Can you expect good things buying antiques on

Reader shares concerns with Goodwill’s online auctions
Takes issue with service, inaccurate descriptions

I was thrilled to read the article about the $23,000 Robert E. Lee Civil war tintype returning to Goodwill. I’m always fascinated by early photography and have a personal collection of the tintypes and CDVs and of course I was part of that auction as well. The reason this tintype “drew 40,000 page views and 131 bids” was that the description said it was authenticated by a local Civil War memorabilia expert. My bid wasn’t very high and did not last very long, but that is not what I would like to talk about here, but the Goodwill website in itself.

As an antique dealer, I try exploring all possible revenues, as well as being a long-time active shopper on this website. Like the bright side of a coin, it also has a dark side as well; just 70 percent of my purchases were completed with total satisfaction. If you have ever shopped at Goodwill, you will know what I’m talking about: you have to clean, scrub, stitch and wash whatever it is you purchase.

First is the shipping and handling fees that are part of every sale and applied to every item. This creates numerous problems as this fee is usually three times greater than the actual cost of what I am purchasing. I jokingly call this a “convenience fee.” Often a red-colored line under the posting states: “Shipment cannot be combined with other items” and will be shipped by UPS, FedEx or USPS.

Of course, you can contact the store selling the item and ask for such restrictions to be removed and for them to combine the shipping and handling fee and adjust the mail carrier (seems most stores will use several different types of carriers) and then the order is limited to 20 pounds (maximum). Sometimes it will take a day or two to receive a reply from the store and, unfortunately, you only have seven days to complete payment, which includes holidays and weekends. Otherwise, your account will be posted as “late payment” or “past due.” After three “late payments” or/and “past due” notations on your account, which will stay for 180 days, your account will be flagged as “restricted” and you will not be allowed to place any bids.

That is not the biggest obstacle, but after all we are talking about Goodwill here. My main problem with their website is the description they have on the items and “handling” and packaging of the items they ship to the customer. Not every store includes a copy of the sales slip in the shipping box and on several occasions, items were missing from the order. On several other occasions the items I received were not even close to the description that was posted on the website.

Antique Trader 2012Due to negligence in handling and packaging for shipping, I have received items in non-working condition and/or even totally damaged. After several emails and pictures of the damaged item, explaining originality or provenance of the item, I still have a problem on getting my refund.

While writing this article, I am currently in negotiations with Goodwill Industries of South Central Wisconsin, Inc. on some “hoodies” I recently purchased. The items were posted on their website as being “Original Christian Audigier Hoody and made in USA.” When I received them and opened the shipping box, I was shocked to discover that in fact they were made in China! (So the reader understands this, Audigier hoodies are designed by a specific Los Angeles-based tattoo artist. He has very bright colors and distinct lines in his artwork.)

I sent Goodwill a detailed explanation and some pictures of the fakes I received from them, and of the original designed hoodies. I also enclosed the Commerce Law that states it is illegal to sell imitations under the designer’s name or artist or label here in the USA. In my most recent email from the store, I was given seven days to return the items at my expense, which is $20 on top of $200 I paid for fake (I really dislike meanings and definitions of this word with a passion) hoodies and they would consider giving me my refund. (To be continued …)

Regardless of all these “fireworks,” I have a serious question. As far as I know, every responsible auction house should have a crew of appraisers, editors and catalog with the description on each item, long before the auction actually begins. Should a company such as the multi-million dollar Goodwill Industries meet this requirement since it is calling itself an “auction?” Should they not at least try and do a little research and post a realistic description of the item up for auction? Or maybe better yet, just change the name of the website from “Goodwill” to “What is it?”

Be aware and stay alert, dear AT reader, about “tricks or treats” on this website. Not everything you will bid on at Goodwill will be what you were expecting when you open the package you have been shipped. It will be sold “as is” and “all sales final.”

Happy hunting!
Evguenia Storch
Orange Park, Fla.


In an effort to get our subscriber’s questions answered, Antique Trader staff presented the concerns to Goodwill’s corporate office. Below is their response in its entirety. -Editor

Keeping customer trust remains top priority

We regret that one of our valued customers had difficulties in obtaining a refund. At we strive to ensure that each of our customers is satisfied with their purchases and the purchasing process. It is our policy when a return is requested due to an unintentional error in its description, that customers are provided with a complete refund.

In this instance, this did not happen. This issue has been addressed immediately, and we trust by the time this message is published, that this customer will have received a full refund.

Goodwill was founded on the promise of integrity and in putting people first in all that we do. We value the feedback our customers provide, as it serves to help us preserve the trust we have worked so hard to earn.

Our customers have many shopping options and we appreciate the support they provide to Goodwill via their purchases on, as it helps Goodwill provide critical job training and employment services to thousands of people with disabilities and other barriers each day.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.

The team


Question of the Week: Have you ever experienced problems (or a big win) buying antiques online? What can sellers and buyers do to better protect themselves? Leave your comment below.

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