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HUGE PROBLEM with a recent transaction: escalation on PayPal, please help.

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone...

I need help, desperately.

 

I have recently put up my modified Stax SRM-T1 for sale. I sold it a bit more than a week ago to another head-fi user, who contacted me via PM. Before the transaction I described everything exactly as it was and provided him with all the necessary pictures. I packaged the amp safely (double carton, plenty of blister pack...) and sent it to him. Shipment was tracked and insured.

He received the amp on 25th of this month, giving me positive feedback for it and added in a private comment that the amp worked well, but lacked a bit of dynamics.

Three days later he claimed that the amp emitted a loud noise and one of the channels is undulating. Therefore he thinks that the amp is not functional at all. I told him that it was fully functional when it left and that nothing went wrong during transport, as otherwise the package or the amp itself would have arrived in a damaged state.

That didn't matter to him. He started talking about sending it back to me. I said that I don't have a return policy as a private seller, but I will help him solve the problem nevertheless. I also recommended to write about in the Stax thread. After a few messages he said that theres an audio shop who could solve the problem for him, but it would cost about 100€. I replied that that's bad, but I hope that it's not complicated and the problem be resolved soon.

He then replied, and I quote 1 on 1:

"Bad indeed, as you don't have the basic correctness to offer to pay for repair."

In the meantime he had opened a paypal dispute, demanding a full refund because of "internal damage" of the amp. I couldn't even reply to it properly, as everything escalated to a claim minutes later.

I provided PayPal with all the files I could offer (pictures of the amp - especially the inside, our conversation on head-fi etc., shipment confirmation and so on) so that the PayPal specialist can look into that. Then I thought "Hey, he gave me positive feedback and added a comment to it that everything was ok. I should make a screenshot and a copy of that and add that that to the files...". So I went to the feedback page on head-fi and... the feedback was gone. He deleted it. I then immediately contacted Head-fi via the support form and asked if someone could please provide me with the feedback that he deleted, saying that it was important because of the ongoing PayPal claim.

And now I don't know what to do. Basically he could just go to the audio shop, let them confirm in writing that the amp is broken (even if that statement might be fake or half correct or whatever) and add that as evidence. Then I'm probably screwed.

 

I have no idea of what went wrong with the amp, and I can't imagine how I can be held responsible for the problem he is describing. It worked when it was still at my home, I packaged it very well and the shipment arrived without any damage at this location.

What on earth should I do now...

post #2 of 65

That's a bummer for him but since you provided PayPal with all the information including a tracking number and he did receive the amp, for PayPal it's going to be your word against his, and considering you're a private seller and this wasn't an ebay transaction, they will most likely side with you. The only way they would reimburse him as far as I know is if he actually sent the amp back to you right away or refused the package, which he obviously didn't. In any case, Head-Fi staff should be able to dig up that private feedback comment if things escalate anymore.


Edited by elmoe - 3/30/14 at 12:55pm
post #3 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elmoe View Post
 

That's a bummer for him but since you provided PayPal with all the information including a tracking number and he did receive the amp, for PayPal it's going to be your word against his, and considering you're a private seller and this wasn't an ebay transaction, they will most likely side with you. The only way they would reimburse him as far as I know is if he actually sent the amp back to you right away or refused the package, which he obviously didn't. In any case, Head-Fi staff should be able to dig up that private feedback comment if things escalate anymore.

Thanks for your comment. This is a strong point and I have made sure that PayPal acknowledges that fact.

post #4 of 65

No problem, hope it works out.

post #5 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elmoe View Post
 

No problem, hope it works out.


To inform you and everyone else who might be reading this: I lost. The buyer has to return the (now probably damaged amp) to me and I have to issue a full refund as soon as I have received the package. This is... I don't know what to say.

post #6 of 65

Wow that is messed up to say the least. I would refuse the package and deny the refund if I were you. I'd let him press charges and go to court, I doubt any judge would give him satisfaction. As long as the money is on your bank account and not on your PayPal then there's nothing they can do anyhow.

 

I would also promptly give the buyer negative feedback, with a link to this thread. If he screwed you over who's to say he won't do it again to someone else? Especially since he appears to be selling plenty of gear.


Edited by elmoe - 3/31/14 at 12:52pm
post #7 of 65
Don't refund him under any circumstances before he sends you the item and you have it checked out by a professional!
post #8 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elmoe View Post
 

Wow that is messed up to say the least. I would refuse the package and deny the refund if I were you. I'd let him press charges and go to court, I doubt any judge would give him satisfaction. As long as the money is on your bank account and not on your PayPal then there's nothing they can do anyhow.

 

I would also promptly give the buyer negative feedback, with a link to this thread. If he screwed you over who's to say he won't do it again to someone else? Especially since he appears to be selling plenty of gear.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by whoever View Post

Don't refund him under any circumstances before he sends you the item and you have it checked out by a professional!

 

It IS messed up. I won't however bring this to court, we are both in the EU in different countries and chances are extremely low that any court will ever take this matter on, or it would take at least years for that to happen...

 

I won't refund him as long as I don't receive the amp and have had enough time to check it out. My hope is that he was just unsatisfied with the gear and made up an excuse to send it back (YES that works on PayPal, especially if you are the buyer - do a quick google search and say hello to a lot of nice stories about buyers doing all sorts of things to get a refund). Or that the problem he described is not as bad as it seems, then I could at least repair it and have a functional amp again. Worst case: he damaged the amp on purpose, possibly beyond repair, maybe to back up his claim or just because he wants to be an as...le. I am under the impression that this wasn't the first time for him, it's as if he had worked out a strategy for these kind of situations.

I will find out soon...

 

According to PayPal rules I have to refund him as soon as I receive the item. It's not like I can do much about it... Once a claim gets to this point, you can't do much except taking everything to court, which brings me back to the beginning of this post.

 

About leaving negative feedback: as for now, I deleted the positive feedback I left for him a few days ago. I am worried that if I leave negative feedback, he might seek revenge and do the same. He could even post on this thread and then we have a flame war going on... I don't really know what the best reaction would be, I am a too angry right now for that. It's so frustrating. I am just gutted about the whole matter.


Edited by AManAnd88Keys - 3/31/14 at 3:02pm
post #9 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elmoe View Post
 

Wow that is messed up to say the least. I would refuse the package and deny the refund if I were you. I'd let him press charges and go to court, I doubt any judge would give him satisfaction. As long as the money is on your bank account and not on your PayPal then there's nothing they can do anyhow.

PayPal has a pretty mean way of dealing with this when a claim is still open. My balance was 0.00 when the buyer demanded the refund. When someone demands a refund, the initial payment gets frozen and deducted from the balance as long as the claim is going on. In my case, that led to a negative balance, which means that I owed PayPal money. That makes them angry, and they start to threaten you with attorneys and debt collection agencies if you don't set your balance straight immediately.

 

Either way, PayPal freezes the money and you don't have access to it, no matter how high your balance.

 

Honestly, I am thinking about leaving PayPal for good. There are so many loopholes, specially for the buyer.


Edited by AManAnd88Keys - 3/31/14 at 3:00pm
post #10 of 65

FWIW my experience with local audio repair shops has been pretty bad.  It could have been something as simple as a bad tube and they would charge stupid money for it.

 

A sore subject for me is this definition of "safe packaging."  I don't know for sure one way or another how great the packaging job that you did was, it was probably sufficient, but without the original factory packaging it becomes a much more difficult issue to ensure shipping jostling won't damage something.  It seems the amp worked fine for 3 days for the buyer and then something happened so likely not to be shipping damage at least.  I have had transactions with people who in all honesty believe they do a great packaging job yet only to be received with loose screws, dented corners, etc.  

 

Unfortunately the definition of a sufficient pack job is very subjective... this is in no way a rub on you but my instincts would tell me that even 3 or 4 layers of thin bubble wrap is not going to prevent a 15lb aluminum box from kissing the ground without sufficient side to side and top to bottom barriers to prevent movement.

 

I digress though, my fingers are crossed that when you get the amp back it has no real damage and a simple re-tube and re-bias gets it back up to snuff.

post #11 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Sneis View Post
 

FWIW my experience with local audio repair shops has been pretty bad.  It could have been something as simple as a bad tube and they would charge stupid money for it.

 

A sore subject for me is this definition of "safe packaging."  I don't know for sure one way or another how great the packaging job that you did was, it was probably sufficient, but without the original factory packaging it becomes a much more difficult issue to ensure shipping jostling won't damage something.  It seems the amp worked fine for 3 days for the buyer and then something happened so likely not to be shipping damage at least.  I have had transactions with people who in all honesty believe they do a great packaging job yet only to be received with loose screws, dented corners, etc.  

 

Unfortunately the definition of a sufficient pack job is very subjective... this is in no way a rub on you but my instincts would tell me that even 3 or 4 layers of thin bubble wrap is not going to prevent a 15lb aluminum box from kissing the ground without sufficient side to side and top to bottom barriers to prevent movement.

 

I digress though, my fingers are crossed that when you get the amp back it has no real damage and a simple re-tube and re-bias gets it back up to snuff.

 

I sincerely hope that something as simple as this will be the case.

 

I cannot provide real evidence of how well I packaged the amp, but here's the "formula":

 

Amp -> original packaging (styrofoam and carton) -> plenty of blister pack -> second carton

 

Exactly as the buyer wanted me to do it. I pointed this out several times in our discussion, before the escalation. That brought him to the conclusion that (quote):

 

"No problem coul occur in transport. If problem there is, there was beforehand.

I cannot spend time to solve a problem with something I just bought. 

Life is too short and my time is too precious. :rolleyes:"

 

Which was his way of claiming that I sold a broken amp to him and he has no interest in fixing it or even worry about the cause of the problem. There are other messages that are written in the same tone. Whenever I tried to offer help or give some advise, he just said things along the lines of "No I checked, the problem is something internal, I am not a technician but nobody else can help me here. It will cost me a lot to let someone repair this (and you should pay for it, but I won't say it so that I can then tell PayPal that you are irresponsible). I got the impression that he just wasn't satisfied with the amp's performance right from the beginning and wanted to get rid of it, and the best way for him was to claim that it is "internally damaged" and accuse me of irresponsability.


Edited by AManAnd88Keys - 3/31/14 at 3:45pm
post #12 of 65

I get it, so the original factory packaging was indeed used which is good on you.  Hopefully you get your account un-statused soon and figure out the amp :(  Sadly Paypal continues to be the predominant payment method and their policies and fee structure are pretty terrible.

post #13 of 65

When trading online there's always the risk of this happening. But think about it from the perspective from the buyer. If someone buys an expensive item from a fellow head-fier, and it turns out that after a few days of owning it, it malfunctions, then what should he do? Just accept that his money is sunk?

 

No. I would actually side with the buyer in this case. There should be no such thing as a "no returns policy" even in private online trades. You have to realize that buyers are also taking a risk buying your used gear. It might break within a few months- maybe sooner. They should at least have the option of returning it within the first 7 days or so, no different from being able to return new products to amazon or a retail store.

 

In fact, I've sold several headphones to fellow head-fiers where within the first six months it went bad- in which case I provided the buyers as much information I could so they could get warranty service. But each time I felt terrible, like I had ripped them off.


Edited by viralcow - 3/31/14 at 3:45pm
post #14 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by viralcow View Post

When trading online there's always the risk of this happening. But think about it from the perspective from the buyer. If someone buys an expensive item from a fellow head-fier, and it turns out that after a few days of owning it, it malfunctions, then what should he do? Just accept that his money is sunk?

No. I would actually side with the buyer in this case. There should be no such thing as a "no returns policy" even in private online trades. You have to realize that buyers are also taking a risk buying your used gear. It might break within a few months- maybe sooner. They should at least have the option of returning it within the first 7 days or so, no different from being able to return new products to amazon or a retail store.

In fact, I've sold several headphones to fellow head-fiers where within the first six months it went bad- in which case I provided the buyers as much information I could so they could get warranty service. But each time I felt terrible, like I had ripped them off.

In my opinion, the buyer should have sent the amp back to you ASAP.
You should then have a reasonable amount of time to inspect and assess the equipment before you issue a refund to ensure that the buyer has not sabotaged the equipment.

Just my 2 cents worth...
post #15 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by viralcow View Post
 

When trading online there's always the risk of this happening. But think about it from the perspective from the buyer. If someone buys an expensive item from a fellow head-fier, and it turns out that after a few days of owning it, it malfunctions, then what should he do? Just accept that his money is sunk?

 

No. I would actually side with the buyer in this case. There should be no such thing as a "no returns policy" even in private online trades. You have to realize that buyers are also taking a risk buying your used gear. It might break within a few months- maybe sooner. They should at least have the option of returning it within the first 7 days or so, no different from being able to return new products to amazon or a retail store.

 

In fact, I've sold several headphones to fellow head-fiers where within the first six months it went bad- in which case I provided the buyers as much information I could so they could get warranty service. But each time I felt terrible, like I had ripped them off.


I understand your point, but I disagree: his money wasn't sunk. He said himself that someone could repair it for him. On private sales of vintage items that don't have a warranty on them anymore I don't think I can or should have a return policy. He received the amp, and it worked. No damage happened to it during transport. He gave me positive feedback. That it malfunctioned after a few days is really unfortunate, but to for him to claim that I knowingly sold him a broken amp is too much. 

And trust me, when he told me about the problem I felt terrible too, and I really tried to help him.

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