The guys in the white hats don’t always win….or do they?

I’m not a big eBay user. I have 106 transactions and a 100% positive rating. I want to keep that rating and put it at risk lately when I was trying to do the right thing by helping someone else sell something on MY account to get money to go to Disney.

I posted an instrument manufactured in 1922 in the Vintage section of music instruments. In the description I stated that the instrument belonged to a teenager’s great-grandmother and hadn’t been used since great-grandma was in high school. I was trying to be clear that this was an OLD instrument. I posted a half-dozen pictures to show a lack of dents and scratches. It didn’t sell the first two times I posted it, but this time it did.

I finally found a box big enough for the case, packed it with a million styrofoam peanuts and shipped it UPS insured. It cost about $12 more than the freight I charged the customer in the price, but that was ok.

Since I was selling for someone else, I transferred most of the PayPal payment (less estimated transaction/processing fees and freight) to my checking account and wrote a check to the student.

All was well UNTIL the buyer decided he didn’t want it. He claimed he took it to a music store and they wanted $400 to put it in playing condition. He OPENED A CASE AGAINST ME and claimed: 1) item not as described, 2) item damaged and requested a full refund, including the freight amount.

When I contacted eBay to see what my options were, they told me that I didn’t say the instrument was NOT in playing condition and that VINTAGE means OLD, but playable….and that I should have listed it in the COLLECTABLES section if I was selling just a decoration. I could tell that eBay was going to favor the buyer.

Two statements I SHOULD have included were “As Is” and “Not in Playable Condition”. I actually hadn’t tried to play it because I thought I was making it clear that it was old enough that it probably WOULD need some repair…..but at this fraction-of-value price would make that worth while.

I tried to explain to eBay that “playing condition” is subjective …. that I had described it accurately and that the instrument was not damaged when I sent it.

So….I contacted the buyer to negotiate a situation where he would describe what the repair was ($400 sounds like putting it in ‘as new’ condition) and refunding that amount to him so we could avoid the double freight (he would have to pay return freight).

The folks at eBay liked that idea and encouraged me to communicate and negotiate before he opened a case.

TOO LATE! I got off the phone, wrote my note and upon sending it (thru eBay, of course), am notified that the instrument is en route AND that a case has been opened.

BOTTOM LINE….. after another conversation with eBay, I was assured that if I issued the full refund within 3 days, that I would at least recoup the sales transaction amount and that my 100% record would be in tact. Soooooo, I did it. Fortunately, the people I gave MY check to were willing to give it back. I hated to ask.

All was not lost, tho. This student actually had two of these instruments and from one of the postings, she sold the OTHER one…. so she got a huge chunk toward her trip.

Lesson learned: “As Is”+ “No Returns” = protection.


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