Every now and then the faceless, vaguely utopian underground economy known as eBay can become a little more like the real world.
It is by and large a self-policed marketplace, and most transactions go smoothly, the wheels greased by our faith in one another-- and by the fear of engendering bad buyer and seller ratings.
People do still get defrauded though. Here's a story about eBay fraud, one with a happy ending (we hope).
Yesterday's eBay Scavenger included a cat bench/ottoman that was billed as a valuable mid-century antique, with a price tag to reflect it ($125). Reader gregory called it out as a $19.99 Target special from a few seasons back and reader NMC left a link that proved it in the comments.
We emailed this info to the seller, ModLifeCrisis, who happens to be a Power Seller with a stellar rep.
She was initially a little taken aback and asked for proof, but after seeing the link, had this to say:
Thank you for all your research and the link . . .I purchased this at a retro gallery, not Target, for a lot more money with absolutely no intent to sell something newer as vintage.
If I add it [the new info] to the bottom of the auction, which is my only option once there are bids, there is a chance bidders will not see this addition which goes at the very bottom past all the photos and payment info and I want them to see its not mid century clearly from the title.
There are in fact bidders right now. The price is currently at $142!
The seller thought on it and wrote again with a solution:
Since I can't change the auction copy with bids, what I will do is relist it tonight at my normal launching time and take out the Mid Century Vintage part. Thank you for your help, otherwise I would not have known.
Sounds like the seller was taken in, too-- though it seems odd that a Power Seller who deals in mid-century items could call this "Eames era," and believe herself. Even as a descriptor of its style, if not its vintage, "Eames era" is stretching things a bit. Color-blocked corduroy? We included it in Scavenger because it's funky, not classic. Maybe she could have called it "Brady Bunch era."
So...all's well that ends well? We'll see what happens tonight. Hopefully, because of our readers, we've averted a scam.
Anyone out there ever mistakenly buy a fake on eBay? What did you do about it? What did the seller do?