Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ebay Experiences from Hell(mar)

I've been using Ebay to buy baseball cards and other assorted things one needs in life (turns out cardboard isn't versatile enough to fix a broken vacuum cleaner nor does it make a good gift for my girlfriend) for many moons now.  I've read my fair share of horror stories, but in my ten or so years using the website and buying stuff from far-away lands like China, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Indiana,  I'd never had anything not show up or dealt with a shady vendor.

Well, I must have been uber-spoiled and karma came out to get me.  Last month, my Gehrig-ish streak of good deals came to an emphatic end, with two consecutive purchases go into the collective shitter.

See this card?  I like this card, I "need" this card. I found this card at a reasonable price and, hell, I even bought this card.  Yet, I do not have this card; how could this be?

I must admit, I do share some responsibility in this mistake.  When I initially won the auction for this card for something like three bucks (which, I thought was a steal, since Helmar singles are generally way over-inflated on the secondary market), I was so anxious to pay for it, that I momentarily broke concentration and entered in my old shipping address.  Craptastic.

I noticed the error immediately and (still not even 5 minutes after winning the bid) I sent the seller a message explaining the situation and provided the updated addy.  Crisis averted, right?

I used to live here... not under the bridge, Joliet

Not so much, as I watched the package tracker over the ensuing days, I saw it start working it's way to my old haunt - Joliet.  I also noticed that my message was never actually opened by the vendor.  Still, not a huge problem - I set it up so that all my mail gets forwarded to my new residence.  So, it will take a little longer, but I'll still get my card of a guy who played a measly 33 games in a Cubs uniform (1940).

Curses, foiled again.  Another several days went by and nothing came.  The tracker indicated that delivery had been attempted in J-Town and nothing after that.  Days became a week, a week became four and I became annoyed.

I called the post office, who spent the first two minutes of the call telling me I was just being impatient (I'm sure they were rolling their eyes at me all the while).  That is, until I told them it had been 4 weeks and change.  To their credit, they turned the place inside out; however, they could find no trace of my poor, lost Billy.

I tried contacting the seller again to see if maybe it had been mailed back to him and they had forgotten to scan it.  This time he responded (about time) saying that he hadn't, but that he'd do some research of his own and get back to me in two days.

Have you seen this card?

Two days went by - nothing.  4 days went by - nothing.  A week went by - still nothing, so I wrote him again asking if he'd turned up anything.  He was never to be heard from again.

At this point, I was pretty much over dealing with the whole situation and I only had a few days left to file a grievance about the transaction.  Due to my righteous indifference, to the minimal amount of $$$ involved, my small feeling of guilt for initially providing the wrong info and a crazy work schedule, that deadline came and passed without catching my attention.  Thankfully, it was only a few bucks pissed away.

I was really looking forward to adding a Helmar card to my CATRC binder though.  These oddballs are great pieces of folk-art and the original set (which this card hails from and was actually distributed in potato chips) was officially listed in the Standard Catalog and such.  Dangnabbit.

To make matters worse, my next attempt at a purchase did nothing to assuage my feelings of depression, rage and betrayal (OK, I may be being a BIT over-dramatic here).  Although, this particular story does have a happy ending.

This card here does actually physically reside in my collection now; that said, of these two bumbling experiences, i was much more confident that I'd eventually get my Billy; ol' Cy here was written off as a lost cause.

See the pen on there?  That is a signature, all right.  If you're saying to yourself, I didn't think Topps started using old-timey players in modern products until recently, you're right - they certainly didn't do that in 1985.  This card was created in order for Mr. Block to fulfill autograph requests that came in through the mail, as he ran his prosperous Chicago real estate business.

I must say that it's a pretty much a mirror image of the real deal too.

However, the back is far more statistically detailed.

Thus, when I saw this autographed card that mimics one of my all-time favorite sets featuring a super-vintage player who doesn't have much in the way of a cardboard presence for the low, low price of $1.29 shipped, it was a deal too good to be true... and you know how that old saying goes.  Nevertheless, my excitement impulses beat my logic and reasoning to the punch.  It wasn't until after I won that I saw the seller's feedback - 38 negative reviews in the last month alone!


Nothing I could do about it now though.  A tracking number was provided, though it quickly proved to be a phony, having never actually been scanned in.  After a couple of weeks of nothing, I filed a grievance with Ebay and got my money back (all $1.29 of it).

Then, I got a message from my local postmaster telling me that I had a package waiting for me at the PO.  Confused, I meandered into the building and found this card waiting for me... with postage due. Drat.

In the end, I ended up paying more for the postage than I did on the initial transaction (only a tiny bit though); but, at least I actually came away with this beauty of a card in the end.  It looks damn nice in the B section of my binder.

Meanwhile, if you see this guy on "the Bay," just say no:

Yea, right, like I'm going to consign with someone who had more negative feedback than that Jem & the Holograms movie - woof.

And there you have it, my rash of frustrating and ultimately disappointing Ebay experiences came and went, just like that.  I suppose it's a minor miracle that these are the only two transactions that have gone south for me on there.

That said, I'm curious, have you all have any experiences such as these that left a bad taste in your mouth?  How did you deal with them?  Did they have a happy ending?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Oh, and one last thing, anyone know where I can find myself a Helmar card of Billy Rogell??


  1. If you are on eBay long enough something along those lines will happen. The silver lining is that the grievance system allows enough security that pretty much every transaction is covered. Probably the biggest issue for card collectors now is how the card is shipped.

    1. True, I've had some weird packaging jobs come through; thankfully, my cards never got damaged as a result... yet...

  2. That's interesting. I've had several transactions with that tntnorthnj seller without any incident that I can recall. Maybe the shoddy service is a relatively new development.

    1. I guess it must be - beware in the future!

    2. I was just going to post the same about tntnorthnj.
      On a different note I have to ask... Did you mean India in that first paragraph or are you giving some love to that state to our east?

    3. No, I meant Indiana - my sarcasm was showing. Sometimes I'm jut too deadpan for my own good.

  3. I've made a lot of purchases on ebay over the last 13 years. My feedback total is over 1100 and believe me most of those are not from selling. I've only had a smattering of problems mostly having to do with poor packaging. The most disappointing was a Robert Fulton (the steamboat guy) card that was going to be a gift for my wife who claims to be a descendant. Good price, great condition. When it arrived it was all creased. The seller acted perplexed, asked for the card back, and credited me for the purchase and return shipping. Overall I'm satisfied with Ebay.

    1. That's a awfully fascinating branch of the family tree. It's a shame that the Fulton card was "lost at sea."

  4. Hey - we were neighbors. I used to live in that bush.

  5. My 8 year old daughter loved Jem and the Holograms haha. Don't lie you saw it!

    1. I'm not going to lie, I wanted to see it in theaters before I read the reviews. Now, I'm even more curious to see just how terrible it is, but I'll wait 'til Redbox in that case.

  6. I met the owner at a card show when I lived in NJ. Seemed like a nice guy. I have also bought cards from them on eBay multiple times, with no issues. So I'm surprised.

    I looked at their feedback and it doesn't appear to be a new issue - it looks like their approach is to just have a high volume of sales, and they might screw 5% of them up. Weird.