Buying items on eBay is truly a gamble — is the item going to be as described? Will it even arrive? Lately, my problem has been “how” the item will arrive.
Last week, a sad, flimsy box sat crumpled on my doorstep, which was especially bad because I knew what was going to be inside. Here’s what greeted me when I opened the box…
This framed Batman shadowbox from 1973 deserved a better fate than this. The seller wrapped the picture in ONE layer of loose bubble wrap along with a handful of foam packing peanuts and some crumpled newspaper. These frames are somewhat unique in that every shadow box that was produced had a different comic page in the background. Well, now this collectible just became a little more rare. sigh.
For whatever reason, people who I buy from on eBay are morons. Seriously. I bought a vintage Superman board game and the seller wrapped the box in several FedEx tyvek envelopes for protection before putting the item in a box. Well, he ended up attaching one of the flaps to the front of the game’s box. Do you have any idea how sticky that glue is? I spent half a day sniffing acetone while meticulously trying to save the game’s box. Luckily, the resulting damage was minimal but there was some paper loss around the edges, which will always bother me.
Another board game I bought came sealed on all four sides with clear packing tape. The item shown in the auction was not sealed, in fact the contents of the game were pictured, so silly me, I assumed that’s what I was going to get. The seller informed me that she taped up the game’s box before packing it, to make sure none of the pieces would get lost. This was a 50-year old collectible board game, not a new version of Monopoly. Who would do this???
Probably the most unsettling purchase I received was a Corgi Batmobile that arrived in a bubble envelope. That was bad, but it got much, much worse. Inside the envelope, the car was sealed in a ziplock bag, and when I reached into the bag, I found that the car was dripping wet and smelled of urine. What. The. ??? After throwing the car outside and scrubbing my hands for a good half hour, I fired off an email to the seller, who turned out to be a little old lady in Pasadena (true story). She apologized profusely, and told me she had used a wet wipe to clean off some of the dust before packing the car. She must have neglected to dry it off, and the combination of 40-year old dust, a wet wipe, and a sealed environment combined to generate a humid environment with the horrid smell. I gave her the benefit of the doubt, but God I hope she was telling me the truth. She offered to refund me the price, but I chalked it up as an honest mistake and let it go. Then I went and washed my hands again.
I know that every collector has probably had bad luck with shipping or receiving items, so what is one of your best/worst horror stories?
Shawn Robare says
God, yes, this. I’ve had such bad luck over the last couple of years. I don’t buy on ebay often, but when I do it’s bound to be messed up in horrible packaging. I ordered one of the Super Go-Bots, Psycho, and those things were fragile when they were brand new. The seller put the figure with zero packing in a box five times the toy’s size. It arrived in pieces.
The worst was when I recently picked up a Pocket Rocker Fisher Price cassette player for my girlfriend Jaime. The seller shipped it in a ziploc bag with an envelope taped to the outside. Of course it was busted to hell. It sucks because those don’t pop up on ebay often, and they aren’t cheap when they do.
So many sellers are douchebags.
Ugh, usually I get items shipped in boxes that aren’t big enough, not too large — it’s always a “treat” to get a box that has been Frankensteined together from a bunch of smaller boxes.
I honestly think that most sellers have no idea that what they are selling might actually be “valuable” to the person who buys the item. Condition doesn’t seem to matter at all, as long as the item is there. I never buy from a seller with low feedback, so these people should definitely know better.
Michel Le says
I agree. I buy a lot on eBay. But learned the hard way. I only buy form sellers with 99%+ feedback, below this can be a gamble. But Chinese sellers are the most notorious ones. They create FAKE tracking numbers, or ship a stupid beanie instead so they have a REAL tracking number. Then it takes up to 2 months for nothing to arrive, and when you make a claim with eBay they also say wait another 3 weeks.. In and all almost 3 months have passed, and it’s 3 months with my money out there that I could have used to buy other things.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have only experienced the “bait & switch” tactic just once, but that was many years ago. I thought it was an honest mistake at first, but then got a note from eBay saying that everyone who bought from that particular seller was getting garbage items, and eBay refunded my money right away. People suck.
I am always curious about the Chinese sellers who can ship items for less than if I bought it from someone down the street.
I used to buy a lot of records on eBay. You’d be surprised (or not) how many times I received a 45 shipped in a plain manila envelope with no additional padding or protection. About a 50/50 shot in that case that the thing was destroyed when I opened it up.
Then there was the recent seller who asked me to pay close to $20 in shipping costs for three magazines I had won separately within less than 20 minutes of each other (rather than combining them into one shipment at a cost of 5-6 bucks). She wouldn’t back down so for the first time in almost 15 years on eBay, I refused to pay.
Nope, not surprised at all. 😉
Combined shipping is the biggest scam out there. Even when a seller says they combine shipping, they usually add a few bucks per item, even though little or no additional packing materials, effort, or shipping charges would be required. Good for you for refusing to pay.
Michel Le says
Mags and media have Media Mail rates, usually 2.05 for a magazine.
Magazines have ads, which means they can’t go Media Mail (though a lot of people ignore that tidbit.)
I seriously have been trying to block out my experiences over the past couple of years. I swear people in general are just getting dumber by the day and eBay is just one reflection of this.
Typical issues for me are boxes fractionally bigger than the item, people thinking Saran Wrap is “packaging material”, make a point in auctions of highlighting condition, THEN get mad when you leave negative feedback. The usual complaint is that I didn’t reach out first. Why? Why should I when you put in zero effort? That is the PURPOSE of feedback. Idiots.
There was even one today. I mean, the bubble envelope had a $13 Lootcrate item (BTTF II Hover Board replica) so nothing major at all. Cheap, modern….but they wrote in pen on the bubble mailer “Do Not Crush” and put 2 saved little air cushions inside next to it.
That’s not how that works!!! Words on an item easily crushed is not how to stop that, PUT IT IN A BOX. I’ll PAY FOR THE BOX. Ugh. And air cushions on the side. That’s like lighting myself on fire and keeping water in the locked room next to me.
I seriously think my brain automatically deleted real eBay horror stories just to save my sanity.
Yes, Saran Wrap is not proper packing material. 😉 I’m also pretty sure that if you write “FRAGILE” on your box, it is set aside at the post office and used to prop open their rolling garage doors for a few days.
(BTW- You have an amazing collection.)
Gentlemen I have to agree with you on the horrors of how an item is packed. As a Ebay seller I always use boxes unless it is a flat item. Items are put in bubble wrap. Flat items are shipped in between cardboard pieces in a jiffy bag. It is not that expensive Uline has great prices on boxes. If you have a Sam’s Club you can get bubble wrap half than the office supply stores. Sometimes at a flea market you will find a buy on unused boxes.
Sadly, you seem to the exception. I’d buy from you! 🙂
Man, what a bummer. Some people just aren’t very bright! Once had an eBay seller send me a mint Super Powers Batman moc figure that he just dropped in a bubble envelope…..
Ouch! It definitely hurts more when it’s a pricey item like that.
The Rebel says
Ironically, all my purchases from the US arrived in sublime condition….considering how far they traveled and all. It’s those bought through my local eBay …I had some problems with certain sellers who don’t seem to know how to package their items properly. What a bummer.
I once received a handful of action figures with their noses practically rubbed off against the inside of a sealed bag which was not protected at all inside a tighly packaged box.
George (GI Jigsaw) says
In 17 years, I’ve only had one poorly packaged item. Lucky I guess. It was the typical clam shell carded action figure stuck into an envelope. It was crushed and I usually open, and it was cheap – but I did reach out to the seller because what they are selling are all collectibles. They should actually know better.
I’ve shipped framed art work – properly packaged at UPS and marked fragile, and it is still a crap shoot whether the glass ends up broken or not. Sad to see that Batman artwork in such a state – I almost wouldn’t trust anything with glass in today’s postal carriers.
I have actually asked sellers to remove posters from their frames and ship them rolled in a tube, but the glass was kind of an important part of this particular shadowbox.
mike macdee says
My family has had worse luck with scalpers, morons, and dishonest johns on Amazon than on ebay. Only ever had one issue with an ebay seller who didn’t have the listed items, and just took my money like a deadbeat. I reported them, told Paypal about it, and got a full refund within 24 hours.
I only buy from people with lots and lots of positive feedback, which may or may not help. I got one Mighty Max item where the description said “Max figure may vary” which I found kind of ridiculous coming from a collector, but not so bad that I didn’t buy the item anyway — it’s part of the reason I made an article about how to tell the different Max figures apart, so sellers can make sure to include the right one. A lot of Mighty Max sellers on ebay kind of disappoint me since they frequently lump items together without doing a lick of research into which parts go with which sets. Any search engine can answer that question.
But otherwise my luck has been surprisingly good. Although I shouldn’t say that when I’m expecting some rare items in the mail. Now they’ll probably get lost in transit or something.
Good luck! 😉
john gaither says
I have a couple of bad ebay shippers too…never fun.
This is the exact reason why I don’t collect superhero glasses because I would love to do that but I had three arrive broken once and that did it for me.l
That’s really disappointing when somethings ends up with preventable damage like that.
I’ve been lucky so far (knock wood) in having most of my buys be pretty well packed (and non-crushed the couple of times they haven’t been), but I’ve also been afraid to pick up anything too fragile. There’s some glassware that I have my eye on, but seeing things like this keeps me from wanting to take the risk…