I have a confession to make. I’m not that great of a speller. I do Ok, but if it wasn’t for spellchecker… The weird thing is that I was a pretty good speller in school. My high school English teacher, Mr. Roy Dripps, (yes that was his name), was the moderator for the Greater St. Louis Post Dispatch Spelling Bee for many years, so you can rest assured that spelling was a big deal in his class. But I can’t remember any school that I went to having a spelling bee of their own, lots of other stuff, but no spelling bee. I remember I used to impress my friends by being able to spell antidisestablishmentarianism, one of the longest words in the English language, but actually that’s an easy one to spell, it’s just long. But throw in words like rhythm, (always had trouble with that one), diarrhea, and anesthetic and I’m running for the dictionary. Or, how about floccinaucinihilipilification? : An act or instance of judging something to be worthless or trivial, like knowing how to spell that word.
One place on the Internet that doesn’t seem to have a lot of spelling bee winners is eBay. According to the New York Times, (www.nytimes.com), a long-time trick for veteran users of eBay is to search the site for misspelled brand names. These don’t often show up in search results and therefore have less people bidding on them oftentimes meaning that they can be purchased at a lower price.
Now there are a handful of new websites like Typo Bay and Typo Buddy that are hoping to capitalize on this phenomenon. Typo Buddy just started about 6 months ago and already has about 80,000 visitors on a good day, and with the holiday season rapidly approaching, they hope that total gets even higher. One woman found a pair of hard-to-spell designer shoes on Typo Buddy that normally sell for about $800 large, for about $350.
The way the whole thing works is that visitors to these websites enter the correct spelling of the item that they are looking for and then the site searches eBay for incorrect spellings of the name. And there has also been a surprise side effect to all of this: Some sellers on eBay are deliberately misspelling the names of their items, to make them stand out over the crowd. This could eventually work against the entire principle of the websites. But probably not, since there are an awful lot of bad spellers left on eBay.
So the next time you want to buy on eBay and you’re having a little trouble spelling the word, look up the correct spelling and then let Typo Buddy find a bargain for you.