Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just Do IT

This is a fun idea, a Frappr Map and you can publicize your website or new sales venue at the same time.

Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar!

Censored! Invisible Waders

eBay policy :Sellers aren't permitted to state their personal opinions and views in their listings.

A friend recently had a listing pulled. Here is the email she received. (I have redacted personal information)

MC018 eBay Listing Removed: No Item ( 201155877)
Dear ladywinger(email address),

You recently listed the following auction-style listing:

110247779166 - HIP BOOTS/WADERS FLY FISHING w/ bonus booklet

The listing was removed because it violated the eBay No Item policy. The violation occurred when you included the following information in your listing:

Bonus FREE BOOK about the upcoming eBay boycott
This item comes with a bonus booklet, "Where did IT go?" a guide to the recent changes affecting eBay buyers and sellers. The book will be included free with all items sold this week in anticipation of the upcoming May 1 sellers' boycott

We notified members who placed bids on the item that the listing has been canceled.

The purpose of the eBay Web site is to enable members to buy and sell items from each other. Listings that don't offer an item for sale through the site, or that are designed for any other purpose, aren't permitted. In addition, sellers aren't permitted to state their personal opinions and views in their listings.

Please note: violation of this or other eBay policies may result in forfeit of eBay fees on cancelled listings, limits on account privileges and account suspension.

For more information on why eBay may remove s, please visit:

For more information on how you may ensure a successful listing in the future, visit:

Your listing(s) may be eligible for relisting through My eBay. If your listing is eligible, you will see the listing in your Unsold Items page within My eBay. Listings that are not eligible for relisting will not be visible in the Unsold Items page.

To relist your item, sign in to eBay, go to My eBay to your Unsold items, and select the item that was canceled -- it's highlighted with a yellow banner. Before relisting, please make any changes necessary to ensure that your revised listing is in compliance with the law and eBay policies. You might want to check your other listings for similar violations as well.

Thank you for your understanding.


eBay Trust & Safety


The relisted item number is 110248359020, it is identical to the censored listing except these words,

about the upcoming eBay boycott
a guide to the recent changes affecting eBay buyers and sellers. The book will be included free with all items sold this week in anticipation of the upcoming May 1 sellers' boycott

referencing the boycott have been removed.

At which point the invisible waders reappeared and became an item; in compliance with the law

Next post . . . I'm Still Thinking Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pierre Speaks

Today Richard Brewer-Hays posted three clips from an employee video of Pierre Omidyar being 'interviewed' by eBay CEO John Donohoe on his eBayINK Blog.

I am personally extremely appreciative of this. You could not pay me enough to do his job. RBH is clearly trying to shine a light on the internal workings of eBay. In doing so he illuminates yet more instances of the curious disconnect between eBay upper management and the rest of the eBay world.

I would like to ask my fellow commentators to eBayINK why in the world they think Pierre would offer his new CEO disrespect? Not his way back then, why should it be his way now? You don't keep a dog and bark yourself. John Donohoe is the dog and he has been hired to bark so Pierre doesn't have to. The portion of the argument Pierre visited in the first clip is not unreasonable. Bad sellers should be penalized.

It would be nice to think Mr Donohoe will follow Pierre's advice in the third clip to be respectful. I like to think about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy too.

I do wonder just how much of this latest drama Pierre has followed because the GMC deal would appear to be diametrically at odds with his statement about special privileges. Of course the way small sellers are currently discounted, or dismissed as meaningless, does not fit with the man we knew either. People change, maybe he has changed too?

Regardless, many of us have made the choice to move on, regretfully for the most part. Those of you who are remaining will need to adapt to the new realities, risks and uncertainties that come with riding on the back of a tiger. Caveat Vendor!

For myself, from a strictly numbers point of view, eBay has priced itself out of my business. I can't ask my buyers to pay that kind of overhead and I will not work for nothing. From an emotional standpoint, of course I am sad. So far as my online trading reputation is concerned it will sit, intact, because I will not risk nine years of effort in the negative bloodbath to come. If that sounds like hyperbole go read in the answer center, the trolls are gathering.

I will continue to visit eBay, for price research and to join in the educational opportunities eBay has always offered, but beyond that, its all over bar the shouting. If you have put as many years into a community ethos as I have it is hard to turn passively into a mushroom overnight; so expect to hear from me on the subject often.

Next post . . . Censored! Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Leave Feedback Immediately You Get Paid

I left a comment on AuctionInsights blog which had a typical response from someone who has been educated by eBay in the fine art of unsafe buying. I am going to respond here because it ties in with my reading of Lorrie Norrington's keynote address at the ECMTA-PeSA Spring 2008 eCommerce Summit in New Orleans last week.

I have read and re-read Ms Norrington's speech. It is a prime example of using a lot of words to say nothing new. There are examples of Bayspeak, deception by ommission and eBay New Math, for example on the subject of PowerSeller discounts

Well, I’m proud to say that we have Q1 results….all sellers
have improved their DSR scores over the last 10 weeks, and
as expected, 60% of PowerSellers – in fact 63% - did qualify
for at least a 5% discount on both their March and April
invoices. 30% of all PowerSellers, have qualified for the
15% discount
These figure do not connect with the figures stated by the PowerSellers themselves, who stated unequivocally that 40% of the five top sellers will loose PowerSeller status. Additionally they do not jibe with the number of sellers who are reporting they were told they do not qualify on even though their dashboards tell them they do qualify. Are Ms Norrington's figures referring to a percentage of the sellers who will retain PS status after the 'demotion' is implemented?

Ms Norrington's statement
Sellers with strong DSR scores are going to fare very, very
well on eBay. You will get better pricing, better visibility and
an unmatched opportunity to reach customers and turn
inventory to cash.

is a perfect example of Bayspeak, this is what I said, but not what I meant. I have strong DSR scores Ms Norrington, you said I will get better pricing. Of course that is not what you meant, I am not a PowerSeller, therefore no matter how high my levels of customer satisfaction I am unworthy of any consideration as a customer.

I note some phrases from the 'disgruntled noise' creeping into official pronouncements. Our leaders are using the phrase 'our customers', although there is still confusion as to exactly whom the buyers are buying from.
Today, everyone at eBay recognizes that we have to
fight hard each and every day to win your business because
you – along with our buyers – are our customers.
Given the percentage of Gross Sales Value eBay takes from Sellers there may well be grounds for that stance.

However, this quote
buyers were telling us that retaliatory negative feedback was one of the primary reasons why they reduced their shopping on eBay. This was clearly something we had to address … and quickly.
For sellers, we believe, this is much less of an issue,
because your primary concern is, and should be, whether
you are paid for your merchandise.

best illustrates the disconnect between the MBA talking about 'her' buyers and the seasoned and successful retailers she was talking down to.

This was echoed by Ken commenting on the AuctionInsight blog who said
I think the feedback change is a good thing. There are sellers selling useless wholesale lists and they have 100% feedback, isn’t suspicious to anyone?

The only thing a seller should care about is if he gets paid or not.

Ms Norrington you are wrong!

I say to both Ken and Ms Norrington, it is fairly obvious that you are NOT a seller. You both said "The only thing a seller should care about is if he gets paid or not."
and you are both wrong. From a buyer's viewpoint you are completely wrong. From a Seller's viewpoint; don't quit your day job, you are not going to make it.

Yes, it is important to a seller that they get paid. That is, after all, the point of the exercise and not even worth mentioning because "without consideration there is no contract" (if money does not change hands there is no deal).

THE most important thing to a seller is that the expectations of the buyer are met, that the buyer is happy with the deal.

This requires communication so that buyer expectations are knowledgeable and realistic. It requires a businesslike and methodical approach so that orders do not get overlooked, knowledge of packing techniques so the item arrives safely and is shipped rapidly by the method with the most efficient speed to cost ratio.

An unhappy buyer will broadcast his unhappiness far and wide. You Ken, are still broadcasting about your 'useless wholesale list' and how long ago was that? Your expectations were naive and unrealistic and the bad seller you bought from did not tell you commerce doesn't work that way, or you would not have bought.

A happy buyer will come back again and again. They will tell their friends and their satisfaction will grow your business. When I state in my listings "I will leave feedback when you tell me you are happy with your deal" I also state "if you are not happy it's not sold, send it back and I will refund you." All you have to do is email me and say 'it has arrived I love it' and I will give you feedback because it is now a done deal. If you do not like your purchase the deal is not done until I have the item back and you have your refund.

As a buyer would you rather have that kind of guarantee or instant feedback and no recourse?

I do not dispute that retaliatory feedback is a serious problem on eBay. Look at automated feedback programs. There can be no doubt that any program that responds with 'like for like feedback' is both retaliatory and meaningless, in the process devaluing the whole concept of feedback. Who uses these programs? What is the easiest and least disruptive way to put a stop to this practice? Prevent use of the programs.

I will end with a quote from eBay Help pages.
Leaving Feedback is voluntary; however, eBay encourages all members to leave Feedback after each transaction is complete.
Ms Norrington said in the brief question and answer session immediately following her speech
My advice is as soon as your buyers pay you, give them positive feedback.
This would indicate that Ms Norrington does not understand the concept of customer service and buyer satisfaction any better than she understands the point at which the deal is done. Looking at eBay, why am I not surprised?

Ms Norrington finished her speech with a quote
You ain't seen nothing yet
Ain't that the truth? We are still waiting to see something Ms Norrington, but meanwhile we are selling elsewhere.


Next post . . . Paypal Down-under Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

There Are No Sales, They Say

I am hearing "no sales" on boards and forums all over the web, it is a frequent complaint on the eBay boards too.


On eBay the buyers are there, not as many as before but there are buyers. The problem on that site seems to be with 'finding' as eBay likes to call it. When eBay messes with search results, serving up what eBay thinks you should see rather than what the buyer has asked to see, sales will drop. Buyers hit the back button and go do something else.

What about the other sites?

At, they have a two tier buyer system. The Verified buyer pays a monthly subscription fee of $4, all other buyers go through the normal registration process but do not have to pay a fee. Sellers, who pay an $8 monthly subscription fee, may specify if their auctions are open to both verified and unverified buyers. Many sellers of low opening bid items have specified verified buyers only. As both a seller and buyer on other sites I can tell you I am not going to pay a fee for the privilege of spending my money. If you want more sales do not restrict your buyers!


To make sales, pricing must be competitive. I see sellers who are still selling on eBay pricing the same items higher on free sites. Whats up with that? What makes sellers think buyers don't know how to comparison shop?

I see the exact same fairly commonly available collectible plate I can buy on eBay for 4.99 plus $5.85 S&H priced at 24.99 with $12 S&H on eCrater. Which would you buy? The eCrater seller has been vocal on the boards about lack of sales. Don't tell her that her shipping seems a little high, I still bear the scars from that one.

A digital seller I introduced to Loudfrog has placed a collection of antique illustrated children's books on CD. On eBay he listed it for 8.99, on Loudfrog he has it listed at 14.99. On eBay he paid $1.14 in IF & FVF. On Loudfrog he will pay nothing, so why the 67% price increase?

Geographic Discrimination

This should probably come under the heading of limiting your sales. Sellers who only ship to the continental USA. Unless you are selling boats this business practice makes no sense at all. If the buyer pays the shipping why would you refuse to sell to them? USPS delivers to Hawaii and Alaska, amazingly they deliver to Puerto Rico and Guam for the same price. It is all domestic mail. I swear to you I have been told by a seller that they do not ship overseas. After pointing out Hawaii is the 50th state, nope, it is overseas. No sale!

Another myth, it costs a fortune to ship to Hawaii and Alaska. Only if you want to use UPS. A first class mail packet under 13oz costs exactly the same to ship to Hawaii as to Kansas or Florida. First class mail is not a zonal rate. Priority Mail is zonal so more expensive to ship to zone 8, unless you use a Flat Rate envelope or box, then it costs the same no matter how heavy or how far. Unless you are prepared to have your item take 4 - 8 weeks to arrive, do not save pennies by shipping parcel post, it goes by boat. Slow Boat. People who live in Alaska and Hawaii get mail every day and know what it costs, they get a little bent out of shape when they are charged $5 or $10 extra.

What do you think?

Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar!

Friday, April 25, 2008

More Bayspeak 'PeePee' in Australia

Safety and convenience are at the core of eBay’s policies toward payments. This policy is designed to promote safe online shopping, and to encourage online payment methods that are safer, easier to use, and offer high levels of protection for users

. . .Now let's get real!

Every transaction that does not pass through PayPal is a lost revenue opportunity for eBay. This is why in the USA Google Checkout is on the list of unsafe payment processing systems.

Australia has always had zero cost payment options that are not available in the USA. Most Sellers prefer to use bank transfer, where the invoice is paid direct into the seller's bank account from the buyer's account. This is obviously not acceptable to eBay Australia.

eBay has announced effective May 21st, 2008 all items listed for sale on must offer PayPal as one of the payment methods. All items appearing on as of 17th June 2008 must be paid for using one of the following:

1. PayPal
2. Pay on pick up (i.e. paid for when picking up the item)
3. Visa/MasterCard (with transactions processed by PayPal).

No other payment methods will be permitted.

Not much room for argument there. There are a few listed exclusions. I wrote about Bayspeak on this subject here

Unfortunately for eBay, Australians are a tough lot and do not take kindly to being shoved around. Equally unfortunately for eBay, Australia has strong consumer protection laws and an active enforcement arm, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) which has regulatory powers.

I submitted comments to the Commission which you can read here, please feel free to cut and paste if you wish to comment yourself. There is at least one error in my submission, I wrote that eBay owned BidPay and should have said BillPoint, (although BidPay was one of the few non PayPal payment options permitted on eBay).

I believe the commission should hear any verifiable horror stories about PayPal. Submissions should be emailed by April 29th because of the time difference to : Lauren Roy, Adjudication
Subject line: eBay International A.G. Notification N93365

Here is a video promoting, thats Australian for auction, rapidly becoming a viable alternative to eBay.

A few snippits off the Australian boards, eBay is apparently hiding Sellers bank transfer information, it must be a glitch because the PayPal payment information is showing up:

Don't get rattled here, I just email the seller and they provide the bank info personally for me. Not worth getting your knickers in a knot here, eBay is just pulling desperate bunnies out of the proverbial hat in a last resort to get you to use PeePee.
Chin up, pack up and head for the other site

. . .

Jeez ebay really are paranoid aren't they! Getting all worked up about someone posting their Ph number which is publicly listed anyway! Especially one they never answer any way! What a bunch of knob jockeys they are!
Hmmmmn! Seeing as how the listed number and the listed fax number are sequential numbers I wonder if one was to dial further numbers in that sequence whether one would actually get to talk to a real person at ebay?
Nah!!!!! Silly me of course the are no real people at ebay only Simon Smith, not what I or anyone else here would consider human and his trained gibbon!

Next post . . . Monday . . . Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar!

The Noose is Tightening

Dumb Clucks in New Orleans

Yesterday was the first day of the E-Commerce Merchants Trade Association (ECMTA) and Professional eBay Sellers Association (PeSA) convention, Spring 2008 eCommerce Summit in New Orleans.

The executive director of PeSA is Jonathan Garriss (Gotham City Online 4.9, 4.8, 4.7, 4.5), who hailed the recent eBay changes with this statement.

“One of eBay’s mantras for the last 10 years was that they provide a level playing field for everyone but they now realize that just doesn’t work in today’s competitive environment. So they are doing a lot of things they never did before, like treating their biggest sellers like their customers and giving more things to their better customers. Any business does that.”

Just in case you missed the point, he is telling you that he and his group are special. On the PeSA website they modestly say they are eBay's largest and most prestigious sellers. If we were living on Animal Farm they would be the 'more equal'. Right, now that you are thoroughly impressed & clearly understand your place we can proceed.

Lorrie Norrington eBay President of Marketplace Operations was the keynote speaker, you can read her speech here. We will discuss some of the more obvious oxmorons in her keynote presentation at a later date, next week.

Tempting though it is to poke fun at these large and prestigious sellers, one wonders if reality is setting in with the first question after the speech.

Q. Based on a group study this morning, 2 out of 5 of the current PowerSellers with the best store listings on eBay Pulse will not qualify for PowerSeller status based on DSR ratings, when that goes into effect. How are you going to address this issue?

Ms Norrington was not sympathetic, nor was she flexible on the subjects of feedback, DSRs or shipping. Her responses can be condensed into one sentence "We told you this was coming" but that was not her most chilling statement. This was:
So, in the case of the new feedback system, we haven’t rolled it out yet, and as we do roll it out we’ll learn from it.

Can ya feel the noose guys? That tight chokey feeling around the neck? Mmmm?

I would like to have been there to observe the reactions of eBay's largest and most prestigious sellers to the Dumb Cluck Of The Day Award winning statement, which came from an eBay executive, (with an MBA from Harvard no less). I guess he doesn't do a whole heap of online shopping.

And the Award goes to . . .

Dinesh Lathi, VP of Seller Experience:

The fact of the matter is that free shipping is the standard for eCommerce now. Sellers who want to meet buyer expectations need to aspire to that. It is our job, the people here on stage, to help you do that. So, there are definite things in the works at eBay that will help you accomplish that. Look for that soon.

Here ya go Dinesh, I hope you enjoy your award. Meanwhile perhaps you could be thinking about the names of all those online vendors with free shipping. Inquiring minds want to know!

The only ones I can think of are for ink & for shoes, and I do a LOT of online shopping, selling too...

Finally a few comments on Mr Lathi's statement

This needs to be interpreted in the light that I believe eBay management sincerely thinks they are the center of the eCommerce universe, therefore they set the standards by speaking them into being. Davey

if free shipping is the standard then why did the Ebay store charge over 5.00 to mail a 6.00 keychain that weighed less than an ounce! Like I said, MAKE SENSE! Patricia1

and my thanks to Richard Brewer-Hay for exact quotes from the Q & A session.


Next post . . . Paypal Again Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


One of the first places I moved my merchandise as part of my exit strategy from eBay was I heard about it from my eBay Power Seller friend EPM Stone Supply who is now probably their highest volume seller and totally off eBay.

She was one of those sellers eBay should have kept. 8 years on eBay at the end of this month 1198 feedback on 1478 transactions, 280 repeat buyers (19%), DSRs of 4.9, 5.0. 4.9, 4.8 and not a single negative or neutral received or given.

This is the Loudfrog Mission Statement:

What we would like to build: A place where kind and honest people wish to come and trade, chat and feel comfortable.

What impressed her with Probably the same things that impressed me. First was a response from a live human being to an inquiry, answering my question completely and pleasantly. WOW.

Next the forums. You will see quite a few familiar names from eBay on Loudfrog. Sellers at Loudfrog seem to be very community minded. They help one another, support and encourage one another. This is amazing and wonderful to someone who is a refugee from the nastiness, bickering, backbiting and stabbing which has become routine on eBay these days. WOW.

Listing is free. There is a 1% Final Value Fee which is not charged until you reach $5000 in sales. No charge for four pictures. You may use HTML in your listings and insert other pictures in your listing via a static (non clickable) link, no live links are permitted for security reasons. Listings must be manually renewed every 30 days, this helps prevent items being left listed when they may no longer be available.

Loudfrog enables Google Feeds and has Paypal for checkout, but sellers may use Google Checkout if they prefer, invoicing directly from the GC seller dashboard. Traffic is healthy at 20K per day. They also have some of the cutest graphics and logos out there. Check out the Frogs in my sidebar to go there. Note that they see hear and speak no evil expressing the "PLAY NICE" Loudfrog philosophy

Bullfrog tells me:

Loudfrog was created when a number of people started commenting on how expensive it is to sell their items as a store on the web in general. Many of the “small fish” in the pond were getting wiped out by larger fees and not enough profit on the small businesses they were running. We wanted to offer something that would give those tadpoles a place in the big pond and a chance to grow. All we wanted was a small fee to keep our little site floating, just enough to pay for the general maintenance of the site. is not the biggest of the eBay alternative venues but not the smallest either with 375 Stores (FREE) and over 70,000 members. It is certainly the friendliest. Sellers have a wide variety of merchandise, the usual collectibles, baseball cards, antique and vintage goodies, used designer clothing and accessories, herbs and supplements, books, jewelry, Art, Cross Stitch patterns, beauty products, china and glass.

Come and check us out!
Here is a link to The Pond which is Loudfrog Help & Information

Next post . . . The Noose is tightening . . . Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Larger View ~ Part 1

This renamed (I hadn't realized there is a financial blog called the Big Picture, so I have renamed this thought stream) post is the first in a series that will appear once or twice a week discussing the pitfalls and pleasures of running an e-tail business today.

Anybody can start a business, people do it every day. It is even easier to start an online business. A tiny proportion of those new businesses succeed. An even smaller percentage succeed by sheer luck. The vast majority fail and they fail for many reasons but the main reason is that they do not have a viable or realistic business plan.

A large business that became successful by creating and implementing a sound business plan can coast along for quite some time without good leadership. Management policies that were set when effective leadership was in place will ensure smooth running. Eventually it will stagnate and decline.

A large business managed actively but without clear and defined applicable goals will deteriorate. A small business can become unprofitable very fast unless management is proactive.

These are facts that many eBay sellers are discovering the hard way.

What is the Goal?

Everyone starts a business with different hopes. Just about everyone wants to make money. Making money is not so hard. Making a profit is a whole different matter. Think about it.

We need to have a goal; without a goal we have no way of knowing where we are going. If you don't know where you are going how are you going to get there? Will you know the right way if you see it? Will you know if you have arrived? That is why you need a business plan, as you achieve your goals you add new ones, a planned and logical road map to success. If you reach a road closed sign you can use your business plan to find an alternative route.

The simple definition of Profit for many casual eBay sellers is "I made enough money to get this really neat (insert word of your choice here)!" You can laugh but you know it is true. A better simple definition would be Income less Expense = Profit

How do we increase profit?

The obvious answer would be to increase Sales, more sales = more money coming in + more work. That will not necessarily guarantee higher profit unless we also decrease the cost of sales or expenses. I believe the answer to increasing profit is to 'work smarter'. Ways to do that will be discussed in the next Big Picture post.

What does all this have to do with eBay?

One of the best posts I have ever read about eBay's current business plan comes from someone who posts as TheBigOldDog.

eBay has become just like any other monopoly: Arrogant, condescending, insular, capricious, predatory and oppressive.

John Donahoe's personality fits the organizations perfectly. He's a Stanford-Bain elitist who has nothing but disdain for eBay Sellers and the "junk" they sell. He's better than you are. You're too stupid to understand his brilliance and he has no problem saying it to your face as he has in the taped eBay events I've seen.

Sooner or later the financial results will begin to reflect what's being done to eBay and everybody will search for the reasons which are obvious to anyone right now who cares to look.

Meanwhile back at the store . . . while John Donohoe is busy being brilliant he is wreaking stress, havoc and devastation on thousands of small sellers. We need to pick ourselves up, move on and get out of the way so we don't get caught in the mess. We need to network, share information, and help each other because it is what will make us all stronger. People like you and I made eBay THE auction venue. We can do it again somewhere else but we should remember this time that strength lies in diversity and not create another monster.

Your comments are a vital part of this discussion, without comments it can't be a discussion, its a monologue. Monologues are boring to write and probably boring to read. You can comment as Anonymous or you can give yourself a new name, just set up a new Blogger account.

Next post . . . Alternative Venues . . . Loudfrog Y'all come back, and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Time for another Shameless Plug

These wonderful 100% cotton shirts are a small selection from The Front Room at 200 West Main They are made in New Hampshire by The Mountain Company using an ecologically friendly process which you can read about here All shirts are Oekotex 100 certified which guarantees them to be free of chemicals harmful to your body. Your purchase helps keep American men and women at work, including ME, and this is a good thing! Just click on the picture to go there.

Puppies and Tulips Childs 36 chest Tee

Above Many different breeds of dog on this shirt, puppies with a basket of tulips and spring flowers, design is by Jenny Newland on a tie-dyed deep midnight blue background, measures approximately 36" chest, Youth Large Made in the USA.

Angel & Dove Heavenly Blue Tee XL

Left Called Angel & Dove, she is surrounded by an aura which looks (appropriately enough) like white feathers, on a heavenly blue tie dye background. This is a retired design, I have only the one.

Purple Winged Fairy Fantasy Tee

Right One of the all-time bestselling The Mountain shirt designs by renowned Kauai artist Mary Baxter St Clair. A fairy sitting in the meadow with small fairies flying around her, this is a very attractive light purple tie dye. Fitted Cap Sleeve Size JR XL
- chest 37"
- waist 33"
- front 18-1/2"
- back 21-1/2"
- sleeve 4-1/2".

Moonshadow Arabian Horse Tee L & XL

Left An all-time favorite, this lovely gray Arabian Horse with enormous dark eyes is on a pretty lavender tie dye background. Several sizes available.

Everything I sell is covered by MY GUARANTEE:

I want you to be happy with your purchase! If you don't like it, it's not sold. This means, if, for any reason, you do not like your purchase when you receive it, let me know & send it back right away. It must be in saleable condition and packed as it was when you received it. I will refund your purchase price, less postage charges.

Monday, April 21, 2008

How's Business?

Ina Steiner's Auctionbytes Blog has a post up discussing sales volume. I enjoy Auctionbytes, it is a very useful source of information; not much in the e-auction world gets past Ina and it saves a lot of time.

There are quite a few responses. I usually respond too but mine turned into a blog post so it is here.

Background: That was then

I joined eBay in October 1999. My first purchase was a creamer, that seller is still registered on eBay but has no items for sale. I bought 108 items over 8-1/2 years, that translates on average four items a month on that ID. When I started selling I bought almost all my shipping supplies etc. on eBay on my sales ID. When I bought the B&M building in SD in 2006 I bought duplicate supplies (scales, computer etc.) for that location, all on eBay. My last purchase was February 15th. Between 2004 - 2006 my average monthly eBay bill (not purchases) was $475.

and Now

The last big ticket item I listed, after the boycott, did not even appear in a search on the exact title for five days! Using Best Match and three words from the title it was not in the first five pages the day it ended. The only views it got were mine and its maker, you can see it here. It is a unique item.

I had planned to list on eBay after the first boycott from the end of February through the end of April. My experience with the quilt made me realize it was pointless. Historically eBay has been the venue with highest traffic, but with Best Match that is no longer valid.

I blame a combination of Detailed Seller Ratings and Best Match. I had a buyer who wanted a refund on one item. This is not a problem; I have always offered 100% satisfaction guarantee. Not unreasonably I do require the item be returned in resalable condition. This nice lady did not want to return the item so she gave me DSR scores of 1 on every star, dropping my overall score below acceptable levels.

Is my experience unique to me?

Not according to what I read on the boards. Posts are running 9:1 business decline versus increase. Seller after seller cites less traffic and lower Average Sales Price, on eBay.

Many sellers who have opened new sales channels are getting higher sell through off eBay. This would seem to indicate that declining sales and lower ASP on eBay should not be attributed solely to the economy. In a slowing economy sales of quality used clothing usually rise, yet a PowerSeller of used women's clothing with excellent prices and feedback reports her sales declined 40% from the same period last year. Most Sellers blame Best Match or to use Bayspeak 'Finding' is not successful.

Featured Fixed Price listings

are no longer featured. Sellers report that the $29.00 fee for this service does not guarantee you will get what you are paying for. This is standard on eBay today. Any Seller paying a basic fee to list an item should have a reasonable expectation to receive equal exposure with all other items paying the same basic fee. I predict this single issue will drive more Sellers off eBay in the next few months than any other.

Successful Sellers, those who keep books and end the year with black ink know that the keys to avoiding red ink are:

Give customers value for their money,
excellent service,
show each customer that you care.

eBay Really Really Cares About YOU

Here is how they are showing IT

PowerSellers rank among the most successful eBay sellers in terms of sales volume and customer satisfaction, and I'm excited to recognize their contributions to the marketplace through this promotion.

And I would like to sell you a lovely bridge which I received as an inheritance. You can pay me by Western Union!


Next post . . . The BIG picture! Y'all come back, and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Give a Man a Fish to Eat or a Fishing Pole?

Americans are the most generous people in the world. Even the poorest Americans will dig into their pockets to give generously to those in need, and go without themselves as a result.

When I think about organized charity I have several concerns. I do not doubt that they do good, but I always wonder what percentage of my donation actually gets to the intended recipient. Yes, I know charities have overhead, rent, wages, advertising etc., but none of that makes my concern any less valid.

Then there are the uglier demeaning implications of charity, hopeless people standing in line waiting for a handout. The loss of self respect. The loser label from those who should know better, 'poverty is a state of mind' they say, blissfully ignorant of the realities of life on minimum wage, or no wage at all.

What is the solution? What can we do that will empower and enable people to help themselves while keeping their self respect? Something that is not a handout but a helping hand. Anyone who has ever tried to get a loan when they actually needed money knows the answer to this! You are only credit worthy if you don't need a loan.

Micro-finance has been around for a while, it consists of making small loans, to individuals, micro-credit to establish or expand a small, self-sustaining business. For example, a woman may borrow to buy a pig to breed, and sell the piglets or seeds so she can sell vegetables. Each expansion of her business pulls her and her dependents further out of poverty.

The seed I would like to plant right now is to introduce you to an organization called Kiva, Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. Kiva is a non-profit that allows you to lend as little as $25 to a specific low-income entrepreneur in the developing world. Your money is an interest free loan and Kiva keeps none of it. Every last penny goes to the borrower and when you are repaid you can either lend it to someone else, or take it back.

You choose who to lend to - whether a baker in Afghanistan, a goat herder in Uganda, a farmer in Peru, a restaurateur in Cambodia, or a tailor in Iraq - and as they repay their loan, you get your money back. It’s a powerful and sustainable way to empower someone right now to lift themselves out of poverty.

You can check Kiva out by clicking on the link to the right, tell them Henrietta sent you!

Saturday Silliness

I discovered this interesting blog readability test and input Red Ink Diary, here is what we get.

blog readability test

Greeting Cards

Then I tried the eBay corporate blog eBayINK

blog readability test

Tee Shirts

I am not a professional blogger, see my profile. This leads directly to the next big question:

Is writing for my readers as if they were intelligent adults somehow incorrect?

Should I be dumbing it down for their feeble little minds?

You tell me.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dylan Sung the Song

You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy

Bob Dylan

Today I made my 1000th and last post in eBay's Answer Center.
Gratitudes to the many responders who taught me the ropes, corrected me when I was wrong and generally helped me to be the best that I could be.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bayspeak 101

Do eBay's management ever talk to each other? I believe they spend an inordinate amount of time in meetings with lawyers polishing their Bayspeak techniques.

"eBay LIES!" is the complaint of Sellers on the Boards. Looking at eBay announcements, on the whole, I don't think eBay does lie, not directly anyway. eBay lies by inference and omission. It depends on your interpretation of the words.

Quite often one can learn as much from what eBay does NOT say as from what they do say.

Paypal Only in Australia

Less than a week ago eBay spokesperson Nichola Sharpe said the new Paypal as sole payment method policy applies only to eBay in Australia. “There are no plans to go to a PayPal-only model for eBay in the US and we haven't announced any other markets at this time.” The italics are mine.

This morning the New York Times quotes eBay CEO John Donohoe saying that if the test (in Australia) was successful, the company would introduce it in other countries “in months, not years.”

Is there a conflict in these two statements? None at all. Would your average person see it as less than truthful? Yes. However,Ms Sharpe's statement was precise, she did not say there are no plans to expand this policy elsewhere.

Nichola Sharpe is no novice, she was eBay UK Senior PR Manager before moving to San Jose 14 months ago. You may remember her from the non-edible cornflake auction SNAFU.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Silver Lining to eBay's Digital Dark Cloud?

From a recent press release:

For several months, has been adding more features and enhancing the functionality of its mobile website for customers who want to shop using the browser on their mobile phone. April 2nd 2008 announced the addition of TextBuyIt, the latest in a series of mobile offerings for customers.

“With today’s launch of TextBuyIt, any customer can now use any mobile device to shop and buy from, at anytime, anywhere they are,” said Howard Gefen, Director of Amazon Mobile Payments. “With TextBuyIt, if you’re walking out of a concert and want to buy a CD from the artist you just saw, or if you’re at dinner and a friend tells you about a great book you should read, all you have to do is get out your mobile device, send a text message to Amazon, reply to the response, confirm your order, and your item will be on its way. “It’s incredibly simple and convenient.”

In recent months, customers have used their mobile devices to purchase everything from books, to big screen HDTVs to $30,000 watches using Amazon's mobile website.

Contrast this with eBay's recent policy change confining digital goods to their Classified section. eBay's Brian Burke, Director Global Feedback Policy stated that this retrogressive step was to preserve the integrity of the Feedback system,

Digital goods are often reproduced at little to no cost to the seller. On eBay, this creates the potential for Feedback Manipulation (both real and perceived).

Strangely, at the recent Workshop for digital sellers Jim "Griff" Griffith, Dean of eBay Education, was pushing eBook sellers to place their books on other media.
The new policy also presents intriguing marketing opportunities for the enterprising seller of digital content to add value to their content by offering it on media that can be used for other purpose. For example, offering one or more eBooks or templates on a USB flash drive, SD, or Compact Flash memory card.

A quick search for 1G USB flash drive on eBay produced hundreds of listings starting at 1c with $8.99 S&H. This Marketing Solution will financially advantage eBay while simultaneously preventing feedback manipulation? How? It does raise the cost of buying feedback if feedback manipulators were stupid enough not to go look for a cheaper item.

The predictable furor from sellers of digital media, who were effectively put out of business on less than one weeks notice has possibly had one good result. Zipidee the Digi-Goods Marketplace is waiting to welcome them with open arms and has added an eBook category to facilitate the transaction. Zipidee has a rapidly expanding seller network of more than 1,000 content producers and distributors and over 150,000 repeat customers.

eBay’s recent decision to de-list digital sellers from its auction and fixed price listings has created a huge opportunity for us.

said Henry Wong, Zipidee CEO

“From its inception, Zipidee has embodied an open marketplace where video and audio creators have complete freedom to sell their digital products, at whatever price they choose, and in any category they want. Now we’re extending the same opportunity to eBook publishers. eBay’s decision to only list digital goods in the obscure Classified Ads is akin to hiding a needle in a haystack. This will dramatically reduce the monetization of sellers’ digital goods”

he added.

Having checked the Zipidee fee structure, ex-eBay sellers will need to re-evaluate their business plans. I believe craft related digital sellers will be better served at Etsy but others may find Zipidee to be the better solution compared to eBay Classified.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Shhhh! It's Classified

After the eBay Classified Advertisements Workshop I researched this 'Marketing Solution'.

eBay policy for Classifieds allows no links of any kind. Any responses are made through the eBay mail system. A telephone number may be shown. (Does that make sense?) A Classified Ad format can only be used for a product, products, or service for sale. It may not be used to promote a political candidate or religious organization or service group.

At the bottom of the Classified Fees page is a list of categories, and sub-categories which permit classifieds. Specialty Services sub-categories are shown after clicking on the link. Classifieds placed in any other categories will be removed.

Fees for Classified are $9.95 per month. Classifieds appear just like any other eBay listing but will not show a bid or buy button, the words Classified Advertisement appear to the right of the title in list search. Upgrades are available for an additional fee. This dummy classified listing is courtesy of Shipscript who says:

Buyers are confused about the Classified format. Several members have reported that buyers think the listing is closed and the item is no longer available because there is no BUY or BID button. . . . Classifieds sort to the bottom of Best Match, thus visibility is very low. Sellers are currently reporting that most contacts are coming from other sellers wondering how the ads are working out.

eBays response is that sellers need to educate buyers.

This is carrying the famed eBay No Customer Service policy to new lows!

Here is the kicker, when your potential contact uses the eBay email system to respond they are warned TWICE not to make 'off eBay transactions'. Click to enlarge.

Some seller reactions:

How do we have any credibility in "educating" our customers if we're stuck between ads for expanding various body parts or "Make A Million in Auctions In Two Days Without Spending A Cent."


Why are you subjecting digital media buyers to having to browse a category that is now RIDDLED with pornography gallery images? I'm about sick of your unwillingness and lack of motivation to take care of that. I want to shop for digital goods and not see some woman with her double D's hanging out or her rear end in my face. That needs to move to mature audiences and you know it

Are eBay Classified Ads a viable marketing solution? Not at present for most product, possibly for some services.

I think eBay needs to look at rephrasing their warnings. I would be interested to hear a legal opinion on the question of taking fees for displaying an advertisement while warning respondents not to transact business with the advertiser.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Uncle Griff's Dynamite Marketing Plan

It is strongly recommended that you do not read this while eating or drinking!


It is 2PM, the online Workshop forum is packed full of desperate, disenfranchised Sellers of digital media all anxious to learn "How to Make eBay's New Digital Download Policy Work for You".

I have to admit to feeling sympathy for Brian Burke who answered all questions respectfully and with politeness, charm, and humor where appropriate. What a contrast to the last workshop I audited with Scott Wingo!

Immediately the forum opened about 50 posts hit the board. Most were either explaining why the policy is misguided, a mistake or it simply should not apply to them. The remainder asked questions that were either answered in the March 24th announcement or the Classified Advertisement guideline page. I do not understand what part of this:

all goods that can be digitally downloaded or transferred electronically must be listed using the Classified Ads format

is complicated or open to any alternate interpretation.

The first half dozen responses were variations on the theme of NO. Posting was hot and heavy and I was glad this was an online workshop, it felt like a brawl. Then, in a truly slick move, 8 minutes from the end of the workshop, as the brawl was winding up into a small riot, Uncle Griff unveiled his Marketing Plan for eBook Sellers in a series of posts and at exactly 3PM eBay Pink Deidre closed the board for further comments or questions.

Pearls of wisdom from Uncle Griff

Uncle Griff's dynamite marketing plan was that eBook sellers should put them on 1G flash drives, or memory cards. He said:
The new policy also presents intriguing marketing opportunities for the enterprising seller of digital content to add value to their content by offering it on media that can be used for other purpose.

They could then join the hordes of sellers in Books, Cameras & Photos, Cell Phones & PDAs and Consumer Electronics, listing at 1c with 8.99 shipping. (Does that make sense? Yes, well, ummm, onward.)

It is a very good marketing plan. For eBay. He assumes the seller has an eBay Store to help cross promote all of their content listings with their non content listings. Then using a mix of Classified Ads, Auction, and Fixed Price, with sub-titles (additional marketing opportunity) Uh huh.

So here we go . . .
Perceived Value . . .
Adding value to your content will set your listings apart from your competition. To my eye, one of more distressing aspects of the growing trend in digital content is the “sameness” that permeates this particular category of listings. There are so many titles like “How to sell on eBay,” “How to Make Millions on eBay,” “Needlework Patterns,” etc that it is difficult for buyers to differentiate between content listings.

Content . . .
Considering creating an “eBay How To” eBook or compile a collection of your own needlework or embroidery patterns or a collection of templates (the type of content doesn't matter here. All types of content will benefit from these tips)? Fantastic!

Branding . . .
You may need to hire a graphic designer to do the initial work for you but again, anything you can do to set your content apart from your competition provides value to your potential buyers. Your mantra should always be, “I must set my content apart from the pack.”

Pricing . . .
Remember, for the most part, buyers believe that value is best indicated by price. Sure, every buyer wants a good deal, a bargain. No buyer wants to spend more than an item is worth. However, there is a price point for every item – not always obvious and not always easy to determine – below which the buyer stops considering the item as a bargain and starts viewing the item as “cheap” with all the word’s negative connotations.

Finally . . .
don’t discount the old tried and true printed book method of delivery. As the success of on and offline bookstores like Borders, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and of course, eBay’s own clearly show us, bound printed on paper books still have a huge audience of eager buyers. There are many self-publishing options available to neophyte authors, especially those authors for whom finding an agent or old world publisher is not a viable option.

Brian & Griff, I think you should know that all over America there are angry designers of knitting patterns . . . all of whom have very long sharp knitting needles . . . some of whom may be going to Chicago! Be alert, be very alert.

Next post . . . All you ever wanted to know about Classifieds Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Digital Downer

At lunchtime on March 24th 2008 the world lurched for Sellers of digital goods on eBay. Brian Burke, eBay’s Director of Global Feedback Policy announced that effective March 31st all goods that can be digitally downloaded or transferred electronically must be listed using the Classified Ads format.

We are not talking solely about purveyors of 1c eBooks on how to make your first million on eBay; although there are many of them. I was surprised to find this policy affects an enormous range of Sellers including designers of craft patterns, logos and templates, business consultants, accountants, photographers and artists, musicians etc. Anyone who sells a product on (USA) which is delivered as a download or by email is effectively out of business with 7 days notice. Sellers on other international sites are required by law to be given 30 days notice and they will be gone by the end of April.

The stated reason for the policy is feedback manipulation by those dishonest and untrustworthy Sellers. Quotes are from Brian Burke on eBay Chatter

Most items that require digital delivery, once created, can be very easily replicated. This ease of replication creates the opportunity for sellers to list thousands of the same item in an attempt to manipulate the Feedback system. It also creates a perception that even legitimate sellers of Digital Goods are manipulating the Feedback system.

A little thought reveals the holes in the theory and why is it always the Sellers who are crooks?

Once upon a time to become a PowerSeller you needed to sell $1000 Gross Sales Value per month for three successive months. In November 2007 eBay changed that
to include both high volume "seasonal" sellers and sellers who move a high volume, but with a low average sales price.
That opened the door to hordes of new PowerSellers who qualified by selling as little as $100 GSV monthly. PowerSeller Status confers benefits and benefits cost money.

Sure enough here it is:

Today less scrupulous sellers have more to gain from manipulating their Feedback and Detailed Seller Ratings, which are also an important factor in a seller's performance in Best Match and their eligibility for benefits (like PowerSeller eligibility and discounts). This makes feedback manipulation an even greater concern for the marketplace. Not only is safety and integrity of the Feedback system an issue, so is the fair administration of seller standards and rewards.

Ease of replication Oh gimme a break! Anybody can buy or create a small object, shippable in a regular first class envelope for pennies per dozen and sell them singly at 1000% markup, providing a feedback enhancement service and making a profit. Not as much profit as through digital downloads, & with greater risk but the market opportunity exists.

Follow the money trail
Question: Couldn't eBay have established a minimum dollar amount for these listings that would eliminate potential feedback manipulation?

Answer: We considered that option, as well as a number of other alternatives -- for instance, we considered allowing only approved sellers to list these items. After investigating these and other alternatives, however, we determined that the Classified Ads format provides a more flexible and scalable solution for our sellers.


The cost of a Classified Ad is $9.95 per month. Sellers can take advantage of the special benefits of using this format. For instance, you can combine multiple similar items in the same Classified Ad. If you sell standard listing templates, for example, you can include all your listing templates in the same ad. If you also sell eBooks on how to list, you must use a separate ad

Finally, from the destroyers of the feedback system:
The integrity of the Feedback system has always been a critical part of trust on eBay. As the company focuses on improving the buying experience, we're working on a number of initiatives to improve the integrity of Feedback and ensure buyer Trust.

Ina Steiner of Auctionbytes did an interview with Brian Burke last year.

Next post . . . the Workshop featuring Uncle Griff's priceless pearls of Wisdom Y'all come back and be sure to click VICTORIOUSLY on any interesting links in the sidebar!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Shameless Plug

Do you know that Mother's Day is coming up pretty soon? Of course you do! Mother's Day is Sunday May 11th.

Do you really want to get into the car and drive to your local card shop to buy some generic card or gift for your very special Mom?
I didn't think so. Help support me in the style to which I would like to be come accustomed by buying one of these now. Just click on the picture.

Victorian Fan Greeting Card

Above Die cut and deeply embossed, this is an exact working reproduction of an antique, circa 1900's fan. Each of the six blades is a different floral arrangement against a stunning dark background. Comes with envelope and measures approximately 8” by 14-1/4" open, folded or closed 3-1/8" by 8". Made in the USA.

Pansy Cottage Photo Matte

Left My picture does not do this die cut Photo Mat justice, the aperture is edged with approx. 1/8" of gold foil. The detail is incredible, a little stream side village of thatched cottages, an arched bridge, can you see the Swan Inn? All surrounded by lovely pastel pansies. Brand new; approximately 5" x 7", photo opening is a tad over 3" x 4". Buy a standard 5 x 7 frame, add a picture of yourself and watch Mom's eyes pop!

Beautiful Refrigerator Magnet

Right The ideal Mother's Day gift is something that doesn't take up a lot of room, is not likely to break, or have to be cleaned or dusted, something she will treasure long after a card is gone. Here is a pretty refrigerator magnet, the motto "What is Home without a Mother" is set in a star surrounded by roses. Approximately 2" wide by 3" tall.

Everything I sell is covered by MY GUARANTEE:

I want you to be happy with your purchase! If you don't like it, it's not sold. This means, if, for any reason, you do not like your purchase when you receive it, let me know & send it back right away. It must be in saleable condition and packed as it was when you received it. I will refund your purchase price, less postage charges.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

MayDay! MayDay! MayDay!

May 1st 2008 is the day online Sellers of all sizes from Mom & Pop with 10 listings a week to Power Sellers with thousands of sales monthly will withdraw their business from eBay.

eBay Sellers are entrepreneurs, individualists to the nth degree yet they are united in their resolve to remove their business from a corporation which has shown nothing but contempt for its customers. eBay will not even acknowledge that Sellers are customers.

Here is a list of eBay Seller concerns, this list is not in any particular order and I may well have left out some points. It should be noted that all of these concerns are closely inter-related. Sometimes it is hard to tell where one ends and another begins.

1. Implement some form of Buyer verification. This will prevent fraudulent buyers from simply returning with a new eBay ID after being NARU (Not a Registered User) or banned from the site.

2. Rethink the new feedback policy due to be implemented in May. There are other ways to deal with the problem of retaliatory feedback without preventing Sellers from leaving negative or neutral feedback for Buyers. Banning automated like for like feedback programs would be a start. As it stands buyer will have five opportunities to register displeasure with a Seller who has no ability either to judge the caliber of the buyer, (who will only have positive feedback), or protect themselves from malice.

3. Fix the Detailed Seller Ratings To tell a buyer that 4 is the correct score for 'shipped quickly' is deceptive, more so when Sellers are being rated on the speed of the USPS not the speed with which an item is out the door. A score of 4 carries severe penalties for a Seller. Items with free shipping should not be rated on shipping costs, this is a simple programming change. 'Would you buy from this seller again' would be a more accurate question.

4. Customer Service is a joke. Three identical queries will produce (eventually) three different responses none of which answer the question asked.

5. Enforce regulations eBay relies on customers to police and report listings which contain policy violations. The reporting mechanism is so poorly framed that it is almost impossible to report certain violations. eg banned seller returning with a different ID. We don't need any more new rules until the old ones are fully implemented.

6. Fix Search or Finding or whatever you want to call it The recent 'improvements' or Best Match currently result in buyers being unable to find what they are looking for. Some previously effective listings do not receive a single view. Tying 'finding' to DSRs means that a low volume Seller can easily be sabotaged by a competitor who simply buys an item under a new ID and leaves a score of 1. It seems incredible that a low volume seller, a fee paying customer with a long term track record of excellence can be judged guilty and condemned by one 'anonymous' rating from a new buyer. Please do not expect Sellers to have faith that an already dysfunctional Customer Service department will fix this.

7. Respect eBay recently announced that it would ban digital sales in five days citing suspected feedback manipulation. eBay then immediately began ending digital sales listings. Listings sellers had paid for, some that very same day. Thousands of Sellers found themselves instantly out of business. This is not the first time eBay has reacted with a sledgehammer to kill a flea. This pattern of corporate behavior is indicative of total disrespect for the businesses that pay to list on the venue. How can anybody run a business when your 'landlord' changes the terms of your 'lease' without warning or notice? There are several ways to limit feedback manipulation, including restricting feedback to items sold over a predefined price. Most Sellers tend to think they are selling items not feedback.

8. Micromanagement eBay frequently declares in legal filings that it "is just a venue" and therefore not liable for anything. eBay does not however act like just a venue. eBay micromanages the business of its customers, for example preventing Sellers from utilizing legal and proven payment methods in favor of its wholly owned subsidiary Paypal. Paypal's business practices are covered here

9. Dishonesty is rampant in the eBay corporate environment. Recent examples include:

(a) eBay's denial of censorship on the Discussion Boards,
(b) the 'test' revised to 'glitch' that caused listings to appear on the site during the recent boycott. eBay stated publicly that there were only 5000 listings, later revising the figure to 35,000. Unfortunately there is proof (in the form of saved screen shots) that the total listings inflating statistics during the February boycott were closer to 245,000.

Its a Secret Any successful business relationship must be based on mutual benefits. Happy confident performing Sellers will have happy and confident customers or buyers. Buyers pay for items and in turn Sellers pay fees. Logic would dictate that eBay should be open with its customers, fee paying Sellers, regarding the direction eBay management wishes to take its business. Unfortunately logic is absent. eBay prefers to make a series of pronouncements to which sellers can only scramble to react.

When a renowned and respected Seller like Skip McGrath who makes his living selling eBay how to books says "I try and make a habit of checking the eBay announcement board frequently so I can keep up with all the changes on eBay, but for the past few months I've been almost afraid to. It seems every time I look at the announcement board, eBay smacks me upside the head with some new draconian policy." then, San Jose, we have a problem!

eBay doesn't think so, it is dismissive and disrespectful. I think I speak for many other Sellers, not just myself, when I say that I would rather be told upfront that the corporate direction has changed and to take my junk & leave by a specific date.

Is there a solution?

Probably not. eBay has said quite clearly "We're not changing our plans,"

Monday, April 7, 2008

Out of the Closet

An article in Ina Steiner's Auctionbytes led me to this announcement from eBay Australia, Emma is out of the closet!

Our Australian cousins can enjoy the new sport "Bait the Bot" but only 30% of them for now.

This makes me wonder if our own Customer Service bots will be emboldened to 'come out'. They have been masquerading as Live Helpless for a long time now.

How Safe is Paypal for Sellers?

So Many Horror Stories

I use Paypal because it has been a good service for years. I will continue to use it because you can't run an online business without it. That doesn't mean I use it with blind faith that because I am good person nothing bad will happen. I have had emails telling me that none of the horror stories we hear could possibly apply to 'good sellers'. I am not going to argue with those who believe this, it is pointless. We are all grown-ups here and should be capable of making our own decisions.

The Paypal warning sites are full of unverified information, some of them are no more than affiliate sites to steer you to another service provider (which has had its own share of problems too). It is entirely possible that some of the posters are not sharing everything, many of them might have been shut down for good reason. We shall never know. However, there is no smoke without fire!

It is very important to remember that eBay OWNS Paypal. If you want to know what Paypal can and cannot (not much!) go to Paypal and read ALL the LEGAL AGREEMENTS. You will find them at the very bottom of the login page, you do not need to sign in or have an account to read them.

I want you to be aware of what applies to EVERYONE who has a Paypal account. Quite simply, every word in the User Agreement that you e-sign when you click I accept. Do not make the mistake of assuming that specific wording means "insert your own interpretation here". If the wording is vague and ambiguous it is because sharp legal minds intended it to be so. That is why lawyers get the big bucks.

Vote! >>

Paypal can (and does) change the User agreement frequently. They do not have to email you and tell you. When you sign in, on the left is a link called Policy Updates, it is wise to check it each time you log in. There have been SIX updates this year and YOU are bound by them. Some may not affect you, many will.

For example, from the Paypal site effective March 5th 2008: "PayPal is amending section 10.2 of the User Agreement to allow PayPal to take the actions described in that section if PayPal has reason to believe that you have engaged in any of the Restricted Activities. The prior language allowed PayPal to take the actions described in that section if you engaged in any of the Restricted Activities." A good synopsis would be "If we THINK you are up to something we can shut you down" NOT "you did it and we can shut you down".

Here is another change, to the Privacy Policy effective May 7th 2008:

"Beginning May 7, 2008 the PayPal Privacy Policy is being amended as to the purposes for which we share personal information with other companies in the eBay Inc. corporate family. These purposes are now as follows: to provide joint content and services (like registration, transactions and customer support), to help detect and prevent potentially illegal acts and violations of our policies, and to guide decisions about these related companies' products, services and communications."

Seems to me a whole bunch of folk in and around eBay are going to have access to my Paypal information. That would include what I bought, where, from whom, what I paid for it, if I made political donations, my social security number, bank account locations, account numbers. I know there is not much I can do about that if I continue to use Paypal or the Paypal CC. Perhaps we can all look forward to receiving even more personally tailored results in eBay search.

What to do?

STEP 1: Find a bank that will let you open a free, low balance account. Link that account to Paypal. Withdraw from Paypal into your special bank account as soon funds reach a level higher than you could manage without if you were shut down because of 'suspicious activity'. Remember that an $8 per hour worker has the power to freeze your account for 180 days or more. They are just doing their job but it can SINK you if they are mistaken!

STEP 2: Remember also, Paypal can withdraw from your bank account because the User Agreement allows them to. Even if it is all a terrible mistake they can empty your linked account. They can fine you $2500 for every perceived infraction, and take the fine out of your bank account. Do not keep a higher balance in your special bank account than you could manage without if you were shut down. Withdraw and deposit to an account that is not linked in any way to Paypal.

STEP 3: You will be asked to link a debit/credit card to your Paypal account. Do not make the mistake of using one that is linked to anything other than your special account, Paypal can draw from your Credit or Debit card. Do you want ANY possibility of having to pay off thousands of dollars in credit card debt for fines imposed without trial or conviction? If the answer is NO, use a debit card.

This may seem like a lot of effort. It is. I worked hard for my money and I intend to keep it. It is like what your Mom probably told you as a teenager "If you can't be good, be careful" I plan on being good, but I am also being careful. If someone makes a terrible mistake and freezes my account, there is not much in it. Same goes for the account it is linked to and the linked debit card will reject any charge over the balance in the bank account.

I welcome your comments and invite you to vote in my poll.
Comments are moderated and will not appear instantly.