Monday, April 23, 2007

What Is An Antique Dealer To Do?

Where does my responsibility as an online antique dealer end and the responsibility of the customer begin?

I have been selling through my own online shop for 7 years, prior to that I had an antique store and sold on eBay. I loved the customer interaction with the store life got in the way and we had to close it. Selling on eBay became a huge problem just because of the way eBay is going.

I have learned many lessons selling through my own website but for the most part the customer's have been amazing and I have had very few problems.

When I first started the website I automatically tacked on the cost for insurance, this was a carry-over from my eBay days, but I had quite a few complaints from customer's so I made purchasing insurance an option. On occasion if I was shipping something really fragile I would go ahead and pay for the insurance out of my pocket just to be on the safe side and there were a few times where this was a good thing.

UPS owes me a few hundred dollars for items I insured that got demolished in transit and they did not make good on the insurance I purchased but that is just their way.

But what do I do if someone makes a substantial purchase on a non-fragile item and then says it has not been delivered to them, yet the Post Office shows that the item was delivered? What is my responsibility in this situation? They opted to not purchase insurance on the item and I have proof of delivery.

If you live in a neighborhood where packages are apt to get stolen from your doorstep then I recommend you purchase insurance on purchases. As a seller I cannot know what your neighborhood is like. Or do like many of my customer's and have the packaged delivered to you at work.

I really need some help on this because I do not know what to do. Am I being scammed? It has happened to me before. I appreciate all input on this situation.

6 comments:

William McCamment said...

Michelle,

If a customer claims they didn't receive a package that is tracked by delivery comfirmation, give them the tracking information and instruct them to take it up with their local post office.

Explain to your customer that you are unable to investigate it from your end. They must file a complaint with the post office.

Since you are in business, I'm sure you can do all this without offending your customer, but they need to realize that you are not responsible for stolen or lost packages.

Hope this helps,

William
Tiffany Lamp Info Guide

Our Cherished Thoughts said...

I add delivery confirmation on all my items and even though I pride myself in shipping within 24 hours after item is purchased, there is still the issue of when a customer expects a delivery and when the delivery is actually made.

No matter what happens during that delivery, rather in my case, it is taking too long or can't be found by the buyer, it will have a direct effect on my business.

Sometimes we are being scammed by the buyers, sometimes they want to be refunded for slow delivery, and they want you to pay to return the items. It is a catch 22 sometimes.

The only solution I have made is to add that I am not responsible for the length of time it takes for delivery, in my policies. I do offer my customers faster delivery options with choice of expected USPS delivery dates.

I just could not stay in business if I had to be responsible for all the delivery times I am not able to predict.

My tracking numbers show my shipping dates. That is all I can do. Most of my buyers who are looking for what they consider a long time for shipping are able to be given that info from my tracking. It does ease the pain of feeling totally responsible for delivery times when a buyer can track my packages and see when I shipped it.

Alana

Mishy said...

Thank you so much for the input. It looks like from now on this problem is solved, with the Postal rate increase I am shipping DHL.

Can you believe how much it now costs to ship a box to a customer???? Oh my gosh!!!

Sandy's Fancy Pants Antiques and Collectibles said...

Shipping cost rising has definitely changed the business. Especially to overseas. It is not easy to convey this to the customer. I always send them a link to www.usps.com to help them understand. What can one do. It has to be shipped. I love your site and your blog. Sandy

lucas said...

Nice post, thank you for sharing!

john hogan said...

There are so many scams on the web with internet shopping, surely God people should realize that a dealer in order to insure safe delivery of product should insure it not only for loss but full coverage in accordance to the terms and clauses of the shipping service. The client should also realize this and avoid problems on behalf of himself and the dealer by trying to have items shipped the cheapest way out and then try to do a Pay Pal cash back when he or she already has received an item.

What's happened to old fashioned ethics of honesty? Remember when a "hand shake" sealed a deal between buyer and seller? Has our society deteriorated so much that as buyer and as seller there has been created a terrible phobia of who is going to get the upper hand or who is going to rip off who first? This reminds me of a blog I was reading the other day. This guy was getting into antiques and was considering Ebay as a route to sell his items. So that's fine. Then he proceeded to explain a little about himself but explicitly stated that he did not feel comfortable posting a photo of himself on the web. His representation of himself was a photo of a product that he collects and or sells. Well why then would someone feel comfortable buying from such a dealer? As we all know money is not always 'easy come, easy go'. We also know as dealers we have to be able to build trust amongst buyers and sellers in order to have a successful business whether it is an online store or a physical store location.