Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What a Fiasco

I am an eBay seller.  I know about shipping issues.  I know what CAN go wrong and I know that it occasionally DOES go wrong.  When the inevitable happens, a package gets lost, or an item gets damaged in transit, I respond immediately to the situation. The buyer is immediately refunded and THEN I begin the insurance claim process.  The buyer is inconvenienced already....I don't need to further his inconvenience while I await the resolution on the insurance claims. This, to me, seems common sense.

I also buy on eBay. Most of my transactions are flawless.  But, occasionally, there is a problem, and I would like to think that my seller would simply handle the situation as I would.

In June I purchased an accordion for Joe for his birthday... a brand new one.... brand new because he already has a number of accordions that are of significant vintage, and which all have little age related issues.  This was to be a new instrument... shiny and new... issue free.

When the accordion arrived, via UPS, Joe opened the box.  Inside the cardboard shipping box was the accordion case, each corner of which was protected in shipping with only an inch thick Styrofoam corner.  The "brand new case" had multiple dents, and the hinges were askew, obviously damaged in the shipping process.  The accordion itself had a deep gouge in one of the face plates and was missing one of the rhinestones.  If this had been a used instrument, I would have simply accepted the dings and dents, but it was not.  It was supposed to be brand new, and the price reflected that.

So, I contacted the seller, alerting him to the state of the accordion and case as delivered.  He requested photos, which I provided.  He responded with an offer to send me a replacement rhinestone and $15.  What? are you kidding me?  You shipped this by UPS, you insured it ONLY for the $100 base UPS value, even though you charged me more than three times that amount for the contents of the package...and you want me to fix the instrument and the case with $15.00?  No, that was unsatisfactory to me.

So on June 27, began the crazy, and I do mean crazy, three ring circus to resolve the issue.

  • Seller claimed it was damaged by UPS.
  • UPS arrived with a damage claim label and announced they were to pick up the accordion and case.
  • I refused, on the basis that the seller had already informed me that he had no replacement.   Joe likes the instrument and wants to keep it, he just wants the refund for the damage to the accordion and case.  Though I refused to return the accordion and case, the UPS driver did verify the damage to his supervisor.
  • Over the next two days I spoke with several "supervisors" at UPS claims, and they finally agreed to process the claim based on the photos we provided the seller, and a statement from the seller (supposedly a music store) of the value of the damaged case and the cost to repair the instrument.
  • I conveyed all of this to the seller. 
  • On July 1 I spoke by phone with an agent of the seller who assured me the refund for the cost of the case $85 plus $15 for repairs to the instrument, would be processed on July 5, when the seller returned to the office.
  • On July 11, with no refund, and no further communication from the seller, I sent an eBay message inquiring as to refund status.
  • The seller responded, now telling me that before they can issue a refund, they have to get the insurance money from UPS and since I was not willing to send back the instrument, UPS would not pay on the claim, so they had canceled the claim.
  • Several more phone calls to UPS supervisors and the seller, and several more trips from the UPS driver later, it was agreed that we would ship back ONLY the damaged case, and the seller would send a new one...we would eat the cost of repairing the instrument.
  • Today, the UPS driver arrived to pick up the box with the case, and gave me the claims receipt.....
  • Only AFTER he left, did I discover the label said "accordion and case."
  • Several MORE UPS supervisor calls later, I was assured the case will be returned to the seller AFTER UPS "analyzes" the damage and the packaging.
  • I sent an FYI eBay message to the seller, providing the tracking number for package, and requesting she send the replacement case ASAP
  • THEN the seller informed me that she sent me a DIFFERENT UPS label to use to return the case only, and that there would not be a UPS claim at all..... I had not received the label, and actually, had no idea she'd sent it....after she informed me, I looked in my junk mail folder and there it was.... delivered nearly 18 hours after she'd sent it, but to my junk mail folder, rather than to my inbox...
  • After another series of emails with the seller, I am, at this moment, sending the label she provided me, to the UPS claims guy, requesting that he ship the case directly to the seller, using the label she provided....

I don't think UPS is out to get me.  I don't think the seller is out to get me.  I just think I have spent an inordinate amount of time on this "thing" that should never have been my problem to start with.  I purchased NEW. I paid NEW price, and I trusted the seller to securely package such a delicate instrument. I trusted the seller to properly insure the package.  And, when, despite ALL of these, the instrument and case arrived damaged, I trusted the seller to refund reasonably for the damage, and then deal with UPS to recover his money from the insurance....of course I would have provided photos or inspections, etc., but I would have already been compensated for the damage.

I will find it very hard to rate this seller, both in feedback and DSR's....the experience has been ridiculously time consuming, and I still end up with a damaged accordion.


  1. WOW!!
    I think that a $15 offer to settle that damage is quite telling about this "seller" ... maybe his finger slipped on the keyboard and he accidentally left off a zero?

    ...and Good Luck dealing with UPS, whatever they do, it will cost twice as much to do it as whatever the damage is to begin with!

  2. I dunno, anon.... certainly, between the UPS driver making four trips now to get this return, and the HOURS of phone discussions AND email exchanges between myself, the UPS folks and the seller, it would appear the $100 maximum insurance cap payable has long been exceeded in sheer loss of time.....

  3. Oh I hope you neg them- that is so unprofessional! I give immediate and full refunds to anyone unsatisfied- although it is RARE for that sort of thing to happen.
    That seller is NOT an asset to ebay!

  4. I have to agree, Vicky. Still waiting to see if they do, at least, provide a new, undamaged case. IMHO, the instrument was inadequately packed, AND under insured. It's one thing, if you have 20 of the same item, and a replacement can be made without a lot of is yet another when you are selling the ONLY one you have of this type. And I made it clear from the start that this was to be a birthday gift.... perhaps dinged and dented birthday gifts are considered fashionable, but I expected new...awaiting JOE'S dings and dents!

  5. You were asking for solution based on YOUR terms. While that may seem resonable to you, does any other large seller offer repairs? Most just refund on return as does a shipping company.
    I understand that you have put a lot of time into this. But, it is of your own doing that you have chosen the more difficult path. I'm guessing since the item is new, it is available from other sellers.

    What makes you so special that you believe that everyone else should change their procedures for you?

  6. Did you find the red rhinestone in the packaging? Might have been an indication that it was damaged to start with.

  7. anonymous, thank you for your opinion.
    As to your question about what makes me so special? Nothing. My agreement with the seller was for a refund of $100 into my account on July 5. Only after the seller failed to uphold that agreement, did another solution have to be "negotiated." I, under no circumstances, consider myself "special." That is exactly my point. In my opinion, this is how NOT to provide customer service. But I recognize each is entitled to his opinion. I thank you for yours.

  8. Sharon,
    There was no red rhinestone in the "packaging." I had the same thought and provided the seller an opportunity to look at the damage and explain what happened. I will take him at his word. Gut MIGHT scream, "this was another buyer's return," but I have to take the seller at his word. He did send a replacement rhinestone so I can make that repair.

  9. wow! I think I said WOW out loud at least ten times while reading this blog. I found your blog by accident while looking at Ebay and other ways to buy or sell a few things. I used to buy lots and lots of things off Ebay but I no longer do because I simply got so tired of the hassle of haggling with a seller to do the right thing and give satisfactory customer service. Anymore I am literally afraid to buy on ebay because I just dont trust the site anymore. I used to have a few friends that sold on Ebay from time to time and none of them do any longer because they were basically forced off the site by Ebays own heavy handed rules towards sellers. It's such a shame because I used ebay a lot and bought lots of nice things. I hope you get all of this straight to your satisfaction. I don't think you expected more than any other reasonable person would have expected- you expected to get what you PAID for and, when you didn't you expected good customer service. In this economy you would think Sellers would be making sure their customer service and satisfaction is important,but many still seem to think they are doing the buyer a favor?! Successful sellers on ebay or any site are the ones that walk the walk they talk. This story of this seller tells me all I need to know about ebay. I cant see ever using the site to buy from again.

  10. Thanks for your comment, Anonymous. I'm happy to report that I did receive the replacement accordion case yesterday via UPS, much better packaged than the original package that had contained both the accordion and the case. The seller had taken the extra minute to mark this package to handle gently, which was also missing from the original package. The delivered product was satisfactory.

    I'm not ready to give up on eBay sellers completely...after all, I am still an eBay seller myself, but I cringe at the thought of purchasing big ticket items on eBay....wish it weren't so, but it is. Again, thanks for taking the time to read, and to comment. I appreciate that!



About Me

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Welcome to Judy’s Corner. I’m Judy. BACKGROUND: My little corner of the world is in Gloucester, VA. I work full-time to pay the bills and eBay is my pastime. I’m not quite ready to retire yet, but I’m getting there. I love to sing, I play guitar and violin, I do needlework and computer programming. I love to fish and work in the yard. I was active in my community theatre group for years until my work travel schedule started to interfere. Suffice to say, I like to stay busy. Enter eBay! I have met wonderful people through my transactions on eBay. I have even found an old school chum from those years when I lived in England, through a sale to a lady there! I’ve been buying and selling on eBay for over seven years. I appreciate dealing with honest sellers and I treat my customers the way I like to be treated. 100% Customer Satisfaction is not just my goal, it is my guarantee.