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Where do you draw the line on an incomplete bricklink order?
I really don't like bricklink. It's not just that the interface antiquated and clumsy, but also because I think fewer than half of my purchases there have been 100% successful.
I understand that mistakes can be made while counting out hundreds and hundreds of small pieces but, seriously, I feel like any order of more than 50 pieces is just destined to be screwed up. I have bought from bricklink fewer than 8 times since I signed up in 2009 but when I order now, I actually order more of each item than I really want, just to make sure that I get the quantity I actually need.
Anyway, I'm just curious about how others deal with this. If you order 10 items that are only 3-cents/item and you only get 8 of them, do you make the seller swallow the additional postage so they can send you the other two? What if it's 50-cents worth of missing parts rather than 6-cents? Any difference? A dollar? Is there a line somewhere?
I feel like it would be wrong to try and force a seller cover postage for 6-cents worth of lego pieces, so I've never done that but, frankly, I feel like I should get the items I actually ordered and paid for, whether it's 6 cents, 51 cents or a dollar.
Argh! Frustrated am I.
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To answer your question, I'm of the opinion that you should get what you paid for. What it comes down to for me is, "do I care enough to type an e-mail and complain, and if so, what do I want?"
Sometimes I complain, sometimes I let it go, depends on if I care enough. For 3 cents of parts, it might not be the 3 cents, it might be that I physically needed those parts and without them I'm stuck. Or they might have been extras that I added to pad the order to make it worth the postage, in which case I don't care.
If you need the parts and were expecting them, then ask for them. If you don't need them and they were extras, ask yourself what your time is worth to complain over 3 cents, or 51 cents, or a dollar?
My experience across a good number of orders (some very large, some small) has been that upwards of 95% are correct. Where I have been missing parts or - actually a more frequent error - sent the wrong colour part, I've applied a similar sort of judgement as to how much value i placed on the part. where i asked the sellers they have I think without fail responded to resend the correct or missing parts.
What I do not do is check-count if I order cheap pieces in bulk, like 200 1x1 tiles. I usually don't need them right then, and I don't mind if there's one missing.
I probably am missing a piece in 5% off my orders Recieved. I've been selling parts for the better part of a decade now and honestly I feel that mistakes are just part of the business. That's not an excuse, just an admission of imperfection.
And don't worry about the seller having to eat the additional shipping charges. They made the mistake and the "punishment" is an extra shipping charge. Look at it as a lesson in paying for your mistakes (or a $2.00 motivation not to do it again)
I have zero tolerance for this crap. Same goes for eBay though that only applied to sets there, not pieces.
1. ALWAYS CHECK THE SELLER'S FEEDBACK - if I see negative or neutral comments that says parts were missing, I'm not going to place a $100 order with 500 different parts from them. I may still place smaller orders though from that seller. In general, larger sellers with over 1000 seller feedback and no negatives and neutrals are the safest bet for complicated large orders. They have a tested and proven system in place to pull orders accurately.
2. DILIGENTLY WEED & RATE SELLERS - I favorite all sellers I have good experiences with and make detailed notes. I also put sellers on the least favorite list for various reasons and also make detailed notes. This may be about expensive shipping or dumping all parts into one big bag, or used being more used then I like. It doesn't mean I won't buy from them in the future, but I will consider my notes when placing an order with them. When I have a complicated order this list is invaluable to find the seller who will most likely fulfill my order with no faults.
3. KEEP THE NUMBERS SIMPLE - If I place large orders with many small parts I keep the numbers differentiation to no more than 3. In otherwords I will order either 2, 4 or 10 of all of the parts (or whatever other number I find common), even if I need less. I will not add 5 of this and 27 of that in the same order. So if I buy 50 different parts they will all be either 2, 4, or 10. Yes, I may end up with more parts than I really need, but it is only on a few items and I can usually always use them for the same project or another project. Adding a few cents of parts more to make it easier on the seller is really not a big deal.
4. COMMUNICATE - If I have a large complicated order and I'm considering buying from a seller I never dealt with before, I send them a quick email and ask them if they could handle a $50 order with 500 small parts. Most Bricklink sellers are hobbyists. They don't have the time, resources or experience to deal with thousands of small parts. Usually they figure this out after some time and will put policies in place like minimum orders, lot limits, etc., but at the beginning they often have no idea how much time it takes to pull such an order. It can take hours.
5. SHOW APPRECIATION - With my order I always send a note thanking the seller for carrying the pieces I need. If I dealt with them before I also thank them for the always excellent service. This is a small thing, but it can motive a seller to be particularly careful with my order. Again; Bricklink is not some impersonal mega-shop. It is made of people who may have to sit for hours pulling my order. Showing some appreciation is... well... appreciated.
That's pretty much it. I have met incredible people through Bricklink who have gone above and beyond to help me out in a crunch. There are also some insanely good sellers who's service is beyond unbelivable. Remembering that I'm dealing with people and appreciating the community spirit of Bricklink, while also taking smart and proactive steps from my end to ensure an order will go well goes a long way. Bricklink is the best thing ever for LEGO fans. Trust me on that...(c;
Frankly, I would have appreciated a "I'm sorry" or "Oh, I must have made a mistake" or "I re-checked my inventory and you're right" but whatever. I presume I'll get my 51-cent paypal refund. Whipppeee! I really would have rather had the pieces but I did order extras (working under the assumption that the seller would screw something up) so when I got 10 of one item instead of 15, I had just enough.
I just think it sucks that I have to order extra of everything because the seller won't send me what I ordered. The first time it happened, I never expected it and didn't notice until weeks later when I was building and was short on pieces. The second time it happened to me, I was prepared and checked the pieces as soon as they were delivered and, sure enough, something was wrong. The third time it happened, I had ordered extras and was covered when the order was short. The fourth time (this time) is actually the only time I've bothered to complain to the seller. Usually I just give up because it's less than a dollar worth of parts. It's just freaking annoying to feel pretty confident that something is going to be wrong with every order I place. If bricklink were a restaurant, I'd never eat there again.
If you are buying parts, there are not many other places to go. You'll go hungry for parts.
You could easily well say you got a couple of bad items at amazon marketplace or ebay and so avoid the entire site again.
As a seller I always correct my my mistakes at whatever cost it is to me. I had one order where someone ordered the bunny man CMF and another poly bag and I hadn't been printing the order list with images and I was tired and misread it and sent them one of the bunny poly bags. I corrected it by sending out the CMF and changed my order process to print from Brickstore and I modified the print formatting to my liking so that the I always have the image along with the other information about the order.
a) refund the amount
b) send the missing parts at no cost to the buyer or
c) issue a coupon (preferably larger than the missing items' value)
Of course, the customer should be the one choosing which option better suits them and not the buyer.
I've made hundreds and hundreds of purchases from ebay and had exactly 2 problem orders.
My track record with Bricklink is much much much worse. But yeah, if 50%+ of my orders at ebay or Amazon marketplace were screwed up, I *would* stop using them. Bricklink actually gets more of a pass on the mistakes because it provides something I can't get elsewhere.
Perhaps detailed seller ratings a la Ebay would be more informative and help customers better choose based on accuracy but also shipping time, communication, etc.
Note: since @graphite posted above and assuming he is the owner of Graphite Industries, I highly recommend the way he handles mistakes. I ordered several sealed CMFs from his store. When I realized there was one mistake and contacted him, the correct one was sent the following day!
How many orders is 50% of cases? 2? 500? That number as a percentage is very high, it suggests you are not researching sellers before buying.
My view is that if you haven't made it right this time, there isn't going to be a next time.
In thousands of orders from Amazon over the years, I have had to use the AtoZ claim process three times. Every time Amazon refunded my money without hassle because the sellers were being hard to work with.
eBay isn't quite as good, but more than once they have stepped in with a problem seller. In fact, their lack of an iron clad guarantee is why I buy more at Amazon, I like worry free buying.
Of course, you are less likely to have problems at ebay and amazon simply because orders rarely consist of hundreds or thousands of custom picked parts.
That one, the parts arrived all together in a sealed envelope. I opened it expecting to find little inner bags with all the pieces in, but no, they were just loose in the envelope (and consequently fell all over the floor). Not impressed.
So I picked them all up, sorted them and found that I was 4 pieces short. Large pieces, so I'd not missed them when picking them up. I sent the seller a message (nicely) through bricklink about the missing pieces.
I waited about 3 days and emailed him.
2 days later I got a reply saying he'd send them out ASAP.
A week later I emailed again.
4 days later they turned up, loose in a sealed envelope.
Needless to say I won't be using him again. He's not left me feedback yet, so I don't want to leave negative (for the rubbish packing and communication, not for the missing bits as mistakes can happen) in case he then gives me a negative back.
Ebay stopped sellers being able to give buyers negative feedback years ago to counter that 'unwilling to risk getting a negative' issue.
Remember also that lego PAB online will put all parts in one bag, no matter what you order.
But as you say feedback is a problem there. Sellers want to be able to leave negative feedback for problem buyers. It is just a shame that a problem seller nearly always automatically means that the buyer is a problem too in the seller's eyes.
I usually bag new parts separately by item and then if there is a bigger item that isn't using the full amount of a larger bag then I put all the smaller bags in with it. Used parts I usually group a few lots together if only a few parts of each lot.
It's odd because,I also never have missing pieces in new lego sets either. Like I say, must be lucky!
And the ones that refund get a note on file saying they cannot fulfill orders, so I tend to avoid them in future.
In general, only 10-15% have problems, and I'm ok with that.
Top 5 Biggest Beefs:
#1 - Wrong color. Get a UV light and get it right.
#2 - MegaBlok's in place of Lego (especially with 1x1 round bricks)
#3 - Parts throw in package with no care. This isn't that big a deal, but if I order 50 of this, and 75 of that, I would appreciate not having to re-sort a 500-piece order.
#4 - Making an order based on one specific rare part, then getting emailed that he/she doesn't have the part.
#5 - No mention of high discoloration, "heavy playwear" parts in description, yet here they are. So I have to go re-order the part from somewhere else.
I also offer the same thing my buyers when for some reason I don't have a part they ordered. I tell them they I can remove the part from the order or cancel the whole order and leave it up to them.
Fortunately, many times there is no problem, and they just wanted to give a heads up (I send them a coupon, anyways). I really appreciate when they do it. Communication (your love) is king.
Also, I stopped completely sending used parts, since I didn't want to deal with the problems it has. It's just not worth it. Also, I'm terribly picky about condition, and I would throw away many used parts (well, not list them) just because I would feel a bit ashamed sending them.
I just can't stand how some sellers don't take a little time to sort this kind of problems out. Just like big stores have customer service, this is exactly the same.
In this case, the total of non-LEGO and missing pieces totaled 2% the overall cost of the order, but a few of the pieces are needed for a MOC I'm putting together. When I placed my order the seller had two positive feedback, and is now down to a rating of 0 with 4 praises and 4 complaints. For now, I've emailed the seller with constructive feedback outlining my issues, noting how the issues can be addressed for future orders, and asked what remedy they can provide. If I don't hear back within a week, I expect to leave negative feedback and file with PayPal for the cost to re-order the pieces I need.
Having placed over 50 orders of pieces, I've had issues with at least five of them, but in no case have I yet had to go to PayPal with my issue. The sellers have always been able to offer a remedy to make things right with me; whether that be sending the missing pieces or providing an appropriate refund. Communication is the key to helping sellers run better stores, and making sure that buyers are satisfied with their purchases.
I don't think I'd even bother telling them, I'd just leave a negative. They cannot be lego fans if they make that mistake and others should definitely know that.
Again, it's unlikely with new parts since they tend to come from sets or PAB, but even so. If you cannot tell the difference between lego and clones when the piece is in your hand, you shouldn't be on BL.
Two send me wrong pieces (cone WITH Groove when they should come without; and the other send Bricks with solid studs when they´re supposed to be hollow!) i know these sound a little nitpicking but since these parts are for BL´ed versions of the UCS MF and the Eiffeltower i want these to be 100% accurate. Well the other order i wasn´t happy about took almost 3 weeks to ship (seller said he´s ill) put all pieces in one bag (ok, no big deal) and also sent the Bricks with solid studs (which are supposed to be hollow), ah yeah and i´ve paid more for shipping then for the items themselves (i know not the customers fault, but makes it even worse)!
Well i won´t leave negative/neutral Feedback cause i´m sure the seller will do the same and i don´t wanna spoil my flawless feedback-rating over these thing, but it´s kinda frustrating!
Another thing is that i (as a seller) usually take high care that the items get packed individually (or with alike pieces) and get shipped in small boxes to protect the bricks from being crushed or some, i only ship in Bubble-Envelopes for pretty small orders, and somehow i expect the same when beeing a buyer...well 3 times out of 10 i get dissappointed!
BL sellers will frequently complain of "gremlins" in the inventory system. We've seen our fair share (things we know we sold in the past magically reappearing and being resold). But we consider it one of the costs of doing business there, and will always do what we can to make it right for the buyer.
Bottom line is that if you communicate any concerns with us, we'll take care of you. If you don't tell us about a problem, we'll never know.
I placed an order for some useful parts from a UK-based seller, who turned out to be not-so-polite, and there was at least one lot missing as well as the dreaded smoky smell. After contacting the seller, they said it would be easier for them if I placed another order for more parts so they could send the missing parts.
Silly me did, and not only did I not get the full amount of missing parts, but there were parts missing from the second order, and if I remember correctly some incorrect parts.
Needless to say, that seller had my lifelong patronage.
I've learned from this and will always ask before ordering those "special"parts,but this is kinda annoying!