Loom band dress sells on eBay for £170,100: will the buyer pay?

Is loom band dress an auction triumph or a disappointment-in-waiting?

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eBayThe loom band craze has now reached its nadir. A dress made from the woven rubber bands has sold for over £170,000 on eBay. The dress was the idea of a woman from Wrexham and her 12-year-old daughter - who posed in the dress for the auction. It was actually put together by a friend of theirs who is out of work at the moment and looking for something to keep her occupied.

The question now is whether the winning bidder will pay up.

The Metro reported that Helen Wright, the woman who dreamed up the idea, was stunned at the sale price, and at the attention it generated. She told the BBC she had hoped to get £50 for the dress - which took 40 hours to make and used 20,000 loom bands.

Since the sale, a huge number of dresses have gone up for sale from other buyers - charging everything from £85 to £9,999. Many of them use a photograph which is strikingly similar to the one of the first dress - which begs the question of whether some of these dresses are anything more than a figment of their imagination

A number of other sellers have also produced items of clothing in the hope of cashing in on the trend. You can get everything from a mankini (currently bids have hit £2.05) to a sarong (priced at £15,000) and a skirt (advertised as being in progress) at £440 - which has 17 bids already.

Loom bands have been a growing trend for the last three years. They were invented in 2011 when a Michigan engineer saw his daughters twisting hair bands into bracelets. He wanted to join in, but his fingers were too big, so he invented the small plastic looming tool - the Rainbow Loom. The craze has now taken hold in the UK, where it has even sparked a health and safety panic over the dangers of holding the bands around your fingers for too long - or pinging them into someone's eye.

What next?

It remains to be sen whether the winning bidder will actually hand over the money. Under the rules of eBay, once you have entered a bid you have established a contract which means you are duty bound to pay. However, every eBay seller will tell you of an experience of someone who put in a high bid for something and then failed to pay up or respond to any emails. Wright said she isn't going to believe it until the money is in her account, which is probably wise.

If a buyer doesn't pay, eBay won't chase the buyer for you, provide mediation, or force the buyer to pay up. If you report the buyer for suspected fraud they say they will "take appropriate action in accordance with our policies". In most cases this simply means recording an unpaid item on their account.

Having a failed auction creates its own headaches too. Wright will need to follow the full procedures to get a refund of the fee which will automatically fall due. In this instance, single-mum Wright will have hope that any refund is swift and painless.

Not alone

Wright will be keeping her fingers crossed that the buyer pays up, so she won't want to hear that there are several tales of auction sales which ended in disaster.

In 2010 Tony Johnson and his mother Gene put up an antique Chinese vase for auction, where they received an astonishing bid of £43 million. Unfortunately, once the Chinese billionaire buyer realised he would have to pay fees on top of this, he pulled out. The pair went on to sell it again in 2013 for £25 million - which is still impressive but may have come as something of a let-down after the original sale price.

Then there was the couple who bought a Detroit property in October 2012 for the knock-down price of just $500. Unfortunately when they arrived at the property they found it had actually been knocked down - by confused City employees. They were refunded the money and told they could choose any of the empty properties owned by the city for nothing.

In the UK there was the auction buyer who snapped up Ridgemont House in Torquay for a bargain £154,500 in 2010. She knew the property was on a clifftop, but was confident it was far enough from the edge of the cliff to constitute a good long-term investment. Unfortunately she didn't carry out a survey and bought the house by telephone. Six days after the sale more than 5,000 tonnes of the garden fell into the sea. Three years later most of the rest of the house followed it over the edge of the cliff.

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