Monday, 15 April 2013

Magpie Monday - Caveat Emptor

As you know, I'm a HUGE advocate of buying second-hand.

Saving something from land-fill, saving myself some money in the process as well as finding unique and unusual items gives me a thrill every time.

Lots of my friends are jealous that I 'always seem to find amazing bargains' but this post is a little cautionary tale.

Sometimes, I get a bit slack.  Sometimes I let greed get the better of me...

This week I spotted a pile of printer ink cartridges.  They were for my make and model and having literally just shelled out a fortune last week, I seized them up.  I paid about £25 for one of the double packs, so £1.50 had me grinning from ear to ear.



I took the whole lot to the counter as quickly as I could, paid my money and skedaddled before anyone could beat me to it.

Outside, as I skipped along, smug in my canny money-saving ways, I felt a pang of guilt for the charity.  Should I have told them they were under-selling, that they could have got more for these?

My smugness and guilty conscience soon evaporated when I got them home and gleefully showed the old man how clever I'd been.

Opening up the first box, I noticed it had been very carefully taped down.  Inside, was all the packaging, even down to the cellophane wrapper.  The protective clip was on the cartridge, but it was totally, completely empty.

So was the next one. And the next, and the fourth.

I have serious concerns for the anally-retentive, OCD person that keeps ALL the packaging and carefully packs old ink cartridges up like they've never been opened.

I'd like to give the charity shop the benefit of the doubt.  I'd like to think that somebody donated these to be recycled and earn the charity a few pennies.  I'd like to think that the shop staff and volunteers didn't realise they had been used and assumed they were a stock donation.

In these post-Portas days when some charity shops are charging an arm and a leg, I really do think they have a duty of care to check the stock they are putting out on the shop floor.  I know ultimately it's down to the buyer to check, and that a lot of shops will have refund and return policies, but do I really want to be that tight-wad who takes something back for a refund?

Toys with bits missing; clothes with holes in; books with scribbled pages...these are all the things that put the uninitiated off buying second-hand.  Come on guys, get your act together!

Have you ever made a howler buying second-hand?  How do you check things over before you buy them?

I hope you've had better luck than me this week! Grab the badge and link up. Me and My Shadow

16 comments:

  1. Blimey there are some weirdos out there, I know I'm a hoarder but really?! Who would do that?! Do charity shops have to adhere to trading standards rules or are they a separate entity?

    What a shame for you and I don't think you were being at all greedy, I know a lot of charity shops that charge way to much for things these days so believe me the majority know the value of the items they're selling.

    I'm sure my disaster purchase awaits as I've not had anything that bad as yet! x

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    1. Yes, they are still covered by trading standards.

      I know when I ran my shop we took in old mobiles; cartridges; stamps etc and got money for those from recycling firms, so I guess they'd been donated for that purpose?

      Kicking myself though now, I'm £6 down and have a bunch of empty cartridges to recycle!

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  2. That's weird, why would someone repackage them like that unless they were trying to make out they were unused? I imagine the shop staff just didn't look at the boxes very closely, but I know what you mean... you feel bad about returning something to a charity shop whereas if it was a 'proper' shop you'd have no problem.

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    1. I don't know. I can only imagine it might have been one of those super-organised neat-freaks!

      I phoned them up to let them know (hint be more careful next time) but it's not even local so I can't take them back. I'll just have to write it off to experience and consider it a donation.

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  3. Oh no! I think some of them are recyclable so maybe someone donated them misguidedly thinking the shop would know how to go about this. My charity shop is mostly run by elderly ladies and I'm frequently finding horrid bobbly jumpers on the shop floor that should not have been put out.
    I really don't think they'd mind at all if you took them back! Mistakes do happen. Our shop even refunded an old man who'd bought shoes with a hole in them from another charity shop!
    You're not donating to charity. You're buying something. Chances are you'll find something fab when you're in there! x

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    1. Yes, I think that's what happened, trouble is I have this printer and despite extensive research, I can't find any firms that take these for recycling. Maybe because Kodak's gone bust?

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  4. Urgh how annoying! Yes I think that all the time! I went through the box of vintage bottles the other week and took out the broken ones. So dangerous as they were boxed up on the floor. They didn't seem too fussed! When you see that kids games are taped up you assume that they have been checked for missing pieces but often not!
    I went in this week looking for a few pairs of old shoes for a craft/learning project I want to do with the boys and was horrified that the pairs started at about £4.99!!!! They were scuffed, looked a bit sweaty inside too. Ghastly! Some of my local shops may have got a little big for their boots (excuse the pun) xx

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    1. I know, it gives charity shops a bad name. I know they have financial targets to meet, but it's a false economy charging too much for bad quality as it will ultimately put people off.

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  5. that's just plain weird putting them all back in the packaging & sealing them up, it's like they were trying to make out they were new, why else? Saying that, empty cartridges to sell for around that price each so you could always resell them...or refill them?

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  6. That's a bummer! I think you should go ahead and take them back. I can see why the people in the shop would have been fooled, but empty cartridges is pretty ridiculous!

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  7. Ouch! What an annoying experience. That must have been one seriously crazy person to put everything back together like that...
    Every now and then something happens where I can't return something for one reason or another, and I try to consider it a sacrifice to the "thrifting gods" to maybe give me better thrifting karma in the future :)

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  8. I thought you were going to say that they weren't compatible with your printer when you got them home!
    I buy second hand as often as I can, scouring the charity shops but their prices are getting quite high and it is almost impossible to get the same "whoohoo, what a bargain" feeling I used to get. If something is damaged I have no qualms about asking for some money off, charity shop or not. Given their prices these days I don't see why not.

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  9. I would have grabbed and ran with such a bargain on printer cartridges too. Sorry you got caught out with a dud purchase.

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  10. That's really bad luck. I think it is a strange time for charity shops with so many cheaper stores coming on board in the private sector to compete with. That means like you say where they don't have their act together, they are threatening their own future.
    Hoping you report some very lovely finds next week

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  11. Thats so wrong for the person who donated them, just why would you do that. I agree charity shops are becoming so expensive it makes you wonder if they should start looking at what they are selling more x

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  12. Ink cartridges can cost an arm and a leg these days, so finding some at a bargain is always something to smile about. I'm sorry to hear that you got fooled instead. :( I'll take note of checking my purchases so I don't get this crummy experience.

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