Bravo to letter writer for defending eBay antiques sellers

Bravo to letter writer for defending eBay sellers

Bravo to Joan Turco for her letter about the way eBay treats its sellers. I am also a long-term eBay seller since 1998, and have had to alter my selling practices and what I am willing to put up for sale because of their nickling and diming us to death. I am one of their Power Sellers and Top Rated Sellers.

EBay has always had an adversarial relationship with their sellers, which I have never seen anywhere else. They recently have wanted to compete with for some of their big seller business. They will never succeed at that with the way they do business. I’ve been to one of their big national convention pep rallies, where they try to convince sellers they really care about us, but, as we are currently seeing with our national leaders in Washington, D.C., it’s “Say one thing and do the opposite.” They expect us to get excited when they give us a special time-limited lower fee to sell something, but the fine print is that they have raised the fee on something else to offset it, which is very insulting to our intelligence.

The buyer is always right. I once received an email from eBay telling me that, after a “very thorough investigation,” they were refunding a customer $169 because he had never received his item. It was the first I had even heard of it. I was not even consulted on their “very thorough investigation.”
Emails to them, if you can ever find the ever-changing place they hide the contact information, get no response or a form response that does not address the issue. If you can ever find the ever-changing place they hide their telephone number and can get through all the busy tones and endless holds, you will speak to someone in Pakistan who can barely speak English, and they put you on hold forever … again.

I have received numerous seller satisfaction surverys because my opinion was very important to them. I have never received a response back. On a scale of 1 to 10, I always rate customer service a 1. Three or four times a year, I receive a telephone call from them to assist me in building up my business. Someone they pay minimum wage reads something off a paper to me, can’t answer any questions I ask, then I get an email asking me to rate how helpful that telephone call was. I rate the caller a 10 on being courteous, but what can I say about anything else?

It’s amazing they have lasted as long as they have. In the early years, many dealer groups moved their business to other sites or created protest alternate sites, but they all failed because eBay had all the buyers, and the other sites could not attract customers. In recent years, there finally are other more reasonable sites with lots of customers, and we read in business reviews that the number of potential customers visiting eBay has dropped precipitously.

A fellow dealer for a few years encouraged me and other dealers to open an eBay store because he was very happy with his. He shut his down a year or two ago, and now warns everyone not to get tricked into opening an eBay store. That word of mouth experience outweighs all the phony ads they put out.

So, the bottom line is that I – as many other current eBay dealers do – will continue to restrict what I sell on there to only those items I feel I can still make a smaller, but reasonable, profit on. A profit which will continuously shrink as they continue to nickle and dime us to death and fewer customers visit eBay.

Pete Bosse
Via email

Seller policies leading to poor quality

I just finished reading Joan Turco’s letter to the editor in my current Antique Trader. I have to tell her that I wholeheartedly agree with her, and I would like to find out the e-mail address or land address she used to send her letter to eBay.

I would like to reiterate to them that most all of us out here in the “Common-people land” feel the same way.

EBay is trying so hard to keep their buyers, but think nothing of trampling all over their sellers by charging outrageous fees and putting so many restrictions on the seller. The sad truth is that the old adage “the customer is always right” is, in this day and time, a myth. There are people out there who would take advantage of Jesus Christ himself if they thought they could get by with it – on the seller’s side AND on the buyer’s side. I buy occasionally and sell occasionally.

When I am looking for dolls to buy (that is all I buy or sell), I am having a harder and harder time finding quality merchandise to bid on because no one wants to pay all the high fees and then very possibly have no bids because they try to put a reasonable reserve on their merchandise. I believe eBay is going to have to come down off their high horse and start trying to work with the sellers as well as the buyers.

Barbara Spears
Barbara’s Dolls, Ft. Worth, Texas

EBay buyers also reeling from policies

I read with interest the letter from Joan Turco where she was making the case that eBay policies are unfriendly to sellers. She made many excellent points, and there are definitely some policies that are unfair to sellers. However, I would like to point out that there are also eBay policies that are unfair to buyers.

I have bought a great deal of glass on eBay for a book I am writing. In any given quarter of the year, 1/5 to 1/3 of the glass I buy on eBay is not as described. This, of course, means that the majority of purchases are as described by honest sellers, but the percentage that is not is significant. I typically buy glass that is described as in excellent condition with no damage. But what I too often end up getting is glass that has either a large chip on it (the most frequent problem), a crack, a rim that has been ground down, water damage, large areas of paint or gilding loss (heavy oxidation in the case of mercury glass) or has been grossly mismeasured in height. In every case, the seller responds that “they didn’t notice the damage” or “didn’t realize I measured wrong” even though their pictures carefully picture the glass in every angle except that showing the damage.

I have even run across sellers who enhanced the color of washed out tinted glass or changed the color in the picture to mimic a known piece. EBay’s policy is that the buyer is responsible for the return shipping even though the seller has misrepresented the item. Since it typically costs $12 to $20 (or more) to ship glass back to the seller, the buyer is out a huge amount of money for misrepresented items that the seller can turn around and relist. Several returned items add up to serious money and I can’t believe many buyers would put up with it.

I have checked with other glass collectors in my area and they have had the same experience and are no longer buying on eBay. Often, when the cost of shipping the item back is close to what it cost in the first place, I end up keeping the item because it’s just not worth the bother. Dishonest sellers know this and use eBay to dump their damaged pieces that they can’t sell at their stores or reputable auction houses.

Oh, yes, I theoretically could post negative feedback for a seller, but then they could turn around and leave “positive” feedback with some scathing lie in the comment line, and that nasty comment would be visible to whomever looked at my feedback rating, so of course, I am not going to leave negative feedback or a negative comment for anyone.

EBay also turns a blind eye to fraudulent listings. I frequently see Myra glass, which is unmarked, being advertised as Tiffany glass with a fraudulent signature added. I’ve seen frosted or opalescent pieces with a Lalique signature added. Iridescent studio glass often has the signature ground off to be sold as Loetz. And of course, a shocking number of iridescent pieces without signatures are listed as Loetz, enamelled pieces as Moser, various pieces as Steuben, and of course, the innumerable pieces from China and Romania being sold as Gallé. Sometimes when the fraud is just too much to bear, I report the item, but eBay does nothing. The item is never pulled, and even if I repeatedly report items from a seller who consistently falsifies their glass, these sellers remain on eBay year after year. This makes eBay an unusually dangerous place to be buying collectibles.

Suppose a buyer unknowingly buys a fraudulent item, only to discover the fact after receiving it? They must return the item to the seller AND pay for the return shipping, so not only is the seller not out any money for listing fraudulent items, they can continue to list the item over and over again.
Finally, eBay will not allow a person to open more than one case for any given item. My friend did not receive his item well after the expected delivery date, so he opened a case for the “item not received.” The seller then shipped a package, reported the tracking number to eBay, and the case was closed. My friend opened the package to find a piece of junk inside which wasn’t even the item being sold. When he tried to contact eBay about opening a case for an “item not as described,” he was told he could not open another case for the same item, so he is now out $800. Do you think eBay will keep any buyer who has this experience?

In short, eBay is not a good place for either buyer or seller right now, and it’s no wonder that eBay sales have dropped.

Cathy Dahms
Via email


Special discount prices on great books, digital downloads, price guides & reference books for every hobby

Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles 2011 Price Guide

Antique Trader Facebook PageMeet and share with other antiques collectors, dealers and auctioneers on Antique Trader’s Facebook page

Antique Trader Twitter ProfileGet special discounts and breaking news alerts on Antique Trader’s Twitter feed!

Sign up for your FREE email newsletters

For more trade news, auction reports, research and expert columnists, get a year of Antique Trader magazine for the special online price of just $24.98!

Antiques Auction Houses