I just recently had an issue with a buyer that I thought I needed to get eBay involved with.
The buyer had purchased a pair of boot slippers, new with tags in the original box for $29.99. After receiving them, they decided that the size they had purchased was just too small, and began a return through eBay. When I received the slippers, the tags were missing, and so was the box.
eBay’s return policy clearly states that an item must be returned in it’s original condition with all paperwork, tags, and packing included. I could still resell these slippers as they had clearly not been worn other than to be tried on. I couldn’t however, sell them as “new with tags in box”. Which makes them slightly less valuable. I had no problem giving the buyer a refund. It just seemed fair that it should be a bit less than a full refund.
What to do
I went to eBay’s resolution center and my only option seemed to be to start a case with eBay. They would make the determination as to how much of a refund I would have to give.
The more I thought about it, the more I regretted involving eBay so quickly. I hadn’t even contacted the buyer to work it out between us. The next morning, I emailed the buyer and explained how the slippers had lost a bit of value with the loss of the tags and box. I told the buyer that I felt that a $5 reduction of her refund would be fair. She quite quickly replied in total agreement.
Now I really am feeling foolish for involving eBay before talking with the buyer first. Immediately I try to refund the $24.99, but because I’ve started a case with eBay, I can’t refund any amount other than the original $29.99.
I start looking for the options on how to contact eBay. I have difficulty in understanding accents over the phone, so I prefer to email most customer service questions I have to any company. Although eBay used to give an email address for customer service, now it’s just a phone number to call. I got all my information together, including the transaction #, and dialed the phone.
The beginning of the call was automated, with questions to determine why I was calling. I knew right away that there was a problem with their system when it would make a noise, and then ask if that’s the item I was calling about. It didn’t say an item, just played a noise. I repeatedly said no, and it eventually told me it was sending me to a customer service representative.
Talking to a real person
I was relieved when the woman answered and she was very easy to understand. I explained to her my problem, and that I had jumped the gun in involving eBay when I should have contacted the buyer first. Because eBay can see any correspondence when I use eBay messages, she could see that the buyer had agreed to the $24.99 refund. She told me that because I began a case that I would have to refund the buyer directly from my Paypal, and then send eBay a copy of the receipt, or a screen shot to prove that I sent it. To pay someone directly from your Paypal account you merely need their email address. I thanked the woman and hung up. Pretty simple…not.
I logged into Paypal and clicked on the original transaction. The buyer’s email address was listed there, I sent the refund, and took a screenshot of it on my phone. I then went to the resolution site on eBay to email them the screenshot, but there was no place to do it. I searched all through eBay and couldn’t find where I was supposed to send my receipt. Now I have to call them back.
Phone call #2
I run through the automated, get through to a representative, and explain the whole story again. She tells me that she will email me a link to send the screenshot to. (This link would have been a good thing for the first representative to share with me.) I thank her, and wait for the email. After about 5 minutes I receive it, and I use it to send them the screenshot that shows the amount I paid, the date, and the email address I sent it to. Problem solved…nope.
About 8 hours later I receive an email from eBay with this message:
What? I quickly check my Paypal account and sure enough, there is a second refund to the buyer for these slippers.
Phone call #3
You know the drill. Automated questions, me saying “no”, “no”, “no”. Then explaining again the whole situation, ending with now the buyer has been refunded twice. It takes them awhile to look everything over to decide that I really did refund her. They then tell me that they have to send me to a different department for them to fix it. I’m transferred over, and even though the first representative took 10 minutes typing in notes for this other department, I still have to go over the whole story with them. Just as I’m finishing, we’re disconnected! NO!!!!!
Phone call #4
Automated, “no”, “no”, “no”, whole story, need to transfer. While I told the story again, my caller I.D buzzed, but I ignored it. As I’m listening to this horrible music, waiting for the “fixer” to pick up, I’m disconnected!
I check the caller I.D. and find that it was eBay calling me back. Good to know. I should be receiving a call back any minute from the person I was last talking to, and then I won’t have to retell the whole story. Apparently it doesn’t work that way if you’re being transferred and in between two people when you’re disconnected. Nobody called.
Phone call #5
Yada yada yada, being transferred. Disconnected again. Now I’m losing it. I have been trying to fix this for an hour and 3 minutes.
Phone call #6
The first thing I say to the representative when I get through is, “I have been getting disconnected from you people for the last hour. If we get disconnected you better call me back.” The very nice gentleman on the other end of the line apologized profusely, said that they’d been having trouble with their system all day, and reassured me that he would in fact, call me back if we were disconnected. I went over the whole story again, and he too said that he would have to transfer me to the “fix it” department. He added that he would stay on the line until he was sure that I had been connected to the next representative. I guess he could sense my “transfer fear” over the phone! I was transferred, and the line managed to stay connected long enough for this representative to explain the problem.
This particular buyer had two email addresses. One with eBay and one with Paypal. When I sent eBay the screenshot showing the email address I sent the refund to, it didn’t match the email address that they had on file for the buyer. Therefore, they didn’t see any proof that I had actually sent her the refund. I then forwarded a copy of the receipt that I received, which actually showed the buyers name, and that proved to them that I had sent it, and they agreed to reverse the second refund.
There is a moral to this story
Always, always, always, contact your buyer with any issues before involving eBay! It will not only be a whole lot easier for you if the buyer is agreeable, but it’s just good business practice.