I got ripped off -what are my options?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by jordanstarr, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    I bought paper from a guy who owns a business in the USA and he actually runs a darkroom and does prints for customers. I heard he was selling some paper (I should have been suspicious of this right away) that he "guaranteed" and that he "is a pro and knows his stuff". First off, he led me to beleive that all the 16x20 packages were 50 sheets, but they were two 10s and one 25, so I ended up with 3 of those and 2 partial boxes of some 8x10 and 11x14 for $225. When I got them, I complained about the 16x20 paper only being 10 and 25 sheets when I was under the impression that they were 50 sheet boxes as we were talking about 50 sheet boxes the entire time in our conversation. He said denied me a refund on that basis. So, I tested the paper and the 8x10, 11x14 and one of the 16x20 packages were fogged and unusable for my application. Since he guaranteed the paper I started sending it back. I sent the 11x14 paper first and he sent me a new box because he would not refund my money. So a couple months later, I later tested the 8x10 and 16x20 paper (which was stored in my fridge) and sent an email saying this was no good as well and I'd be sending it too. He sent me an email saying "keep it" and although I've sent a few emails addressing this issue and requesting an explanation, he is not responding.

    I'm not going to name names, but I'm tempted and anyone who sends me a PM, I will surely give this information. Basically, I paid via Paypal as "gift", so I'm not covered. I also did this around eBay, so I'm not covered there. He probably know this and this is why he is screwing me around -he feels he isn't accountable because there's no feedback or compaint process for the way we did the business. At first he said he would replace all the fogged paper, but when it worked out that he wasn't going to make any money off the deal, he has obviously bailed. Because he owns a legit business and ripped off his customer (I have the receipt as well), what are my options? Can I file a complaint through the Better Business Bureau (BBB)? I am quite pissed at the fact that he would rip me off like this, but I did get 1 11x14 Ilford WT FB package that is good and about 25 sheets of Forte FB WT that is good, so I'm not losing a ton of money. But it's the ethics of the situation in question that make me mad. I work with homeless youth and don't make much money and some of my clients are more accountable than this guy.

    Let me know your thoughts.
     
  2. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Subscriber

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    When you found one box was fogged, you should have tested all of the others, even only test strips. But given the length of the interim and a lack of legal recourse, I would say expensive lesson learned.
     
  3. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    The Better Business Bureau is basically powerless unless the other party is a member or otherwise has reason to be concerned about their reputation with BBB. They might, however, contact the person on your behalf and try to work something out with him, so at least that might be worth something.

    I guess I am not philosophically opposed to outing the guy for this kind of mistreatment, since there are precious few other options, but I know that there are a lot of folks who would not agree with me on that. Of course, folks will realize that these kinds of complaints are, by the very nature, one sided, and will wonder what the "other side" would have to say.

    I guess this is one reason to avoid dealing off of eBay and using PayPal as a gift. There does have to be trust involved to make that kind of transaction work. I am sorry to hear about your bad experience and hope you can get some level of satisfaction.
     
  4. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    Yeah, really good point here too.
     
  5. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    Chris...

    I couldn't test them all because I didn't have them with me with I was using the 11x14. The following day, I left to Ontario for a couple months, so I put the paper in the fridge. When I got back to NYC, I tested the other stuff. I agree there is a timeframe, but paper just doesn't turn in 2 months in the fridge. I checked with Ilford on the expiry dates and the 8x10 is a year older than the 11x14, which was honored as an exchange. So, at the very least, I feel he should honor the 8x10 box.

    Paul...

    I have no philosophical opposition to outing him either, but I agree that since you only hear one side it's not the right thing to do unless he came on here and gave his side of the story. However, I have asked an explanation on why this isn't honored and he is avoiding me at this point. So, as far as I know there isn't another side to the story.
     
  6. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    I'm not one to fling mud, but if this guy is a member of this forum and deals here, I think some negative feedback in the appropriate place might be in order. If he's not a member here, there's probably little point in outing him.

    It might end up being an expensive lesson. It sounds like he really misrepresented his items, but you probably waited a bit too long to follow up on it. Unfortunate timing.

    At least we are all reminded to be careful about using the Paypal gift option and circumventing ebay.
     
  7. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

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    I'm no lawyer, but I think you might have to be pragmatic and accept what the previous posters say.

    I'm not sure of your purpose in dealing off Ebay and Paypal...apologies if I've got the wrong impression, but has maybe trying to save a few cents excluded you from using their complaints system. I use Ebay from time-to-time and would be suspicious of someone wanting to go outside the system...Ebay do specifically warn about this.
     
  8. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    jordan

    contact your credit card co your paypal is linked to.
    you may have recourse through them.

    - john
     
  9. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    Unfortunately, if you withdrew your money straight from your account, I don't think the credit card company will help.

    I never pay with straight account money for this reason (not that I've ever put it to the test).
     
  10. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Worth a try but only within your CC's terms.

    When someone does me like that, I usually write it off as tuition, lesson learned. Still, I'm seeing a whole new subspecies of crook dealing in crap paper and film on "The Big Auction Site" and elsewhere.
     
  11. jacarape

    jacarape Member

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    If it were me, I would list everything that transpired and send it to him. Ask him for a refund with the caveat that you will post all that transpired here.

    There really should be a "Hall of Shame" forum to help others steer clear from thieves.
     
  12. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    I went around eBay because I saw he was posting some paper there that didn't sell, so I asked him if he had any other stuff. He said yes and gave me a list. I thought I'd save some money that way 'cause he wouldn't have to take photos, post on ebay, pay fees, etc. and I could haggle a little over the price. It really didn't work out, obviously. It's a very good lesson learned and I know others have learned the hard way with worse losses (I had a friend buy a $1500 Hasselblad Fisheye who got ripped off). I'm pretty sure he never used eBay again after that.

    What baffles me is that this guy said "he was a pro and knows his stuff" and that "the partial boxes were only partial to test a few prints" and he owns a company. I didn't think going around ebay was a big deal in that case and Paypaling as "gift" to get a discounted price. When you use your credentials and reputation and guarantee something, you should honor it. Even though I tested all the other stuff later on, it was agreed upon by me and him that he would still honor an exchange.
     
  13. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    This is why you should never, ever buy film or paper from another photographer. Only buy from established stores like Calumet. Freestyle, Adorama, and B&H and you won't have troubles with scammers selling you outdated or fogged or misrepresented paper.
     
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  15. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    I would name him without hesitation but I would make sure that everything I stated about him was true.

    It's not libel if it's the truth!


    Steve.
     
  16. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I wouldn't go that far, but it's certainly a good reason for a major "caveat emptor" attitude. I've bought a fair amount of film from other "private citizen" photographers, but it's always been with the possibility in mind that it could turn out to be a complete flop.

    Plus, the fact that the guy in question apparently *does* have a business makes it even less clear-cut. It would be a shame if we all quit supporting small photo businesses because they might turn out to be crooked.

    -NT
     
  17. Sethasaurus

    Sethasaurus Member

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    Actually, it's a shame that UPS won't ship a flaming bag of shit.
    Maybe someone out there will fill that niche someday...
     
  18. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    i just spent the morning test a whole stack of boxes of paper that someone gave the school, as i want to sell them . It would never cross my mind to pass off paper without doing so, unless , I knew it's history and even then things can go south without anyone being aware.

    A lot of stores have signs that say "light sensitive materials cannot be returned. However, someone who says they will guarantee a product , should do so.
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    As ann said, it isn't the paper that is the problem, it is the breach of the "guarantee" promise.

    Your legal remedy most likely would be determined by the laws in place where the seller does business. If the paper was shipped across state lines, as I understand it, there may be federal law issues involved (US posters here would be more likely to know than I). How much would you say you are out of pocket? That might determine whether a small debts court action would be worthwhile.

    The critical issue would be the terms of the "guarantee" (actually a warranty).

    If the seller has an internet presence, than public "outing" may be your most effective remedy.
     
  20. moose10101

    moose10101 Member

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    Federal law isn't interested in a bunch of fogged paper. The seller can even claim that the buyer mishandled it.

    Did all of the contact with the seller occur through email? If so, was there ever an enumeration of what would be received (i.e. boxes of 50)?

    As far as Paypal goes, do they even allow use of a CC when making a gift payment? I thought gifts were limited to the PayPal balance or a direct withdrawal from a linked checking account. If that's the case, there won't be any help from your CC company.

    BTW, neither eBay nor PayPal will help you after 45 days from payment, so you'd be stuck with the untested paper regardless of how you bought it.
     
  21. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I hate to say this but since you waited few months even after finding out one box was fogged, I doubt there is much you can do to remedy the situation. As I understand it, lawsuits (in this case, a small claims court case) can be filed where business was conducted. In this case, it can be either the seller's location or buyer's location. So, technically, you can sue him in your state and you know he isn't going to show up. The problem is, then what....? You'll win by default but, you still need to collect from him. That too, will cost you money.

    I understand you are angry but as my attorney would say there is such thing as "legal economy" where it makes no sense to pursue further because doing so will only cost you time, money, and aggravation far in excess of potential benefit.
     
  22. lns

    lns Member

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    I was a lawyer, though I don't practice anymore, and I would say, drop it. First, as I understand it, you bought from this guy as a private person. Second, he appears to have exchanged the paper you made a prompt complaint about but balked when you came back a few months later. Frankly, that seems reasonable to me, as both a buyer and seller. After a reasonable amount of time, the transaction has be considered over. Third, it's really a small amount of money and your only legal recourse would be small claims court, which is time consuming and usually involves filing fees. Also, given the facts as you've presented them, I'm not certain you'd win.

    I know Jordan is a really good person, from our prior dealings, and I know anyone would be frustrated at fogged paper. I'm sorry it happened. But I think you're right to accept this as a lesson learned and to move on. From what you've presented, it seems possible that he really didn't know the paper was fogged. Anyway, you indicated that you still probably got a decent deal, so that's something at least.

    I'd keep this fellow's name out of it, whether on the forum or in private emails.

    -Laura
     
  23. bwfans

    bwfans Member

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    I agree with Laura.

    Forget about it. Create more and better images using your time and energy.
     
  24. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Subscriber

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    I can give you Uncle Mikes' number.

    I'm Just Saying ...
     
  25. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    I agree to just avoid legal action. I think it's a big waste of my time. I got one box 11x14 and a 25 package of 16x20 so it's not a total loss. I think I'll send one last email saying "OK, let's just put this to bed and replace the 8x10 and you'll never hear from me again". I think that would give the issue some closure on both ends and he won't be losing much.

    Thanks Laura for the kind words. I've sent you a PM about other things.
     
  26. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Subscriber

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    I think you made the best and probably most frustrating choice, Jordan. But definitely the best one.