Sometimes, a buyer doesn’t follow the rules set up on eBay or PayPal. This is part of the game, but it’s also infuriating. I’ll go over my case, my responses, and how I could have improved them along the way. I’m going to try really hard to not be emotional about this. I swear… even though it really does piss me off, though!
Here’s how the issue got started.
I sold a vintage Gloverall Duffle jacket for $200 and free shipping. It only went to New York so that was about $6 even though it was a heavy coat. I had it listed at much higher than $200 but had accepted this offer. I’d already sold it before, and had it returned once. Since the first time it sold, I have implemented
a $20 (whoops!) 20% restocking fee.
Prior to the sale, the buyer had contacted me asking “how I measured the jacket.” I took pictures showing the measurements I take, but I was only using my phone so I couldn’t zoom in on the measurements themselves. I didn’t think this was an issue since the values of the measurements were already in the listing. I repeated them in my message.
Not good enough. He was confused about the measurements and why he couldn’t see the numbers on the tape measurer. So I took them again, sent them off. Finally, he accepted for $200 total. I wasn’t thrilled, but it was towards the end of the year, and I wanted this damn jacket gone.
When it was received, the buyer messaged me saying “I got this coat and it fits fine, but I am surprised that it doesn’t have a long zipper to close off the front. Do some models have this zipper?”
I responded that I didn’t know when it was from (70’s/80’s being my best guess). I didn’t realize then, but I really can’t find a Gloverall Duffle jacket that has a zipper. Seriously, check out their website!
The buyer never opened a case on eBay and just returned the item to me instead. No biggie. Once I received the item, I refunded the buyer $160 ($200 minus the 20% restocking fee).
The buyer was not pleased. I received a message saying that they didn’t see a restocking fee and thought that it was unfair. I politely responded that it’s on all of my listings. He then said that he found it but didn’t think it should apply because “The auction that didn’t say the coat didn’t have a zipper.”
I’m holding back some emotions right now. I just deleted a few sentences that I typed out which were emotionally charged. 🙂
The buyer then opened a case through PayPal, not through eBay. This confused me but that’s OK. I know I was right.
Well, PayPal disagreed. Apparently the buyer’s argument was too strong.
The overall issue was “The listing didn’t accurately describe the item.”
The buyer’s comments were as follows:
“I have difficulty accepting the 20% restocking fee. I appreciate your making the partial refund of $160 but feel that you should not have withheld $40 as a fee for “restocking” the coat into your inventory.”
The buyer literally didn’t talk about the coat or any “issues”. All he talked about was the fact that I had a restocking fee!
I responded with a large block of text:
“The buyer is asking me to waive a restocking fee which was in my item’s listing at time of purchase. He acknowledged that the jacket was in good condition upon receipt (in eBay messages) and that he assumed that the jacket would have a zipper. The eBay listing included pictures of the jacket opened, closed, and closeups of the “toggles” which are used to keep the jacket closed. All of these clearly show that there is no zipper. Additionally, Gloverall duffle jackets do not have zippers as found on the Gloverall website: http://www.gloverall.com/gloverall-classics/men/original-gloverall-duffle.html
The restocking fee covers many items: original shipping which was paid for by myself, boxes, packing materials, tools, my time for responding to messages (I responded to the buyer multiple times when he requested additional measurements and photographs), packing the item, and taking the item to the post office. Additionally, I lost time of having that item listed on eBay during one of the busiest times of the year. Finally, the restocking fee is plainly listed in the eBay listing prior to purchase.As this return was due to buyers’ remorse, I cannot, in good conscience, waive the restocking fee.”
Finally, I uploaded copies of our messages in eBay and escalated the case to PayPal.
Within a few days, PayPal responded in favor of the buyer. I was dumbfounded.
Where did I go wrong? I’m going to appeal the case!
Well, the way this transaction went through caused PayPal to have issues with it’s normal appeal process which is electronic. I’m glad that this happened, though, because it forced me to call PayPal.
I let them know the situation, explained that I was frustrated as the restocking fee is a part of my listing at time of purchase and that I needed help. The CS rep was very helpful and ended up giving me the $40 back.
Hooray! Balloons fell down from the ceiling. All was well. Except for the fact that the buyer wasn’t right and probably got to keep his money too. But, I need to take what I can get.
So there you have it. If we break this down, we can see where I made a few mistakes and where I may have gotten PayPal or eBay to side with me in the first place.
- I was never rude. This is a good thing. Before each message, I made sure to read it a few times. I could have linked to the Gloverall website to clarify that there shouldn’t be a damn zipper.
- The return process – I don’t know how to handle this. I actually called eBay when I received the coat, and they said to give the partial refund through PayPal. In the future, I might not do this unless they start the return through eBay.
- I should have been less verbose in my response on PayPal. Reference the PayPal User Agreement. Looking back at this a week later, I’m frustrated to admit that it probably could have gone either way. Buyers have protection when “The item is missing major parts or features which were not disclosed in its description when you bought the item.” I think he could have argued this while I would have argued that “The item was properly described but did not meet your expectations.”
- I should NOT have escalated the case in PayPal. I should have tried to reason with the buyer about why I was right. Or something?
- I called PayPal. At this point, it was my only option. In general, when I’ve called eBay or PayPal, they are very understanding and helpful. The point is to talk to a real person.
So that’s how I appealed my case (verbally) and won. The whole process was very stressful. I don’t like having to take 15 minutes out of my day to call PayPal/eBay. I don’t like stressing over this thing. But if I didn’t accept returns, it could have been worse. eBay could have made me take the return, they could have made me refund the buyer, and I might not have gotten the item back.
This coat will sell and I just need to forget about the whole situation. But I did update the listing to say that the coat does not have zippers. *sigh*