Sunday, August 2, 2020

Timeline for CORE returns and other transaction obligations

This is yet another post prompted by experience with an eBay buyer, which resulted in a negative feedback, which to us is unjustified, but to the customer is fully justified.

We just got the following negative feedback:

"(-) Beware of the core return timeline. Will not work with you if you are late. "

We answer here because eBay gives 80 characters to answer and that is not enough for our answer.

For the protocol, here is our short answer:

1) Yes, beware of the core return timeline and all other terms of the offer, just as you should expect and demand vendors to beware and cover for their own responsibilities under the same listing!

2) No, it is not true we will not work with buyers. It is apparently blunt to assume (let alone pronounce!) single experience as a corporate policy, but more importantly we DID try to work with this buyer, just not to their liking.
Which is often the case when you eat your cake and still want it all.

Those are the details in case anyone cares:

We sell some boards with the offer to buy the old defective dud that is to be supposedly replaced by our board.

Nothing new under the Sun, it's actually fairly standard practice in the business.

Of course in order for such a business model to work there has to be a finite timeline for customers sending the old dud back and of course there has to be additional conditions, at least if we want reasonable chance for actually being able to re-condition and put the returned board back in the field.

For example boards that have been physically damaged or  have sustained water or fire damage.
The later being somewhat hard to define as sometimes components burn, but it's not actually any big issue.

But, simply put, if we are careful not to just waste money on boards we can't practically use for anything we have to define some criteria they need to pass and some time frame we have to get them by.

The reasons for the time frame are more simple to explain - first, nobody will want to be indefinitely liable as liabilities may mount and crush you when you least expect and second and actually more important, if a board is not listed and sold it loses its money-making power, i.e. if we lose a board to advertise we lose revenue stream!
As such, every board that is not returned to us reasonably fast has to be replaced and we go and buy a replacement on the open market - usually for much more than what we would have paid for the old dud, but with hope to continue the recondition-sell-buy-recondition-sell cycle, which would pay it off.

Clearly not a rocket science and we do not pretend that it is.

So we got this exchange earlier today (all messages are copied verbatim):

I recently replaced my power board you sent me and it worked out great. I was going to send you the core but we forgot it at our weekend home. will you still accept it beyond the 14 days ? Also this is what the backside looked like when I removed it. I want you to see this before I return it to make sure that you accept it. Not sure if that was the source of my problem or if someone tried to fix it before me. Let me know where to go from here. Thank You

Coppell TV Repair LLC:
We may pay you $30 instead of $60 if you return the board to here.
Or if we didn't notice the delay - though we usually do - then we may pay you full credit.
I do not see anything unusual on the pictures, but missing the deadline simply makes us go out and spend about the same amount on any board - working or not, usually working and expensive - so that we have boards in circulation....this is our bloodline and we have to keep it fresh.

For $30. Not worth my time or shipping costs. I guess thanks for nothing. Will make note in my feedback

Coppell TV Repair LLC:

We are not putting a price on your time or shipping costs , you are.

We put terms determined by our costs of running business and - by your own admission - you are the one that broke the rules, not us.

We have done everything we said we will do and we answered all your questions honestly and fairly.

"Thanks for nothing" is quite out of place here.

Terrible answer

At that point we got the negative feedback quoted above.

It is easy to see why customer is upset. They made a simple human mistake. They did not try to cheat and asked perfectly valid question. They expected perfectly valid forgiveness of mistake.

The question is whether they are granted the right of forgiveness and if not then are they in their right to blame it on us by leaving negative feedback.
I mean morally, not practically or legally.

My position is that customer is not king and every business transaction is among equals.
As such, each party should be held equally responsible to the terms of the transaction.
Forgiveness is optional on each end and not necessarily possible at all times and its lack does not necessarily affect the business qualities of either side - it takes more than that to judge.

For example, what if we turn the table and imagine the not so uncommon situation in which the vendor is in default, say by having the product fail during warranty period.
What if vendor says "listen, I really did give you 90 days warranty and it did fail on the 60th, but I am short of people and parts now, so how about you give me some slack and let the warranty down to 60 days?
If you do we won't be having the problem we have now, would we?"

This is blown out of proportion, of course, but there are other, more realistic examples.

Seller may be out of products and may ask the client "Would you mind if I delay shipping by a week?".

The first vendor with 10 years on their back not having ever done that to throw the first stone at me.
(of course eventually vendors just stop asking; they just delay the order for a week or until customer calls..but that's another story)

So would the vendor be right to accuse the customer in bad relations if customer says "no, give me the money back, I'll move elsewhere"?

Of course not!

Well I dare claim from a standpoint of a business agreement this is exactly the same!

Buyer defaulted, was aware of it and asked if the agreement would still work.
Seller said no, not in this form, but it would in another.
Buyer got upset at seller.

I understand perfectly that if the business' prime objective was financial success, widespread approval leading to word of mouth referrals etc. then it should do everything in its power to keep customers happy, including taking their losses...sometimes.

I just refuse to accept that cash is king and we should turn blind eye to mistakes people do and cover for them. I believe that while possibly boosting the business' popularity, this results in customers becoming spoiled and irresponsible and inevitably leads to corruption.
My arguments and proofs are all around.

This view of mine results in occasional clashes with buyers and occasional negative feedbacks indeed.
It is the price that I and the companies I run pay for putting something above financial success.

It allows me to sleep better believing I do my job in keeping this world sane.

The question remains...while it is clear why customer had negative it right for that experience to be reflected on the seller?

If yes - for whatever reason -  then where do you draw the line?

If you believe the seller had to give up what the customer wanted ( to keep him happy and/or to avoid negative feedback) then what is the most basic thing sellers should not do to keep clients?

- Bobby


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