Friday, April 27, 2007

An Object (ionable) Ebay Lesson: Identifying Deadbeats

Recently, I sold an item on eBay. The buyer purchased with "Buy It Now" which indicates a willingness to pay a higher price to get the item rather than waiting for the auction to expire, and risking loss.

This particular buyer did not pay, even though eBay, via PayPal, offers an easy means for immediate payment. In other words, "buy it now, pay for it now." The buyer did not avail himself of this option, so I sent an automated bill, requesting payment.

No response.

After three more days without any contact, I sent a follow-up email, again requesting payment in more strident terms, threatening the buyer with negative feedback and suggesting that he was "human trash." Well, maybe that was a bit harsh, but I've dealt with plenty of what ebay calls "non-paying bidders" and what I call "deadbeats."

Nine days after the "buy it now" incident, the "buyer" decided to contact me with the following email.

I had a major computer crash which accounts for my delay. You only sent two emails, so how much distress could it have caused you? But since you called me "human trash" I will also be notifying ebay. Do what you want with your [item] but I will not do business with you.

Allow me to dissect this too little, too late conveyance. Hopefully, it will serve as a guide to identifying when you're dealing with a bone fide deadbeat.

First, notice that there is no salutation. As deadbeats go, this is a tell-tale giveaway. The individual is too lazy to even begin the message properly. "Sir" or "Hello" or even my name (he has it) would have been sufficient. No salutation = deadbeat saying, "yo."

I had a major computer crash... - The classic deadbeat excuse. Everybody has computer crashes at the most opportune moments, like when they're supposed to pay for something they want, but evidently cannot afford.

You only sent two emails, so how much distress could it have caused you? - Deflecting the blame and minimizing the issue is another deadbeat dodge.

...since you called me "human trash" I will also be notifying ebay. - this is a twofer. The deadbeat expresses pique at being insulted and then the time-honored deadbeat tradition of the threat, as though anybody at eBay will object to having called him "human trash." They'll want to know why he hasn't paid, and calmly explain to him that being upset at the seller doesn't relieve him of his contractual obligation. It's likely that deadbeats know this, but they try to weasel out nevertheless.

...I will not do business with you. - Once again, the deadbeat relies upon the well-worn canard of moral indignation, refusing to pay because, somehow, my expectation of such failed to take into account his personal misfortune.

Finally, note that the deadbeat never drops his/her name. They thrive on anonymity, so an email with no name attached is expected behavior. Unbeknownst to the deadbeat, eBay sends the buyer's full name and address when the item is purchased. Sadly, deadbeats are generally not very bright.

Dealing with deadbeats is never fun nor easy, but hopefully this concise guide will save you some of the trouble and help identify when you are dealing with one.

I also have the perfect response to emails such as these. Very simple and to the point and only two words (of course, you've already begun the process of recouping your eBay fees, added the deadbeat-in-question to your blocked bidder list and plan on leaving negative feedback at a later date, ideally at the very last minute so as to avoid the retaliatory negative.).

The proper response is: "Thank you." It will leave them wondering forever.

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