Sorry to waste CR bandwidth with this, but it is at the behest of Phil Brown himself to publicize this. If any of you did not read my post of Dec 21, requesting contact from Phil, essentially, I had purchased a pair of Avocet touring shoes from him in Nov, and had not received either the shoes nor much contact from him in a month or more. I have now received the shoes, and am quite satisfied with them. When I mailed a note to Phil, he requested that I post that same note to CR. I gather he felt that my CR post had belitted his reputation (can fact be belittling?) and that he felt I was casting him in an unfair light. I replied that I would only post it in the context of the entire story. I felt he had handled my purchase somewhat unresponsibly, and I wasn't going to just say "all's cool!" just because I finally received what I paid for over a month ago. So, delete now if you just don't care. What follows is the entire track record; I cut-n-pasted (indicated) where I felt necessary to indicate fact. I feel sorry that there's bad air now, but I don't apologize at all for being dissatisfied with the way he handled the situation. I certainly don't want to slander anyone, or want others to slander anyone, but if exchanges similar to this do happen to someone else, I would want to hear about it, so I could avoid doing business with them. Again, this was Phil's choice, not mine. Phil is welcome to dispute anything here, but I would expect questions of fact to be backed by copied posts.
After a few mails between Nov 13th and 15th, mostly requesting descriptions of condition and style, I committed to purchased the shoes late on Nov 15th (Thurs). I mailed my address and asked for his prefered arrangements. Phil replied that the price was $15, acceptable in any form, and included his address. On Nov 17th I sent a check $18 (extra to cover freight), and mailed a note indicating such.
I proceeded to wait for the shoes, and I had no reason to expect any particular delay. I didn't think I'd see them before Thanksgiving on the following weekend, but soon after was realistic if they were shipped on Fri 16th or Mon 19th.
By early Dec (2 1/2 weeks after initial purchase) I was beginning to wonder where the shoes were. Even accounting for holiday times or travel, I should have received them by now. I mailed Phil on Dec 4th, and here is his reply;
In a message dated 12/4/01 9:57:10 AM, email@example.com writes:
<< Still no site of the shoes. Would you have a tracking number or other
shipping info so I could check on the progress?
>I'm very sorry-I've been ill-vertigo-and haven't been able to do much but lie
>in bed. I'll try to get my girlfriend to send them today or tomorrow.
Well, I did a little checking. Phil had made 22 posts to CR on various dates since Nov 16th, so he was certainly in town and well enough to type, and my check had cleared the bank on Mon Dec 3rd, so it must have been deposited at least early in the previous week. That would have been a perfect opportunity to ship some shoes.
I didn't feel this story was exactly a reasonable excuse. Even with illness, you don't fall off the face of the earth. It seemed more that he just hadn't bothered to ship them yet. I chose to give it another try anyways, and expect them in another week or so.
By Fri Dec 14th (10 days since above mail, now near a month since initial purchase), I still had not received the shoes. I checked, and Phil was still posting to CR, so he must be somewhat active. I mailed this note;
>>> Hi Phil,
Wondering about the shoes again. I know this wasn't exactly a bank-breaking
purchase, but I think I've been more than patient. It's been near a month
since the check was initially mailed, about two weeks since you deposited
it, and a week and a half since you said you'd send them right away. Any
suggestions as to what else I can do to get this wrapped up? I'd rather have
the shoes, but if there's some problem, just return my funds. That should
take even less effort than it did to deposit them.
The tone is less social that our previous exchanges, but I was getting a little annoyed that nothing was getting resolved. Even if he was still ill, there certainly was some way to get the shoes mailed. I did not feel out-of-line in being a little brusk and expecting some responsibility from him. I received no reply whatsoever from this mail.
By Fri Dec 21st (7 days since above mail, now about 5 weeks since initial purchase) I still hadn't seen the shoes, nor any other explanation or apology or reply about the delay. Phil was also continuing to post to CR, but he would not reply to my enquiries. He apparently had the time and energy to interact with the rest of the world, but obviously hadn't found the desire to follow through with his commitment to me. I felt I had given him time above and beyond normal expectation and leeway, and I had a fair right to feel stiffed. I mailed another note, more stern, but I think still fair considering the situation. I didn't care about being rude at this point, as I had decided that I was probably not going to ever get the shoes. As follows;
I'm running out of patience. It's been near three weeks since your last note
about sending the shoes "right away", and I've lost track of how long since
you took my money. Please produce one or the other.
It was at this time that I also decided to call in reinforcements. I felt stupid for pursuing an $18 dollar loss, but I was more motivated by the principle, and the fact that I felt the CR group should be held to a higher integrity standard than the average marketplace (such as rec.marketplace). I posted a personal note to Dale, describing the situation, and the note to CR, in hopes that a public notice would initiate some action from Phil. CR note, also on Dec 21st, was;
>>> Mr Phil Brown,
I am trying to reach you regarding the Avocet shoes I purchased from you
roughly a month ago. I have received no shoes, no refund, and no replies to
my direct inquires since Dec 7th, though I see that you are posting to CR as
recently as yesterday (20th), so I know that you are around. Please respond
ASAP so we can resolve this issue.
Bingo!! I received a note from Phil that morning;
>>> I gave them to my girlfriend to take to the Post Office. I'll talk to her later and see if she did. Phil
and then the follow-up, also that day;
>>> They were stil in the trunk of my girlfriend's car. I picked them up and mailed them a couple of hours ago. Please accept my sincere apology for the delay. I contracted a severe ear infection which produced a case of vertigo. I gave them to my girlfriend to take to the Post Office and she just forgot. Phil Brown
Great! Seems like I finally made some headway. While I would still call this a general lack of responsibility for seeing that the exchange was cared for in a timely manner (5 weeks???), the end result was good for both parties. I thought all the dust could be considered settled.
I did receive the shoes on Mon Dec 24th. I mailed Phil to indicate this, and he replied;
In a message dated 12/26/01 9:59:58 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
<< Received the shoes on Monday. Thanks for getting that straightened out. >>
>Would you mind posting that to the list, please.
My opinion was that, since I had felt forced to "go public" to get action and results, that Phil now felt CR might think I was unrealistically whining or painting an unfairly dire picture (was my CR post unfair or misleading?) of him and that future buyers might be warded off based on my complaint. So he wanted me to post this one reply, so others would think everything was ok and that his reputation as a seller wouldn't be tarnished. Well, it wasn't ok. Yes, I did get the shoes, but it was like extracting teeth to get there, and I wouldn't want to have others go though what I did. By the time I was deciding to post to CR I really felt my chance if getting the shoes was small, and I felt cheated. As I said above, I certainly wish I could have been warned beforehand. I would have never taken the chance, or at least would have made different payment arrangements (like COD), if I had known it might turn out like this.
I know web purchasing has inherent risks, and I don't buy from most marketplace groups. But I feel some, like CR and IBOB, are smaller communities that have a friendlier atmosphere. I feel the risk is, and should be, lesser. I like feeling that I can trust people in these groups, though I don't actually know many of them. And when someone threatens that by being either dishonest or misleading or disreputable, the whole community is at risk, not just me. Although Phil was not dishonest, I believe he handled my sale with a lack of respect for me as a purchaser. When someone buys something from me, I feel I owe it to them to ship the item as as soon as I receive the payment, unless some other agreement is made. And I'll certainly give someone a lot of lattitude in meeting this for me. But Phil went way outside this. Some of the trust I had as a potential buyer on CR is now lost.
Now, I wouldn't carry this any further on my own initiative. I considered it done between Phil and myself. But as he asked me to post my note to CR, I felt it was only correct to do that if people interested would know the whole story. So I told this to Phil, also on the 26th;
>> Would you mind posting that to the list, please.
>Certainly, but the entire story gets posted, not just that you "finally"
>made good on some business. That means all points, including the level of
>action it took me to get you to react, the frequency of e-mails, the times
>I seemed to be getting nowhere with you until I resorted to making the
>problem public. I had also make a plea to the list administrator, but we
>agreed to be as conservative as possible, and give you every chance. In the
>end, I did receive the product, but at much trouble to myself, and after a
>pretty unfair time had passed. You may have had a legitimate illness. That's
>not my problem. If you had been completely up front with me, and
>communicated regularly, I doubt there would have been a problem. But there
>was a space of nearly two weeks that I couldn't get a reply, and then the
>story of the package being in your girlfriends trunk. Maybe it was the
>truth, but it became increasingly apparent that your feelings of
>responsibility to the buyer was pretty light. When I had made my problem
>public, I received e-mails from others that had had similar problems with
>you. Not outright fraud, just a real lax attitude towards holding up your
>end of the exchange. You apparently are very prompt at cashing checks to
>your account, but seem to feel that sending the item purchased is entirely
>at your convenience (or your girlfriends).
>So, if you'd like the world to know that you really a good guy and sent me
>what I paid for five weeks earlier, then I'd like the same world to know
>what to expect in terms of "customer service" when buying from you. Sound
To this Phil has replied, now rather scathingly;
>>> Post the whole story, including that I mailed the package the next morning after I found out that you hadn't recieved it. I'm sorry that you feel that I burned you, so I'm sending you back all your money because I believe that you attempt to solve things privately before calling somebody a thief on a public amiling list. Merry Christmas, Phil Brown
Phil did mail the package immediately, as indicated, but he claims to just be finding out that I hadn't received it. REALLY! He needs to reread the posts we have been exchanging for the last 5 weeks. Secondly, I have nowhere indicated or requested a refund (except in place of the shoes). I got the shoes, and I don't want the money back. Returning it doesn't "fix" the treatment I have received. Thirdly, he specifically claims that I have "called him a thief" publicly, and that I should have attempted to "solve things privately" first. Please refer to the CR post. I don't see anything infering, directly or indirectly, that he is a thief. That is pure falacy, and he should think and read before he types. As for "solving things privately" first, what had I been doing for the last month? What attempts could I have possibly made, over and above what I did?
If any of you have lasted this far, I sincerely apologize for taking your time. Judge the situation as you will. If you care to, I'd welcome the feedback. If my expectations were unfair, or my complaints unwarranted, please say so, to CR or directly.