Ebay People are the Worst

Recently I purchased a copy of Joe Dever and Gary Chalk’s Flight From the Dark roleplaying novel. It’s a cool little gem from the ’80s that came out during the Choose Your Own Adventure craze. The copy I purchased was listed as “Very Good” condition. The description read, more or less, that there was no writing inside.

The Dever/Chalk books are roleplaying books and a whole lot of young kids played them so it’s not uncommon for them to have pencil marks all over the character sheet. I didn’t want that — my plan was to resell it on Amazon for quite a bit more than I paid for it since the difference between a “Good” condition copy (potentially with writing inside) and a “Very Good” condition copy (no writing) is about $40.

Once it arrived in the mail, I immediately flipped to the character sheet. And low and behold:

Writing! Curses!

I wasn’t totally miffed. I only paid $20 for the thing. And it’s not like it sailed from China to get here. But hey… this was supposed to be “Very Good” and clearly it wasn’t.

So I contacted the seller with a very simple:

“Hi. This book isn’t in very good condition as listed. I’d like to return it.”

On Amazon, when a seller makes a mistake like this and you call them out, the typical response is, “Hey, no problem! Keep it and have a refund.” For real. And there’s no point in getting mad at the sellers either, because when you deal in books this kind of shit happens all the time. Usually, I follow up with good feedback.

However, that was not the reply I got.

“Hello, I went through EVERY page prior to listing this item and it was sent in the condition as listed of : APPEARS TO BE FREE FROM ANY MARKINGS, TEARS, RIPS, ETC. COVER SHOWS SLIGHT WEAR WITH A SLIGHT RIP IN THE OUTER SIDE BINDING (SEE PHOTOS FOR FURTHER) OTHERWISE IS IN SHELF KEPT CONDITION This book is marked as very good condition and is from 1985. My listing is shown as no returns accepted. My apologies however I am not in the business of exchanging books from my buyers personal collection. You will see from my book listings that I document to the finest detail as well as the listing clearly states : ALL OF OUR MERCHANDISE ARE "AS IS" AND VINTAGE & USED ITEMS SHOULD BE LOOKED AT AS SUCH HOWEVER, WE DO OUR BEST TO GIVE ACCURATE ITEM DETAILS! eBay please note : Photo attachment is not being permitted from my mobile device.”

I didn’t mind his rebuttal. It’s fair to defend yourself (even if it is with all caps). But it’s that one line in the middle there that irked me.

My apologies however I am not in the business of exchanging books from my buyers personal collection.

Was this seller implying that I was trying to pull a fast one over on him? Surely he couldn’t be.

So I replied with very cool, calm response as someone who’s been on the other end of this sort of deal.

Hey, I totally understand.
It stinks having someone message you for a return. I know in the past when I sold something that wasn’t listed properly — even if I swore that it was perfect when I saw it — I had to step back and say, “Okay. This isn’t worth a bad review or escalation with the platform.”
I know that in e-commerce, our seller rating and reviews are all we have, like a badge of honor. Additionally, nobody ever wants to get the platform involved — what a headache! Because then it’s in the hands of some third party outsourced helped who’s going to go strictly by the code of law set forth by Ebay.
So I get where you’re coming from.
Having said that, I paid for a book that was advertised as “Very Good” condition.
This is Ebay’s description of Very Good: “A book that does not look new and has been read but is in excellent condition. No obvious damage to the cover, with the dust jacket (if applicable) included for hard covers. No missing or damaged pages, no creases or tears, and no underlining/highlighting of text or writing in the margins. May have very minimal identifying marks on the inside cover. Very minimal wear and tear. See the seller’s listing for full details and description of any imperfections.”
On top of that, you said you went through the book and checked.
Yet, the pages with writing are on the 8th page (oddly, the previous owner never wrote on any other page… weird). Please see the attached image.
So this book qualifies as Good. And I can live with the crease (which does go against Ebay’s description of Very Good, by the way), but the writing I can’t accept. If I was cool with writing inside, I would have purchased one of the other “good” listings on here. Or maybe even “acceptable.”
Hopefully, we can come to an accord here as two civilized adults. With 1200+ reviews, I’m sure you understand the rules as well as I do. And since the cost of this item to you was probably no more than $0.50 or $1.00 — maybe less! — is the ~$10 in net profit you made really worth sticking to your guns and refusing a refund/return for?
Please refund and send the requisite funds for the return and I’ll have it promptly in the mail after the holiday.
And have a great day! :)

I was genuinely trying to be nice. I thought to myself, “If I was in the wrong, this is the sort of response that I’d like to get.

Not this guy, though.

Putting aside the underlined threat of negative feedback, this was a paid for purchase by my son and only owner of the book… not a profit of $10 as you claim. When looking at just the top 3 books when searching this title you see $9.39 Free shipping good condition, $12.00 + $2.63 very good condition and $11.52 free shipping acceptable condition that I am not out for anything other than to sell a no longer used book by my son now for any reason other than to get it to someone that would find good use for it. My apologies again as though even as you’re stating with only 12 for your feedback score that you know the policy (I guess maybe you have several accounts and this is how you do business), but I do not accept returns nor would I pay shipping for you to return a product that is not the same as that that was sent to you.

So as you can read in the last line, this seller was, in fact, accusing me of swapping out a $20 book from something in my person collection. I mean, is this something that happens a lot? I don’t know. I’m not an Ebay person.

It’s just so unusual that’d they’d get so defensive and fight so much for just one little sale.

After that, I pretty much said, “Hey, fine. I guess I’ll have to escalate it with Ebay” blah blah blah bicker bicker.

Negative feedback for you, pal.

Ebay, in my mind, is the like the world’s biggest flea market. Dusty, funky goods, shitty pictures, and the lack of professionalism is staggering. I wish I could say thatthis is the first bad experience I’ve had there.

Additionally, I find a lot of people reselling products I’ve given away as promos, which, in my opinion, may be the laziest form of online arbitrage I’ve ever seen.

Look, I’m sure not all Ebay people are bad. And I’m sure there’s plenty of good ones out there. Hell, I’m a fan of Sophia Amoruso. She’s cool.

But man is the population poorly represented by a few rotten ones.

Dave Hamrick is an entrepreneur, author, investor, and hyperautodidact. You can follow him on Instagram and see what he’s reading, or you can learn more about his favorite digital money making methods by reading this report: The 26 Ways to Make Money Online.