Generally speaking, eBay is fun. Can't find some Star Trek toy you were looking for, someone on eBay probably has it. Want a good deal on some costume jewelry you forgot you even wanted, someone on eBay probably has it. Want to try to get some collectible thing for 20% of list price, even when you're sure that is never going to happen, try eBay anyway.

And then, order something that only costs a few bucks from China. It will take weeks to get it. You'll forget you even ordered the thing, and then one day there's a pleasant surprise in the mail.

Only sometimes, there's an unpleasant surprise in the mail.

So I bid on a bunch of stuff, mostly bid a dollar or two, mostly didn't win. But over about a week, and bidding on stuff from several different sellers, I did win more than a dozen small things, mostly costume jewelry, mostly from China. This was before Christmas, and some of the stuff was going to be a Christmas present or part of a Christmas present. And I got most of the stuff I ordered a week or two before Christmas, after waiting almost a month.

And while I'm bidding on all this other stuff, once I win an auction with a seller, I look at the other stuff. Since they have to send me something, they might as well send me something else.

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So I think I'll add some bicycle lights to the costume jewelry I'm buying, just in case my nephew wants them. And after two or three bids I win the bicycle lights. I pay for the items, and I get a package in the mail.

Only the package doesn't include bicycle lights. All of the other stuff I ordered is in the package, plus some pens, but no bicycle lights. I don't see how someone can think a pen looks like a bicycle light, but this sort of thing happens sometimes, and there's probably a perfectly rational explanation. Maybe pens and bicycle lights have similar stock numbers. Maybe pens and bicycle lights are right next to each other in a warehouse someplace.

This has happened to me before, that I either did not get a package, or a got a package with the wrong item, or something, and if I complain about it right away somebody usually fixes it. So, I complained, and I got a message back that's rather hard to read, cause maybe the person doesn't even speak English. But it looks like the usual, sorry about that, we'll fix it if you're missing an item or have a damaged item. And then it looks like if the item is damaged they would like a picture of it.

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Fine, I'll wait a couple of weeks for a replacement. Though it's probably better for everybody to send a refund instead, usually the seller wants to send a replacement. And there is no damaged item to send a picture of. I took a picture of the pens in case they wanted that later.

And I waited a couple of weeks. Actually, I had something similar happen with another seller, and I got the replacement two weeks later. When more than two weeks passed without getting the bicycle lights, I complained again.

And again I got the whole bit about being sorry and they will make it right etc...please close the case.

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Only, I don't have the bicycle lights yet, and I don't have a refund, so no I'm not closing the case. And I didn't actually open a case the first time, and it sounds like they totally forgot I had already complained. So I have doubts that they sent a replacement. They should send me a tracking number showing that they sent a replacement within a day or two of my first complaint, or we should forget about the replacement and they should just send me a refund. Refunds are faster and they do not require shipping fees.

I often buy stuff on eBay, and my husband used to sell a lot of stuff on eBay, and most of the time there are no problems. On those rare times that there was a problem, it was usually fixed right away and I got whatever it was or a refund. Rarer still are times when the seller disputes the problem, but still I have always at least gotten a refund. I had once gotten a refund after agreeing to send something back (a dying plant), and had to pay for the return shipping that was not refunded, and that isn't right, but that doesn't seem to be the problem here, as I don't see anything that looks like a request to send anything to China.

We just seem to go back and forth with them saying please wait, it should be there in about a week, and then me saying please send me the new tracking number, and then them sending me the old tracking number and saying it must be there by now. And then we start the whole thing again.

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Anyway, this has taken a while, and I think it's past the point of my getting a refund. For some reason, the dispute times are different on eBay and on PayPal. Since there's more time if you go to PayPal directly, I decided to do that rather than wait for January 9th for eBay to do something. But then it says since I've already opened the case with eBay I can't open a case with PayPal.

Anyway, like I said, I've never not gotten a refund. And this is just like three bucks, as I rarely spend enough money to get upset about on stuff like this. But it's just weird that we keep going around and around like this. I'm sure it must have something to do with them not speaking English, but I don't what to do about it. I send a message requesting the new tracking number and capitalize NEW, but for all I know that just doesn't translate into Chinese and all they see is a request for the tracking number, and they just keep sending me the same damn number.

Do you buy stuff on eBay from China? Is everyday opening the mail like Christmas? Or did you order some cool genre thing and end up with a pen or a pair of socks?