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November 2003: Curses to You

Extra Fine Points Index  ]

BY DON FLUCKINGER • Today, I’m angry. I don’t tell anyone my eBay seller ID here, so the only readers who know it are the ones who can connect my name with the one to which they wrote a check if they happened to buy from me on the auction site.

(I’m guessing these can be counted, as Richard is wont to say, “on the thumbs of one foot.”)

So why am I seething? I got my first negative feedback on eBay today. Goodbye to six solid years of sheer perfection and the 1430 rating.

I was sure my perfect eBay feedback would be sullied over a more dramatic situation that involved me arguing semantics with a fellow collector like Richard. Or David Isaacson. Or some other stickler for condition. Extra Fine Points

I have bent over backward, cajoled, begged, refunded when it wasn’t my fault. I have eaten the cost of lots that the post office lost, bent, folded, spindled, mutilated, and flat-out broke. I’ve phoned customers and given sugary apologies to them after they’ve written me raging emails threatening me, my dogs, my next of kin — the kind of things that don’t really inspire people to apologize, sweetly or not.

But this bidder was different.

Email screwed us up: He could email me, but I couldn’t email him. His ISP thought I was a spammer and bounced back my email, unsent. No problem, I thought, I just went ahead and mailed his lot with a polite note (handwritten with a flexy Vac Junior) telling him that his little Tampa Roadrunner Internet service provider didn’t like my email and he should maybe get that fixed.

And I left him positive feedback.

But then the USPS lost the three-dollar item he bought from me. He didn’t complain to me first, though. He just popped off a negative feedback to the effect of “doesn’t answer email, is a ripoff artist.”

It comes down to this?

I was sure my perfect eBay feedback would be sullied over a more dramatic situation that involved me arguing semantics with a fellow collector like Richard. Or David Isaacson. Or some other stickler for condition.

(“The pen I sold you was a B-plus pen in B-plus condition, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it,” I would say.

“B-minus,” he’d yell back.


“No, see that way the light improperly refracts off the side of the barrel? B-minus! You’re a liar and a thief; I will give you a negative for this!”

“Fine!” I’d shout back, pride intact. “Life’s too short to split hairs with people like you!”)

But no, it wasn’t a big-ticket item. And it wasn’t a difference in pen-collecting philosophy. It was the fates cruelly hitting me with three bad vibes on the same transaction: a bum email connection, a misfiring synapse in the postal system, and an impatient bidder who didn’t have the common courtesy to say “Hey, I am about to leave you a negative if you don’t make this right” as I always say to slow-paying or slow-shipping eBay comrades — who, by the way, always make it right when I do.

It is this part of the whole scenario that makes me mad — the impatience of this bidder, who shall remain unnamed. It’s got me hopping mad. Steam coming out of my ears mad. That some bidder with 400 feedback himself would do this to me. He wasn’t an amateur, he’d been around the block — people like that know what honest sellers look like on eBay and how they differ from grifters. Argh!

At least I shall sleep well tonight knowing the karmic balance has shifted away from his own feedback perfection — and that if I don’t name this wretch’s name, I can curse him here ad nauseum. Which brings me to the pen part of the column — and the fun participatory part you can join in, if you fancy yourself a writer (and aren’t we all?).

I started thinking of pen-related curses I could hurl at this charming soul. I would like you to email me the best ones you can think of — and I will publish the best ones at some future juncture in this space, if I get enough. Here are my starters:

(Also, I wish a pox on your house that makes you and all your family members accidentally add two zeros on the end of every eBay bid from this day forward.)

Send me your best. We could have some fun with this.

cover Further Reading: Shakespeare’s Insults: Educating Your Wit, by William Shakespeare et al.

Don’t just use putdowns that any old fool could invent — be literary about it! Start down the path with this 336-page paperback of great insults from the Bard himself.

Freelance writer Don Fluckinger lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, and is the son-in-law of Richard Binder. His articles have been published in Antiques Roadshow Insider, The Boston Globe, and on the collectibles Web site. Please note: Any opinions stated in this column are Don’s alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Richard Binder or this Web site. Don Fluckinger
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