Caveat venditor

I don’t know about you, but the news over the past year has trashed my usual relatively sunny state of mind. I find myself despairing of the future, not only for my adopted country but also the country I left behind nearly 25 years ago. This translates into me losing my temper and getting angry and pissed off over the most minor of things. Take for example this little story…

So, this summer we moved into a bigger house in a quieter area with space for three cars. As part of this move, I forced myself to look at all that, er, crap I’d been hoarding for far too long. Those old credit cards statements from waaaaaay back when I lived in London? Interesting, but off to commercial shredding. A gazillion New Scientist issues? Paper recycling. Ditto the printouts of some long-forgotten program on green-ruled fanfold paper. A set of coding standards I’d written for RPGIII on a System/38? Yeah, sorry, keeping those. That photo printer and those old laptops? Yeah, sure, off to electronics recycling… 

…except for that original Dell XPS 13 from before the model got an edge-to-edge hi-res touch screen (the L321X model). It was in good nick, everything worked, no scratches, and very clean. A quick-n-easy eBay sale I thought, like a couple of other laptops I’d sold over the years. I did a bit of research: for the model, the CPU, 4GB of RAM, 256GB drive, it seemed that $250 with free shipping might be doable.

I made a final backup and then reset the OS, took some pictures, and put it up as a Buy-It-Now, no returns.

Dell XPS 13 L321X (4 of 5)

After a couple of days of derisory Best Offers (I’d forgotten to flip that option off), someone paid the full price. I trotted over to a local mail place and sent it off.

And then I got an eBay message from the buyer, a couple of hours after FedEx had reported the delivery: the screen was not working properly and they want a refund. Cue some not-very-good fuzzy photos of the screen with a wide dead stripe on the right.

Dell-XPS-13 screen issues

And … I flipped my lid, to use some British idiom.

First thought: they’d dropped it and damaged it. It was perfect when I sent it, but I’m going to bet there’s a dent and scratches now.

Second thought: that was not the laptop I sent. The buyer had another Dell XPS 13 with a dodgy screen, bought mine, then hoped to get a refund based on photos of the crap machine. Since I’d advertised no returns, they’d get a free replacement laptop.

Third thought: f**k it, I’m going to arrange a return, make sure it’s the one I sent (I have photographic proof of what it looked like before I sent it, I even had the Dell serial number) and then report the buyer to eBay. I was righteously mad.

So I arranged the return.

I got the laptop back after a week or so. Took it out of the box. Plugged it in, powered it up, and, yep, the screen was perfect. I reset the OS. I set it playing videos. After 24 hours, the screen was still perfect. I watched a couple of episodes of Shoestring on it. Perfect, no issues. I even wrote some emails and whatnot on it. No problems. The little tyke of a buyer had screwed me: they obviously just didn’t want the machine after they’d got it, and “forged” some fuzzy photos.

And so … I flipped my lid again.

I was out some $50 on fees and shipping, and this little bastard was going to be reported. I had the photos from before, so time for some “after” photos to bolster my case. I powered it up, and put it on the coffee table, camera in hand. I decided to take the same photo of File Explorer that the buyer had, so I moused over to the Start button, and …

…the screen went fuzzy with the wide stripe on the right hand side.

Holy shit. The buyer was right.

Some more investigation: the laptop had to be powered by the battery and a small swipe on the keypad would sometimes (rarely?) cause the issue. It was some combination of battery, keypad, and screen. In all my testing since I’d had the laptop returned? I’d had it plugged in, of course.

Yes, I’d been that close to falsely reporting someone for my selling them a defective laptop.

Caveat venditor.

(I refunded the buyer the entire amount, and they gave me a good feedback on eBay. I’d already given them good feedback. I’m just out the $50 or so, and the laptop will go to recycling.)

Dell XPS 13 L321X banner

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