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About a week ago I sold a still sealed MFSL DSOTM LP on eBay for $225. In hindsight, I should have required Priority Mail with insurance, but the record shipped Media Mail. I doubled-up on LP mailers to protect the record. Yesterday the buyer--a VERY experienced media buyer/seller--sent me a few closeups of some seam splits (I can't tell from the pics if it's even the same record I sold him) asking simply how I "wanted to handle this".
I've been selling on eBay for 15 years + and have never had a single negative feedback, ever. Feedback score is 4000. I'm not as active as I used to be, but IME sellers cannot be held liable for shipping damage, and with no insurance the buyer is simply out of luck. Short of removing the disc from the cover during shipping (which I do for all used records), I don't see how I could have prevented this damage from occurring. I requested more photos and a suggestion for how I might have prevented the damage before committing to a partial refund. The buyer refused to provide either and has filed a complaint with eBay, apparently seeking a full refund and to keep the record. Given that he's a media specialist with feedback over 30,000, I simply don't believe that he did not understand the risks or that he believes that this is how shipping damage coverage works. I'm open to the idea of a partial refund, but only if he shows with certainty that this is the record I sold him, and he can explain why the damage is my fault. I can't imagine eBay will rule in his favor, but I've never been through this before. Am I being unreasonable? Should I be concerned about the outcome here? Thanks for any comments.
All too often, an individual selling to, or buying from, another individual is treated by one or the other as a handshake and a person-to-person deal.
Superficially, that's the way it might look, but the reality is that it's a business contract. As such, business law applies.
Back in college, one of the smartest things I did was to take a class called Introduction to Business Law. I still have the book, which is about 3 inches thick. Fascinating stuff.
Bottom line: Document, document, document. Every time. And in this environment of mailing stuff to whoever wherever, I'll add: Packing, insurance, tracking, delivery signature. This ain't rocket science, but many people take a cavalier attitude toward person-to-person business transactions, sometimes to their dismay and cost.
Not to be political, but Donald Trump said: "It's not personal, it's just business". Spot on. And that's actually part of the beauty of buying and selling - there are laws. That makes it much simpler than interpersonal relationships.
So of course my first mistake was not insuring. The next mistake was hidden from me in the depths of user settings. A few years ago, we were displaced for 6 months by a house fire. Our addresses were temporarily changed (neither my wife nor I remember doing this, but one of us did). When we moved back in, we changed our address settings again and we've been buying and selling occasionally without problem since. Turns out, there are at least 3 addresses tucked away in your ebay settings, and one of them is the "return address". This was still set to the apartment, and that's where the record went. Tracking shows it was refused and is headed back to the buyer. I had a lengthy chat with eBay during which I made a series of unpleasant discoveries which have taken a while to fully absorb.
First, I was operating with an obsolete understanding of postal insurance rules. I was unaware that about three years ago, postal rules changed such that insurance payouts are sent to the sender, not picked up by the buyer at their local PO. This is like what the private carriers do, and it's a major shift in postal insurance policy. This colored my view of expectations a bit, but I don't believe was a major issue here.
It is now eBay policy that the seller can be held responsible for shipping damage. So you have to decide on an acceptable threshold of pain and go through all kinds of gymnastics with items below that amount which will go uninsured so you'll have evidence in case you need it to protect yourself from fraud. Basically, you are exposed in all transactions not deemed "worth insuring", and below a certain amount, nobody is going to pay for insurance because it doesn't make sense. It used to be sellers could not be held responsible for this kind of thing without evidence of malice by the seller. Effectively, you are personally insuring all uninsured items and your risk is any item you sell AND all the money you received including shipping for that item. There is virtually no burden of proof of anything from the buyer. Seller pays return shipping too, another change from years past. Ebay calls all of this "customer service", easy for them to say when it's not their money or time that's at risk. It's also a bit ironic when you consider that sellers are customers of eBay as much as buyers are. To me, this is unfair exposure for sellers. Ebay risks nothing from and provides little to no protection from unscrupulous buyers. Whether the present case involved any actual dishonesty or not is really irrelevant to this point. I have been a victim of fraud and identity theft way too often to find this acceptable. This would have cost me some real money a time or two in the old days if it had been policy then. It wasn't.
So the only way I'll ever see this record again is if I contact the buyer directly and ask if he'll send it at my expense when it goes back to him as eBay says it should. I already sent the email, but haven't heard back. It's probably just as well.
What a mess. Hopefully, you can get the record back. I would then take pictures of it and submit those along with the pics that you used for the listing. It's possible that the record could have been dropped just right on the corner and split a seam, not likely IMO.
OTOH, if the seal is broken and the record isn't pristine. I'd ask for payment back from eBay and label the guy a scammer with negative feedback.
...I have not received the disc back, nor do I expect to. Ebay's ruling was categorically and completely in favor of the buyer and they refused to offer me any help whatsoever. Lesson learned, moving on.
Wow, I'm trying to recall how a return of mine was handled. As I recall, yes, the shipper had to pay the return shipping, but I don't believe that I got my money back until the shipment was confirmed to be back to the vendor.
Was it a Paypal transaction? It would seem that you have a beef with Paypal until the buyer can prove that you got the goods back.
Are the pictures the buyer sent of an un-sealed LP? If so, you are no doubt being scammed. As a re-seller, he would have certainly left it sealed.
I doubt insurance would have done you any good in this situation as I can't imagine USPS paying a claim on split seams.
When I ship an LP that is still sealed I get heavy paper, like butcher paper and wrap the LP as tightly as I can. So far, this has prevented split seams, but I doubt it is fail safe.
I sell mostly old fishing tackle on FleaBay. I once sold a guy a vintage reel in pristine condition. When he got it he sent me pictures of my reel, but he had changed out all of the screws with ones with damaged heads. He wanted a refund. I went ballistic.
I called PayPal and told them to look at the pictures in my listing and the ones he sent me. They agreed I was right and asked him to return the reel with the correct screws. When I got the reel it still had the damaged screws. I called PayPal and luckily got them before they issued the refund. I then sent them pictures of the reel sitting on that day's newspaper, so they could see the date and know the pictures were real. I had them note that each and every screw was identical to the ones in the pictures the buyer had sent.
I won and he was banned from FleaBay.
The SOB still got all of the beautiful screws off my 120 year old reel, but at least I made his life a bit miserable.
I'd encourage you to continue selling. The good guys vastly out number the bad guys, in my experience. But, I completely understand how one bad transaction can make you want to call it quits.
Best of luck to you in the future.
reelsmith's axiom: Its going to be used equipment when I sell it, so it may as well be used equipment when I buy it.
I am really sorry to hear this and glad to know it. I have sold stuff on ebay for a very long time and I have never had an issue, but I think I've been lucky.
One thing I have been doing for about a year is video taping the item and the packing of the item with my telephone and sending that to the buyer the day I ship it. I feel that this can be used to send to ebay if someone tries some shady shit.
The last turntable I sold (to a very happy buyer) had a youtube video of the thing going through all the paces in the description. Then I included that packing video as well as photos to the buyer on the day I mailed it out.
IMO ebay would simply be wanting me gone on purpose if they took the buyer's side in the event of a mishap.
The record hasn't come back, and I'm thinking it probably never will and eBay has already refunded the guy's money. The pics he sent me were so close up that I couldn't tell if the damage shown was on the same record I had sold him or not. It would have been very easy to capture the damage AND the hype sticker on the front of the wrapper in a photo to prove it was the same record, but when I asked for that the guy refused. The bag appeared to be in place in the photos he did send.
I was prepared to issue at least a partial refund once I had proper evidence of damage to begin with, but eBay never gave me that chance. That, coupled with the fact that I don't appear to ever be getting my record back are the factors that are making me walk away. I've been on there a long time and dealt with unreasonable people before. Once upon a time, eBay wouldn't have allowed buyers to force a return without proper evidence. Now it's like the buyer gets whatever they want whether it's reasonable or not, even to the point of possibly keeping your item altogether. You can't even leave negative feedback...but THEY can, even after getting a full refund. It's just too much exposure for me to accept; I won't put myself out there for that. I'm trying to have a little fun here and spread it around for the most part. If I was making my living this way I'd bear with it (though a loss like this would have been utterly disastrous in the days when I DID rely on eBay to pay bills), but I don't have to tolerate these headaches.
This was actually the second time this record sold. The first bidder emailed me the next day to let me know he wanted to cancel the purchase. The second most valuable disc from the collection sold for $185. I never got that money, even after I had made arrangements with the guy to wait a couple weeks. At least I still have that one. Most of my experiences have been far more positive (and involved far less money), but this one has been a real eye-opener. I'll probably try to contact eBay directly to let them know what's going on, but I doubt I will get any assistance of any kind. We'll see.
in the condition described in the ad. This only makes sense, since the buyer cannot pack the item, only the seller can, and the seller dictates the shipping carrier, insurance, and cost of shipping. Additionally, in the event of an insurance claim the carrier will pay the sender of the package, and that is the seller.
Ebay, Audiogon and US Audiomart are pretty consistent that these are the rules of the road. My suggestion is to require insurance over a certain dollar amount or don't use the above sites if the rules seem unfair to you. Any internet transaction can leave one open to less than savory individuals, again though, if the exposure seems too much it may be best to demur.
I was told I wouldn't be debited until tracking showed I got the item back. Well, yesterday I was debited, and I haven't received anything back from the "buyer" at all. I'll update if things change, but as of right now this transaction is looking like a total loss and I expect no help whatsoever from eBay. It was the most valuable item from the whole collection that I was working with.
I think my long and honorable track record proves I'm a reasonable seller. This incident, to me, represents an unacceptable loss of control over my own destiny as a seller and opens the door wide to bare-faced fraud that eBay will actually help facilitate. Even if I was to insure over a certain $ amount, cheaper records will be similarly vulnerable--nobody (including me) is going to pay to insure a $10 record. There simply are no sufficient safeguards for sellers here against unscrupulous individuals. It wasn't always like this. I have ended all my listings and will be pursuing other avenues for selling what I have left. It was a good run while it lasted. God forbid I have to try to make a living this way ever again. I don't think it can be considered viable anymore.
GEMM has been gone for some time.
I love it when people say "they are through with Ebay" and say things like "I'll never do business there again".
Oh if I only had a nickel everytime I heard that.
Come on bro. Get real. You (and everyone else) isn't going anywhere. Once the sting of this transaction fades, you'll be right back. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it.
The reason is simple. At some point, you're going to want to buy or sell again. Where you gonna turn to?
Craigslist? AudiogoN? Right here at AA?
Get serious. Pick any ten other sites out there. Put together, they can't even match up to 10% of Ebays size, scope, and selection. I mean sure, you can try your luck at those places. If you don't mind waiting six months and selling for one-tenth of what you can get on Ebay.
Sellers want to go to where the buyers are. Buyers want to go to where the sellers are. And Ebay has both by the short hairs and neither is gonna do anything to extricate themselves.
So while I feel your pain and understand your frustration, you aren't fooling anyone when you say you're done with them.
You'll be back.
After all, if everyone who made that promise actually made good on it, there actually would be a viable alternative to buy and sell.
And I'll be damned if I can find such a venue.
See you on the Bay.
I still have hundreds of records left from this collection. I will find a buyer some other way in due time. I used to rely on eBay for paying my bills. I don't anymore and see no trouble at all with not selling there in the future. I've sold a few other items from around the house since this incident on Craigslist. Not really fun either, but at least there I control my own destiny without having to document the hell out of every move I make. Similarly, I have bought things in the intervening months that I might have got on eBay in the past. Amazon works just fine as do a number of other sites. No big deal, really. I went the first several decades of my life without ever using eBay, I'm confident I can do the same for the final few decades.
I have no idea if they look out for sellers.
Unfortunately, Ebay is now mostly a buyer's haven. The Ebay money back guarantee rules are strongly in favor of the buyer and basically there is not much you can do about it.
Ebay has turned in to a bulk seller site, and anyone who sells vintage or individual items on the side is selling at their own risk.
The worst part about the money back guarantee is that the seller is on the hook for return shipping, and there is no refund of seller fees unless the transaction is actually cancelled.
I sold a tube once that tested barely marginal on my tester (very high end vintage tester), and I made it very clear in my listing that there was no guarantee, no refund and that my tester controlled in the event of a dispute of test results. The buyer did not like the test results he got on his tester, filed for a return and Ebay ruled in his favor. I called Ebay to complain based on the clear language of my listing, and the rep said I did as much as I could have done but the rules make the buyer king and there was nothing else I could do. They did, however, at least credit my seller's fees and return postage.
I would call Ebay and see if there is anything they can do for you (but I would not hold out too much hope).
EBay is forcing me to take this record back. No explanation or rationale given, just "We've decided in favor of the buyer. When tracking shows you have your item back, you will be debited." We'll see what actually arrives in the mail. They're going to have to peel me off the ceiling if he sends me back a piece of garbage--I certainly don't expect eBay to compensate me if this turns out to be a total scam.
I got an email from another buyer yesterday who says his (formerly NM-) disc arrived totally trashed in Hong Kong. That disc was removed from the cover and shipped in a junk cover. I'm trying to get pics to figure out what went wrong there, but does it really matter? I'm going to be on the hook for that one too if the buyer decides I ought to be.
I don't have a problem with issuing returns to customers who have problems, but I expect a little dialogue from that person, not a couple of useless photos and sentence fragments demanding money. If I do something wrong, I want know what it was so I can learn and fix my problem. I tried to get some dialogue from the DSOTM buyer, but he refused to communicate anything at all other than that he wanted compensation for shipping damage. I would never go after a seller for something that's not their fault, but others seem to think the right thing to do is lay down and take it without any question.
IMO, eBay is setting themselves up for a wave of fraud by scam "buyers" with this policy. Of course, the risk to them (in the near term) is almost nil, so they probably don't care. I'm still mulling all this over, but I think it's probably time for me to walk away from eBay forever.
You probably won't like this, but I follow Walt Bender's rule from the pre-ebay Audiomart: the buyer is satisfied or the deal gets undone. Pay for insured return shipping, send the buyer a pdf of the return shipping label, and refund the money when it arrives. Take the hit and move on.
For futures, insure shipments for anything worth more than a few bucks - no exceptions. And with good cameras on almost all phones now, it's easy to take detailed pics of the item as you pack it up. That helps when you, as the shipper, file any claims for shipping damage. Always over-do the packing, always take pics, always insure.
Sorry it didn't work out.
"A man need merely light the filaments of his receiving set and the world's greatest artists will perform for him." Alfred N. Goldsmith, RCA, 1922
I agree I blew it not insisting on insurance. Nobody is claiming I shipped the record in this condition, so while taking more pics is a good idea, I don't believe it would have made a difference in this case. I do believe the buyer at least needs to rise to the level of actual proof with his photos. This should be very easy to do but the buyer refuses. If I accept a return, I have no idea what he's going to send me, and what will my recourse be? I'm still not convinced this isn't a scam.
Pics taken at packaging time show not only the condition of the item, but details of the packaging.
If you're set on not doing anything short of receiving "proof" (of what? that it's the record you sent? that it's the jacket you sent? that it was damaged in shipment? that the buyer is trying to cheat you?) then there is not much to say. The deal is done.
There are certainly times for "as is/no returns" sales; I've done them, and will do them again. I also accepted a return of a "no returns" Cal Delta/Sigma combo that the buyer auditioned in my home, then returned the next day totally fried. But that's really the only bad experience I've had in over 40 years of buying and selling gear. So as long as that's the only bad one, I'd rather take a hit than have someone in this very small community feel they were taken advantage of. YMMV.
"A man need merely light the filaments of his receiving set and the world's greatest artists will perform for him." Alfred N. Goldsmith, RCA, 1922
Offer him a full refund upon the return of the album. Make sure you do this through the eBay email system.
Maybe I'm being unreasonable, but I'm not going to do that. I'm willing to accept a negative feedback. If eBay rules in his favor (it's already gone to that) I will probably end all my auctions and never sell on ebay again. I won't operate in an environment where others dictate that I must tolerate being shaken down by whoever decides they want free money from me. This was actually the second time this record sold as it is. The first "winner" bid $303 and then decided the next day he didn't want it after all. I don't ever want to see that damn record again.
take a look at the feedbacks that eBayer has left others on buys. See if there's a pattern.
One buyer in the past year claimed the guy sold him a sealed LP that was "unplayable". Could mean it was warped...could mean it was re-wrapped. My guy offered a partial refund as remedy.
The problem with eBay's feedback system is that it's been defanged to the point that it really means very little. With eBay's moderation system, it appears that it is really difficult to get negative feedback to stick or sometimes be allowed at all. It used to mean a lot more to have all positive feedback.
Once upon a time, I would have folded to this kind of thing just to preserve our perfect feedback. I suspect a lot of that goes on too and is invisible in feedback. I don't depend on eBay for my livelihood the way I used to, and I'm at a point in my life where I've had enough of con games and extortion to just say "enough". I'm tired of having my money sucked away by vampires.
Thanks for the replies.
I had an experience with a seller that ran thus:
I bought a nice tube (a 5692) at a good price. It arrived packed as well as a tube could be packed--the seller did his part and then some. The tube was shorted. I checked his feedback, which was terrific. My conclusion was that the tube was mishandled in transit through no fault of the seller. I sent it back and he refunded the money. Since there was no transaction I couldn't leave feedback, and I wanted to leave positive feedback; people need to know when a seller actually knows how to pack a tube.
Hence my question to all: What could I have done to prevent this? I'm no newb at this, but I've sold very few sealed records, and no MFSL's that were sealed in the past. I've seen sellers that offer to unseal records before shipping to eliminate this risk, now I see it's not such a crazy thing to do. With all the extra packing board inside that cover, it must have taken some serious blows to do what is shown in the pics he sent me. I can imagine some tricks employing bubble wrap or some such to crowd the disc to prevent it from moving in a mild shock, but anything that would hold it against a really good jolt would pose other risks to the cover and possibly the disc. So I guess there may have been something I could have done a little better to harden the thing against what happened, but I really doubt it would have prevented all the damage (assuming those pics really do show my record).
What I'm really guilty of here is not protecting myself. I've done enough eBay to know better, but I'm rusty on selling items this valuable. I should have insisted on Priority Mail with insurance. Then it would be between him and his local postmaster, and I wouldn't get hit up for money. Hopefully I would still hear about mistakes and learn from them, but I couldn't be held financially liable for the damage. It's worked well in the past, I just need to remember to protect myself in the future.
Your tube seller went above and beyond btw, WAY above IMO. I assume he tested it beforehand and it was OK (I've sold a few tubes myself). Whether I would warrant something like that would depend on a number of things, mostly is it new or used? Can I get a truly like replacement easily? With rare NOS, it's as-is with my word it tested as reported for me, and any losses are covered by insurance. It's probably worth mentioning that I'm a warranty professional by day.
Don't let me do it without the fez on, so quoth Steely Dan :-)
What I do is charge the buyer a reasonable shipping fee or offer free shipping. If the item sells for a higher amount, I will upgrade the shipping method and insure the item on my dime. You need to protect yourself. I never offer a partial refund only a full refund upon a safe return.
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