Faster than the speed of electronic delivery

2179883296_3d61f12288_oToday is an interesting day with lots of things happening. Most of these things are genuinely positive and will provide for strong economic gains at a later date, I am sure.

But, unfortunately, today is also the day that I had my first ever PayPal dispute.

That’s right… I am no longer a virgin when it comes to the odd world of PayPal disputes and refunds.

Moreover, I lost my PayPal dispute virginity because I am a Renaissance man and, as a matter of principle, resist automation and insist on maintaining a personal touch (the artisan way, if you will.)

Dispute is, of course a strong word, and in fact a bit of a misnomer here, since the issue at hand really was a request for a refund, which I honored. Regardless of the terminology, however, I was able to resolve the issue with the buyer, and I learned a lot from the “dispute” resolution (which is good,) but it did leave me feeling oddly dirty and a little disappointed that the dispute was raised by the buyer in the first place.

Here is what happened…

At approximately 4 p.m., EST, an overseas buyer paid for early access to the full Unitek Global Services posting (you can read about the partial and full posting here, and you can read about how to get early access to the full posting here.)

On a side-note, the timing of the buyer is good, since the fee goes up 50% as of midnight, today. Tick-tick!!!

I received notification about the purchase 30 minutes, or so, later, at 4:30 p.m., EST, and I also received an email from the purchaser, confirming the purchase and asking about what form the delivery would take.

I was hurrying between meetings, but, generally, I was not concerned, because I would be in a position to grant access within an additional 30 minutes and because the payment instructions clearly (or, at least clearly to me) states that delivery of the early access will be granted within a few hours.

Besides the fact that I thought that the timing message was clear, I was somewhat dulled into complacency by the buyer’s email, which read in part:

… figured i would give your post on UNTK a shot …

Clearly a cool customer! No worries.

The buyer is five or six time-zones away from me, and, so, it was getting late (and dark, I think) wherever the buyer was located, and at 5:01 p.m. I received notification that the buyer had raised a dispute because access had not been granted.

PayPal allows for full refunds to close a dispute and, after checking with the buyer, I promptly issued a full refund.

When the dust had settled my net loss was $0.30 on the transaction (I don’t know exactly why, but possibly related to exchange rates,) so I was out $0.30, but had gained valuable experience.

So, what went wrong?

Reviewing the text talking about the early access in the Early Release section I noted that I had written:

Below I will explain how I picked October 16th, 2013, as the date for the general release. But first let me say that if you can’t wait until the posting is generally available (and there may be very good reasons to read the remainder of the postings before the release of the next 10Q filing,) you can access the remainder of my posting within a few hours by following the instructions provided below.

Since only one hour, or so, had passed, there was to my mind not any issue to base a dispute on. However, clearly, ipso facto, since the dispute was raised, this text this was not clear enough, so I am now going to revise this text and — sigh — add additional language in the Disclaimers and Purchase Terms subsection.

I am not complaining, mind you. I learned a lot from this, and I was happy to be able to issue a refund (albeit at a $0.30 loss.) Besides, I have met Matthew Lesko, a genuine expert on selling electronic information and, as it happens, also living quite near me) a couple of times and learned a lot from each meeting, including the cardinal rule that, all else being equal, issuing a refund is always the preferred approach to buyer/seller disputes (go here to learn more about Matthew Lesko.)

This, by the way, is my first PayPal dispute — ever. And, surprisingly to me, it related to the speed of delivery rather than to the contents, which left me a bit taken back as I am pretty sure that taking a few hours to deliver an electronic access is reasonable (I am not a company, after all, and I am not set up for automatic processing.) Regardless of the cause and justification, however, I did end up feeling somewhat ashamed and dirty, which is a little weird.

P.S. Just for the avoidance of doubt, I can’t possibly process purchases within one hour on a 24 x 7 basis, so my solution to this instant gratification demand will have to be a mandated slowdown in delivery expectations. This is, of course, unfortunately, but, since I move at less than the speed of light or the Internet it is probably a prudent step. As they say abundans cautela non nocet.

P.P.S. In case you are thinking of teasing me by entering into an infinite order/dispute loop, don’t! I firmly believe in buyer/seller service, but only so far, and, at some point in time, a loss of $0.30 per transaction will cause a reflexive dispute response rather than a refund. Just saying.

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