problem with seller on ebay

I won an auction on ebay. Sent the seller the money and patiently waited for my product to arrive in the mail. I got an email from the seller instead stating that the auction that I won was the second auction for the same item. The first bidder had failed to pay so the seller relisted, but then he received the payment from the first bidder the same day that he received my payment. The seller wants to honor the first auction because the first bidder says it’s a gift. The seller said that he would refund my money and is sorry for the trouble. What should I do? Should I be gracious and let the seller honor the first auction or should I try to convince the seller that he should honor my auction. I really want the item but I don’t want to be a jerk.
Some details:
 I won the item for $100.00 + $12.00 shipping
 The first auction ended 3-2-03
 The second auction (mine) ended 3-23-03
 The seller received both payments on 3-28-03
 The seller told me that he tried to contact the first bidder two weeks after the auction ended, but received not response
This is a copy of the last email the seller sent to me:

Yes I do have your money order. The problem is I first posted this item back at the end of febuary. This guy won the auction, he emailed me saying he was going to sent the money order. Two weeks later on March 17th I emailed him asking him were the payment was, I got no response. So I posted it again, you won, I got your money order on friday. I was going to send the item out monday and then I get HIS money order. So I told him I would refund his money but he says the grill is a gift for his father and he’s expecting it this week. So I’m between a rock and a hard place. So that’s what’s going on, I would have no problem fully refunding your money, just let me know what you want me to do. Thanks. Sorry about this

Well, if I were the seller, I think I would sell the item to you, and return Bidder #1’s money order, along with a note telling him where he can stick it :smiley: But that’s just me – buyers who take forever to pay drive me nuts. It sounds to me like that seller is not trying to con anybody; he just doesn’t know what to do and Bidder #1 whined enough to make him feel sorry for him. So if I were you I think I would chalk it up to circumstances beyond the seller’s control and accept a refund.

-Andrew L

Realistically, it seems to me that you have a simple dilemma on your hands. You won the item not knowing (I presume) that it was a relist, but because of a failed communication between the seller and the first winner.
So, you both have entered into this contract whereupon you agree to pay him the cost of the winning bid plus shipping, and he agrees to send to you the item as offered. This contract is voidable if both parties involved agree to terminate the contract without discharging it. So while you have the right to demand the item according to the contract, you presumably have an ethical obligation to want to please the other man, simply because you’re a nice guy.

Now, being an ebayer myself, I know how frustrated you can get when people can’t be bothered to contact each other within the acceptable time frame. So, if I were the seller, I would probably honor your bid instead of the first guy’s, since you paid promptly and he didn’t. On the other hand, he’s leaving the decision to you, so I pose the following dilemma…

If you are indeed a nice guy (I surmised as much by your post) like myself, your thoughts might be aptly described by the following:

“With a gentleman I am always a gentleman and a half, and with a fraud I try to be a fraud and a half.”

  • Sir Francis Bacon

“Nice guys finish last.”

  • Leo Durocher

Inevitably, in this conflict, the nice guy in me wins and I concede. So if it were me, most likely I would tell him to go ahead and give it to the other guy, and accept the refund. I would probably convince myself that I can find the same (or possibly very similar) item again, and maybe I can even find it cheaper. :smiley: But then again…imagine that you’re the seller, as I hypothesized above. Who would you give it to?

I know this probably isn’t very helpful. I don’t mean to play mind games, I was just trying to approach the problem from all sides. I’m sure whichever choice you make will be for a good reason, either way.

Something similar happened to Esprix. In his case, the seller accidentally posted the auction twice, but only had one item. The seller offered him two different items, or his money back. Esprix took the money and then posted neutral feedback about the auction. The seller then retaliated with negative feedback. The nerve!

If I were the seller, I’d have sent back the first money order. The seller waited two weeks, reposted his auction, the second auction ended, and NOW the first buyer sends the money order! Surrrrre… I’d say tough luck to the first guy. It’s strange that the seller leaves it up to you.

I don’t know what to tell you, but I wanted to alert you to the similar thread and the hidden feedback pitfalls that may be involved with this.

I would leave a neutral feedback, though part of me feels the seller deserves a negative. To me, he handled the matter improperly.

He gave the first auction winner the chance to respond before relisting and reselling the item. The guy didn’t respond. Then, suddenly, he resurfaces with his payment and expects the item, claiming it’s a gift. Of course, by this time, the item’s already been sold to you. At this point, it really should be the first auction winner’s tough cookies. He snoozed, he should lose.

Unfortunately, the seller made this problem your problem by caving in to the guy and selling it to him, even though he was under no obligation to. IMO, the seller’s obligation at this point was to sell the item to you, since he’d already made efforts to contact the other guy and relisted the item after getting no response. But he chose to give you the shaft. This was wrong of him, hence my thought he deserves a negative rating.

Then again, he didn’t do it out of maliciousness, so a neutral response is the appropriate one.

In your comments, say something like, “This item’s 2nd auction. Buyer decided to sell item to 1st auction winner. Got refund.”

Agreed. Whatever you decide, Aceospades, I would suggest you don’t leave him negative feedback…neutral at worst, if only because he left the decision up to you.

Me. I’d leave negative feedback. The seller screwed up and you’re suffering for it. He deserves negative feedback.

Yeah, but then that devalues negative feedback. If he’s going to get a negative anyway, why wouldn’t he just keep the money?

Hey Ace - would you like to have hundreds of Dopers email steve and tell him you deserve the Jeep grill and not the other guy? Maybe he would cave in and do the right thing.

As a seller, I would have sold to you, but then found the same item in a store, if I could, & sent it to the first guy. Now, that might cost a bit ,but it sure beats having a possible two negs in feedback. You didn’t mention what this sellers feedback is like & I would like to know.

If the first buyer didn’t pay on time, a seller has to complete a non paying buyer form, wait a couple of weeks, then relist. If an item has been relisted, it says so clearly on the first auction page, ‘Item has been relisted, go to this link to see it…’

I’m guessing that the first guy had offered more money than you did. Just a cynical guess, though.

The seller didn’t handle the whole thing very well. Generally, you write the buyer a couple times before reselling the item. You don’t write him once and then list the item the next day (which he would have had to do, if he wrote the first bidder on the 17th and you won the auction 6 days later on the 23rd).

this is a copy of the email responce i sent him:

It’s interesting that you leave this problem for me to decide. Since you are the seller I would think that it would be you who would decide who gets the item based on the facts at hand. You emailed the first auction winner after two weeks and no payment, and when he didn’t respond, you relisted the item. Then, out of the blue, you get payment and the abbility to comunicate with him, he says it’s a gift and wants the item. Of course, by this time, the item’s already been sold to me.

Having sold items on ebay before my response, as a seller would be to the first guy “I’m sorry. It took you a month to pay and you never responded to my email (for what ever reason). Non-payment is a breach of contract. I’ve relisted the item and sold it already.”

I’ve poked around ebay to see what they have to say about this and though there is no hard ebay law, they suggest that 10 days is the standard for waiting for payment. From HERE “Therefore, we ask that both the buyer and seller attempt to work things out for at least 10 days before the seller may request credit. We believe this “workout period” will assist all users in completing their ebay transactions.” This is actually the amount of time that I allow for payment in my auctions.

I don’t want to be a jerk here, but I really want the item. You sold it for a great price and I don’t think I’d be able to find it for $100 anywhere, ever. Ironically the grill is a birthday gift for me. It was my wife who bid on it and paid, but when things started to fall apart, she came to me. I ask that you honor my auction and send me the item. If you decide not to and send the item to the first auction winner, I will accept a refund of my money in the form of a money order. I will also be very disappointed in your decision. I can truly sympathize with your predicament and hope you make the right decision.

I had this happen to me once. That is, I had a non-paying bidder that didn’t try to pay until I had already relisted the item and reported him to eBay. I told him to forget it, that someone else had bought it and finished the complaint to eBay.

Definitely would have told the first NPB to fork off.

And I was right. Way to handle it well. :smiley:

Aceospades, how is there feedback?

19 feedback, all positive

he turned out to be a decent guy. this was his responce to my email:

You made some very valid points. I sent you the item today, as an apology for my confusion I sent it UPS second day air. The tracking # is ********. I’m sorry that I ruined what your wife was trying to do for, I’ve sold items on ebay many times myself and I’ve never ran into this problem having two different money orders from two different people in front of me. The decision was obvious and I never should have trouble you (and your wife) with my problem, I just was not thinking clearly. I left you positive feedback. Thank you and again I apologize for the trouble I caused your wife and yourself.
thanks everyone for your help (especialy AudreyK, whose post i used as insperation for my email). with out the straight dope i don’t think this would have turned out the way it did.

Naw, hon, that was all you. :slight_smile: And you’re right, he does sound like a good guy.

So I take this to mean you e-mailed him first, and didn’t post feedback? I ask because since things turned out so nicely (really, the best you could hope for), it kind of re-colors my assessment of the seller. He seems to be a consciencious fellow who just made a mistake-- I’d feel bad if he got a neutral response after his acknowledgement of the error.

i don’t usually leave feedback untill i’ve inspected the item. when it arives, if everything looks good, i intend to leave positive feedback.

Yeah, I agree–he deserves positive feedback (given that the item arrives, is in expected condition, etc.) Only if you had just gotten a refund would I maybe have left neutral feedback…you won the auction fair and square and sent your payment in on time, so you deserve to get the item you bid on. Any less than that isn’t exactly a “positive” result in my book.

He sounds like a good guy who really didn’t know what to do. I’m glad everything seems to be turning out well.

Beware leaving neutral feedback!