EBay Chuckles

Kathryn Klos

squirrel whisperer
EBay can provide a lot of chuckles. My favorite of the day is the person who wants six grand for a canoe, with no picture and no description other than that it's from the 1930s and is in great shape... I asked if it's a Willits.

Then there's the "new vintage postcard"... we have to mentally replace "vintage" with "old stock"....

Then there are the folks who forget to add the word "art", so they are selling something that is "antique nouveau"...

Kathy, who is still exploring the listings...
Still no pictures, and the seller didn't respond when I requested pictures. I expressed honest curiosity. Now, he's doubled the starting bid to $12,000--- for a canoe described as a "must see" with no pictures!
My current favorite example of eBay seller arrogance is related to my search for old canoe manufacturer history as described at http://forums.wcha.org/showthread.php?t=7166 here. One seller has several listed with different prices as shown at http://cgi.ebay.com/380287263033 for example. The title is "NEW Maine Register or State Year-Book and Legislative M" and there are no pictures. The description starts with "This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923..." This book was released every year for about a century before 1923 so the obvious question is what year(s) will you get for your $21.45 to $39.62 depending on which of the five nearly identical listings you select? This detail is not mentioned in any of the listings and all attempts to ask the seller a question result in a message saying "We're sorry we couldn't find an answer for you. Unfortunately, due to the high volume of messages this seller receives, they are unable to respond to your specific question right now. We suggest reviewing the item again to see if your answer is in the seller's listing." It does not appear that the seller has ever actually read these listings or sold one of these.

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eBay never ceases to amaze ...... or should I say, the woeful ignorance and arrogance of certain vendors seen there.

if the phrase 'caveat emptor' (buyer beware) hadn't been invented by the early Romans, surely it is meant for and applies to eBay listings.

one of the things that came along with the IT revolution and ubiquity of computers is that anyone, knowledgeable or not, is suddenly able to join the 'selling game', in which he/she can flog their wares with just about any outrageous claim imaginable...

if a seller has never seen an article before, surely that means he must have an exceedingly rare, valuable antique - or at least he's sure of that ... (never mind that there are hundreds of others to be found nearby)...

if it's got a few nicks and scrapes, a bit of crusty looking paint, it's just got to be older than Methuselah (but also may have been micro-waved on closer inspection) ...

notwithstanding that a multitude of reference sources may be readily available, and free, the attitude of certain vendors seems to be - "don't confuse me with the facts" ...

one of my favorite experiences was the eBay lady who had come across a model elm bark canoe, like those typical of trading posts and made for the tourist trade. Commonly seen (but never by her) and often available for $50 -$200. But, as she was familiar only with birch bark models, and obviously this one was "very different", it suddenly became in her mind "an item of great antiquity and one of enormous value". She didn't ask; she simply put it up for sale.

She priced it on eBay at $20,000, or thereabouts. She had in mind using the proceeds to send Junior to college, maybe even take a European cruise. I know this because I wrote and asked for information. She knew little. I gently informed her that her expectations were "slightly exaggerated". Even gave her references where she could see others (it was kind of cruel breaking her illusion that her's was the only one on earth) and on-line libraries that she could check. Reluctantly, about a week later, the price was reduced somewhat - she cut it in half: only $9999, or so. It didn't sell. A couple of months later, it re-appeared priced closer to $2000; then it dropped in half again. Still didn't sell. Last I saw, she was still trying, but hoping to get closer to $300 - at least a small down payment on that European vacation.

It takes a long time to persuade some of eBay 'experts' that they just might be a little off-base in their advertising, and more than a bit overly expectant in their pricing. Now, I've been known to ask some pretty hefty amounts when selling, but I reasonably believe there is cause on those occasions to do so.

Ah, well, it's a free world (or at least for some of us), and provides a chuckle or two, so we should enjoy it while we can.

have a nice eBay day