Earlier this week, I did a Ebay listing for a spinning wheel that was being sold for charity. Which sold, within two hours, for a price the previous owners didn’t dare dream of, to a lady who has got a great bargain. And as you do (well, I do) I thought I’d have a little peek at what else was around locally; something I don’t normally do any more, in order to avoid temptation. I was amazed to find the next closest listing was for a wheel that I myself had had for sale down in Molly’s Den, which had still been there that very afternoon. Normally I’d have been delighted to think I’d sold it on, but it had been listed at a very high price with what I felt was a very misleading description; it was described “very old” and made of “oak or walnut” when in fact it’s from the 1980s and whilst bits of it may be oak and/or walnut, the base is MDF. The problem with that was that it was pictured on my stall… I really didn’t want any of my regular, knowledgeable customers associating such a misleading description with me! So I messaged the seller to point this out & asked them to change the picture. Nothing doing; no reply…

Next morning I trotted down to Molly’s with some new stock, and was amazed & appalled to find the wheel still there, unsold. The blighter had listed MY wheel for sale, without my knowledge or consent.  I have no problem with a) people selling things on behalf of other people, I do it myself sometimes, or b) people buying items from me, then selling them on at a profit; that’s what we’re all doing and it’s fair enough. If they can get a higher price than I can, no problem. But I do have a problem with someone selling on something of mine that doesn’t yet belong to them, at a huge profit & with a misleading description; apart from the element of fraud, to me it’s completely unethical for a number of reasons. Eventually I did get a fairly incoherent response from them, telling me to “get a grip(!), you get your money & I get mine, where’s the problem?” The problem is, mate, you are selling something that’s not yours to sell, with a misleading description & without the owner’s knowledge or consent, and if you can’t see what’s wrong with that, the problem is with you. Anyway, I’ve physically removed the wheel and he has “removed” the listing (eventually, under pressure, and by dropping the price drastically & presumably getting a friend to “buy” it) but the story’s not over yet as far as I’m concerned.

But I’ve found it rather interesting to see & hear other people’s reaction to this. Half of them have understood instantly why I’m outraged, but the other half have been unsurprised & basically said, “Erm, what’s wrong with that? It’s what our bankers do all the time! And if he can get more for it than you can, well…” And it’s not the split I would have expected, with other traders being unsurprised and everyone else being appalled; most of the traders have been horrified (and rushed off to see whether he’s listed anything of theirs) but some of my perfectly-nice friends have failed to see why I’d have a problem with this. I’m still trying to get my head around this; not sure whether they just haven’t taken on board the implications, or whether my entire worldview is hopelessly old-fashioned & innocent. But at the very least, it has huge implications for anyone who regularly buys from Ebay; no wonder some sellers are so vague & unhelpful! And – why is it so hard to report a genuine problem to Ebay?

Would be interested to hear what my regular readers (OK, any readers, really) think of this conundrum: is it morally OK to offer for sale goods that aren’t yet yours, without the owner’s knowledge or consent?

9 thoughts on “Interesting!

  1. Colleen P. October 19, 2013 / 12:58 pm

    I can say unequivocally that yes, it IS wrong. It isn’t the other buyers property to sell, and it reflects badly on you that the description is misleading. e-Bay ratings are the bread and butter of the trade, and something like this can easily and irreparably damage your reputation.

  2. thriftwizard October 19, 2013 / 1:29 pm

    The rating would have been his, Colleen, so bad feedback would have rebounded on him, though I gather there would have been legal implications for me as the actual owner (or “Principal”) at the time of the sale, which makes it worse; however as I didn’t ask him to sell it (don’t think I’ve ever met him, even) I’m going to assume that wouldn’t apply.

  3. carrie October 19, 2013 / 6:40 pm

    No it isn’t OK. I dont understand what the legal repercussions would have been, though, if it had sold, unless you had sold it in the meantime meaning that he wouldn’t have actually had anything to send to the purchaser. If this is a trend, then it’s rather worrying.

  4. ouremuk66 October 19, 2013 / 6:50 pm

    I find it absolutely shocking!

  5. thriftwizard October 19, 2013 / 6:59 pm

    Carrie, I gather that technically, IF he’d been selling it with my permission & the purchaser hadn’t been happy with it, it would have been MY responsibility as the “principal” in the transaction & he would simply have been acting as my “agent” & therefore considered blameless. I’m assuming (dangerous!) that as it wasn’t with my permission or even my knowledge, that wouldn’t apply. But can’t help wondering how many bad feedback ratings he’s been able to avoid on those grounds…

  6. Retrowren October 20, 2013 / 7:06 am

    Goodness, I’m furious reading this! What a liberty! It’s outrageous some of the things people do! It’s a shame that you don’t know who he is though. And begs the question how many more times has he done this?
    I was thinking of selling at Molly’s den myself, but I’m not sure now…
    Have a great week.

  7. thriftwizard October 20, 2013 / 7:33 am

    Apart from this, Molly’s has been great, Rw – don’t let this put you off! They put a lot of work into advertising & events that attract more people.

  8. empress27 October 20, 2013 / 9:45 am

    Quite frankly I think that is shocking. You don’t sell something that is not yours! What would have happened if he had sold ‘his wheel’ and gone to buy yours, only to find it not there?? Not good at all.

  9. thriftwizard October 20, 2013 / 10:11 am

    I think what makes me most cross, never mind the legalities, is that that wheel contains a fair bit of my hard work; it was a wreck when I got hold of it & now it’s a working wheel capable of becoming a good one, with a little TLC which I have neither the time nor the space to give it. I was selling it at a knock-down, fireside-ornament price because I have two other REALLY good wheels being renovated & needed the space. And here’s this guy trying to make a huge profit on the back of my hard work, my time, my initial investment. And from the other traders too; we all have to hunt & sometimes hustle a bit for the things we sell on, we mend them, clean them up, pay rent on our trading space, keep it up to scratch etc. etc. This guy does nothing more than take pictures & list them on Ebay… Parasite!

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