A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Further down Lilliput Lane – more eBay adventures

The inflow of collectable cottages is stopping – there are still a couple of items in the mail, but I am running out of enthusiasm and storage space at about the same rate. Interestingly, this week a couple of the “Sue” ladies (see previous post) were named Amanda and Carol, which I suppose is acceptable, but two of the sellers turned out to be blokes, which was more of a surprise, and (even more interestingly) I had my first eBay Lilliput Lane-related problems with these same male sellers.

Picture at the top is of a pleasant group made up of four David Winter Tudor cottages and a Lilliput Lane church, complete with passing cavalry unit to give the scale comparison. Nothing earth-shaking, but the most expensive building on display here is the church, which was, I think, £3-something. I am contemplating a forthcoming ECW campaign in a hitherto-undiscovered part of Lancashire, which involves a couple of decent-sized towns and a possible siege or two, so buildings of this type are most welcome.

My eBay adventures were instructive, and not particularly tedious, so I shall relate something of my dealings with the male sellers.

Case Study No.1 – Adam

Adam listed a single lot of two David Winter cottages, starting bid £0.99p, with a pretty hefty shipping charge of £9.50. Blinking at the P&P, I put a maximum bid of £1.25, and got them for 99p, with no other watchers, as far as I could see. Did the PayPal thing straight away (before I forget!) and looked forward to seeing what sort of velvet-cushion-accompanied-by-dancing-girls delivery service I got for my £9.50.

It was perfectly standard customer drop-off by Hermes, which for a parcel of this weight costs £3.98. Adam is obviously one of those eBayers who likes to load the shipping charges and put in a cheap starting price. I’m not sure that eBay actually disapprove, but I do – I’m not keen on this practice at all.

Just for the hell of it, I sent Adam a polite note (and at this point I had fulsome feedback from him, but I had not yet done the feedback for him, so I had a tactical edge), emphasizing that I had no grounds for complaint, since I had agreed to the purchase, but could he please explain the shipping cost.

I got a rant by return. Adam went on at considerable length about the unfairness of the fees charged by eBay and PayPal, the cost to him of doing the packing and travelling to the courier, and how I could hardly complain getting two such fine cottages for this amount of money. He also explained that if I wanted a postage discount I should have asked for the shipping on the two cottages to be combined, and he would have considered whether he could afford it, which is, basically, straight bollocks, since the two items were a single listing, and were combined already.

Tiring of Adam, who was less fun than I had hoped, I withdrew from the debate and left sort of sketchy feedback for him. If the cottages had been £5 for the two plus £5 shipping I would have been perfectly happy – as I am, in fact – so he’s correct, in a daft sort of way. It is a shame that he seems to get so little fun from his eBay involvement – the Sues do much better in this respect. One of them, bless her, sent me a lollipop with her business card – now that is classy.

Case Study No.2 – Colin

Colin is not a lucky man. I purchased another David Winter house for very little from Colin, paid for it, and got a notification that the item was mailed 1st Class on 21st July. By the 28th there was no sign of it, so I sent Colin a friendly note to say that I wasn’t unduly worried, but thought I should let him know.

I got a lengthy reply from him, to the effect that he had, unfortunately, been involved in an accident the previous week, and had been hospitalized, had had an adverse reaction to the painkillers he was prescribed, and was in very poor shape indeed. He had arranged with his father (who is elderly, an army veteran, and suffers occasional lapses of memory) for the week’s parcels, which were all packed and ready to go, to be posted, but it had all gone wrong for various further reasons.

I sympathized with his misfortune, told him I’d be delighted to get the package whenever he could manage it, and not to worry about it. There was a faint whiff of Foy’s Seventh Law about the explanations, but no matter.

True to his word, Colin emailed me the following day to say that he had battled his way to the post office, and the parcel should reach me the next day. And so it did, and I was very pleased with it, though I was surprised when I found a note offering his repeated apologies for the delay and the “mix-up” – the note was inside the packing, next to the miniature house. No problem at all – pleased with the item, very cheap purchase, but – would you undo and then re-wrap an already-complete package to put in an apology? No? – neither would I.

You don’t suppose he had just forgotten, surely? No – of course not. To be on the safe side, in future I deal only with eBay sellers named Sue...

I am still looking forward to receiving a very attractive, period town hall of suitable proportions, which I obtained for very little, though it is No.68 of a limited edition of - I can't remember how many, in fact. You get an idea of what kind of an outsider I am in this field of collecting when I tell you that I am thinking of how best to prise said town hall off its handsome wooden plinth. Proper collectors the world over would wring their hands and weep at such an act of desecration.


  1. I like your Seventh Law very much. Do you have laws 1 - 6?

    1. Mais bien sur, M le Poilu!

      If you click on the label "Foy's Laws" on the right hand side - no, down at the bottom - that's it - then you will get all thirteen of the beggars. Some, I think, are better than others, but they are all sincere.

  2. Adam sounds like a disagreeable cove, probably found half a worm in his naughty apple.

    1. I guess his approach to eBay is just different from mine, but maybe he should find something else to do if he's making no money and having no fun? He had a well-rehearsed rant, anyway - he listed five reasons why his charging was justified - all with detailed arithmetic - but only one made any sense, and not very much sense at that. Maybe he is too dumb for eBay - now that would be something.

  3. Foy's Seventh is clearly in force with Colin. Adam is another kettle of fish and his rationale for increasing the P&P due to eBay fee gouging is weak. eBay charges fees for postage and handling too!

    Nevertheless, you received some nifty additions for little outlay and all arrived.


    1. Yes - nifty little houses. I'd much prefer explicit pricing on eBay that made sense - fair charge for P&P, and have a starting bid which gives the seller a break-even. If it won't sell for that then, hey, it's an auction!

  4. I'm not really sure I would want a lollipop from a Colin.

    I must confess though that during my occasional bouts of attempting to sell that recently, soaring postage, the cost of bubble wrap and gas for the drive to the post office (petrol) often approximate to the money offered for what I'm trying to dump and that the slightest error in calculating weight now ends in me paying to get miniatures out of my cupboard, including painted ones as opposed to getting enough fora cup of coffee. Recently I've started occassionally throwing away or melting old figures as more cost effective than selling but my conscience bothers me.

    1. I don't sell much on eBay these days - for really low-priced items the eBay and PayPal fees and (in the UK anyway) the crazy hike in mailing costs mean that eBay doesn't really work any more. I'd rather give stuff away than go to a lot of trouble to make nothing at all. The small number of undersized Lilliput Lane and David Winter items I bought in error cost me very little, and I could just put them back on eBay for the same deal, but it's too much hassle - unless something is likely to be in demand, it can go to the charity shop. Maybe eBay is changing for small sellers selling small jumble items. Maybe the marginal utility of pre-owned LL cottages is vanishing - how are Beanie Babies doing these days? - especially if the world is flooded with them, as seems to be the case.

      I was about to say something about the eventual worth of something which is collected by older people, and then I got a mental picture of Hinton Hunt soldiers, so I thought better of it...

      The charity shops have some issues as well, but it's worth making a small loss simply to avoid the risk of making contact with the odd Adam!