Friday, 12 October 2007
Posted by Dave
I bought a fair amount of stuff on ebay because it tends to be odd items which are often tricky to find from regular online web shops, and I'd rather not create an account and type in my credit card yadda yadda just to buy something for a fiver. I have to say most transactions go okay although maybe 50% of them arrive fairly slowly or need some sort of chasing.
Strangely the worst treatment comes from these sort of semi professional shops operating on ebay. The problems seem to kick in when you want anything like customer service that you'd expect from a shop.
A had a recent nightmare with some guy operating as roundtheclockshop. I bought six bulbs off this chap, some kind of obscure bright ones for SAD purposes. Unfortunately I made an error and despite the fact the shop listed both ES and BC bulbs, I bought the ES ones - which were no use to me. I figured it out and asked if he'd replace. No communications days go on. I request contact details and get a phone number. Dial through a few times no answer.
Eventually I get a response - I've swapped them for you, you just need to pay now. So I do. Whammo, the useless ES bulbs turn up in the post. Great. Again just can't get email response, wont answer the phone. I'm a bit fucked really and I don't have forever to wait for this guy and his weekly e-mail checkups. So I just order some better ones of someone else (which turn up next day, bosh).
I end up leaving a neutral for this shop. It's not really their fault I ordered the wrong ones so a negative didn't quite feel justified but you know the guy did promise a replacement BEFORE I paid for the auction so you could argue the guy has messed me around too.
I post a neutral of: "Item okay but failed to send alternative product as agreed. Poor communications."
He responds with: "Item for exchange has been sent stuck in postal strike beyond our control sorry"
Which is a blatant lie. No replacements have been sent. It gets worse still, the guy then posts retaliatory negative feedback for me: "Totally unreasonable customer items sent for exchange then cancels the order."
Yes... except no items are sent and I didn't cancel the order. This guy has my money. I have product no use to me. Exactly who is wronging who here? Bottom line is that I walked into this not being naive about it. By being the first guy to cast a stone you're basically screwed on the ebay system, particular if you post a positive or a neutral. I learnt that the hard way when some dickhead left me a negative feedback after I left a positive, for deigning to simply request if I send money using electronic banking rather than writing a cheque.
However I thought about this for days and I thought that the whole system basically gets fucked up like this. No one ever leaves negatives because they don't want the negative in return. Your position of strength is simply to imply you'll leave a negative and a web shop with thousands and thousands of sales is quickly going to bury anything you send and shift their percentage a hell of a lot less than yours will be.
I thought about it some more and concluded that really I have quite enough feedback myself and any negative I get (2 out of 238 or something) really just wont have any baring on me selling something, which is the only real time that your feedback is important. So I just decided to actually do what was right rather than what was necessarily smart.
I think ebay is a useful resource for all those obscure shops using a common e-commerce system but this does leave a bad taste in my mouth. The ebay system itself just doesn't seem effective in combatting asshole dealers. It's my view, really, that if you've paid for an item through paypal right away, the retailer should not be able to leave feedback for you at all. He has a job, deliver item as described to the address given and that's that. Maybe that'd be better?