Does anyone take responsibility for their actions any more?

Last week I bought an item on eBay. When I received it, I discovered that the seller had mis-measured two of the dimensions. It was the wrong size.

I explained this to the seller and asked her to take it back. Her response was that she’d measured it carefully, that if she’d made a mistake it was a completely innocent one, and what did an inch matter? After all, I’d gotten a great deal. So what was I complaining about? Oh, and by the way, she sold the item for a friend and she can’t refund my money because she doesn’t have it.

There was no admission that she had made a mistake. That she was sorry. Or that she was willing to take responsibility for her action. I guess she never read the part on the eBay auction site which says that the seller is responsible for the listing.

It’s a trend that I find disturbing.

Here’s another more serious example.

I’m locked in a dispute with a web programmer who built a database driven web site for me. Although we had a fixed fee agreement at the end of the project he handed me a bill for more than twice the price I’d signed off on. This was not a small overage. It amounted to more than 100 hours of work at his billing rate. What was he thinking? I can’t even imagine turning in a final invoice to a client with that kind of overage especially when our agreement was for a set fee, not an hourly rate.

I took a look at the invoice. The major item was “trouble shoot search function.” Translation: he couldn’t figure out the programming and he wants me to pay for his learning curve. He took no responsibility for his own ineptitude. He never submitted a revised estimate or consulted me on how I wanted to handle the problem. In fact, most recently he’s threatened to sue me! His rationale appears to be that I paid him less than other bids I’d gotten for the project, therefore I got a bargain! Maybe if I’d hired one of the other firms I would have gotten a website that worked.

What happened to making an agreement and sticking to it? Am I aging myself to admit that’s how I do business?