A buyer of mine bought a rare, mint in sealed box item from me last week. This item is no longer sold in stores and is hard to find. This item was sold as a collectible and I only had one which I offered up for auction and this buyer won it. Obviously, as item was mint in box and factory sealed, I had not opened the item as that would remove much of its value.

Said buyer, upon receiving this item, opened it and discovered a scratch on the item’s leg. A shame? Yes. My fault, obviously not. Factory flaws are very common, especially in the toy industry.

Here is the email I got:

I looked at the picture again and you cannot see the scratch on [item’s] leg, but there sure is one there. Other than that it looks fine. Wish I had known about the scratched leg….oh well. I am having poor ebay luck this go round. Take care. Thanks for the quick shipping.

Notice she doesn’t ask for a refund but the fact that she thinks the scratch should have been mentioned in the item or put in the picture means that she considers this our fault. (Insert your own comment about the passive aggressiveness of this email here).

For those of us that sell rare or one of a kind type items, a situation like this puts you in an impossible place.

Is there a way to take a photo of something that you don’t know exists inside of a sealed box?

Are you responsible for flaws that you had no possible way of knowing existed?

If I manufactured the item or if it was something I had many of, I would take the loss and offer an exchange. But the world of collectibles doesn’t work like that. Now that she has opened it, much of the value is gone. I could offer to take $1 or so off the price but even that irks me because its something that was out of my control. And who’s to say that a partial refund would satisfy this buyer since she has already decided I have deceived her somehow.

Ever accepted a return on a rare item only to get it back damaged and unsellable? (Yes)

Ever get a bad feedback because the buyer was upset the decades old antique they purchased didn’t stand up to their child playing with it? (Sadly, yes here too).

Sometimes selling older and rare items comes with its own host of issues that those that sell new items cannot relate to.

Collectible sellers, share your horror stories below.