August 7, 2014

When children sell on ebay - Part 4

Time to whip out my trusty 'escalator' and attempt to bring some sanity into this transaction. But before I do that, let's recap what has happened so far that has resulted in contempraphones and me reaching this impasse.

I offered several solutions that would be fair, practical and expedient. Among them:

  • I take the damaged phone to the post office (about a mile from my house) and allow postal workers to see the damage.
  • He sends me a replacement Bakelite shell for the base (since he mentioned he has one).
  • He completes the other, separate transaction so I have something to use while the insurance claim is sorted out.
  • He can literally send me any color of phone at this point. Beige, Turquoise, Aqua. I don't care. I need the prop.

He will have none of this.

He is still bent on cancelling the second transaction so he can concentrate on the damaged phone.  (I guess he is not much of a multi-tasker.) If someone else had bought his blue phone, would he have made them wait while he sorted this out with me? No? I must ask: What difference — at this point — does it make?

So after declining his request to cancel the transaction on the second phone, I open up my email to find this note from PayPal:

Original payment details:

* Seller: Dominic ********
* Seller's Email: dominic.********
* Original Transaction Date: Jul 25, 2014
* Original Transaction Amount: $179.17 USD
* Original Transaction ID: 81D025660B324714K

Refund Details

* Refund Amount: $162.54 USD
* Refund Transaction ID: 1P029025M2374511B

Original payment amount: $179.17. Refund amount $162.54???? WTF? I ask him why on earth he would give me a partial refund on the second phone THAT HE DOESN'T EVEN PLAN TO SHIP TO ME. His answer is mind-numbing. I had already seen the response, but didn't realize immediately that he was withholding the ebay seller fees he was charged for the second phone. Whaa??? He SOLD a second phone. Why would he think that he won't get charged ebay seller fees for selling something on ebay? Worse yet — why would he expect me to pay ebay seller fees on a transaction he wrongfully cancelled? I had to re-read his response several times to make sure I wasn't dreaming.

That’s your fault – you declined the cancellation request so that we could deal with one transaction, so now the eBay fees will not automatically reverse on the 2nd. The difference is the eBay fees. The PayPal fees are reversing. Your hold gobbled up your original payment, so it now has to be funded from my bank account. That’s why it’s pending. I take it you don’t understand how eBay/PayPal work. I explained it before, but it’s no use.

Didn't catch it the first time. The difference is the eBay fees. The difference is the ebay fees? Maybe if cancelling the transaction was MY idea, then maybe that would make some sense (not much, but some). Early in this ordeal he kept quoting ebay rules insisting that I would have to pay return shipping in order to get my refund. Now he's arbitrarily cancelling transactions (which ebay forbids) — and expecting me to eat the ebay seller fees.

Who is this guy? The Soup Nazi?

Actually, this guy is worse than the Soup Nazi. The Soup Nazi gave George a full refund, he didn't keep a dollar for 'overhead'.

Who does this?

Knowing that I have done everything I can do as well as knowing he isn't going to budge from his position on any of this, I escalate the matter to ebay support and a few days later I get their response. (on the original beige phone)

eBay Customer Support has refunded you through PayPal and the case is closed.Aug 05, 2014 at 7:29 PM

Refund information:
We've initiated a refund of $130.15 back to the PayPal funding source that you used to purchase the item. Please allow 48 hours for the refund to process.

Final decision:
This case was found in your favor.

eBay Customer Support comments:
We're sorry you had a problem with your purchase. For more information about this case, please refer to the email we sent you.

As I suspected would happen, clearer heads prevailed and ebay refunds my money. They do strongly suggest that I cooperate with the postal service if they want to see the damaged phone. I fully intend to. I have been willing to do this the entire time. I'll show them my pictures, the phone, the box, the less than adequate packing as well as offer my opinion that they should not pay this claim.

Just after I read this on ebay, I see another email from contempraphones:

It’s no wonder you got sued by Mr. MUM UH MOO MAH. Maybe some day you’ll learn that the gentle approach works much better.

Gentleness? The man wants gentleness? So far he has called me 'silly' and 'unreasonable'. He claims I am making 'outrageous demands' He insinuates that I have no idea how ebay and PayPal work (even though I have double his feedback score plus five years more time on ebay.) Tells me that I am being 'difficult' and blames everything on postal workers and me personally and now he wants GENTLENESS??? I happen to be fresh out.

Someone who insults you, insists that you're 'uncooperative', blames everyone else, tries to make you look dumb and refuses to take responsibility for any of their screw-ups — Who is that person?

Then it hits me. He's Harry Reid!

Doesn't this sound a bit like the strategy used by the current US Senate Majority Leader when dealing with the other side? Harry claims the border is secure. (contempraphones claimed my package was secure.) He claims intellectual superiority, Employs Divide and conquer, Slash and burn tactics, Vilify your opposition and say everything is their fault, claiming they're not doing anything. The reality is He's the one doing nothing. Harry's got 350+ House bills sitting on his desk right now that he won't bring up for a vote... The 'Do Nothing' is good ole Harry.

"Dominic" claims I'm not cooperating. He claims I am doing nothing.

Excuse me? I paid him uber promptly. I've offered several solutions to this problem. I bought from him again even after I received a broken phone. What does he want? Other than me — you know — coughing up $35 in return postage to cover for his mistake.

Dominic is the one doing 'nothing'. He had my payment for a second phone in his account for a full week before he, even though I told him we were already going to be behind schedule shooting our TV commercial, just decided NOT to sell me the second phone after all and refunds 'some' of my money. No reason for cancelling. Just a partial refund. This is against ebay rules as well. Who does this? Maybe "Dominic" is just a moniker used by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on ebay? Being a complete ass, lying about it, grabbing money for nothing and then expecting gentleness sounds like a Harry Reid maneuver to me.

Side Note:

I Googled Dominic: He is a VAPOR on Google. Google has never heard of him, his telephone selling business, his home address. Nada. Zilch. Zip. According to Google, Dominic is a ghost.

It is time to post some well-deserved feedback.

Damaged. Won't accept responsibility for inadequate packing. Insulting to boot.
  • Reply by contempraphones (Aug-03-14 00:41):
    Won't cooperate or return damaged telephone for postal insurance claim — View Item

Won't cooperate with postal insurance claim? Is he HIGH? Do they have legal marijuana in Ontario? I've told him multiple times that I would be happy to take the damaged item to the post office and give them anything they need. And, if one lie wasn't enough... He tells another doozie in response to my other negative feedback.

Cancelled shipment 7 days after payment, PARTIAL refund of payment? SERIOUSLY?
  • Reply by contempraphones (Aug-03-14 00:47):
    Buyer wanted blue (not turquoise) and would not agree to cancel for full refund. — View Item

He's trying to make it seem like **I** am the one that cancelled the transaction because of the color of the phone. I had already told him I didn't care what color he sent me at this point. Now he's just making stuff up. Again I am forced to ask — who does this?

All of this could have been avoided with 25¢ worth of extra bubblewrap.

My next blog post will be about the second transaction unless he comes to his senses and sends me the remainder of my payment. You can't refuse to send an item to someone after they buy it on ebay and then KEEP part of the payment. Why would anyone in their right mind think this is OK to do?

August 6, 2014

When children sell on ebay - Part 3

So. You can trust someone with 100% positive feedback on ebay. Right?

That's what I thought, until I purchased two phones from contempraphones on ebay.

He blamed the damage to the fragile old phone on 'a heavy pallet' falling on the box. In another message to me he suggests that the item was 'rammed from the side or top'. Clearly neither of these things happened. The box was undamaged in any way. Perhaps the multiple "FRAGILE" stickers had something to do with it. As I mentioned in Part 2, contempraphones plastered the box with them.

At this point it is becoming clear that contempraphones isn't going to accept responsibility for his actions. This is a little confusing to me. How can he expect an item like this vintage telephone to arrive safely if he uses a single, inadequate piece of bubblewrap to protect something as flimsy and delicate as 50-year-old bakelite and then — almost as if he was daring postal workers — wallpaper the box in 'FRAGILE' stickers. Its almost as if he WANTED the item to be damaged in shipping. Maybe it was broken before he sent it and he just wanted to use the insurance as a way to get money for an item that indeed may have — I don't know — fallen down a flight of stairs? I'm speculating, of course.

The phone was inadequately packaged. It arrived in pieces.

CONTEMPRAPHONES' SOLUTION? Insult the buyer (that's me).

He accuses me of 'panicking', being 'silly', being 'unreasonable' and making 'outrageous demands'

Outrageous demands? I expect to get what I paid for. Not sure how that can be construed as 'outrageous'. I also DO NOT expect to have to cough up $50 of MY money to return a telephone that was damaged due to his sloppy packing job. Apparently, in his eyes, I should be required to clean up his mess as it is clear he doesn't think any of this is his fault.

I'm a reasonable guy. I believe anyone can make a mistake. We've all done it. I give the guy a second chance by spending even more money with him on another phone. Upon purchasing a second 10-button phone from him, he attempts to CANCEL the second transaction for the second phone claiming that he has to resolve the first transaction. Why? I still need this item to shoot a TV spot. I paid for the second phone. He should ship me the second phone. His solution? Cancel the second transaction. I receive this message in the 'My Ebay' portal. I declined to cancel. This apparently infuriates contempraphones. He sends me this message:

Now I cannot reverse the transaction for the turquoise set because you declined. You are making this very difficult! Contact eBay support so that transaction can be refunded to you. I will bundle the two blues into one shipment and get a Fedex quote on Monday or Tuesday.

I'm being difficult? I don't want a refund on the 2nd phone. I want the 2nd phone.

None of this is 'difficult'. He's selling phones on ebay. I need one. I pay him, not for one, but for TWO of them. I don't see the problem here. If he needs money for additional shipping, I can elect to send him additional money through PayPal. It seems to me that cancelling multiple transactions, starting new ones and contacting ebay support is more difficult than what I am proposing.

The accusations and insults continue:

That’s your fault – you declined the cancellation request so that we could deal with one transaction, so now the eBay fees will not automatically reverse on the 2nd. The difference is the eBay fees. The PayPal fees are reversing. Your hold gobbled up your original payment, so it now has to be funded from my bank account. That’s why it’s pending. I take it you don’t understand how eBay/PayPal work. I explained it before, but it’s no use.

OK. So it is my fault that he is declining to send me another item for which I have already paid. It is **me** who doesn't understand how ebay and PayPal work. Really? I have forgotten more about how ebay and PayPal work than this joker will ever know. He could live to be 1,000 and not know what I know about ebay and PayPal. I have written software that integrates with ebay and PayPal to help people sell on ebay and get paid with PayPal. Of course, he probably didn't know that. To assume I don't know what I am doing seems like the best way to justify things in his mind. Again, I'm guessing here.

I tell him that I am not spending $50 to send the phone back. He responds with this:

Seller's message:
"Return shipping is approx. $35. I think you should escalate the case to eBay for a decision, because this is my last message. I packed the phone well. There was no sloshing around when it left.

I ask him where the packing went? He responds stating that it must have been opened by US Customs at the Chicago sort hub. He claims that they must have opened it from the bottom and repackaged it. First of all, the package had not been opened from the bottom — and secondly — the packaging inside the box when I opened it was PRECISELY the way he described it. It was even packaged in the same exact order as he described it. Some peanuts on the bottom. A single piece of bubblewrap on top of that. Then the phone base was on top of the bubblewrap and the receiver was resting on the right side of the base (exactly where the phone was damaged) when I opened the package.

At this point I believe he is right. It is time to escalate this case.

To be continued...

August 5, 2014

When children sell on ebay - Part 2

OK, so — where were we.  Oh Yes. "Contempraphones" was quite helpful.  That is, until I actually asked for his help.  You see, the phone is for a prop in a new TV/Web spot I am making for Cool Telecom, LLP (LIKE us on facebook).  There's a lot of history. A little fanfare.  A booming narrator.  All the makings of an epic, in your face, next generation business telephone service ad.  Real eye-opening stuff.  But alas.  To think I could just go on ebay and buy a 10-button phone.  What was I thinking?

Why a 10-button phone you ask?  Excellent question.  You see.  If you know how to press the pound button then you know how to use our system.  Using a Cool PBX involves little more than pressing the pound key and other sequences of numbers.  You can block people, re-direct them to 'marketing' so they won't bother you with their marketing.  You can even record your calls and appear to be calling from your office — from your cell phone.

So yeah.  The pound key is kind of a big deal at Cool Telecom.  We wanted to take the viewer back to the dark ages when there was no 'pound key'.

Enter contempraphones on ebay. From Canada.

I clicked the 'Resolve a problem' link next to the item in 'My Ebay' and opened the case.  I did, in fact, inadvertently end up with an 'Item not as described' case instead of an 'item arrived damaged' case.  Apparently this upset contempraphones as he was quick to scold me with this message via the ebay messaging system:

Seller's message:
"Hi again -- could you please change the case to damaged? I have two blue sets that match your picture more closely in condition -- one is 12-button, the other is 10. This turquoise set is more greenish. That is a separate issue though. I have another problem now -- this case has triggered a hold on my PayPal account until we resolve it, so I can't access the money you just sent me for the turquoise phone. So, I need to resolve the postal insurance claim first. A heavy pallet must have fallen on it. I need your cooperation as USPS may request that you bring the phone and box to your local post office for inspection, or return it to me. Thanks again for your patience."

So, there's no way to change the case type.  So it remains an 'Item not as described' case.  I'm delighted that he has a phone that matches a 12-button I picked up from another seller.  He wants to resolve the postal claim first and sends me an email telling me that I will receive further instructions from the post office and that I may need to take the broken item to the post office for 'inspection'.

I'm cool with all of this.

Part of the problem is that contempraphones plastered 'fragile' stickers everywhere.  I remind him that this usually just attracts abuse by postal employees.  He shrugs it off as 'covering his behind'.

Seller's message:
"Yes, I was told that by a grumpy postal employee, but I always put a FRAGILE sticker on to cover my behind. Now USPS will have to pay. I could have dropped that phone down a flight of stairs unboxed and it wouldn't have cracked like that. These phones were designed to withstand falls off tables. There was a layer of peanuts and thick bubble wrap on the bottom and sides and an airbag on top around the line switch, and the handset was wrapped separately. If I ship it in a really large box, volumetric weight kicks in and the shipping charge is so high, nobody buys. Needless to say, I won't ship USPS again. Now I have to wait until I get reimbursed by USPS. I'm really upset right now -- PayPal already took the money out of my account because you just panicked and opened a case as NOT AS DESCRIBED, which isn't true. You didn't even contact me or the post office first to file a damage claim. The waybill clearly showed that it was insured against loss or damage for $100 + shipping."

Whatever. I am sure he knows what he's doing.

I apologized for incorrectly opening a case in the "Not as described" category. But, technically, the phone didn't arrive 'as described'. What I bought was an intact, good condition, 50-year-old 10-button telephone. What I received was a shattered pile of bakelite.

As a rule, I tend to trust sellers that have 100% positive feedback with no negatives during the previous 12 months. This seller had great feedback. In the 600s with no negatives. So I figure I can trust him.

To be continued...

August 3, 2014

When children sell on ebay - Part 1

I have been buying and selling on ebay since December 1998.  Back then, ebay looked like this.  Ebay boasted having 1.8 million items for sale in 1,500+ categories.  My first ever purchase was an alabaster chess set I won for $40.  In 1999 I sold some 'Coke Shelves' I found out by the curb in my neighborhood on "Big Trash Day" and made $180.00.  I have also sold cars on ebay, always listing them for 1¢ with no reserve.  The vehicles I have sold on ebay always sold for much more than bluebook and, if you sell a car on ebay, I would highly recommend the 1¢/No Reserve method.

Ebay has been a terrific place to both pick up bargains and sell unwanted things.  My greatest conquest was purchasing a brand new $330.00 D-Link, 48-port Managed Network Switch for $30.  I have had extraordinarily good luck both buying and selling on the popular auction site — that is — until last month.  A seller who goes by 'contempraphones' based in Canada sold me a rare, 10-button Western Electric touchtone desk phone that I needed to shoot a 60-second commercial for a telephone company.

The package was delivered on a Friday and before I even opened it, I realized it was sorta sloshing around inside the package and, much like Ace Ventura's package in Pet Detective — it sounded 'broken'.  Upon opening the package it was clear that the weight of the receiver bouncing up and down on the base during transport caused the base of the phone to shatter.  No need to call in Law and Order to investigate.  It was obvious what happened as soon as I opened the box.

This pic was taken after opening the package and setting the receiver aside (which was resting on top of the base) revealing that the base was not wrapped at all.  It was sitting atop ONE rectangular piece of bubblewrap which was resting on a pile of shredded paper and peanuts.  I immediately 'reported a problem' on ebay and sent the following message to the seller.

"I was heartbroken when I opened your package today. The outside of the packaging is fine, however, the base clearly wasn't protected adequately from the weight of the handset and the fragile old phone arrived in pieces. I cannot attach photos to this message, but here are some dropbox links to the photos I just took. Hopefully you can open the links and see what I mean. The purpose for buying this phone was to use it as a prop in a TV commercial. We're going to be a little behind schedule now and we still need the prop. Is there any way you could replace this with a like item? Beige is the color of the other prop we're using that has all 12 buttons. Your phone was PERFECT because it could be 'morphed' into the 12 button phone (by video trickery) by photoshopping it with this phone. Do you have anything similar of like or greater value you can send us instead? Do you have another beige one?"

Initially, the seller was helpful and said that he was 'sorry it happened'.  He opened an insurance claim with Canada Post and told me that I would be contacted by them with instructions on what to do with the damaged merchandise

To be continued...

About Me

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Oklahoma City, OK, United States
My name is Mark W. Mumma. I'm from Blackwell Oklahoma and I used to fight email spam. My fight is over and I have lost. I am making a movie about my misadventures. It should be out by 2015. I am an ISP, a telecom entrepreneur, a wedding DJ and a Data Recovery guru. Hey, its an Obummer economy and I am just trying to keep food on the table.