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Your advice sought on ebay dispute

post #1 of 114
Thread Starter 
Dear Folks: So, it's like this: Guy bought a small item from me. I shipped it in one of those little USPS Priority Mail boxes. Took about two weeks to go from NY to CA, and when it did, the box was in a USPS plastic bag -- and empty. While in transit, it seems to have opened. Buyer has started dispute via ebay, item not delivered/as described, etc. Buyer paid by money order so paypal is not involved. I note I took reasonable care in shipping the item, and he elected not to pay for insurance. In all my listings I note that insurance is recommended (I require it for shipments of over 100 USD) and I also note that I am not responsible for uninsured items. At this point in the dispute, he is asking me how I can prove the box was sealed. Of course my shipping agent would not accept one unsealed. Perhaps I can get my shipping agent to make a statement to that effect. How to proceed. Other note is that to date, my feedback number of over 1350 is still 100%. What is it worth to keep it that way for a little longer? What are the bragging rights of 'perfect' feedback worth to me, the seller, or to you, the buyer? This is the first time in my experience that a box has opened in transit. Item in question cost 40 USD. What do you think I should do?
post #2 of 114
In the end, how much is 'perfect' feedback worth to you? To have it for 1363 transactions is great, but then one negative in that isn't going to deter any reasonable person from bidding on your auctions. If someone chooses uninsured shipping then they share the responsiblity if not take it on entirely, and this is from the point of view of a buyer.
post #3 of 114
Considering that insurance reduces hassle for sellers, it's not rational that buyers pay all of it. It's also not rational that the buyer have sole discretion. That being said, we don't live in a perfectly rational world. You have to assume that reputation is less valuable for the buyer than for you, so the question boils down to: would you pay $40 to avoid one bad review? (You might be able to negotiate an intermediate sum with them...?)
post #4 of 114
Is there a comparable item that you could send to the customer?
post #5 of 114
I've had a few similar problems; in a few cases, I've ponied up the money, but only if the buyer has seemed honest and forthright. In a couple cases, when buyers have clearly been dishonest (as in damaging items themselves in order to try to get a refund), or unreasonable, I've accepted the negative feedback as a consequence of standing on principle. Like you, I've sold quite a bit, so my feedback rating is very high, and one or two bad transactions isn't going to affect many people's perception of my credibillity.
post #6 of 114
As a buyer (more than once from you in fact) I treat negligible negative feedback the same as a 100% rating, and if I were you I'd be inclined to stand on principal.
post #7 of 114
Quote:
Considering that insurance reduces hassle for sellers, it's not rational that buyers pay all of it.

Uh, no...

Quote:
and he elected not to pay for insurance

I think the above is key. On principle I'd say it's not your problem. If you can prove you shipped it then you did your job, he had the opportunity to buy insurance. On the other hand, if it is really cheap it might be worth just making it go away. I usually base my reaction on the buyers attitude, if he is being a jerk than I don't budge. That's how I got my few negative feedbacks

Edit - I suppose I should add that I insure all packages, so I have never run into this exact situation.
post #8 of 114
Let's see how'd you react, if the boot was on the other foot? You order a book from amazon and receive an empty packet. Wouldn't you expect amazon to supply you a new book or refund your money?

Maybe the packaging was bad and the item worked its way out while going through the postal processes, maybe something indicated "╦ťinteresting item', the fact is, it happened on your watch by the carrier of your choice. I do not think your watch has ended before the item gets handed over. Insurance is for your protection, not for the buyers (just like your car insurance protects you, in case of liabilities).

In this particular situation, there is no doubt that the buyer's complaint is genuine (he did not receive the goods). It's not that he fraudulently claims a non received item, while he actually got the thing. I have no doubt that you should pay up. It happened with the carrier of your choice, and any claims on your part should be directed at that carrier. Ask them, they might find the thing in the bottom of a postal sack.

Why don't you self-insure? Many eBay sellers do that, particular those who are dealing with low value item where the insurance is in no relation to the actual cost. Charge for every transaction an additional Dollar or 50 cent and put that money into a piggy bank. With your 1350+ transactions you would have a sizable fund by now, to refund that buyer without even battering an eyelid.
post #9 of 114
As a buyer, if the seller did not offer insurance, then I might have a problem. But if I purposely opted not to buy it, I would not feel right expecting the seller to cover a loss, as long as they shipped it.
post #10 of 114
From a legal standpoint, I'm afraid you are generally responsible for getting the item to the buyer, whether he purchases insurance or not. You usually can't disclaim this obligation. It is kind of like trying to disclaim liability for negligence, you generally can't do it. This is one of the biggest misconceptions by sellers on eBay. That's why if you don't feel you can trust the postal service, you have to make insurance mandatory. Personally, I have found that the postal service makes few enough mistakes that not buying insurance (essentially self-insuring) saves me more money than the few times I have had to send a replacement or refund the money. In over 500 transactions, I've only had the postal service mislay two items, and they ended up finding both of them several weeks later. Now if you are dealing in very high end items it might not be worth it to trust the postal service, but for anything under $100, insurance probably isn't worth it unless you just don't want to deal with the hassle.
post #11 of 114
..
post #12 of 114
Was the package marked with a shipping weight? A shirt doesn't weigh much, but if it was a coat the difference should be noticable as the package weighed more at the post office than it did on arrival.
post #13 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by knittieguy View Post
From a legal standpoint, I'm afraid you are generally responsible for getting the item to the buyer, whether he purchases insurance or not. You usually can't disclaim this obligation. It is kind of like trying to disclaim liability for negligence, you generally can't do it. This is one of the biggest misconceptions by sellers on eBay. That's why if you don't feel you can trust the postal service, you have to make insurance mandatory.

What he said.
post #14 of 114
As a buyer how I feel depends may depend on how much shipping was charged by the seller. If the seller seems to be charging only for actual shipping costs and then offers insurance, I might think it is my choice whether to buy it. But many sellers clearly charge much more than the actual shipping costs, and then try to nickel and dime by offering insurance for an additional fee. If I pay $10 shipping for a polo shirt, I don't think I should have to pay extra for insurance.

Also, some sellers charge clearly excessivbe amounts for insurance.
post #15 of 114
Thread Starter 
Responses to different notes above:

-- I have only one of this item, therefore cannot offer any replacement.

-- Buyer has feedback of about 700 with 12 negs, but seems to have responded rationally to neg feedback given him in the past.

-- Difference in shipping weight of item is no guide as I weigh at home and print labels online. USPS does not bother to weigh any item unless my paid for weight is grossly below actual weight, which it never is.

-- Shipping is reasonable, I believe -- 6.50 before rate change, 7 after. Insurance I offer at cost.

Since buyer refused shipment of the package, I think I will wait to decide until the package comes back to me.
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