Friday, September 25, 2015

Customer Disservice, Part III

Hello once again, my dear fellow prisoners... first off, I just wanted to say that I didn't really expect to complete this proposed trilogy of my awfully bad experiences with eBay; mainly because I didn't feel as though I had enough literally meat to sink my teeth into. However, yet another recent mishap with a sale has opened up my eyes just a bit more, and thought I'd take a moment or two to share it with you all. Also, I just want to point out that my head's literally still reeling from being called a yuppie. And in case you don't realize what I'm referring to exactly, have a look at my exchange with an unruly patron in my last blog piece (related to this subject) to get a better understanding of what's led to this final installment in this ongoing saga.

So, originally I was planning on writing about an incident that happened to me; not selling on eBay, but rather purchasing an item and then returning it for a refund. So here's what happened there. I had gotten into the whole rechargeable batteries kick after realizing that most of the surplus I had purchased ages ago from eBay; which consisted mostly of AA and AAA batteries, had mostly exploded all on their own from simply being put away in storage.& Imagine that! If and when the zombie apocalypse does occur, make sure you have a reliable set of batteries that haven't been sitting around for more than a year. And so... being the technology inclined geek that I am, I started researching the differences in rechargeable batteries and realized that the greater the mAh value, the longer a charge they are all capable of holding.

So after doing some searches, I deduced that the highest value a AA could hold was around the 3000 mAh value. Although it could very well be 3300mAh, but I'm not willing to go wasting my money like that again, because that's exactly where I went wrong in this instance. See, what happened was that I came across a listing for a set of eight batteries that had a 5000mAh capacity, so I figured those were the ones that I really wanted to be using for all of my electronic needs! And sure enough, when the packaged arrived and I opened up the yellow bubble wrap envelope I immediately realized that these batteries were designed for something else, because they looked way bigger than standard AA sized batteries. So basically put, I ordered the wrong thing all together and needed to send it back.

Normally, the return process shouldn't be that much of a problem. You simply inform the seller that you're going to return the item back for a refund, pay the return shipping cost, and then wait to get the money back in your account and call it a day. Only here, I had purchased the same wrong item (which just so happened to be the same exact item) from two different sellers. One seller was completely courteous and granted me a refund on the spot and even insisted that I just simply keep the item (because frankly, it's just not worth the effort of sending an item back due to shipping costs and whatnot). But, I, of course... being the honest schmuck that I am, decided to send it back just to be karmically on par with this other generous being (yes, we are a rare breed, aren't we?) and not owing any kind of debt to this random vendor; be it in this life or the next. And so, I took care of that, and actually wasted most of the refund money attempting to send back these batteries; because the other vendor wasn't as nice as this other one was.

The first thing that put me off about this seller was that he didn't agree to a refund right away, so I kind of had to bend their arm a bit. Meaning, that they didn't even bother to respond to my messages right away. What I did get out of them was that they would only give me the refund if I sent the item back and they received, inspected, and ensured that the item(s) was (or were) still in perfect working order. So in order to step up the time table here, I sent back both packages via US Postal Priority Service, simply by cramming the original manila envelope bubble wrapped packaging into one of those small and awfully convenient small flat rate boxes, which cost $5.75 to send... so that basically left me with a actual remaining refund (or dare I say profit loss?) of about three dollars or so for each return.

Anyways, about a day goes by after I got confirmation that the batteries were returned and I didn't hear back from this seller in regards to the refund. I even made the mistake of contacting the wrong seller (the one that was nice) and asked him for what was going on with my refund. And that misstep was immediately followed up by an apology on behalf of the whole confusion produced largely on my part. So, I wrote the same message again to the other unruly seller and demanded to know was going on with my refund. I can't remember if I got a follow up or not with yet some more lip service that basically was the same broken record about the item having to be physically in the seller's hands so that they could grant me the refund, so I must have pointed out somewhere to them that the tracking number clearly stated that the packaged was received and signed for, and yada, yada, yada... I wound up filing a complaint with eBay's resolution center; which in and of itself was (and is) another mess all together.

The reason why this instance was such a mess was that there is no specific box or explanation you can mark to explain that you simply made the wrong purchase; without implying that you either received the wrong item, or it was damaged, so I had to choose between those two unlikely reasons for my return. So, I chose the wrong item... because technically it's correct, however, if I had bothered to actually read the specific item details I would have known better and not bought this item at all; for it's simply the kind of batteries that one uses for RC remote control planes or cars, and not the ones you would fit into a regular TV remote control, or a gamepad, etc. So at this point, I had opened up a case which eBay is notorious for (more on that later) which basically delays the time it takes for a buyer to get their money back whenever they find themselves in a predicament such as this one. And that time frame is something that I don't agree with at all; because it takes three days from the item's purchase to file a complaint, and then about four or five more days to give that contacted party enough ample time to respond to the complaint (in this case the vendor that sold me the battery) and then (if I remember correctly) it takes an additional ten days for the geniuses at eBay to reach a decision in regards to the case should you decide to escalate it (which I usually do when fuckers like these don't even bother to respond to lodged complaints), and then yet another three to sometimes five business days after that final decision is reached for the money to be put back into your account after it goes through the hands of PayPal (which is now operating as a separate entity, by the way).

So here is where this story gets interesting... after about ten odd days or so (from the initial waiting period to officially go ahead and file a complaint, that is) had gone by, I now had the ability to escalate the case and ask eBay to take action, because it seemed to me that the seller was simply just running down the clock and expecting the case to go away all on its own on account of the fact that you can't really do anything after 30 days have passed. Clever Catch 22, by the way, isn't it, folks? He even wrote back to me insisting that I drop the case so that I could get my refund back... which in my naive way of thinking assumed that because this vendor didn't know how eBay policy regarding returns actually worked, must have been completely mistaken about. So because of this constant insistence of theirs (they suggested I do that a couple of times, by the way), I figured the best way out of this was to escalate the complaint more... with the only reliable shred of evidence remaining here would have been the message that eBay insist its members partake in when such a problem arises, that way their crack staff can directly probe the details of before reaching their final verdict.

So I escalated the case, and within moments, this asshole vendor decides to have eBay step in and help suss out the details in regards to this refund which could have been easily handled, but no...!

Note: These images have been redacted and substituted with more
accurately put sarcastic details for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!
Simply click on the thumbnail up above for a larger resolution image...

Once again, please click on this thumbnail above for a higher resolution
preview image (that is... if you don't want to strain your eyes, of course!)

Next thing I know, I get the case ruled against my favor. Yes, you heard that right, folks... not IN MY FAVOR, but AGAINST MY FAVOR. So what was left for me to do? I left them some negative feedback detailing that I didn't get my refund back after returning the item and warning others to steer clear of this seller. And wouldn't you know it? Moments after that, I receive yet another email from eBay stating that they removed the negative feedback I had left this seller.

Doesn't it strike you as ironic that eBay insists that customers provide
more accurately detailed feedback ratings for the sake of their whole community,

yet when someone like me states the obvious (i.e. no refund after item was returned)
they rush to take down the truth right away... if only customer service was this
quick! Maybe I could have gotten my money back a hell of a lot quicker!

And if it would please this court... I'd like to refer to the thumnail image
(and/or the higher resolution image link that follows it... if you, the reader clicks on it)
of my email inbox up above as exhibit D. Note the times that it took between
each of these transgressions and then wonder why there's a stupid and
needless ten to thirteen day waiting rule in effect. I rest my case, your honor!

Of course, you can just imagine how angry I was over this. It wasn't really about the money anymore; that's just chump change any way you look at it... what angered me was the principle of the whole thing. So after digging around in the obscurest corners of eBay's help section, I found out that I could appeal this decision and decided to write to them detailing everything that happened, and wouldn't you know it? I wound up getting a complete refund from the seller, within just mere seconds of my sending out that appeal. A few days later, I get an email back from eBay (which I unfortunately lost somewhere along the lines and don't have a screen capture of to show off here for posterity purposes) which basically apologized for their mishandling of this case but that they were aware that the vendor had already gone ahead and issued a full refund already, so basically put... (insert highly indifferent yet trying to be consoling shoulder shrug here) no harm no foul! Right? Yeah--- as if my ulcer wasn't being being unruly enough already! Thank you for that lovely bit of stress induced regurgitation and lapse of common sense there, ya corporate pricks!

So maybe, the experienced seller was right after all... I didn't have to through the motions of getting eBay involved to resolve this matter, and all I really needed to do was drop the case so that I can get my refund issued back to me. My mind, however, still boggles at the fact that this fucker was able to get the case ruled in their favor. I believe they basically argued that there was nothing wrong with the product and that it was accurately described as stated in the listing, which I am in complete agreement with. It was my fault for not paying attention to the details, after all... but they really didn't have to make me go through all this trouble had they just been a little more sympathetic and probably more attentive to the fact that I had spent just as much money trying to send this item back to them as I did in paying for the freaking thing in the first place! This incident, however, wouldn't be the first time this happened.

As a matter of fact, several months after the fact, I decided to buy X-Men: Days of Future Past on Blu Ray, only to find out (the hard way) that it wasn't compatible with my outdated region free Blu Ray player. So once again, I found myself going through the same exact motions of returning the item; (i.e. not hearing back from the seller, opening a resolution case, dealing once again with having to decide whether the item was damaged or not as described) and then having to subject myself to the same exact hold up instituted herein and due forth by the lovely pecker headed community that is eBay and all of its over glorified and infinite corporate wisdom! But all this, of course, occurred after I had unknowingly damaged my Blu Ray player by popping in this copy only to hear a very high pitched disc screeching sound (which it now does every time I put in a Blu Ray or a DVD for that matter). The tray even shuts back now without my even pressing of the close tray button. Sure, it still reads discs and plays them, but it's got this rather disturbing sound to it now that seems like the discs are being placed on a light speed centrifuge. I wouldn't be surprised if I get a positive blood sample now whenever I try to sit back and enjoy a movie. I even made the mistake of trying out this same movie on my computer's Blu Ray tray as well as my laptop. And in both of those instances, the reader made an even stranger sound when I attempted to get the disc out of the tray. The ending resolve for both of those was to shut down the system and reboot it in order to get the disc out.

And to this I wonder... why does the industry even bother with this whole fucking anti-piracy bullshit anyways? Hackers will always find a workaround solution to their level of protection anyways... it's only a matter of time, ya dinks! The thing that pisses me off is that they don't even bother to let consumers know beforehand that this may practically impair their disc player's performance for years to come should they bother to venture putting it in there in the first place! You know... it's not a very idea to refer to something as "industry standard" when in fact it's all just industry in progress! Of course, that's another topic of discussion, and I'm sorry for getting sidetracked. But I'd like to get back to the main topic at hand, and what prompted me to finish this here consumer complaint department of an epic trilogy over here. And that's my most recent sale that just took place approximately two and a half days ago, and... you guessed it! I still have yet to receive payment for this item, and the buyer still hasn't responded. What really defies all logic here is that this customer didn't even agree to pay for the full price of the item I was selling, but rather sent me a best offer value which I considered and agreed to. The least they can do is hurry up and pay it, right?

But then... I started wondering. And I started getting very suspicious. In this past year alone, I've had quite a few instances that were very similar to this. In fact, most of them were best offers that I had agreed to, just so I could cash in on as much as I could and get out of somethings that were just taking up way too much room around the house. But in this specific instance, as I was typing up a message to the buyer, I happened to glance at their email and noticed that it wasn't one of the usual email providers (i.e. Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) but rather it was a specific domain address... you know, like the ones that you get when you sign up for a web hosting package (i.e. just the like the one I got to keep bringing you pictures such as these)?

So would anyone care to explain how a parked domain that probably doesn't
even have a working email be allowed to be registered on eBay as a contact email?

And upon checking out the domain itself, I got this GoDaddy page which declared the site as currently being parked, so I'm thinking either this buyer is currently buying up items to sell off on his up and coming website, or he's simply using a false email, which I'm sure that eBay is knowingly aware about, and they're just helping to engage in this suspected fraudulent activity without doing anything about it. Of course, that's just borderline conspiracy theory, right? Well... technically not. Have you ever tried to sign up with any given email provider and provided them with a website email as an alternate contact? There's no way they would accept that... so why in the hell is eBay allowing this?!? And then it occurred to me... maybe with all the holds that they put on the money being refunded and/or the seller fees that are currently being tacked on (well, technically being tacked on in limbo because buyers like these certainly don't plan on paying anything off right away); maybe, just maybe... eBay is engaging in a fraud of epic proportions. Think about this for a second... if you're new to the world of eBay and don't customize your settings, there's a chance that you might leave the seller fees option to automatically be deducted from your account on, so that when you make a sale and the random a hole customer (with or without a bogus email address) decides not to pay you, those seller fees are still being charged to your account, and if you're not careful they can be withdrawn without you even knowing about it. That's what they're banking on usually.

So what happens then is that you have to go through all the red tape, and file a complaint against the buyer to have these fees returned to your account. In one specific case, when I had to get in touch with eBay I was refunded my money back in error, as it was deposited into my seller fees account and not my actual PayPal account. Doesn't anybody see this as troubling? By default, eBay has a ratio of 10 cents being charged for sellers fees for every dollar made on a sale... so if you were to sell something at say... five bucks, the seller fees would come out to 50 cents. That's the standard at least for the time being, until they decide to hike it up some more, which wouldn't surprise me, seeing how greedy they all are and whatnot. And then of course, PayPal also has fees of their own which they take out of your earnings, just for using their services. So it's like a bank fee that's really just the equivalent of a tick bite in the balls, in my opinion. And there's nothing you can do about that, except for requesting that the buyers pay via check or maybe even Western Union; although I'm not completely sure if the new user policy now states that eBay no longer supports these forms of payment (and I apologize for not keeping up to date with that, but it's been a while since I read the eBay user policy agreement that these pinheads seem to be updating every fifteen minutes or so; at just about the same frequency of a new Apple iTunes update).

A friend of mine which I'm constantly playing Words with Friends with pointed out to me that there's this concept called an overnight rate which banks use to place deposits with each other with at the rate of about .0001% for every dollar. But they do this in the span of 12 to 24 hours, so you really don't get to see this money being deducted and actually lining up bankers' pockets with. It's like that scene from the movie Office Space, where the team of disgruntled computer programmers decide to make a virus that will deposit this small and nearly untraceable percentage of an exchange rate of money from all of their corporate accounts, but inevitably screw up a decimal point and wind up with the possibility of being hauled off into federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison. In case, you missed it... "this salami technique" concept was borrowed from Superman III, which the characters cited in the film. So basically put, if it worked for the movies, what's to say that this is not happening in the real world, where eBay is continually making off with all of our money in small denominational fractions but on a more monumental scale. It all adds up doesn't it? And why wouldn't it... with this "too big to fail" monopoly of an institution that doesn't even have any true dot com rival to compete for its business and all?

Well... maybe I'm just being paranoid. But then again, considering the company's checkered history of being investigated and all, I wouldn't be surprised if it was stealing (that is, more than it is already with all these newly imposed seller fees and all) from every end user on a global scale. When you really think about it, that's the only way any "successful business empire" can continue to operate in this crony capitalistic day and age of ours. I really don't think this is what Neitzsche had in mind when he said that: "All great things must first wear terrifying and monstrous masks in order to inscribe themselves on the hearts of humanity." As bad as I thought it was having to deal with a deadbeat payer on eBay was, having to deal with the whole corporate bureaucratic structure of being a buyer can be just as bad, if not all together a lot worse! Anyways, this concludes this nightmarish trilogy... now onto more pressing matters, such as dealing with this deadbeat buyer with the phony baloney email address!

This has been P.S. Elliott (AKA: buyer bewaring Dr. Gonzo XXVII) reporting for the disassociated press, that is... The Gnoyze Guitar Mods & More Web Blog.

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