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Old September 25th, 2009, 09:20 AM   #1
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Ebay situation: Advice needed.

The breakdown:

I bought a Nikon 28mm Ai-s lens on ebay.
I bought it because it was a manual lens for DOF adapters.
A few months went by and I decided to sell the lens.
I posted it up with the same description and picture.
Someone posted a question just before bidding ended asking if the lens was an Ai-s or an Ai lens.
Before the question was answered (I was not home) someone bid on it and won (I assume the same person).
The person paid.
I did a quick comparison of the lens (Not knowing the difference between Ai-s and Ai)
From Ken Rockwell's site, I figured it was an Ai-s.
I sent the item.
The buyer contacted me and said it was in fact the Ai model.
I was certain it was the Ai-s but decided that if he returned the item I would honor a refund (I posted in the description that I would refund within 3 days of purchase)
The buyer was not pleased with this. He incurred shipping to his country, an apparent 'brokerage fee' and insists that it is my responsibility to reimburse him for all of this and shipping return (Shipping to his country, back here and brokerage fee).
I contacted Ebay. They have no policy in place to enforce any refunds. They asked that I continue to talk with the seller to resolve this situation amicably but to also be careful, as I did state I was sure I sent an Ai-s lens.
Paypal protects both buyer and seller. I contacted them and asked what their policies were. In short, if he makes a claim and I accept it, he would be reimbursed ONLY for the amount paid into my Paypal account and ONLY after the buyer has shipped it back (At his cost) and I have verified the item is in the same condition.
I could refute the claim and say I did send an Ai-s lens (Which I'm sure I did...but now with all this I'm feeling only 90 percent sure)
If I refute the claim and Paypal finds in my favor he would get no refund. If they find in his favor they would give him a refund. However, as the situation is now, it's very much "Your word against mine." and I doubt a refund would be given.
I've tried to be polite about the situation with the buyer but he's not happy.
If in fact I did make the error in shipping a lens that was Ai instead of Ai-s, then I can completely understand why he is angry. However, having been the target of scams on ebay before, I can't rule out that a different lens would be shipped back. Neither of us has many transactions on ebay and we both have 100 percent feedback.

At this point, I'm willing to refund the cash paid to my account. I'm on the edge as to whether I should accept responsibility for the 'brokerage fee' IF he could provide me with the documents. Paypal has said that this falls outside their 'jurisdiction' and would be a decision that only I could make (On moral/ethically grounds).

It's hard to be objective about this situation since I'm the seller. I've asked my friends and they are of the idea that I don't know who I'm dealing with and that a refund through Ebay's Resolution Center or even Paypal would be fine (Some have said to just accept the negative feedback I would receive and leave it at that).

I'm still trying to sorts things out with the buyer, letting him know the Ebay/Paypal policies and asking him to double check for himself so that he knows what rights he has as a buyer. He feels "misled" while I feel "uncertain". Understandably, none of his messages through ebay have been of a 'kind' tone.

I'm posting this MOSTLY to just get things off my chest (Since nobody on my end is willing to play devil's advocate). What does everyone here think? Should I go ahead and pay for shipping return? Pay the brokerage fee if he can provide the documents? Take the risk of getting back a lens I didn't send him (I never wrote the serial number down so I wouldn't really know.)

And before anyone asks, no I didn't provide a picture of the lens. I used a stock photo provided by ebay. I guaranteed the lens quality (Optics) as they are mint.
Jason McDonald is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 25th, 2009, 09:41 AM   #2
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Have him send you a picure of the lens that will confirm which lens it is.
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Jeff Kellam is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 25th, 2009, 11:17 AM   #3
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Sounds like he bought it before he knew what it was, I would stick to the eBay policy. Tell him he can be refunded what he paid to your paypal if he ships it back. I mean he already won the item before you answered, what was he going to do if you had sent him the wrong answer then?
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Old September 25th, 2009, 03:09 PM   #4
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A couple things - ALWAYS have good pictures of the actual item, for your own protection. PERIOD. AND...

ALWAYS know what you're selling to the highest degree of certainty you can - a long time ago I had one guy dispute a camera format, and get very nasty about it - I directed him to sites showing he was wrong, ultimately he went away... he got a good price on the camera and was just trying for a partial refund, by sending me lowball comps... I sent him higher comps...

What is the difference in actual value of the two versions of the lens (do some comps if possible)? Perhaps offer a partial refund? If he really does not want the lens and is willing to relist it, have him put it up for auction again and pay whatever the difference is?

"Brokerage fees" or customs fees and taxes are a problem with international transactions, and it's really up to the buyer to pay those. He MAY be able to get a refund on those for a returned shipment - it's worth having him ask a bit, but if it's a fee charged by the shipper, may not be possible - UPS is notorious for cross border gouging for broker fees... one reason to use the postal services.

EBay policy will refund what he paid once he ships it to you and can prove shipment (signature required if it's over $250), but he pays shipping/fees. My guess is he wasn't familiar with the broker fees... you probably weren't either... I wasn't at one time, until I learned from a buyer that he was being told he had to pay broker fees which exceeded the value of the item sent US-CAN, I raised hell since the shipper didn't say anything up front, and they reversed the fees as a "one time" courtesy - now I use the postal service exclusively for international shipping.

I don't know what the value of the lens is, but that could be a factor here. Shipping can sometimes eat into the "value" of an item significantly...

I just did a quick comp - those lens prices seem to be all over the place... not even sure how to comp or evaluate the prices, and I can usually figure values out to within a small range!
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Old September 25th, 2009, 03:27 PM   #5
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What's the dollar amount we're talking about here... for how much did the lens go?

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Chris Hurd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 26th, 2009, 12:32 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
What's the dollar amount we're talking about here... for how much did the lens go?
I sold the item for 200USD plus shipping.
His brokerage fee was 50USD

The situation has been resolved. I sent email saying he could avoid shipping and return the lens to family (Who actually live about 20 minutes from where he is) and that upon inspection of the lens by a photographer friend I would give him a refund (Therefore avoiding shipping).

His next message was of a nicer tone, but he said he had a better idea. He would keep the lens and sell it at a lose. He would ask that I pay 40USD as the brokerage fee.

In order to have the issue resolved I decided to accept this. He's now the owner of the lens, minus 40USD (So instead of a 200USD profit, I made a 160USD profit.)

I will most definitely learn from this mistake and take pictures for any items I sell, regardless of what they are.
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