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So this week, I had the privilege to reach the dizzy heights and somewhat surprising milestone of 1000 transactions on Ebay! I say surprised since I’m not an ebay business nor have I traded professionally on the auction site but I have purchased and sold regularly (rather too regularly it would seem) since I became a member back in 2003 (is that really 20 years?).

I’ve had an up and down relationship with it over the years – and can remember once, after a stressful transaction when an aggressive seller done me over, saying out loud that ‘I would never darken the doors of ebay again’! But clearly I did and have gone on to have 100% perfect positive feedback for my 1000 transactions – aside from the aggressive seller who, of course, viciously left negative feedback and comment and trashed my perfection. I don’t think I’m even over that episode even though it was about 18 years ago. You see, when my son was little, he was a Thunderbirds fan, and we started collecting the original 1960’s figures of the Thunderbirds characters. These were to be found on the then quite new and shiny Ebay and we managed a successful bid on Virgil – his favourite. When said ‘Virgil’ arrived it wasn’t him but one of his brothers and when I had the audacity to complain to the seller a torrent of abuse followed along with the dreaded negative feedback.

And there’s the rub – the whole thing is based on trust and good manners really. And most of us are trustworthy and have good manners – but there’s always the exception – and you never know just when that exception is going to strike. You find just the thing you’re after; the right price, decent postage costs and the description and photographs seem to have been recorded in a diligent and caring manner and then – BAM! – they get you! Sorry, I no longer have the item or it’s no longer available? It gets lost in the post? The $10 item you purchased from the US got stopped in customs and now you have to pay an extra £50 import duty? They no longer want the thing they purchased from you, so please return my payment or I’ll report you to Ebay? I can no longer locally collect, you won’t therefore be getting my cash, Ebay will still charge you and you’ll have to relist it? Nonsense – all of it…..and you were only charging £15 for the item anyway!

But I’m always drawn back to it like a moth to the lightbulb and can spend a whole evening (maybe a day?) getting caught up in the endless choice of listings for a ‘vintage wooden whatnot’ and wonder at a) the tat that some people list b) do they really think they’re going to get that sort of price for it? c) the inaccuracies of the title of the listings and soooo much more! However, I always find something that’s perfect (x1000) and have a house full of treasured Ebay finds and stuff I’ve sold via the site that someone very clearly adored a whole lot more than I did.

It is indeed a wondrous thing. Before that I’m not sure what I did for ‘stuff’? There was always the local paper with it’s ‘for sale’ listings. Very limited to second hand fridges, sofas and beds. I remember trying to sell a bed via the local paper many many years ago and getting a call on the landline (that’s all that was available to us remember) in the middle of the night from a chap who was clearly somewhat worse for wear and involved in a dare with his mates, telling me what he’d like to do to me on the aforementioned bed!!!! An early version of a troll maybe?

It's come a very long way since the early days and, admittedly, they do try to protect us from the untrustworthy and bad mannered out there – and quite rightly so..but it still has it’s downsides and still has plenty of members who like to manipulate and abuse it. But I for one am a huge fan…but a fan with a radar now and even though I feel quite proud of my radar – one has to always remember the old adage ‘there’s nowt so queer as folk’. So remember this when logging on in future – maintain your trust in human nature at all times – even when your Virgil turns out to be an Alan! Xx

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