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HuffnPuff
2004-08-11, 09:38
In early June of this year (2004) I found a GoLite Lair 2 tarp offered for sale on ebay by The Outfitter at Harper’s Ferry. The ad for the tarp had a reggae/Rastafarian theme and it had a shipping calculator feature. You enter your zip code, click on the calculator icon and get a shipping quote. I used this feature and got a shipping quote of $30.00 to ship a tarp weighing less than one pound to Oregon. I knew this couldn’t be right, so I used the “ask seller a question” feature to point out to the seller that there was something wrong with their shipping calculator and no one was bidding on the item. I used a kind of Rastafarian accent in this communication and tried, apparently unsuccessfully, to be humorous. Big mistake as it turned out. The Outfitter at Harpers Ferry simply responded that they didn’t set the shipping rates and that shipping for the item should be about $7.00 to Oregon. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep copies of these emails.

I still wanted to bid on the item, but the shipping calculator wasn’t fixed and I was not going to commit to a $30.00 shipping charge, so I sent this:

Second email to The Outfitter at Harpers Ferry on Jun 12, 2004:

Seven bucks is more like it, but as you can see from the data I copied into my original email, I clicked on the link in your ebay ad, entered my zip code and got a quote of $30.00. No way I'm going to bid on your item with that rate quote for shipping. Just for grins I tried a couple of other zip codes. $30 to Spokane, too, and $25 to Salt Lake City. Seems like you'd be concerned with something that would cause your product to be vastly overpriced. I can drive downtown and buy the tarp from a specialty store for less than it would cost at the present bid price of $70 plus $30 shipping. Seems like one of two things should be happening: Your stuff is bringing less than it should at auction, or some knuckleheads are bidding anyway and then getting the big shocker shipping bill and then concluding your business, which I've heard has a great reputation, is run by crooks. Seems like you'd be concerned, is all. Getting a tarp isn't that hard to do. I don't need to buy it from rastafarians on ebay. But a good reputation is hard to get and seems like you wouldn't want to give yours away on ebay. Maybe this is why this item has been up for bid for three days and got no takers. Huh? Huh? Huh?
Wayne Kraft
Officious Intermeddler

Now, I admit that was a little sarcastic, but I am such an idiot that I still thought I was dealing with a normal business that could deal with a bit of humor.

Throughout the next several weeks, The Outfitter at Harpers Ferry continued to offer the GoLite Lair 2 tarp from time to time at a little higher price and with shipping set at around $10.00. In late July I decided to bid again and discovered that I was blocked from bidding on all items offered by the ebay seller named theoutfitteratharpersferry.

I then emailed the seller as follows:

Dear theoutfitteratharpersferry,

I attempted to bid on this item and found that I was blocked from bidding. I have never had any dealings with you before and have 100% positive feedback. Can you tell me why I'm blocked from bidding and how I can have the block removed? Thank you. Wayne Kraft

July 31, 2004 I received this response from The Oufitter at Harpers Ferry:
Did you have a previous question to us?
On August 5, 2004 I answered as follows:
Outfitter:
Sorry for the delay in responding. When I clicked the Respond Now button on this message I was told I could not respond unless I was signed in as the Seller. Yes, I previously emailed you about another auction for the same item to point out that no one was bidding on the item because the shipping calculator in the ad was coming up with $30 shipping quotes, about three times actual shipping. I tried to make my inquiry humorous in the same vein as the Rastafarian theme of the ad itself. Maybe my humor flopped and I offended you. I don't know. I needed a tarp and have now bought one from REI for somewhat more than your auction. I would still like to bid on your items in the future. I don't understand why I am blocked.
Wayne Kraft


That is the last I’ve heard from The Outfitter at Harper’s Ferry. As far as I know, I am still blocked from bidding in their auctions. I have asked ebay customer service if they would mediate for me with the seller, but ebay politely refused to get involved. I bought a tarp elsewhere.

I am not posting this as a complaint against The Outfitter at Harper’s Ferry or ebay. So far as I know they are both fine businesses. I am posting it because it may help others in dealing with auctions by The Oufitter at Harpers Ferry. I am guessing that you might want to very careful how you go about asking them a question. I am also just plain puzzled by the situation and wonder if anyone else has any insight or comments.

Before I posted the above, I sent a copy of this post along with this one final email to The Outfitter at Harper’s Ferry:

Greetings:
The following is a description of my recent interaction with your business as an ebay seller. I intend to post this report on several backpacking and auction-related bulletin boards and mailing lists. If you find that any portion of my description of this interaction is inaccurate or unfair or if there has been some misunderstanding between us, please respond immediately with particulars. Thank you.
Wayne Kraft

No response.



Thanks for listening to this long tale.

SGT Rock
2004-08-11, 10:03
I actually had coffee with the guys from The Outfitters At Harpers Ferry and talked with them a couple of times while at Trail Days. They seemed like nice guys and made great coffee. They seem to have good prices at the time and I think Baltimore Jack even worked there some this summer. I imagine this is probably atypical behavior.

HuffnPuff
2004-08-11, 22:45
I was hoping that was the case, but so far they have made it quite clear they don't want to do business with me. I'd love to sit down and talk with them about it over a cup of coffee (theirs, of course) but I'm on the other side of the continent. You know, I've bought some pretty sketchy stuff on ebay and not once have I left negative feedback for anyone, nor has anyone had anything bad to say about me. I don't get it.