Fishy Tale of a Sale: Part 1

fishyI recently spent some time on eBay, selling and buying camera gear. There are a lot of positives to using eBay. One if finding items that may be in short supply from other retailers.

This happened to me when I was shopping for a lens to fit my new Sony a6000. I wanted a wide angle 19mm Sigma f2.8, one of the Art series.  These are very well reviewed, inexpensive, and I didn’t have that focal length covered in my manual glass.

This particular focal length of the Art series is very hard to find right now. Most major retailers have multiple weeks of backordered status. But on eBay you can find used ones, and sometimes new ones from sellers. I found a large eBay seller who had 5 in stock. By the time I ordered my copy they were down to 4 copies in stock According to the eBay listing, anyway. A few hours later I was checking something and saw they were down to 3 in stock. These were going fast.

That was April 29th. Estimated delivery by May 7th. Item showed in stock in Brooklyn, NY.

April 30th I get a notice that the item has shipped. Great. Except a couple of days later the FedEx tracking still only shows that the item shipping label has been created, but they have not received the package to begin actually shipping it.

Today, it’s the same thing. Now, I know how much in short supply these lenses are. Surely this company would not actually list an sell a product they did not have on hand? Not only is it against eBay policy, but it’s just not a good practice. However, they have over 22 thousand feedback ratings. They do a lot of business on eBay.

Apparently there is this thing that often happens, a drop shipment kind of deal. Where one online company sells something and then they get the stock and ship it out. Keeps overhead down. It’s against eBay policy, but it happens a lot, so I read. Knowing this, and seeing a negative feedback post that was added in just the last month about this same lens from this seller, I decided to call.

I spoke to a very nice gentleman. He was so very apologetic. He tried to talk about how fast they sold and maybe my order came in after the stock was out, but hadn’t been updated. He admitted they had listed these on both Amazon and eBay. They are not a brick and mortar store, so no one had came in and bought one while I was ordering mine. Generally he didn’t have a clue where my lens was.

At this point I had enough information that I could have gone postal about the sale/shipping fiasco. But honey catches more flies than vinegar. I still wanted the lens, and at this price. If I could get it before this weekend, I was game. So I played nice.

He put me on hold again and went down to “shipping” and when he returned, lo and behold, the lens I bought was in stock. The truck had been delayed. This very day it came in. And they would even upgrade my shipping to 2 day so I could get my lens by this weekend. I got a notice of shipment a few minutes later.

This whole sale is so fishy. First, selling a hard to find item as something in stock (listing said item was in Brooklyn) when you don’t actually have it is sketchy. Second, and worse, buying a shipping label for the item you don’t have so it shows as “shipped” protects the seller’s 5 star shipping rating, but is straight up dishonest. Third, they just happen to have gotten the lens in stock the day I called? Right.

Assuming this latest tracking number is actually on a package and not waiting, I half expect to get the easier to find silver version of the lens.  More likely I will still be waiting this weekend for my new tracking number to show movement. (actually, I won’t wait that long…) I will update when I have resolution.

Be careful out there folks!