TOP EBAY SELLER PET PEEVES
(MINE, NOT THE SELLERS')
I've noticed some trends during my years of ebay buying, and it's time to expose them. My intent is not to embarrass or offend, but rather to make my life easier. That's right---it's all about me. If you avoid the seller traps I've listed below, then I can spend less time with ebay, spend more time at my job and with my kids, thereby enabling them to grow up to become stronger assets to society. Bet you didn't realize that avoiding the pitfalls below would create a better future for our republic, did you? Now that you do, read on---and pay attention!
- "Rare." Used, on average, somewhere in every fourth auction listed. Some people have closets full of one particular item, each and every example of which appears to be rare. To those sellers I offer the following heartbreaking fact: Rare does not mean merely that your next door neighbor doesn't have one. Wi-Co peanut machines are rare; Victor Toppers and Ford locks are not.
- Cutesy locations. This field on ebay's listing form was not provided to fulfill your craving to express yourself. "God bless the USA" and "Go Wildcats!" don't help me estimate shipping costs or transit time. Tell me what state you're in, and leave the schmaltzy slogans to bumper stickers.
- "Don't know if it works." Translation: "Doesn't work." Antique gum and peanut machines were built to attract and be used by 6-year old kids of yesteryear. Does your intellect not exceed that of those kids? Run a coin through and tell me what happens. At least try it, for God's sake!
- Oh-so-clever HTML. You may be smart and creative, but if I want to be serenaded by Sousa while watching butterflies flit around, then I'll add it to my screen saver. Simple HTML is attractive and can be helpful, but the overkill just gets in the way. Give me good pictures and thorough descriptions that include all relevant information, then get out of my way so I can bid.
- No personal checks. This policy is okay for pricier items, but if you think I'm gonna fetch a cashiers check for your $6 decal, then you're wrong. I'll wait for another one, or I'll do without.
- Nine word descriptions. This is true: I once saw an auction for an electronic video game that had a 5 word description and no picture, and opened at $1500. Shockingly, it closed with no bidders. Again, give me good pictures and thorough descriptions that include all relevant information, then get out of my way.
- "Antique." Taiwanese Carousels are not antique. Some people don't know better; most do. To those who do (and you know who you are): Nobody's going to bid just because you label it misleadingly. You got us to look, but if that's your objective then you misunderstand ebay's purpose. Not only will we not bid, we're irritated that you've just wasted our time. That doesn't benefit you or me, so stop lying in your title.
- Email replies without history. I occasionally receive emails from persons unknown that say in their entirety, "Yes." "Yes what," you ask? I don't know. I probably sent a seller a question and this is the reply, but I don't remember the seller or the question or the auction, so the reply is meaningless. The seller may have just left money on the table, because I'm not going to track down my question and therefore I'm not going to bid. Believe it or not, I don't send a question and then put my life on hold to await a reply. Email programs have a feature that lets you quote the original message when you reply. Use it.
- Links to pictures. Some sellers used to have to post their pictures through a third-party hosting service, which made its money through advertising. You see the auction with an instruction to "click to see picture." You click, wait, wait some more, look, see an Acorn with a broken globe, no flap, and only one hold-down rod, click back, get a pop-up screen advertising travel services or MasterCard, click it gone, wait for the auction to reload, click back again, and then move on. Ebay now offers a hosting service; spend the 50 cents and use it . . . . and use the "supersize" option when you do, because ebay's picture hosting service sucks without it. Ebay shrinks the image you submit and reduces its resolution to minimize server space. That suits their purpose, but not yours or mine. I need detail, not just an outline and some shadows, so spend the extra money to do it right.
- Unspecified handling charge. "Buyer to pay actual shipping charges" is okay. "Buyer to pay $15 for insured delivery" is okay. "Buyer to pay shipping and handling" is not. What exactly is this "handling charge" to which you refer? Along the same line, if you say "Buyer to pay shipping; see item description for details," then make sure you actually include that in your item description. Many don't.
- Picture size and quality. Is that a Columbus A or is your grandmother picking her nose? If you use a thumbnail-sized image, link it to a larger image. Don't think the thumbnail is sufficient---it's not. And if the picture's out of focus, take a better one before you list your auction. You'll be doing the world and yourself a favor.
- "No keys, which a locksmith could make, no big deal." If it's no big deal, then have them made before you list the machine. Otherwise, just tell us it doesn't include keys and let us decide how big a deal it is.
- "Original as found." This phrase gained popularity a few years ago. It's a catchy phrase that means (as nearly as I can tell) that the seller did nothing to it after he or she bought it. Some email contacts I've had with sellers suggest that they mean this is "as found," but the phrase doesn't say that. The phrase could apply to a machine restored on Saturday, sold Sunday morning, and then posted by its new owner on Sunday afternoon. Since it could mean several different things, it's nearly useless. Since it's nearly useless, don't use it.
- Similar to above: "In as-found condition." Okay, now tell me in what condition you found it.
- ALL CAPS WITH MISPELINGS. CAPS AR HARD ENOUGH TO REED WEN SPELLD CORRECLY, BUT AD MISSPLEINGS AND ITS NEARLY IMPOSSIBEL. YOUR DESCRIPTTION IS HOW YHOU PREVENT YOURSELF TO YOU'RE CUSTUMERS. IS THIS THE INPRESSON YOU WANT TO GIVE?
- Not responsible for items damaged during transit. Well, yeah, actually you are. You cannot legally waive responsibility for this part of the transaction. Who else would be responsible---the buyer, who sent you valid payment and then simply waited for the package to arrive? Nope. The responsible person is you, the seller, who with his or her very own hands gathered the packing materials, lovingly (or not so lovingly) wrapped and packaged the goods, and then selected the vendor that carried the prized package from your city to its final destination? If you said "the seller," then you get the prize. Require insurance to cover your obligation, but don't think that it's not your obligation to ensure safe delivery of the item you sold and packed.
This peeve hits close to home because one of the few negative feedbacks I've received came from Charles Richards of California, who not only packed something sloppily, but in order to pack it that way had to ignore two specific requests from me to pack a Columbus A globe separately from the cast iron body in order to avoid damage to the globe. He ignored both requests, sent the machine as an assembled unit, and of course the globe shattered in transit. When I told him this he expressed dumbfounded surprise that it happened because he'd packed it so well and therefore it must be the post offices's fault. His words verbatim: "Dave, sorry to here what happen, I wrapped it well. The Post Office should be held accountable. There is no reason it should have broke." He refused to file a claim, and instead left all the paperwork to me. Once the claim was paid I left negative feedback, to which he retaliated 2 hours later. He received one more negative comment soon afterward, and was then gone from ebay....at least under the user name of "chas678" with an email address of "firstname.lastname@example.org."
- "Item sold as is." I see this stated after a description, leaving me to wonder whether to believe anything else said in the description. To be even blunter, this statement makes me question the seller's integrity. If the description says the item works and has no cracks in the cast iron casting, and then I get it and it doesn't work and has a crack in the casting, are you going to stand behind your explicit claims or are you gonna be a weasel and point to the warning "item sold as is?" I don't know, which makes me much less likely to bid since to do so means I may have to deal with you later.
Don't be chickenshit---describe what you know about the item and then stand behind your description. The words "item sold as is" accompanied by a description is an irreconcilable contradiction. Choose one and then follow it, because you can't have it both ways.
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