Monday, May 21, 2012

Offering an Additional Shipping Option

I purchased a flat item on eBay, a collectible item described as being "unused" with "no damage." The seller's description stated that the item would be mailed in an envelope with little concern for protection. The description also stated that the item would be mailed with better protection at a higher price if requested by the buyer. Okay, no problem, right? Wrong.

I requested an invoice for shipping with better protection. I received an invoice for the shipping amount from the original listing, which was for shipping in an envelope with little protection. No message was attached to the invoice indicating that the seller had read my request. I assumed that the seller had failed to notice my request. I sent a message asking for the shipping with better protection.

The seller replied, stating that eBay would not allow for the invoice to be edited. I was rather annoyed. I was exhausted after a long day and could not think clearly myself, but I knew without a doubt that the seller should have been able to invoice me in some fashion for the higher amount. In the seller's message, he requested that I add $1.50 to my payment. eBay would not allow me to edit the invoice, since the seller had that disabled in his account settings. I was further annoyed.

I even went to PayPal to see if I could send payment from there, since many years ago, buyers could send payment directly from PayPal for eBay items. eBay has deactivated that option. I could not add the amount no matter what I did.

Altogether, I wasted approximately 30 minutes trying to fix the seller's problem. Finally, I sent payment for the invoiced amount, knowing that my item would probably arrive damaged.

Belatedly, I realized that all the seller needed to have done was add another more expensive shipping method to the invoice, while leaving the original shipping option intact with no changes. I would have remembered this myself if I had not been so utterly exhausted on that day. Why do so many sellers not know how to use eBay?

The above portion of this blog post was written before I received the item in the mail. The item did arrive undamaged, since the seller decided to provide some additional protection. Fortunately, this transaction ended fine, but I was more than slightly aggravated by the seller's expectation that I fix the problem on my end. This was not somebody new to eBay.

The situation could have been avoided in the first place if the seller would have included both shipping options when the auction was created. If a seller plans to offer a second shipping option, make it available from the beginning. Buyers should not be forced to ask the seller to add an option that was mentioned in the listing.

Most importantly, the seller shoulders the responsibility of figuring out the solution to this type of problem. A buyer should never be expected to try to figure it out. eBay has message boards and an answer center. Users can go to those locations and ask questions.

No comments: