Posts from September 2011.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

It is that time of year again, the last lazy days of Indian Summer beginning to be overtaken by chilly evenings and crisp mornings that say winter is coming.

As of today we are 57 days away from Black Friday, November 26th, traditionally the day in which retail stores hope to make enough sales to put them “in the black” for the season.

Bearing in mind that online seasonal sales often start to pick up in October, ideally you should be well into preparations for the (hopefully) busiest season of the year.

I like to target September 30th as my completion date, This gives me time for corrections, fix-its for omissions and fine tuning my listings. This year I am behind, but working on it.


Check your inventory! Be sure to physically locate old stock items you have listed. It does you no good to make a sale and have to refund your buyer because you can’t find it.

Check your inventory of packing supplies: labels, tape, bubble wrap, padded envelopes, business cards, any enclosures used, boxes (free from USPS) and envelopes, ink etc. Your suppliers are keeping stocks at lower levels than normal, due to the economy, just like you are. Make sure you have enough to get you through the season.

If you need to place a top up order on seasonal items, do not dally. Choice is already limited and inevitably there will be shipping delays.

Revise your pricing, make at least four searches, Google, Google Shopping, (these give different results because Google Shopping results are from submitted feeds) Bing and eBay. Note comparable prices, including shipping, and also the number of returns you get for the different search terms you use. Apply this knowledge to your titles and the first 150 characters and spaces of your item description. Remember prices may need to move up as well as down.


If you sell on your own website, for maximum SEO, you should suspend listings you are reworking from your feeds for at least 24 hours. Most search engines give preference to fresh listings, merely duplicating does not work as well as rewriting everything from the title down.

I like to work from the oldest listings to the newest. On Bonanza you can do this very easily by selecting ‘display newest’ and going to the last page.

Bonanza has improved the ‘duplicate listing’ function in the ‘edit your listings’ screen since last year. The traits, tags and attributes now duplicate also, this is a good thing! Another improvement is that the duplicate listing becomes the newest listing, so once you have checked that it actually has duplicated (don’t ask how I know this) you may delete the old one and go to work on the new one.

The Google

Google is enforcing their “no duplicate listings in feeds from one merchant on multiple venues” rule. Giving your items different titles, prices and descriptions will not fool them. They will suspend you. Pick which items you want to sell on each specific venue that submits feeds and do not duplicate.

Any additions to the checklist will be welcomed in the comments!

Y’all come back!

What’s New in Shipping?

The US Postal Service has a new flat rate box. Designed to ship two standard sized board games I plan on using it to ship over-sized decorative items, saving over $1 per box because USPS boxes are free.

Just in time for the busy Holiday season!

The Game Box

Exterior dimensions are 23 - 11/16″ long by 11 - 3/4″ wide and 3″ deep.

Despite it’s huge size the game box ships at the large flat rate box price. There is no oversize penalty and the package shipping density or DIM rate rules do not apply. It may be used for International Priority Mail.

With a commercial rate electronic shipping account like endicia (sign up using this link and get your first month free) or PayPal (when they get around to adding it) you can ship this box Priority to anywhere in the USA including Alaska and Hawaii for the discounted rate of $14.20 including delivery confirmation. APO/FPO discounted rate is $12.20. If you do not use electronic shipping the rates are $14.95 and $12.95 to APO/FPO addresses.

Remember that USPS boxes can only be used to ship via USPS, misuse may be a violation of federal law. I ordered a pack of 25 today, free including delivery from the USPS store

How about that?

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Dog vs Cat Saturday Silliness

Once in a while we forget our troubles and cares to go completely off topic and enjoy a little Saturday Silliness. Not sure the dog found it amusing but I believe the cat enjoyed herself.
If there is no video please refresh the page.

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What is Yours is Mine Says PayPal

An article “Did Your PayPal-Funded eBay Purchase Disappear Into Thin Air?” and a Letter to the Editor at EcommerceBytes (formerly Auctionbytes) today, plus accompanying reader comments and advice tell me it is time to write about users legal rights when dealing with PayPal. Not just sellers, buyers have rights too!

The article details a known issue with PayPal eBay checkout, transactions vanish. eBay knows about it and has posted the issue to their developers board but does not consider it to be an issue buyers or sellers need to know about. I have made a screenshot, these things tend to disappear on eBay. Click image to enlarge.

The letter, from a seller, describes the normal customer service runaround when PayPal has a glitch. The overseas buyer had been refunded an amount unrelated to the transaction, by PayPal. PayPal’s solution was that the seller should

“[I was] told that #1 to contact the shipping service I used to have them track and stop the package and #2 to contact the buyer and ask here (sic) to pay back the money.”

Telephone complaints do not preserve your legal rights!Apart from the impossibility of recalling an international package from the US Mail there is nothing incredible (def.# 2) about the PayPal representative’s ’solution’. These customer service representatives are often very low paid workers in the Philippine Islands, Costa Rica or India who work from a script. Go off script at your own risk.

Some points to ponder:

  • When you as a seller refund a transaction it is not instant.
  • PayPal can take up to ten days to release the funds to a buyer
  • the money is sitting in their PayPal account, with a hold.
  • the buyer has to request the money be transferred back to their bank.


  • Telephone complaints do not preserve your legal rights!
  • Every single PayPal user gets large volumes of phishing email purporting to be from PayPal every day
  • Most of us ignore them

The squeaky wheel gets the grease

A step by step guide to making a complaint and preserving your legal rights. Links will open in a new tab or window.

  1. Download the relevant eBay invoices, put them on a CD so they are safe. You can print hard copy to enclose with your written complaints as needed.
  2. Go through the eBay or PayPal email complaint process. Print hard copy of every communication you send or receive. Keep it in a file, you will need it. You will find it helpful to make a dated index for your file, it is going to get full.
  3. If you decide to use the telephone ask the rep for identification, their name, location, employee number if they will give it to you. Note the number you called, date and time, takes notes of the conversation. Put it in your file.
  4. Complain in writing to eBay. You will need to send the complaint by certified mail to eBay Inc. 2145 Hamilton Ave., San Jose, CA 95125, with a return receipt. Keep your correspondence short, polite and to the point. Enclose copies of everything you have done so far. Make a copy of your letter for your file.
  5. Send a copy of your complaint to Complaint Assistance Unit, Division of Consumer Services,  California Department of Consumer Affairs, 400 R Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. They have a toll free telephone number (800) 952-5210.
  6. If you are really on a roll go to the California Attorney General’s website and fill out their complaint form.
  7. Notify the National Fraud Information Center
  8. On eBay check to see exactly how PayPal is licensed in your state, if your state even requires licensing. Print a copy. Next, send a copy of your complaint to the department in your State which regulates Money Transmitters. Here is a handy list of links by State, and another one from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network a Government institution which may or may not be of assistance.
  9. I would send a copy to your State Attorney General and the Consumer Protection department or Ombudsman if you have one. Give them PayPal’s license number.
  10. Finally, and this is important, the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints. The FTC collects complaints about companies and business practices. The FTC enters all complaints it receives into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database that is used by thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement authorities worldwide. These collected complaints can help detect patterns of wrong-doing, and lead to investigations and prosecutions.

You can do the Better Business Bureau complaint process if you really want. It is pretty much useless although it does get the complaint on record and eBay has to respond. Quite often the response is completely different from what you received through your initial email complaints. Expect this process to take a month or longer. Add copies of your complaint and responses to your file.

If you have followed all ten steps you will have poked a very large stick into an anthill. You may or may not get satisfaction on your complaint but you should get some satisfaction from knowing you have roiled (def.# 2,3) up a lot of ants.

Y’all come back!