I did not come to this decision lightly. I have been an eBay user for a very long time. Since the late ’90s. I was an eBay user since before they went public. I’ve used it to buy and to sell. But mostly to buy. It has come to the point where I check eBay before buying anything from printer ink cartridges to a new door handle for my car. Actually I guess that tense is wrong. It should read “checked.”
So, I guess the question has to be “why”? Why am I turning my back–and encouraging everyone I know to do the same–on a company whose services I used enthusiastically for going on two decades? I talked about doing this once before. Back in 2012 in a blog on the Live2PlayNetwork.com site called. Back then I said, “the eBay “guidelines” have become so horribly skewed away from the seller that is is kind of sad and sick. You better be reading those guideline updates they send. Because they WILL be enforced, even when they are so unfair to a seller as to constitute outright theft.”
So this is what went down this time…
I had a MacBook Pro. Older one, 2012. I was on a run of gigs out of town and–stupidly–put both the Mac and my what I thought was leak-proof coffee container (cool swag from the day gig that looks like a venti Starbucks cup but stainless steel with a rubber lid) into the currier bag that I use to cart around the “extras” (i.e., odds and ends not in a toolbox, rack or guitar case) that I use on every gig. And the coffee sloshed a bit and the bottom of the bag was wet by the time I got backstage. And the Mac was sitting in the sloshed coffee.
Long story short, I tried opening it and making sure it was dry but could get no image on the screen. Tried everything. Even took it to the Apple Store but–you may have also learned this the hard way–even with AppleCare, liquid damage of any kind is not covered. A few days after getting that news, I was looking at an interview we did with Brad Madix some time back about the deal he does with Greg Price called Diablo Digital. There are a few companies out there putting together turnkey, Mac-based recording rigs for live sound but one of the things Brad said stuck with me. They base their systems on Mac Minis and not MacBook Pros for just this reason. I think the quote from Brad was something like “If you spill a beer into a MacBook Pro, it;s game over. But if you spill it on a keyboard attached to a Mini then it’s just a keyboard. makes a lot of sense.
So i decided to put the MacBook Pro on eBay, see what i could get for it and then use that towards a decent Mini which i would mount in the rack. (Hey, Brad, How do you guys do the mounting? Still trying to figure out the best way to do it…)
Now, the MacBook Pro was actually working, just not the internal display. I took it totally apart looking for a loose cable or maybe one covered with coffee gunk. (The “took it apart” is important here…). I didn’t find anything. And, after an hour or two of swearing and throwing tools across the room, I got it back together and it still worked, less the internal monitor. I took a picture of the Mac next to an external monitor showing the desktop of the MacBook Pro and listed it. It was listed as damaged. I didn’t call it “for parts not working” because it WAS working. And I explained everything, including what had happened and that the Apple Store had already declined to fix it in the listing.
And it sold. For a bit more than I expected. I mean I still took a bath on it–no pun intended–but I got enough to barely cover the cost of a 2011 used Mac Mini. Another important note. The buyer was in Malaysia. And I used the eBay international shipping program. Where you ship it to an eBay hub and they ship it to the buyer.
About two weeks after i shipped it, I got an email from the buyer complaining about the way it was packed. No report of damage or anything, just a WTF email. The next day I got an email saying it was not worth fixing and he wanted a refund. I told him to pound sand. He said there were a couple of missing screws. Which is totally possible. I took it apart. I may not have gotten every screw back in. (We all have our “jar of shame” with leftover screws from stuff we’ve taken apart…). And he reported that a fan was not working. I had no idea if that was true but offered to refund enough to cover screws and a fan from eBay. About 40 bucks. He continued to demand a refund.
So i called eBay. I talked to a woman named Jay who gave me a case number (1-84218968489 for those of you keeping track at home.) I explained the situation and she told me that this was an obvious case of buyer’s remorse and that she would contact the buyer. She said that in a worst case scenario, he would be able to send it back at his own expense and I would have to refund the price but not the shipping. Worst case. I took notes and considered it closed.
A few days later i got an email saying I had agreed to a return and refund. I replied with the case number and explained that I had responded to a request but had not agreed to anything. Another week or two passed and forgot about it all. Until I got a note from PayPal–owned by eBay–that my account was $500 in arrears. because they had refunded the buyer. Note that I had not–and still have not–received the Mac back.
Today I got a bill from eBay for “sellers fees” for the same $500. And they can suck my… OK, I’ll be nice. It ain’t happening.
The first time something like this happened, it was the same deal. A buyer trying to game the system. I was able to use tracking numbers from USPS to show the item was delivered but the buyer claimed to have not received it. That time, they refunded the money and still charged me the user fees. Which is part of the agreement. you oughta read it.
So I got on the phone, again. And after demanding a manager for 20 mins finally got a less than helpful person named Dawn W. I explained. I gave the case number. She acknowledged that the case existed and that the Jay had indeed listed it as buyer’s remorse. But with no explanation why except continuing to insist that i had approved the refund–again, that never happened–said that the finding had been changed and there was nothing i could do and eBay would not even do anything to get the Mac returned to me. That even though i used the eBay shipping system–which means I pay shipping to the domestic hub, NOT international shipping–I would have to arrange with the buyer and prepay him for shipping of the Mac from Malaysia.
So here’s the deal. Learn from my TWO bad experiences. As sound folks, most of us own gear and most of us buy and sell gear and parts and most of us use eBay. But it’s a shit deal. Especially for sellers. That is one of the things eBay did to grow enough to make Wall St. happy. They brought in a lot more buyers. But the way they did it was to change the user agreement from one balanced between the rights and needs of buyers and sellers to one totally focused on the buyer. On eBay the motto really should be “let the Seller Beware.”
There are a lot of other services out there and some like SoundBroker, focused just on audio gear. Consider using them. You will get a more focused–and hopefully more honest–pool of potential buyers.
As for me? Fool me once yada yada yada. I should have stopped using eBay four years ago when the first incident went down. But, fool me twice? I’m outta here. You may want to consider doing the same thing.