In the world of buying and selling antiques online, one of the most well-known auction platforms is eBay. eBay began in 1995 as AuctionWeb, a small hobby site, but quickly ballooned by being one of the first internet sites that offered person-to-person transactions. For the first time, collectors were able to purchase items not just locally, but from sellers all over the world with the click of a button.
If you have ever sold or bought items on eBay, you may be familiar with its advantages, as well as some of its drawbacks. One of the positive things about eBay is the variety of goods being sold. You can find nearly everything, including some very strange items. For example, one man tried to auction off the entire country of New Zealand; bidding reached $3,000 before the listing was removed! Another seller listed a piece of toast that had supposedly been bitten by Justin Timberlake; it sold for over $1,000. One famous listing offered a ghost for sale, which later prompted eBay to ban the sale of “intangible items or items whose existence cannot be verified.”
While the sheer volume and wide range of items that can be purchased on eBay are viewed by some to be an advantage, others find it overwhelming to sort through thousands and thousands of listings, which may, unfortunately feature forgeries or fraudulent items.
According to Artbusiness.com, “eBay is an exceptionally risky place to buy original art by famous artists. They do not actively police their auction offerings, but rather depend on emails from dealers, collectors, experts, buyers, and potential buyers to notify them of problems relating to particular works of art.”
Not just forged art, but fake brand name items, forged antiques, and items of questionable provenance all contribute to an overall Wild West atmosphere.
If you are unlucky enough to buy an item that turns out to be fake, you will have to do all of the legwork of filing a complaint with eBay, then hope and wait to get a refund. This is extremely problematic for serious collectors and many steer clear of the site for this very reason.
Pricing on eBay is also a major concern. For sellers, it can be almost impossible to determine how to price an object accurately. In other words, you may accidentally sell an item for a far lower price than you could have gotten with an accurate appraisal of its value. On the other hand, buyers may be unknowingly paying far more than an item is worth.
Recently, eBay added an option for sellers to use a “recommended price,” however, many users have found that eBay recommended prices tend to be far lower than fair market values because eBay’s recommended price is based on aggregate sales of similar items. What’s unclear is how eBay determines which items are similar. Additionally, the fact that eBay is an international platform complicates the data even more, since the economies of each country are different, leading to variable pricing norms. Furthermore, scarcity and shipping considerations vary across geographical regions, so a buyer in the US and a buyer in China may view the value of the same item quite differently.
So what should you do before you make your next purchase from eBay?
- Be aware of the risks.
- Thoroughly research each item before you click that bid or “buy now” button.
- Familiarize yourself with the alternatives!
Though it is the largest, eBay is not the only player in the game. Etsy challenged the eBay behemoth and became the place to go online for handcrafted items. Mearto also offers an online marketplace for fine art, antiques and collectibles. Here are some of the advantages of our marketplace:
- Almost all of the listings on the Mearto marketplace have been reviewed and appraised by Mearto specialists.
- Obvious fakes and forgeries are removed and if our specialists cannot verify the authenticity of an appraised item from the images that we are provided, it is clearly labeled.
- Appraised items featured on the marketplace always include a fair market value and suggested asking price, based on sales data for similar items recent sold at auction houses around the world. The difference is that at Mearto, this data is analyzed by a human being, not an eBay algorithm.
- Our customer service is unequivocally superior! If you have any questions or issues, just contact us at [email protected] and you’ll receive quick and focused attention from one of our dedicated customer support specialists. eBay’s customer service is typical of large corporations: a frustrating labyrinth of automated forms and computer-generated responses.
- We offer secure end-to-end financial transactions. Payments are held in escrow until the buyer receives the item. This gives both buyer and seller increased confidence in the transaction.
- Because we focus on the niche of fine art, antiques and collectibles, we are able to allow sales of some items that are prohibited on eBay, including antique firearms.
To learn more, check out the Mearto marketplace for yourself at: www.marketplace.mearto.com.