Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Today's blog is the story of the above slice of nonsense from Berkshire-based eBay idiot missybeemer (real name withheld due to decency she doesn't deserve).

Regular readers will know that R-Man and I are no strangers to buying, selling, repairing and indeed rocking used guitars. Sometime in early 2010 I picked up this (my second) Hondo II Les Paul, made in Japan in the 1970s. It arrived grimy and semi-functional, par for the course in such an endeavour. A new set of pickups, strings, and a bit of time with the soldering iron and a damp cloth and a sweet guitar was ready to rock.

In 2011 it became my main gigging guitar, here I am playing it in gigs in July 2011 (just 4 months before it was deemed "in horrible condition"):
Looks horrible doesn't it?

But Chris, I hear you ask, isn't it possible that the "completely worn frets" made it unplayable and sound terrible? Well it's a fair question, as clearly in all my years of guitar playing I have absolutely no concept of what a playable guitar feels like, and with the ample collection of guitars I have to choose from I opted for this clearly worn-out plank from the 1970s instead of my 2010 Telecaster or 2009 Gibson SG out of complete ignorance. Let's listen to a live recording of me playing it in October 2011, just a month before missybeemer passed her questionable judgement:

I'll let y'all be the judge on whether that guitar works.

So anyway, due to my impending move to faraway lands, lamentably I had to cut down the guitar collection; I'd rather they went to be played and loved by someone else than sit in a storage room somewhere. Which is where our friend missybeemer comes in, winning the auction on eBay for a bargain price of £127:

Hi, is it OK to send my own courier to collect the guitar? It would save me a long drive.
Please let me know the collection address if OK.

yours truly:
Yep that's fine - the address is [GM HEADQUARTERS LONDON] - Wednesday or Thursday evening is best for me, or over the weekend?

Will you be sending cash with your courier?

Also if you're interested I have a hard case for Les Pauls which I'm going to sell too?

Hi. I can send the money via PayPal before the guitar is collected. I have a case but could you wrap it in some cardboard so it gets here in one piece?

yours truly:
Hi, No problem - I'll pop it in a padded gig bag for protection if that's ok with you.


Thanks but without some tough protection on the outside (cardboard) it will most likely get damaged in transit. 
Let me know if you can get hold of some cardboard. Just want to avoid potential problems.
I hope this is OK.

yours truly:
I have some cardboard here, no problem

Notice here dear reader that I'm offering protection appropriate to a guitar. Notice also that resident fusspot missybeemer is footing none of the bill for the "Packaging" part of P&P.

Any chance for a weekday between 9am and 5pm? I think these are the hours they work. Possible to collect from the work address or something??

yours truly:
It'll be quite awkward as I'll have to lug it in its cardboarded glory on the tube, if they can do 9am I can wait at home for them and get to work late though?

well, I cant really specify the time but they can collest from a 'safe place' if there is any. would that work?

yours truly:
I'd rather not leave it lying around anywhere! I'll take it to work - let me know the day

So 20 minutes of walking and 20 minutes of tubing later, with a guitar sized cardboard box under my arm:

Hello. The guitar has just arrived. Unfortunately it's a wreck and I am not talking about transit damage because there isn't any.
There are problems you have not described in your listing like taped cavity at the back, pretty much ended frets, various cracks and damages to the finish of the guitar. 

Basically I can't imagine playing this guitar even if I decided to clean it which I am not prepared to do. There is some jam left on the neck pickup...
I hope we can resolve this without much trouble. Please have it back and refund.
Best regards.

Permit me, friend, to refer you to the photos and recording at the top of this blog.

yours truly:

Sorry to hear you're not satisfied with the guitar. Let me address your points:

taped cavity - sorry, honest mistake not mentioning this; there was no backplate on the guitar when I got it so I covered in card and taped down to protect the wiring. It didn't
even occur to me to mention it as being on the back I never see it!

frets - I find no problem with these frets whatsoever? I have been playing this guitar live, in rehearsals, and on record for the best part of 2 years and never had any problem anywhere on the neck

finish - this guitar is over 30 years old; I wouldn't describe any of the finish as "damage" - it's worn as you'd expect any guitar to be that's been played for 3 decades!

jam on the neck pickup - I don't even know what you mean?

So other than the taped cavity, which I do apologise for, and doesn't affect the playability, sound, or look of the guitar at all (being on the back), everything else you've described is what I would describe as well within fair wear and tear for a guitar of this age; I was pretty clear in the description that it's from the 70s. 

If you really feel however that it isn't for you, then I'll accept it back; I've sold a lot of my guitar and amp collection lately and am keen that they all go somewhere where
they'll be played and loved. If you'll organise shipping back to my office (the address I shipped from) then I'll sort you a refund out on PayPal.

JAM ON THE PICKUP?! Weird because I normally only smear honey and maple syrup on my guitars.

Hi, thanks for replying. I will send the guitar back asap. I would appreciate if you could cover the postage as it feels unfair to pay the delivery again just because the guitar turned out to be misdescribed. 
Despite the disappointment I am happy to leave you positive feedback once we have all this sorted.
Paying the postage will also work out for you money wise as we can mutually withdraw the sale and you will be refunded £12 of ebay fees.
Please confirm you are happy to cover the return postage (£10) and we'll take it from there.
Best regards.

yours truly:

I've never had to do a refund before, do you know if PayPal also refund their fees? If not then I'm out of pocket - if so then how about going halves on the postage? I don't
feel the guitar was misdescribed, though I appreciate you were expecting something different - also I went to the time and trouble of packaging it and lugging it across London to be picked up, and have lost the opportunity of having it relisted or bought by someone else this week (and time is of the essence to me as I'm leaving the country in a month hence the sales!)

I may not get chance to reply again today, but will be on my emails over the weekend,


Hi, yes PayPal will refund your fees and I can also make ebay return the £12 by cancelling the transaction. Cover the postage and you have the fees back, the good feedback and a good chance of selling again as the new buyers would not be put off.
You could actually go to and book the courier for £6.99 +VAT if that's eastier. I'm in most of the time so any day is good for collection.

On reflection I was really being too nice here. But then that night I went to see Stewart Lee at the Leicester Square Theatre and he reignited the anger and indignance that was lacking in my attitude.

yours truly:

I've had a think about this overnight and whilst I will let you have a refund if you want, I'm really not happy with incurring any further costs to this; the guitar is in
excellent working order and has no physical defects that are inconsistent with its age, all of which was clear from the listing. You'll not get a better instrument for the
bargain price you paid! There's 6 and a half minutes of evidence here that the guitar is eminently playable:

If you still want to send it back, please ship to my work address and I'll refund when I receive it,


Hi, no worries. My offer was designed to save me money, save you money and conserve your 100% feedback score. Your offer will cost us both extra and clearly is not a win win 
situation but if this is how you want it then so be it. I will sen it back on Monday.

yours truly:
Ok I will process the cancellation/refund when it arrives back.

It sounds like you're threatening to give me negative feedback because I won't pay for the postage - you should be aware that this falls under Ebay's "feedback extortion" policy - there's no need for this to turn ugly; I'm being gracious in allowing you a refund, which I'm not obliged to do, to my own inconvenience and opportunity cost.

After missybeemer gave me negative feedback I reported the above to eBay and they agreed.

Well I think I am being gracious by not opening a claim and not reporting this to ebay. I can take the photos of the guitar and let the ebay team confront them with your description.
As an established seller/buyer I have a direct access to the ebay support team. 
To be hones I could just run this through them and not even address you directly. I hope this shows that I am trying to resolve this in possible easy going manner.
The feedback system is in place to allow users express their opinion about each transaction. 
If I sold an item that is not as described I would apologise and cover all associated costs, but thats just me.
I will not allow this to turn ugly. If you wish I will cover my costs and you will cover yours. Simple as that. I was only trying to be helpful.

I need to buy a new dictionary, my definition of "helpful" is somewhat archaic it seems.

yours truly:
I think covering our own costs is the only way of doing it, as we seem to be at an impasse of opinion. I've apologised for the oversight on the back cavity (which I don't
believe counts as a "significant" issue), and because of this and the fact I want people to be happy with their purchases , I've agreed to do a refund to my own disadvantage.

I maintain that the guitar is as described (unless something's happened to it since I handed over the package); I've evidenced that it's perfectly playable, and the description is quite clear that it is over 30 years old and Used ("The item may have some signs of cosmetic wear, but is fully operational and functions as intended."). As a guitar player and collector of some years my advice to you in the future is to go into a shop and buy a brand new instrument (for several times the price) if you want something that doesn't have signs of wear and tear (signs that it's been played and loved!).

Have a good weekend

Hello. THe refund has just arrived. You have not refunded the postage which set me back almost £20 and yet you are requesting the seller's fees to be refunded.
I am sorry but I made my position clear from the very beginning. 
I will refuse the request and leave appropriate feedback.
Best regards.

yours truly:

Glad the refund has arrived. I refunded you the full amount of the transaction, and as per our previous emails we agreed to cover our own costs. The seller's fees are a 
transaction between myself and eBay; you're bearing no cost from them, in fact they now represent money that eBay has made from me for NOT selling this item.

As I made clear myself, the guitar was not misdescribed and hence I have no obligation, legally or morally, to refund you the postage - this is the cost you bear for exercising what has effectively been a long distance "try before you buy". Indeed you are unable or unwilling to refund me the cost of packaging, admin, carrying the guitar across London twice and the time lost in reselling this item (note had you not bid it would have sold for only £2 less to someone else, who in all likelihood would not have completely askew
expectations of what a quality vintage guitar for £125 would be). I was under no obligation to issue refunds but do so out of respect for other people and love for my
instruments. Unfortunately the grief I've had from you means I will probably change this outlook in the future. Congratulations, in a simple mouse click whose ramifications
affect you in absolutely no way, you have dealt another blow against civil society.

Finally, thanks for everything: I believe the most valuable commodity today is not gold,  nor platinum, nor oil, nor data, nor Higgs bosons. The most valuable commodity is anecdotes, and you've provided me with anecdotal value that will see me through trips to the pub, office chit-chat, and a healthy blog entry.


So there we have it friends. Sellers beware.

As a footnote in case you suspect I may actually just be a complete lying bastard peddling dodgy guitar equipment, here's some of my other recent feedback for guitars and guitar paraphernalia (our good friend missybeemer has good feedback sure, but it's all for selling car parts...) :

Final note: after this big waste of time I now have to go and store it after all as my time to resell has expired. At least it means some time in the future I'll be enjoying strapping it on once again.

Congratulations for reading this far!

Monday, 7 November 2011


Let's cut to the chase: Great Men are going to be playing 2 shows in London this month and you and all your friends should come for the following reasons:

  1. These will be our last shows for quite some time.
  2. We're going to play a completely different set list at each show, covering our entire back catalogue between them.
  3. You can submit requests for which songs you'd like to hear at each show.
  4. At the gigs we'll be selling the last of our Springsteen VS Stallone t-shirts at the bargain basement, holiday season friendly price of £5 each!

Here's the lowdown:

On Thursday November 24th we've been invited by the excellent Motherhood to play at their EP launch at the George Orwell on Essex Road (near Islington and Dalston).

On Wednesday November 30th we're playing at Camden Rock in, err, Camden.

On Thursday December 1st we burrow into our warrens and commence hibernation.

Submit setlist requests on the Facebook events linked above, or on Twitter @Great_Men.

See you soon: bring friends, buy a t-shirt!