Another day arrives and yet another laptop flops down onto my doorstep from a dubious eBay purchase to further complicate my newly-developed technophobic life to the stretching point of no return. I say technophobic because this is the fourth laptop I’ve bought from eBay, the world’s biggest car boot sale for unwanted shit and with each one bought, I’ve found myself plunged deeper and deeper into the buyers’ nightmare of having to trust the dredges of society in order to try and grab a bargain. As any undertaking to save oneself money will be plagued with potential problems, you’ll be glad to learn for your reading enjoyment that in this latest two-part instalment this infuriating situation is well catered for.
The latest laptop in question was spotted Monday lunchtime just gone and so, with just twenty minutes to go until its finish time, I swung into action. A quick check on the seller’s feedback showed they could be trusted and so off went an email asking the main questions of import: were there any known problems, did the laptop have its charger and did it come with an operating system? The buyer came back with the answer a couple of minutes later:
“Hi. No problems and everything works fine, the laptop has its charger but there’s no operating system installed. Hope this helps.”
The reply confirmed everything was kosher, so as the last few seconds ticked by, I tossed in an amount just over the highest bidder’s last input. A refresh of the page and I was greeted with the “Congratulations, you won this item” banner, along with eBay’s insistence that I paid the £89 as soon as humanly possible for my latest online gamble. This over-zealous pestering feels more like a virtual, spoilt child poking you over and over again with a sharpened stick until you yield to logging into your PayPal account in order to avoid smashing your computer to smithereens.
So, I was now the proud owner of an Asus 1001HA Seashell netbook: finished in a carbon fibre weave effect, this small machine comes with plenty of RAM, a sizable hard drive and as described in the description, a newly-repaired WI-FI card. I presumed it was because of the wireless issue that I managed to garner such a desirable laptop at such a low price and was thankful for having had the time to ask the important questions instead of repeating the buying errors of my three previous attempts. Now it was time for the follow-up ‘buyers’ imperative’ email, so off it went with my required info: confirmation of how the machine would be packaged, could it be sent as soon as possible and by which postage service would it be travelling. I sat back and awaited a response.
A couple of hours later and the electronic two-tone Windows Mail sound rang out to let me know the reply had arrived and I opened it nonchalantly due to being busy working on eBay, but my work session came to a grinding halt as I glanced over the email. I had to re-read all of the one sentence the seller had sent back to me and try to absorb the gist of the message, which although was blatantly apparent, my brain was just refusing to accept:
“Have transferred the funds from PayPal, so once they’ve cleared on my side I’ll post the laptop out to you, okay? The transfer should only take around 7 days or so.”
Now, there’s taking the piss and there’s taking the piss but this was really taking the f**king piss, which could only result in only one possible outcome: my Boiling Rage erupting into stark reality. What then followed was a series of near-the-knuckle emails from me, barely containing my furious anger but still trying to converse with a modicum of respect for the seller as I tried to convince him the error of his postage ways. Finally, the kicker came through:
“Sorry but I can’t send the laptop earlier because I’ve got no money to do so.”
With this statement, I was just about to cancel the whole sale and get a refund from this infuriating tool, but then a light bulb flashed on somewhere near my genius neurons; I could organise collection of the laptop through my work’s eBay courier service, Interlink Express, thus bypassing relying upon such a fool. I informed the seller of my intention and asked if he’d packed the laptop securely, using a wrap of bubble wrap around the machine itself inside the box and another around the outer of the box in order to prevent damage in transit. Once more, this cretin’s answer had my blood pressure’s equilibrium fluctuating wildly:
“You might think I’m messing you about but honestly, I just have a piece of brown paper and some brown tape, that’s all – no bubble wrap or packaging of any kind. Sorry once again.”
Now I was entering the realm of blurred vision, breathlessness and heart palpitations due to dealing with such a moron but I’d realised I had no alternative because my PayPal payment was whizzing along the internet ether on its way to the seller’s bank account. This meant I’d have to wait weeks to get a refund back through any dispute opened in eBay, thus meaning more time without a laptop and no money to buy yet another replacement, so collusion with this pillock was the only choice. I wrote back to the seller and told him to pack some newspaper inside the box, wrap it in brown paper, then write my name and address on it and I’d organise the collection by Interlink for the following day. A couple of minutes later and the newest reply arrived.
“No problem will do my best with the newspaper and let you know when it’s been collected tomorrow.”
A “Phew!” rang through my head as I finally relaxed after a couple of hours’ f**king around and with that sorted, it was just a quick call to Interlink Express to organise the pick-up for the morning. All went well from that point onwards and right on time, the seller’s email arrived noon the following day letting me know the laptop had indeed been collected by one of Interlink Express’ drivers and was now on its way to Manchester. With this in mind, I decided it was time to pull my external DVD drive out of retirement and an old copy of XP Pro in readiness for the rebuild I would inevitably have to undertake when it turned up. I was now stress free in the knowledge a courier service I had used for the last four years to send 3000+ parcels was handling the transit of my newly-acquired computer, so what could possibly go wrong...?
However, my life guarantees that nothing ever goes smoothly and so, come the following day and a check on Interlink Express’ website revealed one thing: there was no sign of my posted laptop in their system that morning. Yes, the parcel had been scanned at their London depot at 6.00pm the previous night but then nothing, zero, nowt, ziltch; it was as if my fourth-time-lucky purchased laptop had simply upped and vanished like a fart in the night. My mobile was a blur of activity as I spoke to the to my local Interlink depot in a frantic attempt to try and trace the missing box in question but after all avenues had been explored and everyone of relevance had been quizzed, there still wasn’t any sign of any further scanning in their system.
Then, to finally add insult to injury, I was belatedly informed by one of the lads that I’d forgotten to add insurance to the lost parcel, so if it had disappeared, I’d only be eligible to claim their standard £15 back, minus the 17.5% TAX.
Oh, for f**k’s sake...
*Part 2 next week*