Wednesday, January 27, 2010


In November, for the first time ever I bought something on eBay. I saw a picture. I typed in some numbers. I waited patiently for bidding to close. I typed in some more stuff to pay, and a few days later this arrived in my mailbox.

I was so excited about it, I did it again, and a few days later, this arrived, minus the heavy tin which I didn't want anyway.

I was psyched. Boxes full of size 80 thread in colours I had only dreamed of using, were arriving in my mailbox. My brain went into overload. Then my frugal side kicked in and I went looking for the Canadian version so that I might pay less for shipping.

I won this lot which has fewer balls of thread in it. I asked what the cost of shipping would be and was given a ridiculous number which I queried. I'm Canadian, I know what it ought to cost. I was told that the number was an estimate but if it was less they would refund the excess.

This lot which had the fewest number of balls of thread cost me as much as the 2 prior lots combined. Not more than I was willing to pay, just enough more that it wasn't a good deal any more, just a normal price. Most of this had to do with a padded shipping price. I don't really mind someone padding the shipping in order to get what they feel is a fair price for their merchandise. What I do mind was that when I initially questioned their shipping costs of $12.00 I was told that they would refund the difference if shipping was less than quoted and they didn't do it. I don't care about the $4.00 excess. I do care that they lied.

I would rather have someone say it's going to cost and arm and a leg. Period. Full Stop. Than have someone wheedle their way out of it by saying they will refund something and then not do it. If they don't intend on adjusting the cost, they should just shut up about it.

I'm not going to cry over $4.00. I have my thread and I'm happy about it. I don't want eBay to launch an investigation or make an inquiry. It isn't important. What really did annoy me was that I was requested to give feedback and with the first 2 I was delighted to respond. On the 3rd purchase I could not say that it had been a delightful experience. It was what I had bid on exactly as described. It arrived all in one piece although it took longer to get here from a city down the road than it did for the other parcels to arrive from halfway across the continent. I could not honestly say that it was a great transaction. It was OK. It was neutral. It was neither good nor bad. So I tried to give a neutral response. The system did not permit a neutral response. I don't mean that it wouldn't take a BAD response. I wasn't trying to say anything bad. I just wanted to say something neutral because I sure as anything wasn't going to give a GOOD response.

Since you can't give anything EXCEPT positive responses, eBay's whole system of feedback is really, totally suspect. As a buyer, I don't really care about the good transactions (I do care, but not as much as I care about the bad ones) because I'm going to assume they were all good except as outlined in the feedback. Then, reading through the feedback, I can judge for myself if I want to take the chance and deal with that particular vendor.

I know that as a business eBay wants to present it's activities in a positive light and that the more positive things are the better an enterprise it appears to be. I just think that not allowing a neutral response forces people to give a negative response in order to just make a comment OR to just always give a positive response. Since I couldn't say what I really wanted to say, I just deleted the request for feedback. That was as close as I could come to a neutral response.

I know eBay doesn't care about my opinion, but I wonder how many other folks came across the same issue.


Fox said...

I really relate to what you have written here, although in a somewhat different context. I digress a bit.

Being Canadian as well, I have to pay shipping when things are bought from the US.

There are great differences in fees between vendors there: some folks charge an exorbitant fee - $20.00 almost - for a ball of thread or a shuttle, while ohers WILL refund (and DO) if shipping comes to less than the original, standard cost.

I was surprised and pleased when this first happened, as I had had discussions with the pricey place and was met with a "so don't shop here" sort of attitude. Not a happy bunch to deal with.

I had not even questioned the second place. It took the initiative and refunded a bunch of shipping fees. Needless to say, they get my business more than the other folks, whose products take much longer to arrive.

My experience with business in the UK has been great. Shipping fees are generally very, very low. Service is quick, polite and professional.

Same goes for Australia! Very good service, shipping fees and delivery time. alub

So there you go. Thanks for the rant. Not the same issue as the
eBay one, but the frustration feels very similar!
Fox : )

Ridgetatter said...

I've experienced the same thing with EBay, which is why I only shop from people I actually knoq; like, Grizzly Mt Arts, Beadamania from time to time)…or a book now and again. It is definitely "let the buyer beware" situation.

X Bev

H J said...

If I can get what I want elsewhere, I avoid eBay as much as possible. Not a reliable or caring venue.

Marty said...

I bought thread once from Ebay...thinking it was a great deal. Yeah, the thread came as promised -- but it was old thread, very old thread and it hadn't been stored properly. It breaks when I use it. I've given it over to my nieces to make those friendship bracelets or spiderwebs or whatever. I was unable to say what I wanted to say in the Ebay feedback as well. The thread was as advertised -- but the care it had received had not been advertised! Now, I'm like Bev -- I only buy from people I know either by reputation or previous purchases.

Katherinne McKay said...

I haven't tried buying thread from ebay, and have instead have bought some games and some components for laptops and I didn't have a problem with the shipping.

I have nearly been scammed out of about $300 for a laptop when someone got my e-mail from a bid I placed on a piece of crap that needed to be fixed. When I contacted ebay, they told me it wasn't their problem and that I should be more careful about e-mails claiming that they are from an admin.

I haven't shopped for anything electronic on that site since, instead sticking to looking up dvd's. It's not worth the fear that someone will try to scam me again.

snowy said...

I have bought quite a lot of stuff via e-bay...clothes, thread, books and random junk. I have had good and bad experiences, and I think one can say some negative stuff in the comment on positive feedback. If I were responding in this particular situation, I would say "goods as described, but shipping slow and exorbitant, refund not given :)" and so other buyers can choose if they want to go with them.
I think it's worth checking e-bay, because you can find some unusual stuff, but sadly we can't change those Milton Friedman babies!