On 2/9, Lewis Seals purchased 200 DDR memory modules on liquidation.com at $10.62 a piece. The condition was described as ‘salvage’, meaning that the modules were not functional. Mr. Seals used the user id ‘alarmacar’ for this transaction.
Several days later, Mr. Seals started auctioning off these memory modules on Ebay. He used the Ebay account alarmacar’ for these listings. In his auctions he described the modules as follows:
… taken from computers being updated and were verified working at the time of the upgrade. However, we have not tested these modules and are offering them as “as-is, where-is” with no returns, guarantees, or claims as to working condition.
I purchased a 1GB DDR module on 2/24, when the user alarmacar’s feedback on Ebay was still good. This changed drastically over the course of the following days. Today, EBay lists 43 negative and 9 neutral ratings from the last month. A few users had given positive feedback. When I contacted them, it turned out that they had not tested the memory at the time, and that theirs was not working either.
I called Ebay a week later, on 3/2, and reported the user. A few hours later the user alarmacar was listed as no longer active.
When I received the memory, it turned out to be a 512kB module with corroded and damaged pins that did not pass the power-up test. I removed it and, luckily, my computer was not damaged by the exercise.
The web site for alarmacar.net has been showing an ‘under maintenance’ splash page for some time, but has now been taken down. While the domain alarmacar.net was registered using a company name and a PO Box address, a search on Archive.org revealed that at one point the site had actual contact information:
In January 2003, Lewis Seals founded Alarm A Car in Memphis, TN with a goal to forge a company dedicated to delivering the finest car alarm systems on the Internet. Today, Alarm A Car has achieved the goal of giving the consumer the best quality with the lowest price. […]
Lewis Seals, Chairman, CEO & President
Leah Smith, Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer
Jimmy Love, Senior Vice President, Merchandising
Alarm A Car Corporate Office
56 Sawyer Circle
Memphis, TN 38103
Fatwallet lists another phone and fax number for Mr. Seals, plus an appartment number at the Sawyer Circle condo complex:
Voice: (901) 568-0603
56 Sawyer Circle #371
Memphis, TN 38103
Mr. Seals probably does not reside at the Sawyer Circle address anymore. The ship from address on my PayPal transaction shows a different address, also in the Memphis area:
2154 Berry Bush Lane
Cordova, TN 38016
This is a 3 bedroom condo, and interestingly enough, the previous owner foreclosed on it in 2005. A recent domain registration for the domain lewisseals.com shows the same address, along with a new phone number (901) 406-6500 and the email address email@example.com.
Another email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The seller alarmacar has not responded to my request for a resolution. Today, I am waiting for a resolution of my claim with PayPal. I will keep other posted about any progress with PayPal and would like to hear from you if you also filed a claim.
Ebay has removed alarmacar’s account and transaction history. The transaction no longer shows up on my account (!).
In order to preserve the evidence, I took snapshots of various web pages while they were still available:
- The item’s auction page
- Alarmacar’s feedback history (page 2, page 3)
- The auction page on liquidation.com
This is what my history log shows:
Mar. 21, 2007 PayPal Case closed
Mar. 21, 2007 PayPal Refund issued
Mar. 21, 2007 PayPal Refund initiated
Mar. 21, 2007 PayPal Email sent to seller
Mar. 21, 2007 PayPal Email sent to buyer
Mar. 13, 2007 Buyer Email sent to PayPal
Mar. 9, 2007 Buyer Email sent to PayPal
Mar. 6, 2007 PayPal Case under review
Mar. 3, 2007 PayPal Seller provided proof of shipping
Mar. 3, 2007 PayPal Email sent to seller
Mar. 3, 2007 PayPal Email sent to buyer
Mar. 3, 2007 Buyer Complaint Case filed
However, at the top of the page, it says this:
We have completed our investigation of this case. We have denied this claim and a refund will not be issued.
I called the resolution center and learned that it was denied because I first opened it as a “not received” case, and that they do not change a case to something else. This is different from what I heard when I last called, which must have been around 3/9 before I sent the email.
I explained to the resolution rep (Karen #2325) that this policy opens the doors for fraudulent sellers. All a seller needs to do is hold off shipping for a couple of weeks until the buyer opens a claim, then he can ship whatever he wants – PayPal will apparently protect him. She did not have an answer to that other than repeating the provision from the user agreement that states that one can only open one claim per transaction. It seems to me that this provision in the user agreement would not hold up in front of a court.
Also, I finally researched the memory chips on the module – they are K4H510838F-TCCC, and I have 16 of them, which makes the module indeed 1 GB module, but my BIOS reported it as 512kB.