Ebay, some things to watch for.

 

 

Greetings to you and so long 2013! 

 

I have spent a number of years on eBay and for the most part been happy with the services and products.  Having said that a few stand out in my mind and I thought an airing of the facts might help someone else.

 

Sites like eBay have accountability built in however; many of us don’t leave a negative rating when the person deserves it, thus skewing the results.  Some of us leave them a bad mark because the item was defective or what have you when it was clearly marked “as is no returns.”

 

I have been known to leave them a positive feedback but then voice my concerns for their way of doing business in the comments.  For instance one fellow sold me something and then just threw it into a “if it fits it ships box, no packing and barely any tape.  Why the post office took it is another story but it did make it.  The box did not survive and the device inside looked as if the Cowboys used it for a football.  Anyone reading his feedback will see that he needs to step up his shipping game.

 

Here is my argument, see what you think.  I have always felt that we are too litigious of a society, we are “sue happy.”  Anything goes wrong and there is some lawyer somewhere looking to make some money and will take the case no matter how petty the suite.  Much like sharks; the more hungry the beast, the more appetizing a license plate or old shoe looks as opposed to a “wrongful death suite” that just don’t fall into “everyone’s” lap..

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Is there a time to sue and is there a time to leave a negative rating?  The answer is yes to both.  If you are suing someone because you see it as a way to make money; (much like the lawyer,) than probably not.  However; if you are bringing legal action as a way to hold the entity accountable, and possibly get them to change the way that they do business, than I believe that you are not only justified, but you should.  The same is true about not leaving five stars. 

 

Did they earn it?

Was the description accurate?

Was the product or service delivered as expected?

Was the shipping “normal” or was it high?

Was the item packed correctly?

If there was a problem, did they go out of their way to make it right?

Did they communicate with you until it was resolved?

 

Online buying has evolved over the years and I would suspect that the day of shopping via printed catalogue will be history in the next few years.  With companies like Amazon, and others, it seems that the market place is much larger, only limited by internet access and access to the mail, or UPS or what have you.

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I collect, purchase and refurbish old radio’s, purely as a hobby.  I visited a re-cycle plant a few years ago where I saw home electronics being shredded, ground up, pulverized etc.  While there is a need for this, I really would like to salvage some of “Americana” via its technology of the 50’s and 60’s and before, for the next generations.  This quest has me looking for and purchasing unique antique e-stuff and than looking for the parts to repair it.  Few young people today know what a tube is or how it works.  We have managed to pack a video camera into wristwatch that still tells the time and only a few years ago (60) the transistor was replacing the tube allowing for smaller power supplies and of course smaller radio’s.  We got the first transistor radio in 1954 which was a combined effort of Texas Instruments and Industrial Development Engineering Associates.  A year later over 100,000 pocket radios were on the market.  That is when Raytheon jumped in to make a better radio hence came along the 8 TP 1 which basically was a radio that doubled the amount of transistors incorporated from 4 to 8 allowing for better sound.

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eBay seems like a natural place for this as it is rife with all kinds of these things.

 

Here are some things that I learned over the years that may help you and or might guilt the person or person’s who practice this type of behavior to stop it.

 

When selling an old “transistor radio” the seller said, “I am not sure how to test this.”  Translated “I have done everything that I know and this thing is dead.”  If you are incapable of installing a 9volt battery and turning a couple of knobs to see what happens, than perhaps you should not be selling on-line.

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“I put a battery in and just static, there are no AM stations in my area.”  Unless you live on the moon or in a cave or a solid brick building, there are radio stations that you can hear, that is especially true if you have the internet and cell phone.  Translated, “this thing is screwed up and I will say this in hopes that someone will buy it.”

 

I guess what I see most of is that “I got this at an estate sale and have no way to test it.”  Folks, the most idiotic person out there knows that it is worth more money if it works and most people who buy at an estate sale know more than just a little about what they are buying.  So, translated, “I did everything that I know, called all of my normal resources and this thing appears to be dead so I will say I don’t know how to test it and it will be someone else’s problem.” 

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A few others that I have received over the years are “for parts or repairs.”  Now this is fair game.  Accompanied along with pictures so people can see what they are bidding on, I now know that it is dead, that you don’t know how or don’t want to repair it and you want to move it.  Here is where the rub comes in.

 

I have bought many such radio’s to find that someone had opened them up and removed parts to repair another radio and then sold what they did not want as “for parts or repair.”  Translated, “I took what I needed, but I am not going to tell you that there are parts already gone.” The real problem is that I can’t prove that is what they did, but I can watch them and not purchase from them again.

 

Another “parts or repair item” is this, electronics that have been under water.  Folks, it is dishonest to sell something as “unknown condition,” parts or repair, I don’t know how to test etc if the item has been under water!  It is ruined if that is the case.  Case in point, I purchased a “lot of 3”  RCA radio’s from the 50’s.  Three radios’ that were of an unknown condition, “for parts or repair.”   There were fuzzy pictures of the cases and that was about it.  By the time you bid against others looking for these little collectables, pay shipping to find out that they are worthless well; that is just wrong on so many levels.  Not only were parts missing out of the three, each and every one was filled with mud.  The cases are not pristine so I pretty much threw away money and have nothing to show for it.

 

My last bone of contention is really the first radio that I bought like this.  As a long time Ham I started my radio hobby with a borrowed Hallicrafters SX-99 back in the late 60’s.  If you have not experienced what I am going to relate, you have missed out.  There is something magical about sitting in front of a radio such as this and listening to stations from all over the world; bask in the glow of dial lights, knobs and meters swaying with the signal strength. It is as if you are somehow connected to the station on the other end. I remember listening to a station in Hawaii and for a few moments I was there.  Shortwave used to be much more influential than it is today.  I think it was used as a propaganda method as well as a way to get information into areas that were blacked out by their local government. To control the people, you control what they hear, see, read and so forth.  We still do it today but that is another blog.

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I think a huge part of the success of eBay is people, much like me, trying to reclaim that lost moment through an old radio or trinket or favorite toy.  I started my search looking for one of these radios.  They are popular these days so the bidding gets intense and they frequently go for much more than they are worth.

 

Found one and bid on it. After an intense bidding war I got it from a local store and by local I mean in Texas.  Bad news there, not only did I pay premium dollar but, I had to pay sales tax.  Good news, I arranged to pick it up some weeks later when we were both going to be at the same event saving me $40 in shipping.

 

At first glance the case was not right; I could tell that it had been dropped.  Looking through the top cover everything else seemed rough but workable.  The money I paid for this the radio should have been turn key but alas, it was not.

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After getting it home I pulled the case off of it thinking I would straighten it out, to discover that this radio must have sat in a barn where water was allowed to enter it every time that it rained and stay until it evaporated.   My guess is that it was in this barn for years.  A restoration of that radio would mean replacing each and every control, the capacitors and who knows what else.  These things are very old and finding parts for them is not as easy as one might think.

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The person, who sold it to me, took it on trade. The person who traded it to him is likely the person who knew its history, and just did not care.

 

So here is my last bit of eBay advice, if they took it on trade, you may want to think about looking elsewhere as that is another escape clause if you are unhappy.  “No returns, all sales final etc” are just things that I tend to stay away from.   Now I know why some take no returns as there are those out there who need a part and will buy your item, take the part that they need from it and than send it back to you as a DOA. You are then held hostage by your eBay rating. 

 

I would rather eat a bug than take advantage of someone or a circumstance or in this case, steal from someone.  Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone felt that way?

 

Watch their feedback, if it is less than 100%, why is it that way?  If you get had by someone; warn others by leaving them less than positive.  eBay has a good resolution center which I have used before but this was really only when someone sold me something that they did not have to sell.  This happens more than you might suspect.

 

Hope that you have a great New Years and that you can use this to your advantage or at least to protect yourself, friends and family from the less than scrupulous people out there.  And by the way, some of the junk on eBay really does need to go to the e-cycle place, especially if it has been under water.

 

Best to you and those that you care about and Happy Bidding!

 

 

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