www.geoffmitchell.com

Bidders Remorse

with one comment

I really have only myself to blame, at least initially, for getting into this situation. But I do have the seller to blame, heavily, for a pretty galling lack of integritiy and honor. Now, due to the combination of my own folly and, sadly, my trust in my fellow man combined with somebody who’s ethics are not quite fully developed, I’m stuck with the unsavory experience of being put into a losing situation.

And I’m extremely bothered by it.

This started because I simply want to write more often, and I want writing to be more ‘fluidly’. The way things typically go, my writing is done in moderate bursts throughout a day, jotting down a paragraph or two here and there, and at some point, getting it formatted and posted. Yet when I set about wanting to dedicate time to writing, I’m all too easily distracted by an incoming email, a chat, or a link that leads me to a link that leads me to a link, and so on.

My eMate was a trusty writing tool for many years, serving me well on many an occasion, but it’s battery life has dramatically shortened, and getting data off still remains a recurring issue. It’s just not an easy enough process to justify it’s use. So I decided to seek out a replacement and I found the Dana Wireless by Alphasmart. It’s a great eMate replacement, runs the Palm OS, can run for 25hrs on a single charge, is easily used in direct sunlight, takes AA batteries as well as NiCad, and with the built in wireless, getting content off and onto my website just requires emailing it without connecting a single cable. Plus the focus of writing is far easier to maintain.

I sought one out on eBay and found a seller, listed locally, with a “New In Box” Dana wireless on auction. I confirmed that they’d do an in person hand off of the item and, even though used ones were going for far less, I figured it’d be worth paying a higher price for something new, unused and by association, not prone to have any issues that might accompany one banged about by a 3rd grader for a semester or two. So I bid high, and I won.

Although he wanted PayPal, I had the cash on hand and didn’t want to have to mess with getting cash to the bank to cover the paypal withdrawal.

I arranged to meet the seller at a local Jamba Juice near DeAnza College, and when i arrived I met what seemed to be a decent young man, likely in is very early 20’s or latest teens. And although the outer box looked a bit worn, the unit was indeed in pristine condition and all packaging, CDs, cables and materials were present. I was in a time crunch to pickup my daughter from preschool, and even as such, for the lame reason of just trusting people, I assumed the unit was fully functional.

How wrong I turned out to be.

While waiting a min or two for my daughter to get out of her class, I attempted to turn it on and had no success. I assumed that the batteries were dead. When I got home and plugged it in, it still failed to turn on. I started kicking myself for not checking it out before handing over a significant amount of cash. My ‘debugging’ efforts lead to removal of the rechargeable battery back, and the subsequent discovery that AA’s worked and AC without the rechargeable battery pack in place worked, but the pack itself was toast. Inconvenient but definitely not a deal breaker, given that I found online that I could get a replacement pack for $25.

I immediately wrote to the seller to advise them that the unit was not working w/the batteries and they were dead. He conceded to cover the costs of the batteries so I started to feel better and went about exploring the new device.

But when I tried to use it’s wireless function, something was not right. It was not working as the manual said and I could not get a connection. I spent over an hour reconfiguring my home network, trying every possible comination of settings in both the network and the device, and could not get it to work. Then I checked the company’s website and found that the issue was a known defect for products that were in the serial nbr series of my unit. It had a manufacturing flaw that prevented the wireless from working.

At this point I just said screw it, and wrote the seller, saying that I didn’t have time to have to mess with getting this dealt with and fixed, and that I simply wanted to return it, get my money back and start over elsewhere.

I heard nothing. I wrote repeatedly, over a 48 hour period, and called repeatedly as well, leaving messages to no avail. Once I threw ‘refund’ into the conversation, this kid went dark. He was nowhere to be found.

In parallel I’d started calling and writing the manufacturer. The unit was build in 2003-2004 time frame, and it was not a surprise to them that the battery was not functional. But unfortunately, even though they recognized the issue with the wireless as being a known defect, they were not budging on the fact that it was outside of warranty, and that without an original receipt/sales record for the ‘legitimate’ purchase of the unit, an eBay sale was not one that would be honored as a warranty claim.

That really pissed me off. I was polite but i made it very clear that I felt it was terribly unethical business practice and sent the email to as many folks at the company as I could.

The seller did eventually surface, momentarily it seems for the time being, but only when I wrote indicating that at fix was available, would cost me, but would not necessitate a full refund… and at that point he did indicate he’d pay for the repairs but that’s still yet to be received and he’s gone dark again for the time being.

So the lessons learned are many:

  1. Always inspect whatever you get before handing over the $ and check all functions of the item.
  2. Don’t assume something is not working because the batteries are likely dead.
  3. Always use Paypal, ’cause had I done so I could have immediately retracted the payment and not been at the seller’s mercy.
  4. Very, very sadly, trusting people to do the right and ethical thing will let you down. Not all the time, but some times. And for me, even the rare and occasional experience of being taken advantage of by another person, without the ethical or ‘fellow man’ considerations on their part, hurts. It hurts because it’s a strike against humanity, IMHO. It hurts because it means that I have to walk around with my guard up and not be as trusting as I’d like. It means I’ll have to make things complicated for myself and others when it likely need not be so. It means that everybody pays for it in the greater scheme of things.
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Written by gsm

05/30/2007 at 11:29 pm

One Response

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  1. Bummer dude, and you are the eBay god.

    Jess

    05/31/2007 at 9:15 am


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