So with that in mind here are a few disclaimers for this post:
1) I am no longer an active moderator. I occasionally put in a comment on moderation decisions or point out problems, but I have no power or control over egl or egl_comm_sales. I am happy with that. I enjoyed moderating but it became tiring after several years and I'm content to let the current team deal with issues.
2) I am privy to some of the information that the moderation team receives because I am still on egl_mod but I never discuss that information with outsiders. In fact I rarely check/read egl anymore. The only reason why I'm even involved in this is because I am a dissatisfied customer of mariko_senpai
3) The information below was sent to me, unasked for, by clobbao. I did not request this information from him. He got my email because mariko_senpai sent it to him. Therefore, in this matter, anything which he has told me is independent of the moderation team. Furthermore, it was mariko_senpai who provided him with my contact info, therefore she must accept the consequences of that action.
4) There is a LOT of information that has been tossed around about this matter. I'm only including what is relevant to my evaluation of this service. Believe me, it is a huge mess and neither side is free of guilt. I am only bothering to post this publicly because mariko_senpai has chosen to escalate a private issue into the public sphere.
On September 24, 2009, I placed an order to HMHM through a group order that mariko_senpai was running on egl_group_order. I paid the day of the order, and later increased my order to include some Rocking Horse shoes after mariko_senpai PMed me with an offer. I ordered from her service based on reputation, clarity of presentation, and the promptness of her responses. I expected the orders to take at least a month since I ordered a custom-sized item and I have had experience with large group orders before. But the length of time was not a concern for me.
On October 22, 2009 I received an email from mariko_senpai with others from the group order. The full text is below, but in her email she informed us that her business associate in China was withholding goods from her because of a payment dispute. I found the email to be a bit personal for my tastes, but I decided that it was probably made in good faith because she had a good reputation as a seller. I was also aware that she was having a problem previous to her email because on October 20, 2009 she emailed the moderation team with her concerns. The team banned him based on her emails and I agreed privately with the decision.
Please do not panic despite what you are about to read. Please email me if you have questions, but bear in mind that I am setting up at an expo and running it over the next 4 days and so communication may be slow.
It has come to my attention that my Chinese contact Huang Yi (also included on this email) has accepted money for my order without delivering the goods.
On the last occasion, I ran group orders – HMHM, Lolita Lolas and shoes through him and submitted the order, specifying the goods had to be in Australia by 20th October as I need them for an expo. I paid him to carry out these orders on the 25th of September, plus more things for myself and submitted the final order on 6th October with adjustments.
He has registered his ‘lolita’ site on 8th September 2009, so the site had been planned for at least a month.
He let me know that things would be delivered to his house by the 10th October. On the 16th of October, he emailed me telling me that I did not pay him enough and he wanted x% of the retail price to release the goods to me, not even honouring the agreement to post HMHM garments and Lolita Lolas directly from China to customers; the goods were to only come to me.
I refused on grounds that if he was unhappy he should have told me before accepting money or an order (both after his site was established) and that he should not negotiate in the middle of the order. He said that he will send everything to me and send my money back; yet he does not have my bank details.
I have nothing. I do not have proof of postage. I do not have goods to sell at my expo and has therefore hurt my ability to grow my business. He has said that he has not sent the HMHM items nor the shoes. He has taken photos of the shoes that are meant to be sent to you. I presume he is going to photograph the HMHM items as well and put them on his site. He has already photographed KiraKira pink x white and black x white skirts that were meant for sale at the expo ON HIS FLOOR. He has ripped off my measurement chart word for word. I complained to sweetphaex about these things, resulting in his post on oz_lolita being taken down and him eventually being banned from the community. His PM to her in ~3 minutes was
'"Hey sweetphaex, Could you please tell me why my entry on oz_lolita?
Please let me konw, thank you!
If someone reported me for anything, I can explain, cuz someone accused me of using their measurements and I deleted the posts. "
I had posted in the thread asking him to remove my measurements as they had clearly been copied word for word from my site. He deleted the comment three times despite my telling him not to.
There have been many errors in the past for which I have picked up the bill, such as ordering $4000 worth of shoes without my permission on credit, sending me dirty items and stained items, sending me items in the wrong colour, wrong sizes, items not specified as pictured or to measurements or forgetting to send them at all. Now he has AU$2,000 in goods and cash.
He PMd birdielou the following:
"Hey I'm from China, and I just started my lolita business. I've been working for someone else with this for over a year but it didn't work out. So I'm doing my own now.
I'm wondering is it that I have to be in Australia or New Zealand otherwise I'm not permitted to post in this community? I mean one of my cousins lives in Sydney. I would really like to join the oz lolita community as there are quite a lot of lolis in Australia. And since I'm starting my own business, everything will be much cheaper, you can take a look at my website: xxx.xxx.com
I haven't finished updating everything on my website, but am trying my best to speed up. I have opened a shoes order a week ago, thou there are just a couple of orders, but I'm still happy, as long as there are people buying, by time, more people will come back later:)
He has no relatives in Australia and to my knowledge has never left China.
Huang Yi, your actions are despicable. You have cheated me and my customers and have betrayed our trust. As I am the one who confided in you and placed my orders with you, I am responsible for refunding my customers should you not carry out what you were instructed to do. As a result, our communities have and will take action against you for your dishonesty and wilful neglect. These things belong to neither you nor me – they belong to the customers who have paid for them.
Every single customer here has been copied in on this email and I am protecting yours and their anonymity. Should you refuse to do as I ask I will reveal your address, email address and phone numbers on which you can be contacted directly, and make no mistake that these people, in addition to many others, will never order from you because of what you have done.
My requests for affected customers – shoes customers, have a look of your shoes he has photographed for his own benefit in the attached image. They are at his house but delayed shipping them to me so that he could have time to photograph them for his own use instead of sending them to me to distribute.
Please send the shoes to me in full asap so I can send them out – affected people are:
Cut out for length, but she just lists off her customers and what they were meant to receive here
I apologise for my lack of communication, but he has been the reason why and this is my last resort for a desirable outcome for you all as private communication has done nothing. I have emailed Sonia Leong at loligothuk but have not heard back. In addition, everyone speak to your local community mods so they are aware of the situation and ask them to get in contact with me if he pops up. He is banned on oz lolita and the community sales forums already nad several others have been alerted.
On October 29, 2009, clobbao sent the moderation team some emails concerning his ban. In these emails he included some public posts that mariko_senpai made on a forum, flaming him.
Let me make it clear. mariko_senpai went on a public forum that anyone can find and view without joining. Additionally, this forum has a lot of traffic and users. So the chance that someone could have coincidentally been a member of this forum and egl is fairly high. Most importantly, nothing on the Internet, once published for public consumption, is private. I will not post all of the screencaps from the posts because mariko_senpai convinced the forum admins to delete the posts since they contained some emails between her and clobbao. However, it is clear from the first few links that mariko_senpai started a fight with her business associate clobbao in a public place, on October 18, 2009 and then emailed her customers and the moderation team after the fact, claiming that clobbao was a scammer.
Page One of mariko_senpai's forum post
Page Two of mariko_senpai's forum posts
Page Three of mariko_senpai's forum posts
The gist of their dispute appears to be money. clobbao feels that mariko_senpai is not paying him enough for his work. mariko_senpai clearly started the fight and in a very unprofessional manner. I read the forum posts and after deliberating over the matter, I sent mariko_senpai a private email as follows on October 30, 2009:
I'm not really interested concerning who is at fault here. As an ex EGL mod I am privvy to information from both sides of the debate. What I do expect is clarification of where my goods are at this very moment and when I can expect them or my immediate refund.
I am extremely displeased with this situation, largely because I am concerned that you have chosen a shoddy business partner and then antagonized him by engaging in a flame war with him on a public forum. Your first priority is to your customers and if you need to soothe his ego for a moment until he performs the services required, perhaps you should consider that. While I understand he has put you into a difficult situation and you are naturally upset about it, now is the time for negotiation, not antagonism.
Please give everyone a status report by Sunday concerning your progress. I understand that you have an expo to work at, but quite honestly with so many customers' merchandise at risk, you can ill afford not to give your top attention to fixing this situation. Otherwise you're basically going to an expo to market goods without a reliable business partner and with a chunk of unsatisfied customers.
mariko_senpai responded to this email asking if I wanted a personal call from her. At this time she also sent her business associate my contact info asking him to update me personally. I didn't have the time to respond to her before she sent out the second email as well as a private response to my email on October 31, 2009:
Have you heard from Huang Yi? I have not heard anything as yet. You may have read in my previous mass email I received 2 boxes from him yesterday. I note that you have not responded to my offer of a phone call, so I will explain to you the situation here.
As I have been in receipt of 2 boxes, I am certain the shoes and HMHM will appear in the next week or so. If it becomes apparent to me that he will not deliver, I can issue a refund. At this point in time it is not in the best interest of the business to issue a refund as at the moment I can still say that the items will be forthcoming, but also you have ordered a custom item, which if it should show up would be difficult to sell and unfair on the business (please note the business is a separate entity to myself). I have already stated that One Day In Paradise is a solvent entity and is able to pay refunds however I do not want to be forced into making a knee jerk decision that will adversely affect the business.
Should you not have received information from Huang Yi concerning the status of your order, you will find that I am receipt of the same kind of communication. It is not possible to pass on accurate communication from someone who refuses to communicate and when they do communicate does not provide accurate information, and at the moment I am speculating which I do not like to do.
Although you say you are not interested in concerning who is at fault, I maintain that this is a situation that is not of my making. It is not my fault or the fault of the business that Huang Yi refuses to communicate or pass on accurate and vital information. I however do take responsibility for what has happened and am dealing with the matter appropriately.
Should I have known his plans to sabotage my expo, I of course would have not dealt further with him. I did not choose a shoddy business partner intentionally, just as a buyer does not choose a shoddy seller intentionally. While he has made mistakes that have not been in the best interest of the business, he has never before
1. attempted to extort additional funds in return for goods
2. ceased communication
3. not provided shipping information
4. missed expo deadlines
5. decided to make decisions such as shipping items due to others to me and not order items on his own accord out of spite and wilful neglect
He has never at any point been willing to negotiate and is determined to make things as difficult as possible. Unfortunately, being 'nice' in business in this situation from supplier to supplier does not get results. He has hurt my customers, which in turn has hurt myself and the business.
I have his personal contact details in China and when I return I will visit him personally. I have no issue with making public my contact details and numerous people are aware of my physical location. What I ask for in return is your patience, understanding and willingness to communicate with me in the appropriate manner. This includes responding to my emails when I ask you if you would like to be called.
You are asking me in a roundabout way to cease further business in order to manage this problem. This is illegal under Federal Australian law. It is my duty as the owner of the business to act in the best interest of the business, which includes attending expos as this is where the majority of the business's income is derived, contrary to popular belief that the business conducts the majority of its business online. Moreover I am in control of the situation as far as it can be managed, which included alerting those affected first, then community mods, and finally a public statement to egl_comm_sales and www.loligothdbs.com which shall be completed today at the request of lifeisforliving. I am a person of professional background and am adept in all aspects of business management.
In reference to drawing him into a 'flame war' on loligothuk, I mentioned to lifeisforliving that I will not be putting an alert on the forum as it is at the mods' discretion as to decide what to do. As his posts are still there, I assume that loligothuk condones his behaviour. However I am free to comment and in doing so, users are able to see that he has no care for the customers he has inconvenienced as apparently he is servicing one customer, not 30; is spiteful, arrogant and clearly not telling the truth. In threatening to post my personal information publicly (not that it matters) one can derive that he is a person of questionable character.
I have only had you respond in this manner and one person who has hit me with a chargeback with no communication. Everyone else thankfully has been calm, despite being in a situation that is clearly undesirable and that is an indication that people have faith in my judgement and decisions. Nobody wishes to entrust their hard earned funds with the prospect that they may not receive something in return. I maintain my offer to speak with you on the phone should you wish to ask further questions and entrust that you continue to approach me appropriately.
One Day In Paradise
This is the update to the current situation.
At the moment I am managing my parents' motel in Lakes Entrance, Victoria while they are attending a wedding in Melbourne, so if you have any questions there may be a delay, although the laptop is next to me in reception. Pic related.
Yesterday I was in receipt of 2 parcels, which contained petticoats, rockinghorse shoes and skirts. Neither the two tracking numbers were communicated to me at the date of despatch from Shanghai and with no consideration as to whether I would be in the country or not to collect them. Huang Yi communicated to me that HMHM was due at the end of October, however I assume he will not communicate when the shoes and HMHM items will be sent to me either. It is for this reason I ask you to continue being patient.
One person has filed a chargeback on the business, and this is the first chargeback the business has received during the year of operation. I understand that we are in an unpleasant situation, however please be patient. Irrespective as to whether you have exceeded the claim date or not or sent me a bank transfer, if these items do not show I will refund you. One Day In Paradise is a solvent business and has sufficient funds to carry out its business as per usual. Please take this into account; I have asked you not to panic and instead communicate with me over any concerns you have. I am happy to call you on a day and at a time suiting you if this will alleviate your concerns. The onus is on you to respond to my emails and to ask for further clarification should you not understand.
One person has asked me to cease operations of the business until this has been completed. This is illegal under Australian federal law. One Day In Paradise, in order to remain a solvent entity must keep trading as per usual. Should I do as you demand I risk fines and imprisonment. As a business owner, it is in the best interest of the company to continue to trade, irrespective of what I or others think and it is my duty to do so. This involves attending a one day cosplay competition at the Sebel Hotel at Albert Park, Melbourne on the 14th November for which I conducted a quick one day Anna House GO. Anna House is owned by Ho Yuk Fung, is based in Hong Kong and bears no ties to the current delayed order from Hangzhou, China. Miva and Anna are brilliant to work with and I thank those for ordering with me on this occasion.
I also ask you to consider my standing in the community. The business has taken me to five cities in Australia - Melbourne (twice), Sydney (twice), Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth; and Auckland in New Zealand and have had the opportunity to meet many of those who frequent oz_lolita/nz_lolita in person as well as those who have visited the store in Melbourne from Chile, Brazil, the United States, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. These people have trust and faith in how I conduct business and am pleased to say I am not without a face in the local community. This is my business and I am doing what I love: servicing the existing communities and introducing new people to the fashion.
I also ask you to take into account my experience and situation - I am currently in a casual full time role which allows flexibility to carry out business duties as necessary and in addition I had a professional career in marketing spanning 8 years prior to starting the business. I am skilled in various facets of management, and specialise in the management of people, multitasking and problem solving. My financial situation and that of the business is secure and would like to reiterate that this situation is not of my making. It is my job to give you a solution and it is currently taking time. Time is hard to bear but is necessary for the time being and do not want to make knee jerk decisions that will adversely affect you as well as the business
edited-- some info about status of various orders
I will admit that I found this email a little passive-aggressive and I was also displeased with the fact that she'd clearly antagonized clobbao in public and now it appeared that she was covering her tracks. As the only one of her customers who had a complete picture, I sent her another email clarifying my position:
What I received from your former business partner was a rather incoherent email that was mainly concerned with accusing you of various things and it has done nothing to reassure me about the status of my goods. At this point I don't really care who is at fault although you both seem to be more concerned with name-calling than making sure this situation is resolved properly.
I want a tracking number and a solid update and if I do not receive one soon I will simply file a chargeback. I don't want to run around between you and this other person trying to get information. That's not my job as a customer. My job is to pay you on time and provide you with information about my order. I've fulfilled my end, so now it is up to you as a business person to provide me with solid information instead of involving me in your personal dispute with this man. I do not want a personal call from you because that is not solid information. I do not want reassurances about how solvent your company is. That is not relevant to me. The only proof of solvency and reliability is when my goods come to me or I receive a full refund.
It is unfortunate that you have taken on such a defensive tone in this matter. I have never asked you to cease business operations, I simply warned you to clean up your mess before getting further involved as a seller. This is largely because there have been an enormous number of scammers on the EGL sales communities lately and quite frankly the word of a seller is no longer as solid as it used to be. If this situation escalates it is a simple matter of discussing it openly on the sales community rather than keeping it to private emails. This isn't a threat on my part, simply caution. As for whether or not I chose to "remain calm" that is my choice as a customer. I will not chose to "remain calm" if I am not given solid reasons to do so.
In reference to the "flame war", I saw and the screen captures of the nine pages of flames ZGeek.com that you engaged in with your former partner. You were incredibly unprofessional and nothing about that forum thread reassures me that you are acting in my best interests as a customer. I am quite certain that your other customers would not be happy with your behavior thus far. While I understand that this is a frustrating situation for you, going online to flame someone whom you must deal with financially is an incredibly bad choice.
I wish to see a tracking number by Tuesday, November 3rd, or I will take more definitive action.
Hm. Well all I can say at this stage is that I received a parcel in the mail in Melbourne but want to have a look at it first before I confirm they are the final items as again do not wish to speculate. It was not possible to notify anyone of the arrival of this box as Huang Yi did not communicate to me the tracking numbers and did not communicate as to what is inside the box. To my knowledge, your HMHM item is inside. I simply cannot pluck random tracking numbers out of thin air in the hope that they are correct.
I am defensive because you refuse to be reasonable. It is absolutely nerve racking to be bullied email after email by someone who refuses to see reason. I have asked you if you would like a phone call but you refuse to speak to me. It is difficult to resolve a situation with a customer who is being deliberately obtuse.
You were not meant to read my private emails. Those were not meant for others' eyes and surely you know that you should have deleted it as I did not give permission to have those emails posted. As an ex mod, you have breached my trust by reading it and not deleting it. In this instance I will now need to refer this matter to a solicitor. I was angry as one would be, and unfortunately I now have to take this matter further. I may have no rights in China but I do elsewhere and is the reason why the thread was deleted.
It was also necessary to call him out in a public space as several members of the forum were egging him on to give me poor service behind my back. He is also not my business partner. I pay him to do a job and he is meant to do it, which he had done until this instance.
You are only the third person out of thirty to give me trouble where 1 out of three has been assured due to confusion. I have been running this business a year, and I am not 'other sellers'. This is a registered business in the state of Victoria and abides by the laws of the Trade Practices Act, a federal act of the Commonwealth. As a business, I must be given the opportunity to provide the service and to resolve the problem, which you have not done. In fact I called attention to the matter as early as possible because I am aware of scammers in the community, a fact that has been lost on you and the fact that I and everyone else could have potentially been a victim of his actions. I have actually asked for open discussion on egl_comm_sales as opposed to 'outing' me but was asked to keep it private by xelyna as I am working towards a solution. You may speak with her in order to confirm this. I am not afraid for this to be open because I am doing what I can and have nothing to be afraid of and am willing to post it myself if you like.
I have asked you to be patient and reasonable in the event the goods arrive at my door, which I am certain they have and should you continue to threaten me I will take appropriate legal action. I am willing to leave open channels of communication but I will not accept your bullying. Bullying is a serious matter and despite your concerns about your items it is unacceptable given I have done my utmost to reassure you. I have done my best to manage the situation (which has been done effectively considering I did an expo simultaneously in a different country) and I am asking you to again be patient while I receive and check the box on Wednesday. Tomorrow is a public holiday and the post office is not open.
Again, my offer of a phone call is open should you wish to speak with me. I am sorry you feel this way but I have been given no choice but to respond in this manner as I refuse to be treated in this way.
On November 4, 2009 she sent out the following email to the group:
Today I was in receipt of one box where the tracking number was not communicated to me and I was not consulted as to whether I would be present to receive it; instead I had to pick it up from the post office today (4/11) due to the public holiday on 3/11. The good news is that everyone's shoes came in and these will be sent out tomorrow or available for pickup. Attached are some photos. Unfortunately, I only received half my order for HMHM.
edited: updates of various items
In order to remedy this, my new contact in addition to finalising my quote for RHS and shoes will provide me the number of HMHM to contact. Hopefully I will know tomorrow night if they sent out my entire HMHM order to Huang Yi. I have sent HMHM an email to which they failed to respond.
It is almost as if the items are being sent out deliberately slowly in order to slow down the despatch to you.
I thank everyone for their continued patience and thank you to the person who has closed their PayPal dispute. Unfortunately, one customer has continually been abusive via email and has refused my offer of a phone call. As a victim of physical, mental, verbal and written abuse in the workplace I will not put up with this disgusting behaviour. It is bullying. I am doing my best as you understand and please do not take your frustration out on me as I cannot mentally handle it. To make matters worse I have been suspended from trading from egl_comm_sales until this shipment has been sorted out. I will do what it takes to see this through to the end but I cannot click my fingers and have all the solutions immediately because Huang Yi refuses to communicate with me.
In the meantime, I refuse to cease business as this is one shipment from one country that has been affected. I am currently running an Anna House GO which is due in next week and am also attending a one day expo. FanplusFriend is still in production and will be shipped by the alternative supplier. It is not fair to the business given there are 168 hours in the week and I cannot solve everything in a single hour, however due to this sole person's influence in the community it is hurting the business further in order to satisfy their anger.
At this point I decided to just let the moderation team deal with it and I did not email her again. I have been waiting along with her other customers for solid confirmation of our orders. Additionally I have watched her run a campaign, first by email, and now by public posts, to confirm her good name in the community. I chose to not comment on those posts until she specifically raised an issue against me.
Currently most of her emails consist of updates on the status of our orders. In addition to this both mariko_senpai and clobbao have been in contact with the moderation team regarding this matter. clobbao has been sending the moderation team updates that include EMS tracking numbers and the status of various orders. I do not know if mariko_senpai is getting the same information in real-time, but I do see that she appears to be making some sort of progress regarding the status of our orders. Additionally clobbao recently sent me pictures of the dress that I ordered and confirmed that it was in the post to mariko_senpai. As of yet, I still have not received any goods, and I'm not sure if other customers have received items either. And to be honest, her emails are not always that clear, especially since she spends about 50% of them defending herself and indirectly accusing others of harassing her.
I am not personally upset or offended by mariko_senpai theatrics and accusations. Quite frankly they are more amusing to me than anything else. However I am not at all pleased with what she has been doing as a seller. My objections are as follows:
1) You cannot, cannot, cannot act unprofessionally as a seller and make things personal. Especially if you intend to become a major buyer and seller of goods in the Lolita community. From the first forum flame to the tone of her emails, mariko_senpai has proven herself to be quite immature. That immaturity wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that it directly hinders her ability to conduct business.
2) clobbao does not have a reputation in the Lolita community outside of what mariko_senpai has represented to us. While I am not sure that he has handled things in the best manner, I am quite positive that mariko_senpai provoked him and I feel that he may have a case against her when it comes to their financial dispute. This is a matter for them to resolve, but the fact that she did not resolve it in a professional, private manner and chose to air her dirty laundry in a public forum makes me doubt her professionalism. Especially because it is highly likely that her actions sparked this ridiculous mess.
3) Your reputation is only as good as your first screw-up. If something bad happens, the number one job of a seller is to remain calm, reasonable, and above the fray. I was willing to believe mariko_senpai up until her forum posts were revealed and the poor attitude that she showed in response to the firmness of my emails. I do not expect people to be humble and apologetic, but I don't really want to read a long email about their personal dispute and then receive evidence that the dispute really is very personal and possibly interfering with the professional.
Regardless, I can see that mariko_senpai has spent a lot of time trying to prove that clobbao is bad and that she is a victim, rather than simply concentrating on reassuring her customers. This attitude on her part has raised my suspicions and leads me to believe that she is concealing certain matters from her customers at the very least.
In addition to this, she's spent a lot of time threatening legal action against anyone who objects to her, threatening the moderating team while simultaneously demanding that they unban her, and in general she has shown herself to be incapable of taking a calm, objective attitude. What might have been resolved in her favor is now a muddled mess on the community, which has already faced several scams from members of high repute. It is unfortunate that someone who has a good reputation as a seller should prove themselves to be so immature under fire, but I suppose it's better that the situation is clarified now rather than later when even more people might lose money due to poor business decisions.
At any rate, this post is becoming overlong and I don't want to harp on the matter. I just feel at this point both sides of the issue deserve representation and that mariko_senpai should account for her actions rather than hiding behind victim status.