I have been an avid patron and fond supporter of the Amazon.com Marketplace for over four years. At the Amazon.com Marketplace, Amazon.com customers buy and sell their own goods at their own prices, and Amazon.com takes a small premium off the top. It works well for everybody involved.
I have, in the past, sold a number of books through that scheme, and more recently, I have sold almost my entire collection of CDs. Occasionally, I buy a book or a CD through the Marketplace, and in most cases, it shows up at my door within a week.
Until a few days ago, I had never had a problem with it.
On March 18, I purchased a book from a seller called eastonjain. This seller priced the book slightly higher than some others, but because the seller was in Pennsylvania, I thought I'd pay an extra dollar or two in order to shave a couple days off the time the book spent with the Postal Service. Which worked out just fine.
However, when I received the package in the mail, I opened it, and it was the wrong book. It was a book on the same topic, but it was about six years out of date. So, I sent an email to the seller, who responded with a message saying he never listed the book I purchased. He also said he would refund my money if I returned the book. This is where things get messy.
Knowing that I was clearly not at fault for ordering an incorrect book and feeling that I should not be held responsible for any shipping charges greater than what I had already paid, I contacted Amazon.com directly and explained my case. They gave me kudos for trying to work through the issue with the seller before contacting them, and then Amazon.com refunded my money.
After which, I received an email from the seller:
I did give you refund back to your accout in full if you could return my book as soon as possible.
Clearly, the seller is not a Harvard graduate; nevertheless, I immediately plunged myself into a retort and responded in kind:
You seem to be missing the point.
You sent me the wrong book, and it is not my responsibility to pay even more money than I already have, to get it back to you. If you want to send me a check for the cost of shipping the book, I may be able to find time in the next couple weeks to get to the post office and send it back to you.
I am generally very busy, which is why I order books from Amazon.com in the first place, and I simply do not have the time or motivation to spend part of my day at the post office.
Indeed, spending $3 or less to ship the book back to this gentleman is no skin off my teeth. However, spending part of my day at the Post Office is. The USPS does not allow parcels over one pound in weight to be sent through ordinary mail boxes; those parcels must be sent at a physical Post Office location. In 2003, I discovered this rule by way of having such a parcel, which, in fact, contained an Amazon.com Marketplace item, returned to me, stamped accordingly.
At any rate, I now wonder: will he send me a check for the cost of postage? Will I then be obligated, after waking up at 3:00 in the afternoon as usual, to curtail the utter enjoyment I receive from drinking my first cup of coffee and reading the BBC News so I can get the book in the mail before the Post Office closes?
As the goblins say, "time is money, friend!" And, indeed, spending an hour, standing in line with obnoxious people on cell phones in a warm and overcrowded room simply to spend 30 seconds at a counter to ship a book that was mistakenly delivered to me in the first place, just does not seem worth the effort to me.