Caution: You are about to step into a convoluted world filled with frustration, uncertainty, counterfeits and possibly an inkling of hope. All of the following events are true and no, I’m not exaggerating one bit, thankyouverymuch.
As part of the third world and an often-quoted country when it comes to the discussion of sweatshops and sustainability, Bangladesh (where I hail from) isn’t your average market for luxury goods. In fact, in a nation where replicas retail for tens of thousands of the local currency in the most premium stores, the notion of a luxury resale industry seems almost inconceivable.
Having contacted big names in America like Fashionphile, The RealReal, Poshmark and Yoogi’s Closet, European ones like Vestiaire Collective and Affordable Luxurys, and even UAE-based The Luxury Closet, and failed to convince either to deliver to Bangladesh, only one route seemed to remain – eBay!
But how did I ended up with the valiantly brave, yet ridiculously foolish decision of buying pre-owned in the first place? Besides my obvious love of purses, I presume that my choice was influenced by my (perhaps even more idiosyncratic) desire to initiate a luxury handbag business in Bangladesh. Crazy? I haven’t even begun.
The first step to purchasing is making an account and bidding. Not really though. The first step to buy from eBay in Bangladesh is to find an agent, because apparently purchasing simply through eBay and its associated shipping service has high chances of the items getting lost in transit. I don’t really know if the agents said that just to ensure I actually do use their service or if that’s a fact, but it did manage to intimidate me enough. But of course I didn’t contact agents first and went ahead on my own, winning a nylon Gucci Jackie at a tremendous bargain (to me) at $54! This excitement, however, turned out to be short-lived, as I learned that the seller was unable to deliver to Bangladesh during COVID-19, and additionally it wouldn’t work because we don’t have PayPal in Bangladesh.
*Hits cancel and sobs*
The next time, however, I was determined to buy, be it via an agent, if necessary. I ended up winning a beautiful yellow Balenciaga from Greece for £49! Then I figured that with the remainder of my savings, I might just be able to squeeze in another purchase and before I knew it, I had won a Michael Kors Riley too!
Now that is where all the good parts end and all the terrible parts begin, chronicled below in the form of a journal:
Informed agent of the purchase. “Greece!” the agent exclaims, “we don’t bring stuff from there. Ask the seller to ship it to our US address.”
Greek seller responds, “it costs hundreds of dollars to ship to the US!”
While quietly contemplating all the ways I’d seek revenge on both of them, I ask the seller, “is there any other way you could ship?”
Greek seller: I could try via the post office, but it doesn’t open until Monday (it’s Thursday).
Me: Please do try.
Greek: I can send, it will cost 26 euros.
I immediately inform my agent, make the entire payment in advance to him, and wait with bated breath.
Agent: We have paid for the Michael Kors, but unfortunately we cannot bring the Greek item because the seller isn’t sending us an invoice.
Me: *frantically texting the seller* Could you please send an invoice for the US address?!
Seller: Oh I forgot, I’ll send it right over.
Agent: We are unable to pay the Greek seller because it’s in British pounds, we have to convert our card to support dollars and pounds.
Seller: YOU HAVE ONE WEEK TO MAKE THE PAYMENT (It was a text but I imagined she was yelling at me).
Me: *Double facepalm*
Agent sent a screenshot of the payment made. My eBay account continues to show for the next 5 days that the payment is due.
eBay: YOU WILL RECEIVE THE BALENCIAGA ON DAY 62 AT YOUR SHIPPING ADDRESS.
Me: Yay, only 32 more days to wait!
Agent: We have changed our shipping service and this new company stores all items in their warehouse for two weeks before releasing them, even though they have flights every week. Our previous company used to ship twice a month, but delivered within the next day. However, we fought with them because we totally want to mess with you for longer.
*The last part didn’t happen but was obviously implied*
The agent’s assistant, who was having the bulk of the conversations with me, announces that he is leaving the job for higher studies abroad – leaving me to deal with the agent himself (the Grand High Agent, I guess, like the Grand High Witch?) who turns out to be even more erratic.
Me: Did you receive the Michael Kors bag?
Agent: Yes it should be in this shipment, I will start unpacking soon.
Government: Lockdown for a week again!
Agent: Customs will not release anything till lockdown is over. We tried for 4 days. It’s not going to happen. We are losing so much money, it may drive our business to the ground. Please keep faith in us, if we didn’t have to face so many pitfalls you would have received your items a month ago. Sorry for all of this again.
Me: *Sobs quietly while contemplating further revenge.*
Me: Any updates?
Me: The lockdown has been eased, did you receive your shipment?
eBay: Balenciaga Yellow Leather Handbag is delivered.
Me: Did you receive this?[Digital silence from agent.]
Agent: Oh hey there, I tend to disappear from time to time (he literally said this). I love to work when I’m focused, not forcibly. Anyways, I’ll get your bags tomorrow.
Me: Uh-huh *desperately trying to feign nonchalance*
Me: Hey, you were supposed to pick up the bags yesterday?
Agent: We have a shortage of funds, need a few more days.
Me: *More face-palming*
Agent: We’re getting it tomorrow. You’ll receive it the day after. Also the Balenciaga is still in our US warehouse (probably).
Day 65 – Day 69
The agent’s shipment of the bag from his own warehouse was delayed, then he couldn’t find a courier to deliver it to my home, and eventually, on Day 70, I got my hands on this *cough* beauty below:
And after a few days of restoration (which in itself was another veritable adventure), here I present – the Michael Kors Riley medium in black!
Still there? Honestly, you’re my new best friend now!
So, there you have it, my entire experience of getting just one of my bags from eBay, and as of today, I’m still waiting for the Balenciaga, which was again delayed due to the postponement of international shipments to Bangladesh caused by a series of new lockdowns. Now I understand that not all of it was the agent’s fault, or the seller’s, or Ebay’s, or the virus’ (actually you know what, all of this is totally the virus’ fault), but all of these plights have me questioning whether everyone faces the same difficulties and delays when purchasing through eBay. Ultimately, I’m left wondering whether my idea to start a business would actually work out. I’m really hoping here that eBay will address this issue because HELLO, loyal to-be-buyer here!
However, I’m still optimistic that this negative experience was a one-off because honestly, this virus has frustrated us for too long. Plus, the experience wasn’t entirely negative either because the high I experienced just from getting my hands on the MK makes me (and my incredibly patient business partner) hopeful about the Balenciaga (whenever it arrives). In hindsight though, I could have perhaps bought through any of the resale websites in the US given that I’m forced to use the agent’s US address anyway, but frankly, eBay’s deals are the sweetest!
So, is there any such ridiculous adventure you’ve had when buying pre-owned?