After being treated about as unprofessionally as possible on a simple ebay purchase, and feeling extremely underwheled with the redress that ebay offers, I decided to use this bully pulpit to publicly shame them for their behavior. This has nothing to do with backups, but it is quite a story.
Here’s the story as best as I can summarize it. It’s a little long, but there’s some pretty unbelievable stuff at the end. I have to say that in all my years using ebay I have never encountered a seller that was both this disorganized AND abusive at the same time.
9/6/09: I purchased two iMacs from macworkstwo (AKA patlandman) on ebay. As is my custom, I paid immediately, as referenced by the feedback from the seller, “GREAT EBAY MEMBER! LET US KNOW IF YOU LIKED OUR PRODUCT WITH YOUR FEEDBACK!!!”
9/15/09: They finally shipped the iMacs (Nine day delay.) Austin@dealstarz.com sent me an email saying “I apoologize [sic] for the delay.”
9/26/09: The iMacs arrived while I was on a business trip. I returned on 9/26/09 to find that one of them had a major crack in the body and was disconnected from the stand to the point that it wasn’t tiltable. It just hung there. On closer examination, there was actually a piece of scotch tape that was placed across the crack back when it was still just a minor crack, but now the tape had, of course, ripped in two. Here’s a shot of the crack. (It was too big for the page.)
In addition, both iMacs were missing the keyboard and mouse that were mentioned in the listing.
9/26/09: I immediately sent a notification via ebay’s Contact the Seller option. Austin responded back and we discussed whether or not it should be a Fedex claim. I said I didn’t think so because there was no box damage. I also mentioned the Scotch tape. He made the call to have me ship the unit back.
10/3/09: Austin contacted me to tell me he had received the unit and he was very surprised by the crack. He said “I’ll let you know Monday how we will procede…We will get you a replacement unit as well. Thanks!” (This was a Saturday)
10/12/09: First broken promise. It was Monday of the following week (9 days later) and still no word. I contact them and Austin told me “No worries curtis, we have been a little backed up as our tech has been out. I’ll check into this.”
No worries? It’s been over a month since I paid for the unit at this point. I’m filled with worries!
10/13/09: Austin complained to me that this had not been a Fedex claim. (He’s the one that told me to send it in without the claim.) Then he later apologized and said “I mishandled this and you did nothing wrong whatsoever. Your replacement is getting ready right now. I’ll get your keyboards and mice out with the replacement tomorrow.”
10/15/09: Second broken promise. It was two days later and I still have not received a replacement or any tracking numbers. I used the “Contact the Seller” link again because I wanted a record of this (we had been using primarily direct email). I then got an email from firstname.lastname@example.org. He said “This is the first I have heard of this. I don’t read all of these emails. I am the owner. Please email me at email@example.com and I will make sure the keyboards/mice get overnighted to you.” (I did, of course, email him as he asked.) (As you’ll see later, either he’s lying here or lying later. He claims to be the owner here, but then later complains about the owner’s policies.)
10/18/09: I decided I’d had enough and that I was getting too close to the 45-day cutoff for paypal disputes. So I filed a claim with paypal. But I was still hoping that they would ship me the system and I could cancel the claim with paypal. But I felt I had no choice. The only other time I’d lost money on ebay felt exactly like this one, and the mistake I made then was not filing a claim within the 45-day limit.
10/19/09: Third broken promise. Still no system or tracking numbers. I emailed firstname.lastname@example.org for the tracking numbers and he sent me the tracking numbers of the first two packages! When I told him that, he seemed confused, “So one got damaged but no damage claim was ever filed? Why weren’t we notified immediately? You realize of course are now out the $500 for that machine since we were not notified.”
They were notified, of course. It’s just that Austin and Chris don’t seem to be talking. Chris and I then had a talk on the phone. After that, he was satisfied that I was due a system and sent an email to Austin saying “Get him a replacement system ASAP.”
Later that afternoon, I’m told by Austin that he doesn’t have another 2.0 GHz system, but he would ship me a 1.83 GHz system and they keyboards/mice, and a $100 refund. I agreed. (Now I see the problem. No wonder they hadn’t sent a replacement.)
And that’s when things got ugly. Chris got notified by paypal of the claim and he immediately turned into the most abusive person I’ve ever dealt with on ebay. (I found out that when a buyer fiiles a claim on paypal, paypal takes the money out of their account until the claim is resolved. That really ticked this guy off big time.)
I got the following email from Chris: “we cannot do anything to help you once the chargeback process has begun … you now have all of our money and we are out one machine. We cannot ship the second unit until payment is resolved.” (This was a lie as well.)
10/20/09 I sent him an email explaining that this was nonsense that the paypal claim can be cancelled and he can have his money back as soon as he sends me the system. He sent me an email saying that their owner was very specific about how they handle chargebacks. (Wait, didn’t you tell me you were the owner?)
After a very difficult (but still somewhat professional) phone call, Chris sent me a refund request for half of the purchase price and asked me to accept it. I looked at paypal and my choices were to accept and close the claim or reject the refund. There was only one problem. I still hadn’t received the keyboard and mouse. I told him I would be happy to accept the refund as soon as he sent me the keyboard and mouse. (BTW, a Mac keyboard and mouse are about $100, so this was not a trivial matter on a $600 system.) He sent me an email that said, “You’re killing me.”
We talked on the phone and that’s when he just lost it. He started calling me a “f***ing a**hole” and a “d***head.” “Oh, f*** it. Just keep the f***ing system and our money!” and hung up on me. Then, believe it or not, I actually called him back and he then offered an additional refund of $50 for the keyboard and mouse. But he said he couldn’t send me an additional refund until I accepted the other one. (Another lie.)
I called paypal and asked them what to do. They said to reject the refund and that would allow him to send an amended refund request for $650 that I could accept and close the claim. I did that and five minutes later I got an email that they had shipped the keyboard. Aaargh!
Now paypal says that he has to actually call them to straighten this out, and he refused to do so until paypal contacted him regarding closing out the claim. It looks like he sent me the refund and paypal closed the claim. But only because he was forced to. I think he was hoping that they would rule in his favor so he could keep the $600 and my system.
Once that was all done, I put in my feedback. I only get 120 characters so I put “45 dys 2 rcv full ordr-XTRMLY ABUSIVE CURSING from seller during return of 1 box” to which he responded “STICKUP ARTIST!!!! DO NOT SELL TO HIM. HELD OUR MONEY & RENEGOTIATED TERMS!!” (If you look at his feedback, he left the exact same comment for another guy that left him negative feedback.) After all that, that’s all I can do.
I sat on this story for weeks. Then yesterday I ran into another email from Austin that I hadn’t seen where he was complaining that I had left them negative feedback. So I decided to send him an email explaining why. I got this email this morning. “We have been doing business for 15 years and its pieces of s**t like you have made this business unpleasant. You are a stickup artist and you can s**k on by b***s for all I care. If I could do anything more than email you my disgust at you I would. Don’t fall down your trailer home’s stair you cheap f**k. This is eBay bitch.”
My only hope is that a future ebayer will google these guys before buying anything from them, and they’ll see this page and not do it. BTW, they currently have 8 negative feedbacks in the last 12 months. I don’t know if this will help anyone else, but it feels good to get it out there.
Update 12/24/09: Don’t miss my post about the owner of this company being indicted on 30+ counts of trafficking in counterfit goods and trying to sell them on ebay. Also, as of a few days ago macworkstwo has changed their ebay user id to patlandman. (I didn’t know you could do that!) As of this writing, if you go to macworkstwo’s page, it currently takes you to patlandman’s page, so they’re the same people. I’m guessing that this is due to the number of their potential customers that have spotted my web page. (One of them contacted me today. He told a familiar story about them trying to get them to pay via wire transfer. Of course, Western Union tells you to NEVER use it for that purpose. Western Union is for sending money to people you know — they have no recourse once the money is sent! Which is why these guys want you to use wire transfer; they’ve been getting too many paypal chargebacks.)
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Written by W. Curtis Preston (@wcpreston). For those of you unfamiliar with my work, I've specialized in backup & recovery since 1993. I've written the O'Reilly books on backup and have worked with a number of native and commercial tools. I am now Chief Technical Architect at Druva, the leading provider of cloud-based data protection and data management tools for endpoints, infrastructure, and cloud applications. These posts reflect my own opinion and are not necessarily the opinion of my employer.