Hi Rene:

I hope you can help me make sense of this. A few weeks ago, I thought I’d put some stuff on eBay that I was no longer using. I’m busy running my own company as well as taking care of a sick parent, so learning the ins and outs of selling online was something that left me cold. An acquaintance of mine said her 17-year-old son, Mike, had a side business doing that, assured me that he was responsible and that I could trust him with my items, which were mostly high-end clothes.

Mike came and got my stuff, put it up on eBay, then disappeared. For three whole days! He did not provide me access or links that he said he would give me so that I could keep an eye on the auction nor did he respond to numerous text messages or emails.

Well, he called a few days ago to say he sold my merchandise, worth about $1500.00 for 50 bucks! And before you ask, yes, he knew roughly what those items were worth. When I asked him where he’d been for three days and why he wasn’t answering his phone, he said he was busy! He told me he wouldn’t charge a commission on what he sold, but I think he owes me money too!

His mother knows about this but didn’t offer any solutions, except to say that mistakes were made and everyone learned from this. In the meantime, I am LIVID! I feel like someone owes me some money! What do you think Rene?

Out of cash and out in the cold

Dear OCC:

Man oh, MAN I would be pissed! I think, without question, you are owed some money. The issue is, to what extent, are you willing to go to get it and from whom will it come? Here’s what I would do.

TALK TO MIKE: He’s a teenager. He screwed up. I’m not sure what else he can or will say, as they’re not necessarily the most communicative creatures on the planet. You said his mother told you he had a business doing this, which means he knows how it works. He knows he can’t check out while a live auction is going on. And what kind of businessperson, teenager or not, disappears for three days? 17 is old enough to know better especially given he’d done this before. I’d have a meeting with Mike and his mother and try pin him down. Acceptable answers for the absence include a) prolonged period of unconsciousness, b) being lost in the wilderness without a satellite phone or c) kidnapped by a pack of rabid dogs. Everything else is unacceptable.

TALK TO MIKE’S MOTHER: I’m not sure which makes me more irate, Mike checking out on you or his mother’s half-a**ed apology. And the fact that she didn’t offer to make restitution really makes my blood boil. While she should not ultimately have to pay, she should have ponied up the money, then made Mike pay her back. But there’s no way you should have to suffer for his irresponsibility. She should be embarrassed. I know I would be.

WHAT TO DO NOW: Well, this is where it gets tough. As I see it you have two choices. You can ask for them to pay some of the money back (which I think you are entitled to since Mike was derelict in his duties) and hope they agree or you can suck it up. If you suck it up, I don’t think there’s anyway you can salvage the relationship, as there are plenty of hard feelings to go around. But I think asking for the money will also cast a pall on the friendship, though that might be easier to deal with if you had some green in your purse. Decide which is more important to you but either way I think the relationship is irreparably damaged.

Final thoughts: I think Mike’s mother could have made this whole situation better if she was more concerned with her son trying to do the right thing instead of covering his butt.  Hopefully he learned something from your stern talking to because it doesn’t sound like he got one from her.

Good luck!

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