I’ve bought and sold a lot of saddles on eBay. It’s my way of feeding my “addiction”. I’ve written before on how to avoid getting scammed on eBay, but truth be told, even I buy the occasional lemon.
Recently a saddle caught my eye that I thought I might use for hacking out. As someone with an usually long femur, I’m always on the look out for saddles with extra long or extra forward panels. I don’t always like to ride in a xc saddle and this one looked like it had potential. It was an older saddle made in Walsall England. Here’s the auction page and description:
At under $200, I figured it wouldn’t break the bank.
The saddle arrived and yes, it’s a nice older saddle. The problem is that isn’t exactly as it was described.
Problem #1 – It is not an 18.5″ seat. It’s an 18″. Now that might not be a huge deal for a lot of people but I buy a larger seat size so that I have a place to put my 22″ femur. Seriously, folks, if you’re going to sell a saddle, it’s not that hard to measure it correctly.
But that’s not the only thing that wasn’t accurately described. The seller wrote, “It appears to be a medium tree – a little medium wide.” That would have been perfect for Freedom. Except, that the saddle is actually on the narrow side of medium. While you can fix a saddle that’s slightly too wide using pads with shims (like the Mattes pad or Thinline pad), there’s nothing you can do with a saddle that’s too narrow. Especially when the saddle has foam panels like this one.
As for the panels, the seller repeatedly says that the “flocking” is in good condition. Shame on me, I didn’t ask specifically if the panels were wool because flocking implies wool. Foam panels are foam panels; they are not flocked. I assumed that a nice older English saddle would have wool panels but that wasn’t the case. The panels are in nice condition but they are definitely foam. Once again, if the saddle had been a medium wide, the construction might not have made a difference because it could have been padded to fit.
Don’t make my mistakes
So, learn from the mistakes that I made. When you buy a saddle on eBay, it’s important that you ask enough questions to verify what’s written in the ad. Since this saddle was being sold by a riding instructor for one of her students, I assumed that she’d measured the saddle correctly, assumed that she knew how a medium or medium-wide tree fit, and assumed that she knew that foam panels are not flocked!
- Always ask for a photograph that shows someone measuring the seat size of the saddle.
- Always ask for a measurement that shows the distance between the points of the tree.
- Always confirm that a saddle is flocked with wool (if you care about that).
- Never assume that the seller knows what they are talking about even when they write a pretty good description.
I don’t think that the seller was trying to intentionally misrepresent the saddle but she did. A saddle sold as an 18.5″ with a tree on the larger size of medium is not the same as a saddle that has an 18″ seat and fits on the narrow side of medium. It’s just like buying a pair of shoes that is advertised as size 11 wide and getting a pair that’s a 10 1/2 narrow. The shoes (and the saddle) don’t fit.
I’ve told the seller that she should take the saddle back and refund my shipping. I haven’t heard back from her. I’ve sold a lot of saddles on eBay and that’s what I’d do if I found out I’d inadvertently misrepresented any item. I’d pay for the return shipping, too. Update: I did hear back from the seller who is sorry that I do not like the saddle but said she is not in a position to take it back since she sold it for a student who has already used the money to buy a new saddle. I can’t punish the student . . . so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I get my money out. In the meantime, I will consider it research for my blog :).
I’ve actually relisted the saddle on eBay. It’s not a bad saddle. I’ll probably get my money back if I end up reselling it. And the next buyer will have the advantage of having the right information in the description!