Brian's Blog

…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World

Buying online – returns and feedback

I buy a lot of my online purchases through ebay, but some through specific websites. When things don’t turn out right it seems you are better covered through the ebay and the PayPal system (paying with a credit card is a good option also), and the feedback system makes sellers better comparable to others, meaning other buyers can easily see who is not so good to deal with. If I can find a better deal through a specific website, or there is a combined postage discount from buying a few things from the same place then I will consider this too.

That’s my opinion at least. But even when buying through the ebay system, whether I leave good, neutral, or negative feedback can be a difficult decision to make. Sometimes negative feedback seems too harsh, for example, or I might think/look back to how I rated someone else when there was a similar issue, or I might look to see what problems other people had; if a seller is repeating the same problem then perhaps negative feedback is warranted over neutral.

My mood on the day, and how much I feel I have been inconvenienced or if I’ve been left out of pocket will all play a part on my final decision; I might leave only neutral feedback if an item arrived late because of slow dispatch but I wasn’t in a hurry for the item, but negative feedback if I needed it quick.

Sometimes it’s a fault with a product and not with the service received. For this there is occasionally a product feedback option, which can alert buyers to issues with a particular product regardless or which seller they use. Again, if the seller handles the return well then I feel I can’t fault the seller, and not having to pay return postage on a faulty product is I think important. In fact, a seller should stipulate who is responsible for the cost of return.

I have amassed a few examples of late:

My central heating boiler needed a new motor and I decided I could fix it myself. I found a motor on ebay but it turned out to be the wrong one; I felt I was partly mislead by the listing since the title and listing said “70W” which was the one I needed, but when it arrived it didn’t fit and the label stated 90W. Looking then more closely at one of the pictures on ebay I noticed the label was visible. The seller didn’t cover the return costs so I was left out of pocket. Admittedly I could have looked more closely at the pictures, but pictures and items can be difficult to compare when you’re not aware of what differences to look out for. I had told the seller that I had been mislead by the incorrect “70W” being state. I waited for him to amend his listing but this didn’t happen so I felt justified in leaving negative feedback: “Title and listing say 70W, item and a close up picture 90W… cost me to return.” A month or so later he messaged me to tell me “your barred lol”, he had also responded to my feedback with “What a Total lie, ordered wrong part, totally dishonest human, your barred” It seems quite silly since the listing is still the same with “70W” in the title and listing and “90W” on the item in the picture.


pond_pumpThen I bought a solar pond pump kit. It didn’t work (I tried it in the kitchen sink with the solar panel in the window, nothing) and while it was free to return and get a full refund someone else had bought one and found the same, so I left neutral feedback.

When I bought some gear cables for my bike I had used the search box to find “gear cables” and the listing that I went with did indeed have “gear cables” in the title, but what arrived were brake cables. Upon closer inspection the picture was of brake cables and the listing stated brake cables… so why “gear cables” in the title?! The seller refunded me straight away and said there was no need for me to return the cables. They have since amended the listing, so I think it’s fair for me to leave positive feedback.


walletI bought a new wallet since my old one was falling apart. The new one was all right, nothing too spectacular; it seemed to have all the features I needed, but I found the note compartments weren’t so deep compared to my old wallet and left the notes somewhat exposed (not as significantly as in the picture!). Since I was happy enough to keep the item I made use of the product review option with the item and used this to share my views with others.

Then, more recently I ventured away from ebay in search of some new tyres for my bike. I have my preferred ones I have decided on some years back and I look for these but do compare options and prices available to me when I’m getting close to needed some replacements. My chosen ones are “Continental Contact II Reflex tyres 700 x 32” and I know what they look like in the pictures; tread patterns particularly, but also a specific feature hidden in that title, which as I will come to in a moment was a crux of my issue.

I couldn’t find these tyres at my preferred price on ebay so I used Google to shop around.


In using Google I notice how one has to be careful in comparing the search results and link followed with the actual item at the website you end up on, because they don’t always match, especially with items with variations. But again, I knew what I was looking for. I found Tweeks Cycles had the tyres in stock (unlike Wiggle where I bought them from last time) and they were cheaper on their website than their listing on ebay. I’d not bought from Tweeks before so this is always something to be cautious about, but I could pay via PayPal and could sign in as a Guest. Paypal I felt would cover me if anything drastic went wrong but by not creating an account with Tweeks I was aware it might limit me later on (something I have found before with another company).

But the tyres arrived on time. However, they weren’t quite the right ones. I once bought a pair of a company on ebay and they’d managed to send me two different sizes, but on this occasion they were the right size but not the “Reflex” version. The difference here was that the Reflex version has a reflective band along the sidewall; a feature I like to make me extra visible at night (although you have to keep them clean).

I contacted Tweeks straight away, via e-mail (here is where having an account to log into can give you better return options and communication with some business’ websites), but a couple of working days passed (and a weekend) and I hadn’t heard from them so I emailed again stating that I had already emailed them once. I got a reply promptly (albeit from my first email) and they asked for a photo of the product. Fair enough, I have been requested this by other sellers when there has been an issue so they can choose how to proceed.


I also sent them a picture illustrating the difference, kind of cheeky, but maybe they wouldn’t know.


Then they wanted me to see if the label confirmed “Reflex” or not, so they could decide if it was their mistake or the manufactures who may have wrongly labelled them. The label didn’t state “Reflex” so it seemed they had simply sent the wrong ones. This added further delay to the proceedings. They then said they would arrange for ParcelForce to collect them, and asked which day would be convenient with me; I chose the earliest next working day. I waited in all day as necessary and ParcelForce didn’t show (I can only assume that Tweeks did book them). I contacted Tweeks the next day and agreed with them that I could return them at my expense (up to £6) and they would refund me the cost (or they could try ParcelForce again).

The most convenient option for me was to use Hermes since I know the courier. Sadly Parcel2Go’s website was repeatedly failing at the payment stage on this occasion and while I was in a chat box with help there (they were having a technical problem) I was placing my order with Interparcel, albeit at a slightly higher cost. Mr Hermes collected the tyres from me the next day, but their basic service isn’t the quickest so I had to wait a few days more. I received the automatic confirmation of delivery but heard nothing from Tweeks. I’d forgotten I had paid by Paypal so when I checked my bank account a couple of days later (rather than PayPal) and saw no refund I contacted Tweeks again, they had refunded me by Paypal, but not confirmed this. Thanks guys.

Quite a rigmarole!

I have now ordered and successfully received the correct tyres from a company called RibbleCycles. The only think that bothers me about the delivery of bike tyres is how some sellers fold them up; when I bought them from Wiggle they were in a large tyre-sized box, but Tweeks had folded them with a clever twist. Ribble, however had uses a more elaborate double twist and used a small box. Once I’d checked they were the correct ones I carefully untangled and pressed out all the kinks (noticing that reflective band had been somewhat creased too, oh well, they should be fine once on the bike.) In addition to successfully receiving the correct tyres I will add that RibbleCycles have a referral scheme, so if you’re in the UK and are looking for bike stuff I can recommend them [click here] and I think you might get a discount.

What are your returns and feedback experiences like? Do you feel bad for potentially leaving overly-harsh feedback? I think a lot of sellers and businesses do their best to handle things well, especially on ebay where poor feedback can lead to higher selling costs and a lack of future sales. Often sellers have to take things on the chin; they might be left out of pocket due to covering return costs, but as a buyer the rules on ebay and the law in general (here in the UK at least) seem to focus more on benefiting and assisting the buyer.


3 comments on “Buying online – returns and feedback

  1. declutteringthestuff
    4 February, 2017

    your heater seller quote made me think Trump must have written it! We rarely purchase online for just the reason you’ve stated. It is easier now that we rarely buy anything.

    • Brian
      4 February, 2017

      His influence is surely wide reaching 😉

  2. Anna
    3 August, 2017

    Sometimes buying things online is a hit or miss

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This entry was posted on 3 February, 2017 by in Cycling, Ebay, Services and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .
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