipping it back in the first place; but it was only a $20 camera! I asked about splitting the difference and them keeping $10 as a restocking fee and issuing a $10 refund to my paypal account. The reply I received reads:

"The only choice left to me is to give you 48 hours to pay for shipping your camera back to you. Past that window, I'll consider that you have forfeited your right of ownership and it will be given to a local charity on your behalf. Furthermore any shipping paid for after April the 3rd would be immediately refunded and eventual emails would not be read nor answered! This would be at par with your attitude (tantamount to extorsion for an undeserved refund) of sporadic reactions to selected issues while ignoring the most relevant.

- lez266"

Extortion for an undeserved refund? I'm not an extortionist! I felt so helpless because now it seemed there was nothing I could do. I checked Lez's feedback, and even though it was 99% positive I found 2 other negative reviews with similar issues.

Negative feedback ratingsorry: item not received, no refund offered, and at first seller wasn't politeBuyer: Jun-19-08 06:53

  • Reply by lez266 (Jun-19-08 09:10):

-- (#330229181680)

I clicked on the "help" icon on Ebay and found that there is an 800 number to call. I got to talk to someone pretty quickly (1-2 min hold time) and he was awesome! He issued me a $25 credit on ebay's behalf and even gave me some advice on how to deal with uncooperative sellers in the future.

What I SHOULD have done:
My new friend at Ebay told me that because I paid with pay pal I should always involve them at the start of a problem! Never ship anything back to the seller because then they have your money and your item! That seems pretty obvious now, but hindsight is 20/20. I thought I was taking steps to resolve the issue amicably; but if it had been a more expensive item I would have been more cautious! Where it was only worth $20 I just trusted the seller to do the right thing! Had I involved paypal before returning the camera they would have refunded the purchase price AND shipping and then dealt with the seller. It doesn't look good for a seller to have an open paypal dispute, so this course of action would have been better for me and done more to warn future buyers.

The lesson is:
You use Paypal for a reason! Don't be afraid to involve them at the start of an issue with a seller - they are there to protect you! Also, look through all of the feedback. If it isn't 100% positive look and see what the issue was and how professionally the seller responded! (You get a chance to reply when you are left negative feedback) Sometimes there are bad buyers who leave inappropriate negative feedback - but if I had seen Lez's replies I would have thought twice before buying! Also, do not be fooled by buyer's return policies. Paypal covers you for up to 60 days!

Again - thank you to Ebay for wonderful customer service! It was nice to hear that someone understood I tried to do the right thing! Even though it was a bad seller, and not Ebay's fault, they issued me a credit. After such a positive customer service experience I will continue to use the site - because most Ebayers are really great!


Natalie said...

thanks for the advice Katie! you might find this crazy, but Tim's sister purchased her wedding dress on ebay. She noted it was the right size/style/brand and ordered it and it worked out great for her at about a quarter of the price (before alterations)!

Katie Ring said...

You're welcome... and Good for her! :)