Saturday, February 25, 2017

Why You Shouldn't Buy On eBay ... Especially As A Guest

Why did it take 150 years to make this
French easel? A lug to carry, a handle
and wheels make the load much easier
      As an artist you are always on the lookout for a product that makes doing your art just a little bit easier, right? You know I am. So you can imagine my surprise and well, joy when rambling along the streets of Dafen Village in Shenzhen, China, lo and behold there was a French Easel. a real beauty too! Not only was it traditionally styled, very well made, it had two wheels on the bottom and a telescoping handle just like what we see on suitcases today. My old one, a lug to carry with either the handle or strap, once filled with paint, brushes and the like seems to weigh a ton. I have tried carts, trolleys, everything including a wagon to carry my easel and a paintbox around.
The old easel top, the new one with black
handle on the bottom. 
     When I spotted this beauty I wanted it right now. Oh, close, how close I came to buying it too. At $40 US it was a steal and I wish I had. However, it was bigger than my suitcase and with a suitcase and backpack I could see no way to get it home on the plane without a hefty charge for another bag. Looking at this photo now and knowing what the one I finally bought looks like, I can see the product sold in the United States is far inferior. My old and the Chinese one have morticed edges that give the box greater strength.
Two peas in a pod?  Almost! It is clear the new one on the
right is not as nice as the one I saw in China.
     Setting it up for the first time today to compare it with the older one I have had for years, I wanted to write an article about my new toy, a comparison. In setting it up one of the supports on the back leg kept coming out of its space. Then, getting it finally to stand, I noticed that the front legs didn't seem to set well into the notches for them even after the nut was tightened. Then, suddenly I heard a snap and looking at it kneeling, I noticed that the problematic strut holding the back leg in place had broken. Oh great, I thought. I haven't even used it yet. The back leg was now wobblier that before and the strut that was to hold it in place was now broken.
The broken rear strut
She may be smiling but trust me, I am not

     After seeing it in China, when I returned to Hong Kong I began searching Amazon for a product similar to this and did not find it. There were lots of the French easels in an amazing variety of prices like the one I already had, but not this new, hoped for easier to use treasure. I couldn't find a one. So, I searched the web for it and found it on eBay. Since I was in Hong Kong, I ordered it from the eBay store on my iPad and since I wasn't home and didn't remember my eBay account info, I hardly ever use it anymore, signed in as a guest.
     Today, looking up the name of the seller on the package I was rather startled to see that it had been shipped from Jerry's Artarama warehouse in North Carolina. After a frustrating attempt to find the correct extension (are there no receptionists anymore either?) I finally got through and told them my problem. They were very helpful merely asking for photos and the order number. Oddly, there is no hint anywhere on the package or label that gives you a clue it came through eBay. My, how far the mighty have fallen. However, I was pleased that Jerry's, I guess on eBay's behalf was taking care of of my claim.
Would you want this donation?
     This evening checking my email I received a note from Jerry's that they were crediting my account and that I should destroy or if usable in any way donate the easel to a group ... school, senior center, whatever. If I'm afraid of it collapsing, why on earth would I give it to anyone else? They were going to credit me $83.99. Well, that was very nice of them but I paid $129.00, a loss of about $46.00.
     So now, I have an unusable French easel and a $46.00 loss for something that would have cost me $40.00 in the country that made it. And, far better made too!
     Not happy with this turn of events, I then turned to eBay and what a frustrating time that was. Because I had signed in as a guest, there seemed to be no way for me to even find my order. In short, no matter what I did, I couldn't find my order anywhere so I eat the $46.00 and dump the easel.
     You think I will buy from eBay again? I may check out Jerry's Artarama as at least what I wanted was cheaper there than on eBay. And they responded quickly.
     Is eBay offering the best price in town? I don't think so, or at least not anymore. Someone, somewhere was making a tidy profit. My advice then is that while there may be deals on eBay, it is not like it was in the old days and you would be better off checking around on other sites first. The reining queen has become a dowager.

 Thank you for reading my blog. I invite you to take the time to read earlier blogs where the emphasis here is to explore the ways art and design affects our daily lives ... and always have. Comments are always welcomed!

March 11, 2017

I was able to get in contact with the seller of this product who after seeing the photos above, gave me full credit for the French Easel. Since they didn't want it back I know have my old easel and may try to find someone handy with recreating broken wooden parts and make an attempt to fix it. It is unusable as it now stands (or falls as I have read from others with similar products). I do thank them for a prompt response.

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