Sunday, December 21, 2014

ASK THE EBAY QUEEN: Did a Chinese seller steal my steampunk listing?

By SUZIE EADS, Ask the eBay Queen | 5/1/2014

Dear eBay Queen: I could use some advice here. I make one-of-a-kind steampunk items for the home: clocks, trays, boxes, desk items, etc. I was just on Amazon and put in a search for one of my items, and lo and behold there was my one-of-a-kind tray! I made this item and have it listed in my Etsy shop. I have never made another one of these, or sold another one. I cannot believe this just popped up and is listed for sale for $450! The seller is using my photos and my description.

How is this possible? They don’t even have the tray!

After further research, I see the seller is listed as a store in China. What the heck can I do about this? I made only one of these, and it is in my Etsy shop. Is what they are doing illegal? — Bennett Jones

Dear Bennett: I believe the China seller is hoping to sell the item on Amazon, then purchase it from you, and have you send it to their Amazon buyer. Have you checked how many are listed for sale? If multiples available, the seller might have copied your tray and now is selling one like it.

What this seller is doing is called internet arbitrage. Internet arbitrage is when a seller buys something at a lower cost on one site, and sells it for higher somewhere else. This isn’t illegal, and is done all the time. What could be considered wrong is if the Amazon seller in China is using your description and photographs, which you say it is. I would report this to Amazon. I am sure the company will take action immediately. 

Dear eBay Queen: I don’t usually complain about eBay. Usually, I just take all of the weird stuff they do in stride. Like you, I try to figure out how whatever they are doing will serve me, and move on. But this time, I am struggling with how this one works.

From April 16-26, eBay gave me 25,000 free auction style listings. Those ended, and the unsold items were relisted this morning as fixed price.

This afternoon, April 28, I got a notice from eBay telling me I can earn $5 in eBay bucks if I bid on five auction style item between April 28 and May 4. I don’t understand why eBay would do this. It seems like they are trying to make sure my items don’t sell.

Where was this promotion when I had all my items listed as auction style last week? — Marsha

Dear Marsha: That’s interesting! I am a member of the eBay Bucks program, and I did not receive that promo on April 28. I mostly bid on auctions, so I wonder if they sent it to people that mostly buy fixed price? I did receive a fixed price listing promo for April 29 through May 4. Maybe eBay is just trying to mix it up a little?

The promo period ended April 26, so if you listed something on the 26th, it should still be active and you have a chance to reap the rewards from all the people that received the eBay Bucks promo too. Thanks for sharing this with me. I am encouraged that eBay is actively encouraging buyers to bid.

Strange eBay item of the week: eBay item No. 231206846007. The Urban Dictionary defines steampunk as follows: “Steampunk is a subgenre of speculative fiction, usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting. It could be described by the slogan ‘What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner.’ Art, sculptures, architecture, jewelry, clothing, etc. relating to this genre is highly collectible right now.” I found this on eBay: “Antique Asian Flintlock Lighter Inro Netsuke Steampunk Oddities Curiosities.” It sold for $3,600 at

Suzie Eads is a nationally known eBay marketer and eBay trained education specialist. She lives in Rantoul. Have a question for the eBay Queen? Email the eBay Queen

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