Day 84 of the Shoe Challenge – eBay Karma & being bitten in the bum by your own petard*

Pretty much every week you will hear me ranting about how I hate other lawyers (apart from the ones that I work with or follow on Twitter). Having spent so much time grumbling about lawyers, you’d think that by now that I’d have learned how NOT to act like a pain-in-the-arse lawyer myself. Yet somehow I just cannot stop myself getting myself into legal fisticuffs with people in my spare time.

Why is this? Willingly getting involved in legal disputes is, after all, is like agreeing to play table tennis with chainsaws.

For example, a while back on eBay I bought something described as a vintage leather dress. When the something arrived it was vintage. It was not leather. Someone had sprayed it with something that smelled like leather aftershave without the nice smell.

Leather Aroma. Yum.

Other than the smell, which literally deafened my nostrils, it was clear from the appearance of the thing that it was definitely not leather. Despite almost being legally blind I can tell faux leather just by touching it.

Faux leather is horrible, horrible HORRIBLE stuff.

I wrote to the seller. “This is not leather” I said. “How can you tell?” she said.   Instead of leaving it there I told her exactly why I knew that it wasn’t (there’s a good guide here in case you aren’t sure).

I bought it from a market in Prahran and they told me that it was leather, how was I supposed to know that it wasn’t?” she asked. I suggested that she report the person that sold it to her to the Department of Fair Trading. I even sent her a link to the Consumer Affairs Victoria site (so that she could complain) & the faux leather dress back (so that she could set fire to it).

Why did I bother?

I think that I spend so much time as a complete willing participant in the legal process that it is literally impossible to let go of the rights & rituals of legal wrangling when I am not at work.  You’ll catch me try to negotiate a settlement most dinner times with my six year old son.

Me: “Have two more tablespoons of peas and a carrot and you can have dessert.

The Noisy Boy: “How about if I eat another potato instead of the peas?

Me: “If you have a potato and three tablespoons of peas we can settle this thing once and for all“.

The Noisy Boy: “It’s a deal.”

Recently my lawyer alter-ego managed to get a good bite in the bum. I call this Legal Karma. Shakespeare would call it being hoist with my own petard.  Either way it’s a lesson in humility as I found out when I bought these Irregular Choice shoes off eBay.

For a while now I’ve been after a pair of Irregular Choice shoes.

Irregular Choice specialise in unconventional and decorative shoes and were brought to my attention by the hilariously rabid and quite probably completely insane Sugar Bum Thumb aka @FecketyFeck. With typical legal caution I asked her to preapprove my reference to her in my blog. Her reply to me was “write what you want, as long as you have me dressed in velvet with a sword“. My theory is that she and her sister frequently look at shoes online as a way to prevent them from engaging in sibling shit fights or murdering their elderly relations and burying them in the garden.

If one was going to be arrested for such a thing, one would want to be wearing a pair of Irregular Choice shoes for one’s bail application. Irregular Choice shoes feature quite prominently in the World’s Ugliest Shoes Awards. The Shoewawa blog very often dobs various Irregular Choice shoe styles in as the ‘worst shoes in history’.

Love them or hate them, looking at the Irregular Choice design range is a bit like looking at a shoe collection conceived by an eight year old girl – fanciful, girlie, whimisical and occasionally just too ongepotchket to get your head around. Creativity gone completely wild in a craft shop.

For example, one of their signature shoe designs features the Japanese tabi (split-toe) look:

Irregular Choice Tabi Toe Shoes via http://www.shoewawa.com/split-toe-shoes.jpg

Another Irregular Choice regular is the Flick Flack’ spat shoe, which is updated every season to feature a wide variety of prints, bright colors and textures.

Other distinguishing features include the slightly surreal chocolate box pictures on the soles.

Also lots of tchotchkes and bits and pieces hanging from various parts of the shoes:

Irregular Choice Trinkettolina Perspex Heel Large bow & detachable charm detail

It is fair to say that Irregular Choice shoes skate the line between fun, outrageous and surreal.  Whether or not you like them depends on how tolerant you are of  Hello Kitty.

Being an avid shoe collector, I have an eBay search saved for Irregular Choice shoes. These generally re-sell well and for not much less than the recommended retail price (ballpark £89.99 for heels, £120.00 for boots). So it was a bit of a surprise when I saw a pair of brand new in the box Irregular Choice for sale for £7  from a UK seller. There are plenty of shoe authentication forums online (e.g Purse Forum Authenticate These Shoes) but these normally deal with the higher end shoe brands such as Christian Louboutin, Sergio Rossi and Balenciaga and not say, Irregular Choice and Kurt Geiger.  So for £7 quid though I was prepared to risk it.

I bought them.

When the shoes arrived they looked quite nice – like a cross between cowboy boots, Aladdin’s slippers and a low heeled mule. At 2.5 inches high the heel is a lot lower than I normally wear even at the weekend but the brass toady lumps are quite sensuous to the touch and I liked the way that the soles have been roughly cut and then the stitching channel left unfinished.

Are they? Aren't they?!

The only thing was that I really couldn’t figure out whether or not these were actually Irregular Choice. There was a line through the brand name on the insole which was obscured by stickers:

New old stock?

It occurred to me that the shoes were old stock but I wasn’t entirely sure one way or the other so when I left feedback I said:

Not sure if these are genuine Irregular Choice but v nice shoes & excellent service

The seller wrote to me privately and advised me that he felt that my  ‘not sure if these are genuine Irregular Choice’ was unfairly derogatory to the item as he had permission to sell the shoes by Irregular Choice. At this point (to my shame) I wrote back to him and said:

Hi Ray

Not to disparage you or the shoes at all – I noticed that a sticker
bearing another brand overlaid the Irregular Choice branding on
one shoe. Happy to send a photo. Also, Irregular Choice have a
very distinctive sole usually incorporating a design. I am a
copyright lawyer otherwise I wouldn’t have brought this up with
you. You might want to check your distribution agreement with
your supplier. If it is from Irregular Choice and you can
demonstrate this and authenticate the product, I am happy to
modify the comment accordingly.

Best wishes
Law and Shoes

The seller replied to me as follows:

if you are copyright lawyer..then you would have know that Irregular Choice released these without the patterns some time ago..these are vintage Irregular Choice, this is how I bought them and have been authenticated by Irregular Choice in Brighton..if you had taken the time to remove the sticker you would have noticed this.I do not have to check with anyone, as it is Irregular Choice in Brighton (Head office who have authenticated these!!) given me full blessing to sell these. Like  I said, shame you do not know your footwear. I am fed with certain ebayers who get things wrong..sorry to be blunt, but I am fed up with derogatory remarks which are wrong. Regards Ray.”

So I thought about it and I considered that if someone was so adamant about the authenticity, it was worth investigating. So I wrote to Irregular Choice directly as follows:

Question: Hi there – I recently bought a pair of shoes from eBay which the seller says are Irregular Shoes. When they arrived I had my doubts which I expressed to the seller (priceisright4u2010 on http://www.ebay.co.uk). The shoes that I bought are accessible at this link: http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=320548441595#ht_2865wt_1139 Are these in fact authentic Irregular Choice shoes? I asked the seller to provide me with some proof but he just got cross and told me that I ‘didn’t know my shoes’. Best wishes Law and Shoes

The reply came back within 24 hours as follows:

Dear Law and Shoes

Thank you for your email, I can gladly inform you that these shoes are Original Irregular Choice and are in fact from Dan Sullivan’s (Creator/ Designer) first ever collection. So hold on to them they may be worth something in years to come!

So there you go. I owe the seller an apology and this is it.

The thing that bothers is whether or not I should have written privately to the seller before I posted the feedback. On the balance I think that I may have been being a legal smart arse at the time.   So the next time you see me wearing these, feel free to whack me across the latter to remind me that sometimes it is good to forget being a lawyer when buying shoes.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

* A petard is, apparently a small bomb or incendiary device. It was used by Shakespeare to blow up an engineer (Polonius) in  Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4 . Engineers are useful and hard to come by. Unlike lawyers.

11 thoughts on “Day 84 of the Shoe Challenge – eBay Karma & being bitten in the bum by your own petard*

  1. they make a leather perfume? WEIRD. fake leather doesn’t bother me (i prefer for price reasons) but i’d be peeved if i got something that wasn’t as described.

    i usually can’t wear irregular choice shoes because they stab my feet but i love their designs!

    • I don’t mind PU per se, just stuff that pretends to be something that it is not. Some eBay sellers have acquired a really bad habit of describing things as leather when they are not. These Irregular Choice mules are PU and you can’t really tell.

      Those Kmart Doc Style boots that you blogged about were cracking though and non-leather shoes are kinder to animals.

      I’ve had really bad experiences with faux leather shoes and boots here and previously – the surface peeled off a pair of boots that I bought from Betts for example and in the Sydney humidity man-made materials make my feet honk horribly.

  2. The shoes look great. I probably would have left similar feedback if I received something with the designer’s name obscured. And I would have been so pissed I wouldn’t have bothered to email the seller privately.

    Anyway, this post is timely for me. Just today I received a package of cyber dreads from an ebay seller, and they are not quite as advertised. After reading your story, I will proceed with caution with my correspondence until I’m sure I’m right.

    As always, great post.

    • People automatically do two things when they realise that they are talking to a lawyer – get aggressive or go into bullshit mode.

      One day I would like to masquerade as a policewoman in uniform to see how people react to me in shops etc.

      But yes, I think that I should have given the guy a fair shake of the sauce bottle as they say here in Australia.

  3. I don’t think you should feel bad. There was no reason for that seller to get snarky. If he’s going to get so bent out-of-shape for a reasonable question, maybe he shouldn’t be selling on EBay.

    I realize MAYBE you could have sent him something first about the shoes before posting review, but your review was overall very complementary. And you offered to change your review. Don’t really get what the problem was. But then again, maybe he was just having a bad day.

    I’m not a lawyer but my kids have told me I should go to law school. I see a lot of me in this post. I have a hard time letting things go even though I know the time I put into trying to “right a wrong” is going to be far more than the end result is worth…

    BTW, my 8-year old and I make “deals” all the time. On the other hand, he is really big on saying, “but that wasn’t the deal” even if we didn’t actually make a deal. Apparently he has me agree to things in his head. Much easier that way!

    • Being a mother is a great testing ground for lawyerhood, Anne – second guessing, negotiation, making the punishment fit the crime. In the case of your 8 year old, I reckon that you should get him used to putting things in writing & getting you to agree (or otherwise) to the settlement terms. Good practice for later in life.

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