Home Shady Lane

Retailers, Manufacturers, ePay, AudiogoN, Paypal or whatever. Buying and selling advice.

Undone by my own errors, but still walking away from eBay.

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.


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