Ebay: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

When my dad passed away, he left behind a huge box of diabetes testing supplies: a few meters and boxes and boxes of test strips. A couple of weeks ago, Chuck and I used the last of them. They lasted us for over three years!

When I called the doctor’s office for them to call us in a prescription, she asked me how often I tested.

“I don’t know, once a day?” There is really no rhyme or reason to my testing. I test at different times, depending on circumstances: food eaten or exercise, etc. I told her my husband needed some, too, and I told her we needed True Result strips because that was the meter we were using. She asked how many times a day Chuck was testing, and I told her twice.

He tests a lot more than I do. There was a time when I said, “Whoa, whoa! You’re testing way too much.  Test strips are expensive.”

“What are you talking about?” he said. “We’ve got a whole box full of them.”  Correction: we did have.

When we went to the pharmacy to pick up our strips, they tried to hand us a sixty-dollar meter, too.

“No,” I said, “we didn’t order a meter. We have a meter. We just need the test strips.” Then I found out they were not True Result strips, as I had ordered, but One Step strips.

“It’s the only kind we have,” they said.

“Okay, I guess we have no choice, ” I replied, “but I know I still have my One Step meter from a few years ago, so we don’t need the meter.”

Do you know how much those strips cost? I got fifty strips for twenty dollars and my husband got 200 strips for forty dollars. I was looking at our receipt on the way home and told Chuck, “This can’t be right. You got four times as many as I did for only double the price?”

When we got home I called the pharmacy and asked why the difference. “We were told you only tested once a day and that your husband tested before and after every meal,” the pharmacist said.

“That’s not what I told the nurse. I said twice a day, but, even still, why the difference in price?”

“That’s not our call. Your insurance company decides what your copay is. You need to talk to them.”

The nurse did tell me, back when I ordered them, that we each had to have our own prescription, based on how many we used. We couldn’t just have one prescription and share them.

I have found a way around that whole mess:  Ebay. I bought a new True Result meter and a box of fifty test strips for $12.00, free shipping.  I also ordered 100 more strips for $17.29, free shipping.

Now we will each have our own True Result meter that we can keep by our chair without having to toss the other one back and forth across the room. No more insurance hassle. We can get them cheaper on Ebay than we can even with our insurance paying part of it.

Who would’ve thought?

Not only can you learn to do almost anything by watching You Tube videos: how to change a wound vac or canister, how to crochet or cook a spaghetti squash, or even how to mop a floor; you can also buy almost anything imaginable on Ebay.

Ebay is what finally helped with my Hallmark Christmas ornament obsession. Every December 26, I awoke bright and early so that I could hit all the Gold Crown stores (pharmacies and Hallmark stores) that sold Hallmark, in order to get that year’s edition to my many series of ornaments. I couldn’t just have a partial series; I had to have the whole set, if at all possible. That’s no doubt something else I inherited from my mother.

With the inception of Ebay, I could happily give my OCD a rest. If I were patient enough, I could find even the rarest Hallmark ornaments at a reasonable price. Never again would I have to be subjected to the manic rush of December 26, being trampled by other collectors, as everyone reached for the last two or three remaining ornaments in the Toy Maker Santa Claus series or the Frosty Friends series or the, well, fill-in-the-blank series.

Now I don’t even shop for Hallmark on Ebay, anymore. Do you see how far I’ve come with my OCD?  Now that I’m 55, I don’t even put up my envy-of-the-neighborhood tree, anymore. A smaller tabletop tree suffices. After all these years I’ve come to agree with my late father-in-law: it’s just too much work. The fun is gone out of it. Now all I can think about as I’m putting out my Christmas pretties is how soon they’re going to have to come back down off the shelves and go back into their boxes for another year that is even shorter than the year before.

One thing about bidding on Ebay that has regretfully changed over the course of the years is the email identity of the person with whom you’re locked in a bidding war being hidden.  I used to be able to see exactly who was bidding against me.

One year my mom got me a snowman figurine from Wal-Mart that I dearly loved. The snowman was sitting atop a colorful mailbox holding an assortment of Christmas cards and letters. As soon as I saw it, while Mom and I were out Christmas shopping together, I just had a fit over it, so while I was distracted elsewhere she went back and bought it for me. She liked it, too, and got herself the two companion snowman figurines. One was ice fishing with a snowflake dangling from the end of his pole and the other was standing, with his hitchhiker’s thumb extended, next to a peppermint sign that said “Santa Stop.”

Mom decided with all the expenses of the Christmas season, she really couldn’t afford to be buying stuff for herself so she took the one with the peppermint sign back to the store. When Mom passed away, the ice-fishing snowman was added to my collection, but what kept badgering my brain was that there was a missing third snowman to my set. What crazed me more than anything was that I couldn’t remember any specifics about the snowman, neither the company that made it nor any details about the snowman himself, other than he matched the other two. Mine was sitting on a mailbox and Mom’s was ice-fishing, but I could not remember what the third snowman was doing, only that there was one.

Every year or two around Christmas time I would type “snowman figurine” into Ebay’s search engine. Then I would scroll through item after item, sometimes page after page, until the depth of my growing disappointment made me stop. Still I couldn’t resist trying again the next year or two, when I happened to think about it. My two snowmen were in their original boxes and “Holiday Time” or something like that was printed on the sides of the boxes, so I would type in “Wal-Mart Holiday Time Snowman Figurine” hoping that one of those tags would hit on the snowman for which I was feverishly searching.

Bingo. In 2011, ten years after my mom passed away, I found him! He looked just like my other two, of course, except he was standing beside a peppermint spiral sign. In my excitement I called to Chelsea in the other room and showed it to her. This was what I wanted for Christmas!

There was no “buy-it-now” option and the auction didn’t end for another three or four days. On the day the auction was to end, in a moment of panic, I suddenly remembered my beloved figurine and went to Ebay to check on it. I had to have it. I bid on it. Good, I was going to get it. My blood started pumping harder, though, when a minute or so later I saw that someone had outbid me.  I bid again. Back and forth it went until the bid was higher than I was comfortable paying. Yet, I had to have this snowman. It was not only mine, it was my mom’s, too. It took some doing– and I wondered how in the world I was going to tell Chuck I had spent that much on a snowman figurine–but I got it!

I was nervous and happy all at the same time. But mostly nervous and guilty. How had I let my passion build to the extent that I let myself get so competitive and, yes, out of control, in a bidding war over a glass figurine? I was so guilty, in fact, that it was almost hard to feel relieved that I had won. I mean, I was happy to have it, but still . . .

In the next few minutes, I was to feel even worse than I did at that moment. Chelsea wheeled into the living room and said, “Mom, I was trying to buy that snowman figurine you wanted, but, every time I bid higher, someone else took it away from me.”

Oh, no!  Then I felt almost sick. I really have a knack for messing up surprises, don’t I?  But, not only that, all the money I had paid!  Only to outbid my own daughter!  What I did next did not make me proud at all, but I felt I had no choice. Either that or I was going to have to explain to my husband why I got into a bidding war with my daughter and ended up buying my own Christmas present. I contacted the seller by email and explained the situation to her. She was beyond fair and gracious and let us have the item for our original bid. She had felt bad that she didn’t have the original box, and I guess that was her way of making up for that. She said when she got it she took it out of the box immediately and put it in a display cabinet or something and threw the box away.

All’s well that ends well, I guess, but I still feel guilty about asking that lady to let us have the snowman at the original bid. It wasn’t her fault that I’m an idiot. On the other hand, if I were in her shoes, I would have had compassion, too, after hearing the circumstances, knowing the snowman would have gone to the same house, no matter who got the bid.

Anyway, here he is, front and center with his snowman brothers. The “Caution: Thin Ice” on the left was my mom’s, and the one on the right with the mailbox was mine. Now the set is complete, after almost resigning myself to the distinct probability that I would never be able to find him.

snowmen, the complete set

If I had my way, Ebay would go back to showing the email of the person who has the highest bid.  Had I seen my daughter’s email I would not have bid against her.

Ebay is a very good commodity.  Sometimes.  Other times you get cheated on an item that is not as good as advertised or you get overcharged for shipping. Then, other times, the bidding war brings out the “ugly” in your character. Greed, along with an overly competitive personality trait, one that may have lain dormant for years, suddenly reduces you to a person you never thought you could be, and you never know when it will rear its hideous head.

Boy, all that came out of nowhere. True confession time, I guess.

And to think that I had only meant to write about test strips.

Stats for 8/8/15
Weight: N/A
Exercise:  2.3 miles with great hills and speed (299 calories burned). I am sweating good!!!!
Blood sugar: 108 (9:30, after dinner, treadmill and shower)
Breakfast (8:30) E: two pieces of Ezekiel toast with a wedge of Happy Farms cheese and Smucker’s Simply Fruit and a Snickers Shake
Lunch (12:30) E: turkey sandwich with Happy Farms cheese, mustard, lettuce, tomato and onion. Radishes and cucumbers on the side.
Afternoon snack (4:00) E: Gala apple and Mock Frosted Lemonade from Briana Thomas (Today I made this recipe as written, and I didn’t care for it. Using ten packets of Truvia for a 32-ounce Nutribullet cup tastes much better than stevia)
Dinner (7:45) S: Easy Chicken Enchiladas from Mrs. Criddle’s Kitchen

6 thoughts on “Ebay: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

  1. You might try sending in you purchases to your insurance to see if they will reimburse you for the items bought on ebay. Not sure if they will since it didn’t come through a pharmacy, but many will reimburse for non-pharmacy items like gauze or aspirin, etc. It all depends on the plan….it’s worth a try.

    1. I didn’t realize that! I’ll keep that in mind, especially once we use up all the ones we got through the pharmacy!

  2. Oh what a PRECIOUS story!!!!! What a story of mother / Daughter love!!!! I am SOOOO glad you got your/your Mom’s snowman!!! I totally agree with you about knowing whom you are bidding against on e bay!!!

  3. Funny, a sad memory, and a sense of character, all displayed in one story. However, I think the memory of your mother pushed you further than you wanted to go. It also is a beautiful story of a grown woman who loved the memory of her mother enough to “give it her all”. Love you sweet friend. And your mom loved this story, too.

  4. Yup, you never know what will happen when you get to writing about something. I love snowmen. Most, but not all, of mine are the blue and white ones. HUGS, Terry

    1. I love snowmen, too. Actually, I love all things Christmas! Santas are my favorite, though.

      I have a friend who keeps her snowmen out all through January.

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