Hate mail 2: Seriously.

I sold my old Fuji road bike on ebay. I’d raced it for a year, and then used it for a backup bike with Powercranks on it for three years after, meaning I rode the thing less than 20 times and it hung in the garage. I finally decided to sell it, and built it back up with a bunch of new parts I had sitting around (new chain, new cranks and chainring, like new cassette).

It was a used carbon bike, but with full Dura-Ace parts, and like new Ksyrium ES Wheels, among other parts that were new or like new. In short, a totally rideable and raceable bike. I described it as “used” condition. When you select “used” on an auction, ebay automatically fills out the following:

“An item that has been used previously. The item may have some signs of cosmetic wear, but is fully operational and functions as intended.”

That was a perfect description of the condition, but I still made it clear in the item that there were scratches, it was used, it had been crashed, etc.

It sold for $1200, a pretty reasonable price for a bike with 4k miles that retailed for $5000. The buyer was a guy from Chicago, who apparently had heard of me, and sent a few friendly emails about pro cycling as he waited for the bike to show up.

Things went sour when he got the bike, and claimed I grossly misrepresented the condition. He sent an incredibly obnoxious email, with the subject “ARE YOU SERIOUS”, and a laundry list of generic bike issues, most of which were completely unverifiable and subjective (you could say this stuff about a brand new bike and I’d be hard-pressed to prove you wrong), and some of which were plain false. I probably would have sent him a few bucks if he wasn’t such an asshole about it, just to not waste my time on him, but his tone made it a matter of principle.

I responded to Bob’s email (we’ll call him Bob from now on) by adding responses below each point he made, disproving it point by point. You can see each of his complaints in black above my answers in blue.


Hi Bob,

Responses below.

You said “the drivetrain has been replaced 100% since the original, so none of the parts have more than 1000 miles. This is clearly a misrepresentation.”

No, it was a true statement. I know how long I’ve had the bike. The parts mostly came off the TT bike I had that year which had basically zero miles, and the bike sat in the garage since then, as I had bikes from other sponsors. Since I put those new parts on, I only rode this one when something was broken on a team bike and I was waiting for replacement parts, which happened twice in two years.

The big ring looks like a sharks mouth.

You’re implying that the big ring has heavy mileage. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I think you’re mistaking the SRAM machined grooves for wear marks. They shave it down like that so that shifting from ring to ring will be smoother. Those chainrings came off of a SRAM force crank I got (new) at the beginning of this year, and took off after a week when my powermeter showed up. If you ride it, you’ll see it’s smooth and new. If it was worn, it would skip and jump. These have seriously less than 50 miles on them, guaranteed. Take a look at a new SRAM ring and compare them.

The shifters have been down hard on both sides.

The shifters have probably been crashed on. I don’t know about “hard”, though. Those came off my old Cannondale that bit the dust. I could have mentioned it specifically, but I didn’t notice any scratches, and you can’t detail every scratch, anyway. The item condition says:

“Used: An item that has been used previously. The item may have some signs of cosmetic wear, but is fully operational and functions as intended.”
Scratches on a shifter that works perfectly clearly qualify as cosmetic wear, like any other scratch on a used bike.

The front mech is missing the bolt at the back of the cage and the seat tube collar fixing bolt is not stock.

True about the front derailleur bolt. I meant to put that bolt on before I shipped it. I will mail you a bolt. As for the seat tube collar, how can you even tell, and why would it matter? This isn’t a vintage mustang. Why should that bolt be stock?

REGARDING THE WHEELS:  you wrote: “Wheels: Mavic Ksyrium SL 2008 clinchers, with Carbon front hub, low miles”. These wheels have a shit ton of hard miles on them, and the spokes are all scratched up.
You have no way of knowing that, and it’s simply not true. I’ve owned the wheels since they were new. I rode for Fiordifrutta that year, and they gave me three sets of wheels: Cosmic Carbones, Ksyruims, and R-Sys. I used the R-Sys for hilly races, the Carbones for the flats. Ksyruims became my pit wheel, and that’s all I used them for that year, and ever since. Seriously, I’d be surprised if they had more than 300 miles on them. The scratches on the spokes are from sitting in the wheel truck, banging against other wheels, but I wouldn’t consider it particularly noticeable. Even so, again, that qualifies as cosmetic wear. I stand by my mileage estimates.

the freehub is full of molasses

I didn’t open the freehub before I shipped it, but I took them to a shop for maintenance last fall, and haven’t ridden them since. Is it possible that you’re mistaking a thick lube for something else? They haven’t been ridden in the rain, or at all, since I had them serviced, and I don’t see how “molasses” could have gotten in there even before the servicing. It might even be that the bearings are so new that they haven’t been broken in yet.

There is a big gnar on the front hub through the ano

What’s a gnar, bro? Whatever it is, same cause as the spokes, sitting in the wheel truck, cosmetic.

Seriously?

Seriously.

The braking surface has noticeable wear.

If you’re not just plain lying, you’re mistaking the machined brake surface for wear. There’s no wear. They shave lines into the rim on purpose.

You should reconsider your complaints based on my information here. You know who I am, I have perfect feedback, and I’m an honest guy. The bike is in the condition I described, plain and simple. In fact, you could part the bike out and get more than you paid for it.

You sent this email within 4 hrs of receiving the shipment. I find it hard to believe you could have possible even built and ridden the bike and typed that email to me in that time, nonetheless cracked the hubs to find *gasp* molasses.
I am willing to be generous about this, because I don’t want to deal with you. I will send you the bolt you’re missing, and refund you $15. That should cover a wheel servicing (which it doesn’t need), and any of the cosmetic issue that weren’t made clear in the item description (which you should have expected), and your trouble for having to go pick up a front derailleur bolt (although, obviously your time isn’t worth much), which I’m sure a bike shop will give you for free. If you’d prefer, I can mail you a bolt.

Phil,

Boy, you should go to law school, seriously.  Got an explanation for everything, should be a lawyer.  I should know, I am one.

You know very well you were dishonest in more ways than one in that description.

By a preponderance, that’s means more likely than not, you rode this stuff WAAAAAY beyond what you stated.  Everything you stated below is non-verifiable.  I worked in a bike shop for 10 years in a previous life, and am currently a part owner of one in Madison, WI.  That stuff has tons more mileage in it than you stated.  That mess about the big ring explanation, c’mon man, that ring is toast.  Does it skip with this worn out cassette and chain? No.  We all know drivetrains wear together.  A new chain on there and this thing would be a racket.

The wheels.  You want to keep your feedback in good order, MENTION ALL THE SCRATCHES and AMOUNT OF USE!  I don’t care if it’s from storage or from sitting in a van, that’s not what I paid for.  You gave NO indication of any of this in the auction.

The bolts missing.  Well, great that you meant to send new ones, but you didn’t.

We entered into a contract, I bid based on your description.  That does not give you liberty to classify defects as cosmetic or mechanical and decide what do mention or not.  It’s called an item DESCRIPTION for a reason.

I’m not keeping this drivetrain.  I need to replace certain things, and that’s going to cost money.  I would like a $250 refund and you send me the bolts you meant to send and you’ll never hear from me again.

Just to make you aware, and this is not meant to be a threat, but merely informative: the next step is an eBay dispute.  When and if I start that process, the total amount I paid including shipping will be frozen in your paypal account until this is sorted out.   I’ve been in your shoes in the past, and trust me when I say that eBay is very buyer friendly.

Bob


Okay, Mr. ex-Lawyer. First of all, I can’t imagine anything in the world more condescending than using a big word (preponderance), and then defining it for someone. You’re truly a joy to talk to.

Second, here’s what I suspect (by a preponderance): you would have sent that email full of complaints no matter how the bike had looked when it showed up, because you know that the whole ebay dispute process is buyer-biased (as you’ve implied in your non-threat), and you figure you can bully me out of some cash. Why do I suspect that? Because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the chainring wasn’t used, and I know the wheels have very low mileage on them. I gave you some very specific details on the life of both of those, and you’re refusing to believe the facts. Since I know for a fact you’re lying about one thing, I’m not going to trust a word you say. You run an ebay business, and I bet demanding 1/3 of the final price back with vague complaints and dispute threats does great for your bottom line, but it’s not going to work today.

As far as the rest of the drivetrain, if a drivetrain doesn’t skip, it’s for one of two reasons.

  1. All the parts are in good shape.
  2. It’s heavily used, and all of the parts wore together, and are basically worthless.

What kind of a sociopath would assume it’s #2, despite my insistence and evidence to the contrary? I know the cassette didn’t skip when I flatted halfway through a crit on my brand new Masi in March (haven’t used it since), I know I installed that chain less than a month ago. The only way to verify your assumption here would be to ride it with a new cassette and see if it skips, but you sent that reply in the middle of the night, meaning you didn’t spend the time to do that.

Item condition says “used, may have scratches, parts in good working order”. That’s an incredibly clear statement. That means you should assume that every part may have scratches, and I shouldn’t have to list them all specifically if they are consistent with the overall condition. I’m not sure how you can expect otherwise. If you buy a car, and it says it’s red, you don’t expect them to tell you specifically it has red doors, a red hood, and a red trunk, do you?

The amounts you’re asking for are not reasonable. I feel that the description is 99% consistent with the item (exception being the missing bolt, which I’m willing to correct), and you’re asking for close to a 25% refund (because you need to replace certain vague things that I know don’t need replacing, whether you believe me or not). Given that, and the fact that you don’t deserve better than a punch in the face, $15 is damn generous. It’s a gift. You should take it and count yourself lucky. If you want to send it back, I’ll sell it to someone who reads item descriptions and won’t waste my time.

I’ll take the $15.

-Bob