First off, let me say that I haven’t a horse in this race….the item in question is not one that I could pursue (not now anyway), but not because of lack of interest. I think we can all agree that it’s one of the finest gloves we’ve seen surface on ebay in many, many years.
Although many of us are not personally invested in this glove, we all have a vested interest in the hobby and therefore hobby ethics. This piece and the facts surrounding it stand out to me as the preeminent case study in ebay/auction/hobby ethics.
Given that so many of us fall on both sides, as well as in the middle of this discussion, I think the dialogue here is good and healthy even if the issue at hand may not be.
I should also mention that I really do like the forum members who are championing all sides of this debate, and think that their platforms do come from places of integrity and with the best interests of the hobby in mind. That said, and let’s be honest here…we all also have the best interests of our personal collections in mind too.
Now, as you could see from my original post early on after news of this glove first surfaced, I did state that the buyer who consciously offered the uninformed seller a $200 BIN to end the auction was unethical….I still do. I was happy to see that so many other forum members felt the same way…most if not all of us are on the same page here. One caveat and to Brett’s fine observation…we are all assuming that is what happened.
I am not so sure I would have contacted the seller and made her aware of the mistake (albeit huge) which…and let’s be honest again…essentially convinced her to cancel the transaction. I do know I’d be fairly peeved with someone reaching out to the seller of an item I won and talking them out of the deal (in so many words) regardless of how they felt about the item/price in question. We all agree that it was wrong for the original buyer to “convince” the seller that her item was worth a $200 BIN if, in fact, that is what happened. Well, what about reaching out and basically convincing the same seller to cancel said transaction for the sole purpose of ensuring that one would have a chance to acquire it for themselves even if for a very fair, very large sum of money?? **I should note that I’ve got very little sympathy for any seller who cannot accurately determine a value for their items in today’s day in age…a quick internet search and a phone call or two would have averted this whole scenario**. Still, it does not excuse what we all assume at this point to be the unethical, low ball offer of $200.
Anyway, I think the NY Sporting Goods Glove that was used as an example was a good one….$500 BIN was a huge score for that glove, yet nobody contacted the seller to let them know it should have gone for 3-4 times that. I know a straight BIN is a wee bit different than asking to end the auction with a BIN, but then really isn’t it just the value or desirability of the item that dictates our collective ire or passivity in this process? That, or the fact that many folks already have examples like the NYSG glove and aren’t as apt to speak out on “valuation injustices” when they come up. Are we having this discussion if someone landed a mint Mantle XPG-6 for $75?? Maybe, but I really don’t think so. The ebay police come out infrequently, and its never just for the best interests of a poor seller.
OK…back to this 19th Cen. glove. So, if the seller in this case was moved to cancel the transaction I think it was abundantly right to encourage her to re-list the item with a commensurate BIN or for open auction. I do believe that is the case here. So, to those who were gonna contact the seller anyway, kudos that you encouraged her to re-list or offered her what I am sure were more than fair figures. I 100% believe that she will end up with fair market value for this very special piece. I know that it will also go to a good home of a very serious and discerning collector somewhere.
I think it’s easy to say now that if it had gone for $1000, we’d say “OK, that’s fair…someone just got lucky”. It’s easy to say because it didn’t happen that way. If this glove sold for a BIN of $3000 there would obviously be those who would consider reaching out to the seller just the same way they did here. Why? Well, the glove is worth far more than even that $3000. So, where is the threshold between “the buyer got lucky” and “I feel justified to convince the seller to cancel the transaction and consider my higher offer/bid”. The problem is that there isn’t a threshold…its completely arbitrary and based upon ones needs/desires and their resources.
Consider that scenario (as I’m sure most of you already have)…seller lists this glove as an auction…buyer reaches out and offers a BIN of $3000…seller accepts it. Seller still got taken, buyer makes out like a bandit, and many of us (at least those in the know) view the scenario no different than we do now with the $200 figure in play. Where’s the threshold??
Sellers end auctions and accept BIN’s without guns to their heads…they do it all the time…never have we been so outraged and moved to action as we have been in this instance…why?? I know…the $200, right?? Just not sure I’m buyin’ that yet and I don’t think I have to. The $200, if it went down the way we’re assuming, is a great argument…conscious attempts to deceive should be quashed. What if it were $2000? $5000
? Who says what’s enough money when a registered ebay seller with over 7300 transactions (as in this case) has made a decision, informed or not, to complete a transaction with any one buyer?
So, back to my point that we are all also looking out for our own personal collections. Isn’t that a little, tiny bit of what’s going on here?? Again, we’re not having this discussion if someone “stole” a Mantle glove or even a nice crescent padded glove (New York Sporting Goods double buckle crescent, remember). We’re having it because this is the best new toy to come along in ages. Seriously, how much of this is about taking care of the unassuming seller vs. getting another shot at the golden ring. Let’s take care of the seller then. Perhaps someone should let the seller know that a major auction house like REA or Hunt’s would love to have this glove and that they’d likely do as good if not better there than on ebay??
My “problem” here, if you can call it that, isn’t with what happened, but with what could happen….this is a slippery slope. Another buyer/collector/dealer sees an item I/you won (even if we just got lucky on a proposed but fair BIN)…they really want it and would pay more given the chance…they create the chance by contacting the seller…see where this is going…This is the problem.
There is nothing at all wrong with creating opportunity for ourselves to benefit from…hopefully we all do it, that’s what being a successful collector is all about. Let’s just be intellectually honest with each other…lots of us want this glove, a few can go after it. They should…let’s just be careful about the process as weighed against our hobby ethics and how we’d like others to respect the deals we close…especially the “steals”.
The good news is that I don’t really consider this a “problem” here and now. I say that because I know all those involved here in the discussion….really good, really honest guys who are genuinely concerned for the hobby. I think that dialogue is good for the hobby and am glad that we’re having a tough one here….we’ll only be stronger for it. Let’s take what we gain out of all of these discussions and apply it down the road…otherwise, it was futile.
Again, I really respect everyone involved here to the utmost and am still very much looking at this without my mind completely made up. There is NOBODY here that should take offense to what I’ve said…just wanted to throw in my two cents after thinking about this for two days. I am sure that with more posts and more perspectives my opinion will evolve further.
Now, lets move on to a real injustice…my Ruffing glove that only fetched $78!
My continued best and happy hunting to all,