Update: We Got Our $307 Back

Thankfully, eBay has policies in place to protect consumers. We never found our package, but we did get our money back.

Many of you have asked for updates on the status of the missing package containing the LEGO Death Star we plan to give our son for Christmas. Well, I have good news: We got our $307 back! Here’s how it went down:

After the post office failed to locate the package, I went to the police and filed a missing/stolen item report. I felt remarkably silly, since were were talking about a toy, and I knew that there was very little the police could do under the circumstances. But the officer was nice to me anyway (however much he laughed with his colleagues later), and said that he could assign a case number and keep an eye out — just in case someone brought it in to the station.

Armed with a case number, and the name and number of the post office guy we had been speaking with, Josh called eBay to explain the situation. eBay requires that buyers contact sellers and try to resolve the situation before getting involved. We had already written to the seller, but there was no response. So, after the waiting period, eBay reviewed the case. Since the price was more than $250, and the seller had clearly not asked for signature confirmation, the $307 was returned to our PayPal account.

Lesson Learned: Pay Attention to the Seller

We learned a few things from this experience. First of all, the deal was great. On Amazon, the same toy goes for close to $400. So we didn’t pay much attention to the seller. Upon further review, after the toy was slow in arriving in the first place, and since the seller didn’t update us when the package was shipped, we double-checked the seller rating. There weren’t any reviews, and the seller hadn’t sold anything else on eBay. (This combination of factors, including the non-responsiveness of the seller, leads my sister-in-law, an eBay and Etsy whiz, to theorize that this is a fly-by-nighter who routinely sets up accounts after receiving poor feedback, or being banned.)

We learned that it’s a good idea to look closely at sellers on eBay. We’ve bought things from new sellers — but it’s never been this expensive, and the sellers have always been responsive. For more expensive items, buying from an experienced seller (or at least from a buyer with good ratings) is helpful. An experienced seller with good ratings is likely to follow of the requirements from eBay, and take steps to ensure that he or she is protected.

In fact, we found another LEGO Star Wars Death Star on eBay for $350, and free shipping. My husband contacted the seller (who has great ratings after selling thousands of items) and asked what sort of shipping precautions she takes. She responded quickly, and said that she always insured higher-priced items for her own protection, and requested signature confirmation in accordance with eBay rules, and to protect sellers. In spite of our recent adventure, we felt comfortable trying it again.

She sent the tracking number immediately after dropping it off at UPS, and we can see the progress, so someone will be here to sign for the package. Even though we are paying $43 more for this version, we’re still getting a reasonable deal — and we’re fairly certain that we’ll have the item in hand tomorrow.

While we still feel kind of bad for the seller of the original toy, the feeling is fading somewhat. Since no effort was made to connect with us, or even to help figure out what happened to the package, and since the seller took on the risk by not insuring the package so that he could recover his money from the USPS, we feel a little less guilty. And, if we ever decide to sell on eBay, we’ll know what not to do.

Written by Miranda Marquit

Miranda Marquit is a freelance writer and professional blogger, specializing in personal finance, small business, and investing topics. She writes for a number of financial web sites and blogs, and has been featured in numerous media. Read about life as a freelancer at MirandaMarquit.com and in her book Confessions of a Professional Blogger.

2 Responses to Update: We Got Our $307 Back

  1. So glad you got your money back!!! I was hoping it would work out that way. When I was a new seller, I shipped something that broke in route. It was not wrapped well enough. I learned a big lesson (cost me about $75). If you want to sell big things on eBay, sometimes you need to learn the hard way.

    My son keeps saying that he’s saving up for the Death Star too. I can’t imagine him saving up $350 before he gives up and buys smaller kits instead.

    • Thanks, Jessica! Yeah, saving up’s a long, hard road for kids. My son is saving up for some General Grievous something. He should have enough in a couple more months. He got a little help from a recent Easter gift from his grandparents (although he has to save half of such windfalls).

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