The stresses of eBay

Posted on June 20, 2010


I’ve tactically waited until my girlfriend is out of the country before I write this, given that if she were to read it she’d know that I was hunting for birthday presents for her. In case you’re wondering, no, she hasn’t clicked the button on the right and therefore doesn’t have a subscription to my blog (shocking, I know, but I’m willing to overlook it), so hopefully by the time she comes back this will be buried under a flurry of more interesting posts, never to be seen by her eyes.

I’m looking for birthday presents then, as we’ve established in the paragraph above. eBay’s a wonderful thing for finding birthday presents, because it seems like anything in the world is catered for. If you really want to find a bookmark with a picture of another bookmark on it (for example), eBay is sure to have it.

But eBay fosters insecurities and jealousy, especially if you’re relatively new to it like me. I’ve only been a user for about 6 or 7 months, and therefore don’t have the eBay savvy like more experienced power users, which means that I spend the last 10 minutes of many auctions sweating feverishly and hitting refresh while wondering why the world won’t let me buy the bookmark with a picture of another bookmark on it that I’ve been so lovingly coveting.

There was a really pretty and very affordable Alice in Wonderland necklace and earring set (for the girlfriend – not for me – before you ask) in silver that I saw on there in one of my first forays. It was perfect: I needed it. It would make her swoon and say “how thoughtful! How touching! How delightful!”. In short, it would give me credit for a long time. And I had it, until the last minute of the auction, when suddenly about 15 other bidders jumped in and rocketed the price up by about £20. So eBay is frustrating, and full of spoilsports.

There is the flipside too, where you don’t feel heart-wrenching anguish that someone has stolen your bookmark with a picture of another bookmark on it from you, but guilt that you’ve stepped on someone else’s dreams. A particularly lowpoint in my eBay history would be when I bought a Very Hungry Caterpillar game as a joke present. The other bidder was very keen, and from looking at her bid history (baby’s comforter, baby’s rattle, Iggle Piggle soft toy, parenting books) it seems as if I’ve literally stolen from a baby and her mother. When that child grows up with a grudge against the consumerist world, I’m going to have to feel slightly responsible.

I’m bidding on something now – if you think I’m going to tell you what so you can swoop in and steal it from me you must think I’m a mug – and it’s got 4 hours 32 minutes remaining until bidding closes. Currently it’s at 99p (with 66p postage) and it’s going to make my girlfriend smile and have a really nice birthday. But knowing my luck with eBay, some utter pain will have seen it three weeks ago, added it to their Watch list and will wait until the countdown begins to go red and the minutes turn to seconds before putting in an extortionate bid which goes beyond the maximum bid I’ve set. And that’ll be her birthday ruined. Thanks, internet shopping.

Does eBay get you hot under the collar? What’s been your biggest miss while bidding? Let me know in the comments below.

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