|Fri July 11 2014 18:37:20|
The Unintended Consequences of eBay's New Defect Rate
Here is sad but funny story about eBay policies that do not make sense.
All the sellers are terrified of new monster called defect rate, right? (I am among those sellers, due in part to my own stupidity and in part to not knowing what will be thrown at me by eBay, the main part of defect rate that will affect me is too many refunds that will be counted retroactively for the last 12 months.)
So, I sold something last week. Upon final inspection prior to shipping to my buyer after she paid I realized that the item has defect on it that I failed to notice when I listed it a year ago. I realized as well that almost no matter what I do right now, I will get a defect on my transaction. However, my buyers are more important to me then eBay and their rules designed to throw me off the ship. I have to make sure my buyers are satisfied and happy, and it should not affect them what eBay throws at me.
So, I came up with three possible ways to solve this issue with my buyer:
1) Contact buyer, explain my mistake, offer partial refund to keep enough for shipping, but offer to send the item to them anyway.
2) Contact buyer, offer them to choose anything up to $100 (they paid $17.00) item from my store that is in the same category they bought from and ship them that in replacement.
3) Ship item as is and hope that won't notice a defect. If they do, apologize, and refund then.
Considering my options I knew that #1 and #3 definitely will earn me a defect, #3 will get me upset customer and most likely will earn me a defect as well. That's when #2 option popped in my head. Hey, my buyer will get more expensive item, I won't have to refund, I won't get a defect. I lose money but keep my customer happy and my standing will be the same.
Mind you, due to my situation as I explained above, one more defect won't make much difference. I think I am done on eBay come august 20. So, I decided to experiment.
I emailed my buyer apologizing profusely, giving her two options. I waited almost full day for her response. She never responded. If I would wait any longer, I would not be in compliance with shipping rules of creating label and shipping within my stated 1 business day of payment.
So, I decided to ship the item to her. I created a shipping label, and then went to PayPal and refunded her the full amount. Which means I am shipping her defected item knowingly, but it could easily be fixed and she is getting it for free even with shipping on me. I sent her a message afterwards to that affect stating that she should expect her item within couple days. I included a note in the package explaining a defect, apologizing, telling her that the item is hers to keep for free.
eBay clearly sees item shipped and two days later delivered, but it sees a refund as well. However, I never requested my final values fees by that point either. Today, three days after she received her item, eBay shows new defect on my account from that transaction. I never heard from the buyer in all this time - between her payment and my shipment, after my shipment and refund, or after she received her item. Deafening silence.
After I see a defect on my account for that transaction, I just went to eBay and requested my final value fees back.
Now I am thinking to myself. Maybe in the future in the similar situation I should choose choice #3 as a seller: send an item on its merry way, and hope the buyer won't notice a defect.
If I would not care about my buyers I might if this happens again before eBay kicks me to the curb. I mean, I can only get one defect per transaction, and if I attempt to make it right for buyer I will get defect anyway (unless they agree to let me send them a more expensive replacement - I did not have an equal priced product in my similar inventory and all my items are unique), I am stuck with defect regardless, so why not hope they would not notice?
If buyer will notice, they open a case against me, I refund them then, and I have the same defect. But what if they don't notice? I might escape defects and survive.
Sadly, that's what kind of mentality eBay forces us as sellers, fearful place where, instead of thinking of buyers, we have to think of our survival and hope for the best. How many people would do that in hopes to continue to sell on eBay? And why should we be terrified of this, instead of continuing to provide excellent customer service and not have to fear dictator over our head threatening our business for making things right with our buyers?