Background: This morning, after much internal debate over whether it was worth the effort or if maybe my appreciation of their aesthetics was enough to outweigh the disappointment in their composition, I finally decided to hassle the return of a very pretty pair of western boots that I bought on auction last week which, contrary to the information in the description, turned out to be synthetic, ersatz, man-made, PU, or some other kind of composite material instead of actual leather. My first clue to this fact was the plastic smell of the shoes, and the cold smooth texture of the material. I was immediately suspicious, but unsure, as there was no way to examine the nap of the stuff without disintegrating the boot to see the backing, as the embroidery and the outer shaft had been stitched through (and possibly glued) to the lining.
They were listed as “Vintage,” so I guessed it might be possible that their stiffness and mothball-like smell might be attributed to storage issues and lack of conditioning/maintenance. I hoped that perhaps an application of some mink oil would restore some of the suppleness that I might have expected from leather, but that hope was short lived, as the liquid form just sort of smeared over the surface like a clear coat and didn’t absorb at all. I thought maybe it was a product of some polishing wax or maybe it was just really CHEAP leather, wanting it to be so badly because they really were quite attractive to look at and I had passed up other BIN items of known good quality construction and composition to wait an additional four days in risky auction bidding to acquire these at a price that was still cheap enough but five more bucks than the one that had made them more attractive than those more expensive items in the first place. Even though they felt pretty awful to the touch and to wear, had they been actual leather, the oil should have rectified that to some degree.
I was not awfully surprised that the oil had no effect whatsoever.
Still desperate to hold out hope that I had not been had, I tried a bit of rubbing alcohol, also known to be an effective aid in softening neglected leather, but that also appeared to be in vain, although it did reveal that the shoes were either coated with some black polish wax or had been painted to appear to have more color depth. I had hoped it was the reason that liquid beaded on the surface of the material instead of absorbing, as it might mean that leather pores were simply covered by that instead of just being non-existent because it wasn’t really leather. I even switched to a bit of mink oil paste hoping it might have better effect, and that only seemed to leave a waxy haze that went away after heating a bit with a hair dryer, which made me pretty sure in the knowledge that I had been had since I had never had that happen to leather at all, but a plastic? Yep.
Unfortunately, subsequent self interne-ducation about how to discern real vs fake leather eventually led me to the conclusion that it was a bad investment in synthetic shoes, and a subsequent waste of quite a bit of mink oil that could have been put to better use. They were pretty enough that I still considered avoiding the fight with the ebay seller (as they didn’t offer returns), but the idea that someone might be trying to get away with scamming people bugged me. I couldn’t see how someone who sold such a large volume of boots could possibly not know real from fake leather, which meant that it would have been a deliberate misleading, in the hopes that most people are not informed enough to know the difference.
And besides, if they weren’t leather, I wasn’t going to wear them so it really didn’t matter how cute they were, and then there was the fact that I had been very deliberate in only considering leather items even though used (or rather this new “pre-owned” bullshit that somehow is intended to make one forget that someone else has had their foot sweating in it first) leather boots of good quality are frequently twice as expensive as brand new synthetic ones that will still not last a third as long as those second hand kickers. Usually, in order to get the most selection and therefore the best deals on some items that are poorly worded or incorrectly categorized, I try to search in the ways that will include more potential to be what I want than just searching for what I want even though it means digging through more unwanted junk to find the treasure. I check the “not specified” items as well as suede and leather since many times a leather shoe is only identified in the text of the ad, not mentioned in the title and description which are the only parts that are indexed by the search engine.
But I had not wanted to be tempted by lesser quality goods at all, so this time, I even limited my search to just those that were actually filling out the product descriptions to specify them as leather material, as there were simply too many to sort through with the wide parameters I had set for style and type and color to browse through since I was more flexible on those particulars. The one thing I had set in stone that would safely ensure that the shoes would be worth my price point in consideration was that they be made of leather. So I was not going to let that slide when I got a super cute pair of vinyl boots, gotdammit… Had they been leather and in much worse condition than advertised, though, I would have been content to keep them. But keeping these meant that I would still need to buy another pair of leather boots anyway, and if I wanted to spend that much on top of what these had cost to do that, I would rather have a better more expensive pair of the fucking shoes I wanted in the first place rather than compromising the ones I needed for these fake ones.
So even though it was sure to be a pain in the ass, they had to go back. HAD to, because I want to get what I pay for and this was not it. And a little glimpse at the way the seller had responded to other buyers negative feedback (which seemed mostly to center around items not being what they were purported to be – *cue sinking feeling* as I read those even before the boots arrived at my door) already had me feeling like the person was not entirely honest in his representation, nor polite to customers who were dissatisfied. I prepared my statement of why I was returning the boots to be irrefutable in evidence that they were not leather, so as to leave no room for accusation that I might be mistaken.
True to form, the seller responded with hostility and defensiveness in the two emails I found waiting for me less than twelve hours after I submitted my request to return the items, along with the unexpected notification from ebay that the seller had immediately escalated the claim to their judgment for resolution (by calling on the phone and stating his case without waiting for a reply from me to said emails at all, when I couldn’t even escalate the claim until after the a period of three days wait time to allow them the opportunity to respond to my case – how does that work that they can close it without giving me six hours to answer his bullshit?) and that their “final decision” was in HIS favor and I could not get a refund because I ALTERED THE ITEM so they couldn’t be returned.
Pardon me for a moment while I take a breath to contain the rage that this idea induced.
Oh, I see…Let’s be clear here, now: Had the oil actually had any effect at all on the damn things, I wouldn’t have any reason to return them in the first fucking place. . The jackass claims that because I explained in my evidence that I had applied mink oil (which did NOT actually penetrate the plastic coating, and didn’t have the intended effect of actually being absorbed by said shoe and simply ended up being wiped off again since it didn’t actually DO anything ) to the boots (as one would do to care for leather shoes properly, mind you), now they cannot be resold this way because of my altering them. Riiiiight.
So I call the appeal number to explain that the shoe is not in any different state from the way I received it, and it was not painted or distorted from its original condition any more than the shoe polish that had been applied to it made it a different color. But according to the people on the other end of the phone making a whole 6 cents an hour to solve my problems, putting something on them constitutes “altering” them.
And here is where that “Pre owned” cocknocky crap begins to affect things, because it allows us to forget for a minute that we are not trying to return this brand new spiffy shiny thing that is now not able to be sold because I broke the seal on it and it is no longer the same shiny new item Remember that these boots are purchased by me are described as “vintage pre-owned condition with scuffs” and scrapes and torn fringes not to mention warped and half worn soles because they are USED SHOES. GARAGE SALE FODDER. SECOND HAND. BEATEN AND WORN AND TORN ON THE FRINGES AND I ALTERED THEM BY PUTTING SHOE CREAM ON THEM??? WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS GOING ON IN THE HEADS OF THESE PEOPLE WHO MADE THIS DECISION?
I assume by this logic that if I bought a dusty ass antique table and wiped it off with some pledge before I set my fruit bowl down on the middle of it and it collapsed from the termite damage that was not evident until something was placed on it, that would also constitute the item being “altered” then, eh? Or say, getting my newly purchased used car washed and gassed up before learning that it was lemon when the mechanic got under the hood would also constitute having ALTERED the thing so it couldn’t be sold as a non-lemon to the next fool to come along after I bring it back and demand a refund? Of course, how can you sell it NOW with the little pine tree doohickey making it smell nice and the now shiny tires that I ALTERED with some armour all???
No, wiping a shoe conditioner onto a SHOE is not altering the fucking thing. Okay, maybe it is altered by wiping the DIRT off the outside of the thing that made it appear to be darker than it was, but I can put it right back on and un-alter them by rolling them in the fireplace soot for a minute too… They are in the same condition they came to me in, if a little cleaner. And let me reiterate, had they been altered by the addition of this product I applied, I would have happily kept them and been satisfied with my used leather boots. It is precisely because they were UNALTERED that I had any reason to seek a refund of my money because I didn’t get what I paid for.
I predict that I will be doing some yelling at some very stupid people on the phone in the very near future. I already called the appeal number and all I got was Dione, the heavily accented useless idiot whose job it was to tell me that the reason I wouldn’t be getting my refund (or be able to return this fake shoe to this scam artist who leaves abusive and disrespectful feedback responses to any buyers who are unhappy that they got a size 6 when they bought a size 8 or their used shoes were more used than the pictures and description let on when they arrived) was because my application of the mink oil meant I had altered the shoe. She put me on hold twice to tell me she was unable to do anything more than report what I had already known from the email informing me of this ludicrous shit. What do they pay her for? Transferring me to the unavailable supervisor because I am irate enough to seem like I might blog about it and tarnish the company reputation or something? Or just telling me that the entire phone call is a clear joke, likely because they are going to close in half an hour and she’ll take my number down and have the supervisor get back to me within 24 hours….
Yeah, I’m not betting on that one, either…
But you can believe that someone is going to hear from me before that time is elapsed, most definitely. This is unjust that I can purchase something that I treat as my own to care for it and improve its condition for myself only to find that it is not what it claimed to be when that process has no effect in improving it, nor does it worsen it at all and then when I ask ebay to back up its guarantee to protect me from shenanigans I am told that I invalidate that protection by making the discovery that the item is fraudulent because I treated it as though it were authentic as promised? FUCK THAT NOISE. I AM GOING TO BE A PAIN IN THE ASS ABOUT THIS OVER MY SHITTY SHOES. I want every fucking penny of my 38 bucks back including shipping regardless of whether I even give them back at this point. I am gonna ALTER them along with the ASS of whomever tells me that I have nullified the protection ebay promises by shining my own damn shoes as I put them where the sun don’t shine on their hindparts….
I was mildly irritated at the inconvenience of having to explain why the shoes are fake at first, but now I have that righteous anger that means someone is going to regret telling me no, if they dare…
We’re talking Miss Piggy level : “That DOES it… Hiyyyyyyyyy- YAH!!”
I don’t like it when shady people are encouraged to be shifty. I will become a nuisance just to make a point if I have to. Look at how much time and energy I have already spent in telling the story – do you really think I am going to just say, ok, and enjoy my fraudulent purchase because your people are stupid? I will harass folks until they just give me my money back to shut me up even if they still think I am wrong.
Because I am NOT wrong. THIS is wrong.
Oh and just fyi: the ebay sellers id is saulwaldo123
and they are currently offering up 275 pairs of used boots and 3 new ones according to my search. I think that this person would know which ones are leather and which aren’t. And also should know perfectly well that mink oil is not going to make them suddenly transformed such that they are ruined now. He knew they were shit already and doesn’t want to pay for them to get sent back to him, I’d wager. I would suggest being very cautious about dealing with this seller, as you may end up dissatisfied with what you think you have purchased not living up to the expectation . Forewarned etc etc….