Friday, September 22, 2006

Ripped Off on eBay

I entered my first and last auction on eBay several weeks ago. It was a painful and humbling experience.

I successfully bid on and bought an Apple G4 iBook for $570 , which seemed a good price, from a company called Dealtree based in Tustin, CA. Then I learned that shipping expenses would be $24, a bit high I thought, and that I would be paying California sales tax of 7.75%. That computation came out to $63.14 which didn't seem correct, but I let it go. I paid the entire amount that day by credit card.

The computer arrived eight days later, without a power cord. I looked at the fine print and saw that a power cord was indeed not included. At Dealtree's urging, however, I gave them positive feedback on the eBay form. Big mistake.

I ordered a power cord from Amazon which arrived a few days later. I charged the laptop and began reviewing its programs. Everything looked fine, except that within about ten minutes the cursor froze. I had to turn the computer off and on. After a few more minutes, it locked up again. I recall this happening on a computer I had a few years ago and it was a memory problem (not enough). So I tried again. The third time the cursor froze.

Since the laptop had been advertised as "working," I sent an email off to Dealtree and complained. The customer service person emailed me some questions: "Are you using a USB or PS2 Mouse? Have you updated the drivers for your chipset?" I responded that I didn't know what he was talking about. Then I was told: "Well, attempt to update the drivers for the computer. If it is a driver issue only, or the problem could not be duplicated here, we would charge a restocking fee for the return." I replied that this was beyond my ability. And besides, I thought I'd bought a "working" computer? Dealtree authorized an "RMA" (whatever that is) and sent me a UPS shipping sticker to send back the computer to Mckinney, TX. I thought this odd since I had assumed the computer originally came from California (else why was I paying CA sales tax?).

Ten days later I was notified that the computer had been received. The following day I got an email that said Dealtree would credit my credit card with $497.54. When I protested that $159.60 of my original payment was missing, I was told: "'Unit was fully functional and we were unable to produce ANY issues. 25% restocking fee."

Ah, that "restocking fee." My first response was angry and will not be repeated here. My second was to send the following message:
I wanted a laptop that works for a gift. But, as I explained in previous emails, the laptop you sent me locked up on me. The cursor would not move. This has happened to me on previous computers and I believe it's a memory issue. My current laptop, which I've had for three years, has not done this.

I don't understand why you think I'm not telling the truth about this. I would much rather have kept the laptop I paid for then go through the hassle of returning it.

I don't understand how you can justify charging me $159.60 and giving me nothing in return. How is this not a form of theft?

Please give me a phone number and the name of someone I can talk with about this.
That was several days ago. There has been no response. And no refund of any amount has been credited to my credit card.

I tried for some time to figure out how I could complain to eBay about one of their sellers, or if I could change my original favorable response about Dealtree. No way, Jose. If I'd used my Pay Pal account I might have had some recourse, but I chose to use another credit card instead.

Life is too short to chew over an upset like this. But what's a blog for if I can't vent my spleen?

I know lots of people like eBay and they've not encountered problems like this. But all I can say is: be careful. You won't find me there again.

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