Monday, August 5, 2013

You Loose Some, You Win Some

What's wrong with this listing ...

Yep - only two feedback ratings and a feedback score of only 75%! Guess I was blinded by the lovely cerulean blue of this Smith Corona, thinking a grandchild might enjoy it, and didn't notice that rating. When it arrived today playing peekaboo through its flimsy cardboard box things did not bode well.

And as the unboxing continued, things just got worse ...

I will request my $59.42 back from this seller, but don't anticipate even getting a response (But see the addendum at the bottom of this post!). So what did I learn from this purchase?

  1. Of course, read the whole listing. Don't buy from sellers with low feedback response or score.
  2. When paying for the item send an email to the seller with a friendly note requesting them to pack it carefully. Multiple layers of bubble wrap, at 90 degrees to each other, building a cocoon at least four inches thick, placed in a nest of styro peanuts or similar of at least four inches all around inside a sturdy carton, is simple and does the job. Then thank the seller for reading the note, saying how I am looking forward to adding the machine to my collection, It's worked before.

Overall, my experience with eBay has been good. I've received no machines in a condition other than what I expected from carefully looking at the photos and reading between the lines of the description. Of the 30 or so machines (please don't tell my wife) that have arrived, only two were damaged in shipping, and one of them is repairable. But not this one, unfortunately. If anyone needs a Coronet Super 12 for parts, just let me know!

And now for the winner. One of my granddaughters is a writer, in her second year of working toward a degree in marketing. She lit up like the sun when I asked if she might be interested in having and using a typewriter. She even gets it about editing hardcopy away from the distraction of the computer. My quest for a suitable machine resulted in this treasure which also arrived today:

A twin to the Hermes Rocket that I use as an RV typer, it arrived in beautiful shape, thanks to careful packing by the folks at Seattle Goodwill - it even included a fresh ribbon. A clean up of the case and the body with a bit of Scrubbing Bubbles was all it needed. There will be no incarceration in the dungeon for this little beauty, which will go out into the world to help seed a love for these machines in a new generation.

Contrary to my pessimistic expectations, the seller of the unfortunate blue Coronet provided a refund the same day I requested it, for the total amount of the item plus my shipping cost. This is a reminder that I must add a third tip for purchasing via eBay:

3. eBay sellers are, for the most part, well intentioned, and do not purposely try to cheat or mislead. This basic quality of human nature is supported and encouraged by the eBay feedback mechanism. Straightforward and friendly communication is an important part in eliciting that positive human quality.


  1. Real shame about the Coronet. It actually makes me sad to see a nice machine destroyed like that. I know it comes down to bad packing, but what in the heck was the shipping company/postal service doing with that box? Did they use it as a jack stand for one of the trucks?

  2. Bad luck Tony, we have all felt the frustration that you are now experiencing. I too received a SCM in similar shape, it was a manual portable but very similar damage. But out of the jaws of defeat we can sometimes snatch a small victory. I have a Coronet missing the drive belt, carriage release levers and the Margin Buttons, would you be able to help me?

    My name and address is as follows;
    John Lavery
    245 Wellington Bundock Drive,
    Australia. 4285
    Please let me know if there are any charges involved.

    Best regards, John

  3. Erik, the box had "Fragile" written all over it. I think that was the problem - obviously those are the boxes chosen when jack stands are needed.

    John, I'm glad there is a possibility that machine can be of use by donating some of its body parts. I'll take a look and see if i can figure out how to remove them.

  4. P.S. to John - I will need wait a few days before operating on the Coronete in case the seller or eBay require I ship it back.

  5. Thanks Tony, see how it goes, if they want you to ship it back they are bigger fools than I thought. I hope they don't from a selfish point of view. I am sure that Ebay can help you in this matter although I have had some frustrating dealings with them on related matters. Like sellers agreeing to a deal and then backing out so I kind of keep my fingers crossed when I ask Ebay to take action. Assuming that your seller does not want the SCM back, and they should pay the postage, if you look down inside the left-hand side of the typewriter you will notice a long pulley belt which can be eased off by using some kind of a curved or hooked wire. The Carriage release levers can be removed by easing them up and off their metal fitting and the Margin buttons the same best to look at them from the back of the machine. Keep the rest of the wreck as it will never go to waste. For your information I have lots of wrecked machines and should you ever require a part inquire with me first, I would only be too happy to help. Similarly, should you require any technical assistance please give me a call I may be able to help.

  6. John (McTaggart) - Good news - the seller provided a refund within less than 24 hours of when I requested it, so the parts are yours, and will be in the mail today. I removed both of the carriage levers completely, and the belt came off with no problem. Unfortunately, neither of the margin buttons, although they show in the eBay photo, were attached to the machine as received, or in the pile of broken bits - they must have fallen through one of the many holes in the carton during shipment. I will keep what's left of the machine, which is very clean - I'm still sad about the demise of such a lovely typewriter, but glad it can be of some use.

    Please email me - I'm at

  7. The horror! Luckily you got your refund, but this is the most awful E-bay experience I've read about. Truly a sad thing...