Almost 30 years after an injury ended his career in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, David Massey still needed braces for his leg and back. But on Christmas Eve, 2007, David went out in his hometown of Winchester, Ind., without them. He slipped on some black ice, and the back of his head smashed into the pavement. His life was going to change dramatically once more.
David doesn’t remember much of the next month or so, as he struggled to recover from a traumatic brain injury. When he got out of the hospital, he was unable to maintain his auto body repair shop, and had to sell the business and the cars. And, if that wasn’t enough, he was also losing his sight and experiencing degradation of his spinal discs.
It was a difficult time, with constant pain and other reminders of his lost cognitive ability. David could no longer do many of the creative activities he had once enjoyed: restoring cars, playing music with friends and painting in the style of French Impressionists.
David also loved rare coins -- their artistry and their history—and had always enjoyed collecting them. His computer-savvy wife, Della, suggested that he take his hobby online, to eBay, and offered to help show him the ropes. After a couple of years as a buyer, with his wife’s encouragement, David started selling coins as well in July 2011.
Learning the ropes was grueling – he was constantly forgetting his password, and couldn’t remember or even understand the rules governing eBay selling. Shipping, tracking, feedback – every aspect of the process was a struggle, and he came to rely heavily on Customer Services, often calling them several times a day.
“If I did call them back three or four times in the same day, it was still fine with them,” he said.
“Customer support would actually take their time, they would make me feel like I was part of a family, the eBay family. And it’s always easier to work with somebody when you feel that at ease with them.”
On one occasion, around Christmas, David actually caught the same Customer Services representative twice in one day. After spending a long time on the phone, talking through the shipping process, David hung up and tried to implement the directions he had gotten – but his mind, as he put it, just went blank. He called CS again, gave his name, and the same man greeted him warmly -- and walked him right back through the same steps.
Today, at 57, David says he’s amazed at how much his condition has improved, and he attributes much of that to working with eBay and learning to use the system. He is trying to publicize his experience, which he thinks could help other military veterans with brain injuries to launch businesses and rebuild their cognitive skills. David has sold 139 items in his first 12 months, grossing a total of $10,643, and he’s planning to ramp up sales with a new eBay store.
“It’s difficult to know how much [ability] I’ve lost, but [selling on] eBay makes me feel a lot better about myself, and how far I’ve come back, knowing how it was after the accident,” he said.
He’s also become friends with his buyers and with other sellers.
“There are a lot of passionate people out there, and they are more than willing to help you out,” David said.
One seller, Wayne Brewer, became a friend and is now his business partner. The two are launching an eBay store together, Coins Collectibles Discounts.
As a seller, David says he’s guided by the example set by eBay Customer Services.
“I’ve learned that there’s no facet of eBay that Customer Service either can’t answer right away or find the answer to while you’re on the phone,” he said. “I try to have that same helpful attitude toward my customers… I’m going to do everything I can – even beyond what most would think is reasonable – to make that customer happy, because I’ve been helped so much, and when I help a customer it makes me feel better.”