Another month and another ebay haggle… (pcbitz)

I was going to say “another week and another ebay haggle” but I was being overly negatively optimistic; the incomplete pressure washer that I got a full refund for (even after successfully pressure washing my paths!) was back in February, and the replacement mobile phone battery that the seller refused to entertain the return of, and ebay refused to accept “Distance Selling Regulations” on an item costing barely £5, that was back in March/April.

The latest rigmarole is regarding a graphics card, a basic one, nothing flashy, but it didn’t work. I tried it in two computers, the first one refused to ‘POST’ with the card in, and the other beeped to indicated there was indeed an issue with said card. I took a closer look at the card and noticed a deep score through some of the traces…

It doesn’t look much but that little blemish just south of the screw is quite a deep score through the traces on the circuit board (the copper is revealed), surely enough to break continuity.

A lot of the bigger sellers on ebay try and get buyers to Contact them, rather than open a ‘Dispute’ when there is an issue, and pcbitz were one such seller, so I kindly sent them a message about the issue and included the photograph of the damage. We too’d-and-fro’d a couple of messages; they asked me if the heatsink got hot, it didn’t. They then told me that, in that case, I would have to open a case…

Thought #1 “I thought we were trying to avoid opening a case. [why not just refund me and save us the hassle and you the cost of the return?]”

Thought #2 “Can’t you do that from your end?”

I opened the case and then I was shortly thereafter sent a return label. I noticed the return weight was 0-200g and this item was over that, although not so severely as the pressure washer, that was 10kg. Thankfully, packaging the graphics card in a ‘jiffy-bag’ rather than the original postage box meant it would fit in a post box, so I didn’t need to take it to a Post Office where I would likely be told there was insufficient postage on it and be asked to pay more. I figured it would either arrive without issue, Royal Mail would send it back to me and I’d have to contact the seller again, or the recipient would receive it and have to pay the excess…

No problem though, a couple of days later I received a refund. Case closed?

Er, no.

I paid £11.95 for the item and they deducted £3.25, stating “Item was fully working upon return. Thanks …”

Thoughts:

#1 I messed up and failed to get it to work in the two systems I tried it in [I’m a computer technician by trade; I’d like to think I know what I’m doing…].

#2 They’re lying just to hold on to some money.

#3 It magically works for them when it didn’t for me; i.e. an intermittent fault.

Either way, if I was them, I’d have just refunded the full amount and not quibbled it*, maybe just stating “It’s working for us, but here’s your refund.” [Or, send me a replacement since I’d given them that option].

As a big company like pcbitz it doesn’t bode well for return custom when a transaction is tainted. I was actually looking up a different computer item today, prior to receiving this partial refund, and landed on another one of their listings and chose instead to spend a little more with someone else since I didn’t want to start another transaction with them until the other was resolved; I’m now glad I did this and certainly plan to avoid dealing with them again out of principal.

The Refund Received notice included the option to dispute it with ebay so, prior to doing that I left negative feedback. I’ve learned not to leave the feedback until last because the option for doing so can disappear. More on this in a moment.

That their partial refund opens the possibility for them to be lying (because they now have motive i.e. to keep some money) doesn’t help someone in my position because I don’t know for certain that they are lying and that means I don’t know if the item is genuinely now working for them, and thus the question arises: “Why didn’t it work for me?”

I don’t hold out high hopes for ebay entertaining my quibble since that issue with the mobile phone battery has made me realise their stance has changed of late; they used to side quite heavily with buyers (which admittedly isn’t fair on sellers) but for items of a small amount it’s clear a buyer just has to accept it since it’s not like they’re going to seek independent legal advice for such a small amount (which is what they suggested to me when I contacted them about the battery refund).

*I actually had someone return an item to me that was seemingly faulty, but upon closer inspection I’d found they’d bent the plug on the USB lead. I included a photograph of this and provided a message (as polite and open as possible) with a less than full refund. I was concerned they would object but thankfully they were understanding and apologetic. I actually lost out on that transaction since I later realised they’d not included all items supplied, and it was a lot of hassle to prepare the item for resale, but I took it all on the chin.

Some issues have arisen in the Feedback-leaving department on ebay; either the option to leave feedback vanishes once a case is closed or I’ve seen my feedback retracted, supposedly because the seller has disputed it. These two issues completely discredit the feedback system. That you can’t leave feedback when a dispute has been closed in the sellers favour is nonsensical; that the buyer has had cause to open a dispute is a sure-fire reason for leaving feedback (and it can still be positive if things are happily resolved).

In other ebay news, my purchase of a cheap fountain pen is going well; I’m enjoying writing with it in my journal, and have successfully refilled it a few times, not only with Parker-branded ink, but cheap ink that finally arrived from China, even though the month of detailed tracking data still seems to think it’s stuck in transit somewhere in Asia.

In other other ebay news, my sister had an issue with ebay/PayPal whereby she was apparently paying for things twice; she noticed that money was going out of her bank account for things she’d paid for from funds in her PayPal. I think it’s something to do with the change over to ebay’s payment system. I’ve been trying to avoid this but it seems my time is up; ebay sent me a “selling weekend” offer, but I had to sign up to their payment system to apply. I don’t want the change… but I do have things to sell.

[EDIT] A few hours later ebay responded and refunded me the outstanding £3.25. All good you think? I checked the negative feedback I’d left and that was gone. The only fair thing I can assume from this is ebay deem negative feedback to be retractable once a full refund has been awarded. I don’t agree with this stance – the feedback system is there to share experiences with others*; I have been asked by a seller before to change my feedback, which seems a fair request but to have feedback completely removed hides all trace of a poor experience, a more open method would be to leave it in place, even downgrade the level if need be, but ‘flag’ it in some way.

*I understand that there are feedback guidelines, such as being factual and not attacking a seller. I read some feedback by a seller yesterday that was basically telling the complaining (and “lying”) buyer to “get a life”. Needless to say I didn’t buy from that seller.

3 comments

  1. I don’t use ebay because I can’t get my head around it. I kinda think life’s too short for all that rigmarole

  2. Used to sell loads of stuff on ebay – I would guess over the years I’ve sold about £5,000 worth, but I can’t be bothered with it now for selling low cost items. The hassle of packing and posting and so on is too much, even when things go smoothly. I still loccasionally by things though, and would consider it for selling more expensive items, say over £30-£40. I suppose I don’t need to anymore, being a “well-off pensioner”.

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