Tuesday, June 16, 2009

eBay VD

You don't kiss a hooker with a cheesy scab on her face, and you don't buy records from people who don't know what the hell they're doing. In the fifteen years that I've been shelling out good money for records on eBay (and kissing hookers, apparently), I've learned a few things.

I never buy records from somebody who doesn't sell mostly--or better yet, only--records. People (nay, non-collectors) who sell all kinds of things sometimes think records will survive in the equivalent of a paper airplane thrown from an upstairs window.

No--they won't. You can't drop a record into an envelope and think its going to arrive in anything more than pieces. One "seller" charged four bucks for shipping and handling, and sent the record in just that--an envelope. Not even a padded envelope. I asked the "seller" exactly what my four bucks bought, since it surely wasn't this dollar-store envelope. He said "gas to the post office, and my valuable time." He also advised me to "enjoy my purchase!" The cheap fucker. I told him I'd feed my penis to worms in hell before I bought anything else from him.

Exhibit A: In the 1920s, Pathe began pressing "mottled' records which were a striking blend of black and brown shellacs. I love these records. Maybe its because I never could find any when I was a starving kid, and had to settle for red Columbias. But now, thanks to the internet (maybe that should be "thanks"), I can have them!! Or so you would think. Witness every mottled Pathe 78 I've ever won (and I do mean EVERY one): Sandwiched between thin cardboard squares (some of which weren't even as big as the record being mailed), sans packing materials, shards of shellac jutting like broken teeth, and with the obligatory FRAGILE written in red on the outside. As if FRAGILE was some kind of Expecto Patronum that would depants every careless postal carrier betwixt here and Oregon.

Exhibit B: In the 1940s, Majestic began pressing red vinyl records. If you don't have any of these, they sound excellent--highly recommended! That is, from a reputable seller. Another example of something I wanted as a child, but couldn't find among all the Eddy Duchins and Hawaiian 78s at the garage sales or flea markets. I found one on eBay a few years ago, from a woman who barely knew what records were, and bought it. I paid for the record, but what I actually received was an empty cardboard box with tape on three of the four sides. I asked her if she was a little short on tape, and big on hope. She insisted she taped all four sides, even her boyfriend could vouch for her. Unfortunate that her boyfriend hadn't been on the Warren Commission: With convincing testimony like that, the history books might have ended differently.

Exhibit C: One day I realized I didn't have a copy of "White Sport Coat" by Marty Robbins. What kind of namby pamby noob collector was I? I found a mint copy on eBay for 99 cents, from a guy who was selling his recently-deceased grandfather's collection, and turned down the seller's kind offer of insurance. Maybe I should have--the record arrived in a flimsy padded envelope, in more than one piece. I asked him about his choice in packing materials, and his only response was that I should have bought insurance. Insurance? Really? For a goddamn 99-cent record? Surely; Helen Keller could have done better with oven mits duct taped to her hands.

These people are also sometimes very subjective on grading. If it says VG+, but the label is ripped half off, and the vinyl looks like someone stored it in a box of nails, then its probably not VG+. Sometimes these "sellers" think that just because a record is "rare" (or better yet, "rarish"), then it deserves a higher grade, and never mind that it apparently went through a rock tumbler.

Best advise I can give--check feedback. Its just like sexual partners: If you see a rash of red, through the door you should head. Even more telling if the seller has a beef with every negative comment. Its always someone else's fault. He can't help it if it was lost in the post office. You didn't buy insurance. Right.

Be safe--find reputable sellers. Don't wind up with eBay VD.

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