Generally I haven’t had problems with buying things on eBay. I typically don’t buy from eBay when I want new items because the bids often get beyond what I can buy the same thing for online or in stores. But I needed some lithium batteries and they’re hard to get a deal on, partly because I think Energizer has a patent on them so there is no competition. So before I bought them in a store I thought I’d look on eBay. The Buy It Now prices were all higher than in stores, but I found a couple of auctions ending the next day that still didn’t have any bids (turned out they were 1-day auctions), so I figured I had nothing to lose and bid $1.25 (8 batteries would be $16 in the store) plus there would be $3.50 shipping. I was winning. Within a couple of hours I had been outbid, but the same seller had two other auctions ending at the same time with no bids. Why fight against someone else? So I bid $5 on another one and got beat pretty quickly. Now I had to think how much was it really worth? One scary thing was the seller had only been online for a month, with 15 sales, most of which were purchases. The items sold included some cosmetics and a couple of baseball cards. I wondered where a person would get these batteries and thought maybe they just steal them. How hard would it be to pocket some batteries in a drug store and then sell them on eBay? But I knew with eBay and PayPal that really not that much could go wrong and I would be protected. I needed the batteries and they were going to cost $16 plus maybe $1 tax at the store, so if I subtracted out shipping I could bid up to $13.50, so I bid $8.90 which held against a number of other bids until the next day. Soon I was beaten again, so I bid on the third one for $11.15 and this held, bumping up a dollar or so to beat a last second bid, with the auction ending at $10.50 (the other two finished at $9 and $9.50). So I won and would still save $3. It was a far cry from getting them for $1.25, but eBay does an amazing job of finding a price.
I paid via PayPal immediately. This was Sunday night November 15. The good thing is they could be shipped the next day and, coming from Knoxville, I could have them in a couple of days.
So the next day I waited for a shipping notification and heard nothing. The next day again nothing. After I didn’t receive anything on Wednesday and hadn’t gotten anything in the mail, I wrote the seller to ask if they had shipped the batteries. I got no answer that day or the next, nor did I receive the package in what should have been plenty of time. So I decided I needed to file a dispute. However, eBay said that I couldn’t file a dispute until 3 days after a reasonable time to receive the shipment (4 days) had occurred. Afraid that once a dispute was filed, that I couldn’t give the person negative feedback, I went ahead and left negative feedback and then filed the dispute (turns out eBay encourages negative feedback when a dispute is filed and I had 30 days just like always to file feedback).
eBay doesn’t like disputes. Before I could file it, not only did I have to wait, but they asked that I try to contact the seller again, including by phone. I wasn’t interested in talking to the person. The good thing is I had a record of having written to the seller and having gotten no response for several days. Still, the seller now had seven days to respond to the dispute. At this point I bought the batteries I needed at a local store and said I just wanted my money back. I figured that if the seller had actually sent the batteries and eBay credited my account that I would let the seller buy the batteries back for the difference between what I paid at the store and the price I had bid (a difference of $3) plus $3.50 postage, otherwise I would keep them, even though honestly, I had no further use of them.
A couple of days later I got a response from the seller. It was written generally to all of this person’s buyers saying there had been a fire in the apartment below, that their grandmother was sick, and please do not leave negative feedback because they depend on eBay for a lot of their income and are feeding two little girls. With only 15 sales ever, I’m not sure how much income this person was making, but I assume that maybe they had multiple accounts that had gotten negative feedback in the past, so they would start fresh. The message said they would make things right, but didn’t offer a refund, nor did they say they were shipping anything. It’s hard to think a person is sincere when they aren’t actually doing anything to make anything right. A couple of days later, they got another piece of negative feedback, which only brought them down to 86.5% favorable. That sounds pretty favorable, but it is really awful. Never do business with people with less than 98% favorability. You’ll still have a 1 in 50 chance of a bad experience.
Towards the end of last week, eBay wrote a message saying that they were waiting to hear from the seller and if the situation was not resolved that they might make a decision on November 29. Yesterday, November 30, I had heard nothing, so I wrote and asked eBay if they had made a decision. Today, I finally received payment from eBay for the full amount of the auction and shipping.
So the process works. I never had to talk to anyone, but it probably didn’t hurt to send a message through eBay from time to time. Other than that, it just takes some time. The good thing is it was never a whole lot of money, so I wasn’t real worked up about it.