Portero.com Mini Review: Mediorce Used Watch Retailer Disguised As An Auction Site

Portero.com Mini Review: Mediorce Used Watch Retailer Disguised As An Auction Site

Portero.com Mini Review: Mediorce Used Watch Retailer Disguised As An Auction Site   feature articles As though I needed any reason to keep on using eBay, my experience with Portero.com does just that. eBay has a very good thing going on. Last I checked, it is the 9th most visited website in the United States, and on the watch front, enjoys an impressive volume of inventory daily. The auction method of buying watches will ensure you the best price for watches, hands down. Other quality sites feature flat prices, or direct to seller interaction, but there is no better online auction site than eBay. Here is one "competitor;" Portero.com.

Portero touts itself as a "Luxury Auctions" website. They offer more than just watches, also available is jewelry, art, housewares, and other items falling under a variety of luxury brands. My focus of course was on the watch side of things. Their big sell seems to be the fact that they independently verify the authenticity of each item, have a one year warranty, a 30 day return policy, and offer good customer services. Which basically means they are bound to charge high prices, and have live sales people. On eBay the sales people are the sellers themselves. The watch listings are meant to look like auctions, in the sense that they end, and you can technically bid on them. Perhaps this occurs occasionally. Here is the kicker though, these aren't really auctions, they simply try to emulate the auction experience by placing seemingly random numbers as the price; say $18,761, rather than some rounded price. It is meant to look as though people are organically bidding on the items, but they are not. Exploration of "closed" auctions that ended with a buyer, reveal just one bidder. Meaning that there is no competition, just one person buying the items. You might think this a good thing, until you realize the prices, which are astronomical most of the time. Those "closed" auctions are mostly for items in the sub $1,000 range. Meaning the people buying items there are not going after the ridiculously priced inventory they have. All they need are a couple of buyers paying the very high prices they charge for some items each month, and they are fine.

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They offer a condition status on the watches as well. They are so kind with their "vintage" label. Which basically is a nice way of saying that these watches are beat up badly, which some of them in fact are. I will hand it to Portero that they have a relatively well sized inventory, but I don't know how often it moves, and what demographic site appears to focus on. Perhaps those few dedicated buyers who just must have a particular watch, at any price, in any condition. Also, per their "Tourneau" partnership, they seem to get a large flow of previously owned watches.

I have no particular problem with the watches they offer, many of them are highly desirable, but Portero attempts to veil the fact that it is simply a retailer of used watches at high prices with the auction angle. I am sure that in theory, their auction system works, but no one is using it. They simple place items up for high prices and hope for the best. A large part of their focus is on the "authenticated nature" of their watches, and how they are an authorized dealer. Watch companies like make a fuss about this, but there is no real benefit in using these types of dealers for the most part.

Portero has a blog as well. Well it is a marketing blog, written by a marketing person. It is not particularly interesting, nor particularly worthwhile. You'll read Skymall-esque quality articles which encounter such intellectual dilemmas such as what types of extravagant watches to buy your father for father's day, if your father was one of the pictured celebrities and fell into a couple of shallow categories. Not very creative, very obviously sales orientated, and certainly not written by watch lovers. Technically speaking, the blog is just a free Blogspot blog, so Portero obviously isn't sure what to make of it, or what resources to put into it. Right now its not very useful in my opinion.

Overall, I have no doubt that purchasing a watch from Portero.com would result in a smooth transaction (though I have not done so yet), but is it worth the very high premium? No, I don't think it is. These factors make eBay all the more attractive to me as a location to purchase watches (among other things) as it a true auction site (unlike Portero), I've engaged in hundreds of smooth transactions, and eBay's available watch listings at any time is extensive. eBay here I come.

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23 comments
purselover
purselover

I liked Portero, until they were caught selling fakes and then lied to us members on the Purse forum.

If you do a search on the purse forum, with Portero fakes, you will find it. It has over 10,000 views. 

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Delphinias
Delphinias

As in all that "Victoria" stated, Portero is not an auction house but taking items from individuals, making promises and then leading them through dark alleys of confusion and obfuscation.

The "bids" are falsehoods. A simple reading of descriptions finds numerous, numerous errors and generic statements repeated throughout under different products. Essentially, written in haste by those who know nothing of the item.

CEO Michael Sheldon spews like Bernie Madoff in his heyday. And all his "thanks" and pleasantries do not hide the crass desire to exploit citizens - And do it with a Madoff Smile!

T
T

I am thinking about selling some expensive wedding bands through Portero because I had no interest in them when I posted on EBay. I was hoping to come across someone who has sold with Portero recently. I would think they would be busy with the current state of the economy.

neil
neil

I have been burnt on e-bay. Pay a good price for a watch that never worked costing thousands to fix. I will never use them again. I have bought many on portero. Only one problem, they took care of it under their warrenty. I will purchase from them again!

admin
admin

Hi Victoria,
I am always here to listen to people's good and bad experiences. My feeling is that if you wish to depart with a luxury item yourself, it is best to do it yourself. The services out there for such purposes are going to take too big of a cut, or aren't going to advertise the right way. Either way you just aren't going to get enough for your fine goods. Especially watches. Take care.

Victoria
Victoria

I would have made out much better on Ebay, or consinging the items with another Ebay store that sells for those who don't have the time (Ebay store name is "Fashionphile"). They have served me well in the past with no problems whatsoever, getting a good price and sending out the checks pronto. The Portero rep led me to believe they could get me much better prices, when in fact I believe I got a much lower percentage. Lesson learned, NEVER again. Also, they sold a pair of my Chanel boots to an employee who paid me a price that Portero predetermined, and wore the boots for weeks before actually sending me her personal check. The boots never got to auction and had a chance to sell for more. VERY unethical in my opinion. The ironic thing is certain items are priced way above retail, such as the Hermes bags. They justify the price by claiming that you are in a sense paying to not be on the waiting list for two years. In my experience with Hermes, depending on the popularity of the color and leather you are waiting for, the bag can come in a matter of months. I seriously question the viability of Portero with the way they run their operations; just look at very small number of items sold on a daily basis, and the numbers speak for themselves. I will take your advice and stick with Ebay. Much less stress. Thanks for the support.

Victoria

admin
admin

Hi Victoria,
Thank you for your insight and sharing your experience. I was not aware of where Portero.com was getting its items from. Your story sheds a lot of light on that fact. My assumption was they there were buying wholesale, rather than acting as a front for consignment. They should really indicate that the items being sold are not owned by they exactly. Sounds like you should stick with eBay for now as that is a much more predictable experience. Take care

Victoria
Victoria

These people are more than deceptive. I have a different perspective - that of a consignor. I had purchased jewelry from Portero in the past when they had real auctions on Ebay, and thought them to be reputable, so I opted to send them some high end bags and accessories for consignment. I was completely misled to believe that all the items on their site showing "current bid" were actually auctions in progress....turns out "current bid" just means "opening bid". If you click on the actual item it has a high chance of having no active bid at all. When I sent my items this was never disclosed to me. It took several weeks before my items (approximately 20) were priced, and to my shock they priced them virtually at pennies on the dollar, blaming the economy. After speaking with the account rep, I reconsidered the pricing, and left an email and phone message the following business day that I was not comfortable selling certain items at their quoted reserves. I received no response to either my email or phone message for over a week, with the account rep saying she had been horribly ill and out of the office the whole time. Meanwhile the bulk of the items were put up on the site, selling for absurdly low prices. It appears that only if you are consigning an Hermes bag or high end watch do you make any money at all. I then met another woman who coincidentally had the exact same problem with Portero. She said she received a check for an insanely low amount on her luxury items. There is virtually no real bidding, much less a bidding war on items, indicating that traffic to the site is hardly what they would have you believe. The icing on the cake is that I am now being told that the first item I sold in late November was returned by the customer within 30 days, yet last week I was advised nothing on my account had been returned. Gee, I am so glad someone got to use my Chanel bag to attend all her holiday functions and then send it back after using it for more than a month for a full refund. The list of issues I have had with these people is unbelievable. I have never had this problem with any other consignment venue before. I can't even get my unsold items back yet unless I BUY them back. So be warned, it might be a place to get a decent watch, but my experience as a consignor has been nothing short of a nightmare. Just sharing my personal experience.

admin
admin

Hi Michael,

I know about eBay second chance fraud, etc... It is becoming much less of a problem now that eBay has instituted many new changes to protect buyers and sellers alike. I don't think a little competition in the market is a bad thing, and if it means a higher availability of watches then we are all to benefit.

Your plea to the readers is a suggestions I can endorse. If you are in the market for a specific watch, then please do research all available options. If Portero.com does have a better price than elsewhere, or alternatively a watch that you cannot find elsewhere, then your course of action should be clear.

And if I happen to have a business experience with Portero.com in the future, I will surely share my thoughts about it. Best until we speak again.

-A-

Michael Sheldon
Michael Sheldon

Hi again,
Thanks for your response. Again a few more comments. Please bear with me. We left eBay because we were tired of having to present our items in an environment not built for high end products. I appreciate your kind comments about me as a CEO, however if I really am good its because I have a long term vision that I can offer the consumer something better than what they already have. My original idea was to offer authenticated product on eBay, and I found there were so many fraudsters, that our auctions were regulary shut down and there was no real recourse, further we became one of the largest luxury sellers on the eBay platform and the fraudsters started targeting our buyers. In summary, a transparent market is impossible to control if the rules are impossible to police. Again, please forgive my marketing comment- use whatever descriptor you want, but do the math- look at the number of real auctions happen for luxury items on eBay and PLEASE do the math, compare eBay prices to ours and I think you will be very pleased as a consumer advocate that we really care. Further, i would love you to really spend the time evaluating our business, and the commited team we have built and you would hopefully come to understand that we care about the issues you are writing about as much as you do.

Lastly as it relates to vintage. Forgive me but I find it a bit unfair that a thougtful consumer advocate would make such statements about the condition of our products without having actually bought one. Please, I say this with due respect to a thoughtful individual, its unfair to say what you said without having been an active customer. Many of our Vintage pieces are highly collectible and some of the most valuable pieces on our site.

admin
admin

Michael,

I appreciate your response and participation in this discussion. Your efforts are noble to supply the watch world, but I take issue with loaded attacks against eBay.

The watch industry, like all business, is comprised of the consumer and seller. In this context you represent the interests of making money, while I am a voice for the consumer. I of course cannot take issue with your desire to make a healthy profit, but don't claim that your margins are that thin and dance around the issue of authenticity.

Watch sellers have been shouting the call of "counterfeit" goods for so long to scare people out of buying watches away from the high priced authorized sellers. I don't blame these authorized dealers, but rather the watch companies that often appear to give them little options and control pricing. eBay is an alternative and not only gives people a way to easily sell pre-owned watches, but also an outlet to sell watches at a price the market will bear. The cases against eBay are for bags and other luxury goods, rarely watches. Yes, the unfortunate truth is there is a thriving fake watch market, but you and I know that the fake watch market's does not directly hurt the real luxury watch market. The same person who would buy a $200 fake Rolex is probably not someone that can even afford a $12,000 real Rolex. So it is not really any market loss for Rolex. Further, you'd have to be really out of it and uninformed to think a fake watch is an original due to the quality. And if you are spoofed, then you have a damn nice copy probably worth enough to keep around for the novelty alone. The counterfeit goods market is really a trademark battle than anything else. So you can be sure that a fake watch sold on the street or online, is not one less watch that is going to be sold at Tourneau. For those many eBay users, just look at the feedback, location of the seller, and the amount of transactions. 99% of the time you'll spot all dubious activity right there.

I recall your eBay auctions before you were a separate website. At that time you had a similar inventory and still boasted authentically certified watches. My presumption is that you divorced yourself from eBay to avoid paying their auction fees. Again, a noble reason, but to go ahead and now bash eBay for selling fakes because they are a competitor is pretty transparent. I would really rather you have actual auctions on Portero.com, than present illusory ones and claim you provide "a sophisticated experience," when it is in fact pretty typical.

Again, I have no issues with your inventory per se, but I wish you had more pictures at times and didn't uses obfuscatory language such as "vintage" to describe a watch in clearly bad condition, at a very high price. Remember, an auction site sells items at prices in correlation with supply and demand, again, at a price the market will bear. Otherwise you are just a store online. You can do better Mr. Sheldon, Portero.com can increase its sales and consumer satisfaction with more aggressive pricing and more straight forward watch descriptions. Don't bad mouth the other guys, and be a resource to your consumers, don't be there to scare them.

Dispense with the marketing language, I am already convinced you are a great CEO and sales person. I mean you did take the time to comment on your own company here, that alone should be worth something. Do interact with the community, show them you have something truly unique to offer, and stay clear of marketing ploys like the Pepsi Challenge. But then again, what do I know? I'm just a guy that blogs about watches. Take care.

-A-

Michael Sheldon
Michael Sheldon

Hi,
I am the founder of Portero and would like to offer a very simple response to both comments above. First, my version of the Pepsi challenge: please compare our watch starting prices to those on any other site and I think you will be quite surprised. We add a tiny margin to our starting prices. Its not exactly fair to compare eBay's liquidity to ours. We are a young company trying to build liquidity and a reputation for authenticity, which eBay has had serious challenges delivering. There is a very significant lawsuit winding its way through the New York district courts by Tiffany's against eBay on this very issue.

Second, with respect to the press release,we released a serious article, more like an op ed and a few newspapers reprinted it in its entirety, since when does a paper print press releases verbatim? We did not expect that and apologize for the confusion it caused.

Finally, as a former major EBay seller ourselves we rcognize that there is a better way to sell luxury, on a platform that authenticates, provides a sophisticated experience, and fantastic prices. Please give us a chance. Become a customer and judge for yourself. We have mind boggling repeat customer rate for a really good reason.

admin
admin

Hi Harry,
Glad to hear about your experience with Portero. I alluded to the blog articles they post, but you extended the topic to its core. Marketing is not always an ethical practice, and those who engage in marketing are the first to identify that fact. It does not mean that marketing is "bad." But rather it is a force that we must understand and implement with regard to sensibility, civility, and respect to the reader. Lying is no long-term way to get customers, but the reality is that properly targeted marketing can have great affect on an uneducated demographic.

I too long for a day when "truthful branding" returns. To me, it mean marketing on the merits of a product or service. The alternative is creating some image or lifestyle that in no way has a real connection with the product (i.e. General Motors' marketing).

Let's hope that you are correct, that truth will prevail over deceptive practices in these days of limitless and free dissemination of information.

Harry Bishop
Harry Bishop

Hi Ariel - I've always had a problem with that site. It spews out advertisements pretending to be news articles, or consumer posts. For example I read an article in Forbes, a scare story about eBay being sued for allowing counterfeit goods to be sold and how Portero was the real best alternative and you should use them instead. Turns out this "news item" was a press release from Portero! In other words an anti-competitive ad, disguised as a news story, sent out through media PR channels. Scum tactics, in my opinion, I would never ever buy from a company that was this unethical in their advertising.

I post every so often about "truthful branding" as well as about watches ... in these days of social media sooner or later every false advertiser is going to be outed, just like you did with this one, and the old methods of a company being able to brand itself as something it really isn't, can't be maintained any more.

Thanks for letting me share your soapbox!
Cheers from Canada
Harry
http://www.harrybishop.ca

admin
admin

Hi there,
eBay is all about perceived value. I don't know anything about the wedding band you are trying to sell, but if it is not from a well know designer, you are going to have a hard time. Portero, if it is good for anything, is only going to be good for well known name and desirable items. No matter where you sell you need to present the items well. Great images and as much info about the items as possible.

admin
admin

There is no flawless system for purchasing anything. eBay is not a vendor, it is a series of many vendors of private sellers. One bad experience with a seller in no way communicates a bad experience with another. Plus, eBay has lots of built in protections before and after an auction ends. So I apologize about your bad Experience Neil. Portero is able provide such warranties because they mark up so high, and most of their items are on consignment anyways. Thanks for commenting and take care.