It’s official. I hate Ebay. This is a pretty big statement coming from someone who has, in the past, been an enthusiastic user and supporter of Ebay. And I still do use Ebay to look for knick-knacks like National Bank postcards, vintage Adidas jackets and sporting event tickets. But when it comes to buying coins on Ebay, I think I’m pretty much done. For the sort of coins that I am interested in, the selection of coins on Ebay has gotten pretty dismal. With a few exceptions, most of the coins are either cleaned no-grades or they are housed in third-world slabs (including a few so-called grading companies that even I haven’t heard of!). Yes, there are occasionally a few interesting, fresh coins but, man, do you have to troll through a lot of trash to find the occasional jewel.
For me, it’s a question of time. If I want to spend time searching through coins online (and at this point in my life I’d like to think I have a few better things to do…) I’d rather spend an hour on the Heritage website going through their 7,000+ Signature Sale lots. There seems to be a lot more of a payoff on an auction site specifically designed for coins than on one like Ebay, where coins are one of hundreds of categories.
Ebay really is like the world’s biggest flea market. It’s as if every item was dumped on a table and you have to sort through it (with the assistance of some pretty nifty technology…). I’m tired of the lousy images, the poor descriptions and the games that you know many of the sellers are playing.
And when I do bid on something on Ebay…ah, that’s when the fun begins. It seems that every day I get yet another Phishing email from someone trying to get my account number or password or credit card number. When I bid with Heritage, I might get a little too much spam but at least I don’t get Phished three times a day. Not to mention the fake post-sale re-offering of lots from my friend Vladimir in Estonia.
With Ebay, I just don’t feel a sense of security anymore. Sure, I’m willing to bid on a $65 Adidas jacket but I’m very hesitant to bid on a $5,000 coin from a seller that I don’t know. I think that Ebay’s caveat emptor attitude is tiresome.
Ebay would argue that their feedback system is safe and it represents the market policing itself. I say that is a crock. I have seen coin sellers with extremely high feedback rates (and hundreds—if not thousands-- of transactions) that I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw them. When I bid in an online coin auction with Heritage or ANR or Goldberg, I know exactly who I am dealing with and I have recourse in case there is a problem. In Ebay’s world, you’re on your own.
Another thing that drives me crazy about Ebay is sniping. Yes, I know that I can use software that enables me to bid 0.01 seconds before a lot closes. But why should I have to go through the hassle? The problem with Ebay is that I never feel secure enough about the whole process to bid my maximum early in the game.
I’m not certain that I’ll ever be able to totally resist the allure of Ebay. I can think of at least three items I purchased on Ebay that I’ve made alot of money on. The greedy side of my nature thinks there is another five-figure payday waiting for me at the end of the Ebay Rainbow and I guess I’ll have to check the coin listings every now and then to find that special New Orleans double eagle or Dahlonega gold dollar.
But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to enjoy my Ebay experience any more than I already do…not.