I bought a used LG vx9800 phone on ebay from a flesh-and-blood human (not a mega-seller) a few months ago. I love it, and I've become melded to it, borg-style, since then.
I lost my phone charger about 2 weeks ago. My phone died a few days later. A day or two after that, I started retracing my steps to find it, to no avail. Now i'm, for all practical purposes, a cripple. I'm reading scientific papers and hitting upon words i don't know, and I have no google sms dictionary to rescue me. I can't send myself deadline reminders, or post half-useless ruminations from the coffee-shop while waiting for an electrical outlet to free up. As it stands now, I'm running an electrical cable to my laptop across a busy coffeeshop isle, and i have to re-plug it in after it's kicked out every 5 or 10 minutes...
In a desperate attempt to return my life to normalicy, I turn to ebay to get a decent-priced charger. Yet I made the not-uncommon mistake of going too cheap. 3 chargers for $10, shipping included. I figure if one's a lemon, then I still have 2, which allows me to lose one and still have a phone.
Nope. They all suck. Sure, I know they're going to be ultra-cheap, but they should work, right? Wrong. They're effectively designed *not* to charge my phone. Within 5 minutes of charging, the phone says "charge complete", and it's obviously not.
( I should point out that a bad charger can be worse than no charger at all (in a sense). A mis-behaved charger can overload and overheat the battery, essentially destroying it in a surprisingly short period of time.)
In short, I should have known better.
On a related note, ebay's profits from ebay.com are down steeply for the year ( see here). Paypal and the more recently acquired skype, along with advertising, are holding the dogs at bay for now ( see here ).
It's shit like like this that is eating ebay alive from the inside. Here's where I bought my charger.
From the looks of it, they're rapidly shoveling ultra-cheap Asian electronics to market, getting a 99.2% approval rating on enormous volume, which means lots of unhappy folks in absolute numbers.
Here's one good post that addresses their current crisis ( see here ), but it looks like a *lot* of folks, both buyers and sellers, are pretty pissed off ( see here )
Looking back in time, things get even weirder. Ebay purchased a 25% stake in Craigslist and then sued them??? ( see here ). I've drawn heavily from the NYT here, but the WSJ isn't free...
My best ebay purchases, over time, have been second-hand electronics. I regularly include the word "used" in my search terms. There are some great deals out there on second-hand 70's electronics (provided it doesn't cost $50 to ship - an well-made 1970s reciever/amp can easily weigh 40+ pounds). It's like going to a great big yardsale that's open at times other than Saturday from 6am-2pm.
What's the lesson here? I re-ordered 2 OEM (original equipment manufacturer) chargers - i.e. they're made by LG. We'll see if this works any better. Still, it's another week before I get the rest of my life back. How many more days before my outgoing voicemail message that pleads, "the fastest way to contact me is to send a text message to this number" once again becomes true? How many days before I'm carrying a 5.2 oz dictionary in my backpack?