Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Bad eBay, Bad!

There are times, I'll admit, that I'm carefree about my spending. Sometimes I throw caution into the wind and purchase without pondering. That hasn't been the case lately, however.

My dear and I are busily preparing myself and my bike, the beloved "Thor", for the Iron Butt Rally (IBR) that takes place in August. In following guidelines set forth by the Iron Butt Association (IBA), we've been adding goodies, gizmos and gadgets to the bike to aid in my comfort and navigation for the 11-day/11,000 mile ride around the U.S. and into Canada. There are rules and limitations to the modifications a rider can do to their bike, such as fuel capacity. We are adding an auxiliary fuel cell to Thor to allow me to ride further with fewer stops and to add peace of mind if I find myself nowhere.

One item we've decided to add to the bike for navigational aid is another GPS. I have one GPS that was given to me by the IBA at the 2002 "Pizza Party" in Daytona. I'll be very proud to ride with that GPS because of its sentimental value. I'd only been a member of the IBA for a couple months when I received that hand-me-down unit but my pride as its recipient would make you think its monetary value was in the 6-digits.

The 2nd GPS we opted to purchase is the Garmin StreetPilot III Deluxe. It has a bigger viewing screen, which was its #1 feature to me. The unit has many other valuable features that I won't go into, but in comparison, this is an upgraded unit and one that I will keep after the IBR. My plan is to return the IBA's gift back to the IBA so they can pass it along to another rider. I really like paying things forward and have appreciated the IBA's kind gesture.

Now here's the problem and where eBay comes into the story. We "purchased" the SPIII by winning an auction on eBay. J was very skeptical about bidding on such an expensive item but we decided to go for it. I assured him that I know several people who have had no complaints about their eBay experiences. HA! Once we won the auction, the seller, Nick Smalling, was quick to email an invoice requesting payment. No surprises there. We quickly responded with the shipping information he requested and forwarded payment. We mailed a money order because he had requested that as his first choice since he was experiencing difficulties with PayPal. That may have been our first mistake.

A day or two later, I swapped emails with NS about the GPS and my intentions for its use. He was very polite and helpful but then all communications came to a screaching halt. No further updates on the purchase, anticipated shipping, etc. I let a few days pass and still received no replies to the several emails I'd forwarded his way. I checked his feedback page to see that his once stellar selling reputation had turned to red negatives. We were not alone in our dissatisfaction and or in the fear that we'd been schnookered. NS did reply to some of his negative FBs including mine. He was nothing short of rude and unprofessional and in spite of his misfortune is still well deserved of his insults.

Many of the buyers have swapped emails communicating about their issues and several have apparently filed complaints through eBay and Square Trade... and possibly other agencies including law enforcement. Based on an email received over the weekend, NS was involved in an accident last Wednesday and was hospitalized. He, his family and friends are attempting to address the matters of business and asked for patience. Fine, I can be patient but the guy was a total ass prior to the 18th, the day of his accident and there's no excusing his rude behavior and comments to his "customers."

As my monitoring of the situation continued, I discovered yesterday that eBay had frozen his ability to trade. He was listed as a not listed user and was therefore banned from conducting further auctions. Oh great! We were totally screwed, I just knew it!

This morning the following communication was received:

Thank You for your Email. PLEASE only send one email to this address. I will respond within 48 hours. I apologize to all my customers who are having to deal with this. I just want to assure everyone that has paid money to me that you will get your product or your money back. Due to some very unfortunate events in my life as of late, some personal, it has caused serious neglect and hardships on some of you. The whole deal with Paypal that some of you have been informed of has permanently damaged my company. I have had to file suit against them to attempt to recover some damages. However this does not fix the issues of any of you the customer.

I have requested financial aid to assist me in refunding money, or replacing items owed to any of you. Many items that are in stock will be shipped as soon as possible. I am sorry for the delays but I am a little overwhelmed by all the misfortune I have experienced. But as they say when it rains it pours.

I do not want, or expect pity from any of you. Many have expressed words of comfort and they are appreciated, some of you know a few of the things that have occurred, many do not. Since many are personal in nature, they will not be disclosed. Never the less, they have affected my performance in business and in turn affected you the customer. I lacked the resources to compensate for the troubles. All I can do is give my apologies, Please understand I mean it for all I'm worth, I did not want it to get like this. Some of you will accept my apology others will not, either way I thank all of you for the opportunity to do
business with you, I wish it had been a good experience for all of you.

I WILL MAKE IT RIGHT! You may not trust me but all I can say is that I will supply what you paid for, or I will refund you your money. It seems a few people have filed complaints with various law enforcement, I ask please refrain at this time from doing so as all I need in my life now is legal issues, it will only slow down the process for all. Please only use it as a last resort, if you feel truly that I tried to do you wrong, and made no attempt to fix it.

Thanks Again for your understanding during this time. I hope sometime in the future I can make this up to all of you. I will Respond to your email in 48 hours.

The clock is ticking... 48 hours and then what??

Incidentally, a friend of mine is having an issue with a liar a.k.a. seller from eBay as well. I know there are bad apples out there but I just regret that I picked the one with the worm.


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