Let me tell you the true story of the videogame I purchased that took three months to arrive. As I’ve done countless times before, I got the winning bid on an eBay auction from a seller who had 100% positive feedback (I always check), this time for a copy of Crackdown for the Xbox 360, a game I was looking forward to playing. Unfortunately the seller did not accept Paypal payments. No big deal, except I would probably have to wait a week or more for delivery due to the cheque having to clear. Two weeks went by, and there was no sign of the game. I emailed the seller and got a positive response. I did some more waiting. Still no game. I emailed again. This time no response. Well over a month later, I rechecked the seller’s feedback rating and saw that three negative comments had appeared. So, I wasn’t the only person this guy had decided to rip off. Well, either that or he had died. Who could tell?
Anyway, I added my own negative comment to the others. Fair’s fair; he cashed my cheque and walked away without sending the goods. And if he’s now in heaven, he’ll hardly mind an extra stain on his eBay account. Next, I registered a complaint with eBay. Nothing happened except the seller’s account was shut down. So I had to decide: do I take this further or put it down to experience? Well, this wasn’t the first time I had been ripped off on eBay; it was the third. So I thought, No more. This time I’m not letting it rest.
eBay had turned out to be prettty unsupportive, so I formulated my own plan. First, I used Google to locate the nearest police station to the seller’s address. Then I used eBay’s “Contact Member” form to write a message to the three other victims of the seller. I asked each of them to compose a letter addressed to the police in the seller’s area, detailing exactly what the seller had done, including as much detail as possible, right down to the cheque numbers and dates cleared. Instead of having the buyers forward their letters individually to the police, I asked them to mail them to me. Two of them did so. Along with myself, that made us a party of three. I then forwarded all three letters directly to the police in the seller’s area. This whole approach saved several different police stations having to forward and collate (and possibly misplace or ignore) the data. Instead, I provided them with a nice tidy all-inclusive package. I was prepared to leave nothing to chance.
Sure enough, I eventually received a call from a police sergeant. He advised me there were two ways he could play it. He could either have us fill out an official form of complaint, or he could simply call round to the seller’s house today and quiz him. Collectively, we all agreed to the latter, because it was simple and quick. Boy oh boy, I would have loved to have seen the seller’s face when the sergeant arrived at his door and told him why he was there. Little did the scoundrel know that there were three offended customers from different parts of the country secretly conspiring against him.
Yes, the seller was very much alive, and quick to make his excuses. His story was that shortly after the auction he had been admitted to hospital for three weeks, during which time he also had problems with his girlfriend. And it was the girlfriend who was the actual owner of the eBay account he was using to trade. He was actually able to show the sergeant the very games he had listed on eBay and he then agreed to post them the next day. The presence of the games indicates that there actually was some original intent to make good on the sales, and I’m willing to believe that the seller’s story would check out, if investigated. However, the excuses are rather feeble when you consider how I had been waiting three months for the game. I think it was more theft by laziness than theft by intent. But theft is theft, and if I had never brought the matter to the police, I doubt that I would ever have received the game. Crackdown finally arrived yesterday.
There you have it. Honourable eBay users take note: if someone rips you off, now you know how to bring him down!