Wylde Times on eBay

Shelling out for a designer purse, with unfortunate results

Studded skull bag on eBay (different listing)

I am a purse-a-holic and I love to shop on eBay, so I should have known this might happen eventually.

About ten years ago, I fell in love with a black leather bag by designer Paula Thomas, sold under the company name of Thomas Wylde. The oversized, funky bag featured studs that formed the shape of a skull on one side and two zippered pockets on the other side. When new, this former “It Bag” cost upwards of $2,000. In 2009, I bid on a skull bag on eBay for $40 when I was working at a temp job. After I won the auction, I received a message from eBay informing me that I did not have to honor the contract; even though the seller thought it was authentic, the bag was determined to be a fake. I decided to buy it anyway. I enjoyed it until I needed some extra money, and then I sold it to a local resale store for $30.

But I missed that skull bag. Last month on July 4, when I saw a skull bag on eBay for $250, I jumped on it faster than a rocket’s red glare. I couldn’t wait to get the bag. It would look perfect at rock shows and would spice up a conservative outfit.

On July 7, when I took the box out of the parcel mailbox, I knew something was wrong. The box was too light. A $2,000 bag made of rich, crinkled leather should have some heft to it. When I opened the box, my fears were confirmed. The studs were uneven and the unfinished backs of them could be felt through the flimsy lining. There was a strange outline around the skull, like someone had traced it with a silver marker. The metal attachment to the strap didn’t look right either. As I inspected the bag, I started to cry. I had been duped again.

I sent a message to the seller, indicating that I thought the bag was fake. She responded that I was wrong, but she indicated that I could return it, even though she didn’t usually accept returns. She said that her friend was willing to pay $500 for the bag.

On Saturday morning, I printed out the eBay guide on fake bags. It was the same guide that I had looked at six years ago. Why didn’t I look at it before buying the bag? I guess that I wanted to believe that a perfect $2000 bag for could be found for $250.

After inspecting the bag again, I sent a letter to the seller, detailing why I thought the bag wasn’t authentic. At the end, I left a snarky comment about her wanting to rip off her friend. After waiting several hours for a response, I went to the post office and returned the bag, paying $13 for Priority Mail shipping. When I got home, I sent the tracking information to the seller. That should have been the end of the story.

When I checked my e-mail on Sunday, there were several messages from the seller. I was expecting a kind note, something along the lines of, “Sorry it didn’t work out and I will refund you as soon as I receive the bag.” When I opened the first message, I was shocked. The seller had turned from a docile Dr. Jekyll into a mean-spirited Mr. Hyde. Was it due to the snarky comment or something else?

“Are you not right in the head or can not read?” she wrote. The seller, who had agreed to the return, was now arguing about the authenticity of the bag. If she was sure she could sell it to her friend for $500, why was she insulting me? The second e-mail was even worse. “Oh Sad, you can’t read, sweetie,” the condescending message began. The seller insinuated that I had looked at the authenticity guide backwards, confusing the real and fake photos. Then, she accused me of substituting her bag with a fake one. She said that she would not issue a refund unless I provided a letter of documentation to prove that I didn’t switch her bag for another one.

Her email read:

I am loaded, my dad is the CEO of the largest company in the united states… It’s unfortunate that people who shop on ebay are those who can’t afford to buy new and are always trying to get money out of rich sellers.

The venom practically oozed off of my computer screen. Where did it come from? I was in tears when I called eBay Customer Service. And why did the seller write this on Sunday, when she knew that I had already returned the bag the previous day? I wasn’t a thief! Just a consumer with a handbag addiction.

The pleasant eBay customer service representative said that he would investigate the matter and possibly reprimand the seller for her behavior. If she were a highly rated frequent seller, as she indicated in her last message, wouldn’t she want to maintain a good rapport with customers to encourage repeat business? I wondered what caused her to respond in such an insulting manner. Since I am a freelance writer, an online search of my name would have brought up some of my essays, as well as my photo. Did my photo cause her negative reaction? If she looked me up, I assume that she didn’t read my profile, since an MFA in creative writing would be a good indication that I am able to read and write. It made me sad to think of my appearance as the reason for the tirade, but I would never know. All I wanted was my money back.

The next few days went by without a message from the seller or a refund in my account. On July 13, I sent a message to eBay Customer Service asking them to step in and resolve the matter. A few days later, they sent me a message indicating that the seller would refund my money, but I needed to send the bag back with the provided shipping label by July 23. I called Customer Service to ask then to review the previous correspondence on the case, which showed the tracking number from July 9, when I had returned the bag.

Finally, on July 18, I received my $249 refund. My shipping costs were not reimbursed, but I decided not to pursue the case any further. It was worth losing $13 to have the case resolved.

Hopefully, this was my first and last bad experience on eBay. But I have learned my lesson. I won’t be buying anything on eBay that costs more than $100. I won’t enter into a transaction with a seller that doesn’t offer returns. If I want an exclusive designer bag, I will get it from a high-end resale or consignment shop, where I can physically examine the bag to confirm its authenticity. All I wanted was a Wylde bag, not a wild interaction with insults and accusations.

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