New! eBay Drive-Thru Pawnshop

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eBay Drive-Thru authentication station

Pssst. Hey buddy! Want to sell your watch real fast? Check out eBay’s converted gas station. “From the convenience of their car, ‘guests’ hand over the items to on-site appraisers and, if they approve the offered price, the guest can sell to the buyer on the spot and get money instantly deposited into their PayPal account.” And they call it an . . .

“authentication station.” To be fair, it’s not a pawn shop. You can’t leave your watch, get a loan on it (worth a fraction of its resale value), pay back the loan (within a specified period) and reclaim your watch. But neither is eBay’s authentication station just about selling your watch to eBay’s uniformed minions. (Are they throwing gang signs?) The online auctioneer’s new LA gig is a binary process.

Authenticated items can be sold on the spot if consumers desire, but they can also [take their watch back and] post those items on eBay at a later time. While watches (for example) are being evaluated, they are also photographed. These images are available to Authentication Station visitors should they wish to list them on eBay.com at a later time.

How do eBay’s time-pressured authenticators tell whether or not a watch is stolen? Do they care? I guess we’ll know the answer to that question if and when LA gangs start mugging people for their Rolex – more than they do now. nbclosnageles.com:

Four men mugged a 69-year-old woman, stealing her Rolex watch and bracelet and leaving her with cuts to her wrist, police said Thursday.

The incident happened on Oct. 30, police said. Surveillance video shows the men pulling up in a car behind the woman’s car in an alley near the 300 block of La Brea Avenue.

Two men held the woman down while a third used an unknown tool to cut a Rolex watch and gold bracelet from her wrist, police said.

I reckon the victim’s lucky her horologically-inclined assailants didn’t cut off her hand.

That said, criminals generally fence stolen watches for cash, rather than eat PayPal’s exorbitant transaction fees. Not to mention avoiding police tracing their online financial transactions (subject to court order).

The real and present danger? Getting stiffed. Accepting an eBay offer for your watch that’s significantly less than what you’d get by listing it. As sure as eggs is eggs, that’s what’s on the table here.

eBay Drive Thru billboard

Speaking of food metaphors, I’d bet dollars to donuts eBay appraisers decide on the cash-now price for a watch by looking at the sold items price on . . . wait for it . . . eBay. And then reducing the offer by a large margin.

Pop-up or not, eBay has to pay for their drive-thru Appraisal Station; labor, rent, branding, marketing, uniforms, etc.

The eBay drive-thru authentication process isn’t exactly clear. Does eBay’s expert – the same guy who appraises collectible sneakers – remove the caseback of expensive/vintage timepieces to check for Frankwatches? I cordially invite a reader to find out for us (email robertfarago1@gmail.com). It should be easy enough.

eBay Drive Thru billboard

On a screen in front of the parking spots flashed a QR code, which, when activated through one’s phone, allows you to submit your contact information while also getting a live view of your items (such as watches) being inspected.

The level of transparency and insight into what happens inside the eBay Authentication Station adds to the sense of fairness and openness that defines much of the traditional eBay user experience.

Note: eBay has been such a profitable market for fake watches the company now has an Authenticity Guarantee on watches above $2k. Once the deal goes down, the seller sends the watch to eBay for authentication. If the watch checks out “against the item listing,” eBay sends it to the buyer. (The process takes two days on eBay’s end and water resistance and accuracy are not included.)

eBay reserves the right to rat out counterfeiters to the authorities – a potential problem for a seller who didn’t know their watch was fake. I assume eBay reserves the same right at their eBay drive-thru location.

Anyway, one wonders how long before Jomashop and other gray market watch dealers get in on the fast appraisal action. As always, caveat emptor.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I found out about sneaker appraisers a few weeks ago, and still think it’s pretty cool that it is a thing. I’m a comic book guy, and I don’t know how much I’d trust “professional” companies doing the grading or appraising. Comics that have been “slabbed” as “mint” and “certified” as such by one of the companies doing it have been opened by collectors, and there have been cases where “mint” items have had a page partially removed (a subscription coupon or pin-up at the back), making the item definitely not “mint”, “near mint”, “very fine”, or “fine” and worth (at best) 50% of what was paid for it.

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