The first time I received negative feedback on eBay

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 replied:

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:

  1. Always pay for tracking (unless it’s just a cheap item of course).
  2. 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.
  3. Don’t leave negative feedback to buyers, because they’ll leave negative feedback to you in retaliation.
  4. 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.)
  5. In general, avoid selling stuff on eBay.

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