EVERY now and then I stumble across a cracking moneymaking idea. So confident am I that I will escape the rat race and build up my multi-million pound empire you would think that I had hit upon something so unique, so maverick, so trailblazing that I should keep the idea all to myself and head straight to the Dragon's Den. Unfortunately though, it is always the same idea. The very same idea hatched by millions across the globe on a daily basis...I shall sell my old tat and make a mint on Ebay.
I banish all prior Ebay failures to the back of my mind. I raid the loft, drag down a load of old c**p and frantically start taking pictures. In the absence of my ancient log in details, I start yet another account, list my rubbish and use my best powers of persuasion in the hope that I can start a bidding frenzy. It never happens though and I end up cursing all my old odds and ends and banishing them to the nearest charity shop.
But then it hit me...why not buy other people's tat and list it all again at a higher price? Yes, of course! With a passion for fashion, I could use my expert eye to bid on second hand clothes that I could then peddle with a sought after 'vintage' tagline. Failsafe, I thought. Little was I to know that it would all end in tears.
I started my desperate hunt and settled on a sky blue tea dress. I secured it for ÃÂ£5 and waited patiently for my money-spinner to arrive. A wet package eventually plopped through my letter box two weeks later, hastily wrapped in ripped brown paper. The dress itself was a bobbled, stinking, shoulder-padded mess originating from none other than that high-fashion powerhouse, Bonmarche. I'd been had - hook, line and sinker.
I plonked the tatty dress into the bin and run straight to the computer to exact my revenge. I let loose describing the poor service and shoddy goods to perfection. How was I supposed to know that there is an unwritten code among Ebayers about leaving so-called 'negative feedback'?
Within minutes I had received an email demanding that I retract my comments. If I didn't, wrote the irate seller, I would be sued for defamation and banned from Ebay. I was enraged. There was no way I would be bullied into backtracking, and a pathetic attempt of scaremongering was certainly not going to persuade me otherwise.
But it was about to get worse. Much worse. The next day I had another lovely message waiting for me...
Scaremongering had turned into thinly veiled threats: "I know what you look like and where you live".
And threats, into sheer desperation: "How dare you ruin my attempts of fundraising for the blind, particularly when I am suffering from cancer and using a wheelchair?"
I was starting to get spooked.
I logged in later to find yet more Ebay carnage. A buyer called RamboTheRam07 had placed a winning bid on everything I had listed and left reams and reams of negative feedback on each item. It doesn't take Sherlock to work out what had gone on.
I stared at the screen in disbelief. By this point I was practically shaking with a mixture of anger and fear, and very close to tears. I had dared to dabble in an online world about which, it transpires, I knew very little. Apart from, of course, that it is inhabited by a load of nutters.
* I am not alone it seems: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article5009293.ece
* What are your experiences of Ebay? Please let me know using the comment facility below.