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Dud of the Week: eBay Anniversary

I shouldn’t boast too much about this, I know, since you’re all going to get horribly jealous, but I just received a very exciting email, courtesy of the nice folks over at eBay, congratulating me on an impressive year (or is it 10?) of dedicated custom:

Now my friend Jim says this is the lamest bit of spam he’s seen in a long while, and points out that since I haven’t actually sold anything on eBay the sentiments expressed therein are as genuine as the Microsoft Office on his computer, but I think he’s just green with envy. Not least because the email contained a picture of the eBay Green-Pants Wearing Party Dude (pictured below for your convenience):

 I think it’s a great idea to send congratulatory emails to your customers on the anniversaries of their signing up. Everyone could do it – ‘This is Microsoft here, congratulating you on the anniversary of buying Windows 98! Oh, and buy the way we don’t support it anymore, so you’ll have to buy Vista real soon! Have a good one!’ or ‘Hi! It’s your friendly cellphone company here. Congratulations on the 3rd anniversary of using our service! You’ll be pleased to know that with all the hidden fees and ridiculous per-kilobyte charges we tag onto your bill we’ve been able to send all our kids to finishing school in Switzerland! Keep talking and downloading and not looking too closely at your phone bill!’ It might clog our inboxes but it’ll be worth it to feel wanted.

And I think I’m going to make the Green Pants Dude my Dud of the Week emblem. After all he’s already wearing a dunce’s hat.

Amazon, eBay And The New Liquidity

I bought a second-hand book off Amazon the other day and was boasting about it to a friend. He wasn’t impressed. “We never buy anything new anymore,” he said. Clothes? Thrift shops. Toys? Yard sales. Books, CDs and whatnot? Amazon or eBay. Only food seemed to be something he bought new, and even then I got the impression he was mulling other options on that. All this made me wonder: Has the Internet pushed us into a new phase, where possessions aren’t possessions anymore, but stuff we have until someone comes along with an offer decent enough for us to sell?

Amazon, for example, lists all the books and stuff you’ve bought (scary, sometimes, seeing your literary life flash before you on the screen) and makes it very, very easy for you to list them for sale. So why not? If you set a price that you’re comfortable with, why not see if someone wants to buy? Why not list everything we own online, set a price for each and just see what happens?

Of course some of us want to keep things like books forever, but if this whole process makes goods more liquid, you can always buy back again what you sell later. Maybe people on eBay do this already: Not necessarily needing, or wanting to sell, but if the price is right, why not? I really, really like my new Rockport shoes, but maybe someone might be willing to pay more for them than I reckon they’re worth. Welcome to the New Liquidity.