Unethical eBay Seller: Majeeda Haaq (wickedly-whimsical)

I think eBay is one of the greatest Internet-era inventions in history – it leverages the power of a world-wide market of sellers with an equally large pool of buyers, connecting in ways that no previous market ever could. When eBay works, it works very well – but when it works poorly, boy can it get ugly. eBay relies on the individual integrity of buyers and sellers, but when the integrity of a buyer collides with that of an ethically bereft seller, it’s usually the buyer that gets burned if he’s not expecting it – which unfortunately is what happened to me. Allow me an early morning rant…

My wife Ashley was looking for a new flat iron – I’m mostly ignorant about such things (my hair takes 30 seconds to “do” in the mornings), but apparently there are flat irons that get hot, and flat irons that get really hot. She had the former, but wanted the latter to tame her unruly hair. Local sources for the type of extra-hot flat iron that she wanted were charging over $250 CAD (about $240 USD) so naturally I turned to the greatest marketplace on earth to find a better deal: eBay. I found a seller, Majeeda Haaq (who sellers under the name wickedly-whimsical with a store called Wickedly Whimsical Witches and Cats), who was selling a Paul Brown Hawaii Ceramic Flat Iron for $100 USD. The shipping charges were steep at $25.68 USD, but I assumed this was because the box was fairly big and I’m always willing to pay what it costs to ship to Canada. It was still a good deal overall, so I used the Buy It Now feature and paid $125.68 USD for it on August the 2nd. I received an automated response to my message stating my payment had been received. I never heard back from the seller, but I assumed the package would be on its way soon enough, and I’d see it within two weeks – that’s on the long side of how long it normally takes to get a package from the US to Canada.

I hadn’t heard anything from the seller by August 18th after already sending one message a few day earlier, nor had I seen the product. My wife was wondering what was going on, and I didn’t have an answer for her – when you pay for something and you don’t hear from the person you paid after two weeks, you start to think you’ve been scammed. I emailed the seller again:

“You would have had a payment from *****@*****.com. I’ve emailed about this item before, asking the status of it and when it was shipped, but you haven’t responded. It’s now been over two weeks without any response from you, or confirmation that it has shipped. It’s also very strange that this item isn’t listed on my eBay profile as being purchased – I’m not sure why that happened. Please respond ASAP.”

Majeeda Haaq responded later that day:

“Hello, my deepest apologies. I was in bed with Acute Tonsilitis. I am now in the process of packing my items and I have a lot to pack. I will get this item in the mail on monday. I will include a FREE GIFT for the delay. I am not sure why this item is showing up as unpaid on your end, I see it as a paid item. Thanks so much.”

I responded back that I hoped she felt better and that I was looking forward to seeing the product, but I was surprised that an eBay Power Seller would list products while sick and not have anyone helping getting them shipped. If you get sick, stop selling on eBay until you’re better; don’t take someone’s money without shipping them their product. Maybe that’s not fair of me to expect that, but I’ve been selling on eBay since 1999 and I feel when you take someone’s money you have an ethical obligation to give them what they paid for as quickly as possible, sick or not. In the back of my mind I also wasn’t sure if I believed her – I try to take people at their word, but I wasn’t sure she was being honest with me – maybe she had no inventory and was using my money to buy product she didn’t already have ready to sell.

I was hoping at this point that she would ship it using a faster method to make up for the delay. Instead, the product didn’t ship for another three days, leaving on the 21st of August – that’s 19 days after I paid for it. It eventually arrived on the 5th of September, 34 days after I paid for it, but what made me livid was the fact that it was a small, slender box that only cost $11.86 USD to ship – and she charged me $25.68 USD, a 116% up-charge. The product itself was fine, but taking my money, not shipping for 19 days, then charging me over twice as much for shipping as she paid, is ridiculous. Giving me a dirty bottle of hair gel (that was the “free gift”) doesn’t make up for it. I suspect this another example of eBay sellers padding the shipping charge to cover their cost of listing the product with eBay, and a little extra profit on the side. It’s a technicality, but I’d much rather have paid $113 for the product and $12 for shipping – that would have been an honest listing.

I contacted her, asking for an explanation on the inflated shipping charges, because I wanted to give her a chance to explain. This certainly wasn’t a positive eBay experience, but the product was fine so I was leaning toward neutral rather than negative feedback. Her response was that I should have asked about the shipping prior to bidding – would she, or anyone else, be honest if I emailed asking if the shipping charge was padded and not actually a real shipping charge? I doubt it, but perhaps I should have.

I ended up leaving what I thought was fair feedback: “Great product, but it was 19 days after I paid before she put it in the mail” and neutral feedback. I expected positive feedback in return because I paid for the item immediately, or at worst neutral feedback if she was one of those vengeful types. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised given her previous behaviour, but her response to my feedback was “NOT TRUE! Canada may be connected, but not in this country. Shipping takes time”, which makes me look like I was lying about her taking 19 days to ship the product. I don’t like being called a liar. She also hadn’t left any feedback for me, a classic eBay abuse of power where the seller withholds feedback until they see how the buyer rates them, then responds accordingly or not at all. Ethical sellers leave feedback based on how quickly the buyer pays, and don’t wait for feedback in return.

I wrote to her privately, reminding her of the date I paid, the date she shipped, and stated that my feedback was 100% truthful, while her response to my feedback was not. I stated that I expected more integrity from an eBay Power Seller, and that a seller who delays shipping for 19 days should use some of that inflated shipping money to get the product to the customer faster. Her response to this? Negative feedback on my account:

“He negotiates shipping charges after the item is received! SELLERS BEWARE”

Obviously my email challenging her pissed her off, and she went over the top by leaving negative feedback when I only left neutral. I certainly wasn’t “negotiating” shipping – I never asked for a refund. My “crime” seems to have been not wanting to let her get away with shipping late, overcharging, and not leaving feedback for me. eBay’s feedback system is based on reciprocal feedback, and unfortunately they don’t moderate the sticky topic of “fairness” (I can’t really blame them for that) – the only time they’ll take down negative feedback is when it contains private information or swearing. So I’m now stuck with another unwarranted negative feedback point on my account…but writing about it makes me feel a bit better. đŸ˜‰

If you’ve read this far: have you been burned by your own unethical eBay seller? Leave your story here in the comments and you’ll have the last laugh as Google happily indexes this post and it becomes the #1 result for their name (like it will for Majeeda Haaq, a.k.a its-auction-time). I may have lost some money when I got ripped off buying a digital camera years ago, but anyone that looks for information about the seller, Patrick Clouet, will get my digital camera fraud page as the number #1 result in Google (with apologies to all the honest people named Patrick Clouet).

  • Ames

    I hate it when sellers don’t leave feedback right away based on the fact that you paid them fast. Ebay should make a rule that the buyer can’t leave feedback until the seller has.

    This seller obviously isn’t good and shouldn’t have left you negative feedback. But at the same time I think her shipping costs are fine. I ALWAYS factor shipping costs into the total price and only look at total price when buying on Ebay. Yeah some people mark up shipping, but who cares. It would only be dishonest if they didn’t tell you up front. You knew the shipping costs and bought it. It’s on you.

    I rarely sell on Ebay but when I do I just guess at the shipping costs based on the worst case for the US and go up a few dollars just to be safe. It’s not worth my time to be accurate and if the buyer doesn’t like it they shouldn’t bid.

  • Well, here’s the thing: if I had received the product two weeks after I paid, I honestly wouldn’t have cared that she made an extra $12 on inflated shipping – it was still a good price even with the $25 in shipping. I’ve come to accept a certain amount of padding on shipping. As a buyer I have the ability to use the new granulated feedback system where I can rate the shipping charge vs. actual – you know that’s EXACTLY why eBay implemented the new system, to start to pressure sellers to stop ripping off buyers with inflated shipping costs.

    But shipping it 19 days late? A seller worth anything would have tried to make up for it, either with faster shipping, or maybe with a partial refund on the shipping. SOME sort of effort to say “Hey, sorry you bought this product thinking you’d have it in two weeks and instead it took over a month”. Instead I get some dirty bottle of hair gel and a response to my feedback that makes ME seem like a liar. No way I’m going to let that pass.

  • Ames

    Yeah the 19 days is way too long. The negative feedback is wrong also. Since I doubt ebay is going to change things to force the seller to leave feedback first I don’t ever leave feedback until after the seller does. I’d say about 30% of the time they don’t so it goes without feedback from either of us.

  • The bad feedback is not always on the seller’s side. I used an auction site to sell something and the buyer clicked Buy Now. She e-mailed me promptly saying she was paying next day. Three days later she e-mailed me a pdf as “proof” of an Internet bank payment to my account.

    I didn’t send the goods and the money didn’t show up in my account. A week later I asked what happened and she said she wasn’t going to buy it anymore because she didn’t receive the money from her own auction of something else.

    I had to ask for my success fee back and posted a bad feedback saying she didn’t go through with the purchase if though she told me she had paid for the goods.

    She in turn posted a bad feedback on me saying I wasn’t an understanding person – this is after she lied to me twice about payment.

    The auction site in question told me they wouldn’t remove the bad feedback she posted in reply to the feedback I posted, because I have to come to an agreement with the other part to have it removed – as if…

    The whole “feedback” system is broken, and you can’t trust those. I, like many others now, probably won’t be posting bad feedback on people because of what comes around – it hurts your chances of a good deal, even if you are not the bad part in the transaction.

  • chrisgohlke

    They inflate shipping because I don’t think they pay ebay fees on the shipping portion, for that reason alone ebay should police this. I really like the idea of the buyer not being able to leave feedback unless the seller does first.

    I’m having a similar problem, but for a lot less money with a used book from Amazon. Ironically, the title of the book is “Unscrewed: The Consumer’s Guide to Getting What You Paid for”

  • T-Will

    ROFL, that must nice to have Google indexing your page at the top, you’re gonna get the last laugh. If sellers would treat their customers how they want to be treated, with honesty and integrity, then there wouldn’t be this problem. Too bad the world isn’t like that.

  • Thanks T-Will. Honesty and integrity are successful bedrocks of any business, but sadly most eBay sellers don’t realize that. I really like the idea that someone mentioned about eBay sellers not being able to receive feedback until after they’ve left feedback. The seller has 90% of the power in an eBay transaction, and it’s ridiculous that they can get away with the things they do…

  • chrisgohlke

    I thought it through. If the buyer can’t leave feedback until after the seller, then a seller can screw you over and just not leave you feedback, then you can’t leave them a negative.

    But given that most people use paypal which is owned by ebay, as a buyer, you should automatically get positive feedback when you pay via paypal. That would be fairer and in Ebay’s interested since they make money off paypal.

  • iks

    Late shipping, negative feedback are all bad in seller side. But, I think inflated shipping cost isn’t totally bad. One way, that’s how buyers can get items for lower price as well. Basically, it’s like taking money out of eBay and split between sellers and buyers. You may argue sellers are unethical and probably taking most of profits from the inflated shipping, but as a buyer,you exactly know the shipping costs beforehand, and should bid based on the total cost rather than item cost alone. I don’t care if my $100 payment consists of 1 cent item price and $99.99 shipping as long as I get a $150 item for $100. Actually, I once bought a PocketTop wireless keyboard for $10.01 when it was almost $100 at other places. I used the BuyitNow to buy the keyboard for 1 cent and after $10 shipping, the total was $10.01. Was I upset when I figured the actual shipping charge was only $4? Did I really believe the seller could sell the keyboard for 1 cent and still make profit? No-No. But, I couldn’t be happier with the keyboard and the price I paid for, and added the seller to my favorite list. By the way, eBay has noticed this hole, and give warnings to sellers when they think the shipping cost is inflated. So now sellers are forced to increase the price to make up. Bummer.

    Regarding to the timing of leaving feedback, I tend not to leave any feedback whether I sell or buy until I make sure the transaction is completed without any problem. You argued that the seller must leave the feedback right after the payment was made, but buyers can do bad things (on purpose or not) after the item is shipped. Once the item is shipped and feedback is left, seller doesn’t have much negotiation power or protection and buyers can exploit it.

  • Well that was quick! It took less than a day to gain the #1 search result in Google for her name:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Majeeda+Haaq

  • And also the #8 result for her eBay name:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=its-auction-time

  • Ah, #2 for the term “unethical ebay seller”:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=unethical+ebay+seller

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  • Be weary of all the shipping rates. If it's within reason that's fine. For example it doesn't cost $8 to $10 to send 50 to 100 postcards if you collect these things in the US, but rather $4.95 by Priority mail if the seller is ethical and doesn't buy into eBay/Paypal's balony as to shipping lables and tracking nonsense. At the highest let's say $6 assuming the person/seller bought into eBay's marketing crap. I also buy and sell here and over the last two years have seen a lot of unethical activity from misrepresting condition of postcards and the biggest one is the seller profitting off os shipping. priority flat rate boxes are free from the post office for one. Secondly, there's tons of places to buy wholesale shipping materials vs. the office store, so, don't buy into a seller pulling this crap. I also have heard the gas is high excuse. Yes, but the same seller is also shipping 20+ items let's say. Bottom line is don't buy from these jerks. eBay does nothing either to crack down on these people even after I inform the about the activity.

    As a seller I have a 100% moneyback guarantee and reimburse the shipping costs also. If you look at the majority of sellers on eBay, it's one way shipping only. Complete nonsense since these costs are business write-offs.

    Lastly, it's also illegal to profit off of shipping according to the United States Post Office. You have to give the seller the benefit of the doubt as to shipping costs, but if one gets a lot of excuses = something is wrong. I also have been blocked by a few sellers for calling them out.