The Hired Help

Yesterday was Sunday.  The phone rang at 7:15 am.  My father is 90 years old and lives alone in Florida.  A phone call at that hour on any day of the week is enough to startle me out of bed and run for the phone because I am worried something has happened to him.  On top of it, yesterday was Sunday!  The caller wanted to know if I could come over right then and look at his stuff to sell on eBay.  I know that some people are early risers, but what happened to a little common sense as well as consideration for the time and day?  I first started to talk to him and then realized, what am I doing?  It is 7:15 am on a Sunday and I was dead asleep.  Normally, I try not to be rude on the phone, and this time was no different.  However, I did tell the man that it was 7:15 am and he woke us up.  He answered, “oh, I guess it is Sunday – I’ll call later”.

I may not be a lawyer or a doctor, but I do consider myself a professional.  But sometimes I feel like the hired help.  I have made thousands of dollars for people selling things that they didn’t even know had value.  I spend hours a day researching the items I am selling to get the best value.  Most people appreciate our efforts.  I may not be working at Sothebys or Christies, but after selling on eBay for the past 8 years, I think I have enough experience to get a job at a big auction house, if I tried.  But as the famous comedian Rodney Dangerfield used to say, sometimes we just “don’t get no respect”.  We have met clients who don’t even let us in their home and have all their stuff laid out in the garage.  During the summers in Tucson, a garage could easily have a temperature over 105 degrees.  I have to stand there writing down all the items they are giving us on a list, while Richie is sweating through his clothes packing their items up and loading them in our truck.  We recently tried to sell 3 items for a client who brought them over to our house a day before I was leaving for Boston to take my daughter to Harvard Law School.  I told him the items would be listed the next week.  I got home on Sunday night and was confronted with an email from the guy asking why I hadn’t listed his stuff.  Sorry buddy, I really wasn’t thinking about you while in Boston.  The items were listed on Monday and Tuesday, and didn’t even sell because he insisted on listing at some outrageous starting price and Richie actually told him to come over and pick them up as he was way to difficult to deal with.

A couple of years ago we met a client who lived about 40 minutes from us.  She had a lot of china pieces.  Richie spent over an hour packing each piece as if we were getting it ready for mailing.  I sat at her dining room table and took copious notes.  I asked her over and over again if she had any prices in mind and if there were pieces she didn’t want to let go if they didn’t meet her expectations.   She said she didn’t have any prices in mind and left it to me to determine value. We started listing her items the next day and as I always do, I sent the client the auction listings.  After a couple of days (and many listings), I get a call from the woman and she said – I saw your auctions and they look good – but what if they sell for the starting bid?  I explained (I feel like a broken record, since I say this line so many times) that an auction is a binding contract and if it sells for the opening bid, I must sell it.  That is why I ask people if they have a minimum price in mind.  If they do, I either start the auction higher, or if I feel that their expectations are too high, I just return the goods.  So, the woman told me that the opening bid was too low – she wanted all her stuff back.  With one exception, the auctions did not yet have bids.  I was sitting at my computer and I told her to tell me what prices she wanted me to raise the opening bid.  She said she didn’t know and insisted she wanted her stuff back.  At this point I was angry.  We literally spent many hours working for this woman for nothing.  Her stuff would have sold – it was collectible.   She said she would be over the next day.  I have never asked anyone to pay me for my time before, but this woman really annoyed me.  In addition to our time, there were quite a number of eBay listing fees we had incurred.  I didn’t even want to see this woman when they came to our house.  I told Richie we should give her a bill, but we didn’t.  When she came here, her husband actually offered us $5.00.  Seriously?  His “generous” offer was refused – but Richie felt like saying  “you have to live with her, you have earned it”, instead he took on the role of the butler and remained silent.

So, I ask you and have said this before in earlier pieces,  do you really want to sell on eBay full time?  Let us handle things, we are developing thick skins.

Published in: on September 13, 2010 at 7:27 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Enjoying reading your blog. It has helped me learn just how much work is involved in selling on eBay. Have a great week.

  2. People seem to forget that time is MONEY – and time you do not get back. Selling on ebay is your job not your hobby. Some of us appreciate all your hard work.

  3. Hello There. I found your weblog the use of msn. That is a really well written article.
    I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read extra of your helpful information. Thanks for the post.
    I’ll certainly comeback.

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