Buyer Beware of a Different Sort

A couple of notes to prospective buyers.

I am not (technically) asking you to buy my stuff and leave good reviews on my profile.
Rather, as it is a recent problem I had as a seller that reminded me of the situation that prompted this post, it is my personal experience that I am using to illustrate the problem.
Though I would certainly appreciate it if people would buy my stuff and give me some positive feedback to improve my ratings…. 😉

*Ahem*
Buyer Beware of a Different Sort.

Point One: Read Listings Carefully.

When you’re buying something from an individual seller–which is to say, not an actual store (although if you’re buying stuff online, you should follow this advice even if it is from a “store”)–please, please pay careful attention to the actual listing.
Not just the product page, but anything and everything that the seller actually says about the item.

This is especially of concern if you’re buying from Amazon–the product page, as created by Amazon, really only exists to direct you to the general item you’re looking for, whereas the seller listings attached to that page are the things responsible for identifying the condition, etc of the specific one that you’re buying. This includes brand new items offered by Amazon–those have their own listing, just the same as anything I might sell.
On eBay these things are one and the same; every individual sale has its own product page, and these pages disappear a certain amount of time after the listing has expired or the item is sold. Not so on Amazon; the product page exists until Amazon takes it down (and I understand they are working to merge and eliminate duplicate pages for identical products), and it will be the same page, with the exact same description and exact same photos, no matter how many seller listings and conditions are attached to it.

So if an Amazon seller clearly states that the item they’re selling is used and without original packaging

condition

Excerpt from the packing slip, cropped to censor buyer details….
Screenshot contains exact text used in the original listing.

but the actual product page makes no mention whatsoever of condition…

amazon

Actual product page

No, the seller did not misrepresent that item.
If you bought it expecting a brand new item…. that was your mistake for not reading the listing.

That being said, if the buyer had acted like a decent human being about it, I would have been happy to simply assume that it was an honest mistake and deal with it accordingly… and even waive the restocking fee and include the shipping cost in the refund without another word about it.
I mean, with the timing of the purchase, I could easily have decided that it was meant to be a Christmas present and they were disappointed with the purchase on that basis alone…. if they had been polite from the beginning and had said something of the sort.
But when this buyer chose to be completely rude about it from the start (which I would gladly post a screenshot of if I could find the original message) and refused to acknowledge a single one of my attempts to resolve their misunderstanding (up to and including the fact that, since they were rude from the very beginning, I told them up-front that as the purchase was a buyer mistake I was not required to refund the shipping cost, and yet they’re accusing me of hidden fees), and, well… The buyer got exactly what they bought, and got refunded exactly what I told them I’d refund. Everything else is on the buyer.

FYI, “collectible-very good” simply means it is a used collectible item that has been well taken care of.
My assumption that anyone buying a bundle that includes a pair of used headphones would want to make sure they are clean before wearing them, and the fact that I suggested disinfecting wipes in the original listing, does not change the condition or make it any less accurate. Nor does it require that I include the original packaging that I very clearly stated was long gone.

Point Two: Leave Positive Reviews.

The other point, of course, is to consider leaving a review when you have a good experience. (And, yes, even when you have a bad experience, but to return to the previous point, please try to make sure that the bad experience is actually the seller’s fault before you go hurting their statistics.)

Now, I haven’t sold a ton of things on Amazon (or eBay, for that matter), but I’ve sold enough that, assuming the lack of any feedback amounts to a good experience, I have plenty of satisfied customers.

listings

Order history for the last 365 days, cropped to censor buyer information.

But here’s the problem: To a prospective buyer, lack of feedback doesn’t mean a good experience… it means those other sales might as well not even exist.
Instead, prospective buyers have only this to contend with:

feedback

My feedback ratings.

Five customer reviews out of a total of thirty-five sales. (Well, a titch more than thirty-five; I’ve a very few sales from before that 365-day mark, back when I had very little stuff to sell.)
And while four of those reviews are great–five stars all around–the one up top is the problem review. The one that did not read my listing, did not reply to a single message I sent their way, and yet blamed me for the fact that they got exactly the product and service I clearly stated I was offering instead of whatever they had decided I was offering.

The result?

An at-risk account.

at-risk

No late shipments, no pre-fulfillment cancellations, no claims agains product authenticity or product safety, no A-to-Z or chargeback claims, none of these problems at all.
Or at least not within the timeframe that Amazon retains those kind of details to influence my account health. (I did have one other refund from way back when, before I got in the habit of insuring all of my shipments, because the tracking showed that a book had gotten as far as the customer’s local post office but nobody knows what happened to it after that. That one I gave a full refund, shipping and all, without even being asked.)
But because I have one single negative feedback… my account is at risk of being suspended. All because one person did not read the listing and refused to actually let me resolve the problem.

Question is…. assuming nobody else buys from me and/or leaves feedback, how long does my account remain at-risk?
Or, since the number of “problem orders” is based on a certain timeframe, it seems the percentage of negative feedback would go up as the older orders drop from that timeframe before that last order finally drops…. does that mean, with no more orders to fulfill, I’ll actually become more at risk before that one single bad review finally drops from my history? All the more reason that I need more sales and more positive feedback, and soon, to balance out that one bad review.

Update

Huzzah! Amazon has removed the negative feedback!

Feedback removed

Now there’s just the matter of my account still being listed as at-risk. Is that due to the original feedback (and removing it has simply not yet been reflected in my stats) or is it due to the original “not as described” return request that started this whole mess?
Either way, I need more sales soon. Pretty please?

Update Times Two:

Not even an hour later, they put the feedback back…. but they did not restore the option to reply to it, so the whole “prospective buyers can see that the customer said this but they can’t see that I said that” is still an issue.

Right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing?

Question for the readers

Question for the sellers out there. How do you handle that kind of negative feedback? Keeping in mind that, while I consider their feedback rating to be an abuse of the system, Amazon does not; it doesn’t fit any of the criteria for Amazon removing negative feedback, so apparently it’s stuck there until someone in charge agrees that it’s an abuse of the system (not likely at this point) or until the buyer realizes their mistake and removes the feedback themselves (even less likely).
I will say I made the mistake of removing my response to that one–my own instance of not reading things carefully, as I didn’t realize that I couldn’t edit my response after the fact, and when I tried to remove the response to post a corrected version…. I also missed the pop-up that said that I would not be able to post a new one. That one is obviously entirely my mistake.

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