AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Fri Jan 21 2011 19:52:12

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

By: David Steiner

Sponsored Link

I thought a recent transaction of mine as a buyer on eBay might make an interesting case study of seller/buyer sentiment. Here's the background:

On 12/30/10 I made a small purchase on eBay for a replacement part for an electronic device that I owned which had broken. After perusing many listings for this type of item, I noticed that nearly all of them originated in Hong Kong. Since it was a relatively small-ticket item, I decided to give one of the merchants, a PowerSeller with over 200,000 feedback, a shot. This would be my first Asian purchase, and I have to admit that I was curious to see how smoothly a transaction would go when the merchant resided on the other side of the world.

The terms for the auction were PayPal payment only, which I made immediately. The shipping delivery times stated in the listing were 8 to 14 days to USA/ Canada, which would put delivery around January 17th, at the outside, taking into account the New Year's holiday.

On January 19th, having not received the item, I sent the following message to the seller through the eBay message system:


I purchased this item on 12/30/10 and have not received it. Can you tell me if this item has been shipped, as your terms estimate delivery to US within 8-14 days.

The following morning (1/20) I received this reply:

I checked that we have shipped you the item to below address:
[my address]
Please kindly confirm, if address correct, it should arrive soon.
Please contact us again directly if you still have not received your item after waiting.
We sure will help you to solve the problem.
Thanks and best regards

I responded with this message:

Yes, that is the correct address. Does it typically take 3 weeks to arrive to a US address?

I was hoping that it didn’t come across as snarky, I was simply curious about the typical shipping time from Hong Kong to the US. Since this seller had over 200,000 feedback, I had to assume that the bulk of their customers were satisfied with the shipping times, however we were outside the 8-14 day delivery window.

This morning, I received an email from the merchant through eBay asking me to cancel the transaction.

Reason for cancel transaction request: The seller did not provide a specific reason.
Click the "Respond now" button to accept or decline this cancellation.
If you don't take action by Jan-28-2011, the seller will be able to cancel the purchase without your consent.

There was no message or explanation in the email from the seller. I have to admit that I was a little peeved after reading this, thinking that I had just wasted 3 weeks waiting for a part, and I hadn't gotten confirmation that the item had even been shipped. And then another email arrived from PayPal - a refund for the amount of the transaction:

Message from merchant: Sorry that you have not received the item yet.
We decided to refund you the money first. Hope you would
satisfy with this arrangement and leave us 5-Star positive rating.
And do hope you can contact us if parcel arrive later.

So this is where it sits at the moment. Having been a seller on eBay, I try to put myself in that position as a customer. I've read innumerable forum threads over the last decade relating to transactions where the seller felt that the buyer was trying to put something over on them. I, myself, might even think, "Did this person receive the item, and is now trying to wrangle a refund?"

As a consumer, I appreciate the offer of a refund - no questions asked, however, I'm now back at square one, and have to start the process again - three weeks later - of finding and purchasing another replacement part.

So what type of feedback does this seller deserve? What would you give for DSRs? Is this the type of merchant that you would do business with in the future? I'd be curious to hear both buyers' and sellers' perspectives, particularly those with international trading experience..

Comments (72) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: John

Fri Jan 21 20:05:00 2011

Hey David, You got the money back. Lesson learned.  I myself would have never purchased an electronic item from overseas, but would only suggest the following.

Forget the feedback, Take Ina out to dinner and a movie and stop by Radio shack or best buy or whatever electronic store is in your neighborhood,  and give your local brick and mortar some business.

I'm sure you will get positive feedback from Ina....

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: 5 stars or 1

Fri Jan 21 20:06:07 2011

They are very good at asking for 5 star ratings...but have they provided 5 star service?

200,000 transactions and they don't have the ability to provide you with tracking?  don't packages that come into the US require a customs #?  Every outgoing parcel has a customs #.

I've received goods from abroad that did not work.  Large sellers with low prices have quality control, delivery control and communication issues.  No worries, eBay's "got you covered"

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

This user has validated their user name. by: David Steiner

Fri Jan 21 20:17:59 2011

Two interesting perspectives so far. I just want to add something:

John, this was a part that I had looked for locally, and searched extensively for across multiple sites. Only eBay seemed to have the part that I needed, and it was sold by sellers originating in Asia.

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: Jake

Fri Jan 21 20:32:30 2011

As you admit you have no knowledge of the difficulties sellers from Asia have with the BBE score (Bad buyer experience).

It is better to refund and then if the buyer is honest let you know when the item arrives so you can re-bill, eBay will shut sellers down 3 months (or even longer) if you get bad scores on the BBE (this is NOT DSR’s or feedback).
I have 1 account that has 100% FB on almost 1,000 ratings and I’ve been locked out for almost 4 months now, all down to buyers who think sellers deliver the items personally and rate you the seller low because the post office service is to blame.

David you should for one totally understand that the delivery time frame is JUST a guide nothing else, customs alone can delay US delivery by 2 weeks

When will buyers finally wake up and realize the post office delivers items and it is at their convenience no one else’s

So many International sellers have been destroyed on eBay because of bad buyer education....why do you think so many Asian sellers give inclusive P&P

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: Digby
Web Site

Fri Jan 21 20:34:16 2011

I think they have given you good service.
They obviously posted it.
It has gone missing in the mail, not their fault, not your fault.
They have offered to refund you.
So I think they have provided good service.
Yes sure you have wasted 3 weeks (and some hair ?), but that is one of the perils of buying online. And as you say it was partly an experiment.

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: Gary Overton
Web Site

Fri Jan 21 20:38:45 2011

I would let it go.
Of course, consider the source of where I am coming from.
I have sold online full-time over 10 years and have over 35,000 feedback across several venues.
I have NEVER asked for feedback. I just do the best I know how to do and let the chips fall where they may.
I also do NOT give automatic refunds when a buyer says they did not receive an item. I have never lost a PayPal dispute but lost an eBay dispute this week.
I have been a TRS every month except 3 since the program started even though my eBay feedback score is 99.7.
I have always considered feedback a nuisance, albeit probably a necessary one

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: jake

Fri Jan 21 20:45:41 2011

200,000 transactions and they don't have the ability to provide you with tracking?  don't packages that come into the US require a customs #?
See here again people preserve what is in the US post system is the same Worldwide..there are NO customs numbers required for postage mail coming into the US

Registered mail is NOT trackable, EMS is part but I bet David would not be happy with $10-15 more on the postage for a small electronic item

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri Jan 21 21:07:25 2011

Since your seller provided you with no information, we really don't know whether the item was shipped or not.

Feedback can be left for quite some time after a sale so I'd wait a while longer to see if you receive the item which I'm guessing you won't.

The seller could have offered to send a replacement but did not. This in combination with a cancellation request sounds like an out of stock situation which may or may not be the fault of the seller.

Especially if they use TurboLister or are a victim of phantom relisting of already sold items which ebafia is famous for.

If it were me, I'd leave no feedback at all unless I received the item before my ability to leave feedback expired.

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: buck efay

Fri Jan 21 21:59:13 2011

Wow I wish I had a customer like you. Most would have slammed the negative switch & all 1s DSR by now. If you really think they sent it, ask them for the tracking number.

If they sent it & it got lost, well you got your money back & since everything from overseas is on slow boats you might get the battery in a month. Customs is very hard right now & are even sending back mail! They would deserve your patience if they have the number, until the last day that you can leave F/b.

If they can't provide you with any info & just cancelled, they mightn't have ever shipped you anything, which I'd view more harshly. Why didn't they simply offer to send you another? Did you tell them you need this part ASAP, and just want another instead of a refund?

Because there are 2 issues:
Does a good seller #1 who lost an item and promptly refunded deserve a negative?
Does a Bad seller #2 that never bothered to even ship anything or ever contact buyer as an out of stock item deserve a negative?

Because seller #2 hurts all of the sellers like #1 and deserves an appropriate rating.

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: Rich

Sat Jan 22 01:54:33 2011

I'd ask for tracking and would explain that you don't want to purchase again from someone else if they shipped it and can provide tracking.  My guess is they never shipped it and realized their mistake and decided to refund. If they provide tracking then you can see what's going on.  If they ignore you and don't respond; then they will have wasted 3 weeks of your time, so I'd leave a neutral.  I don't leave stars

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: Hava
Web Site

Sat Jan 22 01:57:01 2011

Hi  I am in the same position as your seller right now. I sale low value items with small profit most of the time; I get proof of posting but no tracking.  I got one item not delivered since the holidays ,  Personally if I where the customer  I would be happy with my money back.  But this one wants me to send anther item. He will not paid extra post for insurance and tracking which is more then the value of the good.   Which mean I may lose one more item in the post.  So if you look at it from a seller point of view we can afford to lose one item from time to time, BUT we have no defence agents bad buyer anymore, ( No feedback to look at all buyer get good feedback )we just have to protect ourselves, as soon as I sent a refund I also stop them buying from me.  Before the buyer protection policy came along I used to be able to communicate more with buyer and most buyer where even happy the share the lose with me, and even agree to share the cost of insurance if needed , but now as a seller my only protection is not to send once more to the same address, I think you should try and look at it from a seller point of view as well. We do not have any protection . So we refund fast and take the lose. I know 90% of buyer are good but I can not afford try and find out when item lose if the next item will get thought.
 I hope you can understand my spelling but I am dyslexic it is just that I had to answer this.    

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: Stefano Neis
Web Site

Sat Jan 22 03:29:04 2011

I would be more favorable toward the seller in your situation if they had been more open in communications with you.

Something along the lines of telling you they had shipped it..but their policy is to refund smaller value items that are greater than "x" days in transit.

The phantom refund with "no explanation" is a tad unsettling.

The fact they want to totally cancel the transaction is damming in itself.

I would go with a neutral FB, one star in shipping {Since you never got the item} & 3 star in communication. I would leave the comment; "Seller selling "out of stock" items?"

If they had explained themselves better I would have let the matter drop.

I am biased though as I am getting more & more sellers on Ebay who claim they can not find what they are selling.

This week it has happened twice. In the worse case I bought $1,900 worth of better postcards [177 items](paid right after buying out of seller's store), The seller claims to be unable to find 16 of the items [9% of total transaction items are missing].

I have found now also , that in one case they have another [or the same] item as one of my missing items listed at $30.00 instead of the $7.00 I bought it for now in their listings.

The best card out of the 177 is now also "missing". A $49.99 card that I could easily sell for $300.00.

To their credit, Initially the seller Emailed me and told me that 16 "minor" cards were missing & immediately refunded me $100.00.

However, They did not provide me with a list of the missing items.

Yesterday Afternoon I got the cards in a very poorly packaged invoice , no list of the missing cards...& no packing to protect the cards.

When I left my office Yesterday, one of my employees was working on matching the cards to the list on Items I won on Ebay [Not easy as I buy a couple 1000 items a month there. She was on her 3rd hour of doing that.

I mention this because I have to decide what to do with the FB for the missing items. At a quick glance I know that more than $100.00 of items are missing.

My initial reaction is to leave 16 Negative FB for the seller selling items they do not have. 4 stars on communication on all items[No invoice & no list of missing items].

On the Items I have received that are correct I will leave + FB.

This seller has a very small inventory online [3.000 items/6 shoe boxes full] so I feel it should not be hard to keep track of what they are selling.

Their FB shows they have done similar stuff like this before.

The sad thing is that this will hurt them long term in terms of fees...& possibly suspension.

But I also have to ask this the type of dealer I would want to continue to be on Ebay. If the previous buyers who had problems with this seller had all left proper FB for this seller ; would I have even bothered to buy from them in the first place? [NO]

In your case if everybody who had similar problems with this seller left proper feedback...would you have bought from them or picked another seller instead?

Look , I am a full time online seller who has sold over 500,000 items online in the last 10 years. I understand lost mail. I understand losing track of an item from time to time [Websites do tend to relist sold items, It has happened to me on every site I have sold at including Ebay], and communication & shipping times are some times less than perfect.

In your case it seems they are trying to circumvent getting a poor FB by trying to get you to cancel the transaction. I do think they are quite aware of what they are doing.


Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly
Web Site

Sat Jan 22 04:54:10 2011

Hmmm... another happy eBay experience.

I'd leave ones where they would stick and follow that with a big, red negative.

What kind of Happy Horse Manure is it when you sit around and WAIT for three weeks and then you still get Richard' around?!?

And then they want FIVE STARS?!?!?!

Five footprints would be more appropriate.

I'd tell you to Ask Griff, but there is a build up of dust on that avatar from June of 2010. Griff answered all the questions and now he's schmoozing his posse.

Maybe you could ask JD at the monthly Town Hall meeting, where the concerns of the Community are addressed.

(Did you just throw up a little in your throat? I did.)

Maybe Dick Brewer Hay will pop in and toss your question to the ''Social Media Sellers.''

It's better that your money got refunded. It's an awful vampire cult, that eBay... they suck out all your money and trust, and then they leave you with clutter and angst.

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: Zzzzzzzz

Sat Jan 22 05:32:31 2011

The situation seems pretty simple. You ordered an item off ebay and didn't get it and the seller doesn't seem to care if you get it or not.

OK things happen, but I see nothing showing the seller showed any interest at all  in sending a replacement, providing a tracking number or proof of shipping, they didn't have the common courtesy to ask you if a refund would be acceptable, they just did it through ebay with no explanation. The refund means absolutely nothing you would have been able to get that anyway.

Just more proof of the crap you have to put up with when dealing with ebay. No one with a 200,000 feedback is ever going to be able to give you the service and personal attention a small seller can.

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen

Sat Jan 22 05:59:05 2011

ht's funny, I too am still waiting, nearly five weeks later, for a laptop battery that I ordered from a Hong Kong seller (adream2100) on 17 December; I'm currently waiting for a response from the seller; not usually any Customs hold ups at this end. ...

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: pkarig

Sat Jan 22 06:48:48 2011

Just remember when you do buy something from Asia the money you spent goes off shore, NO TAXES PAID .. this is a huge part of eBay & johns new scheme .. that's 18%-20% more profit for eBay every sale & it keeps our workers out of work .. I'd bet that you can find an asia seller with a California address so at least part of the money goes to helping America & its recovery .. PK

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: John

Sat Jan 22 07:52:16 2011

Personally I got nothing against overseas sellers.

I sold overseas several times when on eBay as well.

I never expected feedback for any of those sales but did stay on top of any delivery sent with sending emails on or before the estimated delivery date.

You overall situation was ok but not worth leaving feedback.

The seller did an average job in contacting you  but didn't go the extra yard which I think should be considered when shipping overseas.

By that I mean emailing you on the status of your purchase.....Item was shipped on DATE, and Did you receive your item yet when the delivery date was close.

You only get one chance to make a first impression.
Especially with first time buyers, so David the feedback ball is in your court.

I am guessing your electronic item is still broken, Toss it , buy something new but check first to see if you can get replacement parts here in the states.

ONE MORE VERY IMPORTANT THOUGHT:....I would still take Ina out to dinner and a movie, stop by your local brick and mortar and buy a new item there, times are tough, and they deal with disruptive innovation as well.

The result will be, you will have an enjoyable evening out, You will receive positive feedback....It's a no brainer.....Later dude

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: Helen
Web Site

Sat Jan 22 10:48:01 2011

I bought a battery for my Itouch from a Hongkong seller.  Same as you, I waited very long time and sent several message to them.  They responded all of them.  After one month, they said maybe the package got lost and agree to refund me.  Believe or not, the package finally arrived in 5 weeks.

It is not that seller's fault.  Sometimes it just takes that long time to ship from Hongkong to US.

I am a seller on eBay too so I understand this situation and did not give them a bad feedback.  I chose not to leave feedback at all.

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: JD

Sat Jan 22 12:44:48 2011

It's tough to be a seller.  Likely scenerio is this seller shipped the item right away, and it's just delayed in the mail or in customs...yet some responders would demand tracking numbers (and could care less that the seller probably made less than $1.00 in profit, and a tracking number would cost an extra $10.00), they expect immediate, thorough, and complete email responses, would leave 1-star DSR (which could get the seller completely booted from eBay), and still aren't happy with a full refund, claiming the seller cheated them by not shipping or selling OOS items. Jeesh!!

Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?   Neg or Let Live on eBay? What Would YOU do?

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Sat Jan 22 12:49:49 2011

I'd let it go and not give any feedback at all.  To me, its doubtful it was even sent.  Seller's way of getting out of it was to refund and ask for a 5 star rating.

Click to view more comments
1 2 3 4  [Next Page]

Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.