Apr 2, 2012
Readers, as I get older, I notice that fewer things get under my (increasingly less elastic) skin. I don't know if it's a function of age or just having less energy, but it's certainly not because there are fewer things to get upset about. In fact, I'd say there are more!
That's why I'm grateful for people like my somewhat younger friend Rain who, in his most recent post, "The Difference Between Domestic & Industrial Sewing Machines (or, How Not to Get Swindled on eBay & Craigslist), takes on disreputable eBay and Craigslist sellers who list vintage domestic sewing machines as "industrial-strength" when they're not (though compared to today's cheap plastic machines they're extremely capable and well-engineered).
Rain's post is so intelligently argued and well illustrated that I can't imagine how it could be improved, nor would I have the energy to try.
I see the kind of listings to which Rain refers on eBay all the time, and perhaps you do too. Here are a few I found in about one minute; you don't have to look very hard.
Misleading posting 1
Misleading posting 2
Misleading posting 3
Misleading posting 4
Misleading posting 5
I don't know why, but none of these listings surprise me though I recognize a certain amount of misinformation in all of them. Hype and hyperbole are so much a part of American culture -- Hello, P.T. Barnum! -- that I learned early on to be a skeptic.
You could do worse than to pick up one of these old Singers, even at an inflated price, and any potential purchaser has the opportunity to challenge the claims of the seller, or at the very least ask some probing questions before the end of the auction (or before clicking "Buy It Now"). I wonder how many of the buyers end up feeling swindled in the end; we'll never know.
One could argue that terms like heavy duty, workhorse, sews leather, etc. are subject to interpretation. A claim that a machine has been re-wired when it has not (as Rain has experienced first-hand) is clearly fraudulent. But to claim that a Singer 99 can sew leather, which is literally true but may be interpreted as misleading, is harder to judge. Or am I simply a moral relativist?
What do you think, readers?
Have you even been misled by a sewing machine seller -- either on eBay, Craigslist, or even in a sewing machine store -- about the functions or capacity of a sewing machine, new or used?
Do you think eBay should provide information about misleading sewing machine posts, as they do about how to spot knock-off Rolex watches and Louis Vuitton handbags?
If you were selling an old domestic machine that was more powerful than today's machines but clearly not designed to sew leather, upholstery, or sailcloth -- although it was capable of sewing some of these, though perhaps not every thickness, or all day-every day -- would you include this information in your posting?
Where does truth end and the lie begin, and how much responsibility should lie with the buyer? (Just Google "Industrial sewing machine" and you'll immediately recognize that a Singer 99 is not one.)
Labels: sewing machines