Hurray for Ebay - boo for shill bidding

Having spent 2 pregnancies in the south of France I managed to get away without needing a maternity coat, my bump fit quite nicely underneath my husbands jumpers & fleece which was acceptable attire in our small village.

This year I'm spending most of my pregnancy in London whilst my husband finishes his IT contract and I've already outgrown my own coats. There is no way I am walking around Canary Wharf in 2 oversized jumpers and a man's scruffy fleece so I've ended up shopping for a few bits on Ebay.

I decided I'd buy clothes from a brand known to French women so that I could resell them on Ebay France later (possibly for more than I paid in the UK with any luck!)

I bid on and won a maternity coat from Isabella Oliver - it's only been worn for 1 season as it's the 2010 winter collection. Original price £ price £27! It's like brand new, showing hardly any sign of wear and I am now happy as I'm wearing something stylish and my bump is warm.

In France I've been wearing mostly maternity linen trousers, skirts & dresses which were appropriate for 9m of the year in the Midi, in the UK I need warmer clothes so I decided to try on my maternity jeans from pregnancy number 1 (when I used to commute to London each week). They didn't get over my thighs and hips. Damn. What is going on? I can't have put that much weight on surely between pregnancy 1 & 3? After having a small tantrum (whilst kids were in bed thankfully) I checked the size 36 - size 8, ok not so bad - I wouldn't have imagined I could fit in a size 8 but I will have to explain to my hubby that the designer maternity jeans he paid for in the excitement of my first pregnancy under the promise that I will wear them for at least 3 pregnancies....are too small.

So onto ebay again, here I picked up another Isabella Oliver item - Bardot jeans new with tags on for half price. Size 12. They arrived yesterday, fit nicely if not a little on the long side but in my winter boots that won't matter. Again I'm pleased as I can sell these easily on after I've finished with them.

I've also picked up a few nice things for the kids and the baby at such a small price and such good quality but there has been one sting in the tail. Recently I came across a shill bidder. You probably haven't heard of this and neither had I until it happened to me. I bid on a Catimini baby pram suit, photos looked like new, I know from the Catimini clothes I already have that it washes really well & I can tell from the photo how much it's been worn or not.. This one appears not to have been worn much at all.

I bid 0.99 with an autobid up to £7.01 immediately someone bid up to £8.00 at which point they were leading the auction, then they retracted their bid with the reason 'entered wrong amount' so I was now the lead at £7.01 my maximum price. 5 minutes before the auction was due to finish the same opponent bid £10.00 then retracted it reason 'cancelled', I think they were testing to see if I had increased my bid or not. This could have been a friend of the seller or even the seller themselves having a second ebay account. They retracted 2 bids meaning neither of their bids were valid. If they hadn't been involved at all I would have paid £0.99 instead I paid £7.01. If I felt it was a normal fair auction I'd be happy at £7.01 but instead I think I have been fiddled by someone pushing the price up artificially. I've reported it to ebay, they are investigating but they won't tell me their decision due to their privacy rules. I've bought the item as I bid for it I'm legally obliged to buy it but I'm a bit irritated and wary now of using autobid. I'd rather put a final bid in just before the auction closes than let people take advantage of me. It is apparently common and only 1 person as far as I'm aware has been prosecuted so far for Shill bidding by trading standards.

It won't put me off using ebay as I've had some great deals and I've sold a number of items fairly but I will now be more wary. Not everyone is as honest as the rest of us!