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Life is school, pain is tuition, and some lessons cost more than others. And for some really tough lessons we must part with cash. (DannyM.)

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Some algorithm somewhere figured out that I might be interested in purchasing the above-pictured product, which is billed as a “perpetual motion machine.” I am sufficiently familiar with physics to know that such a machine is impossible and therefore cannot exist at any price, but I figured that, at minimum, whatever it was would at least make an amusing cat toy for my mother-in-law’s new household companion. I definitely should have known better–

RED FLAG #1– Perpetual motion machines do not and cannot exist, and therefore the video in the advertisement of this device actually working is fraudulent.

RED FLAG #2– This product comes from TCTMATCC, i.e., The Country That Manufactures All That Cheap Crap. (I never actually mention it by name because I am genuinely fearful of incurring the wrath of word-scanning bots.)

RED FLAG #3– I tried to pay by AMEX, which I use for all of my online transactions because they are the most customer-friendly for both security and consumer protection. HOWEVER– while trying to pay by AMEX I was mysteriously diverted to PayPal.

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It is hard to do business online while out on the road trucking for several days at a time, for one is limited by Internet access that is often weak or spotty in certain rural expanses along my route. In one particular bit of comedy that plays out daily, the wireless signal at a rest area or truck stop somehow chokes off my phone’s Internet access. And the signal at a Starbucks that stands a delightful mile-long, tree-lined suburban stroll from one of our parking yards has stopped recognizing me, my password, and my devices, forcing me to use a hotspot, which works only sporadically. Since my free (non-driving, non-sleeping) time is greatly limited during my workweek, I tend to work briskly when a warm, dry indoor space with a usable signal enables me to work online.

And sometimes haste makes waste, or worse.

The package arrived a few days after Christmas… no problem, since the intended recipient was a cat, after all. Right from the jump the product within was obviously useless garbage– the materials and workmanship were laughably shoddy, and some of the parts shown in the photo above were missing. No problem… PayPal would surely stand behind me, right?

I formally registered a dispute on PayPal’s website. They said to first try to resolve the matter with the seller. I made my point, and the seller responded with a ridiculous and insulting offer to refund approximately one-seventh of the purchase price + shipping. So I elevated the matter to a full-blown dispute. The good news was that PayPal eventually ruled in my favor, awarding me, in theory, a full refund; but the bad news was that I, not the seller, was responsible for the return shipping costs. Furthermore, the seller would have to actively attest that they received the returned item AND that it was in good condition. In other words, I would have to fork over a sum roughly equal to the original purchase price in order to send this thing back across the Pacific, and then hope that this utterly unscrupulous seller would acknowledge its safe return and thereby require itself to refund the original transaction. My self-protective guard may have drooped a little on the original decision to make this purchase, but I wasn’t about to invite such an obviously easy re-screwing.

So I decided to just throw this piece of trash where trash belongs, permanently terminate my account with PayPal for their tacit support of such a dishonest dealer, and vow to never, EVER purchase ANYTHING from TCTMATCC unless 1) I absolutely need it; and 2) it absolutely cannot be obtained from anywhere else.

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I learned a long time ago to never issue ultimatums (ultimata?) or make threats… in other words, you don’t have to lie, but you don’t need to tell your adversaries everything that you are actually thinking. (Okay, I learned that from THE GODFATHER and my related experience running a restaurant for the Corleones’ real-life equivalents, but it is still a worthwhile rule of thumb.) So I never went Full Karen on PayPal or told them to stuff it. And that turned out to be a good thing, for shortly after politely registering my dissatisfaction with the terms of settlement, I received the following message from PayPal–

Since you've been a valued customer here at PayPal, I have a proposal. As a one-time courtesy, I can issue you a voucher of the same amount or equivalent to $31.98 to ease your effort and we will consider the case resolved. The courtesy credit voucher to compensate with what happened and to show how much we value you to best that we can.

ESL errors notwithstanding, I was genuinely touched. Sometimes it pays to be a Karen… but I have found that more often it pays to simply be reasonable and politely persistent.

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