You may already have won!

I’ve always had a sort of uneasy feeling about eBay. It’s kind of cool, but at the same time, people get really into it in a way that I just can’t get behind. I’ve used eBay to find rare video and board games that I want to reacquire and to track down an out-of-print DVD for my niece’s birthday. But I’m not really into eBay culture.One thing that irritates me about eBay is the seller and buyer trust systems. I get thoroughly annoyed by the fact that some sellers won’t accept my bid on something because I don’t have a high enough rating, as a result of not being a frequent buyer. In fact, Dan has to buy all our stuff, because he’s more trusted, having completed more successful transactions on eBay. I realize that sellers can be burned by irresponsible buyers, but what makes me less likely to be trustworthy, just because I don’t use eBay a lot?

On the other hand, I love the “Buy it Now!” feature. In fact, that’s always my preference, because I see eBay as a place to find rare and cheap items. I don’t really want the hassle of bidding and outbidding people to get what I want. I will always use the “Buy it Now!” feature if it’s available. (Instant gratification, blah blah blah…).

The other day, one of my coworkers said something that crystallized my real discomfort with eBay: she very excitedly informed my officemate that she had “won that necklace!” I thought, at first, that she was talking about some prize drawing she had entered. But then I realized that she was talking about having “won” an eBay auction. How is that winning a necklace? You’re bidding on it, and frankly, it means that you’re willing to put more money and effort into obtaining it than others. This doesn’t seem to be a traditional definition of “winning” a prize.

It’s the addictive nature of eBay that I find so troubling. Another coworker told me a few years ago that her husband had “won” two eBay auctions and ended up with computers and bikes that he didn’t want and that they didn’t have space for. But they were such a good price! This doesn’t make any more sense to me than the shopper’s rationalization that it’s OK to buy the $200 dress — even though you don’t need it and have nothing to wear it to — because it started out at $1000! Such a bargain!

I’ll continue to purchase rare items through eBay, but I can’t see myself getting excited over having “won” something that I now have to pay for. Nor will I be trolling for really good deals on things that I don’t want or need. I’ll leave that to the rest of the eBay nation.

Leave a Reply