ebay

A safe bet, or why you should always check the content of containers you sell on ebay, or how to prank somebody who sells you something on ebay

Umm. Wow. A guy who has since proclaimed himself “the stupidest man in the world” sold a safe on eBay. He couldn’t get it open, he assumed it was empty. Then the buyer left a line of feedback claiming that when he’d opened the safe he’d found $6,000.

“bought locked safe opened it and found $6,000.00 dollars in bills”

The internet inflated this figure and the story went viral.

Anyway. Here’s the listing, and the opening two paras:

“WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET. NOTHING MORE AND NOTHING LESS. PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE AD BEFORE BIDDING ON OUR ITEMS. IF YOU ARE INTERNATIONAL BIDDER, PLEASE CONTACT US FOR A SHIPPING QUOTE, BEFORE BIDDING. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING THIS UNIT OR ANY ITEM I HAVE FOR SALE, PLEASE CALL ME TOLL FREE AT 1-888-300-8838 . THANKS……..JIM

HERE IS A MAJOR FLOOR  OR IN GROUND SAFE. IT LOOKS LIKE TO BE A  7″ DOOR MEASURED ACROSS. IT IS A COMBINATION LOCK UNIT. IT IS VERY HEAVY. THE BASE OF THE UNIT MEASURES 9 1/2X9 1/2. IT STANDS 14 1/2″ TALL. IT IS A HEAVY DUTY SAFE. IT WEIGHTS ABOUT 60 POUNDS BY ITSELF. IF YOU CAN USE IT, GO AHEAD AND BID ON IT. I DID NOT GET THE COMBINATION FOR THE UNIT .SO YOU WILL HAVE TO CONTACT THE MAJOR SAFE COMPANY TO GET THE COMBINATION OR FIND SOMEONE THAT CAN OPEN THE UNIT UP./”

The all caps are so bad they make my eyes bleed. That may have been the motivation for the buyer, because it turns out, according to the seller, that this was a prank:

“Reply by j****e (Feb-16-12 15:29):
He was playing a practical joke the safe was empty there wasnt any money in it”

Anyway. Most funny stories turn out to be pranks these days. But the ones that get mainstream media coverage first are my favourites.

Parenting Win: Boys toys wreck bath, get sold on eBay

This is a brilliant stroke of parenting. It reminds me of the time my mum put the dirty dishes I was meant to wash under the blankets of my bed.

“These two have lost their entire collection of Beyblades, the spinning-top toy based on the Japanese manga series of the same name. The boys were using the family bathtub as a Beyblade arena. The combat destroyed the tub’s enamel, took “a chunk of tub out,” and demolished the soap dish. So the Beyblades will be sold to compensate for the loss.

The boys’ piggy-bank account of $125.67 will also be liquidated to help pay for the $500 repair, with the Beyblades auction covering whatever’s left. As of now, the lot of eight is up to $69.”


Image Credit: BuzzFeed.

Via Kotaku.

Buy a guitar: +10 to mad guitar skillz

Robyn has two guitars. She only needs one now. The second was her classroom guitar back in the days when she was a school teacher. So I’ve just listed one on ebay. I had some fun with the description.

“Being an acoustic guitar it will also add +5 to your charisma, and if you are a single man +7 to your picking up girls ability. Whether you’re a rocker, a surfer, or a crooner – this guitar could have you on the turn off to the backstreet, that leads to the causeway, to the highway to success and stardom. Lets not sell its attributes too highly. We’re all about realism here. And you’ll be able to keep it real yourself if this guitar enters your possession.”

Please bid generously. And feel free to ask questions on the sale page – I will do my best to answer even the silliest ones.

Life imitates webcomic

Somewhere in my archives there’s a story about people putting the ideas put forward by XKCD into some sort of real life application. Well. Here’s another example (previous examples include adults filling their lounge room with colourful balls to make their own ball room).

Somebody did this. And you can follow the progress of the eBay robot on Twitter, and read about the source code here with an update here

  • It runs every day at 8pm (although it was earlier today because I was testing it)
  • It gains $1 every day, and has a 1 in 3 chance of buying an item on any particular day. This means that it will save up money to buy some (slightly) more expensive items.

The method it uses to select items:

  • It has a bunch of top-level categories it looks in.
  • For each of these categories, it searches for the term “Free shipping”, specifying both pay-now and buy-now, sorting by newest listings, with a maximum of 100 items returned per category.
  • For each of these items, it filters on buy-now price. It tries to spend at least 50% of its savings.
  • For each of the surviving items, it looks up the individual auction details to find its shipping information so it can filter on free shipping. Despite searching for the term ‘free shipping’ to start, only a small number of items have this.
  • At this point I have a list of items that match the price requirements, and can be bought with a credit card buy-now.
  • I then sort this list by ‘rarity’ – doing a search for the item title, and finding the item that returns the least results. As the objective here is to buy strange and esoteric things, rarity is preferred.
  • Finally I buy the rarest item and subtract its cost from the bots savings.

Sounds fun, right? The guy responsible made a couple of changes yesterday:

  • It now tries not to buy in categories it’s bought from before. No more stamps! (probably)
  • It biases towards auctions with more expensive shipping costs – If you check out the trademe listings, you’ll see there’s quite a lot of items for $1-2, but the more interesting things typically have higher shipping.
  • The ‘only bid every 3 days’ rule is gone. Now it will wait until it has at least 20 items that it can possibly buy before making a bid. This is strongly dependent on how much money it has, so it should come to about the same thing.


So far he’s bought some watch batteries, some stickers, and a casio watch. Hooray.

Uninstallation Art

This is a cool sculpture. Created by artist Caleb Larsen, it is set up to perpetually sell itself on eBay.

Every ten minutes the black box pings a server on the internet via the ethernet connection to check if it is for sale on the eBay. If its auction has ended or it has sold, it automatically creates a new auction of itself.

If a person buys it on eBay, the current owner is required to send it to the new owner. The new owner must then plug it into ethernet, and the cycle repeats itself.


It’s currently listed at just over $6,500.

How to win at eBay

Here’s a useful guide to always winning at eBay – even when you lose.

Step One:

Find the product you want.

Step Two:

Save the product to your watch list.

Step Three:

Wait.

Step Four:

Just before the item ends, enter the maximum amount you are willing to pay for the item.

Step Five:

Click submit.

From here.

Significant Objects: How to bump up your eBay sales with a story

I posted a washing machine being sold on ebay here a while back, and a bike. Both had great stories going with them that I thought must have worked wonders on their sale prices.

It would appear a good description can up the value of your silly ebay items by as much as 6000% – it’s just a shame I didn’t do this with my Star Wars charactersthough the Q&A section did get a little bit interesting.

There’s a site called Significant Objects that finds crappy things, writes good descriptions and sells the things on eBay at a significant profit.

Check out their top ten. Here’s an example.

This Russian Doll cost $3. It sold for $193.

Here’s part of the story (here’s the rest).

Figurine of St. Vralkomir (glass cover not included)

This is an icon of the fourteenth-century saint Vralkomir of Dnobst, the patron saint of extremely fast dancing. Handcrafted in a snowbound convent by the nimble-footed Sisters of the Vralkomian Order, it was given to my grandmother—then a nine-year-old girl—as she boarded the ship that would take her to America from Dnobst, a narrow pie-wedge of land bounded by the Dnobst River, the Grkgåt Mountains, and the Great Western Fence of Count Pyør the Litigious.

Vralkomir was a competent cobbler, but he was brusque and taciturn, conversing only to the extent he was required to for business. His fellow citizens found him odd, and they would hurry back out into the year-round cold as quickly as they could. Some said his towering jet-black hat, which he’d knitted of his own hair, would trigger vertigo in those who stared up at it for too long. Many were annoyed by his incessant tuneless humming.

I’m not one for forwards

Email forwards generally sit around in my inbox unread and unforwarded on.

But I couldn’t resist this one. Given my own ebay misadventures. This guy wanted to sell his bike.

Here’s the link. And here’s the description:

“This is a max wicked sick BMX. It’s a Reliance Boomerang and it’s done heaps of maximum extreme stunts. I have mostly done stunts on this bike since forever. Once I did a boom gnarly stunt trick on it and a girl got pregnant just by watching my extremeness to the maxxxx. Some details about sickmax BMX: Comes with everything you see including: TOPS AS SUSPENSION REAR FORKS!! 2 x wheels 1 x seat I will even thrown my sick BMXing name for FREE – Wicked Styx. Has minor surface rust on handlebars and front forks (easily removed). More rust on rear forks (as shown in pics). Tyres hold air but are pretty old. Basically, it’s an old BMX, but it’s radness is still 100% in tact. Tricks I have done on this BMX: Endos – 234. Sick Wheelies – 687. Skids – 143,000. Bunny Hops – 2 (Bunny Hops are gay and my brother dared me to do them, which I did because I’m Rad to the power of Sick). Flipouts – 28. Basically if you buy this bike you will instantly become a member to every club that was ever invented, worldwide, because you will be awesome. Pick up from Richmond in Melbourne. Throw your hands in the air like you just don’t mind.”

Garage Sailing Redux

My Star Wars Auctions on eBay finish up today – actually there’s one item that seems to have slipped through the posting cracks – two if you include the Boba Fett that I haven’t listed for Tim’s benefit.

The good news is that I’ve hit the break even point on the auctions and will actually make a profit. That’s bound to keep Robyn happy.

Feel free to jack up the prices with some last minute bidding action. You may score yourself a bargain. Darth Vader and R2-D2 are due to finish in just over two hours.

Look no Hans, Solo garage sailing and ebay news

Fresh from the successful sale of Luke Skywalker for a 150% profit on eBay I hit the garage sales this morning looking for a new breadmaker. I’ve given up fixing the old one.

This was my first solo garage sailing experience. It’s not as much fun by yourself. I did not manage to find a new breadmaker – I did however manage to find a new heatgun. It has never been used, and I got it for $20. They’re over $60 new. This one even has temperature control – a feature I would have liked on the old one.

Other than that the trip was pretty unproductive – I hit eight sales in less about an hour. One was selling miniature garden gnomes, another healing crystals and another a collection of stylised antique pencil sharpeners. Or pencil sharpeners shaped like antique furniture. They were $2 each. I didn’t buy them.

Luke Skywalker went to a lady from Glenelg – which is a palindrome. So that’s pretty cool. I listed a bunch of other Star Wars figurines last night – if they all go for anything like $5.50 Craig and I will feel pretty good about the whole thing. The Tie Fighter Pilot I listed last night is already up to $6.50. Here’s all the items I’ve got listed at the moment. 

Forced sale

Judging by the title you thought I was going to plug my Luke Skywalker auction. Didn’t you. Admit it. Well I’m not. Except that I just did. At the very least there are some new Q&As to check out…

No, what I’m here to tell you today, is much more exciting. Michael Jackson is auctioning off all his stuff from Neverland. The Guardian website has photos of the good stuff. Including this custom built Gaggia coffee machine.

If that doesn’t grab your attention how bout these rhinestone encrusted socks?

No? Picky. How about this nice little train engine teapot. The going rate is expected to be somewhere in the $100 – $200 range. This is like an online garage sale.

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