A Honest Look at Ebay
A Honest Look at Ebay
I doubt that anyone interested in the wonderful world of narghiles and mu'essel hasnít spent some time bargain hunting on ebay. Yet the pitfalls are many and caution should be your prime concern. I have lots of friends from my club with tons of experiences over the last couple of years which I hope a few of the readers here can benefit from.
One thing you need to remember when prowling around ebay is that tobacco products are forbidden and that ebay seems to be totally unpredictable in itís enforcement of itís own rules. I know of a recent deal in which a friend of mine bought a gorgeous narghile for 300 USD from an overseas seller which a day or so afer the sale was declared in violation of ebay policy which means that buyer protection and the ability to leave feedback vanished. In the three months since the supposed shipment the item never arrived and the item is in dispute with paypal.
Everyone should know that paypal doesnít allow itís service to be used for anything that the company doesnít approve of, like buying tobacco as well as lots of other things, so if you have a problem with a purchase of tobacco based mu'essel your chances of getting any help from paypal or ebay are about zero. The most common problems with buying shisha on ebay is getting a brand other then what you paid for, getting far less then what you paid for and getting some unknown, stale product in a sandwich bag. So only spend as much on shisha (not made by Soex or Black Label) as you are willing to flush down the toilet.
Anther thing to keep in mind is that itís a really bad idea to purchase used narghiles on ebay because you have no way of knowing how they have been used. Misuse has resulted in two cases of legal trouble for fellow club members of mine which resulted in jail time for one of them.
Some of the big sellers on ebay are very problematic. In part itís because several of them know very little about our passion other then how much money they are making and fraud is rampant.
Instances of purchases taking weeks or even months to arrive (if ever) are legion. As are incomplete, damaged and unusable goods and sellers that ignore customer complaints.
I know of more cases then I care to remember of poorly made (but nice looking) narghiles and related merchandise advertised as being of Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese or Jordanian manufacture
in fact being nothing more then slave labor made Chinese junk. These sorts of narghiles rarely fit together properly and almost never are usable for over a year.
The bargain hunter should also know that many supposedly Japanese silver coals and Three Kings are not what they claim to be. Itís common to get such products in genuine boxes but the actual product is clearly something inferior in obviously faked/re-used packaging.
When looking at a sellerís feedback note carefully not just the negative responses but also retractions as these are often a product of ďfeedback blackmailĒ. Typically, sleazy sellers will threaten unhappy customers with negative feedback or worse in response to complaints resulting in both sides retracting feedback. You should also know that sometimes unhappy buyers leave feedback that while marked as positive have very negative comments. Lastly, a lot of feedback is from sock puppets, former members and for items not related to narghiles so be extremely careful which sellers you deal with.
So far, my comments about ebay have been very negative but some good points need to be mentioned as well.
Honest sellers do exist on ebay and good deals can be had occasionally. In terms of major sellers I can only recommend Caravansarai as having functional products at very good prices. The owner and his wife are very nice and give first rate service. The construction quality doesnít look too good upon close inspection but his products give fine service for several years and are a great value.
Almost all antique narghiles offered on ebay are in poor condition and wildly over priced. Still, I know of two genuinely fantastic bargains in antique narghiles that have popped up this year so it is possible to make a real score if you know what to look for in that market segment. If you do buy an antique in need work take it to a professional craftsmen with experience in narghile construction and be ready to spend several hundred or more dollars or donít bother.
Lastly, the occasional beauty brought home by some American soldier shows up but such events are so rare that itís almost not worth mentioning.