How To Get Ripped-Off Buying Infocom Ga mes on eBay
by Robb Sherwin
Actually, this will document my subpar experiences on Yahoo's auction. It's just that I hope that one day Yahoo will list Reviews From Trotting Krips, so I don't want to immediately piss them off. On the other hand, the last time I checked their End -User License Agreement it was something like "All content on Yahoo, Geocities, C ontent Listed by Yahoo, Listed By Any Browser That In Turn Uses Yahoo, or is Generally Considered To Be On The World Wide Web is now inherently owned by Yahoo." So I'm sure it's just a matter of time before they gobble up Dencity like your chunky receptionist scragging the last piece of pie. Furthermore, at this stage of existence I may only be qualified to write such articles on subjects like how to slack off and get ripped off, but nonetheless I would like a large audience to see them. Yahoo is the only search engine anyone in my family knows how to use. Hell, it's the only engine half my friends know exists. It's these AOL-subscribing, New York Yankee-rooting, Street Fighter Alpha II-playing, Web TV-interested, How-do-I-stop-Netscape-from-always immediately-going-to-mirabills.com zombies that provide the foodstuff for these net.vultures. The trick is to not be one of them.
You'd like for this process to be as peachy-sweet-kniphtie as say, the "Steal My Sunshine" video by LEN. Life, or more specifically, the Internet Portion of Life, just doesn't work that way. Admittedly, net auctioning doesn't seem like a very good idea when you're just starting out. In theory it involves you posting, with extreme secrecy, the maximum amount of jack you want to sport for a listed good and then waiting until the end of the auction (which, depending on when you see the item can be fifteen minutes or seven days) to learn whether or not your bid was enough. The thing is, it never works that way. You're supposed to bid your "maximum" amount. If you're the first guy bidding for that copy of Leather Goddesses of Phobos II you input, say, thirty bucks. If some diseased degenerate wants to pay $30.50 for that kind of sweet experience then power to him.
Of course, no one ever, ever does it like that. First off, people are always paranoid that somehow the seller "knows" the maximum amount you put in and will artificially raise it. Whether or not this actually happens is anyone's guess. Yahoo and eBay deny it. And if millions of netizens will trust Yahoo with their webpage content they would, of course, trust them with their actual Benjamins. So, inevitably, you always bid just enough to get your name at the top of the list.
That means, of course, you have to watch the item. You'll get e-mails when you have been outbid. Usually,of course, by someone like starwarsfan69 or waCkmE3yR@zombieworld.com. Frigging geeks that have nothing better to do than outbid you on your attempt to get that Green Lantern ring or, uh, sealed copy of Shogun. You never want to get outbid by some clown you despise, so there's always the "spite bidding" which goes on.
Let's say that someone just uploaded the unedited shower scene to the "If Y ou Had My Love" video in alt.binaries.erotica.celebrities and all the cybersquid are busy making their own virtual Slurpees with a little help from Miss Lopez; so that you actually DO get the winning bid. The next twenty-four hours are extremely indicative of whether or not the ware will actually end up in your hands anytime soon.
If the seller sends you e-mail within an hour of the end of the auction there's an excellent chance that they have it and will get it to you quickly. Almost as a rule those sellers that quickly respond with their address are serious and safe.
If the seller takes between 24 and 72 hours you'll *probably* get your gear. People have lives and families and these things are to be understood, if often mocked.
You'll no doubt, then, get mail from someone past 72 hours. They'll state that & quot;they had e-mail problems" or that they were "out-of-town." That's a load of crap. They are going to throw you up against the wall and tell you the correct way to pronounce it is "Druckenmiller." Nobody has "e-mail problems." They simply forgot about their little enterprise in bending people over.
As much as I'd enjoy personally posting the details of my experience getting tagged over a Yahoo auction, the guy that "sold" me a copy of Suspect and Leather Goddesses (um, the first one, natch) has a name which is almost exactly like a very famous IF personality. There's only a one letter difference. I don't know if this guy was just clever or what (no, I didn't send $63.50 to a guy named Zorf) but this website will probably have enough libel problems without going there. Suffice it to
say, the guy was a thief.
I got the normal crap about "forgetting to check e-mail" but being a bright-eyed and optimistic youth I laughed it off. Happens all the time. Ha ha ha. The problem with Yahoo is that it allows anonymous e-mail accounts to be used. I could log onto Juno tomorrow and score myself an account with the name of "The Enigmatic Bryan B., Esq." That'd be good enough to get me on a playing field where I could fetch $200 for Pokemon that I don't have. eBay does state that anonymous servers are no good. That does tend to fend off some of the slime. It's possible that Yahoo now demands similar e-mail security but I wasn't about to list something to find out.
Always remember that it's your money. Yes, a seller does get charged for every auction that has a bid against it. You don't want to be that guy who is a deadbeat and arbitrarily bidding on crap you have no intention of really sending money for. But if a guy is uncommunicative, slow to respond and has more than a few "negative" items in their feedback, make sure you cover your ass. The items we're all trying to snag have been out of print for over ten years. They fetch expensive prices and are often generously graded by their suppliers. I bought a copy of Trinity off a guy that described it as "shrink-wrapped." This was true. Of course, strangely, some will o' wisp must have got inside the thing and ripped apart the sundial and comic about the atom bomb. Either that or it was -- hahaha -- reshrunk. The shrink job on that thing was probably the worst I'd ever seen. I used to work for an Electronics Boutique and we did a better job wrapping a beat-up copy of Stryder five minutes before closing. If you get jobbed be sure to leave a nasty, sarcastic comment on the guy's feedback page so that the rest of us will know to stay away. You'll be doing the hobby a favor. It's equal to entering two mini-comps.
Alternatives, of course, exist. The next guy to get reamed at Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe will be the first. C.E. brings the noise quickly and faithfully. If you're really into the Infocom games then be sure to buy Activision's disc. Yes, I know it's really cool to hate them for breaking up Infocom but they do donate to the annual comp every year. And, of course, you can always try to get a Spectrum emulator working. Yeah. Or get your grandma's corpse to reverse engineer the game's
code from your decade-old memories.
Buying text adventures over a net.auction can often be a great way to fill out your collection or get those titles you've missed. Just be sure it's money you can afford to lose because the possibility of getting double-crossed is out there, rearing it's ugly head like the box to Terry Bradshaw's Fantasy Football.
Stryder (for the Sega Genesis) is, of course, the most
traded-in game of all time. At EB #320 we had, at one point, thirteen copies of
it. We lost heat once and were burning them for fuel. A drunk got crazy in the mall with a car to
be raffled and drove through our store. We repaired the damage ny bricklaying Stryder
cases. We often had guys from the Rochester Institute of Technology test them as
an adequate means of alternative fuel. Eh, chaps?
The only game in which that would be realistically possible
would be Jinxter, mostly because nobody understood a fucking word of it in the first
place. How's grandma going to crud it up?
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