A few years ago I had a business selling RAM for computers on eBay. I had to close it due to sellers from Hong Kong who came into the market selling RAM cheaper than I could buy it for here in the US. Anyway, part of my business’ success was built on excellent customer service. As anyone who’s purchased an item on eBay can tell you, there are a lot of shady sellers out there who will rip you off any way they can. I wrote a guide to teach people some of the scams out there. I only wrote three guides but they’re considered so helpful even though I closed the business years ago I’m in the top 250 guide authors (out of 22,814). (Yes, technically five are listed, but two are duplicates I had to make because they only allow a few keywords to be tagged per guide, and one of my guides on RAM applies to multiple keywords.) Well, it looks like I have one more story that I can add.
Back in 2009 I bought a replacement radiator for my Ford Ranger. A few months ago my mechanic pointed out that part of the plastic around it had cracked and it was leaking. It wasn’t in immediate need of repair and I remembered that I’d bought one with a lifetime warranty, so I looked up my purchase info and filed a claim with the seller, AEON Imports.
They sent me a claim form to fill out, and of the items they asked for were (a) a receipt showing that I’d paid a mechanic to install the radiator, and (b) a receipt for the coolant I’d put in the radiator. I laughed it off because the radiator’s held in by 2 screws – and who saves receipts for coolant? I mean, I save all the receipts for work done on my truck, but not for consumables like wiper fluid, oil, coolant, or gas.
So I filed my claim and submitted it on 10/13/12. Two weeks later, on 10/25/12, I realized hadn’t gotten a response from AEON Imports. Already I knew this was a bad sign. Part of what made me a great seller was that I responded quickly to ALL emails, and I never took longer than 3 days to respond to an email. (And even that was rare. Usually it was within 12 hours.) So I emailed them and they gave me the standard runaround that their insurance company hadn’t responded to the claim yet:
We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. We are still working on getting your warranty approved. The manufacturer so far has not approved the warranty due to lacking coolant information and the item was not professional installed. We are negotiating with them to approve the warranty. Thank you for your patience in this matter.
At this point a friend came into town and we spent the next two weeks doing tourist stuff, and I forgot all about the claim. Almost a month after my last email to them (and almost 7 weeks after filing my claim) I was at my mechanic’s shop for some other work. He asked about the radiator and I told him the runaround I’d gotten. By this time I was pretty certain that AEON Imports was going to screw me on the lifetime warranty. eBay only allows for 45 days of buyer protection so they had no reason to honor their promise.
Well it turns out I’d forgotten something. My mechanic said, “But wait a minute, I thought we installed that radiator?” Then I remembered the whole story. In 2007 I’d bought a radiator ad replaced it myself. Two years later in 2009 that radiator failed and I had to buy yet another. By then I’d seen this video about a 90 year old woman with a 45 year old car in great shape. She always bought parts with lifetime warranties, and I thought that was a great idea. So this time I picked one from AEON Imports (because of the warranty). But this time I left it with my mechanic to install because I was going on a trip. So I replaced the first one, then he replaced the second.
“Awesome!” I thought. “Maybe this’ll work out after all.” After I got home I went to my folder and found the original mechanic receipt. It was right next to my receipt for the radiator but I hadn’t even bothered to look at it because I’d thought I’d installed that one. I scanned it and emailed it to AEON with an explanation.
A week turned into two weeks, and no response. Now I knew for certain AEON Imports was going to screw me. I sent one last email on 12/17/12 asking if they were going to honor the lifetime warranty or not. They replied 3 days later – (oh, you can reply quicker now!) – to say that the manufacturer wasn’t going to honor my claim because they were skeptical about it:
Thank you for contacting us. We apologize for the delay and inconvenience. The warranty is not warranted by us, but by the manufacturer. They are currently not approving the warranty due to the fact that the first claim had stated that the item was not professionally installed. The 2nd claim stated the item was indeed professionally installed. We are trying to get the manufacturer to approve the claim; however, they are denying the claim due to the inconsistency and are skeptical.
I don’t particularly enjoy the thought of posting negative things on my blog – I want this to be a place where good things are shared – but maybe someone else will learn from my experiences. And honestly, it wouldn’t be any skin off my nose if someone reading this decides not to buy from AEON Imports after reading this.
As I said at the start, I made my eBay business stand out by giving good customer service. I dealt with thousands of returns and exchanges … and although there were some shady customers who tried to pull one over on me I can count them on one hand. Most people had ordered the wrong thing or the item I sent them really was defective (that happens sometimes). A good seller doesn’t blame the customer or hide behind lame policies.
Denying my claim because they think I didn’t pay for it to be “professionally installed” is baloney. I could see if it was some major component like a transmission, or if I was trying to claim that their faulty radiator destroyed my engine, but such is not the case.