eBay auction is hurt, but comes out well
Posted October 17, 2001 9:40am
First, some bad and sad news.
As you all know from reading my previous rant, I put up some items on eBay's Auction for America thing in order to raise money for the September 11th Fund and the Twin Towers fund. The first item, the Coffee Robot, was up to $365 at one point. Another item, 5lbs. of green SmithFarms Kona, was up to $65. And the auctions were canceled.
It's a long story, but here it is as short as I can make it. It seems that SmithFarms' neigbour, a company by the name of Kona Purple Mountain, has some sort of running feud with Cea Smith from SmithFarms. A person (or persons) from Kona Purple discovered the Kona auction *I* put online within hours of me doing so, and first left Cea a scathing letter that criticized her and said something to the effect of "I can't believe anyone would think you were that nice a person", etc etc. Then the next morning I started getting emails from people, saying eBay canceled my auctions. The were cancelled because of a minor technicality that someone wrote a complaint to eBay about - the links to SmithFarm's site. Those links were provided solely for informational purposes - not to promot Smithfarms. I was doing the auction "by proxy" for the Smiths because they did not know how to use eBay, but wanted to help out.
They also canceled my other Auction for America item, for absolutely no good reason other than it was probably done by someone who didn't really care about the details, but instead canceled both auctions because of the written complaint.
I confronted Kona Purple Mountain about this situation, being purposely vague on the details I knew, but I did ask them point blank if they were the complainant. They didn't deny it. They did point out specifically why my auction was canceled (showing they had intimate knowledge of the situation) and said this:
"These rules are eBays not mine, Try blaming them(you) for not following them."
When I responded back to them, saying thank you for confirming what I suspected (and I was very polite), I got another email back saying "Aloha: Eat Shit". I didn't bother to read the rest.
The way I look at it is this - Kona Purple Mountain, or someone acting as their representative, was responsible for at least $500 and up to $1000 or more dollars being drained from the funds of the September 11th Fund and the Twin Towers fund, simply due to some petty, self-centred "feud" over God knows what with their neighbour. No thought was given to what these auctions were all about, what the purpose behind them was. KPM probably didn't realize that the Coffee Robot auction would also be canceled, but that's neither here nor there. eBay would not have canceled the auctions unless someone issues a formal complaint about them. Since this episode, the woman who owns the farm claims someone who doesn't have authority for the farm wrote these emails to me (and I assume she also means eBay), but I don't believe her - there are far too many holes in the story she tells me versus the stories she's told others who have emailed her, as well as the fact that she herself wrote that scathing note to Cea the day before this event.
My best guess is that this was done due to spite and petty bickering, without any real thought to what's going on in the world, and how some folks are trying to do good for perfect strangers. You can guess one place I'll never be buying coffee from. You can make your own decision.
Some great news out of all of this!
The high bidder on the auction for my Robot, a fellow altie named BearHair, emailed me soon after the auction was canceled The person said "list it again with a buynow price of $400". I was freaked out. They wanted me to list again with that high price, just so they could buy it right away and help out the charities involved.
But I was still in store for more nice surprises. I wrote the person back suggesting, "screw eBay - how about you donate $300 (the person's last public bid I saw) through Paypal's charity setup, and I'll mail you the Robot".
The person (who wants their identity hidden) wrote back this message:
This is starting to get almost funny. I never intended to take the Robot. I was going to send in my donation and tell you to keep it - I couldn't take your favorite vac pot from you!
You have been passively instrumental in the growth of my coffee knowledge and appreciation over the past year or so. Without you, I would not have been able to snag a Saeco Via Veneto / Melitta Cafe Express at the Damark site. Without you, I would not have known about Kyle Baratza and his refurbished Solis 166's. Your contributions to the newsgroup over the course of the past year or so have been invaluable to me, and after all the information and advice I've taken from you, I could never take your favorite vac-pot.
The one problem we have is that I received an Outbid notice that morning (after I had left for work) when someone took it up to $370 (I had thought a bid of $365 would've been sufficient to protect your pot). So in order to be more sure that your selfless donation resulted in as much of a benefit as would've been, I'll forward you my email receipt for $400 to the PayPal fund shortly. When you get it, sit down with a good cup, ponder the mysteries of life, and know that you did the right thing.
I was blown away. The next email I got from this precious person was receipt of their Paypal donation, for $400. Well there was no way in heck I wasn't going to send them the Robot. In fact, I wrote this, just before I packed up the Robot and mailed it off:
There's no way I can keep the Robot! :-)
Seriously. I can't. I totally psyched myself for having to ship it off. It's important to me, sure, but not nearly as important to me as other things in my life... like raising dough for this cause we're all fighting over (wink). And after it was won on eBay, or now, what you did, donate through paypal, there's no way in heck I'd feel good keeping it. In fact, I can't think of a better home for it than yours.
Let me put it this way. You talked about your road to better coffee, and thanked me for that (more on that below). As you get to really appreciate the finer things that better coffee, better espresso can offer you, your appreciation for things like the culture, the art, the industrial design, the methods, the whole enchilada that is "coffee" grows. The way I see it, having this piece of Americana, one in great shape, showing American know-how from the 30s and how it is the world's first automated electrical coffee brewing system, displayed in your home would be something awesome. Why? Because I know you'll appreciate it. And seriously ------, you really do deserve it... heck, you deserve 5 of them. If I left it on my shelf, I'd feel like I was cheating someone... cheating the Robot itself, but cheating someone else who obviously deserves this more than I do.
And the much famous (now!) Farberware Coffee Robot was sent the person's way.
Anyway, bottom line is this. There are some evil people in the world, (bin Laden). There are some self-centred, non-thinking types (someone at KPM), then there's people who are in their own way virtual saints (Bearhair). As for my other planned auctions to try and meet my goal of $1000 raised, I'm still thinking about whether or not eBay deserves it (the press they get from their supposedly positive actions). The folks who need the funds, that's another story.
One more sidenote. This warms my heart: in one day last Saturday, the Vancouver Fire Department (VFD) raised A HALF MILLION DOLLARS for the NYC WTC victims in one day by having a "Boot Drive" all throughout Vancouver. Some 200 firefighters went and stood on street corners with signs and their fire boots. Vancouverites filled just about every boot to overflowing, sometimes several times over. So much change was collected it actually bent the axle of the big heavy duty truck they rented to carry it. And they were a bit concerned about all the loot and theft, so they called the Vancouver Police to see if a couple of cops could be sent to guard it. The VPD responded by sending the entire SWAT team - not because of any serious fears, but as a show of brotherhood with their VPD brethren. Tres cool.
Tiny bit of coffee news
In the house, right now, getting a rigorous workout is a certain grinder called the Baratza Maestro. Stay tuned to next rant for much more details on it.
Till next time... peace.