Friday, October 31, 2014

Why We Are Leaving eBay

We are speakers of the truth. We feel held to a higher authority, a higher power, and as a result of that, we are severing our ties with eBay. (Also, eBay took our money when they said they wouldn't, but that was just the straw that broke the camel's back.)
We aren't perfect. We don't expect anyone or any business to be perfect. We do, however, expect honesty. We expect employees of a business to follow through. We expect businesses that we associate with to uphold basic rules of good business.
As a couple, we are very transparent. We have been through hell together and come out as a team, ready to kick the devil in the balls. Every day is a fight, and while we absolutely fight, we fight for what is right. We want to turn the world of ecommerce and vintage shopping on it's head. We want to be different, and we ARE different. We are different because we care and we vow to NEVER lie to you.
(There will be some generalities in this post, primarily because I would be writing for hours if I added every single specific.)
eBay, on the other hand, is not transparent. Fine print abounds. They are legally permitted to block every single listing you post from being seen by any customers. We feel that this is simply bad business. If I pay for a service, I expect to receive a service.
Six weeks and two days ago now, Mr. Uniquelyleanna called eBay. We were at our wits end. Sales were non- existent despite the fact that I (Leanna) was listing at least 5 items per day on eBay, pinning to Pinterest, optimizing for SEO, running deep sales, and basically working myself into the ground.
I was putting into practice every single thing that eBay told me to do. I had countless phone consultations as an eBay store owner and each and every time I was told that I was doing everything right. There was not ONE suggestion for me. Pricing was great, I offered free shipping, I had over 600 positive feedback reports and my feedback rating was at 99.5%. (We try to please everyone but sometimes you just can't.)
Defects weren't an issue. We had over 650 products up, from coffee mugs and kitchen appliances to stuffed animals and Coleman coffee pots.
Yet we were barely able to pay our eBay fees for our Premium store every month. Something didn't jive.
Back in February eBay had a security breach. It was big. It was bad. But I defended eBay. I went to bat for eBay, despite the fact that customer service was a joke and I knew more than all but two customer service reps I ever spoke with. Trust me, I have been on the phone with eBay more than I care to admit.
I stuck with eBay. In retrospect I wish I had not. But I did. I worked my store. I listened to eBay radio, I followed all the eBay directives for Best Practices. I went above and beyond in offering customer service, even when it meant I couldn't buy the food I needed to buy to reduce my pain.
In February I started having technical issues. eBay allegedly knew about the security breach for MONTHS before releasing the information that it happened. This should have been my first red flag, but I was a stubborn idiot.
Since that time I literally cannot count the number of "oops, our bad, haha!" emails I have received from emails about features that did not work and technical issues.
Still I defended eBay. Mr. Uniquelyleanna has been wanting to leave eBay for quite some time. I should have listened to him. But I didn't. I declared that we would always, always, always sell on eBay. After all, I had been asked to be featured in an in- company video about how eBay changes lives, and eBay HAD changed my life for the better! Selling on eBay and Amazon FBA got us out of an apartment that was killing me. They saved my life.
I suppose I felt like I owed eBay something for that. Well, no more. My apologies that I keep getting a bit side tracked, but there is so much first hand information as to how evil eBay has become, I hardly know what to say!
I coached friends and random people (for free) in selling on eBay to help them get out of unfortunate situations. I bought on eBay. Lord knows how I sold on eBay!
Yet, after the security breach, it just kept getting worse and worse. During the previously mentioned phone call, Mr. Uniquelyleanna was TOLD that our problems with lack of sales (and money) was not our fault, but directly a result of eBay. That's right. Multiple employees admitted that our financial strife from lack of eBay sales was eBay's fault!
We were offered an out. We were OFFERED an out. We were told that our store subscription could be downgraded or even ended without any penalty. Being an idiot I insisted that I wanted to keep my store on eBay. I had invested much more than just time and money into it! I put my heart and soul into it! Why would I close my eBay store? Face, meet palm.
So we downgraded our store with every assurance that since it was eBay's fault that our sales were in the crapper, we would not have an early termination fee assessed to the account. Phew. Ok. $16 per month we can cope with until sales increase.
Fast forward who knows how long, and I check my eBay invoice and while I pick up my jaw from the floor, I note the early termination fee. As we have been saying ALL THE TIME for the last fee months, all I can say is "eBay, get your crap together! Get it TOGETHER!"
So I call. I speak to a lady in the billing department. She goes back in the records and sees that hey, what do you know, you really weren't supposed to have that few assessed! She submits a request for the fee to be removed, but it may take a couple days to be processed. Since the eBay fees aren't scheduled to be removed from Paypal for a couple weeks, two days isn't an issue.
Over the next week she calls three times. That makes me happy to finally have someone at eBay following through! This lady has my back!
I still go ahead and call myself at least three times, speaking with other reps who confirm that it won't be a problem. The previously mentioned woman stated that since it would not be removed until the end of the month, there was ample time for processing. Even on the teeny tiny chance that the ginormous amount was removed from our account, she assured me repeatedly that it could, and would, be placed right back in. Immediately.
And so yesterday comes, and my hubby goes to the bank to withdraw cash. What does he get? Insufficient funds? No, that's not correct. eBay may have come out, but the bill was around $40. We have no problem paying for the fees due for sold items! Here, take it, here's your share! Thanks!
Nope. Let's just say it was MUCH more than the correct amount. To eBay, it's peanuts. To us, it's everything. We work HARD for every cent. We rarely take a full day off. (Ok, we never take a full day off. There is always something that must be done!)
So we call. We get the runaround. One rep tried to tell us that supervisors and managers do not have a phone in their office or at their desk. Mr. Uniquelyleanna put the smack down on that bold- faced lie faster than cats on a bowl of tuna juice.
One rep tried to go back to when I originally upgraded my store to the Premium level and there was a technical glitch that ended my subscription instead. I immediately called and got things fixed, and since I DID upgrade my store and SUBSCRIBE to that level of store, the fee was waved. It was a glitch. eBay's glitch. I would consider that irrelevant now, but eBay reps are stating that this is what is holding up the processing this time.
At the same time we are being told that the processing time is due to the supervisor "not getting to" the approval. So... Which is it? (I dare you to call eBay. You will get a different answer for anything that isn't written in the manual for a regurgitated answer.)
eBay doesn't give ME 6 weeks to "process" a refund for a customer for something when I screw up. No way! They slam me with a defect and might put my account on suspension! And rightly so!
Yesterday we were informed that the early termination fees could be refunded. First though, they would be applied to the seller account. Then we could request for the refund to be sent to Paypal, MINUS fees incurred for items sold since the last bill. Fees that have not yet bee invoiced. Fees that are not due until DECEMBER 15th. How is this legal? Oh yeah, it's eBay!
The credit is supposed to be processed in 24-48 hours, after which we can request whatever is left. After that, we can expect the refund process to take between 2 and 30 days. Yes, you read that correctly.
To be clear, as far as eBay is concerned, I am on excellent terms. My account is current, I have TRS, Bronze Power Seller, ONE defect, and selling limits of $41,616.23 or 1610 items. I will upload proof later. My selling limits could be raised if I called since I have not tried to raise them for at least 4 months. Probably 5 months. My account has never been suspended and aside from the glitches that duplicated my listings (which I was constantly having to analyze my inventory to prevent from a negative customer experience) and a baby doll hair comb that was mis categorized (oops, my bad!), I have never had a listing pulled.
As previously mentioned, this is just the straw that broke the camel's back. I have had customers complaining to ~me~ about their experiences on eBay and with eBay. This post barely even touches all of the reasons to steer clear of eBay. If you have problems as a buyer or a seller... good luck.
Am I one of the disillusioned folks claiming I'll start my own eBay alternative? Absolutely not! eBay is simply too, too big and that is just plain absurd.
Are there alternatives? You bet. Etsy, Instagram, Amazon FBA, Facebook groups, Craigslist, our website, get ready for tons of goodies, because we've got 'em!
As for eBay, shame. Shame, shame, shame. Buyer beware. Seller beware. And just remember that this isn't even 1/4 of the reasoning behind why are leaving eBay!
Please note that blasting a business for their nefarious business practices is not something we take lightly. In fact, despite numerous bad experiences with numerous businesses, this is the first time I have ever, ever done this. The facts don't lie. We speak the truth. We fight for the truth, and the truth is that eBay is not a safe marketplace.
UPDATE: On the evening of October 31st, April, the rep with whom we had been receiving updates, called to update us that this was still processing and pending approval. Since we were told by the previous rep, Rob A, that the initial processing would be done yesterday, we expressed our confusion. Since the refund was over $100, Rob A's supervisor has to approve the refund.
With offices all over the world, we will probably be lucky if we ever receive our stolen money back. In order to file with Paypal, though, any unauthorized transactions must be disputed within 45 days. If we wait for eBay to "finish processing," it may be to late for that.
It sounds like it is time to file via the Paypal MasterCard dispute process, which may be escalated to Paypal, as well as the Better Business Bureau.
Evidently if you have a problem, and you report it to a eBay CSR, you MUST NOT call and ask about it again. Every contact you make adds the requirement of another "team" of people to assess, approve, and respond.
In addition, while repeated contact is a "no-no," there is absolutely no way to contact the specific people or team who are presently working on a issue.
You draw your own conclusions here!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Shipping for Dummies: Introducing a Series

Recently we asked fellow online sellers on our Instagram account what sorts of things they struggled with. The number one answer was resounding: shipping!

So, over the next few months (and probably forever), we will be covering some of the tips and tricks to shipping affordably and safely. One of the last things you want to do is look at your Paypal balance once you have finished shipping and see that you wiped out all your profit by underestimating shipping costs!

We have had our share of shipping snafus. We have had items arrive broken or opened. We have had items arrive at a customer’s doorstep on the opposite side of the world without being scanned once. Items have arrived with postage due, and we have had items sent back to us by the post office- because it was run over (the large tire track down the middle of the package made us suspect it).

Generally speaking, it’s probably safe to assume that it has happened to us! You know that saying about how you learn from your mistakes? Well here’s your opportunity to learn from ours!

As a result of shipping over 750 products before the start of the holiday season has even begun this year, you can rest assured that you are in good hands when it comes to having a clue with shipping! (Almost all of the snafus happened when the business first started out- not recently!)

Here is an idea of some of the topics you can expect through the series:

Why We Don’t Use Fragile Labels- and Why You Shouldn’t Either!
How to Ship Coffee Mugs Cheaply and Safely
Using Stamps.com to Estimate Postage Costs
How to Ship Breakable Items
When to Use Media Mail- and When to Skip It!
Shipping Essentials List- and Some Non-Essentials
How to Save Money on Shipping
Why We Love Frankenboxes
Free USPS Shipping Supplies Police: What’s Legal, What’s Not?
How to File a Claim with USPS (and Win!)

Have any suggestions? Throw them this way! There are no stupid questions- chances are we have asked it too!

***Disclaimer: We aren’t perfect. We make mistakes. We just want to help others! ***

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Why We Don't Use Fragile Stickers- and Why You Shouldn't Either!

IMG_5021.JPG Not long ago we received a message on eBay from a customer regarding fragile stickers. She started by demanding our email address, ranted about fragile stickers, then at the end added a side note that an item arrived broken.
There are multiple things here that set off red flags in my head. For one, eBay does NOT want you to conduct your business off of eBay. Part of this is for your protection both as a buyer and a seller.
Any communication off of eBay isn't seen by eBay. Granted, you can take screenshots of emails, but agreeing to discuss issues off of eBay is basically a no-no. This doesn't mean I don't handle most things elsewhere, but for situations such as this I like the policy.
Secondly, if you receive a broken item in the mail, you are going to be upset that it's broken- not that there wasn't a sticker on the package. We try to "air ride equip" everything these days, but tire tracks on a flattened package do not lie. There really isn't much we can do about thousands of pounds rolling over our package.
With eBay's set up favoring the buyer (sorry, it is what it is) and the defect system's flaws, many buyers are being conditioned to essentially expect partial or full refunds for any and all complaints. Sure, some are scammers. I suspect this one was a scammer as I haven't heard a peep since my response. I don't know for sure, but a good deal of time has gone by and if it really was broken she would have responded. My knee jerk response is to assume the best, and in this case my gut told me it was the opposite.
Naturally I responded kindly, simply directing her to please send any pictures of damage through eBay's message system and to give eBay a call if she needed assistance doing so. I informed her that we would make it right but eBay required communication to be through their website. I also told her the dealio about fragile stickers.
Crickets.
Fragile stickers may make you feel like you are protecting your package and give you warm fuzzies. Warm fuzzies are nice and all, but they don't keep your item(s) from getting broken!
We have personally witnessed our packages thrown across the mail room- right in front of our face. If that is how they are treated in view of the public, imagine the behind-the-scenes treatment! Regardless of what carrier company you use, they are all expected to move things quickly. Stopping to give white glove treatment to a package labeled "fragile" isn't in the job description.
Besides that fact, have you ever seen a group of kids standing around a "wet paint" sign? One of those kiddos is going to touch the merry go round to see if it really is wet- or just because the sign told them not to. Adults really aren't that different. Do you really want to challenge a disgruntled employee who is having a bad day?
So if these stickers are either blatantly ignored or seen as a challenge, you are thusly just throwing your well-intentioned money out. Skip the fragile stickers and just "air ride equip" your packages. If a customer flips out on you because you did not label a package as fragile, simply inform them that you packaged the heck out if it (assuming you did), and send 'em here!

A Day with Latex Allergy

I missed latex allergy awareness week this year!
I feel incredibly guilty!
Last year I wrote a post on my old blog about a day in my shoes with latex allergy. Please check it out! Living in a bubble is completely preventable.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

How to Use Bubble Wrap Correctly (Shipping for Dummies)

PBubble Wrap: In or Out?ost #2 in our Shipping for Dummies series covers bubble wrap!
Bubble wrap. It seems like such a simple, straightforward shipping product- right? Wrong. Ish.
Sure, some people will just grab a bunch of bubble wrap, throw it around a fragile item, and consider it done. But there's  a bit more to it than that!
If your product has any protruding pieces, it needs a little more TLC. Cut some bubble wrap down to size and carefully wrap, wrap, wrap until the protrusion is cushiony softness!
The most important thing to remember when using bubble wrap, though, is that the bubbles go inward, not out! The rationale is pretty simple, though I understand how easy it is overthink these sorts of things.
The bubbles in a sheet of bubble wrap are designed to make that satisfying little popping noise for a reason! Let's say your antique vase has been carefully bubble wrapped and is on the way to a new owner. You've taken plenty of care in ensuring it arrives safely, but once it leaves your hands you can't do much more! This is where it is important to ensure you have packaged your product in preparation to be thrown across the room like a football then dropped on the floor.
Let's say a 50 pound package is placed on top of your package. (Oh no, right?!?!?) It happens.
This places stress on the top edges of the box, which then places stress on top of the filler inside the box, then the box around your vase, and finally the bubble wrap starts to feel it! At this point, some bubbles may start bursting. That's ok- that's what they are there for! Just remember, the bubbles are there to protect your item- not the packaging!
Bubbles on the inside is the way to go. The bubbles go closest to the items they are protecting.