I wanted to reach out to everyone and write another article about drop shipping and the problems we are now seeing more and more with Lego sets. I had another drop-shipping incident I had to deal with and wanted to offer a direct personal experience with an issue. I wanted to offer a few addendums to the information on the site provided before by Talon in the article “Drop Shipping Lego: How to Avoid Being Scammed” which is a great article to have pinned to your browser as a bookmark while you are searching Ebay.
Since eventually everyone will get hit with one of these, the following is an experience I just had with a drop-shipper on Ebay. This will show how to deal with it and that you can deal with it once you have already received the item. In the following story, the names have been changed to protect the innocent... and guilty (There are no names I just wanted to say that - anyone used to watch those old Wildest Police Chases shows?).
I recently purchased a Lego Tower Bridge (10214) off Ebay for around $220 new which is a good deal but nothing incredible. I had been looking to find around a 10% discount on the TB as I wanted to add this to my investment portfolio. When I saw the listing, it seemed pretty normal. I went through my normal checking procedures for scams to check out the buyer:
- The seller had sold a lot of Lego sets before and most all around MSRP – they were mostly recent but most of the listings were fairly well written and weren't under priced.
- The handling time said 1 day which seemed legit.
- The item was not free shipping; free shipping can sometimes set you on the scent of a scam artist.
- The seller's feedback was 100% and none of them had mentioned anything about the shipping.
- The seller had no other items listed at the current time to compare with.
- The seller had been on Ebay for a while as a buyer and a seller – normally drop-shippers are only sellers.
So I decided to purchase the item. I paid for it and waited for my set to come in. After about a week, the seller had not added shipping information and had not indicated in Ebay that it had been shipped. My expected receive date was the day I noticed this, so I decided to just send the seller a message. I sent the seller a message asking him if the item had been sent because I sometimes have issues with my neighborhood carriers and wanted to watch for it. The seller indicated it would be sent out the next day, that there was a delay. He didn't elaborate. The way the message was written made me a little uneasy.
I decided to check through everything again and make sure I was right about him seeming legit in the first place. Everything checked out from above. I made a note to keep an eye on it, but right now I had nothing to prove something was wrong with it.
A few days later, I still had not seen the package. I got back on Ebay to send the seller a message and I saw that the item he sold me had been re-listed (Ebay indicated a similar item had been re-listed by the same seller at the top of my purchased listing). I was irritated they had already listed another when I hadn't gotten mine yet so I clicked to see his other items to look at the listing. It was the same, but the seller now had two more Lego Sets – more than $40 under retail. Drop-ship scam alert went off immediately.
It had now been more than ten days since the original listing, so I sent the seller an email that I had not received the item and I was contemplating just canceling the order. the seller sent back a message stating that he it had already been sent and the seller apologized that “my supplier had a delay”. I asked for elaboration – was it drop-shipped? He said it was not, that it was shipped from his supplier to me. I told him that this was what I meant by “drop-ship” and I asked him who his supplier was. He indicated it was Lego themselves...
I did as Talon had indicated and asked once again for the order to be canceled. The seller insisted I would get the item the next day and he was not canceling the order. I decided to go ahead and open the case and put my part of the story out there ahead of time so that I would cover my butt as much as possible. I opened a case that I had not received the item. The seller responded to it very upset that I had opened the case stating that I should “wait until I get it tomorrow and then leave him positive feedback”. A bit zealous. I replied stating that his original listing did not mention the item would be drop shipped and I was not comfortable with it because I did not want to be involved in any possible fraud nor want an order in my name. He responded again saying that it was not drop-shipped, it was sent directly from his supplier. He also stated he was not involved in any fraud – He purchased this with his credit card and his multitude of extra Lego VIP points.
At this point, I knew my only choice was to just wait to respond until I got the item and then do a bit of investigating myself to see if I could get it figured out. I received the item that afternoon and sure enough, directly from Lego and furthermore he had just finally ordered it the day before and spent $40 extra to have it over-nighted to me! $285 dollars spent on something I paid $221 for.
Here is where everything got interesting. I called Lego to alert them and try to find out more. Maybe in some crazy universe, Lego was this guy's supplier and he gets them cheaper than the invoice says or something of that nature. I got on with Lego and of course the woman said my name was on everything. She was very nice. I explained the situation. She indicated they had been seeing this scam quite a lot lately – more than several times a day. She said that they were commonly getting people that were calling in asking about transactions on their credit card accounts they never paid for at all.
In fact, this order was actually flagged as a potential scam! I asked her what that meant and she said that Lego would have emailed and asked for us to contact them before the order went out (I have had this happen legitimately before – May the 4th B-wings). She said that according to the order, it said I had called in and verified all the information on the order – they had sent the email to the seller's email address. I told her it wasn't me and she said they were working on a better way to verify things. The only thing that was different from my info on the order was the email address and the credit card info (though she said she couldn't see what the info on the credit card was – I am assuming it was pre-paid in someone else's name).
So I told her I could verify if the seller was lying or not by understanding what all they paid with. I told her that the seller indicated most of the purchase came from VIP points. She said not only was that order not paid for with VIP points, she said the email address was registered with another Lego account (good way to hide your criminal activities) and they didn't have any VIP points! She also confirmed they have no supplier relationship with this seller.
In the end, the woman said she was banning that credit card from use on the site, as well as the seller's account, the email addresses and his address and name posted on his account from ever using Lego's website. Lego Customer service is amazing by the way if you have ever spoken with them. I told her I was going to contact the seller and Ebay about it and then I would use the pre-paid return label to ship it back to Lego. I sent the seller an email indicating all of the above and that I was reporting them. I also told them I had reported them and all of their other listings to Ebay as well. I asked that they refund my item and would then ship the item back to Lego.
About 5 minutes later my phone buzzed indicating I had received an email. I looked at it and the seller had closed the case by refunding my money – no message obviously. Shortly after the seller took down all of their listings. They were incorrect anyway as the seller had indicated that they had 100% feedback... which wasn't the case after I added a message to make it known what they were doing.
I wanted to offer up this story that even if you do find yourself on the bad end of something like this you still have a lot of options:
- Send the seller a message asking a few simple questions to try and find out why it was shipped directly from a company. If the packing slip shows they paid way more than you did, politely ask them why they re-sold it for so cheap. Most will send you something back and just indicate they bought it with VIP points, or something of that nature which you can use to verify their story later.
- Use the order reference number and call the place that they purchased it from and just explain the situation to them. The few times I have had to deal with this I have seen that most companies know this goes on and understands it. Honestly the only one that hasn't been any help at all is Walmart. Ask them for the most information that they can give you. One of the best pieces to get is the last 4 digits of the credit card. You can indicate to the person you want to make sure they didn't steal one of your cards. They are allowed to give you this. Once you have it, you can go back and ask that the seller send you a picture of the card just showing the last four digits and the name as well as their driver's license with the same name. Most of the time the seller will just refund it as they know they are caught. If they send you the information, then they may be legit.
- Open up a case with Ebay indicating you did not want an item that was drop-shipped. The message will go to the seller, but in my experience most of the time if you keep with it they will relent and refund you so you can return the item. These people don't want to get caught up in the case structure as they are looking for quick money and not looking to deal with Ebay.
- Contact Ebay after you have contacted the seller and make sure they understand why you want your money back. Tell them the information you have so they can investigate accordingly. Chances are, Ebay buyer protection will refund your money and deal with the seller themselves. Ebay is all about protecting the buyer so they will back you up.
Just wanted to reach out and offer a personal experience for anyone that finds themselves in a bad situation. Don't just keep the item because you feel like it is too late. You don't want to deal with the back-end of the issue. Like I stated, none of these sellers are looking to get into a big argument with you or Ebay. Chances are, you can get the transaction canceled with out too many issues.
Note: All of the information here are my own opinions and are pulled from my experiences. You may or may not have success with these methods.