The Shoe Extortionist

I am being threatened by someone over a pair of shoes.  It started innocently enough.

It is important to first state that I have come to realize I am a shoe-a-holic. It is hard for me to digest, as I have always looked upon my sister-in-law, who rivals the Imelda Marcos Shoe Museum,  as the person in the family holding that title.   What was more remarkable was that she wears a woman’s size 5  or 6 –  what for years was the “display” size (all shoes look very inviting on the shelf when you see them that small) and has closets, plastic storage bins and original boxes filled with little shoes! We would look into her closet, roll our eyes and laugh.  So while we mocked her habits, my addiction seemed to fly under the radar, until one of my other sisters-in-law, a more out-of-the-closet shoe addict,  introduced me to buying online from Zappos, which was the fatal nail.  My first purchase from Zappos, made while she sat right next to me, with a few glasses of wine under our belts, was a pair of comfortable, practical red sandals.  After that it was all downhill.

I could go into my propensity towards Mary-Janes and cowboy boots, and also the significant percentage of red shoes in my closet.  I wonder what a person’s style of shoes says about their personality?  There is probably a book somewhere out there on this topic.  If not, I have a shoe-a-holic child (this could be a recessive genetic gene) who could probably write one.

Part of the reason there are so many shoes in my possession at this time is because I rarely throw them out.   Rule One is that they must be comfortable.  I wear shoes that some of my siblings consider downright ugly (my sister once remarked “I wouldn’t be caught dead in those” about a pair of my sandals.  My brother calls my Birkenstocks “Air Jesus Shoes”).  I just want my feet to feel good. So they really have to get into some nasty condition before I will consider throwing out a comfortable, broken-in shoe, which is usually reserved for sneakers and knock-around sandals.

Then there are the ones that are very cute but have Gone Out of Style and “might come back in” again.  These hopeful dinosaurs have been plastic binned in the attic.  There are a few that are just Odd Colors.  Aside from red, I have gravitated to some purples, a sky blue and a few shades of greens. These have a specific place in the wardrobe, which means they are usually not worn on a regular basis and experience very little wear, so they last and last.   There are Utility Shoes, for hiking or weather.  There are a few pairs of black stand-by heels, both open and closed toe, saved for Special Events, like weddings.  There are the I Paid A Whole Lot of Money For These shoes, which have a guilt factor built into them.   And at the very back of the closet are those shoes and boots that are Not Being Worn.  These are the shoes that I eventually decided I didn’t like the look of on me, or whose style I have outgrown, or that  re-emerged after having (I am ashamed to say) just disappeared from view for so long that I forgot I had them.  It is the last few categories that I am referring to in this saga.  I paid a full price for them, they were not being worn, and I had totally lost track of them until now.

It began when I decided to clear out some of this over-flow again this past month.  I periodically do that.  Anything that had significant wear and had not seen daylight over the last year was thrown out.  This was major for me.  Anything that was in excellent condition and had not been worn over the past year (or at all) I decided to sell on eBay.  I have been a member of eBay for about ten years.  I am usually a buyer and rarely have sold anything; only a few items over this time, mostly the overflow of my unworn shoes, and always with positive results.  I have had a 100%  perfect track record – up until now.

The item in question is a pair of flat, light-colored, pebbled leather Mary-Jane type shoes.  They were of significant price (not on sale) at a J.Jill store in an upscale mall a few years ago.  At the time, I thought they were funky cute and went well with the comfortable and relaxed but chic J.Jill and Flax brand clothing I had been into at the time, and which many women my age tend to wear.  Has anyone ever noticed that the models in those type of catalogs are posed in their Mary- Janes with their toes demurely turned in (this seems to be a universal pose in these fashion shots – what is that about? Throwback to innocence?)   Because of the light color and style, this pair happens to be a very seasonal item.  Because of this, they were worn once and migrated to the back of the closet, into the no-man’s land.

Unearthing them again and just missing the summer season, I decided it was time to let them go.  So I posted them as a not-new item on Ebay for ten dollars.  Ten dollars!  Such a deal!  As many sellers do, I also posted that I would not accept refunds (because I am thinning out and just want to purge and move on).  Two people bid on the shoes.  The winning bidder actually zoomed in and sniped the other bidder out of the win at the very last minute.  She got the shoes for seventeen dollars and change – a bargain.  I wrapped them up nicely and then took my lunch break from work to drive to the post office and waited on line to get them off to her immediately, as a good seller should.

This weekend I got a complaint from the buyer (the sniper).  Apparently the shoes do not fit her and she doesn’t like the cut of the heel, which is low in the back.  So she hits me with this bogus excuse, telling me that “obviously you knew that they were flawed” and that she wants a refund….and (get this),  if I don’t give her a refund she is going to give me Negative Feedback!!!  Wow.  Negative Feedback, the thing all eBayers apparently quake (in their shoes?) over.

Well – right out of the gate, I didn’t like her bullshit attitude which ended with a threat, and I think that is what set me off.  Seventeen dollars (not counting postage)  is not a make or break issue, and under other circumstances I might have been flexible and dealt with the inconvenience.  But the shoes are perfect – she just doesn’t like the design or fit of the shoe and she’s making up issues.  When you buy clothing and shoes on eBay, that is the risk you take.  Not everything fits how you wish.  Unless you do your homework before buying something (like trying on similar brands in the store) there is no guarantee, besides the quality stated.  Trust me, I know this. I would say 35% of the clothing or shoes I have bought on eBay falls into this catagory. Either the color doesn’t work on me (maybe our monitors are different), or the pants are too tight, the shirt hangs funny, or maybe it’s just not me.   It’s the nature of the venue.  You don’t return items on eBay because they don’t fit you.  I am not a shoe store, sorry.  And I am not the homegrown version of Zappos.  Second, I stated right in the listing, as I have noticed others do, that “This seller does not accept refunds”.  What could be more clear? I am emptying my closet.  If the shoes were broken or defective, yes, of course, with great apology.  But they are not.  I wrote her back politely defending my position.

She wrote me back accusing me of deliberately not posting a photo showing the low-rise of the back of the shoe, which she now says is a problem with the ankle, not the heel (changing her tactic here).  The email actually accused me of being dishonest and that there was something wrong with the shoes that I was hiding, and she was going to give me the big NF (the Negative Feedback) if she didn’t get her refund.  I went back and looked at the photos.  It’s true that I don’t have a very graphic representation of the side view, but there are three photos in there from varying angles and you can see the heels.  Also, she didn’t ask any questions, like many buyers do.  If she didn’t see something, why didn’t she ask? I could have provided her with any other information or photos she wanted.  In addition, I found another pair just like them someone has for sale (for more money!) that has clear side view pictures and you can see that this is the style of the shoe, there is no “defect”.  Her correspondence was really unpleasant.

Stymied as to what to do, I clicked on her profile in order to get an idea of who I was dealing with.   It appears she buys hundreds of items.  Based on what she buys, I have a sketchy image of her.  Physically, I suspect she is on the larger end of the size chart and on a diet, as she has bid on and won cases of Crystal Light low-cal beverage on more than a few occasions.  She also has purchased a number of size 1x and 2x clothing and size 20 pants, which I guess supports this.   She likes Flax brand clothing (which is loose and roomy, and which makes sense, as these shoes go so well with this style).  She has bought other style flat shoes made by the same manufacturer as the ones I sold.  She also collects a certain style of dishes, which are simple and attractive.  Like me, she has (had?) a perfect eBay record.  I would like to imagine this is a nice, cheerful, homey, comfortable woman in a little town in the mountains who likes adorable shoes, has cats and bakes.  Based on her email though, and in my current frame of mind, my suspicions lean towards thinking she is just a miserable pit bull.  Curious about these gut feelings, I did a further search into the forums (which up until now was a world I was unaware existed) and discovered this is a person with a major attitude problem – someone who makes snarky comments and accusations against other members and gets into arguments on these boards.  Based on what I read, it even appears the eBay mods have had to silence her before.  I have to wonder how many other sellers she has threatened and bullied into returns because she doesn’t like the style or the way the items fit or looks on her when she gets them.  And there she is with her perfect 100% rating. Very misleading.

When people bully me, I tend to stand my ground.  So instead of just backing down and dealing with the hassle, as I may have done if she had written nicely and not threatened me, I contacted eBay for help and advice.  I am awaiting the results of this, but I am suspecting this process is a bigger nuisance than just giving her a refund, which I imagine was what she was counting on.  A Bully!

This experience has immediately soured my interest in using this venue again for selling.  Adding these items to my Goodwill donations will most likely be the route going forward.

A shoe extortionist. Who would have figured?

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5 Responses to The Shoe Extortionist

  1. annieb says:

    A shoe extortionist – who would have thought? Do sellers also get to leave feedback on buyers? If so – you should definitely kick her pink ass.

    On another point – I remember that night on Zappos – and I also recall NOT LETTING YOU BUY THOSE SHOES UNTIL THE NEXT DAY!!!! I made you wait – you bought them the next day sober! But those were great sandals – I had three pairs I think and I wore them until they fell off my feet.

    Red shoes are very important – you can’t have a bad day in a pair of red shoes. Elvis Costello even sang a song about red shoes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJKt-DhII_4

    • daeja's view says:

      Yes, but Zappos is heroin for shoe junkies (or is that DSW?). I also went through three pairs of those Clarks. I wore two of them on travels abroad and walked them into the ground.

      As an update to it all, The Extortionist has just sent me yet another email that is incredibly sarcastic and rude. What a miserable beast this woman must be! I am waiting to see how Ebay handles this. And – oh yes – I will leave the appropriate feedback if and when that time comes. I certainly intend to stand my ground on this. Tom Petty even sang a song about it.

  2. annieb says:

    I won’t back down

    If you stand up to bullies they melt. If she bid on the shoes with the clear disclaimer – no backsies – then she accepted your terms. The shoes are in the condition you stated they were in, she could have asked for more photos.

  3. annieb523 says:

    Please update us on this incident – tell us how you kicked some Major BUTT!!!!

  4. daeja's view says:

    Well, I think eBay came through and did their job….they must have taken her to task, as it has been about three weeks now and there has been no further communique from The Extortionist. My feedback rating seems to have remained intact. Go eBay!

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