My EBay Life
(A series of essays about what it is like to sell stuff on EBay)
I have to say that 99.9 percent of the people that I deal with on EBay have been easy and understanding to work with but then there is that other tenth of a percent. In my experience they do not appear to be sellers on EBay and so I presume that they do not know a lot about the expenses we incur or the time that we spend or much about the selling experience at all. And that is ok they are not supposed to understand us. They bought something and they want to be happy about the purchase once they receive the item. That's what we both want right?
But here is the problem. Even though it is a popular mantra for most companies out there we all know it's not true. The fact is that the customer is not always right. I will admit that when in doubt it is always a good idea to acquiesce to the customers request and I do. When a customer tells me their item was broken I refund their purchase no questions asked. If a customer emails just to say they aren't completely happy for what ever reason I offer to discount the item, take the return or refund completely if the situation warrants. That's just good business but sometimes it just doesn't feel right to bend over backwards. Do you know what I am talking about?
Here are a couple of examples that I have navigated in my EBay Life.
I once received a message that read something about how I had shipped an item to the wrong address the email ended with the comment in all capital letters (to me, that's the equivalent to yelling in type) "Thank you for ignoring my special instructions." There was probably an exclamation mark at the end but I don't remember. I think that I was particularly taken aback by the sarcasm in the "Thank you" part.
I had in fact shipped the item to the buyer but he had sent me a message requesting that I ship the item to another address. So I had no problem accepting responsibility for the mistake and offering to refund the amount of the forward shipping but that left me with a hollow feeling that I was allowing myself to be treated in a way that was somehow unacceptable. So I did what EBay allows you to do. I took a deep breath and gave myself a little time to think about it before I typed a smart-alec reply that would surely push my buyer over the edge and insure that they left me negative feedback.
I wanted to say, "I am sorry." Ok.... really at first I didn't even want to apologize for my mistake. But I did make a mistake. The problem was that I couldn't get past how surly I thought the buyer had been to me. I wanted to be able to say something to the effect the I was sorry but that didn't give him the right to be rude. Which of course would have been the wrong way to put it. In the end I sent the apology, offered to refund the shipping and ended with this statement.
"Please don't treat me like I did this on purpose."
I admit I was a little surprised to receive positive feedback and a very nice reply that said not to worry about the shipping.
Maybe the buyer didn't think all caps was yelling I don't know. But I believe as a seller it is important to choose your words wisely when you are dealing with an unhappy buyer. In this case it all worked out for me.
My second example is currently unresolved. A few weeks ago I sold a pair of boots to a buyer. This pair of boots to be exact.
Upon their receipt I received this email.
Thank you for quickly shipping. I have examined the boots, and taken some boot black to them. The left toe area is more than a "little scuffed", the leather is permanently scarred, and does not take the black evenly with the rest of the boot.
I am going to take these to my shoe/boot repair shop to see if the toe area can be dyed or treated to accept the boot black more evenly to match the rest of the boot.
Because your description made the claim that the toes were only scuffed and needed polish, I am asking for a partial refund to offset the expense at the boot repair shop.
The partial refund is half of the price paid for the boots. I think ~$30 is fair to offset the boot repair cost.
Now she was very polite and I can't argue what I meant in my description vs what she was expecting to get but I don't know where she came up with $30.00. It seemed too extreme for me. So I sent this reply.
Thank you for contacting me. I am sorry that the boots were not in the condition you expected. I will be happy to take them back and will refund your shipping cost in addition to your original payment.
She replied with:
Hi, thanks for your response and the offer - but the boots have already been dropped off at the shoe repair. It will be this weekend before I have a chance to pick them up.
I am sorry but I am a little confused. I am not trying to be difficult and once again I am sorry that you feel my description was inaccurate. I am always happy to take a return to make the customer happy and in your case I am happy to pay for the return shipping. I am not clear as to why you would take the item for repairs before you and I had had a chance to come to some kind of agreement. If you would like for me to pay for the repair please send me the receipt. If you still are not happy with the shoes please return them with the receipt for the repair and I will refund the entire amount.
I am sorry that you feel disappointed with this purchase and hope that you understand that I am trying to work with you to make it right.