EcommerceBytes Letters to the Editor Letters to the Editor
Your emails to EcommerceBytes
For consideration, send your email to ina@auctionbytes.com with "Letters to the Editor Blog" in the subject line! Remember to include your name as you would like it to appear in the blog.
Wed Mar 14 2018 11:43:08

eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

By: Reader

Sponsored Link

Dear Ina,
I bought a lot of magazines from a USA seller. Total was well over $100 once GSP shipping and duty was factored in. Received the box, opened it and was overwhelmed with the smell of mold. Opened an INAD case. Seller accepted return and was going to refund and let me keep the magazines (told me to just destroy) due to the cost of shipping back from Canada to Florida (over $100 using Canada Post).

The magazines were in good condition besides the strong mold odour. I told him it would be a shame to destroy them and I was sure someone else who was not bothered by the smell or willing to deal with it, would want them; but that he should also disclose this in the listing. I also asked if he had any that did not have the moldy smell, because I still actually wanted the magazines...to which he did not reply.

I told him I could send back using USPS and my cross border shipper to make it inexpensive. He agreed. Since he could not send me a shipping label through eBay (Because I live in Canada), he was told by eBay that he had to refund the additional return shipping charges directly through PayPal.

Sent them back to him. He got them, refunded me the original purchase and shipping price and the case was closed.

I waited 3 days then sent him a reminder regarding the additional shipping cost of $11.84 USD that I paid to my cross border shipper (not including the additional cost of $5 CAD that I paid for the cross border service).

He sends me this email back: "No problem. Had the neighbour open box to see if any reaction, they were fine, actually said she loved the smell of old books. Lol. Glad we were able to sort this out."

I wait another 12 hours and still no refund in my account.

I send him another email that says: "Definitely a difference between mold and old odors. Either way, you still owe the return shipping amount. Do I need to involve ebay to force the issue?"

No response after 2 more days, so I called eBay. They send him an email advising him to respond to my email asking for payment. I was copied on the email. He has 48 hours to respond. 

Today, there was still no response so I emailed eBay back through the email they sent me which I THOUGHT was a cc email to the seller...turns out they actually emailed ME the strongly worded email instead of seller! To top it off, they told me that there is nothing more they can do, and I am out of luck on getting the return shipping fees back.

I think there is something they can do! Suspend his account. Do not allow him to ship anything he sells until he honors EBAY's RULES!

This is a pretty big loop-hole that eBay obviously is not interested in closing! International Buyers Beware!

If you would like actual emails, I have them since I always send a copy to my own email.

I am also a seller on eBay. I understand the returns process. I have had to refund buyers for INAD as well. I thought the rules were the same for everyone, but apparently not!

Sincerely, 
Susan




Comments (16) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Mar 14 12:42:40 2018

Susan
I am so sorry this happened to you.  Clearly from what you describe this seller is not providing you with the service in which he himself said he would.  That is wrong and as a US seller I assure you that most of us would not do that.  We would hold to what we say we will do.

As for Ebay, they are correct.  They aren't going to force the seller, however you could call Ebay again and possibly Ebay would give you a refund for the shipping.  They will sometimes do that.  But Ebay is not going to harshly reprimand ANY seller such as you describe over one transaction.  That would be completely unfair to sellers.  I do however think you are correct and at the very least Ebay could contact the seller for a little chat since you have clear evidence via emails as to what was mutually agreed.

Whether this seller agrees with your assessment that the mags smelled is not important or I should said should not be important.  The seller made certain commitments without stipulations that they agreed that the items smelled, therefore the seller should stand up and honor their agreement.

The only options you really have at this point is to call Ebay as I previously suggested and with the feedback you decide to leave for this seller.

Again, I'm very sorry you had this experience.

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 14 13:57:45 2018

There is no compulsion to refund more than originally paid, no matter what 'additional' arrangements may have been made in context.  eBay's 'instructions' stating seller 'had' to refund any additionally agreed funds via Pay Pay was not a directed 'requirement' to do so, it was simply a description of how such would need to occur to best comply with such an additional agreement.  Seller could also send buyer a box of Canadian nickels if they wanted to, but PP would miss out on fees that way of course.

Meanwhile, there is also no requirement upon a concientious buyer to ask questions before purchasing, especially if they have experience with a given genre of items that may have typical issues for which they have 'sensitivity', if such are not addressed in descriptions.  Buyer beware, indeed.  Good lesson anywhere really.

And, of course, there is no requirement for a displeased buyer to try and contact (what turned out to be a responsive seller - imagine that) prior to immediately open a case.  

Perhaps this seller still plans to complete any additionally agreed refund, despite having an additional 48 hours elapse before again being threatened with 'additional eBay involvement' after all case requirements and refunds were met satisfactorilly to achieve closure.  Can't say for sure of course, but by buyer's own account, seller has behaved pretty reasonably to that point.

Two questions remain nagging nevertheless -

Why would a buyer who has been so displeased to have resorted to immediate case creation subsequently ask for 'replacement items' and be able to trust any replacement would be suitable?

And more importantly, given all the above....

What 'rules' have been violated here that should warrant a seller account suspension?

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Mar 14 15:11:48 2018

I'm not taking a side in this case, but I just wanted to mention that after a certain amount of time, magazines are going to smell "old" without having mold on them. Magazines are not printed on high-quality paper since they are not meant to be kept for years. I have magazines from the 1970s and they do have an old smell about them, and I don't have mold. I think the only way you can avoid this is to keep magazines in a climate-controlled room, which I doubt most people would want to do. I've even had people ask me if my magazines for sale have a smell if they are past a certain age.  

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Wed Mar 14 23:41:32 2018

"Seller accepted return and was going to refund and let me keep the magazines (told me to just destroy) due to the cost of shipping back from Canada to Florida (over $100 using Canada Post)."

This is where this transaction should've stopped!

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

by: alaska This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 15 00:51:31 2018

If you ever get any more musty smelling magazines that you want to keep, use this trick. Get a big styrofoam ice chest or other container that can be sealed. Pour a bag of clay-based kitty litter, unscented if possible, in the bottom of the container, spread out evenly. Stand the magazines up as best as you can and spread the pages open which will help them stand up and allow air to get between the pages. Put the lid on and leave it for 6 months. If there is still any odor try another 6 months. Usually all of the odor will be absorbed by the clay.

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

This user has validated their user name. by: Lightning

Thu Mar 15 00:54:35 2018

Looks like the buyer tried to "do the right thing" instead of just keeping the refund and donating the magazines to some local organization or trashing them.  A classic case of "No good deed goes unpunished".  Don't try to help unless you expect it to cost you.  It always does.

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Thu Mar 15 01:08:12 2018

Over the years, I have found that people who live with mold and/or smelly pets no longer smell the odor. They become accustomed to noxious smells. This kind of situation is exactly what negative feedback is for. Adress the mold issue is your feedback so as to give future buyers a heads-up. As to your outstanding balance, do as Marie suggested and try to wangle the additional funds owed directly from eBay.  

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 15 01:38:31 2018

You could also call Paypal about this.  Wvery once in a while they are more useful than eBay on such issues.

PS you can also use uncooked coffee -- straight from the package---to combat these smells, and baking soda works, too.  Just pack em up and sprinkle these thru out, and keep checking on them.  Mold or mildew is awful, and some people just don't seem able to smell them!!

I once had a shirt returned that smelled so bad IN THE PACKAGE my mail person rang and asked me to open it outside, she was worried about it.  Ebay told me Too Bad, So Sad.  

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

by: BargainzBabylon This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 15 02:02:33 2018

Most of that 'moldy' smell is off-gassing from ink. You can fix the storage smell for a while, but it'll always come back, though at least you'd be able to enjoy the magazines for a while and keeping them stored in fresh air will help prevent any worsening. Magazines printed in the 1980s and before tend to have high-acid paper due to the sizing added in manufacture to prevent ink creeping and volatility.

I'm not sure if fees over and above the postal tariff (i.e., carriage and brokerage fees) are applicable in a refund, probably why eBay isn't leaning on him. Similar to a buyer returning a package he received first class using express or something, though in this case it seems like the buyer used Best Way to be economical. I would get on the horn with eBay because that seems like a gray area.  

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

This user has validated their user name. by: Lightning

Thu Mar 15 02:18:11 2018

This is a key part to the story:

"I told him I could send back using USPS and my cross border shipper to make it inexpensive. He agreed. Since he could not send me a shipping label through eBay (Because I live in Canada), he was told by eBay that he had to refund the additional return shipping charges directly through PayPal."

As this reads, ebay and the seller agreed to cover the return shipping.  Now they are reneging.  Not sure how that is supported, but the OP should be able to contact ebay customer service to review the correspondence and get reimbursed.  This has nothing to do with enforcing a general policy.  It is a one-off situation, and if all parties agreed to a course of action, that should prevail.

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

by: C.Page This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 15 06:31:59 2018

There's the smell of old magazines, books, etc. Then, there's the smell of magazines, books, etc. that have been stored longtime in a damp basement...like mildew! There's a big, nasty difference.

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

by: RAOTFLMAO This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 15 07:22:57 2018

The matter had been taken care of, you got your refund and told to toss the nasty mags.  YOU were the one that complicated things.......

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

by: HardWorkingSeller This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 15 08:31:06 2018

The eBay User Agreement limits the amount that can be disputed to the amount paid.  Consequential losses are not covered.  So by taking the approach that you did, you were relying on the seller doing the decent thing, which it seems they have decided not to do.

I hope that won't stop you being reasonable with other sellers in the future as the vast majority would be delighted to work with you as you suggested.

If your seller now won't pay up you should consider posting appropriate feedback and move on.

Be careful how you word any unfavorable feedback comments because if you state that you didn't get a refund that was greater than the sum paid then eBay would probably remove that (if requested), as it may be classed as type of feedback extortion as you are asking for treatment that is financially better than the terms given in the listing.  Best just to state that the seller's customer care was sub par in your opinion.  They won't normally delete feedback expressing a general opinion.  Don't email the seller threatening to post negative feedback as that's not allowed either.

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 15 09:21:31 2018

@Marie is right again.  Basically, there's nothing you can do.  

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

by: Morris This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 15 09:28:05 2018

FRESHENING OLD PAPER GOODS
Often vintage paper goods have a slight musty stored-in-the-basement odor characteristic of old paper goods. This can be removed, however. Activated Charcoal, purchased from a health food store, is the key. Activated charcoal is used to neutralize all sorts of odors, and it has no odor of its own. Get a cardboard box big enough to hold two shallow pans or cookie sheets. Spread about 3 ounces of finely powdered charcoal on a sheet of aluminum foil in a shallow pan. Use drinking glasses to support another pan or cookie sheet. Put your album on a clean white towel or white paper toweling, and place it on the second cookie sheet. You can probably put the charcoal and album in a closed box to speed the process. After 6 or 8 hours, rearrange the paper goods and repeat process for at least another cycle or two. You can reuse the charcoal by putting the pan of charcoal in a moderate 350-degree oven, without the paper, to reactivate it so it can be re-used. Repeat until the odor disappears.

Some folks have good results in putting the material to be freshened into a plastic tote and putting two or three dryer softener sheets in with it. Be sure to keep the sheets from coming into contact with the paper goods as this might discolor it. Laying it on top with plastic wrap between should do the trick.

Perminate Link for eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines   eBay and the Case of the Smelly Magazines

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 15 12:44:32 2018

I buy quite a few things from the UK. All my packages have a moldy smell when they get here. I imagine it is due to the high humidity. That said, the seller was probably not happy to make the return as they lost the original shipping costs and then have a new buyer be pleased with the same items the OP did not want. When this happens to me I am not happy with the first buyer's decision to return the very same item for NAD when the next person who buys it, Loves it!  



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.

 
Email:
Password:
 
 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.