A $751 button? Pacifica button collector's StubHub flub

ByRenee Koury KGO logo
Friday, August 10, 2018
Pacifica button collector's $751 StubHub flub
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It was a cruel irony for Pamela Wiston, since she happens to be a renowned -- and possibly the only -- Bay Area expert on all things buttons.

PACIFICA, Calif. (KGO) -- Tiny buttons can make for many-a-typo on your cell phone, some you may dearly wish you could take back.

"What can I say? I made a mistake. I hit the wrong button for the wrong place and the wrong time and it's a lot of money,'' Pacifica resident Pamela Wiston said. The mistaken button looked like it would cost her $751.

It was a cruel irony for Wiston, since she happens to be a renowned -- and possibly the only -- Bay Area expert on all things button.

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That would be the kind of buttons you wear on your clothes. The kind she says is fading fast into fashion history.

"Buttons are beautiful,'' she says. "They look like jewelry to me."

Wiston has thousands of the little fasteners, crammed into her tiny seaside boutique, Successories, in the quaint village of Rockaway Beach in Pacifica. Nearly her whole inventory is based on buttons, sold loose or crafted into jewelry you'd never suspect came from somebody's old cloak or waistband.

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Wiston often displays her collections at the de Young Museum, sealing her reputation as the expert on all buttons.

All except for one.

"I pressed the wrong button on my phone that day,'' she said, holding up her iPhone.

It happened when Wiston was trying to order tickets to an Elvis Costello concert in San Francisco.

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"I went on my app from StubHub and I pressed all the appropriate buttons and the best seating. And it was the wrong button. I was mortified," she explained.

Wiston had accidentally ordered $751 tickets to the concert in the wrong city: Seattle. She realized her mistake instantly and called StubHub.

"It was a human error. I didn't have my glasses on. You need your glasses for these little buttons. I told them I made a mistake and they were still on the phone saying we can't do anything for you. Once you push the send button, it's final."

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She says StubHub offered to buy back the tickets at half price, then suggested she could try selling them herself. Neither option seemed right.

"Finally, I said, 'You know, I'm gonna call 7 On Your Side.'"

And she did. The 7 On Your Side team contacted StubHub, and the company came up with a third option: A full refund. The company said:

"At StubHub, we strive for the best possible customer experience. Our customer service team has since given Ms. Wiston a full refund for the purchase and we're delighted that she is happy with the outcome. We recommend that customers pay close attention when purchasing tickets on StubHub to avoid making mistakes, but if you have bought for the wrong date or city, please contact us immediately and we will do our best to resolve the issue."

Wiston was elated.

"I love 7 On Your Side,'' she said with a grin as big as her seashell button necklace.

And if you're ever in Rockaway Beach, check out her amazing shop, a browser's favorite in the waterfront village.

Her buttons span nearly two centuries and came into her loving care from countries all over the world. She has glass buttons from Japan, mother-of pearl buttons from 1880, hand-painted buttons from Amsterdam, and crystal buttons that look more like ballroom brooches.

There's actually a lot to learn about history in the tiny form of a button: the old-school kind.

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.