the perils of online auctioning

This week’s photo prompt at is titled

wide open spaces

There is a load of wide open spaces in the world, and most of them can ((and have been)) photographed in one way or the other. There’s deserts, tundra, the oceans, great plains.

Another wide open space is the creativity this photo prompt wants us to explore, I guess. A little harder to photograph that, but there are ways. The human mind, our imagination or our life is another wide open space that surely could be portrayed with photography, and everyone of us can fill in various ways.

Then, obviously, there is the internet. A wide open space that we can explore, get lost in or try to fill for ourselves. What I like most about it, is the people I meet there, but there’s another post about that over here.

Not everyone I met on the internet fits into the category of that first blog post, though. So before I present you with my photographic wide open space, here’s a totally unrelated story of what happened to me in my earlier internet days, on a well-known online auction platform.

In November 2003 I was once on the hunt for a certain DVD. I was looking for Pulp Fiction, and at the time that was harder than it looks. The trouble with buying Pulp Fiction on DVD in Germany is, that for some licensing reason, you can only get it with German Subtitles you can’t even switch off when watching it with the original audio track.

Knowing that I was delighted when I found what I was looking for on that auction website ((you know the one)), with no bids, a five Euro starting offer and a few days to go. The offer didn’t say much in the line of text, but being rather excited I was willing to give it a try.

The vendor had a lot of positive reviews, what could go wrong?

A few days later I had won the auction with my starting bid. Happily I sent the vendor a message, asking for his banking details, since – strangely enough – they weren’t automatically provided. It took a full week to get an answer, but at the time I didn’t really think much about that. Instead I instantly transferred the money and sent a message saying the money was underway. Of course I also included my adress for delivery.

A week later (a week that included an unanswered message from me to the vendor, asking if the money had arrived yet), I finally get word: “I need your delivery adress again so I can ship the tape?”

At that point I was somewhere between disappointed and annoyed. Seriously? A week between each reply, and then he didn’t even get my adress the first time.About to answer, I stopped dead in my tracks. Wait, what was that? Tape? I reread the offer, and yup. I missed it. The text from the offer in fact said it was a tape, and it was posted in the right category. I was so excited to finally have found what I’d been looking for that I overlooked this tiny and yet important fact. ((fun fact: people not reading my messages correctly and thus getting something wrong is a pet peeve of mine to this day. oh the irony.))

I just bought a video tape instead of a DVD. Well, crap. My next message was a little longer.

“Hi, just now I realized I accidentally bid on a video cassette, not on a DVD which is what I actually was looking for. Would you mind if we cancelled the whole thing? You can of course withhold the auction fees and all that from the refund.
If you don’t want that, it’s fine, just send the cassette to the following adress.”

You might guess it, my lovely business partner kept me waiting another week, before he sent me a reply, packed with adventurous orthography and dubious grammar which I won’t bother to translate.
Basically he wrote something like:

“What’s that supposed to mean? I already wrapped it all up, I just need to put the adress on it.  Just watch the movie and resell it! What now?!?!”

I replied, being rather annoyed – if not pissed off –  briefly: “Deary me, I only asked. I even wrote that I’d take the tape. So please, ship to <my adress>.”

I got the movie a few days later. I watched it, there were some additional scenes and an interview on it, the quality was decent, but I never got a reply or anything to my last message.
I thought a few hours about the sort of review I’d give to my vendor. It worried me that a negative review would only spring from the fact that I was stupid enough to bid on the wrong product, but I realized that wasn’t it. I was fine with my stupidity, I was fine with paying 5 bucks for the video tape, I was fine with watching it, even if I planned to get the DVD.

I realized I was annoyed with this vendor ((who had positive reviews in the hundreds, praising his friendly communication and quick reaction times)) for three main reasons

  • a week between each message, without so much a “sorry, I’ve been busy”. Sorry, that’s not quick, not even in 2003
  • I gave my adress within minutes of transferring the money, it took the vendor another week to ask for it
  • the over-the-top reaction to my message “can we cancel? if no it’s ok, I’ll take it”


Thinking “what the hell” I went through with it, gave a negative ((I didn’t really feel neutral about it)) review, stating that communication, shipping and execution was rather slow and inefficient.
I actually got a comment on the review from my vendor, stating “buyer suddenly didn’t want the product any more, was unreasonable, probably miffed”. ((seriously? unreasonable? did he even read ANYTHING I wrote?))

A month later I realized I got a new review. I’d nearly forgotten about that story, but the review reminded me of the whole story. I think it’s my favorite review I’ve gotten anywhere, and it will be hard to top.

querulous informer, should be excluded from <online auction website>

I think I was angry about that for maybe 2 seconds, then I giggled a lot, tried to contact him again, explaining my review and asking to change that.  Because honestly, I’m fine with anyone who does not like my way of handling things, but please base it on facts and step away from name-calling.

I did not expect to get a reply and I got what I expected.

I still have the video tape here, despite not owning a vcr, and it’s my favorite ebay story.

Oh, and there’s even a happy end! A few years back I created something regarding Pulp Fiction ((I’ll share it on a later blog post!)) to make a friend laugh, succeded and later she bought me Pulp Fiction on DVD when she spent a weekend in London.


And without further ado, here’s my contribution to the 52 photos project, a wide open space I photographed on a sailing trip in the Netherlands!



5 thoughts on the perils of online auctioning

  1. This is a very interesting and informative story. Very creative, too, to connect it to this week’s theme for the gallery. The internet really is a wide open space with lots of deviant, unscrupulous, untrustworthy individuals. This post can be a guide and a reminder that we have to be extra careful. I had lots of unhappy transactions, too, in the internet. I should have wrote about them, too.

    Lovely picture, by the way.

  2. Pingback pulp fiction, quentin tarantino, limericks
  3. Pingback I hate selling stuff. - OlliCrusoe.Net

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