Not to be dissuaded by a problematic buyer

One of the first things I have brought inside the apartment was a full-length mirror — something I did not have in our house in Marikina. As we still do not have a closet, all of our clothes are still to be taken out of  our luggages and bags. We also do not have a flat iron, so we just resorted to the old ‘pagpag-and-hagod’ method to sort out wrinkles.

Our nice mirror - PLAY by Comme des Garçons shirt,  brick pants, Red Wing 2913 boots and green Prada tessuto robot tote

Last Friday, I was shocked to see that an item sent via Registered Mail, which I thought to have been lost in transit to a buyer in Netherlands, suddenly showed up as “Item Delivered” in PhilPost’s online tracking. It has been almost a month since I sent the item and as the online tracking was under maintenance for weeks already, I was left with no choice but to refund the buyer. My mistake because I was too quick to refund her without waiting for Ebay to do so. Maybe I just wanted the whole thing to be over, and I was counting on the buyer’s honesty that she would return my funds back to my PayPal account once she gets the bag. Of course, I was wrong and naïve.

PhilPost tracking showing delivery to NetherlandsMy initial reaction was to dispute the case, but as it was already past the 45-day period to open an appeal, I was left with no other choice but to contact the buyer directly. In my email, I have informed her about the online tracking showing delivery, and if it was okay, she could send my money back OR return my item because I cannot NOT have both the funds and the bag. I gave her 24 hours to reply because we live in different time zones, and maybe she was busy with something. Then when I received her reply, she mentioned that she was preoccupied (for three weeks, huh?), that was why she was unable to give a feedback about the bag. The catch was, she did not like the bag because it was too small, has several scratches and the leather was stiff. Hmmm… I have disclosed all information in the auction description so I did not get why she was just telling me that when I already contacted her. As a buyer myself, my initial reaction would be to immediately contact the seller and inform her my dissatisfaction. So why wait for 20 days to react? I guess somebody wanted a free bag.

The worst thing about her reply was she was short of asking money from me so that she can send my item back. The auction description clearly mentioned that in cases of return, the buyer has to pay for return shipping. It was fair enough, considering that as Ebay and PayPal have a 21-day hold on my received funds, I have taken the shipping fee to Netherlands out of my own pocket. Therefor, it was unjust tht I shell out money just to get my bag back.

She did not bother replying until I gave her an implied warning about her school hearing from me, and discussing in full details about her fraudulent online activities. I managed to contact another seller from Slovenia, who received a negative feedback from her on May 5, 2013. I found it too hard to believe that she was busy to inform me of her dissatisfaction, yet she managed to give that poor seller a negative feedback three days after receiving my bag. I think her school administrator would not be too pleased to hear that they are employing a teacher with questionable morals in their school.

I think she got scared after that stern warning, as I flat out told her that all that hassle was not worth it — all of that for a bag. So in the end, she ended up shouldering the return shipping and eventually sent the item back to me. However, she did not mark the item as a “Returned Merchandise” and I have a feeling I will end up paying custom fees for a returned item. In my return policy, I have specified to send the item with the original packaging, but apparently, this seller was intent in keeping a bag and thought she got away after not hearing from me since May 2. What a devious buyer.

A 500g parcel to be sent to US via Philpost's IEMSMoral of the story? Do not use Registered Mail because it takes forever. I am now using International Express Mail Service (IEMS) from PhilPost, and even if it was slightly more expensive, the 3-5 working days delivery time would surely be more favorable against impatient overseas buyer. For instance, a 500g parcel sent to US via Registered Mail cost Php 885 (and Php 1,770 once it passes the 500g mark), while a similar weight via IEMS cost me Php 1,409 (and Php 1,853 if more than 500g). PhilPost’s website is also updated with the fee, and they have the rates printed and inside a clear book so they are definitely accurate. (See link: http://philpost.gov.ph/web/international-mail-rates/) Well, the new batch of items I have sent via IEMS should be received by early next week, but my first experience of IEMS years ago was pleasant. I do hope that my funds get released earlier than the expected 21-day holding period because shipping via IEMS was no dime a dozen!

P.S.

Mama, Kuya and Ate Ja visited our apartment today, and I was so happy they thought our unit was fair enough! ^_^

Hello! Ilocos Norte! – Day 1

I have never been to Ilocos Norte and I was very happy to be invited by Mon to stay in the place where he grew up. According to him, it was approximately a 9-hour night trip and I knew that Bonamine would be my best friend again. We arrived in Fariñas Bus Transit near UST, Manila because our bus was scheduled to leave in exactly 9:00 PM. We were seated directly behind the driver and we had enough leg room to even put our bags on the floor. It was at Php 750 per person because they had an on-board comfort room! No more waiting for the stop over. It was difficult to sleep, though, because I was really suspicious of the people getting in and out of the bus. I fear for the sake of the duffle bag on the overhead compartment.

Laoag Bound - Fariñas Bus Transit

Around quarter to 6:00 AM, we arrived in Fariñas Terminal in Laoag City, where we were met by Mon’s aunt, who will be accompanying us to the house. The air was so cold and FRESH that the difference between city and rural atmosphere could not be starker. Reaching their house, Mon’s mother greeted us from the veranda and the next thing I know, I was being finally introduced to his grandmother. =D She was still full of energy at her age, and I was really delighted to see her. One by one, within the next hour, most of the people in the house began waking up. We had to eat breakfast before going to the cemetery to visit their grandfather’s grave (Mon was the first-ever grandchild), which was followed by a mass because it was Palm Sunday.

Mangoes directly from the tree

Mon visiting his late grandfather's grave in the cemetery

The mass was delivered in Ilocano and I could not understand a single thing. LOL There was also a sinking bell tower right across the street. They say that one can make a wish whenever visiting a church for the first time — I just did that as well. =P After the mass, Mon and I separated from the group to buy things from the market. I also needed my quick fix of coffee and we found one near PureGold, Laoag City.

Palm Sunday mass in Laoag, Ilocos Norte

Sinking Bell Tower in Laoag city center

Before lunch time, we went home to fix our things because we will be going to the river! I forgot the name of the river but it only took us around 30 minutes to get there. As soon as I saw the rows of nipa huts, I knew I was in for a treat. =D

A view of the river directly from the water's surface

Look how clear the water was? Amazing!

River from Ilocos Norte

But before anything else, we had to eat our lunch and I was surprised to see that the watermelon we bought from the market did not have a red flesh inside. LOL A lot of Ilocano dishes on the table as well, and I was particularly pleased with the longganisa and pinakbet. I think bathing in a river was an ingenious way to start the summer season!

Colorful watermelons! I never thought there were yellow-fleshed watermelons

LOL

I think after the lunch was over, I was one of the first people to jump right away to the water and was also the last one to get out. LOL That was how river-deprived I was. The water was not that deep, though, as the deepest part was barely above my waist. It was a good thing especially the place was packed with families with little kids.

Enjoying the cold river water

Mon's sister, Anne, striking a pose

I think these girls were looking for fish and shells to play with

Then at around half past 3:00 PM, we decided on a whim to head to Batac and visit Ferdinand Marcos’ body preserved in a mausoleum. We were not allowed to use our cameras inside and the guard was watching our every move, trying to catch people violating the rule. We were inside for less than two minutes as we only had to walk around the casket.

In Batac, Ilocos Norte after visiting Ferdinand Marcos' body on display

Then for a late merienda, it was a perfect opportunity to eat empanada! After a five-minute drive, we reached this area, with rows of stalls selling food. We sat down in Glory’s Empanada and I finally  had my first ever empanada from Ilocos. LOL

Finally! Got to taste empanada from Ilocos Norte - Glory's Empanada

 

After that quick snack, we went to Paoay to visit St. Augustine Church a.k.a. Paoay Church (“Paoay! Kumakaway!”), a UNESCO World Heritage Site built primarily with coral blocks. We got there late in the afternoon, so naturally, we were not able to see the church lit-up. which was too bad because I was sure it would have looked heavenly in person.

Paoay Church (St. Augustine Church), Ilocos Norte

 

Peculiar material of the structure - coral bricks

 

Tourists in Paoay - Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte

 

 

And in the nick time, just before sunset, we went to Fort Ilocandia’s beach just to literally take pictures. There were also a lot of people and the beach itself was quite OK. We would have loved to swim as well, but we were not to go to the beach until Pagudpud on Tuesday.

Dropped by Fort Ilocandia beach

 

Literally dropped by to take photos

 

Getting our feet wet, but no beach until Pagudpud on Tuesday

 

This amazing race in a day made me love Ilocos Norte very much. =D It made me realize I should be really going around the country more than outside because we have an amazing share of wonderful spots — without breaking the bank. Tomorrow would be a less eventfuly day because Mon and I still haven’t properly slept because of the bus ride! One regret: I should have bought at least two more empanadas to take home with me!

One word: FLOP

First of all, I’ll call a spade a spade; the examination earlier this day was a disaster.

I woke up very early at 5:00 AM because I was to meet my classmate in Marcos Hiway by 6:00 AM. Everything went smoothly, even with a light drizzle on our way. We then had to wait from 7:00 AM until 8:00 AM, when the exam would officially start. There were only 12 of us in the room and we were also to leave our things in front of the room next to the proctors. When I said things, I mean ALL of the things we had and that includes water bottles.

We were made to answer 10 personal questions and the rest was the exam proper. So technically, even if there were 180 items, only 170 will be corrected and we should answer each of the questions within a minute and few seconds. I never underestimated the exam but I honestly think that I might have overlooked the review of some of the sections. I can’t remember how many items I had to shotgun but as far as I can recall, almost two hours out of three had already passed before I reached item number 90. The Math portion of the exam was easier than I expected but I wish I could have answered it first before I got glazed eyes from the English part. At this point, I will not be surprised if I fail the exam because I have no qualms admitting that it was hard. The greatest surprise will be passing it and I have already told a few people I would treat them to a box of pizza if that miracle were to happen. The only similarity the exam has with college entrance exams was the multiple choice part, meaning everything else was different. LOL I have moved on but I will take every  lesson from that experience with me until next year, if I were to take the exam again. i’ll just consider it an expensive, getting-one’s-feet-ready review. =D

I then went to Pisa in Italy to unwind…Just kidding!

The Leaning Tower of Pisa --- NOT --- Worlds of Fun

After the exam, I met up with Mon to have lunch in Gateway Mall and we then went next to Sta. Lucia Mall because my family was there. They already had their own lunch and we just followed them to Worlds of Fun, where my niece and my nephew were both busy playing. I can’t remember when was the last time I was there, especially my last experience riding the mini-“rollercoaster” (I hazard a guess that it was more than a decade ago, since high school). Even if I knew that the horror train ride was not exactly scary, I still refused to try it because I might end up scratching the person next to me. =D

Rode a mini-rollercoaster with my sister and nephew

With JB - Gray T-shirt with poncho print, Bench jeans, Yves Saint Laurent white patent sneakers and green Prada Tessuto Robot 2 tote

After 4:00 PM, we went home and rested a little because I was looking forward to seeing an elusive visitor before sunset — Comet PANSTARRS. The comet was slated to reach its perihelion today and I was waiting the whole week for an unobstructed view from our rooftop. And then the inevitable happened, there barely was a cloudless portion of the sky and I only had 20 minutes before sunset. I was with Mon, JB, my telescope and my brother’s camera and it was really depressing that we did not get even a momentary glimpse of the comet. So, what I did next was just take pictures of the two of them while we still had a little daylight.

JB playing with the telescope

In deep contemplation

And another kid playing with the scope

Naks!

I did not manage to get pictures of the comet but the pretty diffused light did wonders to my brother’s bridge camera. Well, that was some silver lining! Today was a very stressful day and it was almost twelve midnight again, five hours more and I would have been awake for 24 hours already. The flop of the exam and the comet did dampen my spirit, but looking back, the whole day wasn’t that bad at all. I can always review, try next year and be more ready. Meanwhile, since the following months will no longer be crucial in terms of strict scheduling, we can now plan for our next trip out of the country!

Red, Green and Whimsical

Just as I have suspected, the seller did not turn the fish-eye effect off! Now that I have received this Tessuto Robot 2, it was evident that the robot did not have a bloated body, unlike the original auction photos. It was exactly as I expected and a little bit more. I thought that it only had one key hand, but it actually has both keys still intact. I immediately looked inside the zipped pocket, hoping to see the removed heatstamped mouth inside, but it was just wishful thinking. =D

Green Prada Tessuto Robot 2 Tote

 

Prada Tessuto Robot 6 and Prada Tessuto Robot 2

But what I was most happy about was this Prada trick keychain included with the bag! Back in Halloween, when I got the nylon backpack, I contemplated over having one of these  quirky tricks/charms to use on the D-ring. I couldn’t believe that it was just given for free! I loved that seller a lot! I was trying to decide what this gingerbread looking man was. A sailor? A nurse? Does it matter?LOL

Prada keychain trick in saffiano from Spring Summer 2005

I immediately recognized this little man because I remember looking at previous collections of Prada before and the Spring/Summer 2005 collection was accessorized with whimsical tricks. I think these were first made as brooches, attached on the lapels and front pockets, then eventually produced as keychains. I also like the airplane one attached on Racquel’s top.

Prada trick on the runway - Racquel Zimmermann, Karen Elson, Daria Werbowy and Shannan Click - Prada Spring Summer 2005

(Photo from stylebistro.com)

I’m really delighted over this trick because it is extremely adorable! I can even attach it to my other bags for that added touch of playfulness in my otherwise stern-looking briefcases and messengers. It is my brightest bag yet and will fit nicely with the upcoming (or should I say, already happening) summer season!

Looking out the window - Prada keychain trick in saffiano from Spring Summer 2005

Green Prada Tessuto Robot 2 tote and Yves Saint Laurent white patent leather sneakers

And its first act was also something green. I have lots of empty PET bottles in the office and I don’t throw them out in the bin as much as possible. We also collect these things at home and bring them weekly to an area where they will be recycled. However, I was too lazy to bring them all home and my nephew even criticized me for not doing so. Since I already have a backpack with me, I decided to use the tessuto tote just once as an eco-bag for these PET bottles. =D

That one time I used this tessuto bag as an eco-bag

I had reservations before in using a tessuto robot tote, but the advent of eco-bag usage in Metro Manila recently will not make my tote look out of place! LOL I’ll just call it my more-flamboyant-than-usual-eco-bag