Putting eBay to the test

Cash Peters' Red Snapper

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: If you haven't found the gift you're looking for, there's always eBay. Whatever "it" is, you can find it there . . . at least that's what the commercial says. Well, that got our old friend Cash Peters wondering, is that really true? So we sent him to eBay University to find the answer.


LECTURER: We're going to spend the whole day talking about eBay.

CASH PETERS: Two days actually. eBay U is a mobile college that travels around the country like the touring version of Cats, only it's more welcome and shows people how to sell stuff online.

MAN: It's such a good idea. It's a no-brainer. It's changed everyone's lives.

CASH: Will you graduate from eBay U?

WOMAN: Yes, I expect to.

CASH: Because basically by the end of the day, if you're still here, we want you on our football team.

WOMAN: OK you're on.

CASH: Will you be on the basketball team?

WOMAN 2: No, but I will be a cheerleader.

CASH: And where are you going to buy your outfit?

WOMAN 2: On eBay!

Yay! It's a global garage sale with annual transactions that total a whopping $13 billion. But is it too late to join in? I asked the dean, Ji — oh, eBay U even has a dean, Jim Griffith.

JIM GRIFFITH: Your chances of success are better than in any other marketplace because you're exposing it to potentially 100 million, 200 million people.

Oooh. Of course, there are certain things you can't sell on eBay.

GRIFFITH: Live animals, Nazi propaganda and recalled items. So anything that's ever been recalled.

CASH: So Sony batteries . . .

GRIFFITH: Yeah, yeah yes!

CASH: Old Ford Explorer tires . . .

GRIFFITH: Right! Pintos!

Gotta love that laugh. But otherwise, anything — however bizarre — goes.

GRIFFITH: Someone scooped out the contents of their sofa cushions, and they arranged it artfully on a piece of black velvet with a glue gun and sold it for $60 as a work of art.

WOMAN 3: We sold burned candles.

CASH: That are already burned down?

WOMAN 3: Oh yeah.

CASH: So why would anybody buy that?

WOMAN 3: Somebody wanted it for the nostalgia sake.

Well, if burned-down candles can sell, how about broken pencils?

This was my idea: I got a red pencil, snapped it in half, then stuck it up for auction on eBay as "The Red Snapper." I swear. But is there a market for broken pencils? Jim Griffith:

GRIFFITH: There's no market in broken pencils that I know of.

CASH: You see, that's why it couldn't work on eBay!

GRIFFITH: But it could work! Because if there's no market, the marketplace is wide open for you to create!

Exactly! That's what makes eBay so exciting and eBay University all fun and laughter. I almost regret going to real one now.

CASH: Does eBay U have all the trappings?

GRIFFITH: Trappings?

CASH: Basketball team . . .

GRIFFITH: Yeah, no it doesn't.

CASH: How long before that happens?

GRIFFITH: Probably never.

CASH: Good move. And as for my Red Snapper . . .

WOMAN 3: Will you sell it? Yes.

Did I doubt that very much? Yes. But you know what? She was right. I sold it for $28 bucks.

[ Applause ]

Oh, you're very kind. Now, of course, I'm totally hooked.

In Los Angeles, I'm Cash Peters for Marketplace.

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