Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Another Problem Transaction

I find that many sellers on eBay describe their books inaccurately, package horribly, and generally mess up most stages of the transaction. I am to the point that I believe that a disproportionately large number of the sellers who remain are the bad sellers. Let's say that previous to all of the annoying changes that 10% of the eBay sellers were bad. I know that many good sellers have fled, so it is quite possible that 20% or more of the ones who remain are the bad sellers. Those seem to be the people who are immune to the DSRs. They can do whatever they want and keep plugging away.

Can you tell that I'm in a bad mood? I'm really sick of all of the problems I keep having with my eBay sellers. It really is a much higher percentage than it was a few years ago. I received a badly damaged box in the mail this past week.

First corner:

Second corner:

Third corner:

The last and only intact corner:

Top of box:

Bottom of box:


Notice that books were beginning to fall out of the box as I shifted it for the photos. The cardboard was so soft that it should have never been used for shipping 46 books. I opened the box to see this:


I guess that the stray cardboard was intended to strengthen the package, or maybe the cardboard was trash and the seller decided to use it to take up space in the package. I have had sellers use trash as packaging material. This seller is an eBay Power Seller, so he is one of eBay's finest, at least so eBay thinks.

One book was missing. I am surprised that only one book was missing. In addition to the poor packaging, some of the books had undisclosed previous water damage. The seller stated that the books "look as good they would in the local big box book store like Barnes & Noble, Borders etc." So, Barnes and Noble sells books that are water-damaged and have heavy wear? I did not know that.

The seller also placed stickers on all of the dust jackets so that he could "note which number of the Hardy Boy series the book was." #%$@*&! Sellers should never put stickers on old paper! I used lighter fluid to soften the adhesive and was able to remove most of the stickers without damage. Several dust jackets were not so lucky, though. Sometimes it is amazing that old books pass through the hands of some sellers without getting destroyed.

On this topic, I once saw a listing for Nancy Drew books in which the seller stated that he was going to throw away the jackets but decided to let the buyer make that decision. Please do! Just think...some books offered on eBay without their dust jackets may have had their dust jackets for all of these years until the seller decided that the books would look better without them when selling them. I'm sure it has happened.

All in all, my transaction turned out okay, even though I lost one book, some books had undisclosed water damage, and several jackets were slightly damaged by the stickers. It still is annoying, though.

11 comments:

beautifulshell said...

unless you have another ebay ID, it seems like someone has lifted your betty gordon series overview in its entirety for their auction # 200343798322. if they cite you somewhere, my bad, but it didn't look like it....

shady!

Jennifer said...

I am not the seller. This happens quite often. People seem to think it is okay to copy other people's words without permission.

I have sometimes found an auction that I might have wanted to bid on, but the seller plagiarized me. If they only knew...

My Beverly Gray summaries spoil the endings of the books, so I have a warning on each page. One time, a seller copied some of those summaries into his listings, therefore spoiling the entire plots of those books. Why would a seller spoil the ending of a book he is trying to sell? Clueless, I guess.

Kathleen said...

Jennifer,
I can certainly sympathize with receiving a box in such deplorable condition.

That happened to me once but the seller's husband had wrapped everything in plastic (rather messily, lol) so the books were undamaged. The box was soaked and falling apart.

And you wrap exceptionally nicely, by the way. ;O)

Ebayers definitely tend not to know how to wrap. I have to fight to get most boxes open.

I certainly do see less desirable Nancys but there are still excellent, honest sellers out there.

I believe, just in general, people run the gamut from poor to superb and everything in between- lousy, okay, good but having a bad day, average but going through unrelated problems, fantastic.

People have fled Ebay for a variety of reasons, most of them utter disgust and tired of getting ripped off by Ebay and Paypal's monopoly.

Because of the economy perhaps there are sellers that are inexperienced.

What I hate doing is dealing with the megasellers who refuse to give you any sort of information but loads of rules and conditions. These are exactly the sellers Ebay is catering to. I tend to avoid them like the plague on principal but mostly because I have not a clue what I am going to receive. I do not need to pay for a worthless yellow spined shiny flashlight what I might pay for an Applewood as the photo Ebay provides is of an Applewood.

Many other sellers still need the income.

If you think Ebay is bad, you ought to deal with Abe's books. One seller sent me a lovely book and I mentioned what utter crap I was receiving from the rest. She said that the sellers just do not care.

Like you, initially I sold on Ebay because it was fun.

I know several very trustworthy, reliable sellers that are still plugging away.

I just try to do the best I can and ignore Ebay's meddling as much as possible. Maybe not everyone would agree with my assessments (although I am licensed in two states to give out grades ;o). I would not expect them to do so. But I strive to sell the best books I can find. People are pleased.

Huge corporations like Ebay are similarly the reason why labor movements began. They dictate. Sellers have no imput. They bleed us dry. Ebay is losing money like crazy and still they persist.

Sellers had a chance to strike but few people honored it. I think it may have helped.

Paula said...

Jennifer said: "I find that many sellers on eBay describe their books inaccurately, package horribly...".

I agree 100%! I have so many examples that have happened to me that I could be writing all day! Sellers, like in your example, who describe books as "mint" "near mint" "like new" and send you books with torn pages, missing pages, or heavy wear down to the cardboard. Sellers who claim books are "very good condition" that have major, unusual defects that are not revealed in the description or pictures. Sellers who send collectible books in a box loosely packed with newspaper. And of course, the famous ripped box with books poking out the sides.

I realize I'm not an expert in rating books, and different people rate books differenetly, but when I bid I take that into consideration and study the pictures carefullly. I have even had to return books to sellers who make a living selling books, who you would think would know better. Sometimes I just let it go - not worth the hassle - but when I do complain to the seller, I often get excuses of innocence - didn't notice it, someone else rated the books, I'm new at this, thought they were VG condition based on other books for sale on ebay, etc. And one (the professional) suggested I was looking for pristine books and was not familiar with the general quality of books on ebay. Half of the books in his lot had major flaws that were not described, including for example, one that was described as "very good" that had dart-like holes all over the front cover, some of which actually went through the cover! In all these cases, the pictures are very few and/or are not very clear and/or do not show the problem areas.

So you try to take into consideration that not everyone knows how to take pictures, or how to put additional pictures in their descriptions for free, etc., but after it happens so many times, you really do start to feel there are a lot of ebay sellers who purposely don't provide enough accurate information and/or overstate the condition of their items. Better not to say too much or provide too realistic an evaluation than miss a sale.

However, if you do go to the trouble of complaining, all sellers typically do resolve the problem so I think buyers end up giving them the benefit of the doubt on ratings. I know I do, because you never know when it is an honest mistake. I try to indicate in my comment however, that there was a problem that was resolved as a warning to others, and I do lower the star ratings in the problem area. What do you do, Jennifer? Should we be more rough in the ratings of these sellers, in your opinion?

Paula said...

Kathleen,

I enjoyed reading your comment - all so true!

I avoid all items on ebay with stock photos. I tried a few times to "ask the seller a question" and I didn't get a single legitimate response. Most did not respond at all, one said the item was no longer for sale (even though it was still listed), and the other one didn't understand the question and didn't really answer it. It's a clue to the kinds of sellers they are if they have lots of feedback but they don't even have time to take one lousy picture of their collectible books. So I avoid those completely.

I also have a question - probably a stupid one - about assessment of Nancy Drew books. In your "winking" comment you mentioned being licensed to give out grades, but seriously, is there a general standard that collectors of Nancy Drew books use to rate these books? Or some guidelines or something? I have searched and can't find anything online, but would really be interested to know this information rather than rely on my own gut feelings about things. There are so many adjectives - mint, fine, good, poor, very (whatever), near (whatever), plus, minus - it's quite confusing to me.

Is a book that is excellent in all ways but one - say a torn page - automatically degraded by that one flaw or not? I purchased a lot of ND PC books from the 60's that were described as near mint, that I paid more than usual for, and the majority of the books have some pages with the corners torn off. This flaw was not disclosed beforehand. The books *are* in very good condition otherwise - how would you rate this kind of book?

I welcome comments by anyone on this topic and would like to know how you as a collectors determine the condition of your series books? Thanks!

Jennifer said...

People have fled Ebay for a variety of reasons, most of them utter disgust

That sums up how I feel at this point.

Should we be more rough in the ratings of these sellers, in your opinion?

In some cases, yes. I am torn about what to do when sellers mess up transactions, because I am aware of how even a four can cause sanctions on a very small seller. I can't see where the DSRs have really helped. I found a listing by a truly horrible seller the other day and put it in my watched items list. I might mention this one at a later date. The seller's feedback is awful, but he is a Power Seller and his DSRs are high enough for him to keep going.

I have to look at how many transactions these sellers have before I can decide what level of star rating I should leave. When sellers' descriptions are inaccurate, we should mark them down on their description DSRs. If the seller is a very small seller, then a four is damaging enough. If the seller is one of the really big diamond sellers, then a one should be left. It all depends.

Jennifer said...

is there a general standard that collectors of Nancy Drew books use to rate these books?

Farah's Guide has a section on condition, but there really isn't anything standard. Some people like to use "fine," "mint," etc., while others, like me, do not. I avoid using the standard grading terminology because I find most people use the terms incorrectly. The terms mean absolutely nothing to me since they seem to mean something different to everybody.

Here is a site that lists standard grades for books:

http://www.ioba.org/desc.html

Notice that "as new," "fine," and "mint" all describe books that have no defects or faults. In my opinion, "fine," "near fine," "near mint," and "mint" all mean something like "as new" to me.

I purchased a lot of ND PC books from the 60's that were described as near mint, that I paid more than usual for, and the majority of the books have some pages with the corners torn off. This flaw was not disclosed beforehand. The books *are* in very good condition otherwise - how would you rate this kind of book?

I would have given my approximation of the amount of wear and stated that some of the corners are torn off. I describe books unemotionally, and as already stated, I avoid the standard grades so that there can be no misinterpretation of what I mean. What usually happens is that buyers either tell me that my books are "as described" or "better than described." That is my goal, and everyone is happy.

Paula said...

Jennifer,

Thanks for the IOB website with book condition definitions. Interesting. Makes me feel better, as my biggest complaint is when sellers rate a book as "very good" or "good" but don't note any defects. When this happens, the buyer assumes that the rating is due to the level of normal wear and tear, so it is a rude surprise to find water damage, mold, missing or torn pages, ghastly stains, etc. According to the IOB definitions, all defects should be noted for all ratings except "Fine/As-New/Mint" (when there are no defects at all!) or "Poor" (when basically all kinds of defects can be present, and the book "is sufficiently worn that its only merit is the complete text").

So since all defects have to be noted anyway, I really like your method of just stating the defects and avoiding the subjective rating levels altogether. It's funny I never noticed your method, even though I have looked at your books plenty of times! :D But I know you have a certain level "goodness" that the book must have overall, or you wouldn't sell it in your booth.

Speaking of your booth, when I've receive PC books from you, I've noticed they always have a nice sheen on the covers that really adds to their beauty. Do you use something special to clean them? The matte covers can get dull, and I've tried gently cleaning them various ways, but I don't ever get that nice sheen. Is there a secret to this or are they just better books?

Thanks! Sorry I'm writing so much today - catching up...

Jennifer said...

Speaking of your booth, when I've receive PC books from you, I've noticed they always have a nice sheen on the covers that really adds to their beauty. Do you use something special to clean them? The matte covers can get dull, and I've tried gently cleaning them various ways, but I don't ever get that nice sheen. Is there a secret to this or are they just better books?

I have not cleaned any of the books that you have bought from me. A small number of the books that I sell had price stickers that I removed with lighter fluid, but I have done nothing to the vast majority of them. To answer in short, the books are in better condition.

Now, I will give the long answer. I have noticed that some of the print runs are shinier than others, so some of the matte Nancy Drew books are "dull matte" while others are "glossy matte."

The books that were not shiny when first printed tend to get dirty easily while the books that have a shinier finish repel the dirt better. Some of the early 1960s Nancy Drew picture covers are very shiny while most of them are just a little shiny. Some of the 1970s PCs are very dull while others are shiny to varying degrees.

Some people say that they clean their picture covers with Windex, but I would never use liquid on one of the dull matte books. I find that liquid of any type gets absorbed very easily by those books and causes some removal of the color on the cover.

The only safe liquid to use on paper or dull matte books is lighter fluid, but it can even stain paper in isolated instances. Some people say that Goo Gone works on PCs, but I find that Goo Gone is kind of greasy and leaves a residue unless the surface is shiny. I never use it on books.

Sometimes dull matte books can be partially cleaned by using a soft eraser, like the kind that artists use. Soft erasers crumble easily and do not wear away at paper as much as regular erasers, like the ones on pencils.

Sometimes PCs can be buffed and made shinier by rubbing with a soft cloth, so this can be tried to see if it helps.

Paula said...

Just wanted to say thanks for the complete response about cleaning picture cover books.

Windex! Yikes! I have noticed the slightest rubbing starts to take the color off, can't imagine using Windex. But I guess it's all in your technique.

I have experimented with a few books that are not in good shape and found that Absorene is good for getting general surface dirt off that you don't even know is there, which makes the book look better. It removes the film and somewhat allows the sheen to be restored if the book has a sheen to begin with. That's why I thought perhaps you had found something that cleans better. But cleaning with Absorene is quite labor intensive - allot of "erasing" without pushing too hard. And it's not really "strong" enough to get marks off - I found that soft vinyl erasers are pretty good for getting those as long as you don't rub too hard. Some marks just won't come off until you remove the color of the book cover with it. So experimenting is good because you get to know when something will come off and when it won't without damaging the book.

I did notice that some first printings I have are shinier, but I thought they were taken better care of since they were firsts. It is more likely, as you say, that the covers of the first books were probably manufactured this way - with a higher sheen that not only looks better, but keeps the book cleaner.

I'm interested in anyone's experiences with cleaning and caring for your books whether it is picture covers or dust jacketed versions. Thanks!

RiverHeightsFangirl said...

Report the seller to high heavens... :)

This is perhaps why I collect "reading edition" books...just to read and only chase down model horses, heh heh, whose flaws are hard to disguise in photos.