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eBay and Bad Descriptions

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Chatter - Anything and everything' started by kevinjohnnyc, Jun 25, 2004.

  1. kevinjohnnyc

    kevinjohnnyc Registered Guest

    Just a general question for you more experienced eBayers. I've just begun buying things and have been disappointed in the items at least 2 out of 5 times. They are often stained, with holes, or with "trail-blazing" from worms. The desription will say just the opposite. Clean, gorgeous, ready to wear! And my favorite "Not a problem piece!"

    Do you guys just not buy anything on eBay? Do you ask questions? There are some genuine bargains. And then there are these pesky sellers who don't divulge the true nature of their product.

    Am I being too harsh? Is it just that they don't know how to judge vintage? My inner-dad says "Then they should pick up a book and learn or find resource like this!" And common-sense teaches me that a person would want to know if something is stained no matter whose name is on it. Maybe even more so if it's a name they collect!

    I mean, I live where vintage is kinda scarce and the resource could be great, but to have to ship back so many things becomes tiresome. What's a good way to cut the wheat from the chaff, as they say?
  2. I don't buy that much on Ebay to resale. Most of my items are hand picked by me. However, occasionally, I do and I have been fortunate enough to run into some pretty honest sellers who sell at a cheap enough price that I can resale.

    By all means, ask them questions. Condition is important. That is why most of us here go by the VFG condition chart when describing an item. Be a pesky buyer, too. I know I use to always get emails..."Is It Stained?"...and I have right in my description.."No holes, tears or stains." Go figure.

    Hopefully, someone will be along soon with some more advice.
  3. fuzzylizzie

    fuzzylizzie Alumni

    This is a problem that all serious buyers must have encountered at sometime when buying online. It's one of the reasons we founded VFG.

    First of all, I've had very good luck buying from sellers who specialize in vintage clothing. An experienced seller KNOWS people don't want old stained and torn rags. A casual seller of vintage might look at a damaged 1950s dress and think, "It's in pretty good shape considering it's 50 years old, " and his auction description will mirror that belief.

    So if I see something on ebay that I want to buy, I always check out the seller's other items for sell and past items sold, and hopefully there are other vintage items listed. I feel safer buying from a vintage website that specializes in vintage, as it indicates that the seller is not a casual "finder of old stuff at yard sales" seller. (Though I'll freely admit, one can find some incredible bargins by buying from the uninformed.)

    If I am looking for a high ticket or specialty item, I always shop from someone I know, like the members of VFG. I'd never even consider buying something like a Hermes scarf without the approval of some of our members.

    Whenever I find something that I've got to have, and the seller does not meet the above requirements, then I email him. The answer I receive determines if I bid or not.

  4. bigchief

    bigchief Alumni

    Kevin -

    I bought a handful of items on Ebay for resale - all disappointments. Reselling them was completely out of the question because of (unstated) condition issues. Fortunately nothing was very pricey, but still -- I can certainly understand buyers' reluctance, having been burned myself.

    As Lizzie said, this very issue was one of the motivating factors that led to the establishment of the Vintage Fashion Guild. The very fact that we're here asking questions - what's this called, when do you think this was made, etc. shows that we're serious about giving our customers accurate, detailed information - and that includes being very specific about an item's flaws in both words and pictures.

    I hate reading a description that says something like "item is in great condition - there are a few spots on the front but nothing major". These auctions frequently (but not always) show 1 photo - often of such poor quality you can hardly see the garment, much less these 'minor flaws'.

    I don't hesitate to click on the Ask Seller a Question button and ask very specific qustions about condition, and also if it's possible to get a photo or 2 that might show me what they're referring to. All you can do is ask, and hope that the seller is consciencious about checking their email and answering questions promptly and completely. If they're not - :o!

    And ditto what Lizzie said about doing a little research in to the seller's past sales - those who specialize in vintage are generally your best bet, and by checking on their completed auctions (& feedback) you can get a feel for the level of quality of their merchandise.

    Bottom line though, is if you have a question, ask!


  5. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Alumni +

    I always figure if there aren't many pictures, or statements such as " it's in good condition for it's age" or " a talented seamstress could fix this", that it's best passed on. I completely agree that if a seller doesn't respond to questions, it's also best to pass on by.

    But I know it's hard - so I study the photos very critically.

  6. dancingdresses

    dancingdresses Registered Guest

    Ah, Kevin -

    A subject that gives me hives!
    Buying on eBay.

    I usually only sell on eBay. I have bought a few "vintage" items (not clothing) . . and have been disappointed/horrified more than 50% of the time. (read: complete loss on the item purchase.)
    (Chrome ice bucket "in great condition - no problems" pitted, rusting and dented. ? But it still holds ice, so I guess that's "great condition. ?)

    And, that is why I'm here, too.
    Some of us - who try really hard to do this right - tried to figure out a way to set ourselves apart from the "think I'll buy some old stuff at the thrift and sell it online. Yeah, it's old, it's falling apart. But what do they expect for 50-year-old dresses?" crowd.

    Get to know who's around and who's doing it right. You'll figure that out, if you read on boards, enough.
    Look through their feedback - if you see good feedback from savvy buyers/other sellers, that's a good thing. Look for good photos - lots of them - and definite descriptions of any problems.

    Beyond that - write and ask ask ask specific questions about items you are interested in.
    I know a lot of sellers complain about "pesky questions" from buyers - but I'd much rather people ask about any concerns they have.
    I've even re-photoed areas in question and mailed additional pics to interested buyers.

    While a lot of sellers complain that "I already said there are no stains in my auction," - they don't realize that almost every seller on eBay says that . . . but a lot of sellers don't disclose pit discoloration, a couple of spots, etc. because they think that's <I>"de rigeur"</I> for old clothing and buyers should "the spots will probably come out & buyers should expect a little of that in 50-year-old clothing."
    I figure if a buyer doesn't know me, they don't know how much of a "full disclosure" lady I am . . until they have dealt with me.
    They have a right to ask exact questions - and get exact answers.

    If a seller resents having to specifically answer your questions, I'd stay away from them. Truly. They're more interested in raking in cash than having a satisfied customer.
    The good sellers will respond with answers you can use.
  7. I agree with everything that was said before 100%

    When a seller creates some sort of rating chart, or rating system, whether it is their own or the VFG chart and adheres to it throughout their listings, it is most likely that they are attempting to create some common ground.

    Just saying "good" "excellent" doesn't help unless it is qualified. It is very subjective, and the parameters allowed also would vary by the type of item you are selling as well. (the Roman colliseum is in excellent condition, but a similarly conditioned 40s peplum jacket is not). (and its okay if things aren't in mint condition - if a gorgeous vintage piece with stunning workmanship cannot be worn ebcause of condition - it can still be sold as a costume, a study piece, etc....as long as indicated as such) 40s-80s clothing is still out there in good, and even excellent to perfect condition.

    I will go one step further and say.if you have a good experience with a seller, keep them around! just like your favorite B&M store, let them know by not only giving positive feedback (which is wonderful and much appreciated, by the way!), but checking their auctions before others when you are looking for something, and become a repeat customer. there are a lot of great sellers that just may not have items with the hottest keywords in them right now and may just get overlooked. there are many sellers who rightfully stop selling on ebay because of poor ratings, but there are many also who leave who have got it right with quality, customer service, clear photos knowledge, but could not make a go of it and get the hits/business for whatever reason...and we say "darn..i wish this person was still selling..i liked their stuff!" So, keep them in business and don't be tempted - no matter how cute/desirable the item is to buy from someone with a low feedback rating.

    I certainly practice what i preach and check sellers who I like and have had great experiences in the past, and also VFG members no matter if I have personally shopped with them or not. Also, strong recommendations from friends when i am looking for searching for something specific and non-vintage as well. I have quite a few bookmarks in my browser : )

  8. kevinjohnnyc

    kevinjohnnyc Registered Guest

    Wow! Such great advice. When it comes down to it, as with the rest of life, I guess if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I just needed to get burned a few times to realize that I'm sometimes dealing with people that just don't know what they're doing with vintage. And I don't even think it's always intentional, they are just on a different planet. Luckily, it was mostly just scarves and one hat.

    It's great this group came along to set some standards for sellers to follow.

    Thanks everyone!
  9. Good thoughts from all. I have only bought for resale twice. Both items turned out to be okay, but not exactly as described.

    Many have found amazing deals on eBay and some of those people are among us! There is always the odd chance that you will score an Adrian on a BIN because someone can't read the label or perhaps a gem of a dress with a really terrible photo. Sometimes half the fun is looking and hoping to find some hidden treasure someday!!!
  10. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    Ditto to everything that has been said. I have had mixed luck with buying things on eBay -- caveat emptor!
    From a seller's point of view, considering I sell vintage clothing 90% of the time I must admit I get a little annoyed when I state the condition in the description and then I get questions. If I say it is like new condition with only slight wear visible along the piping edge, I really hate getting emails asking if there are stains.... However, I understand why people ask these questions, because they have been burned before. So ask those questions, and if you get something that you are not happy with CONTACT THE SELLER and be nice about pointing out what was not mentioned in the description. I really think that most sellers want happy customers and will work with you if the item is less than expected. If you are nice to the seller and don't immeadiately attack them, they will probably work with you on a return or partail refund. However, there are those sellers who just want to dump the sale and move on.
  11. bartondoll

    bartondoll Guest

    ditto here to all that has been said also.

    I have been burned several times on items I have purchased from
    ebay, however on the whole I have been pretty lucky.

    With an item that has a very poor pic and description, but I am still interested in it, I always check feedback and if there is time will shoot off
    a question to seller. I tend to browse ebay at the items closing 'today'
    which makes the 'question to seller' sometimes not doable. If the item is
    not expensive I will take my chances and in most cases I have been
    pleasantly surprised.

    I do tend to also buy from sellers that I know (i.e. members here) or have
    dealt with before.


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