March and April saw the UK in a state of stasis for most of us as the car was left on the drive, shopping delivered by van, family greeted from a distance and we were allowed only a fifty minute walk from the home. Luckily we enjoyed almost unprecedented warm weather in which to bask in glorious sun for those lucky enough to have a garden. I set about redesigning it, clearing out shrubs and trees. But this image sums up that period of stagnant personal freedom at a time of burgeoning growth. In a patch of land awaiting development a self-sown crab apple had the most intense red buds and our daily walks gave us time to observe its daily development as intensely as we might in our own garden. Sadly the fruits never developed to a standard required for the orchard but in that time it was special indeed. As we re-enter lockdown I fervently hope I’m not tracing its progress as winter 2021 turns to spring.
Today I had a look at some of the pots of snowdrops that have shown no sign of life on my display bench. This can be a dispiriting experience though most are simply biding their time. But there have been casualties. ‘Pieces of Eight‘ has a hole right through it, infestation or rot, I’m not sure. So a blast of fungicide but little or no hope. I have also just done the hot water treatment of 40C to kill any larvae still devouring the bulb. Snowdrops achieve huge prices on eBay. Given that a passing narcissus fly may take a fancy to your prized and expensive plant it’s a huge risk. I have parted with no money for snowdrops this season and little over the past two years. All my snowdrops now come from swaps and I’m very cynical about new varieties that add little if anything to the range. For instance most featured below are very adjacent to a number I could mention – clever marketing campaigns from sellers who rightly see eBay as the money tree that keeps on giving. Some growers I know have switched sales entirely to eBay. Here are a few delights on offer today. One has little visual merit from what I can see and maximum merit in terms of price. By the time you read this post one at least will have been sold. ‘Titanic’ gives me that sinking feeling. Should you be a reader outside the UK I will convert the currency for you. (£200 is a lot.) Note that the price for delivery varies. It does not cost £10 to post a single snowdrop. Greedy! Oh, and I have one of those featured below bought last year for a sliver of the price. It has at least two flower buds and one plant will be swapped after flowering. I may get a replacement piece of eight.
For many of the sellers, the funds go towards the purchase of the ever growing number of cultivars one simply can’t do without. They mostly arrive fresh and, through a variety of means, they are intact to such a degree that I can unpack them, pot them up and the flower is unblemished.
|Of course, the best things in life are free! (Nostell Priory)|
|‘Galanthus ‘Cinderella’ after two months since purchase on eBay.|
1. To defraud buyers of snowdrops on eBay is easy. First obtain an account with both – they are supposed to be separate but really aren’t.
2. Steal some images from Google of the valuable snowdrops you are selling. They have a legal owner but, hey, you’re going to do something far worse.
|”Cinderella taken from eBay auction|
|‘Cinderella’ taken from Scottish Rock Garden Club|
3. Obtain some common snowdrop bulbs in a juvenile state (this is important.) If you have them in your garden great, but you can always dig them up from the wild. (Illegal but ….)
4. For the eBay auction say the bulbs are ‘fresh’ or ‘detached offsets’ (a good one this). Use one of the stolen Google images in your description. Why not say recent heavy rain has washed out your raised bed giving you sixty or so ‘Rosemary Burnham’, for example.
5. Wait for the bids to flood in.
6. Obtain the money from the ‘winner’ in your PayPal account.
7. Send off some of the small bulbs of your probably wild snowdrops in a margarine tub or some such other cheap packaging. And don’t forget to charge a lot for the privilege.
8. Wait for the Feedback to come in. The buyer has received bulbs he or she believes are correct. You’ll get the good feedback you need from the polite people who normally buy such things.
9. Tidy up the extensive nursery for your bulb making enterprise generating hundreds of sales of rare named snowdrops. A single wet wipe may be required for the kitchen table.
10. If there is a delay in obtaining feedback make a promise of the odd three or four ‘Cowhouse Green’ that you have somewhere when you do some ‘uplifting’.
All you need is that feedback so a promise of riches may help to persuade your buyer.
11. Complain of overwork in getting ready for the market if there is a further complaint.
12. Ignore further requests. Get abusive if challenged. Threaten legal action. Remember you’ve already got the feedback from those nice buyers of your fake snowdrop cultivars.
13. When there’s a lot of complaints and it’s getting a little hot, hide your History on eBay. You can. Your previous good record will minimise the impact for some time. The percentage may go down a point or two but the details are not available.
14. Change your name. Always a good ploy. Instead of galanthophilesgreen try ‘1bestof1’. (Give it a try, readers.)
15. All this is unnecessary for the majority of your buyers who are waiting for the tiny bulbs to mature. Trouble is in most cases this will be outside the 180 days PayPal money back guarantee. This matters not one jot to you. And you won’t have many claims.
16. And if the worst comes to the worst, in the interests of fairness and minimising the money back guarantee, PayPal will find in your favour in a matter of days because the buyer hasn’t got proof the tiny shoots are not the snowdrops in the auction. This scam is foolproof.
17. And if there is any further complaint, PayPal will not change their decision despite the nice lady on the phone being sweet because it has been decided. The resolution will not work against you because you have rights as a seller.
18. And should everything fall apart there’s a good chance the police will be so busy they won’t deal with the complaint.
The seller purports to be James Arthur Bulmer from Crook in the North East of England. His email is email@example.com but it can change.
Others have been tricked. Read this. The link provides various members’ accounts of their dealings with Richard. They include images like mine and a very interesting photograph of just what will emerge from the bulbs when and, in my case, if they flower. You may be surprised to learn that they are ….. the common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis.
Paypal and eBay are still letting James Arthur Bulmer trade although, despite his change of identity, he has not placed any more small snowdrop bulbs on sale. He’s told one of his buyers he’s off to somewhere warm. He’s made thousands of pounds from the scam.
I shall now leave PayPal and only buy snowdrops on eBay from buyers I know. There’s a list on the above link although there are others I have used and I intend to publish a list of these shortly.
And if James should like to challenge me in court I’d welcome the opportunity. I have also traced the original images used on James’ eBay auctions for most of his sales to other buyers. As examples, ‘Dragonfly’ the image stolen from our own Avon Bulbs, and James went international with a German site for South Hayes.
Just time to add the following:
Ebay and PayPal have been contacted by an expanding number of angry customers. Yet they have upheld a fraudster’s case. The criminal wins. I have earned my money in the past from writing for a variety of outlets. I have plenty of material to do so again, don’t you think.