I sold this rare childhood poster for $75.
Despite my best packing efforts it vanished into hyperspace.
You know how some phenomena (divorce, road rage, vampire fiction, coral bleaching) are believed to reflect a broader malaise?
Well, I think eBayers are trying to tell me something.
If you are, read on!
Over many years, I’ve eBayed for funds, friends, family and floor space.
I was happily powering to 500 positive reviews.
In the last quarter, however, I felt a shift in attitudes – from buyers and sellers.
At first I thought I was just too busy and tired to handle the usual challenges of online commerce.
But I asked around, and others agree things are getting narky.
I was tracking a year-old laptop that cost $1700 new, listed at $500 and sold for $810.
The next day, I found another ad with the same photo.
Suspecting mendacity, I contacted the seller.
He told me he’d relisted the unit, as the successful bidder had offered to pay by instalments after the auction was over.
This isn’t merely impolite, deceitful and maddeningly inconvenient, it’s expressly forbidden by eBay.
Yet that hasn’t stopped similar things happening to me.
After I sold one of Fonnie’s dresses, the auction winner tried to haggle a few bucks off postage because she ‘only lives in Mornington’. This irrelevant parlaying vaporised my profit (and enjoyment).
On the other side of the coin, I bought two copies of Andre Agassi’s excellent autobiography. Listed as BRAND NEW, they came with dings, scratches and texta marks.
When I quizzed the seller, he flagged a microscopic line about remaindered titles in his ad.
When I pointed out that remaindered isn’t BRAND NEW, he admitted he’d had static from some buyers. But not enough to change his argot.
Back in laptop land, I reviewed the BRAND NEW items I was tracking. Even the fine print said they were new. But customer comments told another story: that these were refurbished warranty items (not always fully) restored to factory settings.
Having not lost a letter in 40 years, eBay parcels I post have started mysteriously ‘failing to arrive’, forcing me to issue refunds.
The only option is to go for higher-priced trackable mail products.
Meanwhile, they’ve introduced a range of trackable satchels.
I can’t afford not to use these.
But when trust has been eroded at every point in the sale, can I be bothered?
Our Bella Katz says:
‘I’ve been on eBay for ages too and am finding buyers are a rougher bunch. More and more they want something for nothing. Bad-egg eBayers have worked out the system to their advantage and seem to have realised there’s no punishment for petty crime.’
So what does it all mean?
My initial theories are that people:
- Have lost their jobs, use eBay to make ends meet and ‘must’ cut corners.
- Are terrified of a second global financial crisis and desperate to pay down debt.
- Have become desensitised to glamorised crime by gorging on it in the media.
- Are losing human decency by living insular, online lives.
What do you think?
Is stuff like this happening to you or your business?
Am I reading too much into it?
Or is eBay a sign of our times?