eBay seller wants me to solve a shipping problem. What do I do?
November 13, 2014 11:35 AM   Subscribe

I ordered a thing off of eBay, and there is a shipping problem. The seller wants me to solve the problem. What do I do?

I ordered a limited-edition pocket knife, the kind you dangle on a keychain. The item shipped, and I contacted the seller when I didn't receive it by the date I was told it would arrive. He told me it could be another couple weeks since Deutsche Post had a strike. Then I contacted him to follow up, and he checked with the Deutsche Post again. Here is his latest message:

"I called today at Deutsche Post and find out that the person on the counter obviously made a mistake (instead of international she booked only national shipping) - they could´t tell me neither where the order is nor if it will arrive in the States or not. Something like that didn´t happen before, so that i don´t know what to do in this situation. I suggest we ship another knife tomorrow, so that you will receive at least one of them for sure… the only question is, what should/would we do if you receive two knives at the end ?!? I´m really sorry for the delay and want to apologize for this mess, even that it is not our fault… Please let us know what you think would be the best to do and what you would do in case you receive two items… Best regards"

So the seller is asking me for a solution, and it feels really awkward. Any advice? I have no idea what to do, because this just became a problem for me, and it feels like the seller wants to avoid losing $30 (the cost of the lost pocket knife) by transferring responsibility to me.
posted by circular to Shopping (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My response would be something like:

I would like to either receive a refund or receive the product I ordered. I appreciate your efforts to fix this, and will be happy with any solution that results in a refund or me receiving the knife. How would you like to proceed?
posted by OrangeDisk at 11:41 AM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Tell them, "Please do send another one. If you would like to include a self-addressed mailer, with postage included, I will be happy to place the second knife in it if a second knife appears."
posted by corb at 11:42 AM on November 13, 2014 [18 favorites]

I like corb's idea, but a self-addressed mailer will be tricky since we're talking international postage. You could offer to mail the second knife back (if it shows up) if he sends the postage cost by PayPal. It looks like that will be around $14 for First Class mail.
posted by zachlipton at 11:48 AM on November 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Seconding the return mailer.

It's cute that the seller is trying to pin this on the post office, but the seller is the one responsible for packing and labeling the shipment as an international shipment. I've shipped things from Germany home to the USA and I had to fill out customs forms, look up the various rates for air vs. sea transport, etc.

I don't quite understand how the shipment "accidentally" got put into domestic flow without the seller knowing, or screwing up.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:49 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would say "Please send another. Of course if I receive the other knife I will send it back to you, if you cover shipping." Similar to Corb's great suggestion, but slightly different in that it's less likely to cause them not to send a new knife because they don't want to deal with the pre-paid postage in case it's not needed. Then if you get the 2nd knife, deal with the problem then.
posted by cacao at 11:50 AM on November 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Don't let the 90 day limit pass. By the 89th day, make sure you have your refund or product. If not, get the immediate refund from paypal.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:00 PM on November 13, 2014 [8 favorites]

For what it's worth, I was in a similar situation recently when the original package showed up in tracking after the replacement arrived, and the seller suggested that I refuse to accept it and have it returned to the sender (which is apparently possible, even with international shipping) or pay for the additional item. I paid for the additional item because it wasn't that expensive.

If you have the option to refuse the original package and have it returned at no cost, then that's your problem solved. That's only likely to be possible if you need to sign for delivery. If not, then offer to return it if the seller to covers return shipping -- especially so if it's obviously a private seller and not a corporate entity with an eBay username.
posted by holgate at 12:01 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's part of the seller's job to get your knife to you. They choose the shipping options, so it's their responsibility.

Let the seller know you'll return the second knife if it arrives, and ask them how they want to send you the cost of the return postage. The can do this via paypal (sending you either enough money AFTER fees to cover the cost of the return postage, or simply refund your money) or more viably by them paying for return postage via some online service then sending you a link to where you can print off the labels for postage.

Do not pay to return the item to the seller then expect them to recompense you.
posted by Solomon at 12:30 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would just tell him that if it arrives I'll either refuse delivery (if it's sent with signature and that's an option) or write 'return to sender' and stick it back in the mail. Then in real life if it was delivered I wouldn't bother. It's on him to get the product to you, all this postage stuff in the middle isn't your problem.

And yeah, if it's not in your hands before the refund/charge back date for however you paid for it make sure you get your money back regardless.
posted by shelleycat at 12:35 PM on November 13, 2014

Oh and to be clear: I wouldn't mess around with trying to get him to pay for return postage. Stick it back in the mail and let the postal service sort it out (or intend to do so and never get around to it if you're me).
posted by shelleycat at 12:37 PM on November 13, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everybody. I went with pretty much a verbatim version of cacao's suggestion. Here's the seller response:

"Believe me i´m really angry that something like this could have happened. We will ship another one tomorrow, and yes of course we will cover shipping in case… Best regards"
posted by circular at 12:41 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Even with that said, i'm nthing the 90 day limit thing. sometimes the limit is more like 60 on ebay also, since it gets very hard to find older stuff you've bought after that.

I'd give it MAYBE a week, and they better give you a tracking number this time. I've been dicked around by international sellers more than once to the tune of ~$40 with this kind of stuff.

One of the sellers repeatedly said she'd sent another one and stuff like that and apologized a whole bunch, and then finally the auction just rolled off my ebay timeline and there was nothing i could do.
posted by emptythought at 4:02 PM on November 13, 2014

Ask the seller to cancel the sale and refund your money now. Say that when they have the knife in their possession, they can let you know and you'll bid on their new listing.
posted by wryly at 4:17 PM on November 13, 2014

When there's a shipping problem with the second knife (and I bet there will be), open a case with eBay. It's the official (and best) way to quickly resolve issues like this.

Find the auction's listing in My Ebay > Activity > Purchase History. Under "Leave Feedback," there's a "more actions" drop-down. Click it and select "Didn't Receive Item." Proceed from there.
posted by joebakes at 3:03 AM on November 14, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks guys. I'll definitely stay on top of it. Another update from the seller:

"Hi, just want to let you know, i decided that in case you will get 2 knives you can keep the other one as compensation for the long delivery time… Nevertheless it would be nice if you could inform us if both of them arrive or just one, because we will make an official request/complaint with Deutsche Post and it would be important for us to know. The second knife was shipped today. Best regards"
posted by circular at 11:22 AM on November 14, 2014

Response by poster: Update: I received the second one as promised and closed the case. No sign of the original package. Thanks to everyone for the assistance.
posted by circular at 3:34 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

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