Saturday, January 26, 2013

Having my faith restored in the Internet, Or: How I became a lunatic cyberstalker in just 2 days

It began with a pair of shoes. When I tried on wedding dresses back in Houston, I also tried on a pair of shoes by a designer specializing in comfortable, easy-to-walk-in heels (two things I think all heels should be, but I digress). The look wasn't quite right (they had a giant poof on the front) and they were too expensive, because evidently cushioning that makes you feel as if you are walking not in 2-inch heels but rather on a padded bamboo floor does not come cheap. Nevertheless, I kept the designer in mind and found a pair that I loved that were perfect but for the fact that they were even more expensive. While I mulled over the cost and the wedding industry that is slowly seeping into my psyche and convincing me that spending as much on the shoes as the dress is a completely logical move, I also turned to ebay. I started routinely searching the site for any shoes by the designer in my size. What I learned was that she makes a lot of ugly, although still very comfortable looking shoes, and some very lovely ones in bright, non-wedding appropriate colors.
Non-wedding appropriate. But aren't they cute in a weird-mix-of-greens-and-browns sort of way?

Having mostly given up the search after a week long ebay hiatus, I happened during a bored moment at work to search one more time. Lo and behold, there was a pair of the exact shoes and in my size. They were half the cost of buying them new. After excitedly consulting with a couple of friends about rather or not this constituted a "sign" that I should spend the still sizable amount (definitely far and away more than I've ever spent on shoes, with the possible exception of a pair of really nice winter boots that after being re-soled twice have lasted me 5 years), I made the purchase. I was gleeful about it for approximately 2 hours, planning how I would wear them for a few hours, just as their first owner did, and assuming I didn't destroy them, could also resell them.

Within an hour of the purchase, I got a notification that the shoes had shipped. That was very fast, I thought, but then they were coming from Houston, so an hour time difference gave the person more time to get to the post office before it closed. I mentioned it to Sam, and he made the offhand remark that would slowly consume my sanity: "Hopefully, it's not a scam." I laughed that off, and casually looked at the seller's profile, something having not used ebay for about 10 years, I completely forgot to do before the sale. The screen name was a fairly nondescript series of letters and numbers (something a Nigerian prince could create in moments) and far more damning was the fact that she had joined just 2 days before posting the item. She was selling a bunch of other wedding related items (including about 10 tiaras) so I couldn't rule out that she, like myself, was an ebay novice just trying to offload some post wedding items. Nevertheless, coupled with the fact that the tracking number I received implied that the package hadn't actually been sent, I found myself at midnight on the phone with the ebay fraud department.

They, not unkindly, told me to chill the hell out. And that if I received a tracking number, I should just wait to see if something arrived. There was some logic to that, I had to admit. It didn't stop me from emailing the seller just to check in on an address discrepancy with the ulterior motive of making sure he/she wrote back and in non-typoed English. While waiting for her reply, I couldn't just sit around. Instead, I started googling the handle to see if it had been used previously. What I learned is that the screen name had been used by a 43-year old Christian single (which I know because I found her cached dating profile that was since shut down, no doubt because she just got married in very cute shoes) who definitely did live in the Houston area. When she wrote me back to assure me that the package had shipped and to let her know when it arrived, I felt a little guilty for knowing so much about her.

I felt more guilty still when the package showed up yesterday (which really is record time considering I ordered it Tuesday night) and the shoes were lovingly wrapped in pink tissue paper. She even included a small carrying case that had presumably come with them, in addition to the shoe box. There was also a handwritten note thanking me for my purchase and speedy payment. I made sure to leave some very positive feedback on her ebay account so that the next person ordering from her won't wonder why she doesn't have any. So I guess I just wanted to share this saga because so often we read on the Internet about getting scammed, or at least, that's clearly the narrative constantly running through my head. Sometimes things that seem to be too good to be true, really aren't. And in the end you just end up with cute shoes for half price. But the secondary moral is this: there really are crazy people on the Internet, and if you sell something on ebay, you might just get cyberstalked. Oh and also, you apparently can't delete dating profiles on Christian Mingle. That stuff is cached for life. Fair warning.


  1. Wow! What a saga. I can't wait to hear about the shoes themselves. Mom

  2. Mom--they're the ones I originally sent you an email about that led you to say you thought they were too expensive (which I ultimately agreed with).

  3. That's still not as bad as the time me and my coworker thought someone was scamming us so I created a fake online persona to expose the scam. When it turned out it was just some women's meet-up group who had forgotten to confirm their reservations I had to pretend to be the middle-aged single named "Gina" who suddenly decided she didn't want new friends. It was sad, she would have made a great addition to their group. I had given her a great divorcee back story and everything...

  4. Weddings can make you crazy about certain things -- I spent MONTHS looking at headbands and the week before the wedding gave up. A week after the wedding I found the perfect one (price-wise and lookwise!). Such is life! Btw - the booked just shipped yesterday, sorry for being so slow about it!

  5. This post is hilarious! I'm glad that you got the shoes that you wanted, and for half the price! I also had a similar ebay situation, and actually did go and complain to the ebay customer service peeps. I too, was shamed because eventually I did get the game I ordered for my husband for his birthday (although it was past his birthday by that point). It's hard to live in this world and not start to suspect everything internet related!

  6. Carolyn--your story is definitely more awesome! I'm sure she wasn't too hurt to lose Gina though. People on are almost as flakey as craigslisters (or at least here in New York).

    Ania--Thanks again for sending the book! I had actually forgotten about it, so it had the added bonus of being surprise fun mail.