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Old 06-27-2005, 09:02 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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My Awesome Ebay Story

Just when you wonder if people are only in business just for the quick buck, you are reminded about great customer service.

Two customer service heroes with eBay stores are Canoka Electronics and Dan's Cellular. Here's my story...

I ordered a wireless keyboard from Canoka Electronics. It came with a piece busted off. So in a rush, I looked up the email on my "My eBay" page to arrange for a return. But in the hurry, I mistakingly picked out the wrong seller. I had lost on my bidding to Dan's Cellular, but that item was still on my ebay page and I got confused.

So I emailed Dan's Cellular (in error, of course) and got the return address. I sent it back to the wrong seller. The return process was taking a while so I checked in with him. He was a little behind so he decided to take care of it personally for me. He must have been in a good mood because he even volunteered to throw in a free tidbit for my trouble. But when he got ready to send it out he discovered that I hadn't bought it from him!

Not only was he nice about it (instead of calling me an idiot like I deserved), he voluntarily sent the returned keyboard at his expense to Canoka Electronics on my behalf. I had pretty much given up because I didn't want to pay back and forth shipping, plus restocking fees, or even deal with the hassles I expected would be awaiting me. So I had told him he could keep it to resell or throw away as he liked. But instead, like I said, he sent it on to the real seller at his expense even though he really had nothing to do with the whole mixup! What a kind thing to do!

And, over at Canoka Electronics, I let them know what had happened, and that basically I just decided to write off the whole thing. I didn't ask for anything, and I explained that even though the first keyboard was damaged, I wasn't going to give any bad feedback. I figured it wouldn't be fair anyway, because both these sellers have really excellent ratings, so I was confident that Canoka would have made things right if I had made the proper return.

Well, without knowing that the return was going to be done via Dan's kind move, Canoka said that he felt bad about what had happened, and offered me a free replacement keyboard anyway! All he asked for was a very reasonable shipping and handling cost. He had no obligation to me, and I had already let him off the hook, so the only reason he had for doing that was that he cared about me as a customer. And, as he put it, he was glad for a customer that took responsibility for themselves instead of blaming the seller for everything. So sure enough, I just got the package in the mail today. Can't wait to set aside some time and give it a try!

So if you're looking for an accessory (including some other types of accessories also, like a stereo plug adapter for the Treo) be sure to check out these great sellers. If you do, be sure to tell them you heard about their eBay store from BobR at MobileRead, and that you appreciate their style of customer service!
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Old 06-27-2005, 11:30 PM   #2
hacker
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Your story is a good one... and exemplifies how well eBay sellers can be sometimes.

Unfortunately, this is a minority, and in your case, an exceptional one. Most eBay sellers that I've dealt with and read about, would just have taken your keyboard and resold it on eBay, ignoring all of your emails about it.

I had a very ugly experience with eBay, which ended up getting much uglier for many other people.

In short, I bought a laptop from a seller on eBay, new, and it took several months to receive it, and only after I tracked down the home address of the seller in New York and called him at his house, interrupting his dinner. I mentioned that I had to cancel two speaking gigs I had because I didn't have a presentation laptop to use. I told him to ship it the NEXT DAY, or I would stop by the day after that and pick it up myself. Since I clearly had his home address and phone number, he really had no choice.

I was the last person out of over 300 others that saw a laptop from this person.

The scam was so broad, that my Advogato entry was the only one that would come up in a Google search for the seller's name, and buyers who were being burned would email me and ask for help, contact info, details, etc. It even made the news in quite a few places. He was eventually nailed by the FTC for his scam, with many of my emails and other research as evidence against him (I even received a personal Thank You letter from the FTC for my detailed "evidence" collected that helped them track him down and prosecute).

I got a call from an officer in NY asking for some details, and I said I had "a few" emails from people who were also being scammed. He asked me to send them along... I sent over 100 separate emails to him. The officer was blown away with the number of people being scammed. He only thought it was a few here and there.. We talked for quite awhile about what his scam really was, and here was my take (which I later verified in action after I received my laptop; a laptop that has been back to IBM for repair 7 times in 2 years, a total lemon):
  1. Offer for sale, a handful of laptops which at sale time, are "bleeding edge" models, brand new on the showroom floor.
  2. Let multiple people bid on them, bringing the price near retail, but not quite over retail price.
  3. Winners are required to send in payment within 5 business days, or forfeit the auction.
And here's part of the scam:
  1. At no point does the seller actually purchase ANY laptops. He simply makes up a bunch of auctions and lets lots of different "winners" send him some money for their "winning auction".
  2. When multiple people send you money for the same physical laptop (which he doesn't actually own or posess), delay as long as you can, weeks and months, until people complain. For those that complain, delay with some excuses about shipments being delayed, warehouses being relocated, parts on backorder, ANYTHING you can think of to delay people more and more.
  3. When "winners" complain and threaten to bring in legal action, offer to boost their RAM or hard drive capacity for free.
  4. If they refuse, refund their money (note, this is 3-4 months after the auction closes)
  5. Everyone once in awhile, take the money you're bankrolling, and buy a laptop to send to a "winner". 3-4 months later, you can buy the "bleeding edge" laptop at almost 40% off of the price, since it is no longer "new". It's almost 1/2 year old by now. Pocket the difference.
Basically he was taking money from winners, keeping it in the bank as long as he could, gaining interest on it, and every once in awhile, would send someone their laptop, less than 5% of the winners got their laptops.

Eventually, he figured out that the whole "send the winner what they paid for" was too much work, and he stopped sending laptops to anyone. He just let them send him their money, and he kept it. He was doing this with dozens of laptops per-week. Figure $1,500 to $2,000 per-laptop, per-week. That's close to $20k he was collecting and banking.

In any case, he was nailed, thanks entirely to my painstaking details about his operations and collecting the emails of others who had been scammed and contacted me. Several of those who were scammed tried to take the limelight by creating websites to collect names, document losses, etc, but I was the original and I had the most-detailed data on the seller.

But at least I got my laptop.. and tattered as it is now, several years later, it still chugs along in my office as a spare machine and test machine for various OS builds.

My own experience with eBay has been very VERY bad, so I hesitate to use it now. There's just too much "rating" fraud going on and you can't trust anything anymore, since nobody from end to end is held accountable for their actions using the system. Its a shame too, eBay could really have been something wonderful.. but like everything else lately (legal ebooks, royalty free music, clean and fast email), its ruined by assholes trying to make a quick buck.

Last edited by hacker; 06-27-2005 at 11:34 PM.
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Old 06-28-2005, 02:25 AM   #3
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hacker, I have one thing to say... You're truly an exceptional person. Absolutely above almost everyone.

From the first entry you referenced.
Quote:
Why does so much "dark cloud" always come my way. I'm a vortex for bad luck.
I suppose it's, in some slightly twisted way, a good thing. You have a talent for tracking down people and not letting them go if they're running scams, or similar. Like a dog biting into your leg and not letting go, no matter what - it'll hurt like hell and get you caught.

Personally I don't touch Ebay, and don't plan on using it anytime soon. Every so often, out of curiosity, I'll search a few random items for kicks, and see how much some of the random junk I have is "worth". But I don't trust most people. Much less so random faceless people trying to sell you things. Like salesmen... I don't trust salesmen at all...
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