Tuesday, August 09, 2005

an Ebay saga, in chapters

Here's the thing: While I may come across like a cynical, jaded mofo, in actuality I am a trusting sucker with an abiding belief in the goodness of humankind (read: Idiot). In case you doubt this claim, here is a story to illustrate.

So, a few weeks ago, I decided to buy a copy of the superlong, craptastic Alexander, (see Inexplicable Colin Farrell Obsession). I reasoned that I would make this purchase on Ebay, since, despite said obsession, I find actually purchasing Colin Farrell movies face-to-face degrading. I found a copy, promised to be in good condition, (albeit with optional Thai subtitles, but that's beside the point), at a good "Buy It Now" price from someone with a 100% positive feedback rating. His name is Woody and he's from Texas, and I didn't even make that up. I purchase the clandestine DVD and set up a lawn chair next to my mailbox to wait for its arrival.

Although Woody had listed "media mail" as the shipping option, Colin in a Toga arrives within two days of my purchase. I am elated. Jumping the Ebay gun, I leave Woody positive feedback. I pop the movie into the DVD player, and the first 90 minutes of the film go by swimmingly. Then: disaster. The movie freezes colder than Joan Rivers' face. I try fast-forwarding, even though I am terrified of missing even a moment of Jared Leto in eyeliner. But it doesn't work. I have on my hands a defective DVD, which terrifies me because I will now have to return it, putting another nail in the coffin of me pretending I didn't actually purchase this garbage.

I send a friendly yet firm email to Woody explaining the problem and asking for a refund or an exchange. Here is his response:

Hi Nina, There wasn't anything wrong with that disc! Did you try wiping the disc (from center to outside...not round and round) It was scratch free! It sounds like it might have gotten fingerprints on it. Let me know if that helps. My father is in the hospital for cancer, he has had part of his colon removed and still has more, which they are suggesting chemo. I live in a rural area and have been shuttling back and forth about 4 cities away, so I just can't deal with this right now! Don't worry . I'll try to help you when things are a little more settled. His name is Mark M------. Please remember him in your prayers! Thanks Woody

For a split second, I think I am being scammed. And yet, he wouldn't have included his father's name if it was bullshit, right? Right. And so I feel bad for the guy, really, legitimately bad. I do not, say, question why his relatively large-volume Ebay business is up and running if he has to be four towns away from his sick father and can't deal with problems. So I reply:

Hi Woody, I am very sorry to hear about your father. I certainly hope his treatment progresses well, and I understand the extraordinary stress you must be under. I will try wiping the disc as you suggest, and I will let you know the outcome. If there is still a problem, hopefully we can work it out. Thanks and take care, Nina

I am so nice and wholesome, sometimes I disgust myself. Woody's response:

Hi Nina , Checking my email before I take off (back to the hospital) I will be back this weekend and try to sort things out to your satisfaction. Thank you for being so understanding. Talk to you soon. Woody

Again, I question nothing. I decide Woody is a nice guy with a shitty family situation. I think, perhaps if he were not from Texas and did not end letters by invoking an amorphous higher power, and did not find it necessary to remind me that his dad's sick every time he writes to me, we might be friends. You never know.

I actually wipe the damn disc. Of course, this solves nothing. Fingerprint my ass. I write Woody:

Hi Woody,
I know you are with your father, but when you get this email, please let me know about a return for the Alexander DVD. I wiped it as you suggested, however, it's still freezing and skipping. It's definitely not my DVD player, either, since I'm able to view other discs just fine.
Take care,

Did you notice the "take care"? Did you notice how I am successfully restraining my urge to be a complete and total bitch? Did you notice how, despite the fact that he said he wouldn't be able to deal with it until days later, Woody writes back within hours:

Hi, Thanks for your concern. My father will be getting out tomorrow (he'll be on daily chemo treatments) small consequence considering what he has already been through. My mothers with him now which gave me a chance to come home. About "Alexander" I have another one I can send you, ran thru scene selections and everything is fine (I watched the one you have and didn't have any problems) however I can send you this other one or refund your money once I receive the one you have in the condition I sent it (minus shipping as is Ebay standard) Either way, you decide. I'll have to get that one back before we can do anything. Just let me know when you are shipping and I'll tell you as soon as it arrives. Thanks, Woody

Minus shipping? Woody, my maybe-friend, this means war.

I think I'll just return this one to you and ask for refund. I'm not too thrilled about having to pay for postage twice, though (once to ship, once to return), or actually even losing any money on this, since the item is defective. I cannot find it listed where this is EBay's standard, but I am willing to take your word for it. Woody -- I am really sorry about your situation with your father and I truly empathize. I also have no desire to start a dispute over a few dollars, so I'll just mail it back to you. Please at least consider refunding the full price I paid, though. I will try and put it in the mail tomorrow via standard first-class postage so that you'll get it soon. The address I have from the envelope is P.O. Box 666, Newton TX. Please let me know if this is not the best address to send it to.

I think I am being fair. I think I am being nice. I really think I hate humanity and need to start saving up for that hut on top of a mountain I've always talked about living in. Woody's speedy response (you know, because he really can't deal with this right now):

Hi Nina, I know how you must feel but you must see this from my point of view also! You seem like a real nice person but I have had people order from me, copy or burn the movie, than intentionally vandalize the item to get refunds ( which incidentally, is the reason I now hold feedback till transaction is over so I am not extorted or threatened with bad feedback) The DVD in question was new! It came in a plastic sleeve with artwork which I opened, watched, then put in a DVD case. I know we don't know each other but you know me better than I know you by my feedback. I have never had any trouble with ANY transactions. You say that you don't see the non-refundable shipping policy anywhere? Try looking at ANY listing on Ebay under their refund policy! It states always "shipping not refundable" see for yourself! I am a good guy and have always (within reason) tried to satisfy my customers. You keep dealing on Ebay and wait till you run into some real SOBs then you will realize what a Prince Of A Fellow I really was. My Best Regards! Woody

Well, my faithful reader(s), I was upset. I am a fragile little flower, emotionally-speaking, and despite my cantankerous spirit, my socially-phobic reality dictates that I do not like confrontation, electronic or otherwise. I wrote a response to Woody. It made use of the word "fuckwad." I reconsidered and sent the following:

You don't have to be so defensive. I am not accusing you of anything, although the reverse does not seem to be true. I am not pulling a scam -- I don't know why the movie didn't present problems when you watched it, but it has repeatedly done so for me. I have already left you positive feedback -- I have no ulterior motive here. You can see that my feedback, while not as extensive as yours since I only buy or sell the occasional item on Ebay or half.com, reflects my honesty. I am truly sorry for your family health crisis, and I would hate to think I was being taken advantage of for my kindness. The movie will be returned to you quickly. Like I said, a few dollars is not worth a dispute. Please do not leave me negative feedback for standing up for myself. If I am ignorant of the return policy standard, I apologize, but I really could not find anything under your listing which stated that postage would not be returned. I have never had to return anything before on Ebay. I said I would take your word for it, and I am.

I sincerely hope your father regains his health soon. I know that he has a long road ahead of him, and I will keep him along with the rest of your family in my thoughts.


Yes, I know. It's lovely. It states the facts with strength and conviction, yet wraps up with a sincere-sounding nicety. This is all despite the fact that I no longer believe this man's father has cancer. In fact, I no longer believe he has a father. At least not a human one. The response:

Hi Nina, I have already given you positive feedback (days ago) Thank you for your kind words for my father. I didn't mean to sound defensive (maybe I did come across like that, didn't mean to) things haven't been great around here. If you will look at feedback I have left others you will see where, on the feedback I left, have followed up with confirmation # and a delivery date. These are people who have tried to extort money from me saying they haven't received their items when USPS says otherwise, so I probably do come off as defensive. When this DVD arrives I will refund your purchase price and hopefully should you buy something from me again I will only charge half shipping. I'm trying to meet you in the middle on this, I hope you can be happy with this. Bless You And Yours, Woody

So, the self-appointed Prince of a Fellow is going to offer me half-shipping on the next item I buy from him? Ha! Ha ha ha ha ha! I laugh at you, Prince Fuckwad! I do not even reply to this email. And then...


...lo and behold...

Hi Nina, As I had mentioned, my father made it home from the hospital and he had never seen "Alexander" so I brought it over (same status as the one I sold you...just opened, etc....) and much to my dismay it had a part where it froze for an instant, returned to menu, then continued to play. So I will reimburse your full amount ($17.48?) as soon as I have received it. My Apolo-JEEZ, I will now have to fight to get MY money back! I'm sorry I doubted you. Woody

Do you think the "JEEZ" was a reference to Jesus? Because I don't really trust anyone from Texas anymore.

It gets better. Next email:

Hi Nina, Haven't received "Alexander" yet but I have another New Release that I would like to interest you in exchange for the Alexander I sold you. It is called "After The Sunset" with Pierce Brosnon, Salma Hayek, and Woody Harrelson. It does not freeze, skip, stutter or stammer GUARANTEED!! Pierce and Salma are retired successful jewel thieves living the good life when Pierce gets interested in one more job! It is action, romance with Woody Harrelson offering comedy relief as the F.B.I agent doggedly on their trail. I really think you would love this movie! I am still willing to refund your money if that is your preference. Just let me know. Your Partner In Ebay. Woody

Woody clearly does not understand that people do not buy shitty movies because of their plot. They buy them because they are unnaturally obsessed with one of the actors/have a friend who was an extra in the movie/saw the movie once while high and consequently think it's a piece of cinematic gold. But it would be pointless to try and explain this to him, and thus, my final email to the Woodster:

Hi Woody,
I am glad to hear that your father has made it home. Hopefully, things will start to look up.
I sent the DVD to you on Thursday via first-class mail, so it should be there soon. I think I will still take the refund, but thanks for the other offer.
Take care,


I get a notice from PayPal explaining that my money has been refunded. However...I paid $17.48, and Woody refunds me an even $17. That dick. He includes the message: "OK Nina, we're through."

That's it?! After everything we've been through together?! After the ups and downs of our cyber relationship based on assumed mutual fraud! "We're through"?! And you bilk me out of 48 cents on top of it?! I shall never love again, Woody. You've ruined me.


I went to Borders and bought a brand new copy of Alexander for $15. Shut up.

1 comment:

Thom said...

This hereby confirms my lifetime commitment to avoid E-bay.