Buy Buy Baby, Baby Buy Buy....

evil! evil! They make me spend money!
(-by the eBay City Rollers, of course... *groan* S'OK - you may throw things at the screen for that one; perfectly permissible...)

eBay should have its own wing at the The Priory or the Betty Ford or something; it is both addictive and destructive. You think I exaggerate? Oh, let me tell you stories....

A (fairly long) while ago, I first dipped my toe into the sharky waters of eBay in order to buy a handy-dandy pair of noise-cancelling earphones. I researched them, I even went to a real music shop to try them out (they were asking over £100 for a pair though, and I wasn't prepared to pay quite that much) and then I tracked them down on eBay - for half the price, even including shipping from the US: a deal was born. I was very happy. My ears were happy, certainly. (Of course, if I'd waited a couple of months I could have bought a similar pair for half the price I shelled out, but I wanted them NOW - eBay eased the deal and made me think I was getting a bargain. Clever eBay.)

Not so long ago I was looking for a signed box-set of books. Having water-skiied around the 'Bay a few times, I was confident that I would get a bargain there - and so I was fairly taken aback when I saw that the books I wanted had price tags of £60-£70 ...£60?!! Fucking hell? What were they printed on? Vellum produced from the bellies of baby guinea pigs? Even so, I contemplated it... I even prepared a bid, using a cunning "sniper" eBay tool. Lucky for me I did...

I'd forgotten the golden rule of eBay: research your item first. A very quick search on Amazon revealed that - bloody hell - I could buy the exact item for half the price on eBay. But people were paying £70? I was confused. Confused but not stupid, I cancelled my snipe/bid before it was actually placed and waved my plastic in the direction of the other e-tail megalith. Chastened, I decided that maybe I should lay-off the eBay habit for a bit.

And then I saw a total anorak collector's item. A signed piece of publishing ephemera, never actually released to general retailers. My Gollum-like heart gave a little jump of joy. "Oh my preciousssssss. I'll haves you. Yesss..." Forgetting my promise to myself to give eBay a break I lined-up my snipe. I hovered over my "watch" list. I waited...

Disaster! Someone had placed a bid. Someone I actually knew had placed a bid. Someone who I knew wanted it at least as much as me had placed a bid. Bugger.

For a good ten minutes I held an internal debate on issues of morality surrounding Bay:
  • people are out there to make money;
  • money has no morality;
  • an auction is open to the highest bidder;
  • I could easily place the highest bid;
  • eBay is the free market in its purest sense;
  • I have as much right as anyone else to make the highest bid;
  • I want it, I have the means to buy it, ergo I can buy it
  • .... But it's a friend who wants it!;
  • could I look the aforementioned friend in the eye knowing that I had sneakily outbid them?;
  • does friendship have a monetary value?;
  • if yes, what price and does this bid come close to it?;
  • if no, how could I admit to having snatched something from them?;
  • would it be the equivalent of stealing?;
  • would I steal from a friend?...

Yes. Quite.

So, I removed my sniping bid. There'll be other items - friends can't be bought and sold, however.



Sassie Priest said...

I've never used eBay. Looked at it once and it frightened me half to death, so I scarpered!

Like Amazon though.

Anonymous said...

ooh and what if they are buying it for you? (or is that too much to hope for?)

The Gripes of Wrath said...

Er... No.
Not for me.