Friday, April 6, 2012

Lessons from eBay

Buyer beware. If it looks too good, ask questions. Otherwise, more than likely you will discover that it is not what your thought it was. 

I didn't ask questions. 

Greed got to me. I got too excited about something that was so very different from anything else I had seen before and didn't ask questions. 

This is the photo of how the quilt top looked on the eBay auction site.

Below is what the quilt top looked like when I finally saw it in person after it arrived in the mail. How did it go from that flat beautiful creature above to the puckered, badly measured, mis-pieced quilt top below?

Not only does it not hang OR lay flat -- which means it would never quilt-out flat---- the blocks are not true to size as in the auction site photo.

So, the longer I puzzled over it, I wrote the seller -- three times-- pinging off one email after another in rapid succession:

Dear xxxxSeller

This lovely top arrived but for some reasons it doesn't hang nice and flat like it did in your photo. I was so hoping I was going to be able to quilt it as it is. But is is so poorly assembled that I will have to take it apart and and reassemble it before I dared attempt to quilt it. How were you able to get it looking so straight in your photo? It really is a lovely unusual top and I am pleased to have it in spite of its mis-shappenness. Thank you for a smooth transaction, KA

Dear xxxxxSeller

There is something not quite right about this top. In your photo on eBay, in the top row, the two blocks with triangles are larger than the boat blocks. In the actual quilt top, however, the boat blocks are larger than the top two blocks. Also, in your photo, the boat blocks are rectangles. In the actual quilt top, the boat blocks are squares. Also, as I emailed you a few minutes ago, this top does not hang straight. The top in your photo looks pristine and hangs straight. I think you must have photo shopped the photo you took of this quilt top to make it look better. I think you should have mentioned this in your description of the quilt top for your photo created a very wrong impression of the condition of this top. But I am still intrigued by the top and I have left you positive feedback. I just want to know how you managed to get the photo you did. Please be straight forward with me. Thank you for your time. KA

Dear xxxxSeller

Okay, I have never been so puzzled about the difference between a photo of a hanging top and the actual item. This is plain weird. It is an optical illusion due to the colors in this thing? Why don't all the mis-shapes show up in your photo? I don't mean to accuse you of anything, but the differences are just too strange. Enough already. I'lll leavee you in peace. KA

This is what the seller wote back:

Dear Karen,

This lady had so many quilts & tops she wanted me to photo and list her collection.  I did the photo the easiest way I could with my drawing application.  There is no way I can iron all these quilts for her so I come as close as I can.  I don't think it matters because I have seen hand drawn stuff on EBay.  If you are not satisfied with the quilt top, you may return it for refund.  Thanks and have a great day. XXXXX

= = = = = = 

To my readers:

I couldn't help but laugh at myself for being greedy about something that my intuition told me was too good to be true (but I didn't listen); and the seller for her sad excuse --- "There is no way I can iron all these quilts for her..."

Well, I'm keeping it anyway. Maybe some day I'll get around to re-piecing it. Ha! Another wish too good to be true! Applique is one thing. Ripping and re-piecing is a whole other ball game. For Pete's sake, you have to make points meet and seams match!!

Signed Too-Good-to-be-True Miss Greedy


  1. I still think it is a fun quilt-top!

  2. I have never heard of this practice....should, at least, be declared on the listing.

  3. Whether you asked questions or not, that picture is a fraud as it is not what you purchased. I also got stung on a quilt years ago on ebay by an awful seller. If you can picture a quilt top and back stitched together over a worn and torn woven RUG that was never mentioned. I should have known something was up when the shipping was so high. But it sounds like you will make lemonade from your lemon.......enjoy it your way.
    And just smile when you look at it. :-)

  4. Perhaps you should have listened to that little voice but I wouldn't call you greedy. The quilt was mis-represented and I would send it back for the refund including shipping. I cannot believe the seller would put a drawing up to represent the quilt. I once bought something I knew was too good to be true. It was such a mistake. The seller did take it back, although grudgingly. I've since seen the same quilt for sale on Ebay but another seller. It was a Chinese quilt being pawned off as antique. I am much more discerning when looking at photos and descriptions now.

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  6. I guess I thought of myself as "greedy" because I was excited about getting something "really different and special" at a very reasonable price that no one else had yet stumbled upon. Otherwise, surely it would have gone for more.

    I do think this is an unusual top and I do like it. But it's going to be awhile before it gets re-pieced.

    As to the seller, what she was doing was not kosher but I also realized that she was helping out an elderly neighbor. She had never sold on eBay before and was just doing someone a favor. I don't think she will be doing anymore selling after she finishes seeing her elderly neighbor's stuff. She really didn't like the hassle. I admired her for even trying to help in this way and she was willing to take the top back. Her statement that others use hand drawn pictures to sell an item surely can't be true of textiles!

    I have a larger beef about shipping costs than being taken advantage of thru doctored photos. What I don't like is how much some charge for S&H when I know they could send it for less. I've been tracking what they charge for postage vs what it actually cost them. It is really very inconsistent. And sometimes you can't even tell what it actually cost them to mail the package because it is not printed on the package. How can that be so? But if I forgot to question them about shipping costs before I bid, it's my own fault if I wind up paying too much. I just chalk it up now to the cost of doing business on the Internet rather than face to face.

  7. Sorry about your "mishap" on ebay. I too was "taken" on an ebay purchase once. I thought I got a "steal" on a vintage photo of a black Civil War soldier (very rare)and couldn't wait to get it in the mail. Lo and behold, when it finally came, it was a REPRINT of a vintage photo, almost worthless. Lesson learned, now I look for any fine print in the descriptions of the item I'm bidding on. The idea for that quilt top is unique though.

  8. I still think Its got great potential! Poor piecing aside I love the design...and know it can be "fixed"

  9. Karen - What a difference. The seller should have said the images where not of the actual quilt. Though, like you, I would keep the quilt top!

  10. Karen - I think the approach and the response of the ebayer seller was unacceptable. The picture of the item should be an accurate representation of the actual item, and in the case, it was the complete opposite. You are being to kind and I believe you should leave feedback so other buyers can be aware.

    Florence McConnell

  11. Thank you, Florence, for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a response. I'm keeping my eye on the seller. I have seen no repeat of any misleading photos and she has sold only 82 items in 12 months. If I have any suspicions about any of her photos, I will have an opportunity to do something more then. She gave me the opportunity to return the quilt. I chose not to. But I did warn her. I personally think that was enough.