2008-01-27

Provincial survival guide

Chapter 2: Finding amusement

Get yourself into a flame war (bar fights are so passe).

To be honest, I can't take full credit for being involved in the online hostilities over an eBay transaction, as I did not provoke the situation, but nevertheless when opportunity came, I bravely accepted the challenge!

Here's basically what happened: I buy a cheap cell phone on eBay as a backup in case of the impending demise of my RAZR. Cheap as in 7 bucks.

The seller (bargainlot2300) charges 13+ dollars in shipping and handling (which was clear from the item description, so I am not complaining about that), but at the checkout, they slap another 3+ bucks on for "insurance." The line item "insurance" is mandatory and cannot be removed from the automatically generated PayPal invoice.

I send the seller a formal invoice request through eBay, asking to remove the insurance charge from the invoice, because I don't feel like paying over three bucks insurance for a seven-dollar phone. I receive no answer.

Then in about two days, an invoice comes, and the insurance is still on it. I reply to the message repeating my request. Nothing.

In another few days, a new invoice comes, and--you guessed it--it is still the same invoice, with no communication from the seller.

We repeat this dance two more times over the following ten days.

On day 14 after winning the auction, I decide to pay for the item. I feel kind of miffed, having had less than satisfying customer experience, so immediately after completing the payment, I give the seller negative feedback, mentioning lack of communication and desire to accommodate.

Ten minutes later (what happened to the 48-hour latency?) I get slapped with a negative feedback, claiming I never got in touch with them! I send them a message telling I sent five messages and received no response, and that now I paid for the item, I'd like to have it please.

Now the real fun begins. The seller sends a request to "mutually withdraw feedback" to me and tells me that they won't ship the item until I withdraw my rating. Before this, I was merely mildly amused, but this was just too much fun to not take the challenge!

I sent the seller a message through eBay repeating that I have paid for the item and would like to have it now pretty please, had this request rebuffed as expected (ah yes, bargainlot2300 communicates exclusively in all caps):
PLEASE MUTUALLY WITHDRAW THE FEEDBACK SO I CAN SHIP YOUR PHONE.
YOU HAD 100% PLEASE KEEP IT THAT WAY.

THANKS
-bargainlot2300

At which point I go "Gotcha, sucker!" and report him/her to eBay.

The dispute resolution is still pending, but the entertainment value it has already provided me is hard to measure :)