In recent issues of Mekeel’s & Stamps magazine, John Lezak relates his dealings on eBay. He also mentions experiences from other stamp dealer friends. It makes me chuckle. The two most common problems with eBay are bidders who “never received their shipment” and successful bidders who flood the seller with emails such as, “Did you receive my payment?” or “Did you ship the item yet?” within minutes or hours of the auction closing.

In a “Letter to the Editor” in the Feb 2010 American Philatelist, a collector groaned about his $500 sale of stamps to an eBay bidder in China who later declined receipt of the shipment. To paraphrase, the collector had to pay $536 ($350 customs/tariff fee plus $186 shipping) to get his stamps back. Ouch! And the bidder got his money back from Paypal because under the eBay terms and conditions, the bidder is always right.

I’ve sold less than 50 lots on eBay. Three bidders emailed me to say that their lots never arrived. Luckily, I decided that all lots, regardless of value, are shipped via the USPS with Delivery Conformation. I prepare an invoice like any other order I fill and I file the Delivery Confirmation slip with my hard copy of the invoice. One bidder wrote to me 30 days after the auction ended to say that he never received his lot. I quickly retrieved the Delivery Confirmation number and emailed it to him, showing that it was delivered 2 days after I mailed it. His reply was, “Oh, I must have overlooked this. I’ll check.” I never heard from him again. He probably assumed that I threw out the Delivery Confirmation slip by then. He guessed wrong.

It’s interesting that three lots from eBay were lost (when they really weren’t). However, in my regular stamp business with my regular customers, I’ve never lost a shipment in six years of business. Coincidence?

I get flooded with emails too. I ignore them. I do not live in front of a computer, hanging on for the next email to arrive. If I sell something on eBay, it ships the same day that I receive payment for it, or the next day if payment is received after my post office closes for the day. Some bidders are very annoying. Many times their questions can be answered if they read the auction description. If the auction lot doesn’t show up the next day in their mailbox, they fire off an email, “Did you ship it?” I ignore these emails because they are soon followed by, “I got it” the following day. Patience is a virtue. I cannot control how long the USPS takes to deliver your package.

Some people supplement their income by selling things on eBay. I don’t see how they do it. It can be very time consuming dealing with annoying bidders. There are plenty of them from my own experience, and from the stories I hear from other stamp dealers doing business on eBay.

I buy a few things on eBay. I’m extremely selective about who I buy from. I see a lot of material that is overpriced, incorrectly described, or outright fakes. I don’t know who buys this stuff. One of these days those buyers will realize that their purchases are worth nothing. I’m sure other collectibles like artwork, coins, etc. also have similar incorrect items (or outright junk) on eBay.