eBay: the commercial siren

The SirenShe beckons to me, enticing with her promise of amazing bargains and impossibly good value for money. She lays her bait and I think to myself, ‘It’s only 99p. What difference would it make?’ And that is when she knows she has snared me, that all she need do is reel me in, gently at first with tiny increments: £1.50, £2.00. Small fry.

Then, when she is certain that I am hooked, my teeth firmly sunk into something shiny, pretty, desirable, she can hike up that price brazenly. I’m too far gone to care. Like a junkie getting that desperately-needed hit, or a closet trannie furtively wearing his wife’s knickers, I’m riding high on the thrill of chasing down my bargain. I must acquire the shiny thing; it will be mine. And before I know what’s happening it’s all over. Victory! Success! I am a winner!

I must pay soon. But PayPal softens the blow.

Electronic money doesn’t feel like really spending. I happily click away. Then the emailed receipt: I have spent £25 on something I don’t need. Guilt sets in. I make excuses to myself. ‘It’s still cheaper than in the shops.’ ‘Hey, I deserve something nice.’ Time passes. The package arrives. Excitement! Anticipation! But the desired shiny thing is not how it seemed online. Oh fail.

I’m not the only one with eBay addiction. It seems so innocent, so innocuous. Those low-priced bargains waiting to be snapped up. But don’t be fooled. eBay is a cold, calculating mistress, a mercenary with a heart of stone laying traps for the work-bored, the commercially-naive and the bargain-hunting hopefuls.

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