Lens dust and legal threat.

Started Mar 31, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP miked58 Senior Member • Posts: 1,484
Re: Lens dust and legal threat - call his bluff

Marco Nero wrote:

miked58 wrote:

Perhaps some forum members can suggest sensible ideas.

I sold a used lens in mint condition, unmarked and fully functioning. I did the usual check and ensured no visible dust or fungus, went over every feature etc.

Several weeks later the recipient is threatening legal action unless I refund the entire money. They complained dust was now visible in the lens.

They said the dust had been there for years and that a shop had verified this. My response was I believe fair and I can not see how you determine when dust entered. I have offered to get the Canon service Centre to look at it if necessarily at my cost.

The purchaser is aggressive and not prepared to consider anything but a refund or legal threats.

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Canon 650D, Canon 600D, Oly E-pm1, EFS 15-85mm IS, efs 10-22mm, 24-70L, 100-400L, 24-105L, EFS 18-135 STM, Tokina 50-135 f2.8, EFS 55-250mm IS, 580EX, Hensel and Elinchrom studio lights, Canon Ixus 80IS

Hi there,

I sell online and occasionally sell photographic equipment and lenses that I no longer use and wish to upgrade.  Obviously, reputation is everything online but to be fair, you will occasionally get belligerent customers from time to time who will try and bully you.  I had one from Germany recently and my intuition warned me in advance that the buyer was going to be a problem.  This sounds to be one of those types of customers.  Clearly, this guy is a jerk and needs to be treated as such.

When I worked as a Canon Dealer years ago, I remember this guy came in with his kid and he recently bought an expensive SLR with a medium priced Lens from us a week prior.  He claimed he didn't want it any more and he wanted a refund.  We normally didn't accept refunds "just because you change your mind" and yet we considered his request, pending an explanation.  We tried to find out why he wanted to return his new camera. The first thing that caught my eye was that the lens was still attached to the camera body and the two were not in their respective boxes.  I tired detaching the lens but it wouldn't budge.  Asked the guy what happened and he claims it was like that when he bought it (nope!).  So with a great deal of effort, I manage to unscrew the lens with this unholy grinding sound.  They guy wanted his money back and became angry.  He was a big guy too.  I finally got the lens off and out of the camera poured about three quarters of a cup full of sand.  Beach sand.  He'd given it to his kid to "play with" on the beach.

When we explained that there was no way we would take back the camera, he picked up the SLR body and threw it on the ground where it bounced and some part of the mechanism inside (mirror?) flew out.  The manager's son was working with me and he said "I think you just voided your warranty, sir".  The guy turned purple with rage and stormed out with his kid.  Hilarious!

The thing is, people lie about why they want to return an item.  Sometimes their claim is legitimate but you know already this guy is a jerk.  He's hoping to "scare" you into doing what he wants.

Here's what you can do:

(OPTION #1:) Explain clearly that you were accurate in your description.  Explain also that you would only consider such a request if the buyer had communicated this problem with you within 7 days of receiving the item, NOT several weeks later.  Ignore any messages from him that state that "a camera dealer has already looked at the lens and agrees" with him because this is bluff.  Or, ask him for a letter from the said dealer ON COMPANY LETTERHEAD before you' consider his request. Ignore the phone number on the letterhead and speak to the store directly after looking up their number online or in the Yellow Pages.  You don't need to respond to the buyer at all if he is becoming threatening or if he claims to be involving a lawyer.  Wait for the lawyer's letter to arrive... those things will test his commitment because a lawyer costs money to consult.  If he's threatening to leave bad feedback, then be prepared to accept that someone will leave you bad feedback from time to time.  Just let it go.  You know your item was in pristine condition, so you know he's a dishonest liar and will likely not stop lying in future exchanges with you.  So far, your messages prove that the lens arrived, was received by the buyer and was used.  Call his bluff but drag it out as long as you want.   He'll catch on eventually that you won't play ball. He'll need to send you a letter of demand from either himself or his lawyer first if he wants to sue.

In the end, the buyer needs to PROVE you sent him a substandard item. He can't possibly do that.  Make him jump through some hoops, even if you don't intend to refund him because this will not only buy you more time but he's not likely to take this in to a dealer for a written assessment....

(OPTION #2:) Or just tell him you can only consider his request if it's sent to a Canon Service Center for assessment and that you will base your decision of whatever the results from Canon are.  You still don't have to commit to a refund, just make this guy prove his case.

As a seller of a second hand item, the buyer knows it will not be in Original Condition but you have described it as being in very good condition for a used item.  Has he sent you any pictures of the "dust problem" he claims to have?  No.  Tell him you can't help him unless he supplies you will some sort of evidence of the problems he is experiencing.  Be grateful you didn't have this guy pick up the lens directly from you because then he'd show up on your doorstep demanding his refund.  Do you have a spouse that can vouch for the quality of the lens?  There's all sorts of things you can do to support your claim.  If he leaves you bad feedback, you can now sue them for defamation these days.  Also, tell him you spent the money if you like and that you'll need to sell a kidney before you can even consider a refund.  It will make him realize there's no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

(OPTION #3:) Tell him you will consider his request and to post the item back to you (at his expense).  You can then make a determination yourself but DO NOT refund the money first because this might be part of his scam... to get the money AND the lens.  Seen it many times before.  Remember that you can't keep both the money AND the lens so be sure (if you do this) to refund the cash or send back the lens.  I wouldn't do this because he might have dropped the lens and is wanting to claim that it must have happened when in transit.

Conclusion:  You've done everything right.  No need to be bullied by an online jerk.  Have some fun with him or just make it clear that you refuse to consider his "outrageous and unsupported demands".  He wants to make you follow his demands... but in reality, you can simply ignore him.


Firstly thank you (and everyone else) for the time taken in this response. It has helped put things into perspective.

As soon as I mentioned getting advise from Canon Service centre the purchaser became belligerent and really has not responded sensibly to anything I write. All I get from them is..Are you going to refund or not. There is no element of reason.

They have contacted the online auction site and laid a complaint. I responded to the auction site email and they said that if I had not misrepresented the condition then the next step is negotiate or wait for a disputes tribunal case (I did NOT misrepresent - I use $80 Austrian speciality cloths to wipe over everything after use for example, the lens was totally unmarked and fully functional - I am fastidious)

The only issue the purchaser has complained of is visible dust and this was weeks later after receiving it.

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Canon 650D, Canon 600D, Oly E-pm1, EFS 15-85mm IS, efs 10-22mm, 24-70L, 100-400L, 24-105L, EFS 18-135 STM, Tokina 50-135 f2.8, EFS 55-250mm IS, 580EX, Hensel and Elinchrom studio lights, Canon Ixus 80IS

 miked58's gear list:miked58's gear list
Ricoh GR Canon EOS 60D Olympus PEN E-PM1 Canon EOS 6D Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM +7 more
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