A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Saturday, March 24, 2012

False Advertising Pet Peeves

I spend some time each week cruising the listings of eBay. I love seeing the variety of majolica available, noting the prices, and looking for common pieces when they appear in unusual glaze combinations. One of the things I DON'T like about eBay is the wide number of dealers who place false claims in their listing titles just to get your attention. Here are some of my listing pet peeves.

The one that drives me the most nuts are the dealers who will describe their piece in the title and follow it with "George Jones?" or "Minton?". Where it is true some dealers genuinely don't know what they have, others know they have an incredibly mundane piece of majolica and feel that the only way they can attract attention to it is to mention a brand name that is in demand. This practice probably peaked a few years ago so you don't see it as often as you used to but it still shows up.

Another trick that eBay dealers use to get attention to their listings is to place certain key words in their listing title because they know it will bring their listing up on general searches. Aside from the names of major majolica manufacturers, who are always included in such listings, colors like "cobalt" are made to sound more important than they really are in the piece. I can't tell you how many listings succeeded in grabbing my attention by advertising the piece as being cobalt, only to discover after looking at the picture that the piece was some other color with a tiny bit of blue used in trim. Such listings infuriate me. Yes, the dealer was being honest in the listing (sort of) and yes they were successful in their intention of having me read their listing, but to what end? If I'm looking for a piece in cobalt, a green piece with blue trim isn't going to make me want it any more than if I had seen the piece in a thumbnail and thought it was just green. To my way of thinking this practice smells of desperation. As the old saying goes, "desperation stinks."

Still another thing that bugs me is the liberal use of the word "vintage." Online "vintage" is eBay speak for a reproduction. Dealers of "vintage" know they can't describe the piece as being antique because clear deception is against eBay's rules and they know it's grounds for the buyer successfully receiving a refund. Describing it as "vintage" however is a bit more vague and only implies that it is antique.

An annoying term that is often used in combination with "vintage" is the phrase "fresh from an estate."  "Fresh from an estate" means nothing. Simply because something was previously owned makes no guarantee to it's age and dishonest dealers know it. I could buy something new today and die tomorrow. That would make the new object fresh from my estate. Does that make it an antique?
Another reason they use "fresh from an estate" is so they can claim ignorance about the piece. That's very convenient if the piece has been repaired or is a good reproduction.

As I've said many times before, you really need to use the utmost caution when buying online because you usually don't know the person you're buying from.
Where most listings are honest people trying to make a sale some dealers use the annonymity of the Internet to deceive people. Being aware of some of the tactics that dealers use to get your attention puts you ahead of the game.

No comments:

Post a Comment