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Unloading online

The Web elevates possessions, and discussions about them, to another level. Sites hed: Unloading online dek: the Web elevates possessions, and discussions about them, to another level.

Not many Web sites manage to incorporate commerce, comedy, drama, art, and adventure into one free package. But then, John D. Freyer’s AllMyLifeForSale is not your typical site. Freyer, a fine-arts graduate student at the University of Iowa, has revamped the ordinary experience of selling possessions on eBay as a way to examine his life–and yours–by auctioning all of his worldly possessions and tracking where and with whom they end up. Freyer, a thrift-store junkie who labels each item he owns with some explanation of how he came to acquire and use it, in turn asks the bidders who end up with his stuff to write in about it. People from around the United States and even the U.K. and Australia have responded. Particularly poignant is the letter from Brian, whose bid for Freyer’s birthday party, complete with many of Freyer’s friends, made his new life in New York City much less lonely. (EBay typically rejects the non-material things Freyer has listed there, but Freyer and his friends still make good on the bids.) Other unorthodox items Freyer has sold include toilet paper, false teeth, money, answering machine tapes, and a hand-made book. Sounds crazy–people buying up cans of Danish ham or sauerkraut, old plastic spoons, or worn t-shirts simply … because. But if you visit, you may find yourself hooked, and sorely tempted to join up. Even if you’d rather just admire from afar, you can do that, too. Freyer’s site, which has been up since December, will probably hang around for some time to come. There’s no word on when he expects all of his possessions to be sold, but even then, the project will continue as Freyer visits as many of his former possessions–and new friends–as he can.

Gotten the shaft lately from an online auction site? How about a hotel chain, car company, or restaurant? If you want to contact the company about it or just spread the word, you can do so in minutes on several new consumer-complaint Web sites. PlanetFeedback, for example, specializes in connecting your complaint directly to a company. It gives you a business-letter template to follow and sends your letter by e-mail to any company in its database (if the company is not in its database, you must print and mail it). It will track feedback from the company for you, as well as allowing you to transmit copies of your letter to as many people as you like and post the letter to its site. PlanetFeedback also provides quick, graphical overviews of its best- and worst-rated companies, along with news on the latest product recalls. If your complaint needs broader overview or investigation, visit the National Consumer Complaint Center. This site will route your complaint to Federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, or the Environmental Protection Agency. Other gripe sites to check out include Consumer Complaints Database and

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