# Wednesday, June 23, 2004

eBay: Heaven or Hades

Over the past 9 months I have discovered the joys eBay imparts to those looking for  that oh-so-coveted item, scarce to find in any antique store, much less retail.  I started small, a few pottery items ranging from only $2 an item to about $40 a piece. Since I want these objects not as collectors items, but as a useful, as well as aesthetically pleasing objects, I wasn't too concerned with exact condition or value. 

Therefore, the eBay process was heaven-sent!  I could browse antique dealers around the world (who knew that there seems to be a concentration of the English-made dishes with the pattern called “Old British Castles” in Germany!) from the comfort of my couch while Tivo-ing through the British version Antique Roadshow for Henry Sandon's “jolly little tea-pots“! 

So, with about 25 purchases under my belt and nary a problem, I thought I was ready for some more advanced eBay-ing....well, the ulcer I seem to have now would speak to the contrary! 

After watching several auctions end, and finding an 'average' selling price for the much sought after Louis Vuitton Multicolored White Speedy 30, I thought I could spot a good auction and “authentic“ handbag.  Well, even with my years of retail experience and expertise, I was a neophyte kneeling at the alter of the eBay gods, and they weren't treating me kindly.  The first bag I purchased, from the dozens and dozens of choices, turned out to be an “authentic“ reproduction. The seller's description was very good and deceiving and I was too much of newbie to know what I really should have been looking for in a real bag. To my own credit, I didn't consider any auctions with bad feedback or no option of returning the item.

Upon receipt and inspection of the item I realized it was a fake, a good fake, but a fake and e-mailed the seller to return the bag.  Since her response was a full page e-mail explaining that “you can't buy a “real“ “authentic“ bag for what I bought the fake, etc. etc., I am positive I am not the first to request a refund.  Thankfully she was very responsive and reputable and I was able to get my full price refunded. 

You would think that any logical and level-headed person, which I like to consider myself, would stop here and consider this type of venue off limits for buying a larger-ticket item that is prone to duplication.  However, my Id took over and rational thought flew out the window when I believed I could be the proud new owner of the bag I have wanted since the first fuzzy runway pictures hit the magazines over a year ago.

Even before I had a chance to mail the fake back, I found another bag on Ebay that had the original receipt, and from all the pictures (I had done more homework to know what I should be looking for) seemed to be the real thing.  As soon as I had decided to participate in the auction, the shakes set in and I think I was physically ill feeling for about 2 hours after it ended. Since this all happened only a day before we were closing up our house and leaving town for a week, I wasn't going to be able to alleviate my fears of an unscrupulous seller till after we returned home.  Again, this seller guaranteed the bag and would return my money if I didn't like it.  Even with his guarantee (and PayPal's protection plan backing me up) I actually had several bouts of the shakes, sweats and nightmares post-purchase.  And all this for a silly bag!!

Well, the end of this very long fable... The bag was authentic, and for only $20 over what I payed for the “authentic fake“ I got the bag I wanted!!  My only concession was that it was very slightly used (but I would have probably broken it in more in my first week of using it) and it was missing the luggage tag and keys.

Although it has worked out in the end, I don't know if the process was worth the worry....it is going to be a long time till I do this again and I will definitely research much more throughly in the future.....

Side note:The issue with fakes on eBay is reaching a litigation pinnacle - it will be interesting to see what comes of the pending lawsuit by Tiffany & Co. against eBay selling fake Tiffany products.  More here: @ CNN

 

 

#    Comments [1] |
Wednesday, June 23, 2004 3:39:08 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Being a novice Ebayer myself, I have bought several items ranging from a 1st edition Lord Byron book of poetry to Zippo Lighters. I have gotten some sound advice from a so-called Ebay expert on what to expect. So far, so good.
Tami
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