Angelic Rose O'neill Kewpie figurine playing mandolin

Angelic Buyers When Sales Go Awry on eBay

Angelic Buyers vs Nightmare Buyers

After writing about a nightmare experience selling online on eBay, I want to follow-up with a few stories of angelic Buyers who gave me the benefit-of-the-doubt.

Nothing is straight forward when selling and shipping antiques online.

My workflow: I research the item in our library and on the Internet. I place a value on the item and write an ad for eBay or Etsy. I take phone photos and hubby takes studio photos if needed. When the item sells, he packs & mails. We work for perfection — but to error is human.

And when we make an error, things can go north or south.

Angelic Buyers

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antique gig for spearing a frog or fish
Frog gig to spear a frog or a fish

EBayer purchases one frog gig – we mailed six 

Inadvertently, we had mailed every gig in our toolbox. The Buyer calls after he opened the package to find the gig he ordered plus five more.

In good spirits, he wraps and returns the extra gigs. We paid the return postage and said, Thanks – you are an angel!

Really, had the Buyer not alerted us to this packing error and mailed back the extra five gigs, we could have spent months wondering, “What happened to all of our frog gigs?”Bar beads with curl icon

Vintage 4-tine barn fork for hay
Vintage 4-tine barn fork for hay

We sold a pitchfork online to Australia. The Buyer did not pay immediately, and I was beginning to wonder when I would receive payment. The following week, I opened the mailbox to find a hand-addressed envelope filled with bills and coins. The Buyer had mailed cash from Australia for his purchase. Lovely trust between Buyer and Seller – and the postal system.

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Vintage lunch box, Land of the Giants
Land of the Giants lunch box

We mailed a Land of the Giants lunchbox to a Buyer in Spain.  I was anxiously waiting to hear he had received it and loved it.

Instead, weeks later, the Buyer messaged me wondering where it was. I looked up the USPS tracking number online, and the lunch box appeared to be zigzagging around the U.S.

I hurried to the post office with my international mail receipt in hand to figure out where the lunchbox was headed next, but even they were stumped. We were unable to determine why the package was hovering around the U.S. and not on its way to Spain.

Surprise! Two months later, I open my mailbox to find a rumpled, return package. The package was rubber stamped with multiple postal routing destinations.

Inside was the long-lost Land of the Giants lunch box. The plastic connector on handle had snapped in two somewhere in the journey, so I now had a damaged product.

I never solved the mystery as why the package did not end up in Spain. The Buyer agreed with me to cancel the sale. He may have wondered if I had ever sent the lunchbox, but he was an angel about it.Bar beads with curl icon

When you do not know as much as you think you know, and Buyer is OK with that

G.I. Joe and an army locker
G.I. Joe, reporting for duty!

In our estate of antique dolls, I came across a first series G.I. Joe action figure from Hasbro, 1964. Wow, I thought I had discovered a gem. I listed the figure together with a G.I. Joe foot locker.

My creative ad read: “Reporting for Duty, Sir!” and I listed the G.I. Joe figure as a wonderful item, in remarkable condition.

The sale went smoothly until the Buyer in England received it. He wrote saying I had overly described the merits of the item and that my description was inaccurate.

Two condition errors he noted: (1) rust on the connectors (2) loose fitting body that could not stand alone. Clueless! I had no idea those conditions were negatives on a vintage item a half-century old.

My photo showed the figure propped against the box. Obviously from my photo, the figure could not stand alone. Had I known my “Reporting for Duty” G.I. Joe was not ready for duty, I would not have been so grandiose in my description. I apologized for my lack of knowledge and research.

The Buyer sent a smiley note to let me know I needed to be more vigilant in my Item Description in the future, and to have a nice day. He left a positive review.Bar beads with curl icon

Rare doll, a Heubach-Koppe Island Baby
Rare doll, a Heuback-Koppe Island Baby

This rare, antique Heubach-Koppe doll was packed with care for mailing to the Buyer. The doll had glass sleep-eyes set inside the head on a rocker. We covered her eyes with cotton pads to prevent them from opening and closing during transit. However, we could not stabilize the eyes from rocking on the inside of the head.

The rocker is attached inside to a mechanism plastered to the side of the doll’s head. The eyes rock back and forth to open and close so baby doll can sleep.

In transit, the old plaster let loose and the eyeballs dropped back and away from the eye socket.

When the Buyer received the package, she wrote about the shipping mishap. She told me she needed a doll professional to restore the eyes and that she had set an appointment with a doll doctor to re-fit the eyes.

Glass eyes in a Nippon doll are set on a rocker for open and close sleep eyes
Eye rockers vary in dolls. This rocker is for a Nippon doll, and enable the doll eyes to rock backwards and “sleep,” thus called sleep eyes.

Even though the Buyer had gained an added and unexpected cost for the doll, she was happy with the price she paid me. She did not request a deduction or a return as she knew I did my best.

Another Buyer may have asked for me to pay that repair bill or to return the doll for money back. This Buyer was a true doll collector and went the extra mile to preserve the wonderful doll she now held in her hands. Hers was a generous spirit. Bar beads with curl icon

Buyers Who Push the Envelope

English, hand-painted Willets Belleek Tankard
English tankard by Willets Belleek, hand-painted with raspberries

Speed Reading Buyer leaves an unfavorable review for me after he receives tankard because it was not as large as he thought it would be. However, I described my item per criteria in our antique books. I failed to include its size specifics thinking it was a standard size tankard. Standing 6-inches tall, it was the only one I had ever seen.

The Buyer could have asked the size before buying since I overlooked including size information in my ad. Frankly, I considered anyone fortunate to have this little gem by Willets-Belleek.Bar beads with curl icon

Antique ambrotype of a gentleman in tie
Antique ambrotype look-alike of General Ulysses S. Grant

Professor Buyer gave me a bad grade when his daguerreotype arrived late to his lecture. I mailed the daguerreotype next-day after his order. It sailed through the postal system to him — or should I say, to the university mail center per his address. The Professor failed to check with the mail room or to check the USPS tracking number I registered with his order. Otherwise, he would have known the ambrotype was ready for pickup at the mail room.

Since the ambrotype did not magically wing its way to the lecture hall from the mail room, Prof. wrote me a negative review on eBay. Money talks. The professor felt the need to blame someone, so he fell back on his handy pass-the-buck scenario.Bar beads with curl icon

Sales is a 2-way street

I love to hear when customers love whatever they bought from us. I don’t want a customer ambushed when they open a box.

As part of customer service, if there is a question with my ad, the condition, etc., I want to know.

I leave only favorable reviews. However, I wait to leave a review until the item is delivered safely and I hear the customer is happy with the purchase.

Selling online is a two-way street. The Seller is required to describe the product honestly and to ship intact. The Buyer in-turn pays on time and accepts the item. The sale is not final until (1) the Buyer holds the item in their hand and likes what they bought and (2) the Seller is paid. The goal is for a happy Seller and a happy Buyer. – pw


Published by

Patricia Wiskur

My love for art comes from years in the studio of Wiskur Productions, with my husband, Darrell Wiskur, a designer and photographer. Also, I was an editor and photographer in the real world for 17 years ... all the while, thankful for an artful life and cherished memories. Photos are ©2019 Darrell D. Wiskur