I’ve read many stories lately that seem to focus on the evil side of buying and selling Trollbeads on eBay. It certainly appears to be a pretty hot topic. And rather contentious, at that. As fans of the brand, we are all aware that there is an open and thriving market for “off-retail” beads. In fact, quite often, this is the only way that we can have direct access to the most beautiful and special of all beads: referred to in different places as OOAKs, Unique or Limited Edition (among other things!).
Now fraud doesn’t happen only to the Trollbeads brand. And eBay can be a breeding ground for those nasty individuals who are just looking to make a quick buck off of unsuspecting collectors by riding on the coat-tails of a major brand, like Trollbeads, that is extremely popular and doing very well. In fact, eBay is nearly notorious for how the unscrupulous sellers hide behind the anonymity of the Internet, thriving and passing off frauds of name brands such as “Coach,” “Dooney & Bourke,” “Louis Vuitton” and many countless others. But eBay is also doing a good job of taking a stronger stance against the frauds.
So. What can you do? How can you tell the “real” ones from the “fake” ones? If the imposters are good, it can be nearly impossible to get to the truth.
That might be enough to scare you away from eBay, but I am seriously against trying to do that. What I do offer is a bit of constructive advice, some caution, and suggest a bit of common sense.
So, before you jump in, know and understand the brand, the trademark (or not) stamps that are included in and on the item, the history, the descriptions. Understand what the item is, where it came from, and what the personal history is. Was it “pre-owned” or “worn?” Is it in “unused” condition? Is it considered “collectible?” Is it considered “new?” In the case of Trollbeads, they began stamping the SILVER cores of their Trollbeads just a couple of years back … so the older beads might not be stamped. That does not mean the bead is either authentic or fraud … but that particular understanding can save you heartache. If you buy an old “Silver Python Trollbead” on eBay, don’t be expecting it to show up with an “LAA” and “925” stamp on the core. It won’t be there. Or at least it SHOULDN’T be there!
Also you need to READ the WORDS in the auction. Does it say “fits,” “for” or “compatible” instead of “genuine,” “authentic,” or “original?” Now, don’t get me wrong. People can easily misrepresent their items, so that doesn’t mean every word posted is 100% accurate, but at least pay attention to those details.
Evaluate the auction. Do you know the seller? How is the feedback rating? Do you see some IDs for familiar BUYERs? People that you believe would “know” what they are doing? That can be a good indication. Look to see if those people have purchased a lot of Trollbeads.
READ the feedback. If it’s full of generic comments, you might want to stop and wonder if they might be padding their own feedback. If you see a lot of personal, encouraging comments, you can feel a bit more relaxed.
Still, if you don’t know the person, you could try dropping a note through eBay’s “contact seller” system and asking a few simple questions, just to put yourself at ease. Now, you need to understand that it might be a bit offensive to some people if you write and immediately say “is your Trollbead genuine and authentic?” That could pretty immediately put someone off … but the truth is, if the person has nothing to hide, they will be happy to respond to honest and legitimate questions.
eBay often is the absolute best and ONLY way for us serious collectors to acquire some very rare and RETIRED Trollbeads. Oh wow, have I found some amazing Trollbeads there – some absolute and stunning finds!!! Speaking directly about RETIRED and GOLD Trollbeads, for a lot of people this can be a scary area because the prices (even at auction) are generally higher than a typical unique or OOAK. HOWEVER, you really can find some GREAT deals there. Been looking for a special Retired Bead or looking to start your GOLD Trollbeads collection? Yes, eBay can be quite helpful with that.
FOR ME, if I discover a Trollbead that I want, if it’s a seller I don’t know, I will look at the feedback, look at the buyers, look at their feedback … and try to view it as a type of “cyber paper-trail” to see what the patterns are.
Do I buy RETIRED Trollbeads on eBay? YES. Do I buy GOLD Trollbeads on eBay? YES. Do I trust who I am buying from …? Nearly always, 100%. You just have to do the legwork, the homework. Make yourself comfortable, accept what you are looking at, understand the seller, the auction, the pricing, the shipping … AND ASK FOR INSURANCE with shipping.
eBay offers some great deals – and quite frankly there are a LOT of absolutely WONDERFUL and HONEST Trollbeads resellers there on eBay. I have purchased COUNTLESS numbers of my absolute FAVORITE Trollbeads from some of the greatest sellers on eBay; and these are sellers that I continue to buy from over and over.
As with most things in life, eBay can basically be a “gut instinct” type of situation. You have to know what you are feeling and be in touch with it. If your personal “alarms” go off, don’t do it. If it’s a bead you are dying to have and the price is good … just do the research. But don’t jump head-first into the shallow end: understand your seller.
Do they seem nearly as obsessive about Trollbeads as you are? You can probably believe that those who market their items with love and care really do care as much as you do.
The bottom line is this: eBay has Trollbeads you want. I hate to see so many people be completely SCARED OFF of eBay just because of the fear and threat of fraud. There’s fraud everywhere – it can’t be completely avoided, but it can be watched, learned from and, if you act properly, you can avoid it more often than not.
I have been thinking of starting to publish the eBay IDs of trusted sellers. (Not looking to post full IDs of “bad” sellers … that’s a complicated gray area and I don’t really feel comfortable there, but I’d be interested to hear your experiences anyway.)
So what do you think? Is it something that you would like to see and share? To try to help your fellow eBay Trollbeads Hunters? If yes, drop me a note, share the eBay IDs of some sellers with who you have had good experiences … or BAD. I’d really be interested in hearing about your experiences.
And maybe I’ll start posting some … but I want to make one thing extremely clear: Just because you submit an eBay ID to me, it does NOT mean I will automatically add them to the “safe” list. I’d have to do a bit of research, because I wouldn’t want to offer any information that I didn’t look into first. Right now, I know of at least ten that I would easily post as having been found to be legitimate (by my experience).
Perhaps we can help to clean up eBay’s Trollbead trust by policing ourselves just a little bit.
Let me know what you think. :-)