My IBM nightmare with the eBay seller
1st May 2008, updated June 2009
I bought this IBM X31 laptop from the seller which was described as being in "perfect working order" and in "Very Good Condition."
The machine that arrived was covered in dust and what looked like biscuit residue, absolutely stunk of stale cigarette smoke, had a big crack on the screen bezel, cracks on the side, scratches on the screen, a chipped and scratched base plate with part of the frame held together by a matchstick.
The damage was so bad that the card slot was unusable and I had fears that the screen bezel crack would soon get worse over time. I immediately contacted the seller and he agreed to a full refund.
I sent the laptop straight back via special delivery, but while it was in transit, he then insisted he could repair it. When I declined, he became increasingly erratic, sending off a stream of bizarre emails.
The package was delivered the next day and it was signed for at his work but he initially claimed not to have received it. I phoned his work who confirmed that he worked there and that a parcel had arrived for him and that he had received it mid-afternoon.
I emailed him with this information and then the really weird emails started, accusing me of:
(a) lying about needing the laptop for the weekend (I'd asked him if he could mail it to me by Friday)
(b) being part of a conspiracy to give him a bad eBay rating
(c) being a dodgy buyer
(d) purposely looking for flaws as part of some scam
(e) responsible for recent problems with his home PC and email accounts
(f) breaking the laptop myself
With the user still refusing to refund my money, I escalated the case in the PayPal resolution centre where he added fresh allegations that I'd somehow hacked into his email account and caused him to reinstall his operating system!
He then went on to claim - six days after receiving the laptop - that he'd just discovered that I'd swapped over the "screen, keyboard wifi card etc." All in the two hours I'd had it in my possession!
The quest for my money became part of one of the biggest and longest running threads on the eBay community forums, which proved vastly entertaining for regulars (sady they've since deleted the thread).
The seller, sensing that people weren't siding with his fantastical version of events, starting registering a slew of new IDs to cast aspersions on my case (something that apparently is OK by eBay's rules).
The sport went of for some considerable time, until I managed to get a refund from PayPal which covered most of my costs.
You can see the state I received the laptop in below.