Perils of buying online, chapter 2, Catawiki

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Perils of buying online, chapter 2, Catawiki

As an old Chinese adage goes – if you want cameras, you need to buy them. So I do.

One of the available sources is Catawiki. If you don’t know what Catawiki is, do not despair. Even the good people at Catawiki are yet to decide what they are; online catalogue, online auction, or whatever. At any event, they conduct ongoing online auctions, among which there are daily camera auctions. To enhance their standing within the online auction universe they use two frontmen, camera experts. A senior one that looks as an extra in Smokey and the Bandit, and a younger one that looks as if he had two cold ones and is now fully content. I wonder how they exert their expertise, as they don’t see the cameras offered but rely on the description by the sellers. Such descriptions sometimes make sense, but most are the likes of ‘old camera, German’ with the term ”rare’ thrown in for a good measure; see header image.

They offer fewer weekly cameras compared to the thousands on say eBay, so it is easier to monitor and bid, I bought several nice cameras through this platform, no bargains though, but all went well.

So, in April I placed a modest bid on two cameras. Much to my surprise, I did win. Prices were too low to be realistic, but so be it. I paid. A few days later, on may 1st, got an email from Lucie of Catawiki:

“We are sorry to inform you that the seller of your two lots will not be able to ship your purchases before the 10-05-2018; the seller informed us that unfortunately, he won’t have internet access until then.” 

Internet access? I innocuously emailed back asking how will the parcels be sent via the internet. Knowing that Scotty can beam things up, I was glad to learn that the technology is being implemented.

Lucie confirmed that beaming technology is yet to mature, but the seller needs to use shipping software provided by no other, but Catawiki. To which I had suggested using the post office with handwritten labels, like the less educated sellers do. She further explained that being France it takes ten days to get an internet box. Doesn’t make much sense, but I obliged.

Ten days later no news, so emailed Lucie and the seller, where Lucie suggested waiting several days more to which I had again obliged. No word from the seller.

Looking at the seller’s reviews I noted that he had a history of defaulting on orders which explains why other buyers shied away. Needless to say, the cameras were never shipped. The good people at Catawiki refunded my payment, I wrote Catawiki suggesting to take the seller off their roster and I forgot about it.

Or, that is what I thought.

Conman rap sheet
Conman rap sheet


About a month later, the same cameras, by the same seller, using the same images and description, surfaced on Catawiki camera auction. To my mail suggesting barring the seller, I got the following reply, this time from Georgia:

“We would like to thank you for your proactivity warning us in regards to the items offered by this seller. The corresponding department is aware of this behaviour and we have proceeded with further investigation.” 

The ‘corresponding department’ didn’t do much, as the items were still there. Being a team player I decided to bid again, just to find an error message that “Bidders from your country cannot participate in Catawiki auctions”. 

Catawiki is based in the Nederlands. I am in Canada. I promptly checked with CNN for any rogue activity which I am unaware of. There was none. Catawiki answered my concerned email, sighting ‘technical difficulties’. Needless to say that the Canadian folks were allowed to bid once this auction has ended. So again, I forgot about it.

Or, that is what I thought.


A couple of weeks ago I got an advice from Catawiki that my order has shipped. The seller also marked it so on the auction site. This is a miracle indeed, as the cameras were probably sold to another poor soul. Dutifully I emailed Catawiki. No reply. So I forgot about it.  

Or, that is what I thought.


Yesterday I got a mail from Catawiki, asking if I have received the shipment and if I am satisfied. I understand the this is an automated message, yet it is silly. In my humble opinion, someone in Catawiki should have taken some action, if only to save face. Even if barred, the seller can register again using his cat’s name. So I forgot about it. 

Or, that is what I thought.


I follow the cameras offered on  Catawiki. Much to my delight, the conman surfaced again at this week’s auction. This time offers a Foca, think it is a Universel, worth over $200. Didn’t bother alerting Catawiki as the ‘corresponding department’ is probably dealing with matters of national importance. Instead, I placed a bid, still from Canada. Am now waiting for the next 3d 19h 48m 10s to see the results, moreover, how will it end.  

Foca posting vetted by experts. Note the detailed condition report at the bottom
Foca posting vetted by experts. Note the detailed condition report at the bottom

I won the bid for $147, suspiciously bidding against one other person which smells like a shill bid.

Now let the games begin. I am aware that I may be kicked out of Catawiki and I don’t have a cat.

Wrote to Catawiki as follows, which is as dumb as their initial excuse of non-shipping:

“Lot reference 20579837
I am glad to win this camera. Regrettably, I need ten days time to pay for it. I just got a new internet box, and a technician has to come to install security on it so I could use it for online payment.
Thank you for understanding.”

Got the automated reminders to pay. Five days after my message got the following text, see below together with my reply:

Catawiki replied some days later, sighting numerous clauses in their user agreement, as well as sympathy to my condition, and an explanation that the seller needs the money “to buy more cameras”. 

A couple of weeks passed. A reminder from Catawiki. To which I replied that I am ready and willing to pay for my purchase provided Catawiki will provide assurances that the seller will indeed ship the cameras and that once it is shipped, the parcel will contain the cameras and not some junk as was sent to other buyers.

Catawiki has lost their patience, or the penny has dropped. Got a mail confirming that this purchase has been canceled, but I am liable to pay them 9% commission on the deal; else I will be barred from Catawiki. To which I had replied that as they are definitely entitled to that, I will gladly pay the amount. Just, if they confirm that the conman did pay same on my earlier transaction that he failed to deliver, and if didn’t, how is he still on Catawiki. 

No reply from them so I intend to forget about it.

Hope there will be no future reminder. 

A year has passed since my thrilling adventures with Catawiki. I was indeed sternly warned that I am forever barred from their garden, which did not trigger any action once I bought a camera some six months ago.  Thereafter, I had tried a couple of times to place a bid but was presented with a message stating that I cannot bid, and shipping to my country, Canada, is not possible. Well, so be it.

Last week I had a go at it. Got the expected message, with a list of countries that are favoured for shipping. Sunny Canada included; allowing ‘existing users only’ which is a tad confusing. 



Tried another camera, same.


I do not think that the folks in Catawiki genuinely wish to exclude the nice Canadians from their site, so what it means is that I am personally excluded. Sign of paranoia, I thought. Could it be that they will go to such an extent? At any event, the whole issue became really silly. 

There is one way to find out. Another account, bearing the same name but a different email address, obviously from Canada has been deployed. What a wonder, no sanctions were imposed on this account. So, I am not paranoid. It made me proud to know that they have gone through such trouble to keep me at the other side of the fence.

The bid through my new entity is complete. Now waiting till they will find this out, hopefully by reading this. Wonder whom will they exclude now. 

More to come.



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