Thursday, February 22, 2007
From the auction:
Rare Antique & Grandfather Clock Horologe/have belle
"Welcome to my ebay,now you can see a beautiful and wonderful artware,the item is very value.look at its figure,it is nobler and enthralling,it will give you the elegance and made you exalted.what magnetic item,please don't miss it,it will be a good present for you or for your friend,also it will give you more fortune and good luck. shipping cost;GBP 66.00. Insurance;GBP5.00."
At the risk of sounding culturally insensitive, originating from an eBayer in Shanghai, China, this is "Engrish" at its best. As it stands, there is no indication of the actual dimensions or weight of this object, and of course, it is nothing like an actual grandfather clock.
One can surmise that this is a direct result of the eBayer's limited grasp of the English language, although interpreting the eBayer's intentions just based on the description is a challenge at best.
Presumably, he/she meant "majestic" rather than "magnetic," given the fact that strong magnets are sufficient to stop an analog watch, but then, it might be intentional, as that stand-up clock has to stay in the statuette's hands somehow, right?
Given the controversy regarding over-prescribing antibiotics for non-bacterial related infections, it's pretty easy to criticize something like this, although on the plus side, it's not necessarily marketed as an anti-bacterial product.
However, I seriously question how much of a hygienic impact one can make with a bar of soap, a toothbrush, a sample tube of toothpaste, and nine wetnaps.
That, and I seriously question the monetary value assigned to this product. $29.95 for a bunch of items that can be easily swiped from any hotel room or restaurant? And also, consider this...the retail value of a pack of Wet Ones (pack of 15) moistened towelettes goes for under $3, a toothbrush for about the same, and a three pack of full-sized bars of soap for about $3 or less, and a full tube of toothpaste is usually about $3. Total: at or around $12, and you get a lot more too.
Monday, February 19, 2007
But, you can easily make the best of it and easily be the talk of the town with this little item (item #290083820212).
Of course, the skull is made up of some other material (it'd probably be really unethical or disrespectful to use an ACTUAL human skull), but damn, these things are pretty frickin' cool.
The first time I recall hearing of these was when I saw the movie Mystery Men, in which a character (aptly named "The Bowler") has a bowling ball encasing her deceased father's skull, which she can throw around with deadly accuracy (much like Captain America's shield).
I'm guessing that they don't have these as fixtures of the bowling alley as they would have a tendency to get stolen by unscrupulous customers. Mind you, one would have to be very discreet in order for that to happen.
Although if you're in Blue Ridge, I don't imagine that you go there for the bowling, and you'd probably be better off buying a good pair of hiking boots and a helmet and life vest for white water rafting.
As much as I hate to play grammar cop (Brian Sack, the writer of Banterist.com is much better than it than I), stuff like this gives me a serious, serious headache.
Given my lack of expertise in the home improvement field, I might be completely wrong. But given the caveat emptor angle that I've been approaching lately, a few things really kinda just...bug me.
For example, the seller suggests that with the right tools, installing interior trim and faux paint is as easy as chewing gum. Okay, fair enough. Considering the rise in DIY home renovations and the availability of tools at local hardware stores, this isn't a complete stretch. But, according to the seller, he's been in the home renovation business for 15 years. So, to HIM, it's easy. But for those who've never so much as held a HAMMER?
For $29.95, much of what he is selling (i.e.: information) could easily be obtained for free by going to the local hardware store and just asking around. Generating leads is done by networking. However, one needs experience in order to get work, and unless a lot of your friends want to get interior trim and faux paint installed, expect this to take a very, VERY long time. Although, given the rise in unlicensed contractors and the ability to just "disappear" after you screw over a client, it should be relatively easy to make money.
Friday, February 16, 2007
And if you're looking to get your energy lowered, incidentally, eBay has the same thing.
I got a really good feeling about this one, folks (item #320077657513) . At least, I'd probably better, unless I want to have really, really crappy luck for the rest of my life.
While I have appreciation for metaphysical concepts and the unexplained, something about this kinda...seems off.
Voodoo, in its actual authentic form, is quite unlike what we've been exposed to through popular culture and the like. Through movies, people feel instant pain when a doll in the victim's likeness is stabbed with a pin. I vaguely recall one particular film in the Child's Play series, in which Chucky finds a voodoo doll and starts dismembering it, which has a highly damaging effect on its owner, who happens to be Haitian.
But, from the actual auction...
I could tell you anything you wanted to hear but will spare you ! I have 31,000+ positive feedback across 6-major sites including Featured Seller of the Month TWICE on Oxxrstxck.com (not allowed to mention actual site name), e-Bay POWERSELLER for a DECADE , 20+ YEARS OF SALES EXPERIANCE and only 34-total negatives from 16-18 different people in that time frame, mostly because I leave negative feedback for ALL NON-PAYING BIDDERS and often they return them out of anger !I dunno, for a person who intends to spare the details, that's a fair amount of detail. I wonder if he tried to put a curse on those bad sellers, in addition to leaving negative feedback.
While actual Haitian voodoo practices do involve the use of dolls, it is more as a ritual for the dead, as they are nailed nearby trees in cemeteries to act as messengers for the deceased. Probably not for the use as depicted here, as this is just what popular culture has dictated voodoo to be.
I think I'm safe for now.
At the top of the list, there are very sexually explicit images that would probably violate the Terms of Service through eBay. And, for the sake of the readership who may find the material offensive and for the interest of keeping all content on this blog at or around a PG to PG13 level, the images are obscured (plus, the people I write for probably wouldn't appreciate it too much).
And, of course, in the interest of knowledge and research, it was very necessary for me to click on them. Really. It was. Honest.
With current fraud issues with ATM and credit cards, there is an increased focus on maintaining personal security, such as making sure that your PIN number is hidden, but this is something else.
Upon clicking on the auction in question (again, in the interest of research), I was sent to a login screen, where I was asked for my login and password. As I was not specifically looking to BUY anything on eBay, I didn't. But for some odd reason, clicking on the back button kept sending me back to that page.
Then I paused for a moment and this popped up.
With the immediate appearance of an authentic eBay login screen, it's quite easy to be fooled into trusting this, and then submitting your personal information.
If you're lucky, a person who has access to your eBay account will be able to figure out where you live, and how to contact you. But, you know that less than scrupulous people won't just stop there.
As it stands, if you do choose to solicit adult material from eBay, there is a more secure way of doing so, directly through eBay, however, they do ask for your credit card information.
Unsuspecting eBayers may easily be duped by this, as it looks EXACTLY like the actual eBay auction screen. Firefox will be able to screen this out, as the auction link page redirects to a phishing site, which refers to the methods used to dupe people into giving up sensitive information.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
So, when I was looking up sympathy gifts and sympathy cards, and it spat this out (item #330088611050), I was a little confused.
I actually had to re-read the auction a few times before I realized that these aren't something that you would actually give to someone when you're offering your condolences over the loss of a loved one, unless they happened to be really, really avid Texas Holdem players or had an appreciation for kitschy advertising art.
After some minor research, the painting itself is actually entitled "Poker Sympathy," and the seller decided to simplify the auction header as "Dogs Playing Poker Sympathy Cards," instead of the more grammatically correct (and more accurate), "Dogs Playing Poker: 'Poker Sympathy,' 16x20 art prints."
Although, given that bereavement is a bit of a emotionally sensitive time, maybe a bit of a humour might be welcome. But then, I'm also a guy who would want people telling dirty, filthy jokes at my funeral. Even if it's at church.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
And, so we have this. (item #280083001705).
Homeopathic medicine has been in focus for several years now, with the rise in popularity of exotic Chinese medicine and the criticisms of pharmaceutical companies. As they are derived from supposedly "natural" sources like plant extracts rather than chemicals, they are touted as a safer alternative.
Therefore, instead of taking pseudoephedra (Sudafed) for a cold, you take echinachea. Instead of taking your chemical antidepressants, you take St. John's Wort. Instead of actually eating properly and getting off the couch to hit the gym or go for a walk, you take Hoodia Gordonii.
Native to regions in southern Africa, it has been traditionally used (in SMALL doses) for treating indigestion and small infections. Recently, it has been investigated for use as an appetite suppressant.
TrimSpa, is one of the many companies that market this particular product, naming this product X32, employing Anna Nicole Smith as their celebrity spokesperson. With her recent passing and the current class-action lawsuits against TrimSpa, it's no wonder why this particular auction (as of this writing), has exactly ONE bid, at a whopping total of $0.01.
ConsumerReports refuses to recommend the product based on a lack of scientific evidence, while scientific studies involving lab rats with P57, the active ingredient in hoodia gordonii, directly injected into the rat's brains, yet the product was still broken down by the liver.
This auction is particularly troubling. Since I used to work in retail, I understand the value of add-on sales and accessorizing. But when their sales pitch is worded like this: "We highly recommend also taking our bee pollen capsules along with these to get back your energy from not eating..."
The banner graphic from the seller reads, "Don't ask WHERE they are from." Uh...bad idea.
First, a little background on Michael Collins. Currently a resident of the Outer Banks, NC area, he is known for his contributions to space travel, taking part in manned missions such as Gemini 10 and Apollo 11, working with the greats such as Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong.
But, while I do have an appreciation for modern American history, especially with the advancements in scientific discovery, something about this auction seems...kinda, I dunno, cheesy.
Like, the fact that the main selling point of this auction is that it's "NOT SOME CHEAP HOME COMPUTER PRINT OUT ONTO COMPUTER PAPER."
I guess, that when the seller has very little to go on, and the item isn't actually authentic (because if it were, it'd probably be going for several dozen times the price), he's gotta do what he's gotta do.
Somehow, I fail to see how the Astronomy enthusiast in your life would be greatly appreciative with a gift such as this. Certainly, NASA has plenty of licensed products that would probably fit the bill a lot better?
Thursday, February 08, 2007
While most people looking for slightly more serious emergency kits (i.e.: for a potentially life-threatening emergency) may wish to give this one a pass, but this one really made me laugh.
With an initial bid of $30 USD, this kit contains:
- bag of flour
- a brown paper bag
- large jar of Vaseline
- 12 X-Large condoms
- 2 cigarettes
- a pack of aspirin
It took me a while to figure out what the flour was for, but given the tendency for flour to clump up and the level of difficulty in removing once exposed to moisture, especially from porous materials like fabric and hair, baby powder might be a more viable alternative.
But then, it's a novelty joke item anyway.
Whether you're looking to purchase or rent an Orlando Pool Home that's ten minutes away from Disneyland or you're looking to rent a timeshare in Mexico, eBay has that too.
While it was probably inevitable that it was going to get to this point, it requires a very, VERY significant leap of faith to be able to pull off. Considering that real estate values have been ballooning into large amounts that most people can't afford normally without credit, it might not be that much of a stretch. Somehow, I can't help but think of the lessons of history class, where the stock market collapsed due to stocks and shares being purchased with borrowed money.
It's somewhat frightening, actually, considering the ease at which this can be done. The trifecta of economic collapse is nearly complete...the energy crisis, the housing market, and the environment...oy...
As much as the eBay seller insists that this is not a hoax, I can't help but question this. The distinctive lack of a feedback rating isn't doing much to boost my confidence either. But, here are a few questions I have...
- What am I getting for $5000? Equipment? Considering that a professional level centrifuge machine runs can run you several thousand, I'm guessing not. Facilities? Considering the price of real estate these days, I'm also guessing not. Advertising? Considering the price of television air time, I'm also guessing not.
- Doesn't one need a certain type of technical knowledge in order to do this?
- Why the heck is this guy selling this on eBay?
Several of the auctions put forth by this particular eBay seller are compact makeup mirrors that have "authentic Swarovski Crystal" embedded into the surface. But, at a glance, it has one of the most recognizable popular culture icons in existence. This fact is not mentioned in the auction at all.
As expected by all major corporations, Disney is absolutely merciless when it comes to protecting their trademarks. This had led to a significant amount of criticism of their business ethnics, especially when you consider their targets (usually small businesses that ultimately don't pose much threat), plus their own less-than-clean track records (i.e.: improper criminal record checks on Disneyland employees).
One only need to do some research to see how a small model building company was pressured into renaming their product "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" to "The Bellringer of Notre Dame" as a result of Disney's legal pressure, despite the fact that Dumas' tale is public domain.
This might explain why this product is not categorized as a Disney product, since the Mickey Mouse ears look pretty darned familiar. Counterfeit licensed merchandise is quite common in the flea markets of China, which also puts into question the level of authenticity of the Swarovski crystals , especially when the official Swarovski Cyrstal website prices a hair comb at over $100 CDN, several times what the initial auction is for a makeup compact.
Hollowed-out books for hidden storage purposes aren't really anything new, although I didn't realize that there existed a market for an item like this, especially since this can easily be done with a box cutter and a bit of patience. Whatever book you choose to use is up to you, provided that it's hardcover...you can use a thick tome like a Catholic Bible or the Complete Works of Shakespeare.
In the seller's other auctions, he/she refers to these books as the "poor man's safe," which is actually sorta funny, considering that for the price of a box cutter/exacto knife (approximately $5 or less) and a used hardcover book at the local used bookstore (on average $5 or less), putting up against $17.95 USD and $6 S/H, "poor man's safe" is sort of a misnomer.
But then, there is also the time consideration. Depending on the thickness of the book and the level of quality craftsmanship you are able to perform, $23.95 USD might not be such a bad deal. However, if you're lifestyle dictates that you don't rely on safety deposit boxes, $23.95 might be put to better use.
That, and you might want to be a little more selective about which book you choose to empty out. If this book sat in a shelf with slightly more "literary" selections (ie: not romance novels), it might be a dead giveaway.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Feel like making enemies out of your Democrat friends? Feel like raising the ire out of your pen pal in the Middle East? Feel like scoring points with your Republican long-distance-relationship girlfriend halfway across the world? Feel like making sure that your mail gets tossed into the shredder by 54% of the American public (according to Fox opinion poll for January 30-31, 2007)?
Then, for the low, low, LOW price of $14.95 plus $4.50 shipping and handling, you too can be the proud owner of 100 copies of envelopes with George W. Bush's face on them (item #260081129581), customized with your own address, which will save you a fortune in return address labels.
As a Canadian, I can't really boast much knowledge about American politics, save for the fact that I really disagree with a lot of the things that have been happening, especially with the current situation in the Middle East and just the way that Bush Jr. conducts himself in the public eye on issues such as military spending, the environment, and trade, and just his overall perceived lack of charisma and intelligence.
But in terms of the much larger picture, there are a lot of things that are going unnoticed, such as the fact that Bush Jr. has actually put significantly more funding into alternative energy sources than his predecessor Bill Clinton. Plus, as much as some would believe that the Bush administration is absolutely clueless (especially with the negative backlash over Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq), if you ask me, they know exactly what they're doing.
Me, I think Bill Clinton was a much cooler president. Who cares if he misled the American public regarding his infidelity? We all know that politicians routinely lie about everything else!
Exhibit A (item #130072195672): Powell Furniture 292 Heirloom Cherry Jewelry Armoire. $169. Plus $50 shipping and handling. Total: $219.00
Exhibit B (from Homeandliving.com): Powell Furniture 292 Heirloom Cherry Jewelry Armoire. $219. Free ground shipping. Total: $219.00
Given the fact that eBay listings always tend to emphasize the purchase price, it is very easy for unsuspecting buyers to ignore the cost of shipping and duty (which is never calculated within eBay, as it always varies from location to location) and just blindly place a bid on an item, thinking that they are getting the most amazing deal.
If there is a lesson to be learned, is that there is nothing that is ever free, and if they are going to find a way to make you pay for something, they're going to find it.
With smaller sellers, it's often more difficult to recoup losses in case anything goes wrong. I'm still stinging from the time I purchased a berimbau (a bow-shaped musical rhythm instrument) which was "insured", and on which I spent $50 on "insured" shipping. When I received it, it was not packed according to specifications and was damaged. I contacted the seller and he would not honour it unless I paid him for more shipping. Punk.
When doing some research on PLC Repair for another client (that's PLC as in Programmable Logic Controller), I entered it into eBay to see if I could get any responses, and this is what it spat out: a non-functional Sanyo PLC XU35 2000 projector.
According to the seller, "This unit is in POOR functional condition and EXCELLENT cosmetic condition. It looks like new." Caveat emptor applies in large quantities here, and certainly, this seller is completely up-front and honest about this.
But, since when is there a market for a non-functional projector, especially when it's priced at $79.99? And that's not even the buy-it-now price!
I truly appreciate the vendor's honesty, I really do. But what are his motivations? And a better question: what would be the ideal user for a DEAD high-definition projector? There are certainly many uses, such as if a person was to need a non-functional prop for a film, or needed something that they'd be willing to destroy on camera, but at $79.99 (even without shipping), one is better off approaching a repair store or even the manufacturer to see if they can get a non-functional unit. Heck, even an electronics recycling depot. But, perhaps the piece might be salvageable for parts, which might be important to consider, when you learn that most modern electronics are cheaper to replace than repair, considering the per-unit costs of manufacturing.
But, with only 30 minutes left in his auction (as of this writing), I guess we'll never know.