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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Selling on eBay: Some People Just Make Life Difficult!

Earlier this year, I had my 15th anniversary of being a member of eBay-- mostly buying and selling stamps.

Although the "greater Internet" reports their experiences with eBay to be very much a "mixed bag," I have to confess that at least 98% of my interactions on that site have been positive. I have added many great stamps to my collections I would never have had access to, were it not for eBay... and I have been able to sell off excess duplicates with ease and speed that's just not possible through other venues.

This morning I was clearing out some old image files on my computer... and came across a folder documenting one of the more bizarre (and not so good) experiences I had on eBay, as a seller.

I remember I was selling some Norwegian duplicate stamps from a collection I had bought. There was basically nothing "special" there, but quite a few stamps I expected would fetch about US $2-15 if listed for auction-- better than nothing, and I'd always rather free up the money to buy new stuff than have it sit on my shelf.

So I listed these 40-odd stamps from Norway, including a fairly unspectacular copy of the 2sk blue "Posthorn" from 1872. I was fairly pleased with it, however, because it had a "genuine" postmark, making its catalogue value in Facit 600:- Swedish Kr. or about US $90.00. The vast majority of these were canceled "late," after Norway switched from "skilling" to "kroner & øre," and the stamps canceled like that are worth far less.

Anyway, within a few days of listing, bidding on the stamp started "taking off."

Now, I write very clear descriptions on eBay, and always identify and cross reference my listings with the Scandinavian catalogue numbers (in this case, both Facit and NK), as well as the Scott number.

By the time the auction ended, the bidding had reached more than US $400.00-- a completely absurd price for such a stamp. Of course, it takes TWO people to create a high price on eBay... and I just figured there were a couple of specialists duking it out over some important plate flaw I know nothing about.

So I send the stamp to its new owner and presume all is well.

Ten days later, I suddenly notice I've gotten a negative feedback calling me a "fraud" and a "cheater" and he's going to get me "thrown off eBay" for misrepresenting material and "lying" in my descriptions. As it turns out, this person was VERY ANGRY because the stamp had turned out not to be the extremely rare "Prussian Blue" shade, worth 40,000:- Swedish Kr (over US $6,000).

OK, let's back up here. There was NO mention of this ever being a "rare variety." Not even a hint. Not even the vaguest suggestion of the possibility. And now this person takes it upon himself to blame ME for the stamp not being what he wanted it to be, rather than what I said it was... and wants to get my eBay account terminated for his error?

The thing that was baffling to me, of course, was that there had to be two bidders to get the price so high. Both of them had to "see" something to get the competition to heat up. It seemed the most likely explanation was that one collector "saw" a rare variety, and the other was a "copy cat" who didn't really know but figured the other bidder "knew something" and decided to blindly follow.

Stranger still, aside from the angry email and the negative feedback left, there was no further communication. I offered a return for a refund, but I never heard back.

Certainly one of the "stranger" eBay experiences I have had.

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