Saturday, 28 April 2007

Profiting from another's generosity

Last night Truman and I exchanged a flurry of disappointed emails after I discovered that a part we had given to a "friend" to use on his van just a couple of weeks ago was on eBay at a starting price of £50.

It is the roof-rack of a GPO van, the one we rescued from the Goat Lady's van. Here's me with it before Truman took it off the van.
and here it is in its ebay picture.

First I called the couple whose land it had been on and asked if the collection of the part had gone ok. The lady of the house answered and was lovely. She had been charmed by the "friend", such a nice man and his son, she said, and I felt then how wrong it was that my "friend" has abused their trust as well as mine, because this old couple gave me free rein with the van and Truman and I had made a point of not letting money change hands on any of its parts.

Then I called the "friend" and gave him several opportunities to open up. I asked how the collection had gone, asked about the restoration and then he did say that he had reservations about putting fixing holes in his van's roof but that he hadn't had time to do anything on the van because he'd been concentrating on another project. I said I quite understood and that if he didn't want the part after all, we'd want it back and he said yes....but still he said nothing about the sale.

So I said that, funnily enough, he'd been brought to mind because I'd just seen an ebay auction for a rack just like this one, but even then he did not own up. At this stage I didn't want to challenge him because I wanted Truman's opinion about whether this was the same rack...and since "friend" had not owned up, challenging him would be calling him a liar and could be very unpleasant. There was also the matter of some parts Truman gave me, which "friend" had brought up from London for me on his last visit to Truman...and I wanted these back before the fit hits the shan. So I have arranged to go next week to get those.

Then, after agreeing wording with Truman, I wrote to the seller suggesting that he might be acting for "friend" and urging him, if this was the case, to stop the sale while the issue of disputed ownership was clarified, as the "friend" had promised we would have the part back if it wasn't used.

This is all very upsetting. It isn't the money, it's the principle. Parts for classics are often rare and this particular item is very rare indeed. We gave it in good faith and for no money because it was to be used by a member of our fraternity...that small breed of J type restorers, because it was the right thing to do. He needed it and we had it.

Selling it, especially within days of acquiring it is a gross abuse of our good faith. And it has only just occurred to me that maybe we were being duped from day one; I do hope not. I do hope he just didn't need it after all and didn't think to give it back.


No comments: