Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A Big Ol' Mess

I had a horrendous day yesterday, where a situation completely escalated out of control. I don't like the blog to be a release for my depressing moments (nobody wants to read that), but I'm trying to think as rationally as possible and get beyond this and perhaps venting a little here will help and I could also use your advice.

So you know how I sell on eBay quite regularly? As anyone in the same situation knows, it comes with it's problems at times. People win an item then don't pay and you have to chase them up for days, open a case, wait around, finally get your fee back, blah, blah, blah. There's a lot of protection for buyers, not so much for sellers (you can't even leave negative feedback, yet they can for you), but on the whole I put up with the occasional stress and time wasting for the "greater good". Lately though, it's been one thing after another and to be honest, I don't cope well with stress these days. I'm a worrier, I can't let things go and it goes round in my head for ages before I can feel at peace with the situation. Stress also seems to trigger something inside of me, with my illness that just knocks me for six and makes me feel even more knackered than normal. So I was dealing with the Irregular Choice Scammer that stole my money (and hundreds of others) and didn't send my shoes. I was also dealing with a parcel I sent to an address on the invoice, which turned out to be the incorrect address (still not solved that one and the parcel? Who knows where that is? The tracking number is no help at all), plus I had a few non-payers and someone that reported their parcel had been left on their doorstep without the 'signed for' sticker and nobody signed for it (I hate the thought of her disbelieving I sent it by registered post). Then at the weekend, one of my buyers in Croatia got in touch to say the parcel I sent her a month ago hadn't arrived.

I've never had that happen before on eBay, so I promptly emailed customer service to find out what to do. If you've ever had to find how to email CS on eBay or find answers to anything, it's a bloomin' long winded process. Anyhoo, they get back and say all this stuff about going to the Citizen's Advice Bureau, phoning the buyer (hello, that would cost more than the lipgloss I sent and I don't even know how good her English is and I do not speak Croatian). They also said to get in touch with the postal carrier and get the buyer to open a case saying she hadn't received the item.

Citizen's Advice and the phone call were out for me. The girl seems to understand that the situation is not my fault and I was going to get a form from the Post Office anyway. I was more concerned with how to get my final value fee back, literally how to refund her (because I have to refund the full amount but because of paypal fees I never received the full amount in the first place) and whether I was to do this after or before Royal Mail compensate me. So I emailed CS back saying, you didn't answer my issues and repeated them again to be really clear. I also contacted my buyer and asked her to open the case (as I can't do it from my end). The tracking number is within the item details for both of us to see and it claims the package has been passed onto Croatia for delivery. I agree that it shouldn't have taken 4 weeks to get there, but at the same time, it's been tracked part of the way and another item I sent to Croatia a few days later says the exact same thing yet was delivered a couple of weeks ago (so obviously upon delivery it does not register on the site). However, if I'm getting my money back from RM, I'm happy to refund her.

So last night, the shit hit the fan. She opened the case as I asked, but included some info that I didn't agree with. She said I wasn't communicating with her, hadn't replied to her emails and wasn't trying to work it out with her. That annoyed me, because I only knew of the situation on Saturday and responded immediately and emailed again a couple of days later. However, I figured perhaps with the language barrier and standard procedure of eBay, it perhaps wasn't intended as a dis. There wasn't really much for me to respond to within the case (just to verify the tracking number which was already visible on the form), so I just made it clear I had been emailing back and forth and was willing to refund her (she preferred a replacement, but I don't have another as I'm not a shop!). However it said I had to refund by 5th October in the original case email, then once I had responded, it said I had to do so by the 30th Sept!! I knew Royal Mail would not deal with my case so quickly, but figured I would refund her anyway and then get my compensation later. Bearing in mind I've lost an item, already paid for postage and packaging but am still willing to spend more on a refund out of my own pocket-I think you can't ask for more than that from me. So I log into Paypal to refund her and notice I have a negative balance of £3.55. There's also a message saying Paypal have sent numerous emails regarding the money I owe them and if I don't pay up, they will involve their attorneys! The drama queen in me freaked out, but again I decided it was just standard procedure (given that I haven't received a single email from Paypal).

Paypal put a hold on the transaction whenever a case is opened and because I had insufficient funds in my account (£3.55 less than was needed), I have the negative balance. They have not refunded her on my behalf, they have only 'held' the money (which partly isn't there). There is no option to refund her at all. I literally cannot do it until I get more money into my paypal account. So I immediately transfer £4 from my bank into Paypal. It states it will take 5-7 working days!! I have to refund the buyer in 3 days though or else I'll miss out on my final value fee credit and probably be penalised from eBay for 'stealing' her money and not sending the item. Obviously I was and am furious. I'm doing everything in my power, going above and beyond yet getting penalised for it. Had I known you needed the money directly in your Paypal account to refund (it doesn't work the same way as paying for something where you can part pay by Paypal and part pay by card/bank account), I would never have told her to open the case. It didn't even enter my head that there would be a time restriction on it and that I was shooting myself in the foot by doing it! To top it all, eBay responded this morning to my 2nd email, saying to fill in the RM form first, get compensated then refund the girl! Advice they should've given me the first time. I pride myself on my efficiency when it comes to eBay, everything is written down in my notebook with dates of payment/delivery details and I keep all receipts. I package items well and aim to dispatch the same or next day (in this case the same day) as payment is received, so obviously this has rocked me that my reputation will be called into question through no fault of my own.

I ended up in tears yesterday and hardly slept for worrying about it, although I'm trying to be calmer today because I'm getting myself worked up and that isn't going to help. I'm just completely at a loss as to what to do, I've done everything within my power and my hands are tied. I've emailed the buyer to say I'll be refunding her on 4th October (when paypal expect the money) and emailed an angry message to eBay again last night asking them for leniency but I doubt it will matter. Nobody seems to care that I did post the parcel and have the receipt to prove it. It's just become all about refunds and time restrictions! So that's the reason I've not been a happy bunny this week and also I just wrote this post and part of it disappeared so I had to rewrite it, grrr! So have any of you been in a similar situation and how did you deal with it or do you have any advice for me? Can you think of anything else I could be doing? Had she been in the UK I would've sent a personal cheque, but I can't do anything in 2 days to Croatia!

8 comments :

  1. Oh goodness Gemma, poor you! That's an absolutely rotten situation to be in! I really hope it works out ok for you. I'm afraid I've never sold on E-bay so I don't have any advice offer, only sympathy.

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  2. I feel your pain, it's not a level playing field for sellers on E-Bay anymore, when they introduced the "seller" not being able to leave a 'neg', I kinda bailed on the whole e-bay deal. If I do sell anything anymore, it's one item at a time and within the U.K only, no matter how many requests I get to post internationally. It's too much of a ball-ache, and e-bay don't really care, it's all about the money for them...a lot of people have abandoned e-bay for alternative sites, the names of which escape me now, but if I recall them, I'll post later.
    I wish you the best of luck digging your way out of this .So if you get a 'neg', it's not the worst thing in the world, noone died, however, I know it pisses you off especially when you haven't done anything to warrant it.
    Don't let it affect your health...it's just shoes and make-up...and in the grand scheme of things a mere trifle.
    Just protect yourself as best you can, there are buyers out there who will take the right piss, coz they know you have no power and that e-bay generally does sweet FA.
    Chin up girlfriend. :)

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  3. Hi Gemma,
    I had the same problem a while ago with an item that just completely disappeared in the RM system and bever reappeared-I got all stressed the same as you with all the ebay restrictions and deadlines and then I thought I'm not going to be out of pocket it's not my fault. So i explained to the buyer she would have to wait until I had recieved the refund from RM(who were quite efficient after I had sent the form) and then I forwarded it on to her, I think I also received back my fees from ebay and paypal so eventually turned out ok but was stressful in the process. Don't worry about it (easier said than done) but you have done nothing wrong and one negative feedback-if you get one-among many positive will not put people off.Hope that helps :0) x

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  4. oh no, this is why i have hardly sold anything on ebay in the last year or so, there are so many ways that your money isn't quite safe unti lyou've jumped through hoops. i hope that you get it sorted soon!

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  5. I'm sorry you're having so much trouble. Ebay seems to be more trouble than it's worth lately. I hope it works out for you. At least YOU know that you did what you were supposed to do and beyond.

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  6. Hi. I have had this too. What I did was to do a gift payment of whatever you owed your customer and tick the box that says you will pay the fees. This way your money will debit from your nominated bank account straight away and hit your customers account. Then ask her to update her case to resolved and refund issued so you get your fee back and then you need to do your case with royal mail. Sounds alot more complicated than it is and at least you will have it sorted today. As soon as your customer updates her case then paypal will take their hold off your funds and put balance back to nil. Hope that helps!

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  7. It really is an awful situation when parcels go missing in the post. I love eBay but I think it can be stressful at times. Just know you have done eveything you could have done, and I am sure you will have it sorted soon.

    I remember getting a few negative feedbacks a while ago, that were completly untrue and petty, but as the seller I could hardly do little about it. Hope you feel better soon xxx

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  8. Poor you, I feel your stress! I no longer sell on eBay after several unfair and upsetting situations. The final straw for me was when I sold a brand new with tags dress with very high quality diamante trim. I was emailed by a potential buyer to ask if she won could I send it by the weekend as she had a christmas party she wanted to wear it for. I said of course I would send it immediately. The auction ended on the Thursday, she won and I sent it first class recorded (at no extra charge) the same day so she received it Friday. The following Monday I got an email from her demanding a refund as one of the diamantes was missing. It was brand new and *perfect* when I sent it. I asked her to return it and I would refund her, because as everybody now knows sellers have no rights and not a leg to stand on any more. When I got it back the high quality metal setting for the stone had been wrenched open with something, and the dress stank of sweat and fag smoke. The horrible woman had obviously wanted the dress only for her party and planned all along to damage it then claim her "rights" as a buyer. This still is so upsetting for me even though it was over a year ago. Hugs xxx

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Wowee your comments cheer me up!

Unfortunately I've had to disable anonymous comments for now, due to a high volume of spam.

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