I have an ebay account since 1998, when shopping online was a pretty new thing. Though I have only bought one or two things a year off the site, I generally have pretty good experience with it, namely I got a few very hard to get collectible items that I take out every few years and feel good about them. Unfortunately, my wonderful streak of lucking out and getting nice stuff from ebay finally came to an end last night.
About a week back, I was roaming on ebay and saw something that I saw in Hong Kong but couldn't made up my mind whether I should get back then. Needless to say, when I went back to the same store again a few months later it was gone. So when I saw it on ebay, I was pretty excited. I know this item was a limited edition, so it is pretty rare, not to mention a premium price, so I was pretty cautious with the listing (If you know me or have been reading this blog for some time, you will know how much I hate counterfeits.) I read all the fine prints and even the Question and Answer section of the seller regarding on the item, which the seller insist numerous times that this item was "sealed" and is "real". So even though I still have a bit of doubt about it, I decide to just trust the listing and bought it.
For the week coming ahead, I kept on having this bad feeling that I made a mistake.
So yesterday, I had my little claim paper on my hand and went to the post office to pickup my prize. The moment I took the box out of the postage wrap I knew it was a counterfeit. How do I know? I was born in the pirate city of the world, I knew, since I was a very young age, how to distinguish counterfeits from the real ones. First of all, though they did an excellent job to imitate the box printing, the graphic is nowhere near regular prints (graphic designer by day, videogame freak by night); the quality of the product was poor and the serial number was fake (I happen to have a similar item at home, so I cross referenced it); and most of all, I have actually seen the real item before, so I know the box size was actually wrong.
What they did was took a regular item that was sold in North America, changed the box art, changed the skin of the product and ship it as the real item. The problem is, this limited edition was NEVER made into a North American version at all.
As I was feeling a little bit confrontational last night, I decided to write them a letter telling them how I know they are selling counterfeits and demand my money and shipping cost back. I also filed an investigation through ebay and started a ticket through paypal's resolution centre. A few hours later, I got an email back from the seller:
dear customer, thank you very much for your email. It will be highly appreciate it if you contact us first before raising any DISPUTES to Paypal. We guarantee to solve the problems in anyway for your satisfaction. first of all, i am apologize for any inconvenience caused by the console. this is a brand new in box American version console, item was tested, checked and packed in good condition before send, i repeat this is not an imitated, i did not changed skin into a yellow version, please do not [accuse] me for that, as i get item from a reliable supplier and been selling then for no problem at all. however customer's satisfication are most important to me, if you don't satisfy with the item you have got, resend or full refund will be provide, as we guarantee to solve the problems in anyway for your satisfaction. please do get back for me for solution and kindly close the disputed. Please don't be hesitate to contact me if you have any enquiries. I'll try my best to assist. Thank you very much again. We look forward to serving you again in near future.
I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, as I like to think I'm not an a-hole... that being said, I think it's bull crap that they didn't know it's not a counterfeit. After all, this is Hong Kong we are talking about. People sell these type of stuff for a living, especially electronics. Playing the "I get item from a reliable supplier" card do not go anywhere with this hometown boy. This actually make me even more disappointed as they are basically denying it. I would rather they go blunt and just tell me to ship back the item for a full refund than defending what clearly is a fraud.
I am currently left with two options. I can deal with them directly and get my money back, as "customer's satisfaction are most important" to them (yeah, how about selling real stuff for a change instead? That will satisfy me very much), or I make a big fuss with ebay and try to get their account suspended but potentially won't get my money back.
The item itself wasn't very expensive, but at the same time I do not have a lot of spare money to spend right now. In fact, this was, actually, the last item I let myself buy for a while, as I have decided to hold off all my luxury spending for the rest of the year. (Yeah... double sad-face for me for getting fake stuff)
That being said, this seller is selling more than one of this item on the site and still have many more to sell according to the page. So there are less observant people might not know and fall into the trap. I would hate to think that I didn't take an action to stop this.
What would you do, my friends? Cash back and forget about it, or be the crusader and potentially sacrifice myself?