Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Trouble With Ebay


Thank you ever so for snapping up so much beautiful merchandise in recent days! It warms my heart (not that I need the money, mind you).

Today I would like to write upon a subject that has troubled me for some time, one of those subjects known only to those who participate in that deep, dark, cave of secrets known as…


Mai oui, to you, the buyer, it looks like a jolly place where you can buy any old thing with a pfennig. (Emphasis on the any old thing.)

However, the world of vintage can be boiling pit of intrigue, backbiting, cattiness, and occasionally knowingly breaking the law.

What does this have to do with me, I hear you say. I just buy stuff there.

Actually, my idiotic assistant just mumbled something to that effect, but I dumped my (cold) coffee over her head. Fortunately, none of it hit the keyboard. Turnip.

What indeed? Because it seems to be in the public good to put this out there, and we all know I toil ceaselessly for the public good, as long as it does not disrupt my schedule.

Case in point: Buyer A buys dress from Seller B; Buyer A claims never to have received it and gets her money refunded. Then, mysteriously, the exact same dress appears for sale on Buyer A’s website a month or two later, down to the last detail. Nothing is done about it, of course, for Buyer A is one of those mystical creatures called a Powerseller, and they can do no wrong.

Powersellers are those sellers who make a certain high level of money each month, out of which Ebay reaps the listing fees, final value (sold) fees, and Paypal, their subsidiary, takes a small percentage out of the total. Powersellers are quite profitable for Ebay.

Now, if it had been the other way round, and Seller B had done the same thing, she would have gotten her auction pulled and some sort of mild punishment, such as answering redundant buyer questions for other sellers. (“Is this size 14 a size 14?”) On Ebay, money does not just talk…it sets the rules. Not only does Buyer A get away with multiple violations of Ebay policy over the years (do not get me started!)—

She is even rewarded with it by being featured in an article about successful Ebay sellers.

Far be it for moi to write out of jealousy…I am already famous, and well covered in newspapers and magazines far and wide. But what about the smaller sellers, whose listings get yanked for the pettiest of violations or sometimes simply because another seller has a vendetta against them?

Recently another Powerseller showed us all a designer fur jacket that looked to be made of fur from endangered species. She refused to answer questions, was evasive, and even threatened legal action for slander. This drivel took up an enormous amount of time and energy on the ### board, with no fewer than three discussion threads devoted to it. Never mind that selling endangered species is illegal. Never mind that it is a violation of Ebay policy to advertise an ongoing auction and the threads started by the seller herself remain proudly on the board; never mind that the seller refused to answer simple questions and provide documentation days ago that would have put it all to rest. There was one thing she did know:

“There is no such thing as bad publicity.”

There are many, many honest Powersellers on Ebay. It is tres la pitié that the proverbial bad apples make the whole basket suspect.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I recently put up a pair of men’s Burberry slippers that I believed to be the real thing, but Burberry itself pulled the auction, because the slippers turned out to be counterfeit. So I gave them to a local street seller.

BREAKING NEWS: Now that I have gotten that off of my beautifully shaped chest, I would like to mention that author Meg Cabot, who penned The Princess Diaries, will be visiting this blog in the first week of June. More information to follow.

My assistant still hasn’t come back…how long does it take to change one’s clothes? Pardonnez moi, I have to go search for the creature.

Elisa and Bucky the Wonderdog


The Diva said...

Love this post! Humorous, yet insightful at the same time.

Hoardmeister said...

Thank you, dahling.

psychocat said...

You said it! I have 100% positive feedback that I have worked hard to maintain on eBay. I have no plan to lower my customer srvice practices. I go out of my way to give buyers a great eBay experience.

That said, I'm not so sure that my customers want the information about how much they paid for items out there for the world to see easily. Right now if someone wants to jump through the hoops they can find the information. But, and this is important, they have to click the right things to get it, and after a few weeks it becomes pretty difficukt to get. EBay is talking about putting it right in the open for every Tom, Dickie, and Harriet to see for 90 days. I don't mind, but I think some buyers might.