Wednesday, June 8, 2011
My eBay Adventures
I haven't been a big user of eBay in the past but this year I've been tempted to buy about 10 things that I've found for sale there.
It's proven to be a happy experience only about half the time.
One big frustration for me is that I *never* win bidding wars. It seems that even when I place a ludicrously high reserve bid on a low value item that I'm pretty sure no one else can possibly be interested in, someone comes along and outbids me at the last minute. That happened in February when I tried to acquire "The Baja Marimba Band Rides Again!" LP that I mentioned at the end of my January 20th entry. Although there was nothing special about the item I was bidding on, someone ran the price up to about $16 and edged me out in the process after I thought I'd placed what was sure to be the winning bid. There have been identical LPs for sale for a set price less than that both before and since, so I'm not sure what the deal was. I thought at first that maybe I'd unknowingly gotten into a bidding war with a friend who was trying to buy the item for me, but apparently not. The good news is that I eventually acquired a copy in excellent condition for just $13 (including a $4 shipping charge). The bad news is that losing a bidding war that I didn't expect to lose (and still don't understand) left a bad taste.
A month or so later I got into another bidding war over a somewhat rarer item and ran the price up to about $25 before dropping out. I didn't expect to win that one, however, and was mainly just trying to feel better by making someone else pay about twice as much as they would have had to pay had I not been bidding. That's pretty immature behavior, I know, but it's the sort of thing auctions seem to bring out in even the best of us at times. (Watch A&E's Storage Wars at 10pm tonight if you want more examples.)
I've since limited myself to "Buy It Now" items being offered at a set price by top sellers with high customer satisfaction ratings. Alas, this approach has been problematic as well. Of the 8 items I've purchased this way, 2 never got to me and 1 turned out to be in worse condition than advertised. Although I got full refunds for the lost items and the flawed item cost less than $20, these "What a waste of time and effort!" experiences have pretty much soured me on eBay. I've ordered lots of things from Amazon over the years without *any* problem at all; why should I continue dealing with a site that turns out to be frustrating nearly 50% of the time?
On the bright side... that first Baja Marimba Band LP that I mentioned in my January 20th entry quite unexpectedly popped up on national TV just a few weeks later! I was watching a segment I'd taped about Herb Alpert on CBS's "Sunday Morning" on Feb 13 when the following photo from early in Herb's career popped up:
Herb is second from the right, of course - and Julius Wechter, leader of the Baja Marimba Band, is sharing the center of the screen with him. Although CBS didn't mention Wechter (or offer any other sort of context for this shot), all three of the LPs in this photo were made by his band. (They were his first 3 LPs and the shot was obviously taken to celebrate their success.) The LP I found and bought at a local Half-Price Book Store in December is the one Julius himself is holding. (Well, probably not the exact same one, but... close enough.) The LP I lost in the bidding war is the one on the far left. This is the first and only time I've ever seen any of his albums displayed on TV. What are the odds that the one I'd so recently purchased would pop up there NOW, nearly 50 years after it was first released? Pretty small. Which of course explains the thrill I felt when I saw it.
BTW.... I think that's Jerry Moss on the other side of Herb (Moss being the M in A&M Records). I have no idea who that might be on the other side of Julius. If you know the guy's name, please help dispel a bit of the ignorance in the world by sharing it with me now.
If you've had any experience with eBay - good or bad - please share that, too. Are my frustrations with it typical or uniquely my own? I wish I knew! (But not enough to bid for your story - sorry!)
Posted by DJ at 7:14 PM