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Half/ebay - Guy I sold to is dissatisfied. Should I refund?

  1. Apr 17, 2012 #1
    Ok, so I sold my Griffiths Introduction to Quantum Mechanics book on half last week.

    It's the book I used back when I took the class in, eh 2006 or something. The other two people in the class with me at the time had the same book (green hard-cover, cloth-bound book with a blue glossy cover thing on it with the title and picture of a cat not in a box, hah).


    When I listed the book, I grabbed it off my shelf, read the ISBN off the back cover, typed it into half and pressed enter. The book came up:

    Item: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by David Griffiths (2004, Hardcover) : David Griffiths (Hardcover, 2004)

    Because that's what the book is. I used it in college as the prescribed textbook to my QM class ... so did the other students in the class.

    Now I mailed it asap (as my customer service is important for me and I have a perfect, although small ~20ish stars, ebay rating). The guy that bought it received it and then immediately demanded a refund saying that:

    "The description of the book has you assume that you are
    selling the retail version of "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics", 2nd Ed
    by Griffiths. I don't care if the the content is the same, this is not the
    same book. It looks like a old library book that you slapped a cover onto.
    I don't really appreciate being mislead. I would like a full refund and
    the cost of shipping it back to you paid for."

    I'm not sure what he's getting at. Are there many different versions of this textbook that share the same ISBN? I know that all of us in the class used this same book and we didn't have an instructor's version or something like that ... I also know that I didn't have/sell the "international version" because that one is paperback and international versions say stuff like "Not for sale in the United States", and usually have a different ISBN, plus I BOUGHT THIS FROM A BOOKSTORE FOR MY CLASS. So basically, I'm wondering, how is what I sold not what was described?

    Any help shedding some light on this? Is this guy crazy? Trying to scam me? Should I refund? Should I stand my ground and risk a blemish on my perfect Half/Ebay rating?
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 17, 2012 #2


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    Ask him for a photo of what the book SHOULD look like. I think thats just how it looks. Its how mine looks.

    Edit... oh wait I think mine is a blue hardcover with that image embossed in metallic ink on the front. Maybe that's what he wants.
  4. Apr 17, 2012 #3
    He did say "that you slapped a cover onto."
  5. Apr 17, 2012 #4
    Did you hold up your end of the transaction?

    Did you mislead the buyer, or did the buyer make an assumption?

    If the buyer made an assumption, it's there issue.

    You're not a brick 'n mortar, or an online retailer, you sold a used text book with what seems to be an accurate description.

    I would not refund if it was the buyer that made an assumption.

    The buyer even acknowledged the contents of the text are the same, and that is what was being sold. If the cover of the book was a component of the transaction then it would have been mentioned I'm sure.

    Dude maybe bought the wrong book, and is being sneaky.
  6. Apr 17, 2012 #5
    Yes he did, that's why I'm not sure what's up, it's the first time a transaction of mine (either buying or selling) has run into a snag.

    Like the entire book is blue? I recall my prof's book being entirely gloss blue, I assumed that was what the instructor version was. Every person in my class had a forest green, hard-cover book with a gloss blue embossed metallic ink (like you said) front cover identical to the picture I posted above ... the rest of the book was green cloth-ish hard cover, like you see on "first printings" of classic hard-backed literature under dust jackets.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  7. Apr 17, 2012 #6

    Char. Limit

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  8. Apr 17, 2012 #7


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    Did the picture of the text on your ebay posting match the actual book's cover? If so, then he has no right to complain. If not, he's still really pushing it if he thinks he has a reason to complain.
  9. Apr 17, 2012 #8
    The textbook should have a blue hardcover (front and back). The cat is alive on the front and dead on the back. I found a picture of the back cover on Amazon.com. I'm not sure what version has a forest green cover, but it's not the typical edition.
  10. Apr 17, 2012 #9

    As far as I know, I didn't mislead the buyer. The book is 500ish pages, has the same ISBN as what comes up on every online retailer, same content, I used it while taking a QM class from a very well respected private US university, so yeah I was pretty sure the book was the same as any other copy used in the US.

    The only thing about the cover I said was "light cover wear ... from a semester of use". I'm not sure if that factors in as a "component of the transaction", as you said. Until now, I had little reason to suspect there might be multiple publishing of this same ISBN that are being sold in the U.S. I don't feel that if Benjamin Cummings publishing company made variations of this text's exterior, that I should be responsible for knowing that, it seems like it falls under "caveat emptor" since I merely advertised a "mint condition, no writing, no highlighting, light cover wear from a semester of use" copy of this book. If a buyer was looking for a specific color book, they probably should have known that the publisher produced multiple versions and then asked that before buying.

    I might tell him he can return it if he pays his own shipping and I'll refund him all but $10 or something for my trouble packing and shipping it.

    I'm surprised the buyer even cares considering I sold it really cheap just because I want to get rid of Debra's and my old college textbooks before new editions come out and make their value plummet. I've been listing every book we are selling for like 60% of what the lowest selling price of the books was just so they sell. We're moving soon and don't want to take mountains of books with us to grad school, plus want some extra $ to pay for moving expenses.

    Thanks for any/all help and for how quickly people responded too.
  11. Apr 17, 2012 #10
    The version you show in the picture is the only version of that textbook I've ever seen. I can't imagine how your description would be at all misleading. If he complains (e.g. with a poor rating), I'm pretty sure you can appeal to eBay to have the rating removed, since he obviously doesn't know what he's talking about.
  12. Apr 17, 2012 #11


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    Yeah the book should be this:

    I don't know what green one you have with a cover. Mine was just like this.
  13. Apr 17, 2012 #12
    I sold this on half, so I didn't take pictures to post the listing. I typed in the ISBN on my copy of the book and then hit enter. This is what came up:


    The copy of the text I sold had that same image on the cover ... but ONLY on the front cover, the rest of the book was green and has nothing on it other than gold embossed print on the spine "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics - Griffiths" ... which was the same as my classmates.

    As far as I knew, the picture Half chose to display this book was only the blue picture part of my book, so I assumed every copy of the book looked like mine.

    The best way to describe my textbook is:


    forgive the really crappy quality, it's not a picture of my book, just something I did in like 90 seconds using MS Paint. But that should help illustrate more what my book and my classmate's books looked like.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  14. Apr 17, 2012 #13
    That's what my prof used ... I assumed it was just the instructor's edition since he always said stuff like "turn to page 122" and we did and we were on the same stuff as he was, I assumed he had footnotes translating his pages to ours, but I'd imagine it's the same exact thing, just different cover, and what I suspect we students were using was a "first printing" of the 2nd edition by the publisher.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  15. Apr 17, 2012 #14

    Ben Niehoff

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    Every copy of this book I've ever seen is solid blue all the way around. Your green one with a blue (printed?) rectangle is very non-standard, not sure how you and all your classmates ended up with it.

    If I were the buyer, I would certainly feel cheated. I think you need to do some research into the different published cover versions, accept his return, and re-list the book with a photo and an explanation to future buyers. You will find buyers who do not care about the cosmetic difference, as long as they know beforehand what they are getting.
  16. Apr 17, 2012 #15
    I would be annoyed if I got a non standard print of the book. I really hate book covers too since they tend to make the book harder to hold on to and they ride up on the book like boxer underwear. I probably wouldn't ask for a refund, but I'd be annoyed. You don't have to refund him since he got the book and there is always a risk of the book not being what is expected when buying used books online, but if its not much trouble to you it would be a nice thing to do.
  17. Apr 17, 2012 #16
    I did send an email to people at Benjamin Cummings / Prentice Hall inquiring about this version of the book. The obvious answer to how my classmates and I ended up with it is: we bought it from our university bookstore. But why they had this version and not what appears to be the standard all blue one, I have no clue.

    Having not known this was non-standard version and assuming that all of them were like this + knowing that it's exactly the same as any other copy, that it's not an international version, and not a "not for resale" version, I feel no legal need to oblige the buyer in a full refund and return shipping at my expense.

    But since I'm not a jerk (just a poor grad student), I can sympathize a little with his discovery, I'll probably let him know I'm fine with issuing a refund if he wishes to ship back to me, even though it's the exact same hardback book with same pages, just slightly different exterior ... possibly a first printing of the 2nd edition, which may be worth more, so if he does choose to return it, I may be able to sell it for more than what he bought it for, which was already $35 cheaper than any other copy listed on half.com.

    Thanks for the input so far everybody, and for at least helping me discover I had a rare, non-standard hardcover.
  18. Apr 17, 2012 #17

    Ben Niehoff

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    Try not to think too much about what the book is "worth". Textbooks are not baseball cards, I don't think it has any special value for being a first printing (if it is), or signed by David Griffiths (if it were), etc. The point is that the buyer saw an extremely cheap price, and didn't get what he expected; probably his first inclination is to assume this was the reason for the low price.

    When you re-list it, go ahead and raise the price by $10-12, though. It will still be way lower than everyone else's price, and nobody has to know you originally had it listed for even lower. Just make sure to inform potential buyers of the cosmetic difference. There are plenty of people who don't care, and will snap it up.
  19. Apr 17, 2012 #18


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    You didn't say if you have checked out the buyer's rating on the site. From a "commercial" point of view, the issue is whether he/she is genuinely aggrieed by getting something "not as advertized" (or at least, not as he/she thought it was advertized) or is just going for a scam to get you to send the cost of postage via PayPal with no intention of returning it book anyway.

    What you do probably doesn't matter much so far as your "star rating" is concerned. You aren't going to get a "perfectly satisfied" report from this transaction anyway. Most intelligent users of Ebay realize there are bad buyers as well as bad sellers, and won't pay much attention to one bad report set agaisnt 10 good ones.

    If you want to take the return, I would offer the buyer two options: either you send a pre-paid mailer to return it (that will cost you a bit more, but it is of no cash value to the buyer) or you ask the buyer to return it with the promise of refunding the mailing costs by PayPal when you receive it. An honest buyer will probably take one or the other. A dishonest one will realize you are not a push-over.
  20. Apr 17, 2012 #19
    Damnit I've been trying to buy this book for a while now... I would have been fine with that cover for the price you sold it.

    If you do refund him and want to sell it again you should PM me (I have an ebay and a paypal account). I wish physics forums had a textbook classified section. :(
  21. Apr 17, 2012 #20
    Did you buy your copy of the book at a universities bookstore? A friend of mine has a copy of Stewart's Calculus that is bound in a solid color, and has a picture of the violin f-hole thing printed on it sort of like your MS-paint image. He got it from a university he transferred from and it says "university of blah" on the inside cover, but then the book is EXACTLY the same and I just called him to confirm, it carries the same ISBN.
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