I make and sell buttons and zines, and I enjoy how they spread awareness and start conversations. But it has never been a major source of income, and I cannot prioritize filling orders promptly like a business would. So I give this disclaimer on my online store:
Please understand that this is not a real business per se; it’s just one girl manufacturing and distributing her stuff on her spare time. Thus, it may take a while before your order can be shipped. If you are worried that I might have forgotten your order, feel free to check the status of your order by email.
On January 18th, someone from Fargo, North Dakota ordered some buttons through my website. I usually dedicate one or two days per month to filling orders that came during the interval, but I had just made a shipment so I held the order for the next “shipping day.”
Then in about ten days, this individual filed a complaint to Paypal alleging non-receipt of the buttons, triggering Paypal to withhold his payment. I replied citing my shipping policy, and promised to ship the next week. No response. Then on February 2nd, I did ship his order, and sent him a photo of the U.S. Postal Service receipt that shows a shipment to Fargo, ND. Again, no response. I waited for a little while to allow the delivery to take place, and once again I sent him a message asking him if he had received the package, and if so please withdraw the complaint. No response.
Finally, without any response whatsoever from him, and despite the fact I sent them the photo of the Fargo, ND receipt, Paypal ruled in his favor “after careful consideration” and took my money and gave it back to him.
The payment was small, so the financial loss is not that great. But it left me regretting that I did not simply cancel his order when he first filed a complaint with Paypal without any discussion. I sell buttons because I want to connect with other activists, artists, and scholars who share my values, not because I want to run a business. If this guy does not understand that, he is just a consumer rather than a colleague/friend/fellow activists and I have no desire to deal with consumers of my “products.”
So I decided: in the future, it will be my policy that, if someone files a complaint to Paypal without having any conversations with me first and do not respond to me after I explain my shipping practice, I will immediately cancel the order. I am not interested in having a business-to-consumer relationship over my buttons and zines.