Is it right to leave negative Ebay feedback in this situation?
March 5, 2013 5:11 PM   Subscribe

Three weeks ago I won the auction for a computer bundle on Ebay advertised as including a new desktop, keyboard and monitor. The price was pretty low and an excellent deal for all three. But the box arrived and there was no monitor. The seller says it was broken. He offered to send me another one but now just wants to give me some money back and call it a day. I am unhappy but don't necessarily want to leave negative feedback which could hurt his business (he has 100% positive feedback). On the other hand, I let people walk over me a lot and my gut feels bad about this whole situation. Can you walk me through this?

At first he wasn't going to do anything about it because he said the price was so low that even without a monitor it's a good deal. Eventually we agreed that he would send me an old working monitor just so I could at least see what I have with the computer. Now two weeks after that agreement he says he had a problem with shipping and is going to give me some money back (about 20% of the purchase price not including shipping). That is what I had initially asked him to do but he'd refused because he said I got a good deal. It's not enough money that I could actually do much with it. I still have to come out of pocket significantly to buy a new monitor which is why I wanted a bundle in the first place. But since I had initially offered to accept some money back and I don't see the point anymore trying to get another monitor from him so it's best to move on.

How do I rate this transaction? The item was not as described but I don't know how important it is overall that I didn't get this one piece. Sometimes things do break. He responded to all of my messages in a timely manner. I am not sure if a negative feedback is warranted just because we ultimately could not agree. Some aspects of the the experience seem sketchy to me but I don't know if I'm overreacting.
posted by Danila to Grab Bag (52 answers total)
Holy shit yes negative feedback.
posted by bq at 5:12 PM on March 5, 2013 [49 favorites]

I am not sure if a negative feedback is warranted just because we ultimately could not agree.

Couldn't agree? Couldn't AGREE? You bought a monitor and computer and he sent you the computer and not the monitor. You want what you bid for and paid for. This is not a matter of simple disagreement.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 5:16 PM on March 5, 2013 [11 favorites]

If I were thinking of buying something from this guy, your experience is definitely one I'd want to know about. Please leave the negative feedback - and make it clear that he did not provide what he'd sold you.
posted by DingoMutt at 5:18 PM on March 5, 2013 [11 favorites]

So the problem was that he didn't have what he was trying to sell (things break, but he should know what's broken)
He wasn't going to fix it until you complained.
He spent two weeks trying to fix the problem.
Now he is finally giving up on those efforts and giving you some money?

Absolutely negative feedback. Feel free to explain that he finally ended up giving you some money if you can leave detailed comments.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:19 PM on March 5, 2013

At first he wasn't going to do anything about it because he said the price was so low that even without a monitor it's a good deal.

This is the biggest thing that jumps out at me. People are human, stuff breaks, etc. but that's not the attitude of a great ebay seller.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:19 PM on March 5, 2013 [14 favorites]

He doesn't get to just send you whatever he wants, whenever he wants, simply because the original deal was good. WTF, eBay seller dude?

Honest, negative feedback. For the sake of future buyers.
posted by Salamander at 5:20 PM on March 5, 2013 [9 favorites]

Do you know if the computer works? I would worry it didn't. There used to be time limits on how long you have to file a dispute with either ebay or paypal I would be fairly concerned that he's dragging his feet hoping you don't find out the computer doesn't work until its to late for you to make a complaint.

I think the fact that he didn't ship you the monitor you paid for, didn't tell you he didn't ship it, then told offered you a different one and didn't ship that makes him sound shady as hell.

A negative is well warranted in this case.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 5:20 PM on March 5, 2013 [16 favorites]

Negative feedback the shit out of that guy. Look at it this way - he might do this on every transaction, and every previous customer thought "oh I won't mention it". Now you're helping them screw over the next customer as well.
posted by jacalata at 5:21 PM on March 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Get the money first btw
posted by fshgrl at 5:22 PM on March 5, 2013 [13 favorites]

Yep. To me the problem is that he knew it was broken, but sent you the product without the monitor anyhow. He should have contacted you PRIOR to shipping, said hey, this is broken, would you like the other parts at X price or would you like to cancel? At least, that's how I assume an honest seller would handle this.

I think that as long as you detail out what exactly your problem was - the seller was willing to resolve the issue for you, yes, but after-the-fact and with some hesitancy - a negative rating is fair.
posted by celtalitha at 5:22 PM on March 5, 2013 [10 favorites]

He didn't uphold his end of the contract - to sell you the bundle as promised. He doesn't get to decide after the sale that it's a good deal even without the monitor. Please please please give him a lousy review. You have my blessing.

Also, eBay has decent buyer protections so you should absolutely let them know about this. If anything, their policies are too buyer-friendly (my husband got screwed selling something) but you should definitely take advantage of them.
posted by kat518 at 5:22 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't be frightened to send a message to this guy to say, this is what we agreed, this is what you have done, I am not happy, if you do not satisfy me, I am going to leave you negative feedback. I assure you he gets far ruder communications than that! and you will have laid out exactly what the disagreement is (which is handy if you want to escalate). Did you pay with PayPal? A PayPal dispute gets recalcitrant sellers moving pretty quickly!
posted by thylacinthine at 5:23 PM on March 5, 2013

Don't be frightened to send a message to this guy to say, this is what we agreed, this is what you have done, I am not happy, if you do not satisfy me, I am going to leave you negative feedback.

This is feedback extortion and can get you banned from eBay unless you are very clear that you just want the monitor (no refund).
posted by payoto at 5:32 PM on March 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

He failed to sell you what you paid for and when you complained he basically said, "Hey, it's not a big deal, relax." Yes, leave negative feedback indicating how untrustworthy he is. Just wait until you get the refund.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:37 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is literally, exactly what negative feedback is for.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:42 PM on March 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

As far as the 'broken monitor' goes, since you've never seen ANY monitor, there really isn't anything more than this guy's word that it even exists. From your description of events, it sounds like he planned a classic bait & switch fraud, what with that incomplete shipment and then trying to justify keeping your entire payment anyway.

Check the computer to be sure if IT actually works and take the 20% refund; but if that computer doesn't work, make sure he refunds every single penny. And afterwards? Heck yes: negative review --- this guy's earned it, and other potential buyers need to know before he pulls the same thing on them. (Just make sure he doesn't drag this out so long that any deadlines for feedback are past!)
posted by easily confused at 5:42 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

At first he wasn't going to do anything about it because he said the price was so low that even without a monitor it's a good deal.

Definitely leave your honest feedback but wait until after you feel the transaction is complete, i.e. you are happy with the outcome and all is settled (money has been returned to you or new monitor sent).

Ebay users rely on the honesty of others in the feedback process, your experience is just as important and should be translated to others.
posted by Under the Sea at 5:50 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't deal with eBay, but on Amazon, I've had sellers HEAVILY PRESSURE ME to leave only positive feedback, no mater what happened. Even if I had no problems whatsoever (I've only had a problem with one seller and they eventually gave me a refund after a month when the product disappeared in the mail), they send messages saying DO NOT LEAVE NEGATIVE FEEDBACK, if you have a problem, tell me privately, etc.

I am saying this because even though he has 100% positive feedback doesn't ah, mean that he genuinely is good to everyone else but you. He literally didn't give you what you were promised or a full refund. If there is any case in which one should give negative feedback, this is one.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:50 PM on March 5, 2013

There is no way I would not give this guy negative feedback, for all the reasons listed above. From what you've said already, I'd be worried the computer itself didn't work, even if it appeared to (maybe it's got some issue where it routinely flakes out after two hours or so--who knows? Obviously you can't take this guy's word for it).
posted by johnofjack at 5:58 PM on March 5, 2013

Negative feedback and go through dispute process; item not as described (or item did not arrive). If there was no monitor included in the sale, it should not have been included in the ad. He doesn't get to haggle after you've paid. And it's good to hurt his business since his business is lying to people and ripping them off. This is exactly why the feedback system exists, so that people can't pull this kind of crap as easily.
posted by windykites at 6:08 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

You need to send the computer back to him, get your money back, and do it *quickly*. If you go over a certain amount of time, you won't be able to dispute anything nor will even be able to leave feedback.
posted by bensherman at 6:23 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thank you. Things I had not considered:

1. That he never intended to send me a monitor. I can't prove this but I am persuaded by many of the arguments here after looking back carefully over the listing and his messages. I don't feel bad about negative feedback at all if he is scammy. I really just thought from his messages that he was young, a teenager, and that's why he came off oblivious.

2. That I could file a dispute even if he is now offering what I would have accepted before. This is actually what I told him I'd do yesterday if he didn't ship it. Last night he claimed to have shipped it but 24 hours later apparently that went wrong yet again. So I guess he did lie about that, and now he's making a new offer. At this point I am afraid the computer won't work properly like you guys have said. So I have just filed the dispute and laid everything out. Thankfully we only communicated through Ebay and all the messages are there.

3. That I could hold off on any kind of feedback until this entire situation is over.
posted by Danila at 6:26 PM on March 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

I would be very surprised if he ever had a monitor. Sadly, this situation is exactly what negative feedback is for - to warn other buyers about this guy's incapability as an ebay seller. You owe it to other good faith buyers to warn them about this joker, leave the negative feedback.
posted by goo at 7:12 PM on March 5, 2013

You have a responsibility to leave negative feedback, for future possible purchasers from this clown. That is part of the social compact of Ebay.
posted by LarryC at 8:00 PM on March 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

I have a hobby for which I need a specific kind of gel pen, imported from japan, usually sells for about seven dollars a pen. Once, while browsing Amazon, I found a listing for a dozen of them for two and a half dollars! So I bought it. . . and what was shipped to me was one pen. I called them and complained, they said "Oops it was a listing mistake," and refunded me all my money plus shipping.

I left neutral feedback detailing my experience, and they wrote me back and said "AAAAA NO! What can we do to make this positive or get you to delete it?!" and I said "You can send me my other eleven pens." The woman said "That's still a great deal, even on that one pen!" and I said "Yeah, but the listing was for twelve of them." She said "We refunded you your money!" and I said "Yes, and that's why I left neutral feedback instead of negative." She then CALLED me and said "Do you realize it hurts me personally and emotionally when you leave neutral or negative feedback?" and I said "Well, I'm sorry to hear that, but I ordered something and got shipped less than ten percent of it, and there's no way that's a positive experience. Unless I get my other eleven pens, the feedback is going to stand." So then she said "People like you are why I hate the internet" and hung up.

Stand your ground. This is a negative experience, leave negative feedback.
posted by KathrynT at 8:49 PM on March 5, 2013 [24 favorites]

I swear we did business with this guy. Bought something with a defective/missing part, he drug it out for weeks. We left negative feedback, which he also did for us (because we left him negative feedback). We were so peeved that we didn't care, really.

Yes, leave honest feedback. You have a right to get what you paid for, full stop, without hassle involved.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:50 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would be a bit worried about retaliatory feedback. Unless he's already left feedback for you, I would consider this a possibility -- and if you sell on ebay, or if you're a relatively infrequent buyer, this could hurt you more than it hurts him.
posted by mmoncur at 9:00 PM on March 5, 2013

The events you listed are just simple facts about your experience with this seller. There's no reason to hide them. There's not even any reason to frame them as 'negative' or 'positive'. The facts speak for themselves, and future buyers will be happy to have them.
posted by MrOlenCanter at 9:31 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Don’t let me buy anything from this guy. Negative feedback.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:48 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Doing a few good transactions to set people up for scams on larger transactions is a real thing. That plus this culture of pressure about only leaving good feedback unless they came to your house and robbed you with an actual loaded gun leaves these ratings skewed positive. "A+ seller - came to my house and robbed us, but gun was not loaded. I appreciate his respect for our safety." Zap him!
posted by randomkeystrike at 10:14 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

He should give you a refund equal to the retail price of a monitor. And you should still give him negative feedback after.
posted by J. Wilson at 11:18 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've had this happen to me before. I'd bet he hasn't broken or lost the monitor.

What's happened is the auction didn't go for as much as he wanted, so he's held part of it back. He's hoping that you'll go along for an easy life and just accept that, because you got a "good deal". Tough shit on his part, if he had a minimum price then he should have set a reserve, you shouldn't lose out, it's not your fault the item didn't go for a higher price.

This is definitely a case for negative feedback.
posted by chrispy108 at 1:32 AM on March 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

1- Feedback is for the end of the transaction. Don't leave feedback until everything is complete.

2- This seems like a situation where you should just send it back and demand a refund. *Then* leave negative feedback.
posted by gjc at 2:23 AM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Okay, considering your update, I'd say the guy planned this from the start, and is probably an experienced scammer. Send the computer back now (don't bother checking if it runs or not: but I'd be surprised if it does), demand a full refund, and start the dispute process IMMEDIATELY: he's counting on further delays running out the clock.

As for that negative review: when you write it, write it like you've done here --- factual, with a clear explanation of the timeline of events.
posted by easily confused at 2:37 AM on March 6, 2013

He may have 100% positive feedback because he's pressured the shit out of everyone, and that is not an honest way for him to be representing his business.

Don't give in. Don't give him positive feedback.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:25 AM on March 6, 2013

I scrolled through here quicklly and ctrl+f'ed "buyer protection" and "claim" and see nothing.

BEFORE you leave negative feedback, let ebay help you solve this. File a buyer protection case immediately! I have no doubt that ebay will side with you -- the auction said it included a monitor and it didn't so the goods you received were materially different than what you bid on. Seriously, let ebay work this out for you and then leave your negative feedback (which the seller absolutely deserves).

Also, in re: to retaliatory negative feedback -- if I'm not mistaken, you can report that also if indeed the seller does leave you bad feedback. Report it and I bet ebay removes it.

I sell thousands of things on ebay every year. In this case, I'd have just refunded and moved on if I were the seller. Better yet, I'd have never sent you the package without the monitor I said was included! Take this one to ebay, man.
posted by youandiandaflame at 5:02 AM on March 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

Don't leave any feedback at this stage.
Either take the partial refund offered (in which case neutral feedback may be reasonable, but not negative) or return everyting for a full refund (as the buyer, eBay & Paypal will 100% support you in doing this).
posted by anagrama at 5:31 AM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I swear we did business with this guy. Bought something with a defective/missing part, he drug it out for weeks. We left negative feedback, which he also did for us (because we left him negative feedback).

If that's the case, it can't have happened in the past 4-5 years - it's not possible for sellers to leave negative or neutral feedback these days.
posted by anagrama at 5:34 AM on March 6, 2013

His latest message: "Alright i know i delayed but its a pain to ship the monitor due to findlng a good box and im still in school so its not easy but i have a monitor that i will ship"

I think it's best for me to just write the whole thing off. I know it was my own foolishness that got me caught up in this. Since I opened a buyer protection case, when I don't get anything from him I can just escalate it for a refund. I live in an apartment walkup and don't have a car or access to one during the day, so I will have to find a way to get this heavy computer to the post office and shipped so I can get my refund. Hopefully all of the shipping costs will be refunded and there's also the warranty I bought for it which will have to be prorated. These are really the only reasons things have dragged out this far since I just wanted a monitor, even an old one, rather than the tremendous hassle of shipping this computer back.
posted by Danila at 9:26 AM on March 6, 2013

I know it was my own foolishness that got me caught up in this.

What? How? No.

He made an offer, you accepted the offer, you paid for what he had offered. Then, he didn't deliver. This was his responsibility. Fine, so he's a busy student - that's an explanation, not an excuse. Even if he had been incredibly busy, which I doubt*, it was his responsibility to have been more communicative throughout the process, e.g. "hey, I don't have a working monitor - do you still want to go through this deal?"

Now you have to go through the pain in the ass of shipping this computer for him. Screw that. Again, this is literally, exactly what negative feedback is for.

*If you doubt that someone is incredibly busy, does that mean that the busy-ness is no longer credible, thereby rendering it incredible again? Is it therefore impossible to doubt anyone who claims to be incredibly busy? These questions have plagued philosophers for centuries, and me for minutes.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:45 AM on March 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I know it was my own foolishness that got me caught up in this.

No, his flakiness is what caught you up in this. You were fine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:03 AM on March 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

His latest message: "Alright i know i delayed but its a pain to ship the monitor due to findlng a good box and im still in school so its not easy but i have a monitor that i will ship"

Oh hell no. No. Just no. Don't let this guy guilt-trip you.

Oh, it's sooo hard to find a box. Boo hoo. That's something he should have thought about, oh, I don't know, maybe before he listed the computer on eBay? I mean, what did he think was going to happen if the computer sold? Did he think he could just tie a rope around it and the carrier pigeon would pick it up with its beak? Or, OK, even if he didn't think ahead about the box, he could have looked for it while the auction was listed. Or when you won. Or in the intervening three weeks since you won. No, sorry dude, your excuse is bullshit.

Please follow through with this and as soon as you either have a working computer or a refund in hand, then neg the shit out of this guy. Also, if you do have to return what you got for a refund, see if eBay will provide you with a label. If not, you can pay for and print one online. Either way, you can schedule a pickup from USPS or UPS so you don't have to try to find transportation to the post office.
posted by payoto at 3:38 PM on March 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

As a person who makes my living selling on the Internet, this Ebayer's behavior is absolutely unacceptable to me. Don't let the fact that you made your purchase online, rather than in a brick and mortar store, confuse you. If you had made a purchase of an advertised computer and monitor at a store, but the dude refused to let you leave the store with your monitor, this would be fraud, no matter how screaming the deal.

Do not think of this guy as some poor college student with a sob story. He is a business owner who is attempting to get out of a contract he had made with you. Perhaps he has been wonderful in all other transactions and has earned his feedback rating. But in his dealings with YOU, he was unsatisfactory. Sure, give him the benefit of the doubt about the original problem, but that should end the moment a seller starts making excuses. I have made some mistakes in my years selling--wrong editions of books, or people being unhappy with condition etc., but you know what? I have immediately and to the absolute best of my ability made the buyer whole without one breath of an excuse. This, on more than one occasion, has lead to very positive feedback for the way I handled my mistake.

For the sake of his future buyers, please give honest feedback about your unhappy experience. And really, for the sake of my livelihood, as well. Guys like this can sour people to the whole idea of making purchases online. Letting a bad seller continue on his merry way with no pushback may mean that I lose a sale down the line because my potential buyer just gives up on purchasing from small sellers all together.
posted by thebrokedown at 3:19 AM on March 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the advice on filing a protection case. Because of that he started moving a lot faster. First, he finally sent me a UPS tracking number. True, it was an invalid tracking number and he never supplied a working one but at least there was the hint of some movement on his end. Then, lo and behold I received a monitor today! True, he sent the wrong power cord so I still can't test anything but I feel like Wyatt and I are really getting somewhere (not his real name but what I've taken to calling him).

I will leave neg...neut...not positive, definitely not positive feedback when all of this is finished. It's hard for me to decide between negative and neutral because he has been so responsive even when he was making excuses. And if everything is working and if the computer is as well put-together as he claims (he builds them himself and I get the feeling that's his pride and his focus) then I can't help think that will matter to future buyers as well as his scummy way of doing business.
posted by Danila at 1:48 PM on March 8, 2013

he has been so responsive even when he was making excuses.

I would invite you to carefully consider the line between "responsive" and "spewing BS", and further cogitate on which side of the line he falls. Because. . . he has yet to provide you with something that provably works.

Speaking as a potential future customer of his, this computer would have to mow my lawn and make me ice cream in order to be worth this level of agita.
posted by KathrynT at 1:52 PM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

After all this he sent you the wrong power cord? Geeze.

At this point negative feedback is OK. Someone in his situation, if they care about customer service, would have been more careful when correcting their mistakes. If a customer has been very upset that you did not send them a monitor and you're finally sending a monitor, you check to make sure it works before you put it in the mail, and you send them everything needed to make it work. That includes the correct power cord.

Either he doesn't care, he doesn't know how to do a good job at customer service, or he's a cheat, but either way, he's not being a good ebay seller and future buyers should know that. What if you'd been someone who had no other computer and really needed one by X date (for school or work or something) or else you'd be really screwed? What if the next person buying from him is in that situation?
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:12 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

he has been so responsive even when he was making excuses

If I was going to buy from this guy, I would really want to know if he was better at sending out monitors or excuses.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:19 PM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

What if his "being responsive" is really coming from a place of "oh shit I better say something to make this guy shut up"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:35 PM on March 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Danila... he's sent you a monitor, without a power chord. Unless he finds a power chord that works with this monitor and sends it to you express overnight and you get it tomorrow, you only have his word.

You are an extremely trustworthy person, and I respect that about you. But every piece of evidence points to this guy being a ripoff arsehole and I don't want you to be ripped off, and I think you that you need to trust your experiences enough to recognise when you are being ripped off.

Which you are. Unless the monitor with power chord arrives in the next day, leave negative feedback. Don't let other people, who might be of limited income and experience, fall for this joker's bullshit and get ripped off too. Get your refund then post negative feedback, you owe it to other eBay buyers as much as yourself.
posted by goo at 5:19 PM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another way to look at it: there are some really, really excellent merchants out there--people who really give exceptional customer service. I've had sellers respond to me within the hour letting me know that yes, they'd be happy to take my item to the post office before the close of business that day, for example--at no extra charge for expedited shipping.

These people deserve a positive rating. Giving a positive rating to other folks like this guy dilutes that and makes the truly excellent people stand out less.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:44 PM on March 8, 2013

I have been convinced by the arguments that the rating is for the other buyers and also to distinguish the good sellers out there. It's not a vindictive thing I'm doing. Besides, I finally got the power cord for the monitor, hooked everything up, and as suspected, the computer doesn't even turn on. Nothing at all, and things don't look so hot on the inside with stuff just falling around. So I'll just get it packed up and deal with this through Ebay. Thanks everyone!
posted by Danila at 7:27 PM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Feedback is ebays dirty little secret. In the old days I once got negative feedback fron a seller just because I left neutral feedback instead of positive feedback. In my opinion positive feedback is for superior service, no feedback is for run of the mill service, and negative feedback is for non-superior service. Feedback in this case is appropriate.
posted by snowjoe at 7:52 PM on July 19, 2013

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