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?
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???)