Sunday, April 28, 2019

Recent Transaction Problems

I have had a number of problems with transactions so far this year.  Some of these problems caused me great stress and impacted how well I felt in the following days.  This is the worst stretch I have ever had with inconsiderate or overly emotional people.

USPS Inefficiency

The USPS was negligent in its handling of a package that contained a large number of international edition series books.  I would hate for any package to go missing, but this one would have been an epic disaster, since the books could not have been replaced.  By the way, I have never forgiven USPS for losing a set of A. L. Burt Beverly Gray books with dust jackets in the late 1990s.  But I digress.

The package that contained 23 international edition series books was mailed on February 25 and should have arrived in Florida by March 4-6.  The buyer contacted me on March 11 asking if I had any additional information about the package location.  I was quite bothered when I saw that the package had left my post office on February 25 and had disappeared without another scan.

I went to and completed the form to initiate a search request.  I probably spent 30 minutes filling out the search request.  Trying to list books printed in other languages isn't easy.  I settled on using key words, like stating that a certain number of books were in Swedish with "Vicki" located somewhere on the front cover.  I made similar statements for the books from other series.  I wanted someone not familiar with the books to be able to spot them easily.  The contents have to be described so that they can be located if the package has been destroyed and the contents scattered.

Due to the nature and scarcity of the books contained in this package, it would have been a disaster if the package had been lost.  I was not happy.  Three days after I filed the search request, the package was apparently found in Dallas, which is where it should have been scanned no later than February 26 or 27.  I don't understand where the package was for the 17 days it took for the package to leave my post office and arrive in Dallas.  The drive from Oklahoma City to Dallas is no more than four hours.

I was relieved that the package had been located, but then it vanished again.  The package was never scanned as having left Dallas, so I was left hanging for six more days until it finally arrived and was delivered in Florida.  This was ridiculous.  Click on the image to see a larger version.

Fortunately, the package was fine and had not been damaged.  Lengthy package delays are typically caused when the package gets destroyed, but that was not the case with this one.  I have to wonder if the package was laying around somewhere getting ignored for 17 days.  I don't get it.

Seller Mistakes

I purchased the first printing of Judy Bolton #3, The Invisible Chimes, from an eBay seller in late January.  First printings of the first three Judy Bolton books with dust jackets that list to Invisible Chimes are just as scarce as the first printings of the first three Nancy Drew books with dust jackets that list to Bungalow Mystery.  The Judy Bolton books are worth much less, but they are just as impossible to find.

About a week after I purchased the book, I received a set of Charles Dickens books instead of my book.  I was quite dismayed, since I knew that my book had to have been mailed to another buyer.  I felt a little sick, because not all buyers will cooperate and forward packages mistakenly mailed to them.  I feared that the other buyer might even throw the book in the trash.  I posted about the situation on Facebook, where others insisted that it would work out.  I wasn't convinced, since I've read too many bad stories about similar situations.

I informed the seller, who had me mail the Dickens books to the correct buyer.  I was reimbursed for the cost.  The seller was not able to determine where the book went.  I personally think the book went to the Dickens buyer, but the buyer didn't admit it.  I never did get my book.  That's why I was so upset when I opened up the package that contained the Dickens books.  Someone received my book and kept it.  I just hope that they didn't throw it away.

I was also reimbursed for the cost of the book, but that didn't get me my book.  Someone has my book.

Buyer Meltdowns

I understand that some buyers are ready to believe the worst, especially when another transaction has ended badly.  However, buyers should not be so quick to judge without even reviewing the situation.

I often split large lots into two boxes.  Sometimes I do send a message to the buyer informing them, but regardless, I always write "Box 1 of 2" and "Box 2 of 2" on the tops of the boxes.  Just reading that simple message should be enough to inform the buyer that another package will be arriving, probably in the next day or so.  Besides, the buyer does receive two shipping notices, one for each box, which should alert them that two packages are coming.

I recently mailed a set of books to a buyer in the two boxes labeled as described above.  I did not send a message.  I actually was planning to in this particular case, but it slipped my mind.  That was a mistake.  The buyer somehow did not see "Box 1 of 1" clearly written in black marker on the top of the box, which is probably the side of the box that the buyer would have cut open.  Anyway, she went into hysterics, sending a message asking where the other books were and begging me to send them.  I wasn't online at that particular moment.  Since I didn't respond, five minutes later she opened a case against me on eBay.

I was pretty annoyed, and I can assure you that I what I tell buyers in cases like this is not what I want to tell them.  I usually have to edit what I type several times to avoid being too combative.  I went with this.

Right, I meant to send you a message letting you know to expect two boxes. I forgot to do so. If you look at the box, you'll see that it is either labeled "Box 1 of 2" or "Box 2 of 2." I never place all of the books from a large shipment in one box, since heavier and bulkier boxes are more likely to be damaged. Half the books are in the other box. While annoying, boxes often get separated and end up on different trucks. That can cause the packages to arrive one or more days apart.

I then received a message asking about the tracking numbers.  She didn't know where to find them.  I told her where to find them, but I also went to to see the exact status of both packages.  I determined that the second one was just slightly behind.  I pasted the tracking numbers into my response, telling her to expect the second package within two days.  It arrived the next day.

The buyer closed the case, but even cases closed by the buyer still count against the seller.  Take a look at this screen capture from my account.  Click on the image to see a larger version.

Even though the buyer canceled the case, eBay continues to count it against me.  eBay compares sellers to their peers, and notice that this one "return" places me at a higher percent than my peers.  If just one more buyer opens a case in the next year, I might be charged higher fees or have my top-rated seller status taken away.  Never open an eBay case against a seller unless you are 100% certain that the seller is messing with you.

Inconsiderate Buyers

I would just love to tell you who this person is, but I will refrain.  The buyer is a prominent seller on sites like Amazon, AbeBooks, Biblio, and others.

This person purchased a book from me, and then sent a message asking if I combine shipping.  I said that I do.  I made a grave error in not setting a time limit for combining orders.  I will never make that mistake again.

The buyer purchased a second book and sent a message thanking me for combining the orders.  I figured that the buyer was finished, which was my second grave error that evening.  I combined the orders in one box and refunded the extra postage.  Around 30 minutes after that, the buyer purchased some more books, each individually so that postage was charged on every order.  The buyer also sent another message thanking me for combining all the orders.  This time, I did nothing.  I waited.  Around four hours later, the buyer came back yet again and purchased another book.

This time I sent a link to the remaining ones, telling the buyer that if he wanted them as well to go ahead and purchase them.  He did not make any additional purchases.  Maybe I annoyed him.  Whatever.  I was more than just annoyed myself.  I was furious about his lack of consideration.  He was causing me extra work, and I could not get the books packed until he was finally finished.

He wasn't the only one.

I had another buyer who purchased 32 books from me in 32 separate transactions on Etsy.  Let's just say that the result was a huge mess that took up most of an entire evening.  It wasn't good.  I sent the books in one box, but I had to refund 31 postage overcharges.  It took forever to click on each transaction, enter the refund amount, review, and submit.  I spent 30 to 45 minutes sending refunds.

The other option would have been to mail the 32 books in 32 packages with no refunds sent.  Packing all of the books separately would have taken much longer.  Sending 31 refunds was the better option.

This was a horrible experience.

Disorganized Buyers

A buyer purchased eight books from me in six different transactions over the course of around a week.  One of the transactions had a different mailing address.  I should have asked, but I decided that the buyer probably had a reason for it to go somewhere else.  I mailed it off.

Two weeks later, that package came back refused.  I contacted the buyer to let him know and asked him if he still wanted the book.  He told me that he had received that book from me and that he wished me well in trying to find the correct buyer.

Okay, then.  I knew that I hadn't made a mistake on my end, other than not asking about the address.  I had a hunch, so I ran a search for that title in my completed transactions.  Sure enough, he had purchased two different copies of that book.  He did indeed have a book purchased from me, and I had received the other book back.

I reflected about how the buyer didn't think I owed him anything.  I could have kept the money ($23.94) and the book.  There was never any doubt that I would refund the money, but I could certainly have kept the money and not said anything.

I refunded the transaction and told the buyer about how he had accidentally purchased two copies of the book.

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