“Would you take £20 for it, mate?” (an ebay rant)

Ebay: I love it. Most of the things I buy come from Ebay because why bother travelling to and hunting around in physical stores when I can just hit up the world’s top auction site, type in what I’m after and smash that “Buy It Now” button to acquire it? Usually at a cheaper price than a real store can offer the same item too. Now don’t get me wrong: the death of physical retailers isn’t something I’m happy about but at the same time, my money and my time are valuable assets so why should I expend a greater amount of either just to keep a brick ‘n mortar store in business? Businesses need to appeal to ME and woo ME in order to get ME to open my wallet.

I’d make an exception for friendly indie stores because those places can be more than just shops. They can be inviting places with great atmospheres and knowlegable people. And I can’t deny that I enjoy rooting through shelves/bins for hidden gems or things that I have been after for ages. It’s the retail version of treasure hunting. But as for large, national or global chains? Fuck them. As somebody who works in retail myself, I have the inside line on how crappy these organisations are to work for and how they can only offer great deals at the expense of spending on adequate staffing, security, resources and premises maintenance.

But I’m getting off-track here aren’t I? Additionally, why am I talking about buying stuff and shopping experiences when I have already spoken about giving materialism the heave-ho?

Well, I’m actually talking about selling on Ebay as opposed to buying. I had to talk about the positive side of Ebay to begin with y’see because where there is a Yin there is most certainly a Yang. As an Ebay seller, you definitely feel a lot more of the Yang. Selling on Ebay is fantastic because for all its faults and vocal detractors, Ebay retains the largest audience for your unwanted shit and provides the best chance of getting money for it. I have made thousands of pounds which has (hopefully!) offset a lot of what I have spent on Ebay during my membership to the site.

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Old Ebay logo FTW [source]
But there are many, many drawbacks to the selling experience. I’m only going to focus on the one today though because otherwise, I would still be typing this post tomorrow morning, bleary-eyed, dry of throat and sleep deprived. What I want to briefly rant about today are stupid, ignorant buyers, specifically the messages they send.

Ebay is definitely more about the quick and easy fixed-price “Buy It Now” listings these days and has lost a lot of the carboot/auction house novelty that it once had. Sometimes though, it’s difficult to guage the current market value on your stuff when recent sold examples have finished with wild variations in the price(s) paid. It’s at times like this that I simply go the classic auction route and let the buyers decide how much something is worth. There are other reasons to choose the auction format over Buy It Now of course but the main advantage – as I see it – is to seek that current market value. After all, anybody can list anything for whatever wild price they pluck out of thin air and if said item happens to be rare or uncommon then others will follow suit and use that price as the basis for their own. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that the buyers are prepared to pay those prices and so the auction format can help you scythe through the BS and cut to the reality.

At the end of my auction descriptions, I always sign off with the following message to perusers of my item(s)

“Please do not send me messages about ending auctions early or for private Buy It Now prices. I respect the auction format and do not reply to these messages”

As you can tell, I subscribe to the “Do unto others as you would have done unto you” philosophy. I’ve had my bids cancelled in suspicious circumstances before and I was furious, especially when I had good reason to believe that somebody else had messaged the seller with an offer and persuaded them to end the auction early so that they may buy the item. I wouldn’t want this to happen to me and so I certainly wouldn’t inflict it on others who are placing bids on my auctions. Also, the vast majority of these people who message sellers and get their dirty way are traders themselves, looking to take advantage of sellers who don’t know the value of what they have up for auction. The seller thinks that they are getting a good deal but the dodgy buyer knows better. He knows that he can sell the item on for double what he paid. Then there are the simple low-ballers who want everything for nothing. It’s why I no longer allow the “Best Offer” facility on my listings as it only ever attracted insulting offers from potential buyers who think that slashing 60% or more from the original asking price is fair.

I listed a load of videogames yesterday as part of my ongoing purge of material possessions and – as usual – included my little blurb about not contaminating my inbox with unwanted offers. Most of my items have multiple bids on them already with buyers playing by the rules and attempting to win them legitimately. Furthermore, I have been involved in the videogame scene for years now and so in addition to my ability to check completed listings and get a lay of the digital land, I pretty much know what is and what isn’t worth money. I’m not going to be hoodwinked by low-balling re-sellers is what I’m saying.

So imagine my dismay when I see that I have messages today. One was from somebody who wanted to know if I would accept £20 for four games. The other was from a different prospector seeking a combined price on two specific games I was selling.

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[source]
Can you morons not read? You haven’t even addressed by special blurb in your messages. You want me to just cancel everybody else’s bids, end the item(s) using a false reason (item damaged, no longer available etc.) and sell to you in private without the seller protection offered by Ebay and Paypal? Jog on, mate. Play the auction game fair and square and put up the money you are prepared to spend on the items. If they sell for more than you are willing to pay then tough, that’s capitalism baby. Don’t try these back-door shenanigans and expect me to flip the middle finger to every other honest bidder. Somebody needs to play the game fairly and buddy, that’s me.

Additionally, they have simply ignored my request for people to NOT send me these sorts of messages and that’s just fucking rude. I think this ignorance may in fact get my back up more than would-be buyers wanting me to screw the rules.

Just go away.

“Baby On Board” signs are bullshit

You know the things I’m talking about, right? Well, maybe I’m being a bit ignorant as I don’t actually know how popular these stupid things are outside of the UK. So…example time!

baby-on-board-mobile

So what is the purpose of these must-have accessories? Well, there IS one legitimate reason: so that emergency services can identify which vehicles in a pile-up may contain occupants unable to extract themselves. Thing is though, I think we can safely discount this sensible reason since a) how many parents remove the signs when their kid isn’t in the car? and b) I would be willing to bet real, folding money that 99% of drivers displaying these yellow diamonds don’t buy them for that reason. So that leaves us with two species of “Baby On Board” adopters.

The first are those annoying parents or self-centred stay-at-home moms who have had a child and act like they are the most important person in the world. Possibly while bombing around town in monstrous, luxury SUV’s (such as the Audi SQ7 or BMW X6) that they can’t even park let alone pilot through traffic. Abominable, over-powered vehicles that were bought for them by their building contractor partner who is, incidentally, a hulking 7ft brick shithouse channelling the essence of Phil Mitchell. They absolutely NEED that much steel and autonomous technology around them to protect them and their little darling while they apply lipstick at a red light or check Facebook to see how Chardonnay’s big night out with the girls went.

To them, the “Baby On Board” signs are just a fashion accessory, something to tell the world that THEY are a mommy.

The second sort are the people who put such signs up in their rear window to discourage dangerous drivers and this specifically is where I have a problem because why should you be driving dangerously around ANY vehicle? Now I do understand that as a parent, your child’s safety is of upmost importance and that – as a consequence – the reckless road manners of others might suddenly be magnified in your mind’s eye.

But still…it’s like have a special exemption from shit drivers when nobody should have to deal with them or the potential consequences. It sends out a message that tailgating or savage overtakes shouldn’t be totally condemned, just put on hold if there’s a “Baby On Board” sign in front. If some chav scutter loses control of his Impreza at 60mph+ in a residential area and kills a random bloke in another car then it’s a tragedy but hey…as long as he was behaving himself around cars with “Baby On Board” signs…

I just think it’s bullshit.