Impressive Customer Service on Shop Goodwill Auctions

How the Southern California Goodwill of Los Angeles Impressed Me.

My experience buying a laptop computer on Shop Goodwill Auctions.

I've been shopping on Goodwill's auction site for quite a few years, in fact I was one of its early beta testers and once in a while I still submit feedback.  But I have never asked for a return for anything I have purchased.

I expect, as you should too, if you ever decide to shop on Shop Goodwill, that things will not always be perfect.  Most of the items descriptions are about as general and vague as can be possibly written, and all of them have a very lengthy disclaimer about not accepting returns and products being sold As-Is.

If you can live that, then most of the time, you'll probably be pretty happy.  When I compare my experiences shopping on eBay, for example; my product satisfaction rate is actually higher on the Goodwill Auction website. I may just be lucky or blessed in that regard, but maybe its because Shop Goodwill simply keeps my expectations lower, than an eBay seller who is promising me the world but instead sends me the moon.  The moon is nice to have in the sky, it gives light to everything around, but I wouldn't want to try and live on it.

Not all of my experiences with Shop Goodwill have been great. Once my account information was hacked, and that seemed to possibly have been an internal issue that occurred at the Goodwill Seller.
It took a lot of calls to resolve, but for this particular incident, I have to say, that my purchase from the Goodwill of Los Angeles and customer service, was unexpectedly impressive.

I purchased an 2012 laptop to either replace or repair my identical laptop I purchased in 2013 while filming across America and the video editing laptop I had brought died.  The new HP laptop was being sold out because the new I3 laptops were being released.  It's a reliable four core AMD laptop, and it's taken a lot of beating during the past 8 years.

Not needing a more powerful computer, I turned to Shop Goodwill in search of a duplicate. Buying an older computer in good shape to repair or replace my original laptop, prevents two laptops from ending up in the landfill.  Computers generally also greatly outlast the technology updates and software updates like Microsoft switching from Windows 7, 8 and 10 within only a few years, and now releasing windows 11 that no longer works on older computers.  It's really their security updates that push computers forward.

I found the laptop I was looking for, so I placed a bid and won.  Even though I live within 25 miles from the Southern California Goodwill in Los Angeles, gas prices in California since Joe Biden took the White House have risen to over five dollars a gallon.   That means, a trip to pick the laptop up locally, which I would normally do if I had a lot more items I was picking up, would cost me around fifteen dollars and two hours of my time.   Shipping was only thirteen dollars so I had it shipped for the first time.

I was surprised when the laptop actually arrived, it was in better condition than it looked in the auction photos, and way better than the one I was replacing.  Sold as is and for parts.

Unfortunately, when I opened the case, there was no hard drive, which the auction clearly stated was included.  I need the hard drive to match the motherboard, so I could install an operating system on it, and preserve the hard drive on my old one which has Windows 10 Pro, a two hundred dollar operating system.  But it was missing.

At first, similar to in the past, I initially thought I would just eat the loss and not hassle with it, but when I looked at hard drive prices, the lowest I could find was fifty dollars.  A new hard drive added to what the older laptop I just purchased would total the price I could pick up a brand new HP Chromebook for.
That wasn't good, and when I looked at hard drive prices on the auction site, they were not much better.

So I decided to message the seller.  Every seller on Shop Goodwill represents a Goodwill store across America.  Some have better shipping arrangements with their shippers, than others.  Some list high and drop their price when they relist it.  Others start low and let bidders fight and haggle over it.  But they all say, No Returns, All Sales Final.

My message to this seller was simple.  "The description indicated the hard drive was included, but there is no hard drive in the laptop you shipped me".

I didn't know how they would handle it. I'd never returned anything or made any kind of claim or complaint about things I purchased on their auction site.  Sometimes things didn't work at all, sometimes they looked worse than described, but I had always eaten the cost.  But this was different.

I thought maybe they might have the missing hard drive laying around, or maybe they would give me a small partial refund.  I suppose the idea that the missing hard drive would be laying around was unlikely though, because most of the stores sell the hard drives they remove as a lot of several.

The following morning I received a message back that completely surprised me. "We're sorry, sometimes we make mistakes, I've issued you a full refund."

Now that is impressive.  That is what I would of done if I had been selling it and didn't include something significant.  I might have also given a partial refund, or if I had another hard drive for sale, I would of offered to ship it.  I might have requested the item back if I gave a full refund and paid for shipping.  But being that the product price was only thirty dollars, it's often a difficult call, because of the shipping costs to and back.

On that note, I would NOT encourage you to test this out, nor attempt to exploit their generosity by intentionally shopping on Goodwill Auctions and attempting to arrive at the same out come.  That would be unethical, but there may also be other variables involved that I may be unaware of that provided me with this favorable outcome.   I'm not certain how other Goodwill stores throughout the US would respond.  Each store and seller has their own policies.

I realize that Goodwill benefits others by providing jobs and training opportunities, and is considered a charity.  I realize that someone donated the items to them. But I also realize they have operating costs, shipping costs (packaging materials can be expensive) and they have employees to pay, so ultimately, while they make a ton of profit by not having to source or purchase their products, they also have expenses.  I can appreciate that, and that's why I am even more impressed that the Southern California Los Angeles Store I purchased it from online, gave me a full refund.

Good job Shop Goodwill! But even better, Good job, Los Angeles Goodwill!  I appreciate your gesture and removing the frustration that could of occurred with trying to resolve this "not as described" issue.

I suppose I shouldn't feel bad, but in some ways I do.  A small partial refund would probably have been better. I won't disclose how much shopping I do on Shop Goodwill, but 99% I do locally with this specific vender.  I believe in shopping local whenever I can. Those being employed locally are part of my community. When I think about the items I didn't return, didn't message them about, products that I actually lost lots of money on because they didn't work, I suppose we're a little bit more even now. Regardless, I am impressed, because they honestly did the best thing to quickly resolve a not as described sale and that encourages me to keep using Shop Goodwill and this vendor.