As we know, I am attempting to declutter my house and pay my bills by selling my life on EBay.
I was very cautious about this to begin with. I have ventured into the choppy seas of EBay several times before in my life, and usually, after a short time, left, throwing my hands in the air with disgust.
Firstly, it never was a very easy interface for the seller. It used to take weeks to list anything and I had great admiration for those people who had thousands of listings, as I imagined them feverishly tapping away through the night, getting RSI and cursing, because the pictures they were trying to upload took four thousand years to appear, and then arrived sideways or upside down.
And were pictures of their own thumb.
This has now been largely rectified by the EBay App, which is mostly a thing of beauty and a joy forever, except that it is not entirely glitch free, and should you, for example, want to send someone an invoice, you still have to do it through the desk top. However, apart from that it is a wonder and a revelation.
Secondly, it is the most bizarre environment which seems to lure in people whose sole purpose in life is to make you want to shut your head in a door repeatedly for several hours, because that would be the easy option.
Not everyone you understand, just a persistent minority, who, if you sell enough, come to haunt your waking dreams as you dread the next ‘you’ve got mail’ message pinging its way into your inbox.
Most people are wonderful, and even when there are problems, which there are when you combine my own self confessed idiocy with Royal Mail’s idiocy and the vagaries of the universe in general, they can be simply sorted to the benefit of everyone.
I think some people however, are less interested in what they are buying and more interested in a subtle form of cyber terrorism.
Here are a few examples:
The person who sent me six messages about a Jaeger sweater which was on for the princely sum of £4. They demanded to know everything about it from which sheep it came from to what exact shade of grey it was. The final straw was their insistence on knowing whether the sleeves were full length or 3/4 length. I got my tape measure out. I measured the sleeves. I sent the exact measurements and a note to say it was long sleeved on me in a very polite e-mail, considering that this sweater had now been unfolded more times than something on a shelf in Benetton. I received another e-mail which said: ‘But you STILL aren’t telling me whether the sleeves are 3/4 length or full length.’ To which I replied: ‘It depends how long your arms are.’ Because by then I didn’t know what else to say and was really, really hoping she didn’t buy it, because if someone is that much of a pain beforehand, you can bet your bottom dollar there will be problems every step of the way. She didn’t bid. Huzzah.
Then there are the people who want to buy something from you, and insist that you give them every possible postage permutation under the sun before they will consider bidding. In the old days this was reasonably ok as you would weigh your item and the packing materials, add them together and figure things out from there. These days, the dimensions of your parcel are taken into account when it comes to cost. So you actually have to wrap the thing properly, which is fine if the person bids, because it saves you the bother later, but not fine if they don’t bid, or if someone else e-mails you to ask you how long the arms are, and you have to rip your packaging asunder to get your tape measure out. I currently have someone who wants to buy an item that, at the moment is 99p and has had me parcel up the item to find out the most economical way to send it to North America. My heart sinks with these items. It costs about £3 more to send something airmail which arrives in five days, as opposed to shipping which can take up to sixty days. It’s not so much the tiny cost difference that frustrates me. It is the fact that it has 55 more days to get lost than it does by air, which is a terrifying prospect.
Then there are the people who are just greedy. These are the people who buy something off of you for a steal, and believe me, it’s always a steal. Then they try to chisel you down on price because: ‘you said the sleeves were 27 inches and they’re 28 inches.’ They usually finish their mail with a line like: ‘I’m just letting you know so that you can decide how to proceed.’ which means ‘give me more of a discount’. If you offer them a full refund if they send the item back they will generally refuse, because they actually really like what they have, but they just need to hammer you a little bit more.
There are the people who have a problem with the item but don’t actually tell you they have a problem with the item until they give you positive feedback which isn’t positive feedback. This has happened twice to me. Both times it has been: ‘Lovely item but I wish I had known X before I bought it.’ This chaps my ass because all of my items are on for a full seven days, and there is an email system that allows you to ask questions. And if a person is unhappy with an item they have won, they can tell you about it and ask you to sort it out before they give feedback. Generally it is something they have failed to either read in the description or failed to ask, and they feel bad that they didn’t do this and know it isn’t your fault, so it is a kind of passive aggressive barracking that is utterly pointless.
Then there are the people who have a genuine grievance but whose response is completely disproportionate to the problem. I have a current case where I sold a lady a pair of shoes which I accidentally sold as a size 5 rather than the size 4 they were. This was because I am a size 5 and they fit me perfectly so I typed in the size in error. My fault entirely. I totally take responsibility. I received five messages from her this morning waiting in my in box. FIVE. You would think I had taken her first born child, ripped his throat out and turned his head into a flower pot. I have emailed her with my profuse apologies, taken full responsibility, asked her to send the shoes back and told her I will give her a full refund and pay for her return postage as the error was entirely mine.
I haven’t heard a word from her since.
I am waiting curiously to see how many responses will eventually turn up.
And we still don’t know whether the sleeves are full or three quarter length.