Friday, November 23, 2007

My first foray in eBay

Have you ever bought a 4-D ticket and while eagerly checking the result with bated breath, it turned out you miss the first prize by just one digit, or the permutation is wrong? Yeah, I can hear you, curses and damnation and all the sundry expletives. Now imagine the reverse. You are about to call your remisier to buy 50 lots on XYZ company, but did'nt because your phone battery was flat and next day the market melt like butter in an oven. Phew! Was'nt that close?

Who has'nt ever had a bad hair day? Just when I was about to throw in the towel on how to make money in the internet than another of those cyber opportunity presents itself before me in the form of eBay. Now I've known this auction site quite some time already and had in fact bought a book from it a few months back, but selling something there? Nope. But I had this used phone, a Nokia 9300i, a to-die-for gizmo only one year old. Toting this beauty in Starbuck Cafe is as cool as you can get, you savour the pleasure of looking at the swooning yuppies crowd from the corner of your eyes as they "oooh" and "aaah" when you whip it out from your briefcase and set it up next to your cappucino and start typing away (remind me of whispering sweet nothing in my g/f's ears) and with a serious look on your face as your furrows grow deeper and deeper.

Alas, this thingy had seen better days as I fondled its keypads and its smooth exterior. I may have to leave you, darling. For in the course of a conversation with a friend suggested disposing it off in eBay. It was like a bolt of lightning, (to exaggerate a bit). Yeah, why not, I told myself. And thus began another chapter in my journey to make money on the internet.

As a newbie seller, I had no experience at all in cyber selling. Hence I had enlist the help of my good friend, Jourdan, an up-and-coming eBay seller with an impeccable record of 100% positive feedback, to piggyback his place for the sale. After the necessary photo shoots and write-up, it was posted in eBay. And know what? In less than 24 hours there was a bidder. Hey, to a newbie like me, that's a pretty big milestone, okay? RM699.00! Wow, that's better than selling it off as scrap iron or ending up as an antique for my great-great grandson.

The next few days saw me hitting the eBay sites almost every hour to check on the status, expecting an avalanche of bidders. Alas, bidder #1 stood alone in the field for several days. Maybe some bidders only move in for the kill at the last minutes, I consoled myself. Suddenly one afternoon Jourdan called excitedly and told me there is another bidder and its upped to RM800 !!! A jump of RM100 ringgit! Cool! I knew I could sell this phone easily. Now thing's gonna get interesting, as I hunkered down for more action as the clock started ticking.....24 hours.....12 hours.....c'mon, some more bidding, please...6 hours, now for some fireworks.....3 hours.....2 hours....1 hour...pffffffttttttt.

No counterbid from #1 either!!! Oh well, at least I got a good price, trying to mitigate the gloomy atmosphere, I called up Jourdan to solicit some sympathy. Turn out he was disappointed too. Anyway, he had to get down to work. First thing is to email the winning bidder and set up an initial contact. And know what? She was all the way form California! Cool! Maybe she's a black R&B singer, or a foxy career lady, or a hot babe form UCLA...gosh, what was I thinking!!!

Soon enough, she replied! She's an American working in England and she wanted to buy it for her son in Nigeria. Super cool!!! My first eBay sales has taken me to the realm of international trade. Who says international trade are for the big boys? Jourdan was excited too. But much works need to be done: Call up the courier people on the tariff, polish up the phone, get the accessories ready and get the original box if possible, the packing, etc etc. We want to look professional! After all Jourdan has a reputation to keep. More emails ensued.

Now we came to the nitty gritty. How to effect payment and also to ensure protection of the buyer. Madam USA told us that she'd bank in London's Standard Chartered Bank and the bank will forward a email to me informing us of the successful bank in. And the bank will release the money to our bank account once our documents from the courier company is faxed to her. Hmmm... fair enough. After all, its Standard Chartered Bank, not ABC Rojak Bank.

Soon enough, an email arrived from a Ken Cooper, an official from the Stanchart Bank congratulating us on the successful deal, with logo of Stanchart emblazoned boldly on the banner. It was really impressive. But one thing didnt seem right, I told Jourdan. This lady bid RM800 and was willing to foot the hefty courier bill of almost RM400, making my used Nokia 9300 costing almost RM1,200 !!! The price of a brand new set! I know the love of a mother for her son knows no bound but this fly in the face of logic. The 9300i may be a real cool gadget, but for that price, a plethora of much more glittering models are on display in the showcase everywhere.
Maybe that kid is a spoilt brat, or he has a fetish for 9300i, which in its heyday actually attained cult status of sorts. Maybe, maybes. Oh what the heck, let's just send it, I told Jourdan.

Now about this Jourdan dude, I have to digress a bit here, it would be quite an understatement to say he's net savvy. Having been hooked to the net since 1995 (?) this make him quite a grandpa netizen. He's got websites, he's got blogs, he's into eBay, he's into making real money in the internet, yep, that too! He's a been-there-done-that guy. So when a situation like that is presented before him, he kind of smell a rat, so to speak.

So he told me he was going to do some Sherlock Holmes works first to check on the authenticity of this foxy lady. I dont how he did it, but he did it. Soon enough, Jourdan called in again. "Hold your horse, buddy" he said "Foxy lady is a fraudster!". I was at home already, in the kitchen, one hand with a spatula and the other a frying pan trying to cook dinner for my grumbling daughter and my niece. Luckily only the spatula and my jaw dropped. "What?" I shrieked, "that scumbag, slimeball, @#$%^&*!!". Jourdan had actually called up Standchart in London, and was advised by them that there is such a scam now being perpetrated by unscrupulous people in eBay, and told us not to entertain them.

Bump! In one stroke, my international business came crashing down to earth. "Hello?...James, are you okay?" Jourdan sounded worried. I resumed my composure. "Yeah, no problem, we'll talk later, okay?". Click.

So there you go. My cyber adventure, chapter two. But I'm happy really, like when my battery went flat when I was about to call my remisier to place 50 lots and the market melted the next day, remember? What do they call that? A blessing in disguise? Whatever. But you will not hear the last of me, Mr. Internet, I'm going to get you one day.

1 comment:

Justin Tsan said...

Hey friend,
You have a great post. You have made a disappointing transaction sound so interesting, turning tragedy into comedy. YTou did it again just like what I said about your beautiful language. My wife can't stop laughing reading your post....:-)