A Forum Member Has Stolen My Money

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Brendan Ryan

Daily Driver
Hello all, I have a serious concern and I’m not sure what to do. I have paid a forum member to build me a cylinder head, and unfortunately I think I may have been burned. It was supposed to be done in late May, I still have not received the product, and the member will not answer my emails or messages here on the forum(I see the member is frequently active). Unfortunately I was asked to send money as “Friends and family” through PayPal, I did not realize that when you do this, PayPal nor my bank are able to protect me or provide a refund or start an investigation(let this be a lesson to all of you, do not send money as friends or family, you are not covered anymore under their protection policies). I have paid over $3,000 for parts and services, a huge price, and I am truly scared I will have to eat this. The member is highly respected, and has performed services for many members on here. I see that the member is selling similar items on eBay. I do not want to give a name at this time, I want the member to see this and do the right thing by refunding my money, or sending me what I’ve paid for. I would really appreciate anyone’s input here, I do not know what to do, or what is acceptable on this forum as far as naming members who are ripping people off. Thank you all so much for your help and guidance
 

JimD

Waiting for Godot...
Moderator
Without a seller name, you won't be able to get too much help or advice.

Another piece of free advice for all members: Before you spend money with anyone on Xweb, do your best to check that member out. You can reach out to a member you do know or the moderators.
 

bbrown

Bob Brown
Moderator
PM the moderators if you would like assistance. We cannot guarantee results, as there are two sides to every claim but we are here to help.
 

Dan Sarandrea (Phila)

Waitin' On Parts...
Many years ago I purchased transmission parts from a person who was very well-known on Mirafiori and only occasionally posted info here on XWeb. The person sent part of the order and then did a disappearing act, at least as far as I was concerned. I named and shamed both on Mirafiori and here on XWeb. That did nothing to get me the missing parts or the money (about a grand, +/-), but I think it damaged that person's reputation as to my knowledge they sort of faded away after that incident.

Financially I was able to put in a successful claim with my credit card company even though I sent the money thru PayPal, as you did, because I funded the purchase thru the credit card and not from the PayPal account balance or from a bank account. I would say that's the difference between your situation and mine, how we funded the purchase made thru PayPal.

Hypothetical situation: If the person to whom you paid is a forum member who hypothetically relocated his household to another country overseas, and then months later returned home, then I can see where work promised could have been significantly delayed by months and months, especially if tools and/or material are in international transit or hung up in customs. Notwithstanding such trying circumstances, money was accepted for a job, so the very least the person could do would be to maintain reasonable communications and try to explain delays. Seller may simply be facing such complicated circumstances that the only course of action is ride out delays and provide the promised product as soon as they possibly can. OTOH, hopefully this is not a situation where the OP as the Buyer is not facing the immutable reality of the Seller's situation and is bombarding said cylinder head seller with demands that simply cannot be satisfied.

Hopefully things can be worked out to mutual satisfaction!
 

Brendan Ryan

Daily Driver
Many years ago I purchased transmission parts from a person who was very well-known on Mirafiori and only occasionally posted info here on XWeb. The person sent part of the order and then did a disappearing act, at least as far as I was concerned. I named and shamed both on Mirafiori and here on XWeb. That did nothing to get me the missing parts or the money (about a grand, +/-), but I think it damaged that person's reputation as to my knowledge they sort of faded away after that incident.

Financially I was able to put in a successful claim with my credit card company even though I sent the money thru PayPal, as you did, because I funded the purchase thru the credit card and not from the PayPal account balance or from a bank account. I would say that's the difference between your situation and mine, how we funded the purchase made thru PayPal.

Hypothetical situation: If the person to whom you paid is a forum member who hypothetically relocated his household to another country overseas, and then months later returned home, then I can see where work promised could have been significantly delayed by months and months, especially if tools and/or material are in international transit or hung up in customs. Notwithstanding such trying circumstances, money was accepted for a job, so the very least the person could do would be to maintain reasonable communications and try to explain delays. Seller may simply be facing such complicated circumstances that the only course of action is ride out delays and provide the promised product as soon as they possibly can. OTOH, hopefully this is not a situation where the OP as the Buyer is not facing the immutable reality of the Seller's situation and is bombarding said cylinder head seller with demands that simply cannot be satisfied.

Hopefully things can be worked out to mutual satisfaction!
I totally understand trying circumstances, and I’ve told the seller I understand if there are personal difficulties they are experiencing, I understand. But the seller has given me poor excuses, or just flat out refuses to answer me at all. All I ever wanted was some sort of timeline, or acceptable reason for a loooooooong delay in service
 

carl

True Classic
You have done the right thing posting here without naming the person. It actually helps you that he is a known and active member as hopefully he now realizes if he does not take care of you, you will (and should) post his name here.

Give him a chance to respond (check that he is still active here) and then post his name. As alluded to, he may have a valid reason for his treatment of you.

I bought an IDF manifold from a person who has posted here and was told he was a good guy. The manifold came in a timely manner but was a piece of junk and no offer to take it back was made. I won't post his name here and he has ceased posting here since then. This was not the gentleman from Croatia.
 

Brendan Ryan

Daily Driver
$3,000 to "build me a cylinder head"? That's a significant chunk of change!
It was quite a bit more than that, lots of parts, a big valve head, tstat adapter, with port and bowl work. Cam, with cam tower installed and shimmed. Modified intake manifold match ported to head, yada yada yada! It was a significant amount of money, but I believed the member to be one of the best, and I trusted them......I feel pretty dumb!
 

Dr.Jeff

True Classic
I have a few reactions to this situation. I know the sinking feeling when you fear you may be getting ripped off, especially for a large sum of money. But there is always two sides to every story. He may have reasons for his actions that are not apparent. One could be that the seller might have a very unusual circumstance where he cannot communicate for long periods; I know of a few members that are in that boat due to working in remote locations for extended periods. Similar reason could explain the delays in getting the work done. Or perhaps the item has been sent and is held up somewhere along the way (especially international shipments), that has happened to me. And there could be significant personal circumstance involved - perhaps the loss of a family member or such - that take a higher priority for the time being. Who knows. For now it might be best not to slander anyone specifically until you have further evidence that a malicious act has indeed been committed. Afterall I believe you have received some of your goods(?), which indicates it isn't a complete rip off (yet). Unfortunately in the automotive industry it is quite common for things to take much longer than promised.

This is not directly related, but I had a situation (not Fiat or Xweb related) where someone contacted me asking for a used part. I told him what I had and sent pictures (with detailed descriptions), asking what further info he wanted. He said it was fine and agreed to a price (which was well below market value), but insisted it be sent through his shipper. The shipping request required considerable extra effort on my part but I agreed. Once he received the item he started bombarding me with messages that he felt ripped off; the item wasn't what he expected and it had been damaged in shipping (by his shipper). When I asked about the photos he said he did not see them, although they were still attached to my copy of the outgoing message. When I asked about the clear descriptions he said he must have misread them. So I asked why he did not request more pics or info. No reply, other than he still felt harmed. Frankly the whole affair cost me more in expenses than I received in payment. I guess the moral is everyone has their own perspective for any given situation (right or wrong). Until you hear the other person's view it is difficult to say what is going on. Hopefully your post here will help stimulate better communications from him. Perhaps try and be patient for the moment.

On the subject of payment. I agree that using the "friends and family" leaves you unprotected. It is worth the fee to have some backing. Although as Dan said, if you used a credit card to pay for the PayPal transaction, then you are still protected by the card company. If you can initiate a claim it usually motivates the other person to respond better.
 

aarpcard

True Classic
Just something to consider. If someone insists on using friends and family when doing a transaction, if it's a large sum of money I'll usually offer to pay the paypal fees and send via the normal means. That way I get security for a small fee and the seller gets the full amount . . . however if the seller is asking for "Friends and Family" transactions then it means they're not asking for enough money in the first place for their parts/services (or they're intending on ripping you off.)
 

Brendan Ryan

Daily Driver
I have a few reactions to this situation. I know the sinking feeling when you fear you may be getting ripped off, especially for a large sum of money. But there is always two sides to every story. He may have reasons for his actions that are not apparent. One could be that the seller might have a very unusual circumstance where he cannot communicate for long periods; I know of a few members that are in that boat due to working in remote locations for extended periods. Similar reason could explain the delays in getting the work done. Or perhaps the item has been sent and is held up somewhere along the way (especially international shipments), that has happened to me. And there could be significant personal circumstance involved - perhaps the loss of a family member or such - that take a higher priority for the time being. Who knows. For now it might be best not to slander anyone specifically until you have further evidence that a malicious act has indeed been committed. Afterall I believe you have received some of your goods(?), which indicates it isn't a complete rip off (yet). Unfortunately in the automotive industry it is quite common for things to take much longer than promised.

This is not directly related, but I had a situation (not Fiat or Xweb related) where someone contacted me asking for a used part. I told him what I had and sent pictures (with detailed descriptions), asking what further info he wanted. He said it was fine and agreed to a price (which was well below market value), but insisted it be sent through his shipper. The shipping request required considerable extra effort on my part but I agreed. Once he received the item he started bombarding me with messages that he felt ripped off; the item wasn't what he expected and it had been damaged in shipping (by his shipper). When I asked about the photos he said he did not see them, although they were still attached to my copy of the outgoing message. When I asked about the clear descriptions he said he must have misread them. So I asked why he did not request more pics or info. No reply, other than he still felt harmed. Frankly the whole affair cost me more in expenses than I received in payment. I guess the moral is everyone has their own perspective for any given situation (right or wrong). Until you hear the other person's view it is difficult to say what is going on. Hopefully your post here will help stimulate better communications from him. Perhaps try and be patient for the moment.

On the subject of payment. I agree that using the "friends and family" leaves you unprotected. It is worth the fee to have some backing. Although as Dan said, if you used a credit card to pay for the PayPal transaction, then you are still protected by the card company. If you can initiate a claim it usually motivates the other person to respond better.
I have not received anything for my money unfortunately. I agree with everything you are saying, and I totally appreciate it. Like I said, I’m just trying to get something done here without totally outing this person, precisely because I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, every correspondence has been, “I had this to do, almost done, I’ll send pics”, and “I had that to do, almost there, I’ll send pics”. After 2-3 months of the same non specific excuses, and no pictures or word of progress, I hope you would all understand my concern.
 

tigeravg

True Classic
Good idea asking for advice. If you had even a gentlemans agreement for say 4 weeks, and now it's been 3 months...time to pull the pin. Out him/her so nobody else uses these same sevices and sufferes the same excuses. When he/she makes good, post that too. You might find several others have been thru the same thing and haven't mentioned it. I had a similar deal happen to me on a vintage motorcycle site a few years ago. Very pissed when several others suddenly came up with similar stories. I only lost $80, but was more upset because others had not spoken up. Also a "respected member"... No excuse for this level of dishonesty, stringing you along, not sending pics. Out them.
 

RZSR X

True Classic
My 1300 performance build has taken 10 months so far and until the last couple of months I really didn't get much in ways of updates or pictures on the progress. Turns out they have been extremely busy and only the classic engine builder has been working on it off and on.

Now that I have seen it in person and have heard what work they had to do to get it to this high performance level (from the new & used parts I have collected over the years) I'm quite happy now and real glad I took it to them.

The main problem has been the communication, it's not their thing, building motors is! Having a carrier in project management this of course drove me nuts.

IMHO, I feel your head is still coming but isn't a priority (for who knows what reason) for the seller at the moment but he doesn't want to give you anymore bad news so might be avoiding you. Fingers crossed that from this posting it all works out for you.

P.S. What size valves did you go with? Mine are 40mm Intake and 35.5mm exhaust.
 

MikeHynes

True Classic
Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Might have been better to avoid labels and just state the facts?
I would expect the accused would be interested in telling us all his (or hers) side of the story.
I think communication, or the lack there of, is at the root of most of the misunderstandings honest folks suffer. Lack of communication, or disinformation, is often an indication of lack of honesty?
 

Brendan Ryan

Daily Driver
My 1300 performance build has taken 10 months so far and until the last couple of months I really didn't get much in ways of updates or pictures on the progress. Turns out they have been extremely busy and only the classic engine builder has been working on it off and on.

Now that I have seen it in person and have heard what work they had to do to get it to this high performance level (from the new & used parts I have collected over the years) I'm quite happy now and real glad I took it to them.

The main problem has been the communication, it's not their thing, building motors is! Having a carrier in project management this of course drove me nuts.

IMHO, I feel your head is still coming but isn't a priority (for who knows what reason) for the seller at the moment but he doesn't want to give you anymore bad news so might be avoiding you. Fingers crossed that from this posting it all works out for you.

P.S. What size valves did you go with? Mine are 40mm Intake and 35.5mm exhaust.
Thank’s, I really appreciate the input, and I hope you get to enjoy that motor soon! I went with 33.4 Ex, 39.5 In.......What kind of compression ratio are you planning to run/octane rating of gasoline you’ll be using???
 

Brendan Ryan

Daily Driver
Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Might have been better to avoid labels and just state the facts?
I would expect the accused would be interested in telling us all his (or hers) side of the story.
I think communication, or the lack there of, is at the root of most of the misunderstandings honest folks suffer. Lack of communication, or disinformation, is often an indication of lack of honesty?
Maybe the title of this thread was a bit harsh, but I wanted to get attention, and that’s honestly how I feel. Communication is key, and that’s all I ever wanted, and I will be patient for a bit longer
 

Ics19

belle macchine!
Very pissed when several others suddenly came up with similar stories. I only lost $80, but was more upset because others had not spoken up. Also a "respected member"...
No help in hindsight, but I guess this is where places like ebay have a benefit, as feedback is available and encouraged - it's always worth taking a look before you bid/buy at the sellers ratings, even if you know they *should* be respectable - sometimes the warning signs are there.

Some good advice previously mentioned on buying safe, but equally don't be fooled that seeing a picture of an item is any guarantee that that's what you're getting. Look at their other items if possible and same ones from another seller too - do the pictures just happen to look too similar? Recognise any of them from your favourite X vendor? It might just happen that they don't really have that rare NOS part you're paying top dollar for and will ship you a cheap modern item instead.

A fellow X owner in the UK is currently suffering such an 'inconvenience' from an overseas ebayer, who decided to substitute a part without asking first. No big deal as ebay policy covers the item/shipping, but it falls short on the import duty/tax/handling fees that have been unnecessarily incurred and these costs can be significant and seemingly impossible to recover.

Not sure whether the OP transaction is out of country, but if so, and the work is finally completed, it may be worthwhile verifying with the seller before shipping that the parts used are as discussed and seen in any pictures and that no substitutions or spec changes have taken place. $3000 coming into the US no doubt attracts a fair portion of tax that you don't want to add to your pain should things not be as expected. One of the great risks of international trade I suppose, along with damage in shipping, so always make sure the shipment is insured for the correct amount and again verify this with the seller (before shipment!), even check out the costs before agreeing business, as high value items unfortunately attract high insurance costs. No one wants one of those difficult 'who's liable' conversations :(
 

RZSR X

True Classic
Side note on if the part is coming from out of country: I had to order a specific windsurfing board from Germany (since all my gear had been stolen and it was the wrong time of year to get the same new gear here in the US) and the board cost was $2150 plus $250 shipping. Turns out that if an item costs more than $2k then it automatically gets stuck in customs and you have to get a shipping lawyer to do paper work etc. etc. etc. Took over a month and $350 additional dollars to get my board released. They had no idea what a windsurfing board is and kept coming back with questions about where is it manufactured and what is it made of...

It was a nightmare dealing with the half dozen people involved. If the shop owner in Germany had known that rule in advance he would have written the cost on the shipping bill as $1950 and I would have had my board in under a week with no extra costs. Oh course if it was lost or damaged I wouldn't be refunded the full amount through the shipper but it would have been worth it since it cost me more.

I'm looking to buy a German E-Bike built for climbing the alps that costs over $7K. I will have a friend bring it with them disassembled in a bike bag and with mud thrown on it when they visit from Switzerland so it is as though they are planning to ride in the US on vacation. No dealing with customs or import taxes etc.
 

RZSR X

True Classic
On the compression I asked the builder to keep it just low enough to run on 91 oct. So I'm thinking it is around 10 and not as high as 10.5. If I need to use octane boost I will since I already pour a bottle of NOS in on every fill up in my modified Audi TT (I don't drive it very often).

There are only two stations that have high octane in the North Bay Area I know of. One is an hour a way in Sunol and the other is at Sonoma Raceway which is even further so those aren't very useful. Another car enthusiast suggested avgas at the airport which I might look into.

When I would take my '61 Mini Vtec to Thunderhill Raceway I'd make a mix of 91 and 100 octane. Man that motor loved to run WOT on the high octane!
 
On the compression I asked the builder to keep it just low enough to run on 91 oct. So I'm thinking it is around 10 and not as high as 10.5. If I need to use octane boost I will since I already pour a bottle of NOS in on every fill up in my modified Audi TT (I don't drive it very often).

There are only two stations that have high octane in the North Bay Area I know of. One is an hour a way in Sunol and the other is at Sonoma Raceway which is even further so those aren't very useful. Another car enthusiast suggested avgas at the airport which I might look into.

When I would take my '61 Mini Vtec to Thunderhill Raceway I'd make a mix of 91 and 100 octane. Man that motor loved to run WOT on the high octane!
If you are ever driving up the Peninsula, there is a Union 76 station on Woodside Road in Redwood City that has Sunoco 260 (102 RON) at the pump.
 
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