I sold the Gianni Motta Personal through Ebay auction - twice.  I lost my 100% positive Feedback rating.  And, apparently, the bicycle experienced shipping damage.  Not exactly a swell end to finding and riding this nice old Italian bicycle.

Right from the get-go, I knew that I would not be keeping the Motta.  The bicycle, at 58cm (c-c), was just too big for me to ride comfortably.  With that in mind, I bought the bicycle, intending to sell it as quickly as I could.  Shortly after returning from my across half of Canada journey, I listed the bicycle for sale on Ebay, along with a gorgeous Proctor Townsend and a Miyata 1000 Touring, both picked up on the same trip.  The sale of these three bicycles, alone, would pay for the entire return trip journey.

The Ebay auction ran its course and the Gianni Motta sold for over five hundred dollars, more than doubling what I had paid for the bike.  As is my normal practice, I invoiced the winning bidder, shortly after auction's end, and waited for the inevitable - payment or non-payment.  Yes, non-payment!

Since Ebay changed the policy, on sellers being offered the opportunity to leave negative feedback for buyers, the non-paying bidder situation has gotten worse.  Since that change, I feel that about one of three winning bidders will back out of the transaction.  All I can do about this is initiate a non-payment claim, wait seven days for the claim to run its course, at which time I will get my Ebay listing fees refunded.  Once that process has run its course, I can relist the item and go through another seven day period of attempting to auction it to someone else.  I digress...

Two days passed, without the winning bidder contacting me contacting me or sending payment for the Gianni Motta.  I emailed the fellow, asking if there was a problem.  No response.  I emailed a day later and, a day or two after that, he got back to me complaining about shipping costs.  I broke the costs to ship down for him and he seemed satisfied.  But no payment or communication followed in the next few days.  I contacted him again and, again, to no avail.

I filed the Ebay Non-Payment claim, in an effort to recoup my fees.  I waited for the claim to run its minimum course and I listed the Gianni Motta on Ebay for a second time.  And, the bike sold again, this time for about thirty dollars less than it did the first time.  However...

With no time left to cancel the second auction, the first buyer sent me a PayPal payment for the Gianni and shipping costs.  With only hours to go in the present auction, the bicycle was sold and paid for.  With second auction's end, the bike was sold again.  I puzzled over this problem.  I studied Ebay policies regarding this or, at the very least, similar situations.  To me, it all boiled down to one thing that Ebay emphasizes.  I cannot complete an auction if it is no longer available for sale.  And the Gianni was definitely no longer available for sale, since the first bidder had bought, and now paid, for the bicycle.  I informed the second buyer of the problem.  He went ballistic, scolded me for wasting his time and left me scathing negative feedback.  And, I suppose that I deserved it because part of this was my fault...

When the Non-Payment Claim had run its course, I forgot to close the case.  The first buyer was with-in his right to send payment even though it was pretty late to do so.  The bicycle was legally his but only because I forgot to close the case for non-payment.  But the story gets worse.

I did feel bad about loosing my 100% positive feedback status.  Very bad, but I got over it.  I packed the Motta up and shipped it off to its new owner in the USA.  A couple of weeks later, I got a nasty email from the buyer regarding the condition of the bicycle.  He complained about a couple of things that were mentioned and shown in the listing, criticising me for not being more specific.  I did supply good clear pictures of the bicycle, indicating the worst of the cosmetic blemishes.   With that in mind, I did not see how he could possibly complain.  He could see in the pictures exactly what he was complaining about.  Anyway, that was not the true issue, as I saw it.

The buyer also complained about a dent in the top tube of the bike.  The dent (he sent me a fuzzy picture of the claimed damage) was situated at about the mid point of the top tube, near the two o'clock position, if one were looking at the bicycle from the rear.  The buyer accused me of not mentioning the dent.

I assured the buyer that the bicycle was not dented when it left my shop.  I also sent him good clear pictures of the spot he claimed was damaged.  My pics clearly showed there to be no dent.  It seemed clear to me, at the time, that the dent was the product of shipping damage.  The problem that stuck in my craw was that for such a dent to occur, the shipping container would have had to have been badly damaged.

I asked if he had taken any pictures of the bicycle as it arrived in the box?  Or even if he had taken pictures of the box and all, once he realized that there was a dent.  He did not have any pictures of the box or how the bicycle was packed.  And, to make things even worse, he had thrown the shipping box out, immediately after emptying it.  It did not make sense to me that he would discard the shipping container so soon after opening the box.  At any rate...

What could I do other than initiate a Shipping Damage Claim, with the shipping company.  I did this and informed the buyer that a claim had been initiated, on his behalf, as it is the sender's responsibility to initiate a claim.  I also told the fellow that he would have to either, send the bike back to the shipper for inspection or allow a Damage Claims Agent to view the damage.  He chose the latter and I set it up.  I never heard from the guy again.

What did this all mean?  Was the bicycle actually damaged during shipping?  Was this buyer trying to get some money back with a false claim of damage?  To this day, I do not know.  But it did make me a bit more aware of buyer scams that are, apparently, common when shopping this venue these days.  So I have been told and so I have experienced.  Take the time to know how to buy a bike on-line or through a vehicle such as Ebay.