Amazon: a cautionary tale
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Post Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 12:59 pm 
 

Gnat the Beggar wrote:... only I caught the asshat that did it.

Did you let him keep his balls?


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Post Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:04 pm 
 

simrion wrote:In any event I never got the item so either they misdelivered and recipient decided to keep it or someone had the gall to take the damn thing from my mailbox or porch :evil:   Not saying this is the case in your situation however never discount the falability of the mail....

Unfortunately (and rightly so, IMHO) it is the rsponsibility of the seller to make sure the buyer receives the goods, and if it is misdelivered, then it is the sellers responsibility to sue the PO. If the buyer is lying, it is the sellers responsibility to sue the buyer. You cannot reasonably pass the responsibility for ensuring an item is correctly delivered onto the buyer, and the buyer has no service contract with the PO.


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Post Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:57 pm 
 

simrion wrote:... however I never got the item.

I'm sure it happens.

But here's the thing: what, exactly, is a seller supposed to do about it? Using my particular case as an example, I shipped to an address provided by the buyer, then later logged on at USPS and was able to confirm that the item had been delivered. As far as I'm concerned, I'm out of it at that point. Item delivered; end of story.

I really disagree with the notion that the seller is responsible for the item all the way to the buyer's shelf. Using that logic, where does it all end? Am I supposed to hire a private detective to watch the street and make sure the mailman hits the correct address? Do I then actually go to the guy's house and open the package for him?

Sorry, but that's not how it works. The seller is responsible for careful packaging, reasonably quick response, using the correct type of postage that the buyer has paid for, and making sure that the delivery information is accurate. But he or she is done when that mailman comes by for pick-up. Anything else is just non-sensical. It's just a bunch of pretty words that fall apart the minute they are scrutinized for any sort of logic.

And here's the kicker: taken to its ultimate extreme, this "seller is responsible for delivery" nonsense means that a buyer could literally claim "non-delivery" on every single thing they ordered, regardless of tracking numbers. What's to stop them?

Beyond all the philosophy and theory, though, what I'm concerned with is how the process works. Amazon, clearly, has shown that any buyer complaint will be resolved in favor of the buyer (and remember, I actually bought that delivery confirmation with my own money; Amazon doesn't even recommend it). For all its faults, eBay still respects the tracking number and assumes, rightly, that if it says "delivered," the damn thing actually was delivered. I would, too, considering the USPS has well over a 99.9 percent accuracy rate.

Finally, as far as the old cocksucker that burned me goes, I'll bet anyone here $1,000, right now, that the book was delivered just as it said it was, and that the old coot misplaced it, forgot about it, buried it under a bunch of other mail, or someone else picked up the mail that day and never told him. Or else he's running his little version of a scam. Any of those things is statistically much more likely than a mis-delivery.

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Post Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 2:49 pm 
 

Problem is...
Lets say the mailman stole the package.
Or, lets say the mailman ran over the package with his van and then trashed it out of embarrassment and lied about delivery.
Or even that he delivered it to the wrong address.

The buyer has no means of ever receiving the goods he pays for, and he also has no contract of service with any postal or courier company. His only contract of sale for the goods is with the seller (and/or the credit card company as a third party).

So his only recourse is to pursue the seller for the goods that were 'lost' to be resupplied or a refund given.

If anyone has a contract with a courier or mailing company to ensure that package was delivered, it is the seller. And the only person the mailing company is accountable to is the seller. So if the package is to be insured in transit, and/or any claim is to be maid for fraud or negligence or mis-delivery, it has to be by the seller.

You cannot have a situation where the buyer has to just accept that the courier company lost his goods and he now gets nothing. The onus has to be on the seller to be responsible for pursuing the case in the best interests of both himself and his customer. Even if that means asking the buyer to swear and affidavit and sue the PO.

Of course, if the amount is not significant, and it's not worth your time or effort to pursue, that's a completely different matter. But unless you have strong suspicion and proof that the buyer is lying and committing fraud, your only choice is to accept that he did not receive the goods.

If he did not receive the goods, you have to supply a refund or a replacement, and then pursue the goods or claim on the insurance.

This is where PayPal comes into it's own. If I can prove that an item was delivered by USPS, then PayPal pay out on their insurance. I am not out of pocket provided I follow PayPal's Seller Protection Policy. Amazon do not protect the seller, and rely on sellers insuring themselves against such things (although they don't tell you that in so many words).



Now, all that said, there is nothing to stop people claiming non-delivery and commit fraud. But other than requiring mail staff to video record every delivery of a recorded item and changing the law in every country in the world to remove people's rights to privacy, you can never know who signes for an item, or if it was delivered to the correct address, or if the mail man stole it and forged the delivery.

And the old addage of 'you get what you pay for' also rings true. If you'd mailed it UPS Next Day with recorded signed for at $60, and passed that charge on to your buyer, you're more than likely not going to get a situation like this, and if you do, the UPS have mechanisms and insurance policies in place for this sort of thing too.

But maybe the guy wouldn't be willing to pay $60 to have his $6 module delivered.



The guy might be lying.
I also think that Amazon should have an insurance policy in place that pays out in circumstances like this.
But I do think the odds are higher that the item went missing in the mail. Lets face it. Mail men are some of the lowest educated and most dishonest individuals on the planet.
It is far more likely that the problem occurred in the mail, and you can't hold the buyer responsible for that.


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Post Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:08 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:Problem is...
So if the package is to be insured in transit, and/or any claim is to be maid for fraud or negligence or mis-delivery, it has to be by the seller.

Disagree. If, in fact, a tracking number records "delivery made," then simple logic dictates that it should be the buyer who pursues any sort of claim. The seller has already done his part: the item was successfully handed off to the postal service, which then subsequently recorded a successful delivery.

Further, the seller is not familiar with the buyer's neighborhood, local post office, layout of his house (i.e.: protected mailbox, or is it out by the road?), or any other details. It makes much more sense for the buyer to pursue a case locally.

mbassoc2003 wrote:But I do think the odds are higher that the item went missing in the mail.

Statistically, this just isn't true. It just isn't; I'm not sure how else to say it. Love them or hate them, the USPS has an amazing accuracy rate. I can't speak for other countries, but our postal service does a damn fine job of getting us our mail.

+++++

I do see what you're saying; I'm not just dismissing it out of hand. And I'd be the first to say that it's like an exercise in balance: you can't have all the rules favor the seller, either. That wouldn't solve any problems.

I'll tell you what it all boils down to for me: a tracking number HAS to count for something. If it doesn't, why even have them? Everything else is just theory and rhetoric to me, and, clearly, opinions will differ.

So I'm only going to sell where that number is on my side. I'll even pay for it out of my own pocket, if I have to. Every time. That way, when it comes down to some old geezer jumping my shit three weeks after the delivery was made, I can have one clear piece of evidence on my side.

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Post Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:23 pm 
 

Xaxaxe wrote:Disagree. If, in fact, a tracking number records "delivery made," then simple logic dictates that it should be the buyer who pursues any sort of claim. The seller has already done his part: the item was successfully handed off to the postal service, which then subsequently recorded a successful delivery.

Further, the seller is not familiar with the buyer's neighborhood, local post office, layout of his house (i.e.: protected mailbox, or is it out by the road?), or any other details. It makes much more sense for the buyer to pursue a case locally.

The problem is, the buyer did not enter into a contract with the post office, and the post office are not accountable to him under that contract. In the UK, the buyer cannot lodge a claim. It has to be done by the seller. The only possible thing the buyer can do is, and this is a major over reaction, is to start a class action on behalf of every individual in his household, against to post office for defamation of character, claiming that they have made and error and caused the household to be seen as liars buy you the seller. You would need to provide a sworn statement that you believe the post office and that you believe him and or his family and offsring are liars and that you will ensure that all who ask know what you think about them. That way he has proof for his case.

Xaxaxe wrote:Statistically, this just isn't true. It just isn't; I'm not sure how else to say it. Love them or hate them, the USPS has an amazing accuracy rate. I can't speak for other countries, but our postal service does a damn fine job of getting us our mail.

To be honest, that is probably the case in most developed countries (with the possible exception of Italy). But if something is going to go wrong in a chain, it is most likely to break down at the weakest link. And that is inevitably the most stupid and/or dishonet person in that chain. I agree, it can be the buyer, and often is. But is also likely to be a member of the postal service. Let's face it. If you're gonna screw someone and lie about it, you go for something more valuable that a $6 book.

Xaxaxe wrote:I'll tell you what it all boils down to for me: a tracking number HAS to count for something. If it doesn't, why even have them? Everything else is just theory and rhetoric to me, and, clearly, opinions will differ.

I agree. And it does, provided you use PayPal as the conduit, and a sales agent that defers to PayPal for it's decision. Because PayPal lend weight to the tracking number and provide insurance for this sort of thing. Unfortunately, at present, the only company that you can use for this sort of protection is eBay, and that is why they dominate the market. It's the refinements they make year in year out to their policies that keep them ahead of the game. But you pay for the privelidge in fees.


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Last edited by mbassoc2003 on Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:26 pm 
 

Xaxaxe wrote:I'll tell you what it all boils down to for me: a tracking number HAS to count for something. If it doesn't, why even have them? Everything else is just theory and rhetoric to me, and, clearly, opinions will differ.


I have to agree.  If a seller gives the tracking number to the buyer and it states that the shipment was delivered to the correct address, then it is up to the buyer to contact the post office and find out what happened.  I dont see how the seller can do anything else at this point.  And I dont see why the seller should have to provide a refund either.  I am exclusively a buyer and I wouldnt expect one.

And in all the years I have been buying on Ebay and other venues....only one shipment was lost en route to me but stated was never delivered.  The post office was not able to track it down and in this case the seller did refund my payment.  If tracking had stated it had been delivered I would not have expected a refund.


You don't like your job, you don't strike. You go in every day and do it really half-assed. That's the American way. - Homer Simpson

  


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Post Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:29 pm 
 

[edit: referring to two posts above]

Yes, your last paragraph is the key for me. I just want to have my case heard in court, so to speak, and if eBay will at least allow me the chance, then that's where I'm headed.

(Man, I can't believe I'm saying that ... I was so down on eBay about 18 months ago, I came very close to closing my account.  :) )

I'm not even saying I should win every dispute (and, for the record, I've had very few, thankfully). I just want someone in charge to say, "Yes, thank you for the tracking information. We see it, we acknowledge it, and we will certainly use it to help resolve this matter."

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Post Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:30 pm 
 

As a buyer, I bought a $240 flashlight from a manufacturer in the US, and it was shipped to me USPS recorded. It went missing. I know for personal experience that the USPS will not entertain any claim from the recipient. Any claim has to be made by the sender, with the original proof of shipping.

It doesn't matter if they say it was delivered or not. The seller still has the contract with the postel service and the buyer does not. So the seller has to provide the service of pursuing a claim on behalf of his customer. That is all part of what is being paid for when the buyer buys something.

Xaxaxe wrote:I'm not even saying I should win every dispute (and, for the record, I've had very few, thankfully). I just want someone in charge to say, "Yes, thank you for the tracking information. We see it, we acknowledge it, and we will certainly use it to help resolve this matter."

That is the key.
I have lost out only once. And it was definately a case of buyer who was lying. He told me after I shipped him a second DVD. Kinda like a 'I screwed you so f'ck you' thing.
The guy was a certain David York in the US from the Dragonsfoot forum. Can't remember his ID or even if he's still there, but he's the only guy who ever screwed me out of something.


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Post Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:44 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:As a buyer, I bought a $240 flashlight from a manufacturer in the US, and it was shipped to me USPS recorded. It went missing. I know for personal experience that the USPS will not entertain any claim from the recipient. Any claim has to be made by the sender, with the original proof of shipping.


Its an international package....the sender is the only one that can file a claim in this instance.  Only the sender has the original mailing reciept and can file the forms.  Domestic mail is much more clear cut.

I think you have mentioned this issue before Ian.  I still cant imagine paying $240 for a flashlight.  8O


You don't like your job, you don't strike. You go in every day and do it really half-assed. That's the American way. - Homer Simpson

  

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Post Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:53 pm 
 

It was a good flashlight... http://www.ralights.com
It took three months to resolve, but I got a replacement light in the end.


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Post Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:02 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:It was a good flashlight... http://www.ralights.com
It took three months to resolve, but I got a replacement light in the end.


So it doubles as a bludgeoning tool eh?  No wonder it cost so much.  :wink:


You don't like your job, you don't strike. You go in every day and do it really half-assed. That's the American way. - Homer Simpson

  

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Post Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 7:42 pm 
 

Kingofpain89 wrote:
So it doubles as a bludgeoning tool eh?  No wonder it cost so much.  :wink:


This is Texas...I want one of those that not only bludgeons but fires a .38 from the barrell!!!

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Post Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 8:25 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:
This is Texas...I want one of those that not only bludgeons but fires a .38 from the barrell!!!

Mike B.


A .38! You need something with a bit more umph, at least a .45

  

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Post Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:35 pm 
 

JasonZavoda wrote:
A .38! You need something with a bit more umph, at least a .45


And if it's rapid fire, you have to put up with the strobe light effect, but it's not a bad flashlight.

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Post Posted: Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:02 am 
 

Badmike wrote:
This is Texas...I want one of those that not only bludgeons but fires a .38 from the barrell!!!

Mike B.


It looks like you could duct-tape it to the tip of a double-barrell shotgun for night hunting.    8O


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Post Posted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:18 pm 
 

This is all very strange to me.  Amazon is here in Seattle, including their customer service.  One of my close friends works there, in customer service fraud investigation (Germany).  I have worked closely with Amazon in my old job and in a current incarnation selling RPG books myself, with hundreds of transactions.



I have never had any of those problems.



For one thing, when Amazon refunds a customer, that money does not come out of your account.  Part of your seller protection (which is why you pay such a high transaction fee) ensures this, except in rare cases.



Another thing is that Amazon kills ebay for most RPG sales.  You get literally double or more for those items.  I sold a Witchfire Trilogy hardback for $177.50 on Amazon, this doesnt normally sell for over $50 on ebay.  It was only listed 3 days too!  Thats not an outlier; I have sold many Black Library books for $60+ as well.



I think you must have just gotten unlucky.  If you dont have time to make some calls to straighten out an issue, you dont have time to be selling online anyway.

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Post Posted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 5:20 pm 
 

That is not my experience of Amazon.co.uk. Amazon offer no protection to the seller against fraud in my experience, and they also provide little check on the integrity of buyers. It is common knowledge that Amazon is the place to go if you want something for free, because very few sellers will send something recorded, as their shipping fee is already dictated by Amazon, and even if they do send it recorded, you can get a full refund by saying it was not delivered.

There is absolutely no protection to the seller whatsoever as far as I am aware. As a seller, I have to sell safely and protect my investment, and that means pretty much selling privately, selling through eBay, selling through RPGMarketplace, or selling on any website on the planet except Amazon.

I've tried most methods of selling RPG stock over the last few years (as eBay's fees rise), and keep returning to eBay because it's the only show in town. Until Amazon start taking sellers seriously, they will always be the flea market of the online resale trade. Your experience of fraud online with Amazon is not common. You seem to have been very lucky.

I still go to Amazon for new books and DVDs, but there is no way of trusting anything they front fro anyone else, no way of knowing what you're buying, no way of seeing a picture of it, no way of assessing the honesty or integrity of either seller or buyer, and no way of getting Amazon 'customer services' as they like to call it to provide any measurable level of service other than what their stock computer programme answers generate for them.

Let's fave it, the only business on the planet capable of taking on eBay would be either Google or Microsoft, and both would need to buy in expertise, and neither are interested or inclined to move into sales. Amazon is the Yahoo! of the online retail market. Something people are aware of and happy to use, but only for specific tasks. Take-over bate.


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Post Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:56 am 
 

Next time, Xax, scan the DC sticker in, send it to the buyer, and inform him you are going to submit him to the PO for mail fraud. You'd be shocked how quickly people change their tune when they know their scam is exposed.


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Post Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:23 am 
 

Surely if the PO have a signature and the seller claims it was not received, it should be reported to the police as a case of fraud? Especially as you can demonstrate financial loss.


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