I buy some pens on eBay. You may be familiar with the eBay layout – one or more photographs and a sentence or maybe a paragraph of description. Quite commonly these days, the phrase “the photographs form part of the description” is included. These are the words I dislike most in the pen world.
So far as I’m concerned the only things that form part of the description are the words the seller uses. The photos may have some use in identifying the pen if the seller doesn’t know the exact model, and they may give you some idea of the colours if it’s a patterned pen. Other than that, they’re as good as the seller chooses that they should be. Even with several photos a multitude of sins may be concealed.
As happened to me recently, a seller included the information that there was a slight crack above the clip. That didn’t seem too serious to me and I was confident that I could repair it. It was a good pen and I bid appropriately given the damage. I was content with the transaction.
However, when the pen arrived it had a severe crack in the cap lip, a thing that requires much more time and effort to repair successfully. Had I been aware of the lip crack I wouldn’t have bought the pen. I re-examined the photos in the advert. Though the pen was shot from a variety of angles, none showed the area of the cap that bore the crack. I have difficulty in believing that such an omission could have been accidental.
I immediately contacted the seller attaching a photograph of the lip crack. It was very easy to photograph – it wasn’t one of those subtle little cracks that you can only find with a thumbnail.
The seller made an offer of a partial refund which was enough for me to feel that I won’t be out of pocket, though a repair will take a lot of time. Of course, when I come to sell the pen I will make it clear that repairs have been made.
Apart from the few occasions when I can handle pens before I buy them, I am at the mercy of the seller’s description, whether I’m buying from eBay or elsewhere. Living in the northern tip of Scotland I don’t have the opportunity to buy stock at pen shows.
That’s just one example of why I don’t believe that “photographs form part of the description.” Photographs will show only what the photographer wants them to show.
People who buy from me are, of course, in the same position, which is why I give as detailed a description of the condition of the pen as I can. It’s very rare for me to miss flaws or damage but it has happened. Having to repay the buyer for the cost of returning a pen from overseas sharpens the powers of observation!