The quest for a mask
Product: Face masks
Price: € 32.25 for 3 masks including taxes and shipping
My rating: 1
who has been on the lookout for a mask to protect them from the coronavirus (or it’s official-but-who-cares-name COVID-19)? If you raised your hand, Mazel Tov! you are as anxious as I am and maybe this post will help you in your quest for a face mask.
In general, I am NOT a hysterical person, quite the opposite, in fact. But when it comes to the health of my family, I transform into some sort of creature from the anxiety lagoon. Sounds familiar, right?
We live in a city only 5 minutes from Barcelona so it’s only a matter of time before the virus reaches us, too. I am actually more afraid of the situation that can be caused by people panicking than of the virus itself and I know that if things start to get out of control, the city could be shut down.
This means I need to start getting prepared. And that means getting the right equipment to protect myself and my family.
When I went out, I found disinfectant gel and gloves in every supermarket. But masks…wow, that was a different story! All the drugstores in town announced that they were no longer selling face masks! The news said there was a global shortage and I realized I needed to order some online as soon as possible. The problem was they had run out everywhere! Even on Amazon! The masks that I did see there were either totally ineffective or too elaborate and made you look like the bad guy from Batman
Oh! And they cost €30! F*@k that! The irony of buying face masks from AliExpress was not lost on me but it would take at least a month at best for the masks to arrive - if the factory was still even working by then.
I finally found some masks on eBay for a reasonable price so I started researching there.
How to Know What to Buy?
I didn’t want to commit to my masks without knowing exactly what we’d need and after a little online searching, I realized that there are only a few masks that filter the air effectively - N95, FFP3 and FFP2. While not being 100% efficient, they still provide better protection than other masks. The other alternative was to go around wearing a full-on gas mask. Not sexy. I honestly ended up looking online for about 2 hours! It wasn’t an easy task at all! And I had to search in Spanish (not my native language) so that also slowed me down. Finally, I came across a product that seemed to be what I was looking for but before I tell you about it, I want to tell you how I searched.
Part One - The Search
When you search for a product on sites like Amazon, eBay etc, the sellers will put keywords in the product description that people want to see. For example, if I searched for a face mask, they would add a description that says ‘anti-virus mask’. And how does that happen? First, they check Google for the most commonly searched terms relating to ‘mask’ and use those keywords to describe the product:
‘Anti-viral Face Mask’
It made me laugh to see that some sellers had even added an illustration of the coronavirus to the product page, getting buyers to trust the product will protect them before even r
eading the description.
The problem with this is that it is not always true and can be slightly misleading. Why is it misleading? Because it really lands in a gray area. They are medical masks, true. They may help prevent the spread of ‘normal’ flu, true. But they aren’t the type that really filter the air and create a seal around the mouth and nose. Plus, they don’t meet the American or (more stringent) European standards. They are just regular masks that won’t help you if you really need them. So when you search, just take your time, do it slowly and read the product details carefully. Look for the keywords that are important to you and find proof in the descriptions that this is the mask you really need.
Part Two - Time
When shopping online, we also have to factor the element of time into our equation. It can greatly affect our purchase decisions but we don’t always remember this. Masks that are offered for sale but with no delivery time estimate are no good to us. So first of all, I was looking for someone who promised me a delivery date. By the way, here’s a great tip: for every online purchase, always ALWAYS look for the estimated arrival date or a guarantee of x number of days from the time the order is received. If there is no date, I don’t recommend buying from that seller. The arrival time also depends on the physical location of the goods, of course, and this can be checked here :
Part Three - The Seller
Seller selection is also a very important parameter, especially in an arena like eBay which is supposedly considered less “strict” than Amazon. I searched for a seller with a high rating and avoided sellers with low ratings or one response like: “You suck! 🖕”
The seller’s geographical location also plays an important role. In this case, I was looking for a seller who was close to Spain so the package wouldn’t need to go on a long-haul ship or plane trip to get here because there was a chance it could get stuck on the way. In my case, I looked for a seller from Spain, France, Germany or the UK. I chose not to look at sellers in Italy as I’d heard on the news that they are talking about closing the borders. It’s always a good idea to get a news update and then make your decisions based on the latest information.
I ordered 3 masks which cost me €32.25 (125 shekels for 3 masks) including taxes and (free) shipping.
Mask prices on eBay ranged from €6 - €45. There were cheaper masks being sold from the US, China, Singapore, Japan and so on but for the reasons mentioned above, I chose a UK company. They had a high rating and seemed to specialize in selling medical equipment. The estimated time for the shipment to arrive was reasonable - 2 to 3 weeks. Yes, that’s to be expected in the current climate. I also estimated the chances of the package not arriving at all to be around 15%. Those odds are good enough for me!
I clicked the pay button and said hello to the most expensive face masks I’ve ever bought! It’s funny that while I was shopping, I was thinking to myself how much I hope I won’t even have to use them!
A few hours after the purchase, I received an email confirmation that the order was accepted. I received another email from the company itself thanking me for my purchase. I really like that they get in touch with the customer, it opens up a channel of communication and a place to contact them if something happens.
I am now waiting for my masks which are on the way to Spain! And I’m crossing my fingers 🤞 that they won’t close any borders any time soon.
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You can find a link to the product I ordered from eBay here
Have a great week!
Spread lots of love and disinfectant gel!