Tough Customer

We’ve finally sold off our older laptop PC for $550 on eBay two weeks ago. Although it’s about a quarter its original price when it was brand new, we were just happy that somebody won the bidding. Then the happiness turned to apprehension as we discovered that the winning bidder has 0 (zero) rating.

That meant, he or she is completely new to eBay with no history. What if he doesn’t pay up? What if he is a person of questionable character? It doesn’t help that another person emailed us after the bidding has ended telling us that if the winner doesn’t pay up, he’s willing to buy the laptop off us. Very suspicious.

The actual buyer (let’s call him Mr Chandra) emailed us saying he wanted to meet up. Fine with us. I told him to meet me Monday last week at noon at the ground floor of the building where I work. He agreed to this arrangement and asked for my mobile number. I emailed him back with my number and asked for his. He didn’t reply back before our meeting. Supposed meeting, actually.

That Monday, I brought the laptop in its original box to work. As luck would have it, I had to go to the client site that morning. I had to work fast at the client site so that I could still make it back to our office in time for our meeting with the buyer. By noon, I was down at the lobby lugging around the cumbersome laptop box waiting for Chandra. Fifteen minutes later and he was still nowhere in sight. I was starting to get hungry and therefore, angry. After few more minutes, I decided to give up and just return the box upstairs and head out for lunch. But before going out for lunch, I sent a very stern email to Mr Chandra. He could have at least called or emailed to say that he couldn’t make our meeting.

A few days had passed and we got no messages or call from the buyer. Raquel and I didn’t want to waste any more of our time waiting for him to pay up so we filed an Upaid Item Dispute on eBay against the buyer. At the very least, we might get back the fee we paid to have the laptop listed on eBay.

Then last Friday, I got an SMS message from Chandra letting me know that he wanted to meet me in the city over the weekend to get the laptop. No way I’m going to the city just for that. Anyway, I couldn’t even if I want to because I left the laptop in the office and it is locked during the weekend. I replied back that I’ll meet him in the city the coming Monday instead.

I find this guy very unreliable so I made my instructions very explicit. I told him to meet me at my office address at noon and that I’ll only wait for fifteen minutes for him. He then replied back asking which train station, Flinders or Parliament, should I meet him. Didn’t he understand my text at all? I reiterated that he was to go to our office address and we’d do the swap there. I also added that he should be ready with the cash payment as I didn’t have a long lunch break. I asked him to text me back if he agrees to this. He did.

It was Monday morning at half past eleven when I got a text message from Chandra. He said that he just left his place and should be at Flinders Street station by around 12 noon for the swap. What? I feel like I’m talking to someone in a different language. I thought we agreed to meet at my office address?! Fine. I told him I’ll meet him at Flinders Street station instead, “under the clocks” near the ticket office at 12.15 PM. I added that I would be the Asian guy with glasses carrying a box that has “DELL” written on it.

While carrying the laptop box on the way to the station, I was thinking that I’ll just give this guy until 12.30 otherwise the deal is off. I was starting to get fed up with him. I’d rather sell the laptop on eBay again. Just then, I received another text message from Chandra. He said that he was at Flinders Street station and he would wait for me at Platform 2.

NO! That wasn’t the arrangement!

A few minutes after the text message, my phone rang. It was Chandra. He basically repeated what he had texted me and I replied in a rather forceful voice that I won’t meet him at Platform 2. We agreed to meet under the clocks just beyond the station gates and that’s where I’ll meet him! He quickly agreed to meet me upstairs. He added that he’ll be the asian guy with the blue shirt. Right. That could’ve described me at the time as I was also wearing a blue shirt. He better find me as I gave him a more unique description of what I’d look like.

Raquel and I got to the ticket office and stood there in wait for Chandra. Raquel noticed two guys who might be from India standing a few metres away. They seem to be looking around for something or someone but not really trying too hard. Raquel suggested that maybe it was Chandra and a friend of his. I said that if it was him, he should’ve approached us already since they looked at us more than twice already.

After a couple more minutes, the two guys approached us. Raquel was right. It was them. Why didn’t they approach us sooner? I didn’t ask it out loud as I wanted the transaction to go through smoothly. I didn’t want anymore delays. Chandra’s friend wanted to inspect the laptop first. I obliged. I’ve got nothing to hide. The laptop was well cared for and was in good working condition.

They talked to each other in their native language while Chandra’s friend played around the laptop a bit. A few more minutes passed and finally Chandra seemed satisfied with the laptop. He then faced me and asked, “do you know where I can find a Commonwealth Bank ATM?”

WHAT THE?! I was really getting pissed with him. I said, “didn’t I ask that you come ready with the cash? I don’t have a long lunch break here!” He looked embarrassed but all he can do was say that he only has a card. What the hell! And he wanted me to meet him down in Platform 2 a few minutes ago?! There was less of a chance he’d find an ATM down at the platform! Or was he intending to quickly take the laptop and jump in a leaving train?!

Even though I was angry already, I tried to keep my cool. It can’t be helped now. I just want to get paid. I asked the nearest person if he knew where the nearest ATM was. He replied that there was one across the street along Swanston Street. Chandra was a little hesitant to leave his buddy behind to go get the money. So, his buddy left Raquel and I right there under the clocks with the laptop still running on top of its box.

We could wait for them to come back. But then, I definitely no longer trust Chandra anymore. For all we know, we would never see Chandra and his buddy ever again. I decided to follow them after I’ve packed the laptop back in the box.

They had a head start so we can’t really see where they went. But assuming they did go to withdraw money from the ATM, they should be queued up at the nearest ATM. The first one we passed was the ANZ Bank ATM and they weren’t there. We tried the next one which was a Commonwealth Bank ATM. Thank goodness they were there. When they got the money, I called out to Chandra letting him know that we followed them.

Finally, we got paid and the whole ordeal is over. I hope we never get another eBay buyer like that ever again.

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Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 10:12 pm  Comments (2)