Friday, January 16, 2009
Let's Talk About Ebay
Now that I have introduced my friend Linda (HGTV/RMS's Mom of a German Shorthair) to Ebay, it is only proper that I offer her some bidding advice...but the trouble is, I am a loser at Ebay.
A few years ago, my ID was stolen, and I closed my account. No lasting harm--and Dr. Gollum was tickled to death. He hates those horrid styrofoam peanuts that go hand-in-hand with fragile items. But all of this tablescaping has reawakened my Dish Beast. I tried to resist; but it wasn't long before I found myself skulking around the “pottery and glass” halls of Ebay.
I saw some deep, frilled soup bowls like Susan’s at Between Naps on the Porch. Three bowls were available. So, when I went to bid, I saw a box for “quantity.” Naturally I wanted all three bowls. So, I placed my maximum bid for all three. The seller assumed the bid was for each bowl. After a bit of a kerfuffle, it was sorted out (I’m picking up the Britishspeak, Kathy!). But I am now horribly daunted by this episode.
Because, right before Christmas, on a “Buy Now” item, the seller had a box titled “Make An Offer.” So I did. The offer was my maximum price (a bottom-feeding offer, to be sure) for two plates. Again, the seller assumed that the offer was per plate. Well, I got out of that one...but now I'm skerrit, as Young Bandwith Gollum used to say, to make any offers, or to bid on multiple items.
Dr. G is rolling his eyes as I type.
So, I wanted to open a discussion about Ebay. How do you navigate the murky waters? Have you ever encountered “shilling?”*
How do you detect shilling? Does it even exist?
Here's an example:
What happens if you’ve bid on an item, and you are outbid by an Ebayer without a star? True, there are scads of new Ebayers, and it takes time to build those stars...but what if the new Ebayer who is outbidding you (again and again) only has a history with one seller?
That said, there are bargains to be found. My mother didn't feel up to shopping last Christmas, so we bid on a silk Tabasco tie for Brother Gollum--99 cents. And just the other day I scored 4 teacups/saucers for $1 each. The shipping killed me...but still. These cups are listed for 20 times that at Replacements.com.
I also have a habit of watching many auctions and then totally forgetting about them. Linda says she has the opposite problem: She can't forget. :-) When I'm writing (and cooking), I keep an egg timer next to my laptop, or I set the alarm on my cell phone...I suppose I will have to buy another timer just for Ebay....
Finally, what is the secret to finding a true bargain? I try to cross-check prices at places like Replacements Ltd (but, as Susan says, they can be outrageously high). I Google the item and try to find a median price. But there's got to be a better way.
So, let's talk--pull up a chair, and let's puzzle it out. The coffee is fresh, and I have eclairs from the Publix bakery.
Shilling: An illegal practice where a seller’s friend (or the seller) creates an Ebay ID with the purpose of skewing the bidding.