Wednesday, June 24, 2009

eBay Reality

I just purchased a rare collector's item for only $0.01 on eBay!

That's how many people would characterize my most recent eBay transaction (but not me).

Sounds great when it's phrased that way, but the reality is far different.

First off, I was bidding on a Lledo 1:43 scale Morris Mini 1000 (pictured, right) for my O-gauge Zen garden. Now not all diecast cars (like any kind of collectible) are created equal. Some, like the Tootsietoy Grahams of the 1930s, are both hard to find in good condition and highly desirable aesthetically. Others, such as the Road Champs vehicles, are cheap toys sold in discount chains, and while they can have a certain appeal, are not necessarily rare or valuable.

Lledo kind of falls in the middle. It was started by one of the co-founders of Matchbox Cars (and some Lledo models bear strong resemblances to their Matchbox counterparts). Lledo specialized in inexpensive models, primarily for promotional purposes. A company could have a Lledo vans, for example, painted in company colors and their company logo decal on the side.

I was looking for a vehicle or two to add to my train layout. I wanted something a little unusual, but I didn't want to spend a lot. The auction I participated in for the Lledo Morris Mini fit the bill perfectly.

Now the bidding opened at $0.01, and never went any higher. It would seem I got a real bargain. Except shipping was set at $7.49 (and I believe it's shipping within the U.S.). Actual shipping costs are probably around $2.00. I don't begrudge the inflated charge -- it meant the seller was guaranteed to make something on the deal, even if the worst happened (which it did).

I think the real value of the Morris (at least for me) is around $7.00-$10.00, and so I set my maximum bid at $3.00. Which meant the most I would be required to pay would be $10.50 -- well within my comfort zone. At no time did I consider the cost to be the amount of the highest bid. I always looked at the total amount I needed to pay, which was bid plus shipping.

Some people ignore the shipping charges, and that's fine. For them, this highly desirable collectible was sold for a penny, and what a bargain!

Well, it wasn't a rare collector's item. Lledo vehicles, in general, have only modest demand and the lack of bidding is a direct correlation to the market's lack of interest. I spent more than a penny, but I think I paid a fair price.

So I'm not ecstatic, but I'm realistically happy. And, for $7.50, that's just fine.

- Ralph

Day 79 of the WJMA Podwatch.

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