A Tough Couple of Weeks – Buyers 4 / Sellers 0 – As Usual

This has been a tough couple of weeks.  Between Amazon and eBay, there are just too many bad seeds in the apple lately.  It started with a buyer who waited 2 months to file a claim with Amazon that she didn’t receive a DVD she ordered.  She admitted that she is overwhelmed taking care of twin babies, but she suddenly remembers that the movie never came.  Amazon charges the buyer enough to cover shipping costs and more.  However, they reimburse the seller less than the actual cost of shipping.  Unless an order is worth at least $10.00, we assume that most buyers are honest, and therefore we don’t pay the extra cost for tracking from the post office.  If an item cannot be delivered, it is most often returned to us anyway.  Well, in this case we did not get the First Class package back and this buyer most probably got the DVD and forgot where she put it.  Since we don’t have tracking, we automatically lose when a claim is filed against us.

Next we get an email from a buyer asking the whereabouts of a DVD  that was ordered and delivered months ago.  Well, in this case, the order was over $30.00, so we easily traced the package and told him it was delivered on May 2.  He then writes back that it must have been a different DVD that wasn’t received, but that our DVD is scratched so he wants to return it.  Wait – now you remember you have had the DVD for almost 3 months?  You just said you didn’t get it.  We are not Blockbuster – we sell movies, not rent them until you are tired of watching them.  We told him we wouldn’t take it back after this length of time.  He then wrote back that Amazon allows up to 3 months for returns.  It will be 3 months in exactly 5 days.  How convenient of him.  First he tries to scam us by saying he didn’t get the DVD (hoping we didn’t use tracking).  Then when he loses on that bet, he tries to say the item is damaged and files a claim against us for selling damaged goods.  That case is currently under review.  In the meantime, Amazon freezes the money for 30 days.  Even if we should win this case (which only happens if you have tracking and the buyer says they didn’t receive the goods), Amazon still freezes the funds for 30 days.  No wonder Amazon stock is so high – they make money on shipping costs they don’t incur and hold the seller’s money in their own interest bearing accounts even after it has been determined that the seller did no wrong.

Now comes the eBay whammy.  A buyer who scours eBay for scrap gold buys a broken watch band from us.  We described in the offering that the watch was broken, as was the band.  However, the band was made of platinum, gold and diamonds with a couple of tiny sapphires for color.  A real watch repair/jeweler could fix the band and easily have made triple what it sold for.  It was in the highly coveted Art Deco style.  The buyer was in Canada, and since the auction sold for over $250, we had to send it registered, return receipt.  Without a signature, even tracking doesn’t hold water in a PayPal claim.  If the buyer says he didn’t get a package for over $250, tracking proves nothing.  So it cost about $30 to mail this lightweight package.  The buyer receives the package and gets back to us that the watch is broken.  Duh.  We told her that was true, as stated.  Then she writes back that the sapphires aren’t real and that one is cracked.  You almost needed a magnifying glass to see these miniscule sapphires – and we never claimed that they were real or synthetic in the first place – the value in this piece were the many, many diamonds, gold and platinum.  Anyway, as usual we tried to appease the buyer and offered a $50 refund to fix and replace the itty bitty sapphire.  She said she would think about.  Well, the next day, after probably trying to sell the piece at a profit to her local gold dealer, she wrote back that she wanted to return the watch band.  We reluctantly said OK – there is no such thing as a “No Return” policy on eBay, even though they have that option on each selling page (which is the one we chose).  The next day this buyer files a claim against us on PayPal – instant money freeze!  We wrote back that we would accept the return, even though there was no errors in the listing.  So we will be out the $30 it cost us to send this as per PayPal’s rules. Seller always loses.

People say that bad things usually come in 3’s, now it is 4’s.  The 4th incident was only a return of an undelivered item, so we refunded that Amazon buyer her money.  We can sell that DVD again.  Enough.  Let’s have a few months of easy sales and happy customers.  We are bruised enough for now. Let us heal.

Published in: on July 28, 2011 at 8:06 am  Leave a Comment  



It has been some time since we last posted, so here come the latest “words of wisdom”.

When Judy and I go to new clients, one of the first thinks we ask of them is, do you have any specific selling price in mind? This is commonly known as “expectations” and it is one of the most difficult client issues to deal with. After being bombarded with all the TV Reality shows night after night, from the Traveling Antique Road Show, American Pickers to some of the Pawn Shows etc., people have come to think that they have in their possession some of the last remaining treasures left undiscovered on the planet. They tend to put a value on things with extraordinary price tags and Judy will tell them as much and also tells them that we cannot handle selling for them because we cannot get the price they want.

We have noticed that over a period of time, specific collectibles tend to go in cycles as to what is popular and is selling or not. Try to sell a twelve (12) piece Noritake china dinner set. Not only is the packing and shipping difficult, but getting any price today, let alone the price one wants, is a feat and as a result we are not presently accepting such items for sale. Maybe they will be popular again, but it may not happen in my lifetime. Same goes for such popular names as Hummel, Baccarat and even Waterford. If the china sells, not a given in today’s market, generally it is priced much lower than what would have been realized or “expected” several years ago.

These are difficult times, and it is our opinion that Internet sales have slowed, selling prices have declined and the mechanics of eBay selling has changed substantially. When a client’s expectations are way too high, what is a seller to do? The choices are few. You either do not take the individual on as a client or you try to reason with them that we will list the piece, after considerable research, at a price that will attract bidders and sell. Our experience has shown that eBay buyers are looking for bargains, usually in the 30% range or more, and that one’s expectations are contrary to reality. We have had clients who were insulted when told that their expectations were too high, or become angry when they feel the final selling price was lower than what they had hoped to recapture. Expectations are a factor that may drive a person into action. They hear what a supposed “expert” on the Road Show quotes as a value for a piece on the TV and think that they have something equivalent to it and should realize a similar price. Judy and I just look at each other, laugh and comment that if an item is indeed worth what they quote, than the Road Show expert should just take out his/her checkbook and write a check.

I have great “expectations” that you will enjoy reading this post, but then again, I may be expecting too much.

Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 11:00 am  Comments (3)