Badly packaged bike from eBay seller may or may not be damaged. Return?
June 7, 2021 7:15 AM   Subscribe

I bought a second hand bike from an eBay seller. The bike was delivered today and the box had a twelve inch rip down the side, plus rips at both ends and looked to have been crushed. What to do?

On opening, the bike had basically been shoved in the box with only some loosely taped cardboard bracing at the top of the box and two small (handkerchief-sized) bubble wrap pieces tucked in haphazardly.

I have photographed the dents and small rips in the sides of the box next to the derailleur and the rear brakes, as well as the large rip next to the open quick release lever on the front wheel.

I've sent photographs of the damage to the box and the lack of inner padding to the seller. His response was to blame the damage on the courier and say that I "should keep the photographs if we need to make a claim, e.g. if the paintwork is scratched or the gears are damaged."

At this point, I don't even want to get the bike out of the box. I don't want to have to deal with a possibly unsafe bike that was advertised as 'immaculate'. But do I have to prove that the bike is damaged in order to get my money back and force him to pay for the return?
posted by doornoise to Shopping (9 answers total)
I think you do have to prove that, yes. You bought the bike, not the box that it shipped in. The seller’s response seems fair to me.

But it shouldn’t be too hard? Open it up & check. If there’s visible damage, there’s your claim right there. If it all looks fine, get on it & slowly ride around somewhere flat & traffic-free. Try the brakes, shift into all the gears. If there’s an issue, you’ll be able to tell.

TBF, if all this feels like too much for you, you should probably shop for a new bike in a legit bike shop, and not take risks with randos on ebay.
posted by rd45 at 7:28 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]

Any damage that would make the bike unsafe should be very obvious, and a quick test ride will verify that everything works. (And you don't even need to ride it to verify that the brakes work or that the derailleur works). The packaging job sounds incompetent, but you can either take it out of the box and verify the condition of the bike and go from there, or send it back, most likely at your expense.
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:35 AM on June 7

Response by poster: Ok, thanks both.

Now I've had more time to investigate, I can see through the largest tear in the box that the quick release lever on the front wheel is badly scraped up. To my eyes, the axle looks bent out of shape as well.

Since the bike was advertised as 'immaculate' (otherwise I would not have been buying), I will use this to open a return with eBay.

posted by doornoise at 8:30 AM on June 7

The quick release level is going to exhibit wear like that after it's used as intended (i.e. while it's being clamped down, it will rub against its mating surface). I can't tell if there's any issue with the axle, but it's unlike that the axle would get bent if the wheel is on the bike.

So, you still have two options: send it back, or open it up and see if there actually is any damage. If there is, file a claim with the shipper.
posted by jonathanhughes at 8:31 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The wheel is off the bike.
posted by doornoise at 8:44 AM on June 7

The wear on that quick-release lever did not come from anything that happened to the bike in transit, and like jonathanhughes says, it's normal wear and tear.

While I agree that the seller could've done a better job packing it (and, if they used the word 'immaculate,' a better job describing it), I see no conclusive evidence that the bike was damaged in shipping, let alone that it was damaged in a way that would make it unsafe.

It sounds like you've already made up your mind that you're going to try to return this bike, but, just as a data point from someone who's bought several old bikes from internet randos: if I were in your place I'd put the bike back together, check that the brakes worked, and then take it for a ride around the block.
posted by box at 10:36 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]

I agree with the above posters. The quick release lever could not have been damaged that way during shipping; it’s wear from normal use. (Maybe not consistent with the seller’s description of “immaculate”... but consistent with even a lightly-used secondhand bike.)

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the axle doesn’t look bent to me. In any case, it will be very easy to tell whether the axle is bent once you put the wheel on the bike. You don’t even have to ride it — just roll it along the ground. If the axle is bent it will not roll smoothly.

The seller probably could have done a better job packaging that part of the wheel where the lever sticks out. But the bike might be just fine.
posted by mekily at 2:42 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks. Marking as resolved.
posted by doornoise at 5:42 AM on June 14

« Older Unnecessary “The”?   |   How's the air in Ayr? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments