Being an Ebay Entrepreneur and Paying Higher Prices

This is my second eBay-related post since launching 3LC in 2012; and frankly, I’m hoping it’s my last. I’m not intending to leave the bay, but these unfavorable transactions hit me harder than they once did. My buddy says I have a “guilt complex”; I claim to have “willpower” and “integrity”. Maybe neither of us is right.

Long story short, a few months ago, an item was on auction. The seller saw me watching it and reached out to me; I asked questions about the items. He offered a lower price. I didn’t have the money, so I sold some dupes in my collection to cover the difference without eating into our budget. I paid for the item quickly.

Then the box arrived (a week late).
The writing was on the wall from the beginning. The seller listed the figures as being in “perfect condition with accessories.” As a collector, I assumed he meant the figures were loose but mint with all accessories included. I asked about this. The seller responded, “yes”. Then the day the item was supposed to arrive came and went without the item’s arriving to my address. I contacted the seller who said he had not shipped it with tracking the first time and had the address wrong. He re-sent the item with tracking. I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

When I saw online that the box arrived, I was ecstatic. Whew! It came! When I saw the box at the house, my heart sank. Something was wrong. A gash in the corner made clear the box had opened in transit. The box itself was dented and crunched. I told myself not to worry, that the items inside would be neatly sorted and protected. When I opened the box, I found a lot of “perfect” figures in two plastic grocery bags, each with holes. The figures had paint smears from one another on them. One was actually broken. Accessories were random and from a variety of lines, plus some of them were damaged also. From my cursory review of the contents, the lot was worth about a third of what I paid for it.

My reaction was impetuous. I ran to the keyboard and e-mailed the seller, outlining how I was misled by the description and by our correspondence, neither of which ultimately mattered since the items were shipped poorly and damaged in transit, anyway. The seller responded with something along the lines of, “no returns, no refunds, not my fault.” I escalated the case further through eBay officially, imploring the seller to reconsider by providing him with additional details. His response (paraphrased), “They were perfect when I sent them; if you get a refund, we’re going to court.” This second, more aggressive response led to another of my own. I included pictures, affirmed my own frustrations as a seller when this type of thing happens but told him that we have to make good. I thought I further made my case.

Then I went to bed, and I could not sleep. Not sure if it was conviction, an overabundance of coffee, or a combination of the pair. I laid there wondering, “What am I doing? Is this really worth taking a stand? Is this worth the trouble? Should I eat the loss and flip what I can as figure fodder?” To be honest, I don’t have an answer. Even as I type this, I wonder if the refund was worth the effort. If the seller searches me by name, he will see Stronghold, my testimony, my articles. Have my actions and responses to him displayed integrity and charity; or have been yet another Christian to make Christ look bad? Furthermore, if I were to give him the benefit of the doubt on the issue, and I were to say, “Maybe he thought they were perfect, maybe he does not understand.” and eat the loss, would I be showing more of Christ’s character than if I fought for my money back?

Weighing these things weighs on me, even long after eBay refunded me the money, and I sent the items back to the seller.

The great irony is that this all happened while I was in the midst of studying Proverbs. Was I the reckless and careless fool who hastily invested without fully investigating? Did I read what I wanted to read in the correspondence but not what the seller intended? Was I the fool for my rash response to being disappointed by the box’s contents? Was I the violent man by carrying the matter further, rather than saying, “In my haste, I chose folly, and now I must pay for it.”?  I truly don’t know. Part of me is glad to have my funds refunded by eBay, but even after I have received my money in full, I also know I spent far too much energy and effort on this matter. My time is still gone.

And if there is one thing I value, it is my time.

Money is money, but time has no price. Should I have cut my losses? Should I have known better from the beginning? My last several pick-n-flips were delicious, but this one has left a sour taste. So what next? How would a student of Proverbs respond…I am still trying to decide, which is I spent the whole month of April in the book in the first place.

Thanks for reading,