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eBay seller accidentally shipped another item with package: what should buyer do?


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I made a purchase on eBay. It was around $30 bucks.  The seller accidentally shipped an extra instruction manual he has for sale at a $20 BIN along with my item.  I need this manual for my collection but I chose not to bundle it with my purchase, as I’d rather not piece together a CIB.  Ethically, I feel obligated to reach out and let him know if his error, which I will do.  
 

But, morally speaking, am I obligated to inform him of the error he made? I know legally I am entitled to keep the item, but does society expect me to return it?
 

Anybody else expertise this as a buyer or seller and what happened?

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3 minutes ago, final fight cd said:

I made a purchase on eBay. It was around $30 bucks.  The seller accidentally shipped an extra instruction manual he has for sale at a $20 BIN along with my item.  I need this manual for my collection but I chose not to bundle it with my purchase, as I’d rather not piece together a CIB.  Ethically, I feel obligated to reach out and let him know if his error, which I will do.  
 

But, morally speaking, am I obligated to inform him of the error he made? I know legally I am entitled to keep the item, but does society expect me to return it?
 

Anybody else expertise this as a buyer or seller and what happened?

I’d tell the seller, they may need the money more than I do. I would not judge you either way. Almost like finding a wallet, you know who it belongs too but do you take the cash and chuck the rest?

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Administrator · Posted

If it seemed to be a clear accident, I would send them a message to let them know, and offer to return it.  Think about how you would want to be treated if you made that same mistake.  

As a buyer, I'd offer to return it.

If I was a seller, and it was low value, I probably wouldn't ask them to return it.  I would appreciate them letting me know though.

It's one of those things where, no, you don't HAVE to return it, but it just sorta feels like the right thing to do.

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I think as a buyer you aren't expected to do anything unless they reach out to you about it. If they figure out that it was sent to you by accident and contact you about it, at that point it would be wrong to play dumb about it. Unless you feel guilty or simply want to reach out because it would make you feel better, there's really nothing expected from you.

If it comes down to if it's ethical or not, that's not something others can really answer for you. You have to go by your own ethics and decide if it's something you need to do. 🙂 

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Homebrew Team · Posted

I believe legally, if you are in the US, you don't need to do anything.  Morally I think you should notify the seller of the mistake and let them respond.  

Personally, I would do the latter.  They may say keep it or may send you a return label, but my mind would be clean with them making the call.

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The moral - ethical thing is basically the same.  The nice thing would be to say something, let them decide what to do.

Legally, right now, you own it, you possess it and they gave up possession sending it whether they can prove intent or not.

The only way I'd say forget that person, they don't pay to have it shipped back but harass you to do it, then, screw them.  I've had a mess up probably once every 3-5 years since getting on ebay, it's rare.  I've always but once had A) ehhh keep it or B) here's a label thanks for being honest.  Once, just once, I had C) Seller demanded(not asked nicely) for me to ship it back, and then when I asked for a label, they just demanded I ship it, I told them it's their mistake, if they want to cover getting it back... you can guess how that went.   It was so long ago I don't even remember what it was other than something gaming related.

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a seller once mixed 2 packages, i got the game his other buyer bought, and he got mine. mine was more expensive, so the other buyer showed the seller his middle finger and kept it. did i get a refund? nope. was a long time ago, for sure i should have complained to ebay about wrong item received, but i didn't.

in your case though, if the extra item was not sold to anybody, eh, frankly i don't know... i agree it would be super nice to notify the seller, but at least you don't have a buyer somewhere waiting for an item he will never receive.

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48 minutes ago, Tyree_Cooper said:

a seller once mixed 2 packages, i got the game his other buyer bought, and he got mine. mine was more expensive, so the other buyer showed the seller his middle finger and kept it. did i get a refund? nope. was a long time ago, for sure i should have complained to ebay about wrong item received, but i didn't.

Years and years ago I was in the same situation, but the items were roughly equally valued.  Apparently both I and the other guy reached out to the seller to ask what was going on, then he kicked back our shipping costs to each of us and asked that we mail them to one another (once he got the ok from both of us to share our info with a different person).  Worked out fine in the end, but I'm certainly glad that I communicated solely through eBay so that they'd have a record of him admitting what was up if anything had gone sideways.

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18 hours ago, Link said:

What is the difference between morally obligated and ethically obligated? I think you answered your own question before asking it.

When I was typing this originally I was asking myself if there was a difference between the two. From what I read, I am came to the conclusion that ethics is related to an individual person’s beliefs while morals is the general consensus of a society’s beliefs.  But I could be completely wrong, though. 

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I once received a package that included an ornate pocket knife. I contacted the seller and they sent a shipping label and I mailed it back to them. Seems they dropped it while packing the box and had been wondering where it was.
 

Contacting the seller first is the simplest road to making the right decision.

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I'm embarrassed to admit that I once reversed the labels on two very different GBA SP bundles. Fortunately the buyers were cool and I paid for shipping as well as a discount on their purchases for the trouble. It was a small price to pay in lieu of negative feedback, in my opinion.

Just let the seller know and see what they want to do from here. Maybe you send it back and maybe you keep it, but a simple mistake should be forgiven.

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Wow, I'm amazed at the people that would actually keep it and not notify the seller, are you that hard up for $30?

And I believe legally you are not entitled to keep it, if you buy a house and the seller accidentally left a gold bar on the counter, that doesn't belong to you. You only bought the house.

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26 minutes ago, Code Monkey said:

Wow, I'm amazed at the people that would actually keep it and not notify the seller, are you that hard up for $30?

And I believe legally you are not entitled to keep it, if you buy a house and the seller accidentally left a gold bar on the counter, that doesn't belong to you. You only bought the house.

They're probably dicks for showing it off in the first place...

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Regarding the situation at hand, I'd contact the seller and let him know, and as a seller, I'd appreciate the honesty and let them keep the item.

At the end of the day, for a cheapie item, I personally wouldn't want to waste time at the post office mailing it back, so hopefully the seller keeps in mind this time is money aspect too. 

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I did let the seller know, and he was kinda enough to let me keep it.  Even if he didn’t, I probably would have just bought it.  If not I’d have to buy an envelope of some sort, maybe even a small box, tape, I’d have to go to the post office either before work or during my lunch break. It all sounds like a big hassle id rather not deal with.  He might have when thinking the same thing on his end, which is why he let me keep it.

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39 minutes ago, Code Monkey said:

Wow, I'm amazed at the people that would actually keep it and not notify the seller, are you that hard up for $30?

And I believe legally you are not entitled to keep it, if you buy a house and the seller accidentally left a gold bar on the counter, that doesn't belong to you. You only bought the house.

leaving a valuable is more of “I forgot something.”  In this case he actually gave it to me.  Yes, it was by mistake, but he gave it to me in exchange for money. 

Let’s say you buy a book from a secondhand store and you find a couple thousand dollars inside.  Would that money belong to you, the store, or the person who sold/gave the book to the store?  I don’t think I can answer this one. 
 

 

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Here's a twist.

What if the person accidentally when mailing what you paid for, mailed something with it, but it's not listed in the listing?  What would you do?  And the twist, what if you had no idea how to figure out what it was even possibly worth anyway?

Personally I'd be very happy it happened, but nearly equally uncomfortable because I wondered if I should mention it to the guy or not?

If I wrote the guy would he perceive it as rubbing salt in the wound, or appreciate it?  If he did or didn't, what next, do you since it's related offer to pay more, send it back?  The confusion adds as you have no idea what the hell that stuff is worth because you lack a history.  What if you felt it's worth +50 and he's like dude that doubles the value (like +150) then what?

 

I had this situation.  Like it not, and I didn't, I just kept my mouth shut, and in the years since I still have never seen an even half clear concept of what the stuff was worth so I just wrote it off as a jaw dropping thanks dude in my mind, and when I've shared it on here before.  That was when I got 8Man for NeoGeo MVS.  I paid the low end of going rate for a cart, the description was on the cart, one image showed 1/2 a mini marquee in shadow, so a hopeful inclusion?  The dude mailed me the game in a box wrapped in butcher paper, and when I cut it off there my eyes popped to find the original serial matching kit box, and inside, every piece of the kit, it was complete.  I've never seen one sell other than loose, rarely if ever seen them offered on ebay and they just get pulled eventually since no one made an offer good enough I guess (or did off site.)

I had no idea how to gauge if it made a $100 game worth $200 or $500+.

I know this is a big what if...?  But it is a real world one and a twist on this accidental shipping, because I have no idea if that guy was being a class act or drift wood on this one and I wasn't going to ask unprepared.

 

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1 hour ago, final fight cd said:

leaving a valuable is more of “I forgot something.”  In this case he actually gave it to me.  Yes, it was by mistake, but he gave it to me in exchange for money. 

Let’s say you buy a book from a secondhand store and you find a couple thousand dollars inside.  Would that money belong to you, the store, or the person who sold/gave the book to the store?  I don’t think I can answer this one. 
 

 

Incorrect, your money was provided only in consideration for the one item, not both. You didn't pay for a bundle, just one single item so the second item has no applicable consideration attached to it.

Think of it this way, what if something with debt attached to it was left in your possession, are you responsible for the debt? No, ownership of property cannot be transferred without consideration (money).

The second item doesn't belong to you.

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3 hours ago, Code Monkey said:

Wow, I'm amazed at the people that would actually keep it and not notify the seller, are you that hard up for $30?

And I believe legally you are not entitled to keep it, if you buy a house and the seller accidentally left a gold bar on the counter, that doesn't belong to you. You only bought the house.

I think you're wrong.  If the gold bar was still on the counter at the time of possession, it now belongs to the new owner of the house.  That goes for anything left in the house after possession changes hands...

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