As reported in late September, hobbyists spanning several online discussion forums (primarily The Movie Prop Forum and the Star Trek Props, Costumes & Auctions Forum) have been outspoken about a variety of customer service complaints with It’s a Wrap and their handling of the official CBS ~ Paramount Television Star Trek auctions.
There have since been a series of additional developments, as noted on the Star Trek Prop, Costume & Auction Blog.
“OLD and NEW Terms and Conditions”
Since the last article, many It’s a Wrap customers received the following e-mail on or about October 9th (also under discussion on the Star Trek Forum, see “Iaws Press (email Release)“):
To Valued It’s A Wrap! Customers,
First and foremost, we would like to thank you for your patronage to our Star Trek Prop and Wardrobe Sale, the largest film and television online memorabilia sale in history. We appreciate your business and look forward to being of continued service. It has been a pleasure to serve you!
As our valued customers, we wanted to inform you of our plans moving forward.
We expect that we will continue the auction through February of 2008. The exact final date will be set after the first of the year. As we near the conclusion of our auction, we are excited for the opportunity for our customers to obtain more amazing products, both in auction and in our retail stores in Burbank and Beverly Hills.
We will begin the retail portion of the sale on Friday, February 1, 2008. We will send you a follow up email and post the announcement on our website with additional details as we draw closer to the date. One thing we can say for sure is there will be amazing items to purchase, and at affordable prices.
We will make an announcement in February regarding our Star Trek Prop and Wardrobe Sale Finale. We will be reserving amazing items for this special sale. The format and details of this sale will be announced at a later date.
Our Star Trek Prop and Wardrobe Sale Finale will be invitation only. Customers must be registered and in good standing with our company to participate in this amazing sale.
Many customers, both new and frequent buyers, have had questions regarding our auction, shipping and payment policies. Although our Terms and Conditions are posted with each order, we would like to review a few important OLD and NEW Terms and Conditions.
- Items must be paid for within 7 calendar days. Items not paid for within 7 calendar days will be re-listed in auction.
- Customers that do not pay for items within 7 calendar days (14 days for checks or money orders) will be subject to being banned from future bidding.
- Items purchased in auction will be shipped in Chronological Order. Customers will not receive an item until all prior items bid in auction are paid in full, although we will enforce the 7-day payment requirement.
- If items are not paid for in Chronological Order, It’s A Wrap! may reserve the right to select items for shipment based on the payment amount received to date.
- Customers who cancel an order and/or file a payment dispute due to shipping quotes set by the shipping company (Federal Express, UPS, USPS or other carrier) will be subject to being banned from future bidding. It’s A Wrap! is not in control of the prices established by our shipping companies.
- Our shipping time is 2-6 weeks FROM THE TIME OF PAYMENT, although some items may take up to 8 weeks for delivery, including but not limited to fragile, international and oversized items, or combined shipping orders.
- Customers who cancel an order and/or file a payment dispute because an item has not been received within 0-6 weeks from the time of payment will be subject to being banned from future auctions.
- Combining orders for shipment will be offered on a case-by-case basis.
We will be changing our Customer Service telephone number by November 1, 2007. We will have a forwarding number available at that time.
Thank you for your time and attention. We would like to show our appreciation by offering you 20% off on your next retail store purchase-print this email and bring it in to the retail store of our choice (Burbank or Beverly Hills). (Offer good for showroom purchases only and does not apply to items won in auction or purchased on website/Not good with any other offers/Offer good through February 15, 2008/Please print and use one time per location only/Good for Star Trek Auction customers only.
Thank you once again for your business.
The Entire It’s A Wrap! Star Trek Auction Team
This is definitely a very interesting message, and presumably a response to the building criticism of their customer service and delivery issues.
It’s A Wrap has created a powerful incentive – a “special”, “invitation-only” sale – for those customers that comply with their one-sided “OLD and NEW Terms and Conditions”.
In summary, customers are expected to pay promptly (7 calendar days), or lose their item(s). Fair enough. In turn, It’s A Wrap will ship said item(s), well, eventually (2-6 weeks from time of payment, and up to 8 weeks for “some items”).
Obviously, timing has direct bearing on eBay and PayPal buyer protections. This concern is compounded in light of first hand reports on the forums from customers with delivery and customer service issues.
More, It’s A Wrap has declared in this message that they will outright “ban” customers under a variety of circumstances. Banning a customer from future participation as a result of filing a payment dispute 4-6 weeks after paying… I am curious to see the consequences of such a policy in practice.
This position, in my opinion, reflects trends discussed in a recent article, “The “Other” Dealer Issue: Communication & Good Will“.
PayPal Claim & Dispute Issues
Another unfavorable development, as discussed on the Star Trek Prop Forum (see “It’s a Wrap Issues” subforum), has been brought up by a few collectors. They recount experiences in which they have not received items won on eBay and paid for, in which they have subsequently filed a claim with PayPal (the method of payment). With at least two customers (see discussion topic, “Class Action Lawsuit?, Should customers sue for items not recieved?“), It’s a Wrap has provided PayPal with tracking numbers for past shipments, not the actual items which have not been received, which consequently brings the PayPal dispute to a premature and erroneous conclusion.
This is obviously a significant issue, especially in the event that a customer funded the PayPal transaction with a source other than a credit card (which negates the ability to seek resolution via a charge back with the issuing bank).
eBay Transaction Feedback
It’s a Wrap has received negative feedback as a consequence of many of these issues (see eBay Feedback) – 27 negatives and 29 neutrals in the last 12 months. To their credit, there are still many customers submitting very positive feedback. However, it appears that there have been enough negatives to result in the loss of their PowerSeller status (which I believe requires a 98% positive overall – they are at 97.9% – see eBay, “What is a PowerSeller?“).
Also, per reports on the Star Trek Prop Forum (see “Is Iaw Having Feedback Issues?“), It’s a Wrap has been sending customers who have left negative feedback requests for Mutual Withdrawal (see eBay, “What is Mutual Feedback Withdrawal?“). Unfortunately, per reports from customers, such requests by It’s a Wrap are not necessarily in conjunction with the resolution of issues stemming from such feedback.
eBay and PayPal Policy Review
Alec Peters has identified some applicable eBay and PayPal policies which have relevance to some of the issues under discussion (see Star Trek Prop Forum discussion topic, “Ebay Policies“).
Seller Non-Performance Policy
Sellers are expected to consistently perform in a manner that results in a high level of buyer satisfaction. If a seller’s interactions with buyers result in greater than a 5% level of buyer dissatisfaction, as evidenced by negative/neutral feedback and/or Item Not Received complaints received over the recent 90-day period, the seller is in violation of the Seller Non-Performance policy. Please note that although we are not including Detailed Seller Ratings at this time, we will be using them in the future.
When a seller lists an item on eBay, and a buyer bids for and wins that item, the seller and buyer have entered into a contract that both members are expected to honor. If the seller doesn’t live up to this agreement, it leads to a bad buyer experience and may result in negative or neutral feedback for the seller. Good practices that help sellers promote buyer satisfaction include:
* Accurately describing the condition, size and quality of the item directly in the listing.
* Honoring the original terms by accepting payment for an item at the end of a successful sale.
* Promptly shipping the item with appropriate packaging once payment has been received.
* Responding promptly and professionally to questions from the buyer.
* Proactively communicating with the buyer throughout the transaction.
* Issuing refunds in a timely manner when accepting returns or when there are problems with delivery.
Violations of this policy by a seller may result in a range of actions, including:
* Listing cancellation
* Limits on account privileges
* Account suspension
* Forfeit of eBay fees on cancelled listings
* Selling fee schedule adjustments
* Loss of PowerSeller status
* Referral to Law Enforcement
eBay Items Eligible for PayPal Buyer Protection
- 13.9.b – “At least 98% of the seller’s eBay feedback is positive”
It will be interesting to monitor further developments. Hopefully, for dealer and customer, It’s a Wrap will work out these issues and customers will receive a better level of service as things progress. Unfortunately, at this point, reading the comments from customers, it appears that things have gotten worse overall.
These customer service issues seem, in my opinion, to be symptomatic of the Studio Reseller business model, in which mass eBay listings and a focus and priority on sales get ahead of customer service and delivery, which cripples the ability of such companies to perform appropriately and provide good and timely service.
Having said that, there are many customers that have done substantial business with It’s A Wrap that are happy with their own results. But given the outstanding issues, it appears that It’s a Wrap has a significant amount of work to do to get things in order and satisfy long-standing issues (both specific customer transactions and operationally as a business).
Jason De Bord