My Proudest Achievement: A Downloadable Certificate from eBay

eBay amuses me. They sent me a message the other day telling me that in recognition for my sterling efforts in buying other people’s junk and sometimes selling my own junk I could download a certificate. The message said “We’re cheering you on every day” and “We hope you’ll download your Turquoise Star Certificate and display it proudly.”

Presumably, there must be people out there who feel special when they get a form letter or the geniuses that populate big company marketing departments would not send them out all the time, right?

Here’s their message:

Congratulations! You’ve achieved a feedback rating of 100! With a Turquoise Star beside your user name, you are an active and well-established member of the eBay community.

We want to thank you for helping make eBay, The World’s Online Marketplaceā„¢, a safe and vibrant place to trade. Your success is our success. We’re cheering you on every day.

We hope you’ll download your Turquoise Star Certificate and display it proudly. You’ve certainly earned it! (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you don’t have it, get it here.)

Again, congratulations on your success, and keep shooting for the stars!

Meg Whitman
President and CEO, eBay Inc.

Here’s my reply:

Dear eBay,

I recently got a message in my eBay messages signed “Meg Whitman President and CEO, eBay Inc.” congratulating me on getting feedback rating of 100 and being given a turquoise star.

It said “We hope you’ll download your Turquoise Star Certificate and display it proudly.” Naturally, I was very pleased to see this. After all, it is not every day that the CEO of a major internet company personally sends me a message, and not every day I get a certificate to proudly display behind my desk.

Naturally, the first thing I did was bid on a certificate frame in an eBay auction so I would have somewhere to display it proudly as instructed. (Item number 200119977791)

However, after admiring it on my wall for a while I started having nagging doubts. I realised that the message from Meg (I hope she does not mind me calling her Meg, after all, she is sending me messages) does not include my name. It probably was not personally sent by her at all.

Worse yet, my certificate does not have my name on it either. If one of my coworkers steals it, they could easily pretend that they were awarded a Turquoise Star Achievement Award rather than me. Surely eBay has access to the kind of advanced technology required to insert a custom name into a PDF file?

My state of mind only went downhill from there. I realized that anybody can go to (the URL Meg kindly sent me) and print out a Turquoise Star Achievement Award of their own. The high esteem that my coworkers were holding me in because of my Turquoise Star Achievement Award could be diluted at any moment by somebody else printing an award they did not earn.

The final slap in the face was when I realized that just by guessing file names, I could download better awards.

How am I supposed to take pride in my award when I know that anybody else could simply print out a better one? My coworkers respect and admiration for me could evaporate instantly when somebody else figures out these URLs and prints a better Achievement Award than mine.

Do you think Meg would be happy if her MBA from Harvard Business School was suddenly rendered valueless by a link allowing anybody to print out a DBA from Harvard’s web site?

The seller of the certificate frame does not specify a return policy, so I don’t know if they will accept disillusionment with the award contained in the frame as a valid reason for a refund.

Luke Welling
Turquoise Star Achievement Award holder

Of course, eBay being eBay it is hard to tell if my message went to a person or to a very small script. I did get a reply. They promised to investigate whether the email really came from eBay or whether it was a phishing message.

And, of course USPS being USPS, the frame I ordered on eBay was smashed before it reached me.

Glory is such a fleeting thing.

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