Friday, April 18, 2008

Fair negotiations

Ebay is one of those sites that is a love-hate relationship for me. I think it's a great idea in principal because people can sell used items for more money than if they had to sell it to an antique store. On the other hand, I worry about purchasing stolen items and wonder how much it's caused retail prices to rise so that stores can recoup their theft losses.

The other variable factor is human behavior. I've had many very smooth experiences buying and selling. I've been ripped off once. I've had to return things. It's tricky to know who you can trust and how to fairly deal with people.

This week, I tried to buy a used veil. The title and description said this was an elbow-length, rhinestone-edged veil. It was simple with a little bit of sparkle which is exactly what I'm looking for. The start price was $9.99.

I sent the seller a couple questions which were promptly answered and reassured me the person was organized. I ended up being the only bidder and won the item.

When it arrived, it was clean and in very good condition. When I tried it on, however, I realized that it was longer than elbow-length. For those who don't know veil styles, an elbow-length is just what it sounds like, the bottom edge of the veil should stop around your elbow. That translates as around 30" in length.

This particular veil had a blusher that measured 30", but the back layer (the one that counts) was actually 36" long. Veils between 36" to 38" inches long are called fingertip veils. I checked three different websites to confirm.

So, I wrote the seller back politely alerting them to their listing error and asked to return the veil citing the error and my petite height as the reason. They acknowledged their fault for the error and said they'd make an exception and refund me the purchase price.

Before sending the item back, I wanted to verify the actual refund since I had also paid them $6 for shipping. I didn't feel it fair that I should have to pay for shipping both ways (which costs $4.60 each way) when the reason was not a simple change of heart.

The response was that they would refund me the purchase price plus the cost of shipping *minus* the cost of relisting the item as long as I provide positive feedback. Is it my responsibility to pay for their relisting? It seems to me the error was their fault, so it is not my problem once I return the item. I also checked Ebay's website and found that the basic component of the relisting fee will be credited to them if the item is resold. If that's the case, then they would be getting money from me and Ebay.

I wrote back explaining this as factually as possible (minus the last sentence). I even let them know (if they were already aware) that they will get a credit for the purchase fee they paid to Ebay since I will be returning the item (credit is about 75 cents).

Does this all sound fair? Am I missing something here? I feel like they're trying to take advantage of me or blame me for the return when it was their error in the first place.

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