Too good to be true.

Sometimes, I bite down on something, and I just won’t let go.  That can be a good thing, and it can be… well, not so great.  And, sometimes, it takes a bit of sorting to determine whether or not I should have dropped something.

This is a tale of postage.  And who is cheating whom, and is it actually cheating?

Lots o' books!

I am in the market for a Sonlight Core 5.  I’d really like the 5-day, but that’s $603, and we have the money saved for only the 4-day, which is $544.  But, before I click the “purchase” button, I thought I’d check out what’s out there, used.  Over at Homeschool Classifieds, there were three complete curriculum sets for Core 5.  Two of them didn’t return my e-mail;  perhaps they had sold the items and hadn’t removed the listing — I’ve done that myself!  The third was a listing that was for $570, and the seller said that the package was brand-new, simply purchased and completely unused.

So, I e-mailed the seller, to get more details, including if he’d come down any on the price.  My idea was that, if it was the 5-day package, and I could get it for the same or less than buying the 4-day from Sonlight, I’d purchase from him.  This is our fifth Core purchase, and only our first was used;  the rest I’ve purchased from Sonlight.  What with the free shipping and 10% discount off of face value from Sonlight, buying new from them has been at least a comparable deal to what I’d spend used, added to vast amounts of hours trying to find three books here, one book there, paying multiple shipping charges, etc.  Sonlight has great customer service, and it’s just easier and not any — or not much — more expensive to purchase new, from them.


Let me just say that I have been less-than-pleased with the exchange with the seller.

My first questions were along the lines of:

  • What year was it purchased — what year is the Instructor’s Guide?
  • Is the set complete?
  • Is it 5-day, or 4-day?
  • Why so pricey?

The seller was a guy (a little surprisingly — I have bought dozens of homeschooling books from homeschooling parents, and I think I have dealt with the mother every single time), and his answers were:

  • (Well, in 5-6 e-mail exchanges, he’s never answered about what year the curriculum is from.)
  • He said it was 100% complete, and here is the book list.
  • It’s a 5-day
  • He could come down to $520, but I would have to pay with a postal money order, and ship to a place of business.


I’m totally OK paying with a postal money order.  That costs only $1.50, and as someone who has used PayPal as a seller, I know that what PayPal charges is just shy of highway robbery.  I don’t blame him for that one.

However, I told him I’d rather just pay the shipping charges to have it sent Media Mail through the post office to my home.  The “ship to a place of business” thing seemed fishy to me.

We continued to have an e-mail conversation about it, and it turns out that — as he describes it — his employer allows the employees to ship their personal items for free, as long as it is to another business address.

I responded as gently but firmly as I could, saying that it appeared from that description that the employer is defrauding the IRS, making personal expenses appear business-related, allowing him, as the employer, to deduct business expenses from income (or however he’d work it) for something that is completely un-business-related.

The man responded by asking me, basically, who am I to judge him, and told me that I’d better take my business elsewhere if I can’t appreciate an employee “perk”.

I’m fine with taking my business elsewhere, especially when I noticed that the $40 2010 World Book Encyclopedia DVD-ROM was missing from the book list, and upon inquiry, he said, “Oh.  Yeah.  We used that.  We loaded it onto three computers, and that’s the max it will let you do.  So, that’s not included.”


His “complete” Core 5 is not actually complete, even though he said it was.  He’s complicit with his employer defrauding the IRS.  He refuses to allow me to NOT participate in that — refuses to ship the set any other way, because he thinks I’m getting riled up over nothing.

And, he never told me what year the set was from, which does affect its current value, and its resale value (not that I’d likely resell it), as well as its usability, as Sonlight, from time to time, discontinues books that are out-of-print, updates its Instructor’s Guides regularly, etc.

Once I catch someone in something dishonest, or in a “sin of omission”, or in any sort of questionable dealing, it’s hard for me to trust that person, especially to the tune of $500+.


Maybe it is “nothing.”  But, I just can’t willingly participate in free shipping that’s not really free, because it is tricks and loopholes like that that lend to our taxes escalating ever higher!

I was going to ask you, fair reader, what you’d do, but I guess now that you know I’m so strident in my stance, those who think that a wee bit of pulling the wool over the IRS’s eyes is OK probably wouldn’t comment.

And, it looks like, after a week of wrangling with the seller, I just may end up having to purchase the whole thing new, after all.  Week lost.  Time wasted.  Grrr…

(P.S.  As I write this, an e-mail from a different seller popped in, telling me exactly the state that the materials are in, what year it’s from, what’s missing…  Hmm… Timing is everything, right???)


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on January 14, 2011, in Books for children, Homeschooling, Shopping. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. It sounds to me within only a few sentences what you had already decided, but needed to get out in written version and confirmed by another.. yes, he does not sound trustworthy, and to the tume of over $500, I’d want to be dealing with someone trustworthy. Follow your instincts. They’ve seemed correct yet again 🙂

    ANd, yes, timing is everything… but isn’t that the way with our lives? When we let go and send our problems out into the universe, that the answer almost always “appears”?!?!?

  2. He sounds shady. If he really wanted to get it sold, he’d be willing to work with you & answer questions truthfully. For that kind of cash, I’d want to make sure I was going through a selling program with some sort of guarantee or money back if something goes wrong. I’d probably even save up a bit longer to pay to go through the company.

    I think these is one of those times to trust your mama gut.

  3. I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that his employer is cheating- sounds more like he might be cheating his employer by sneaking his own personal mail out using a business address. An employer would question personal letters, but probably not a business package if it was just in with the regular mail. At any rate, you were definitely right to be suspicious and not “seal the deal”. Glad it has all worked out for you. God’s timing is perfect and I believe he protects us from making costly mistakes when we listen to His still, small voice….in this case, that feeling that you were dealing with a dishonest person.

    • That’s my suspicion, too, Lynn. I think it much more likely that an employee take advantage of the shipping room without the knowledge of the employer, than the employer telling his employees that they can have at it, for free, as a “perk”!

  4. I’d be happy if you purchased directly from Sonlight [smile]. We do try to make it well-worth the money. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure none of us have money to burn. So if you have the opportunity to get what you need used, take it.


    • I’m sure you would, Luke!!! I will be purchasing about $100 worth of stuff from SL, but not the whole Core.

      I found a VERY HONEST seller, who detailed very well what to expect from her 2006 Core 5. She even compared her “inventory” with what is current with the 2010 Core 5, and she said that all the books appear to be identical, so I’m really happy about that!! She was extremely thorough — like telling me that she had the origami book, but only about 4 sheets of wrinkled paper left, etc. She even told me, laughing about possible TMI, that her whole city had a massive stinkbug infestation, and that she’ll be going through everything extra-thoroughly, to make sure none of those little creepy-crawlies are hitching a ride.

      It looks like, even with paying her for shipping, and buying new all of the things that are missing or incomplete, I’ll be getting the five-day package at more than a $200 savings.

      I really do prefer to purchase new — lots less hassle, and I really AM a fan of SL’s customer service. However, I can’t pass by $200 in savings. 🙂

  5. He sounds like a racal. Better to avoid a transaction with him.

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