Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Hockey Life: Revisiting eBay

There was a time, nearly 10 years ago, when eBay made up the lion's share of my hockey card collecting activities. For the most part, I did way more buying than selling, snagging boxes of new releases and the occasional "must-have" memorabilia card while selling off 25-card packs of team or player sets.

Sure, it was fun waiting for the postal carrier to deliver the latest winning bid, but standing in line to ship a dozen packages to addresses throughout North America got real old real quick. Since then, eBay has been a hit-or-miss venture.

Anytime I visited, it was out of sheer boredom. I'd look mostly for auctions of jersey swatch cards, ending within minutes, at prices between a penny and $1.99. Though it limited my choices, I was surprised at what I could find.

Just like the past, too, I lost more than I won, as I wasn't willing to go past my skin-flint minimum bids, no matter the player or swatch. Seldom, if ever, did I bid on anything that I just absolutely, positively had to have. Taking that approach saved a lot of money, I suppose.

Last week, the eBay bug resurfaced. I remembered that I had a little extra "cash" sitting in a PayPal account, the remnants of my final days with an online media company. Granted, I could have requested a check, like I had done so many times before, but I didn't. Besides, we can always use new candidates for the Threads collection.

Proving that some old habits do die hard, I plugged my favorite search terms into eBay. Once again, I was surprised by the amount of offerings. There were enough, all ending within 20 minutes or so, to whittle my PayPal account to less than the cost ($1.50) to request a check. In this case, though, I won more auctions than I lost.

In the days since then, a few of the cards have made their way to Florida. They're easy to recognize, as they've arrived in padded envelopes, including one that carried six stamps. Tucked inside, in varying, but acceptable, forms of protection, were the cards.

It's funny, though, how the charge for shipping varies, though the means (usually USPS First Class) and methods (penny sleeve, some form of top loader(s) and team bag inside a padded envelope) don't. So far, of the three to arrive, the shipping fees have ranged from $1.81 to $2.99. One seller, whose card has yet to arrive, even charged $3.50.

I'm a bit disappointed that the card descriptions within the auctions were less than complete. Not one of the cards to arrive contains an official NHL game-used swatch, yet none of the listings mentioned that fact. As a result, each has served as a reminder of "buyer beware."

Another thing that apparently has changed is the feedback system. It seems that eBay sellers now insist that buyers leave feedback first. One even told me to rate the deal as "five stars." Sorry, sellers, but I don't operate that way. You get what you deserve.

Instead, I'll leave this post as my feedback. How's that? From where I sit, you're supposed to leave feedback first. I'm thinking, too, that feedback is far more important to a seller than it is to a buyer. Really, isn't it all about the money?

Bottom line, I'm happy, just not five-star-across-the-board-happy, with what has arrived so far:

2010 UD Black Diamond Dale Hawerchuk quad jersey (official NHL event)
Winning bid: $1.29
Shipping: $1.81

2011-12 UD Hockey Series II Ryan Johansen rookie jersey (photo shoot)
Winning bid: 99 cents
Shipping: $2.99

2006-07 BAP Portraits Jussi Jokinen (photo shoot)
Winning bid: $1.06
Shipping: $2.50

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