Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Feb 3 2014 11:57:35

What's the Craziest Customer You've Ever Dealt With?

By: Ina Steiner

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Shoppers can cause problems for retailers in a number of ways, from being picky all the way to being intimidating and threatening, a reality long before the Internet came along. eBay sellers learned this early on when paving the way for ecommerce, and devised a way of avoiding unpleasant bidders and buyers: Blocked Bidder Lists.

eBay politely says on its manage bidders help page, "While all eBay members can participate in bidding and buying, as a seller you might prefer to limit your sales to people you feel comfortable with, such as those who have positive Feedback scores." That's an understatement!

But apparently some customers are so persistent, they're able to get eBay customer service agents to reach out to buyers on their behalf. On this discussion board thread, a seller say they received a message from an eBay rep asking them to contact a blocked buyer who wants to purchase one of their items - "Please contact her on what you can do about this transaction," eBay wrote to the seller, and copied the buyer.

The seller said the buyer's messages had been "strange and aggressive" and had no plans to unblock her.

Amazingly, the seller received second message from eBay customer service, this time saying it was a "courtesy email request by the buyer" saying the "buyer would like to fix things with you and would like to let you know her side of the story."

Another seller said they had also received such requests from eBay customer service reps. Aside from the fact it's disturbing that eBay may be helping bad buyers to message sellers who are trying to avoid contact with particular members, sellers discussing the case on another thread wondered if it was a sign that eBay planned to get rid of Blocked Bidder Lists.

Let's face it, customers can get pretty worked up both online and in real life. Buzzfeed related some tales about customers trying to return items at major retail stores, along with the excuses they used and sometimes the extreme methods they employed. One called the cops, another brought a note from her therapist saying she was a shopping addict and needed to return the items. And others caused scenes in the stores, including knocking over displays.

Aside from not wanting to get negative feedback by a bad buyer, why do you block bidders? What's the craziest situation you've ever encountered in dealing with an online shopper?




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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 3 12:47:08 2014

LOL Lucky for me my worst customer happened many years ago in the new days of Ebay.  I had a customer buy a set of paints from me.  She immediately wanted me to give her feedback.  Something in her attitude made me hold back because I felt she was a troublemaker.  She continued to the point of making threats to me and I stopped answering her emails.  I actually not only reported her to Ebay but also to my ISP (Earthlink at the time) who found her emails so threatening they stopped serving her!  I have never had that happen since then.  I stopped listing on Ebay with a 15 year record of over 3,800 feedbacks and NO NEGS.

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 3 12:51:03 2014

In our business ONCE BLOCKED YOU WILL NEVER BE UNBLOCKED.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Mon Feb 3 15:34:59 2014

I block anyone who files a case against me. If they're claiming items didn't arrive, then they're either thieves or there's some other problem with delivering to them and it's not worth the risk of doing business with them. Thankfully, I've only ever had a handful of problem customers. I think the worst one was someone who first claimed they didn't order the item, then claimed someone stole their credit card number, and finally claimed it didn't arrive. The opened an Ebay case, which was denied, then tried to file a chargeback, which Paypal took care of. Luckily, they did this through the Ebay system, so it was all recorded. And all of this was over an item that cost less than $10.

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by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 3 16:07:04 2014

We've had some weird ones.  I have a hair trigger with blocking, anything that seems unpleasant or inappropriate I just block them.

I have unblocked a few times and was made to regret it in each case. My instincts were good after all.  

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by: Orwellwasright This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 3 16:25:11 2014


Woman ordered a Disney trivia game from me, which came in a gold tin

Clearly described as used but acceptable condition, in fact it was mint except for a small dent in the tin card sets were still in original tin

Sold for 8$, retail was $30

Woman recived it and went balistic, called to tell me how I ruined her daughters birthday because "mommy gave her a damaged toy" , woman was hysterical, I told her to return and hung up

A few days later I recived the game with a FOUR PAGE, YES FOUR PAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Handwritten note describing the emotional damage I had done to her already fragile child and what A horrible person I was

I looked for the alleged deant and it took me several minutes to find out what she was even refering to, a thumb sized indent on the side a normal person would never see unless they were looking for it.. the rest of the game was perfect

However,
I was responsible for her childs breakdown and her Husband (a cop) was going to have me arrested and on and on . It seems I destroyed her family.


Now this was after I already agreed to refund

really really scary Crazy

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Mon Feb 3 16:57:13 2014

Some of the people who get most upset seem to be parents who feel their child has been harmed by whatever problem arose from a transaction (late delivery, damaged good, etc.).

Of course, I've also ready many a case where parents blame the child for ordering items when using the computer unsupervised and expect the seller to cancel the order (or accept the return).

Children are a touchy subject!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Mon Feb 3 18:28:49 2014

I have a collection of 12+ emails from a buyer that progress from compliments and magical stories then escalates into name calling and threats. Quite lengthy - kept running out of space allotted in messages. The trigger? I offered a return on an item after buyer emailed with an issue after they had left positive FB. The nerve of me.


Also had good buyers (not necessarily ''crazy'' as the title says) who have poured out their very sad life stories to me. To the point that you worry about suicide risk. But it is also a commentary on the isolation that some folks feel, where they use eBay or other venues as a hotline and feel comfortable laying it all out to a seller they have never met.


Finally, put me on the wagon with the sellers that have un-blocked buyers then lived to regret it big time!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Mon Feb 3 18:31:49 2014

Have you ever watched ''Hardcore Pawn'' on TruTV?

I predict a new reality show... ''Hardcore eBay''. A show that highlights the rantings & ravings, and the scams & schemes of dishonest (and downright crazy) eBay buyers.

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

Mon Feb 3 19:44:02 2014

Attn: Rich Matsuura!

Please earn your title and your salary by genuinely protecting honest sellers from the criminal, abusive, and mentally ill buyers who for obvious reasons have made ebay their buying venue of choice.

Rich, show us your department actually DOES something besides giving puff pieces to the Lyn Ryin machine that really protects sellers other than analyze algorithms and spreadsheets and doing next to nothing!

Until last year, the worst buyer I had was a wealthy CEO of a Houston investment firm (verified).

This arrogant sociopath went after me relentlessly for days because I refused his absurd, lowball offers even after I explained no fewer than six times that I didn't do Best Offer.

He was extremely verbally abusive so I quickly blocked him. When he tried to buy an item so he could blast me in feedback and found himself blocked, he went ballistic and threatened to have his employees buy things, file complaints, and put me out of business.

In the meantime, anyone selling similar items he wanted was also equally abused by this jerk. He left a trail of undeserved negative feedback for those who didn't accept his offers and on two occasions in other sellers' feedback he said the only other worse seller was me (he used my seller ID).

To ebay's limited credit they did remove this feedback, but it took SIX MONTHS of weekly seller complaints to ebay to get him NARUed and ebay did NOT remove the ugly feedback he left for others sellers. The only positive feedback he left was sellers willing to cave into his extortionist Best Offer demands.

This is how ebay "protects" sellers.

Last year a customer                             "purchased" a high end item and requested an invoice which I sent. A week later when I hadn't received payment and the byuyer hadn't responded to emails, I filed an NPB.

The following day this customer sent me a clear suicide note through the ebay messaging system telling me she really couldn't afford the item and was going to kill herself and her six pets.

I got her phone number from ebay and attempted to call this customer. The registered number like so many ebay allows was no good. I tried to figure based on her address and Google maps which county this person lived in so I could contact the police and sheriff.

Finally after three phone calls, I reached the correct law enforcement agency who did a welfare check on the buyer.

Two weeks later I got another message from this person apologizing and asking me to unblock them because they still wanted the item.

I don't think so.

The Houston CEO clone who runs ebay wants customers to have a more retail like "experience."

When customers create problems in retail stores, the store can get a No Trespassing order which is the brick and mortar equivalent of the Blocked Bidder File.

Ebay has become so desperate, so arrogant, and so greedy, it will stop at nothing to eliminate seller discounts by unleashing the Worst of the Worst on good sellers.

What say you, Rich Matsuura?

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

Mon Feb 3 20:06:02 2014

Forgot to mention above that I Googled the suicidal buyer to get a physical adress (ebay address was a P.O. Box).

What came up added yet another dimension  to the story and should further enlighten ebay about the caliber of some of their buyers.

There on Google was a bookin mugshot of this customer after an arrest for selling meth that occurred less than a week before the buyer's high end purchase.

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by: LAbay This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 3 20:34:56 2014

I always put the ones who ask for a discount on BIN items. My experience is that they will prove to be trouble.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Puck

Mon Feb 3 20:52:02 2014

"What's the Craziest Customer You've Ever Dealt With?"

I have a lot of cats who bid, win, checkout, pay then claim they did it all accidentally...

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

Mon Feb 3 21:17:08 2014

@ Puck

LOL! My cat can't be trusted, either. He's managed to buy all kinds of things my spouse coincidentally decided to keep.

Creatures I block:

-- Those asking for discounts
-- Those indicating they might return the item before they've even bought it
-- Those who send rude/challenging/abusively worded questions
-- Those who send questions whose answers are in the description
-- Those demanding freebies with purchase
-- Those who been major PITAs to sellers I know in the categories I sell in
-- Anyone who's filed a case against me (no one has been successful yet)
-- Anyone who leaves an unjustified, untrue soft positive or suspected of having left a 1 or 2 in the star ratings
-- Anyone asking unimaginably and incredibly stupid questions
-- Any ID I suspect of reshipping overseas
-- Buyers with such horrendous reputations they're mentioned by user ID on EB/AB
-- I'm sure they are more that I can't think of at the moment.

And, of course,

-- Anyone named Beverly who lives in Florida

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by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Mon Feb 3 22:50:12 2014

Ming wrote "And, of course,

-- Anyone named Beverly who lives in Florida"

Now that was way too funny!  But a very GOOD policy.  Luckily I do not sell the things she likes to EXTORT from sellers.

I have had so many crazy and down right INSANE buyers I cannot not even remember them all.

Although I can remember many LOW LIFE buyers who will play the "I am handicap" and therefore deserve special treatment.  Which irks me so much.  Not only that most of them are liars, they just claim it for special treatment.

I do also remember a buyer who demanded that I give him feedback first and that I change my feedback policy or else he will give me a negative.

When I refused to do both he did give me a neg and I immediately turned him into ebay and because his threat of a negative was so clear and he did do it, ebay removed his neg and of course I blocked him.

I am also of the FIRM belief that once you block someone NEVER take them off because it always goes bad. I have even blocked a few regular customers who I realized were actually dinging my stars.

What I have learned from ebay is that MOST people are BAD, not good.  Yes there are a lot of good honest buyers but sadly that is a small percentage and on ebay that percentage is only getting SMALLER and SMALLER!

However, I actually no longer sell on ebay and it has been such a JOY!

I now sell on Amazon, my own website and a few others and you know what, I no longer FEAR opening up emails, or opening up my store.  My stress level has gone down so much I cannot even explain it.

I actually sell more on Amazon with only listing 25% of my ebay listings.  More and more of my ebay customers are now coming to my website and I am one HAPPY CAMPER!

Getting rid of ebay was one of the BEST things I have ever done as an ebusiness.  Losing the money I made on ebay did sting for the first couple of months but it is so worth it.

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This user has validated their user name. by: ebayisajoke
Web Site

Tue Feb 4 03:31:51 2014

I had to deal with many bad customers. About 10 percent of them will try and scam you, 80 percent will be honest and leave you positive feedback, and 10 percent will never leave you feedback at all and no matter how many times you email them asking them how their transaction went they will not answer you.

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

Tue Feb 4 03:33:56 2014

@JusttheFacts

My suicidal alleged meth dealer also claimed to be handicapped...

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Feb 4 07:25:18 2014

Too many to name. eBay seem to attract many buyers with a high dose of self-entitlement and a low dose of emotional intelligence

I do love it however when a potential buyer messages you and tells you that you will never get what you are asking for your widget  and then the item sells for your asking price that very day.

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by: candy7122 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Feb 4 09:08:31 2014

I just recently dealt with the craziest customer I have ever had so it is very fresh in my mind.  I sent out an eyeliner to this customer.  It was part of a kit so it did not come sealed or boxed.  This was clear in the listing.  She opened a case stating that the item was used and that some one had put their ''grubby'' hands all over it.  Since I work by myself and check all my items before I send them out I know that pencil was perfect.  She then tells me that she is not going to send it back because she is handicapped.  Tells me she is not going to take a picture because I am a dishonest seller that sells items that are marked ''not for individual sale''  I sell makeups and samples ...a ton of my items are marked as such.  Then when I check her out she is selling a set of fine china and offering to deliver it for 20.00 but yet she can't get an eyeliner to the post office.  She told me if I didn't refund her in full that she would leave negative feedback.  When she closed the case she left her negative feedback and I have to say when I called Ebay they removed it instantly.  She emailed me about 3 times and in the last emailed she even said that there were eye pencil shavings in the lid.  This was the meanest, craziest, most scamming Ebayer I have ever dealt with.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Feb 4 09:12:13 2014

Rexford - LOL, I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me. Wait just long enough to answer those emails and  many times you can reply: ''Sorry, that item has sold and is no longer available''.


What with all our horror stories of buyers and Ming's buyer ''breaking bad'' - I really have to add that the vast majority of my buyers are really nice, decent people.

Only speaking for myself:  it is really only a very tiny percent of buyers I've had that cause hair-tearing grief. The time you have to spend on these transactions from hell makes it seem like a higher percentage.


If the subject switched words and we were discussing ''crazy'' sellers - I would be saying the same thing on percentage of bad experiences as a buyer. They stand out, but they are a very small percent.

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Feb 4 09:38:00 2014

As I read the comments here, I remembered more and more of the crazy's that show up on all sorts of venues.

I too hate the "I'm disabled" card some like to play because then I just tell them that I am also and I sell to keep food on the table. That usually shuts those ones up.

I've had teacher's write and ask for discounts for their poor, impoverished students. I get it that some kids may be poor, but until I stop seeing every school kid with I-pods, cell phones, etc., things I can't afford, I don't bother giving them discounts.

The buyers that latch on to you like you are their best friend. Happened to me in the early winter this past year. With a customer writing and saying how much alike we are and how she can see us talking on the phone all day! .Like fun. I hate talking on the phone to anyone as all that arm bending hurts my joints.
Constant long letters to me. Also one that was obvious that she desperately needed a friend, but that isn't why I am in business although I will communicate back and forth in a casual manner, this was way too much for me.

Then there was the ebay buyer long ago that didn't pay and didn't pay and then apparently she hadn't paid quite a few people and so she got in the explanation mode. After several emails from her saying how sick she was, blah, blah, blah, she wrote an epic novel of an email about how she had gotten sick and landed in the ER (see photos of her IV and wristband, but she cautioned us that if we had a tender stomach we might not want to look--this disabled RN's eyes rolling!), showing her trip to the ER and this was why she hadn't paid as she was sick and didn't have time. If she had just skipped the explanations and clicked a few PP buttons we all would have gotten our money and no longer had to deal with her.

I had an ebay looker that wrote me that if I didn't sell a book lot, her local nursing home in FL (I'm up near the Great Lakes) would love to get the books, so I could send them to her to take to her nursing home. The implication being I would pay to ship them to her (with me paying postage) so she could donate them herself. She apparently didn't realize that we have nursing homes up here that I could donate things to. I get real tired of people trying to get me to donate to their charities without understanding that I have my own places I contribute to on a routine basis. Because that is yet another way people beg for discounts.

Over the years lots of weirdos, but even more great customers. Do these people act like this in 'real' life or is this just exclusively internet behavior since we don't know them and so they figure they can be as rude/weird/nasty as they want to be and no one will stop them?

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