For over 20 years, Mrs. Pincus has sold stuff on eBay, the popular online auction/marketplace. Before you ask... no, she will not sell your stuff for you. We have enough "merchandise" to sell that will last a lot longer than the time we have left on earth. However, if you like to see some of the items that are currently up for auction, please... stop reading now and click HERE. You can come back to this story anytime. But you may get outbid on that one elusive treasure to complete your collection.
Now, when most people hear that my wife sells stuff on eBay, they wrongly assume that she quickly lists thousands of items and then sits back while the money rolls in. Hardly. Listing items is a tedious, repetitious and time-consuming task. But, it doesn't end there. There are endless questions from prospective buyers. Questions that could very, very easily be answered if the buyer would only read more than the first three words of the auction title. Mrs. P is very careful to include pertinent information for each item (color, dimension in inches, sizes for clothing). Unlike some sellers on eBay, she no longer includes an extended, flowery description — opting instead to post pictures of the particular item, taken from several angles. (A picture is worth a thousand bids, as they say in the online auction game.) Nevertheless, no matter how long or short the description, Mrs. P regularly fields questions like "What color is this?" or "What size is this shirt?," despite the answer appearing in the title or the first sentence of the brief explanation of the item.
Then, there's the packing and shipping of the items once they sell. Mrs. Pincus maintains an office near our home that serves as a merchandise warehouse and packing center, stocked with boxes and padded envelopes and tape and bubble wrap. My wife is a regular face at our local post office, making trips there three times per week. So it's a job, my friend. A real live job. Just like the one you go to and complain about every day.
The other thing Mrs. P has to deal with — just like at your job — is assholes. Yep. They are everywhere. While the majority of eBay transactions come off smoothly, every so often, some jerk pops up and causes unnecessary trouble. (Just like at your job.) There are folks who make up elaborate stories about bidding on items by mistake. ("My two-year old bid on this when I wasn't looking." or "I was putting my phone in my pocket and I accidentally bid on and paid for this item.") Mrs. P treats them with courtesy and in the most professional manner, although they are all lying thorough their fucking teeth.
Then there is what is referred to as "buyer's remorse." This is when a purchased item arrives and it is not what the buyer envisioned (although each auction displays numerous pictures of the item). Or, the buyer has second thoughts about buying the item in the first place. Both of these usually evoke some sort of made-up tale of damaged packaging or a flat out lie about the item never arriving. Both of these scenarios are usually accompanied by a demand of a full refund of the purchase price. This is when "buyer's remorse" becomes "mail fraud."
And then there are times when the unbelievable occurs.
Some time ago, Mrs. Pincus sold a small figurine of DC superhero Green Lantern to a buyer. The figure measures a few inches tall and is meant to stand on a shelf and be observed. It is not an action figure for play, as it is affixed to a base and is constructed from solid piece of molded plastic.
A week of so after the Green Lantern was paid for and shipped, Mrs. Pincus received an email from the buyer, explaining that the figurine arrived broken. As per my wife's usual procedure for items allegedly damaged in postal transit, she politely asked for pictures of the afflicted figurine in question. At first, the buyer balked and offered the lame excuse that he did not have a camera — a situation that no longer exists in the free world. After a little email back-and-forth and a bit more coaxing, the buyer sent one picture. This picture, as a matter of fact...
Mrs. Pincus and I marveled at this photo. We felt like we were playing one of those "Spot The Differences" games from Highlights for Children magazine we loved as children. First off, this is a picture of an action figure with articulated arms and legs. The original figurine that my wife packed and shipped had non-moving appendages. The green color of the costume is different. The costume configuration is different. The sculpting of his little muscles is different. (If I may draw your attention the the figure's groin area [I beg your pardon!], you will seen the green color extends down to the figure's upper thigh. In the original figurine that my wife sold and shipped, everything from the waist down is black. The green ends at the abdomen. What I'm trying to illustrate is — this guy sent a picture of a broken Green Lantern figure he happened to have lying around. (Remember that thing about "mail fraud" I mentioned? Insert that here.) Mrs. Pincus immediately reported the entire episode to the good folks at eBay's fraud department. They took care of the rest.
We can only imagine that we ruined this guy's intricate international Green Lantern action figure Ponzi scheme, assuming he must have a stockpile of broken Green Lanterns and various disconnected arms and legs.... and my wife foiled his evil plan.... or something like that.
I guarantee this won't be the last eBay flim-flam story. It certainly wasn't the first.
***** UPDATE *****
Thanks to a head's up from a loyal reader of this blog, it appears that this motherfucker was scamming us worse than originally imagined.The picture that he sent to Mrs. Pincus to accompany his claim of the broken action figure wasn't even his picture! It was nabbed from an online article about repairing broken action figures, published a few years ago. See for yourself HERE.