What's On Our Mind

The lies I tell on Ebay

Sophie Verass by Sophie Verass
October 8th, 2014

A stylish pair of Gorman jeans was just delivered to my letterbox and I only paid a mere $15 for them.

eBay is amazing. Since its first successful sale of a broken lazer pointer in 1995, the online auction house has allowed the public to get cash for their trash, and simultaneously purchase goods outside of Westfield’s opening hours (and the mall’s ostentatious fluorescent lighting). But aside from being the best thing since sliced bread, the website is also a cyber vortex of deviousness.

Don’t let the cheery logo fool you, with its bright primary colours and lettering with kooky dips and spheres, carrying the same design as a McDonalds playground. eBay is actually a playing field for the desperate, the bargain-hungry and those with cunning blood in their veins.

Statistics show that women’s clothing sells every 5 seconds on eBay and sheepishly, I most likely make up at least 80% of those sales. Several times a day I flick open the handy app and prowl through items, as though I were a house cat stalking an unwelcome rodent. Admittedly, my behaviour on eBay is not the best side of personality and I assume the same goes for other auction gamers.

Man holding tablet computer in cafe. Close up

As soon as my phone raises that small red flag alerting me to another watcher’s outbid, my thumbs are no longer digits. Instead, they become knights on horseback and charge into the battle of the bidding war. My nails tear at my phone’s protector film and stamp the ‘place higher bid’ key in a hurry as though I were throwing missiles at the enemy. If detectives dusted my screen for fingerprints in the aftermath, not only would there be a firm imprint at the bottom-centre, but another at the top right where the ‘refresh’ button sits, as I never want to miss a moment during the clothing carnage.

I convince myself that it’s a fight to the death. But in reality, all I will end up losing is a cashmere jumper in “great condition” which could have been mine for the bargain price of my maximum bid, $22.67.

However, there’s a darker side to eBay. One that I call a little ‘trick of the trade’. It’s called lying.

Oh yes, there have been times when I’ve decided that peplum tops are slowly getting the fashion heave-ho and I really don’t need another metallic blouse in my wardrobe, when I’m currently holding the highest bid on an Ellery Imperials top. There have been other times when I have found something better to spend my $100 on and realise that I’m unable to afford the vintage Marni skirt that I’m about to win. These scenarios generally lead me to tell the seller that I’ve just been in a minor car accident and that I now have to pay an overwhelming amount of damages and can’t justify buying luxuries at the moment…

I’m not proud of my elaborate dishonesty or that I’ve meddled with a person’s sale, but what would the cyber world have me do? Risk negative feedback with the truth? Surely a couple of bidding mistakes shouldn’t cost me the eBayer’s red mark of death.

After discussing these pathetic excuses with a couple of friends, I realised I wasn’t alone in this act (which of course, made my guilt somewhat obsolete). One friend admitted to blaming her “two year old, who was playing with the iPhone and made the bid”, and this person doesn’t even have a toddler.


Another revealed that she bravely once took zero responsibility for the bid and insisted that it must have been a glitch in eBay (“technology these days!”). Of course it couldn’t have been her, she “hasn’t used her account in six months and been away in rural NT”.

But the award for the most ridiculous lie though, would have to go to a friend who confessed that her lowest point of trying to scramble out of paying for a piece of expensive knitwear with, “Hi, this is Clare’s boyfriend. Clare has gone into a coma and won’t be buying any of her eBay purchases at this point in time.” I don’t know which I found more hilarious, the fact that she had played the role of a non-existent boyfriend or that she assumed that someone would buy the crazy story in the first place. Honestly, the doctor is about to turn off your girlfriend’s life support and the first priority you attend to is her eBay administration? “I’m so in love with her, I just want to make sure that she doesn’t get negative feedback, especially while she’s unconscious.” This connected Prince Charming takes loyalty to a new and impressive level.

However, even in cyber space the technological astrology perpetuates karma. Poor Clare had her comeuppance when she naively reimbursed a buyer on their request for a refund on some ill fitting Jimmy Choos shoes. Although they corresponded and agreed that the customer would ship back the product, but sadly for Clare, the stilettos never arrived to their original owner.

This is just one of many damned experiences eBayers have to deal with if they want to be in the online auction game.

Like using folded toilet paper when I don’t have a pad handy, lying your way out of paying for unwanted eBay wins is uncomfortable, stressful and should only be used in emergencies, and if you do it too often, you’ll end up with an unsightly red mark. But when it comes down to my paying rent or throwing some money at peplum top that’s clearly a Winter item and Spring is upon us, I’m obviously going to lie my pants off.

I just hope these new Gorman skinny-legs don’t catch on fire.