It would be nice to have been slightly more productive this evening, but after my hell weekend I just came home from work and crashed out asleep on the couch. With those 3 extra hours of sleep in me, I then ended up spending the latter part of this evening in some kind of foolish daze, bumming around on Trade Me and buying junk nobody else wants.
I got a charcoal picture, and a horse sculpture, and some bricks, and some kind of basket thing… So, you know, important crap that I really needed. I spent over $80 before I’d even noticed.
And I guess that’s the thing with auction sites. You see something that looks like a bargain when it’s listed at $1. But then other people bid against you and you get all competitive and pretty soon you’ve bought a box of old cotton reels for $152.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got some amazing bargains on Trade Me in the past:
My $4500 wedding dress was purchased for $500 (broken engagement).
Our near-new, Freedom Furniture lounge suite was $100 (small stain, owners leaving the country).
But I’ve also got a discrete pile of “Why-the-fuck-did-I-buy-thats?”. A velvet bolero. A doll’s ironing board. A pink chandelier. What was I thinking? Before we move again, I might have to have a massive “What was I thinking?” garage sale… on Trade Me of course.
It did occur to me, as I was trawling the site tonight, that Trade Me is an interesting window into the real New Zealand – one that I’m not sure non-New Zealanders would really grasp. People list things out of their own black sense of humour (like the people who listed the boulder that crashed through their house during the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake). Most listings that draw any interest also draw humourous questions and questions from people offering less money (God loves a trier). If you put up something silly, like a fridge painted up like a beer can, you’ll get more attention and probably more money.
However there’s also that unspoken rule about never trading with someone who’s feedback is less than 97% positive. It seems like a ridiculously high standard, but most Kiwis are actually painfully polite, and positive feedback is by far the norm. I once bought a secondhand fridge of Trade Me, asked the seller to plug it back in for me to see that it worked, but when I arrived to collect it he’d already boxed it up and had some bullshit about being in a hurry. Sure enough, when I got it home, it didn’t go. I contacted him and asked for my money back, and he claimed that I’d broken the fridge on the trip to my place and it wasn’t his fault. There was a bit of an argument back and forth over a few days, and eventually he took the fridge back and gave me my money back. But then he posted positive feedback on my page… and I didn’t post negative feedback in return, even though he was clearly a lying, cheating bastard, because I was scared of offending him. His feedback was only 94% positive, and thus I learned my lesson. I reckon (for busy traders at least) for every one negative feedback you receive on Trade Me you’ve probably pissed off 20 people.
Despite a few hiccups like that, I’ve realised that Trade Me is still pretty much my go-to option whenever I want to make a big purchase. The section we just bought? Found it on Trade Me. My car? Trade Me. Dishwasher, washing machine, most of the plants in my garden, these amazing shoes…
I’m not really sure whether my obsession with Trade Me will ever end – especially when, with a bit of diligence and carefully hunting, I can still get a great recycled bargain or amazing shoes.
Now what to do with all of those stupidly expensive cotton reels I just bought?…