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Wednesday, 1 April 2009

eBabe

Unless you were shouting at your own children at the time, you quite possibly heard me roar “EIGHTEEN POUNDS!!!” last night, loud enough to bring tears to the ears of all in the vicinity.
Through some fuckwittery, where I had left the eBay account open while trying, unsuccessfully, to find a dog basket of all things (such cruel reward for attention to that hell-hound), F10 had scuttled on to the computer. While I was washing up, he, in his own words, had “got carried away.” With the consequence that we were the lucky winners (the term sticks in the craw) of a Match Attax card of some tosser of a football player. Cristiano Ronaldo possibly.

I’d gone upstairs to review dog basket options and so the first I knew of the other arm of our eBay activity was the cheery ping in the inbox and the enthusiastic announcement, “Congratulations, You are the current highest bidder …” At that innocent point, the bid sat at £12 which was enough to cause major freak-out. I'd look back on that halcyon amount with fond envy.

I thwacked off a panicky e-mail to the seller, trying to retract the bid.

Ping! Went the inbox. “Congratulations, You are the current highest bidder …” and the chilling climb to £14.50.
What all this was telling me, my frazzled brain worked out, was that some other dozy sod out there was actually bidding against me – aaargh, what am I saying, against me? against him!! Salvation lay in his desire edging crazily higher even than “ours.” The seconds were counting down in that way that thrills when the wondrous thing might just be yours and that horrifies when, well, when the wondrous thing might just be yours. Needless to say, Salvation failed to give a toss.

Every cheque we write seems to be for the children as it is without factoring in frenzied sessions on the computer. Shoes, piano lessons, piano exams (£43 for T12’s Grade 4, an exercise in stress I’m too near to to relate but will settle for reporting that it was All Alright On The Hour and a bad dress rehearsal need not mean curtains). Then there's ju jitsu, ju jitsu grading, karate, karate grading, clarinet lessons, residential trips, Robin the Bloody Storyteller coming to school for a bloody Workshop, football, rugby. A cheque for next year’s school bus sits on the side not quite written – well, at £740, would you? And then there are the cars, March bringing longer evenings but also both lots of insurance, tax, MOTs and services.
Somehow this eBay money held the full weight of the current financial crisis. Crisis and impotence in a demonic marriage. Cash in one way freeflow. The builders may have gone, but another set of gannets flocks in, hovering for scraps. The demands are endless.

I rang eBay, my fingers skittering like fat sausages over the tiny keys. The menu option enraged, as you can imagine, until I was put through to someone with the requisite scant English who insisted on reading the full Welcome guff. We tussled through the conversation, my half being frantic to convey “retract! retract! retract!” his centring tiresomely on “username” and “postcode” and “first line of address”. Somewhere around here, E had to be dug out to “give permission” (God, I hate data protection) for me to speak to eBay which was an irritating irony and nothing but a time-spinner. For somewhere else around here, the bidding closed and we were merrily informed by eBay that the closing amount was £18. Plus 99p post and packing. Congratulations!
I flipped.

The seller woke up, now that it was all too late, and sent a barely literate response to mine littered with meaningless "...."s. Are these indicating thinking time, surely not; who knows:

“i have no right to remove it, this system is contorlled by ebay. i will ask bidder 2 whether he wants it. if he do not want it....you may be have to pay or you can contact ebay...because i have to pay the final value fee to ebay, i do not want to lose money....”

Yeah, right, lose money. Bless. Needless to say my reply featured more syllables, relentlessly middle-class to the end, Full Sentences R Us. Fighting an urge to scream, “lose money, you greedy bag! You’re getting £18.99 for an outlay of 40p, a stamp and an envelope, all because I was stupid enough to think the dog needed a new bed.” I sounded instead contrite and grateful for whatever help she could give me.

F10 was on the floor. He had rummaged in his money box and prised out a Christmas twenty which he forced on me.
He sobbed.
“I got carried away,” he said again, “I feel so ashamed.”
What can you do to a response like that but say, “It doesn’t matter. It’s only money.”
It’d better be a shit-hot card though.

28 comments:

Edward said...

A bad time for F10 to discover eBay, but his contrition was too heart-melting to stay cross at him for long. With luck we can re-sell the wretched item and possibly make a profit.

LittleBrownDog said...

Oh God, Milla - I can SO feel your pain, having allowed virtually the self-same thing to happen to us a few months ago. Admittedly, it wasn't quite £18, but was hugely cross to find A, triumphantly trumpeting the fact that he'd scored the most fantastic Lego toy for just £12.99. Too good to be true? It was indeed. What he'd neglected to read in the small print was that what he was bidding for were the INSTRUCTIONS to the most fantastic Lego toy. A bit of paper, no less, albeit one with a rather impressive picture on the front. Anyway, my tactic, once the offending bit of paper had arrived and much shouting done by all, was to bung it straight back on eBay, where some poor sap bid up to £14 for it, even though I'd clearly explained it was just the instructions. An irate parent emailed me immediately, whereupon I took great pleasure suggesting perhaps she should supervise her child more closely in future.

(Actually, it was quite simple - I contacted the underbidder who gleefully coughed up and more than reimbursed me for my negligent parenting.)

PS Sorry to go on so long, but this is SO familiar. At least if he's anything like A, F10 will feel chastened and learn from his mistake.

ChrisH said...

Oh, heart bleeds for poor F10, digging out his Christmas money! You and LBD are doing a great job today of bringing me out in cold sweats thinking about the pitfalls of having small children to look after. So glad someone else is looking after mine now (ohpleaseohplease - don't let anything go wrong). I'd put the memories of shelling out right, left and centre behind me. Ah well, it's happened, Milla, just put it behind you and forget about it... after all you have Saturday to worry about!

Frances said...

Milla, you certainly captured all the emotional swings of that episode perfectly.

I also hope that you and F10 can eventually turn a profit on that card. It's the tremendous cost of that bus service that freaks me out!

xo

Calico Kate said...

Oh Wonderful post! I to hav ehad that rant ..... but with B! We don't have children but it is soooo easy to get carried away in the adrenalin rush of the excitment of it all even as an adult.
But what a poppet to get so upset and produce the dosh.
CKx

snailbeachshepherdess said...

E bay is banned in this house!They'd have me in the poor house in a couple of days!

Zoë said...

Oh it doesn't stop either Milla - the shelling out that is ... LittleBird's just mugged me for £3000 plus flights for a summer school in Milan, No1 is asking me to pay for his Grad ceremony board and gown, plus £25 a ticket to attend in Guildford Cathedral. I pay their rent in London too whilst studying, I better get a job, because my once healthy savings are running out!

Thankfully mine didn't discover Ebay until they had their own debit cards. Although it wasn't unknown for my credit card to go awol, and for Reading Festival or some other Gig tickets to turn up as recompense! And always the promise, of I will pay you back! Kids eh?

Pipany said...

O my god, I am thinking now that I have got off lightly so far!!! Thank heavens it wasn't more I suppose. Contrition be thy middle name F10...

Pondside said...

You're really still in the trenches of child raising, Milla. Your litany of outlays struck took me back to the days of endless cheque writing for classes, special speakers, special lunches, special exams, special sports days. You get the picture; after all, you're living in it.
Big sympathy from over here. It will pass, and you'll have some great stories for around the table after Christmas dinner in 2019.

Dumdad said...

Crikey, that's it - I'm off to turn off the computers right now!

Tattie Weasle said...

After that there's no way I am letting The Boy anywhere near my computer...there again I don't let Dear Charlie any where near it either. Do you think I have a sharing problem?

lampworkbeader said...

My sympathy and a selfish little thought that thank goodness my kids are all grown up and manage their own EBAY business, they caused me enough trouble just using the phone.

Dave Pie-n-Mash said...

I bet the dog has the hump right now. She thought she was getting a new bed and she gets a football card? How can she lie on that?

Funny post... I feel for you... but school buses are now #740 a year? What a scam... look on eBay and see if you can get a cheaper ride.

Thanks for the laugh - very funny!

Preseli Mags said...

Eeek! So much terror in one (excellent) blog. My heart bled for F10 as he shamefully offered his Christmas money, but I was still reeling from the school bus bill. Good grief.

Expat mum said...

And you know the person driving up your bid was probably sitting right next to the seller? Big con really.

Fennie said...

What a good little son you have offering up his Christmas money. Yet mind he goes nowhere near a real auction. That could really cost you money. Very amusing post for us if not for you!

Maddie Grigg said...

You must feel ashamed and humbled - you so grumpy and dear little boy so sweet..! Bless. Shame on you,mother.

Welsh Girl said...

HOW much for the school bus?????? You have to be kidding. Make them walk. Hire a chauffeur, physically move the school to next door. Any of these have to be cheaper.

KittyB said...

Oh, don't, it's happening here too, although nothing so drastic has happened yet Ebay-wise. The money continues to haemmorage out... school shoes, golf shoes, golf lessons, golf trolley, swimming lessons, more trunks, more goggles, school swimming lessons, football club, football boots, shin pads... you get the picture. Thank God I've only got one.

Phidelm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Faith said...

I was directed here through the black box on CJ's blog! How strange.... very amusing post Milla.

Exmoorjane said...

Sorry but just howling with laughter...but then remembered with sinking heart that I am the poorer by £37.99 for an ebay purchase which has never arrived. The barely literate email correspondence is curiously similar. btw, I notice that this week's Beano has Match Attax (sic) cards attached - will try to remove surreptitiously and send on.
I don't want a repeat of t his going on inour house!

Ladybird World Mother said...

Oh no, oh, no... heart beating faster as I read the post... but also having quiet giggle too as you are so funny. Sell it on.. Some poor bugger will buy it... just like you did!

Exmoorjane said...

I seriously wish you'd joined too (re your comment on mine) - you could have come too and I could have walked behind you, thus hiding my hairiness......

Arcadian Advocate said...

Well about 6 or so years ago [before we all got a bit more ebay savvy] we once thought we were buying a camera.. [phone call from teen at school.. "Mum, Mum buy this is it is such a good deal"..] .and this wonderful deal turned out to be 10 pages of written instructions which were emailed for £10 .. the most embarrasing part is that we bought two!
E bay did not uphold our complaint that the descriptions were misleading.. hey ho...

Sordel said...

Look on the bright side: if you lived in America you would probably be thinly explaining that your children had grown up around guns and this is why you had deemed it safe to leave a loaded gun in the home. Given that you loaded the gun and only lost £18 ... well, the lesson to all involved was surely cheap at the price?

Carol and Chris said...

I am so sorry....I shouldn't laugh....but I did!!

I don't let my husband anywhere near e-bay....the last time I did he spent £5 on a DVD called 'The Nostril Picker'.....yes, it was just as bad as it sounds....no, actually it was worse....

C x

HER ON THE HILL said...

Milla my dear, you have just confirmed (most amusingly of course) why I have a horror of eBay and DO NOT GO THERE. Too stressful for words.

God...can't bear...all this illiterate...internet user stuff...(though I am partial to a little overuse of the merry dots myself...).

Cheques. Yep. Brownies, dinner money, piano lessons, piano exams, swimming, French, ballet, ballet exams, school trip here school trip there school trip bloody everywhere. School bus: gulp. Almost as much as the fees. Three of them next year. Remortgage the house. Oh no, forgot, can't do that anymore. Oh well, the streets it will have to be for me then. But I'd probably end up having to pay them. Do you think they'd take a cheque?