Six weeks ago, I sold a broken iPod on eBay. Someone was actually willing to pay £42 for my old broken iPod.
But now, six weeks later, here’s what I have to show for the experience:
- I have no iPod
- I have no £42
- I’ve paid £11 in eBay fees, PayPal fees, and postage
- The buyer has taken my negative feedback cherry
How did this happen? I thought eBay was supposed to be a fun way to make money? I’ve basically paid £11 for the postal service to lose my iPod and a disgruntled seller to give me negative feedback.
Shipping the iPod
A French guy called ‘brunom60’ (real name of Bruno Mauro) bought my iPod for £42. Yippee! I wrapped it up and danced down to the post office.
The clerk asked if I wanted to pay an extra €7 for tracking, but I declined. I trusted the Irish and French mail systems not to lose my parcel. But it turns out my trust was ill-founded, because…
The iPod got lost
Three weeks later, the buyer send me this message:
I’m really surprised by the delay in sending the iPod and I still have not received it. Can you provide a tracking number or a proof of shipping ?
I shipped the iPod on the same day you bought it: the 30th May. There was no proof of postage; only a receipt. It’s attached. It doesn’t have much information though. Just the date of posting (30th May) and the destination country (France).
eBay forced me to hand over a refund
Another three weeks went by and then the buyer asked eBay to resolve the problem. I don’t blame him; it’s what I would have done. eBay sided with the buyer and forced me to hand over a full refund:
We didn’t receive valid proof of delivery from you. We reviewed this case and decided to issue the buyer a full refund. This amount will be debited from the payment method on your account.
What’s more, eBay kept my final value fee of £4.31. eBay usually refunds these fees, but not this time. Perhaps eBay felt like they deserved the fee for having to intervene. Here’s what their policies say:
You won’t receive a final value fee credit if the buyer asks us to step in and help with a return or an item they didn’t receive.
Or in the words of someone on Reddit:
If ebay has to get involved then they do not refund your final value fees because they’re dickholes.
So now I was down £11 (£1.84 PayPal fee + £4.31 eBay fee + €5.50 postage). So I was basically paying £11 to lose an iPod. I would have been better off if I had thrown the iPod in the bin.
I gave negative feedback to the buyer
I should have accepted the loss and move on. But something inside me snapped. I had sent the iPod, so why did I need to give a refund?
Out of frustration, I wrote this on the buyer’s feedback page:
He claimed he never received the item so I had to refund him. Sellers beware!
My comment is fair, right? If I’ve had a bad experience with a buyer, then isn’t it fair that I warn others about it?
But eBay didn’t think so. Because a couple of hours later, eBay sent me an email saying I’d broken a rule: “Sellers can’t leave negative feedback for buyers”. eBay also deleted my feedback.
Furthermore, in retaliation, the buyer left negative feedback for me:
I’ve sold hundreds of items on eBay and this is the first time I’ve received negative feedback. Before this, the worst I ever got was a neutral feedback that just said ‘communicate to resolve issues’. I’m a bit shocked. If you sell stuff on eBay, you’ll know that negative feedback is serious. One item of negative feedback can turn buyers away.
So I learned:
- Always pay for tracking (unless it’s just a cheap item of course).
- If a buyer opens a dispute, refund them instead of leaving eBay to intervene. This way you’ll at least get your final value fee back.
- Don’t leave negative feedback to buyers, because they’ll leave negative feedback to you in retaliation.
- Sometimes, a buyer will bend you over and try to fuck you in the ass. Don’t struggle. Just let them get on with it. (Read: issue a refund.)
- In general, avoid selling stuff on eBay.