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View Full Version : How far does "Buyer Beware" reach- should Ebay interfere?



chrimess
03-12-2013, 04:09 AM
Hi all,
on Ebay, the following listing repeatedly advertises a "Koa" uke by Koalana, those in the know or with keen eyes will certainly know better (sapele)- should Ebay react to my reporting the item or should the seller correct the listing based on my repeated requests to make it right or should the old "caveat emptor" rule prevail?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/KOALANA-by-KoALOHA-UKULELE-Signed-by-Jack-Johnson-Premium-Koa-Wood-Instrument-/251240630668?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a7f1bc98c

Skitzic
03-12-2013, 04:17 AM
I think the seller should correct the listing, but at the same time buyers have to have some idea what they're buying.

I highly doubt eBay will care. They're just out to make money, and they probably get swamped with emails like that about everything under the sun.

This comes up on every forum I visit. Fake Martins on the Martin forum, bad spinning wheels on the knitting/spinning forum, incorrect vintage typewriters on the manual typewriter forum...and all these people are emailing the seller and eBay saying fix it. Some sellers will, some won't. Buyers need to have some knowledge though. I'm not saying they need to know everything about the brand and the history of everything ukulele related, but you should have a general idea.

teruterubouzu
03-12-2013, 04:21 AM
If it was a counterfeit designer handbag, they'd correct if given good info. eBay should do the same here.

hoosierhiver
03-12-2013, 04:29 AM
I notice that his "store" does not allow you to send him comments, I find that a little suspicious.

The Big Kahuna
03-12-2013, 04:33 AM
I'm particularly noted for my zero-tolerance attitude to scammers and snake oil salesmen (anyone remember the Ukulele Explosion dude ?), so a fourth option, possibly involving flamethrowers and/or testicular removal, would better fit my feelings on this matter.

dirtiestkidever
03-12-2013, 04:57 AM
I second that handbag comment. My wife tried to sell a real Louis Vuitton bag on ebay and ebay shut down the posting because we couldn't verify with a receipt (or some other proof) that it was real. (Still trying to figure out how to sell that bag if anyone has suggestions).

But I think someone should at least send an email to ebay asking them to correct it. I would guess that there is even a link on ebay somewhere for reporting fraud. Hopefully just ask for a correction though. It could be an honest mistake.

KoaDependent
03-12-2013, 05:10 AM
In the handbag example, the difference it it was probably someone from the manufacturer themselves monitoring and complaining to eBay.

The problem here isn't that it's a cheap knockoff, it's that the seller has a fundamentally incorrect statement in their ad.

It seems, though, that if the item's going to get bids beyond its value, it will be due to the autograph, not a misconception of what kind of wood it is. For those who care enough to make the distinction between koa and sapele, they'll either already know that KoAlanas aren't koa or they'll find it out when they do their due diligence (AS EVERY BUYER SHOULD DO).

This is pretty clearly a 'caveat emptor' situation that eBay would have no real business getting in the middle of.

pootsie
03-12-2013, 05:28 AM
The rule of caveat emptor does not permit fraud.

Caveat emptor protects the seller from suit for defects that are knowable and unconcealed, or about which the sell is unaware.
It does not allow the seller to lie about the property and sell it based on that lie.

Skitzic
03-12-2013, 05:43 AM
Not that I am protecting the seller, but looking at the seller's other auctions (all hotwheels) and a 100% positive feedback score I'd say this is a case of seller ignorance vs fraud.

So who do we blame if both the seller, and buyer are uneducated?

missameeames
03-12-2013, 05:45 AM
It appears that line in the description that says it's koa is quoted from the card that they are including in the auction, and that's all that they really have to go by since it was an inherited item. In the past, there were koa KoAlanas on the KoAloha website, so someone not familiar with ukuleles might not have been aware that the description on the card wasn't accurate. If I were the seller, I would have ended the auction to research it further to avoid SNAD claims. At least eBay would cover the buyer with a SNAD claim if they don't correct the auction before it ends.

hoosierhiver
03-12-2013, 06:02 AM
I found a way to ask a question of the seller and pointed about the apparent discrepancy. I agree with Skitzic, I don't think it was intentional, I just don't think he knows much about ukuleles.

pootsie
03-12-2013, 06:06 AM
So who do we blame if both the seller, and buyer are uneducated?

In the reported court decisions I've seen, the courts call them both idiots and throw the case out.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seixas_v._Woods

So then you are back to caveat emptor, as there is no active fraud.

chrimess
03-12-2013, 07:08 AM
Nice one, Mike, I told the lady (Jenny) three times about the misunderstanding and she just shrugged it off....

...but then again, "Not all great ukuleles are made in Hawaii..."


I found a way to ask a question of the seller and pointed about the apparent discrepancy. I agree with Skitzic, I don't think it was intentional, I just don't think he knows much about ukuleles.

Mivo
03-12-2013, 07:46 AM
If the seller is notified of the error (or false claim) repeatedly and shrugs it off or plainly ignores it, I feel that what may have been lack of education, competence or research in the beginning, becomes deliberate misleading of potential buyers. Putting the responsibility on the buyer is a little off, in my opinion, because it would pretty much encourage fraudulent offers.

hmgberg
03-12-2013, 08:19 AM
The rule of caveat emptor does not permit fraud.

Caveat emptor protects the seller from suit for defects that are knowable and unconcealed, or about which the sell is unaware.
It does not allow the seller to lie about the property and sell it based on that lie.

Exactly! The seller is responsible for his/her representations. They cannot make false assertions, whether intentionally or otherwise, and then hide behind the idea of caveat emptor.

RichM
03-12-2013, 08:38 AM
I am not an expert in many things, but one of the things I am an expert in is the Captain Marvel comics published by Fawcett Publications from 1940-1952. I collected them obsessively for years and learned everything I could. The holy grail of the Fawcett comics collector is Whiz Comics #1 (also known as #2, but let's not worry about that now!).

In the 1970's DC Comics, having purchased the rights to the then defunct Fawcett characters, release a series of reprints, including Whiz #1. These were nearly exect reprints, except for the fact they were larger than the originals, had a different paper quality, and came inside an cardboard outer cover. The outer cover had all the info about it being a reprint; without the outer cover, the comic was and exact copy of the original. As a result, many people mistook these for originals, or deliberately remove the outer cover and passed them off as original to uneducated buyers. Value of the original, depending on condition, could be well upward of $10,000; the reprint, without the outer cover, maybe a buck.

A couple of years ago, I saw an ebay seller offering the reprint of Whiz #1 as the original. There are actually several ways to identify the reprint, the easiest being that the words "Make Way for Captain Marvel" which appeared on the original were deleted for the reprint, due to a trademark conflict with Marvel Comics. I pointed out to the seller that he was in error, offering it as an original, assuming he just didn't know. He responded with an angry tirade telling me I didn't know what I was talking about. I responded with dozens of sites documenting the differences. He responded angrily again, telling me this was a "special edition" of the original and that's why it was different. It became increasingly clear that he was either willfully ignorant, or was deliberately fraudulent. As it happened the issue was bid up to nearly $500, an absurd price for the reprint. I notified ebay, but as far as I know, they took no action.

chrimess
03-12-2013, 08:45 AM
that is highly interesting, at the end of the day this is what is supposed to differentiate Craigslist from Ebay and why the Ebay staff is many times a multiple of Craigslist per transaction.
BTW: you would not be looking to offload a counterfeit Moore Bettah tenor, by any chance?


I am not an expert in many things, but one of the things I am an expert in is the Captain Marvel comics published by Fawcett Publications from 1940-1952. I collected them obsessively for years and learned everything I could. The holy grail of the Fawcett comics collector is Whiz Comics #1 (also known as #2, but let's not worry about that now!).

In the 1970's DC Comics, having purchased the rights to the then defunct Fawcett characters, release a series of reprints, including Whiz #1. These were nearly exect reprints, except for the fact they were larger than the originals, had a different paper quality, and came inside an cardboard outer cover. The outer cover had all the info about it being a reprint; without the outer cover, the comic was and exact copy of the original. As a result, many people mistook these for originals, or deliberately remove the outer cover and passed them off as original to uneducated buyers. Value of the original, depending on condition, could be well upward of $10,000; the reprint, without the outer cover, maybe a buck.

A couple of years ago, I saw an ebay seller offering the reprint of Whiz #1 as the original. There are actually several ways to identify the reprint, the easiest being that the words "Make Way for Captain Marvel" which appeared on the original were deleted for the reprint, due to a trademark conflict with Marvel Comics. I pointed out to the seller that he was in error, offering it as an original, assuming he just didn't know. He responded with an angry tirade telling me I didn't know what I was talking about. I responded with dozens of sites documenting the differences. He responded angrily again, telling me this was a "special edition" of the original and that's why it was different. It became increasingly clear that he was either willfully ignorant, or was deliberately fraudulent. As it happened the issue was bid up to nearly $500, an absurd price for the reprint. I notified ebay, but as far as I know, they took no action.

bbycrts
03-12-2013, 08:46 AM
Ebay just provides the sales forum - they're not taking any responsibility for the content of the sales.

I do agree that the seller should correct it if brought to his/her attention.

My thing about ebay having no responsibility is this - how are they supposed to be experts on these things? How do they know you aren't a disgruntled customer or a vindictive competitor? Just because you make a claim that the seller's ad is fraudulent, ebay shouldn't be expected to have the knowledge to validate your claim over the seller's.

Absent that level of expertise to make the judgement call, ebay shouldn't be in the business of policing their sellers' claims.

RichM
03-12-2013, 08:55 AM
BTW: you would not be looking to offload a counterfeit Moore Bettah tenor, by any chance?

The guy I bought it from swore he was Chuck Moore, but now that I think about it, that mustache looked kinda glued on.... :)

hoosierhiver
03-12-2013, 08:59 AM
Ebay just provides the sales forum - they're not taking any responsibility for the content of the sales.

I do agree that the seller should correct it if brought to his/her attention.

My thing about ebay having no responsibility is this - how are they supposed to be experts on these things? How do they know you aren't a disgruntled customer or a vindictive competitor? Just because you make a claim that the seller's ad is fraudulent, ebay shouldn't be expected to have the knowledge to validate your claim over the seller's.

Absent that level of expertise to make the judgement call, ebay shouldn't be in the business of policing their sellers' claims.

Good point, they do have the feedback option, but it seems they kind of discourage negative feedback. Paypal which owns Ebay or vice-versa can put a hold on the money after it is transfered if there is a dispute about the item, that seems to favor the buyer.

Coconut Willie
03-12-2013, 09:03 AM
Oh yes...ebay should make the seller correct the add or have it removed. The seller is taking advantage of the person who does not know but is relying on the sellers description. Yes, the buyer should beware....but the seller should correct the listing.

Nicko
03-12-2013, 09:11 AM
This has been added to the item description by the seller:

On Mar-12-13 at 11:56:31 PDT, seller added the following information:

IMPORTANT NOTE: Many Ukulele experts on eBay have emailed me to say that they feel I have misrepresented this item in the listing as being made from KOA wood. ALL INFORMATION that I've included in this auction was taken directly from the manufacturer's tag which is still attached & will be included with the Ukulele when it's shipped. Please look closely at the photos & ask any & all questions prior to bidding. I'm happy to answer as best I can with the information that I have about this instrument.

Maybe Koalana has made an error?

hoosierhiver
03-12-2013, 09:14 AM
She probably had no idea that when she got up this morning the wrath of the ukulele world could descend upon her.
Glad to hear she made an addition to the description.

chrimess
03-12-2013, 09:49 AM
I totally understand and empathize- I will be happy to support 30 cents on the dollar to soften the blow...

The guy I bought it from swore he was Chuck Moore, but now that I think about it, that mustache looked kinda glued on.... :)

chrimess
03-12-2013, 09:50 AM
poor girl, I am always amazed at the power of social media... learned a lot since posting this a few hours ago.


She probably had no idea that when she got up this morning the wrath of the ukulele world could descend upon her.
Glad to hear she made an addition to the description.

Mivo
03-12-2013, 10:01 AM
Ebay just provides the sales forum - they're not taking any responsibility for the content of the sales.

True, but sellers are not entitled to using the service, so if Ebay feels that a particular seller may be misusing the service, they can and should take down an auction.

Legal issues aside, if several of your customers (here: active buyers) contact you and report that a seller is falsely advertising an item, then it's a sound business consideration to remove the auction. Being an expert is not required, only a sense of awareness of the importance of reputation. Remaining inactive gives the impression that Ebay sales can't be trusted and that Ebay "doesn't care" and "doesn't protect" customers.

The effect of this is more significant and impactful than one seller complaining that Ebay removed their auction because of possibly advertising an item as something that it isn't.

kenikas
03-12-2013, 10:20 AM
Hmmm, my fat fingers and this iPhone are not compatable! Does anyone know how to edit the vote? Apparently I inadvertantly hit both the "buyer beware" and the "it is koa" boxes. Although as was stated before the last time KoAlanas were released there was a Koa version available, this one certainly looks to me to be the Sapele version. But eBay is an auction site, so buyer beware!

molokinirum
03-12-2013, 10:24 AM
She probably had no idea that when she got up this morning the wrath of the ukulele world could descend upon her.
Glad to hear she made an addition to the description.
haha....

Glad the seller made the corrections!!

aquadan
03-12-2013, 10:39 AM
Apparently there are more than one of these out in the wild. I came across another uke, probably from the same event, signed by jack johnson here: http://www.charitybuzz.com/catalog_items/308046

So this seller isn't the only one to think it's koa.

WhenDogsSing
03-12-2013, 11:08 AM
The one on EBay must have been a prototype. The headstock logo, interior decal, tuners, bridge, and position markers are all different from that on my recently purchased Koalana concert. Significantly different.

WhenDogsSing
03-12-2013, 11:12 AM
Apparently there are more than one of these out in the wild. I came across another uke, probably from the same event, signed by jack johnson here: http://www.charitybuzz.com/catalog_items/308046

So this seller isn't the only one to think it's koa.

The one you're linking to is a koa Koaloha. I don't know why they're calling it a Koalana.

aquadan
03-12-2013, 11:30 AM
The one you're linking to is a koa Koaloha. I don't know why they're calling it a Koalana.

Oh you're right that, is a Koaloha headstock. I should have realized that as one just arrived today and is sitting on my desk next to me. Almost time to go home and play!

chrimess
03-12-2013, 11:40 AM
absolutely, JJ has actually signed a number of them and they have been thru ebay, too.
The one you're linking to is a koa Koaloha. I don't know why they're calling it a Koalana.

chrimess
03-12-2013, 11:42 AM
do you have a new and improved Thai Koalana(Koaloha setup and run factory) or an original Chinese (licensed production) Koalana that is auctioned off in this example?


The one on EBay must have been a prototype. The headstock logo, interior decal, tuners, bridge, and position markers are all different from that on my recently purchased Koalana concert. Significantly different.

kenikas
03-12-2013, 11:44 AM
The one on EBay must have been a prototype. The headstock logo, interior decal, tuners, bridge, and position markers are all different from that on my recently purchased Koalana concert. Significantly different.

The latest are at least the third release of KoAlanas that I've seen, and each time they are all a bit different.

WhenDogsSing
03-12-2013, 11:54 AM
do you have a new and improved Thai Koalana(Koaloha setup and run factory) or an original Chinese (licensed production) Koalana that is auctioned off in this example?

I don't know which one it is. I just got it from HMS about a month ago. Here's the one I have:

http://www.theukulelesite.com/koalana-concert-ukulele-package.html

tangimango
03-12-2013, 12:11 PM
dosnt look like koa.looks like mahogony. everthing looks like a koalana, same tuners,body, but a glossy version where other koalanas are just satin finish. and that it has a different logo on the headstock and different strings. not the clears it usually comes with. looks like a hybrid, half koalana/half koaloha. lol wonder what it sounds like

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
03-12-2013, 01:23 PM
I think anyone who buys a uke signed by Jack Johnson doesn't care what the uke is made from.

But things should be labelled correctly

But things aren't labelled correctly, that is the 2nd hand market-
Some sellers don't know products, some buyers take advantage of that.
Some sellers know products, and take advantage of buyers with that knowledge.

Of course, the worst is when both buyer and seller are clueless.

chrimess
03-12-2013, 01:26 PM
New Thai model, arguably one of the best import ukes.
I don't know which one it is. I just got it from HMS about a month ago. Here's the one I have:

http://www.theukulelesite.com/koalana-concert-ukulele-package.html

jglover
03-12-2013, 01:32 PM
This is probably one of the older production Chinese Koalanas, it is certainly not the most recent Thai release, as there are no mango inlays on the headstock nor is the fretboard correct. The current production Koalanas have a pikake style fretboard as opposed to the crown style on the older models. Now whether or not they ever made a koa instrument I have no idea.