Monday, July 6, 2009


Where is it? I know I saw it yesterday. What have I done with it?

When it is time to ship, you want to be able to locate the item you sold quickly. Especially with eBay's DSR (Detailed Seller Rating) system where buyers rate your selling time.

After 6 years on eBay here is what keeps me sane:

Every item listed in eBay receives a 12 digit item number. I buy rolls of 3m blue painters tape. I write the item number on it and put it on my item. So that the numbers are easier to read, I write four numbers leave a space, write 4 more numbers leave a space, and then write the last four numbers. The 3m tape sticks great and peels off easily without leaving a sticky residue. The cheaper brands tend to fall off given a slight breeze or a humid day.

If I have to list something more than once, it is easy enough to pull off the old piece of tape and put on the new item number. I use a black sharpie so the number can be seen even on a high shelf.

I sell ceramic decals. Most of them are under 5". I store them in photo boxes, in eBay item number order. I've taken old, used manila folders, cut them to size and use them to organize the decals in the photo boxes. Living Green!

For the sewing patterns we sell, I got lucky and purchased metal file drawers from a small Joann's store that was being closed (a super store was opening less than a mile away). Since sewing patterns already have numbers, I store them the same way retail stores do . . . by brand first, then by pattern number. Always easy to pull patterns for shipping.

When I sell breakable items, they are photographed then wrapped in tissue (to keep them clean), then wrapped in bubble wrap, then placed in a shipping box. The gaps are filled with peanuts. The box is then placed in a bigger box and weighed so that the listing can have the appropriate calculated shipping price. The box is then closed, but not sealed. Once listed, the auction number is written on blue tape and stuck to the side of the box that will be showing on the shelf. I try to keep them in numerical order on the shelf, but sometimes due the size of the box it is impossible. I figure as long as it is in the approximate area, I'll be able to locate it quickly enough.

I try never to stack things. It is a nuisance to move 3 boxes to get to the one I need. I just don't have the extra time for that. Adjustable shelving is wonderful. File drawers or even dresser drawers work great. Plastic bins and photo boxes help too.

Keeping organized is one of the most important things I can do for my customers.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lesson 3: DSR Star Ratings

Detailed Seller Ratings

I hate them. I am addicted to checking my status. I check it nearly every day hoping that I am maintaining a 4.9 star rating, but knowing that it doesn't take much (one buyer not realizing how damaging anything other than a 5 star rating can be) to lower my rating.

Why do I care? Is it the fact that if I maintain a 4.9 star rating as a Power Seller I am eligible for a 20% discount on my final value fees? And if my rating drops to 4.8 that discount lowers to 15%? Could it be that I am concerned that with just a few disgruntled buyers I could be looking at a 4.1% rating at which time eBay would not let me sell at all?

I am a competitive person. Possibly being raised with 6 siblings, each of us trying to outdo the other contributed to my compulsive need to do better than the next guy. See, I know that anyone, at any time, can view my star rating and while my feedback is glowing, the stars do not seem to be a direct reflection of the feedback system. I want 5 stars all the way. I answer every email, I ship daily, I keep my product and shipping prices in line, and I do my best to describe my products and put clear pictures in all my listings.

The problem is that eBay gives the impression that 4 stars is a good rating when in reality 4 stars can be damaging to a seller's overall rating.

Per eBay

How accurate was the item description?
1 Star Very Inaccurate
2 Stars Inaccurate
3 Stars Neither Accurate Nor Inaccurate
4 Stars Accurate
5 Stars Very Accurate

Can you describe something more accurate than accurate?

How satisfied were you with the seller's communication?
1 Star Very Unsatisfied
2 Stars Unsatisfied
3 Stars Neither Unsatisfied Nor Satisfied
4 Stars Satisfied
5 Stars Very Satisfied

Buyer buys something. Seller sends an invoice. Buyer pays. Seller ships. 90% of my transactions do not have any further communication beyond the automated notifications.

How quickly did the seller ship the item?
1 Star Very Slowly
2 Stars Slowly
3 Stars Neither Slowly Nor Quickly
4 Stars Quickly
5 Stars Very Quickly

The problem with this rating is that many buyers don't take travel time by the carrier into consideration. They leave the ratings based on how long their item took to reach them rather than when the seller actually shipped the item.

How reasonable were the shipping and handling charges?
1 Star Very Unreasonable
2 Stars Unreasonable
3 Stars Neither Unreasonable Nor Reasonable
4 Stars Reasonable
5 Stars Very Reasonable

Sellers have no control over the cost of shipping. As a buyer, if I don't like the shipping charges indicated in a listing I don't buy the item. If the listing doesn't specify shipping charges I don't buy the item. In my early, uneducated days of eBay I purchased a painting for $ .01 knowing I would be paying $19.95 for shipping. When the canvas arrived in a tube with $2.41 postage on it, I wasn't surprised. I knew the seller had to make money somehow. I didn't know I was contributing to the seller's fee circumvention. (Final Value Fees are calculated on the selling price, not the shipping price.) If the star system had been in place, I would have left the seller 5 stars because I decided that the painting was worth $19.96 and that is what I paid. It didn't matter to me how much was for the actual canvas and how much was for the shipping.

I've seen listings where sellers have requested buyers to contact them if they felt they could not leave 5 stars in all categories, or since the rating is voluntary to not leave stars at all. It seems like this might encourage buyers to request a discount or refund. I prefer subliminal messages. I put the phrase '5 Star Customer Service' in my listings in bold letters followed by 'Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding our products and/or services. Your eBay experience is important to us.' I also enclose an invoice with each shipment that has '5 Star Customer Service' at the top of the invoice.

Now if only I can get everyone to double their orders subliminally.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lesson 2: HELP!


If you run into a snag on eBay, there are lots of places to go for help. Some venues are more effective than others. eBay's Live Help has, over time, earned the nickname of Live Helpless. I found the customer service reps I have talked to are clueless, but extremely friendly and overly polite.

I have found that the Answer Center provides prompt and accurate answers to just about every question asked. Questions are answered by eBay buyers and sellers who volunteer their time, not eBay employees.

The first thing to do when you run into a problem is to check eBay's Help section. The Help link is top, right of just about every page. There is an A to Z index as well as a search box.

A couple of weeks ago I had a customer purchase 81 different items from my eBay store. When I went to send a combined invoice, the system would not let me. It would only let me send an invoice for 40 items at a time. My first instinct was to go to the Answer Center, but I remembered reading on more than one occasion that people in the Answer Centers prefer you to try to get the answers on your own first so I went to the Help section, typed in the search box 'invoicing' and found nothing of use. I typed 'invoicing' in the Answer Center search box and found nothing of use. As a Power Seller, I can call eBay. Well, sort of. I go through their system jumping through their hoops, then someone calls me.

So, I get the call. A very pleasant person asks how they can help. I tell them that I need to send a combined invoice for 81 items, but the system is only allowing me to invoice 40 at a time. I am asked if I would mind being put on hold while she researches the situation. 8 minutes later she comes on line and says "That's a lot of stuff. You can only invoice 40 at a time. When you send an invoice for the first 40, the system will let you send a second invoice to the same customer for another 40, and so on." Hmmm...didn't I tell her that was the problem? I wanted to send only 1 invoice, not 3. I told her that if I did it that way I would have to pay 3 transaction fees when my customer paid through PayPal and I would have to send 3 separate international priority flat rate envelopes at nearly $13 each in order for the transaction to be protected by PayPal. So, the situation would cost me $26.60 more than it should (2 extra PayPal transaction fees of $.30 and 2 extra Priority Internation flat rate envelopes). The very sweet and 'helpful' eBay customer service representative said that perhaps I should check with PayPal. Perhaps they had a way to send an invoice for all the items. She graciously transferred our phone call to PayPal where I talked to another extremely polite lady that really couldn't help either except to tell me that I could send more than one eBay transaction in the same package and still be protected by PayPal in case something went wrong (the package was lost by the post office, etc). Okay, so I would only be out $ .60 for the two extra PayPal transactions. I could live with that.

I was on the phone for nearly 45 minutes between the eBay rep and the PayPal rep. If I could have gone straight to the Answer Center, would I have saved myself 45 minutes? I just posed the question in the Answer Center...let's see what they come up with.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lesson 1: Common Spelling Errors on eBay


eBay is written with a lowercase 'e', an uppercase 'B' and lowercase 'a' and 'y'. eBay. Oops...I've been typing Ebay or EBay for years. Never noticed the red underline indicating a misspelled word.

Both 'P's in PayPal are capitalized. I'm pretty sure I have hundreds of listings that read Paypal. Guess I better get them corrected.

As of May 26, 2009 here are some words I found misspelled on eBay listings:

acquire - over 2,000 left out the 'c'
believe - over 6,800 have 'ei' instead of 'ie'
calendar - over 1,000 changed the 'e' to an 'a'
camouflage - 3,600 with the 'u' in the wrong place (camoflauge)
collectible - over 171,000 put an 'a' instead of an 'i'
equipment - 54 have an extra 't' (equiptment)
experience - over 4,600 put experiance
guarantee - over 17,000 switched the 'u' and the 'a'
handkerchief - 900 left out the 'd', 9,000 didn't
height - 3 million did not begin and end with an 'h', 650 did
independent - over 4,800 put independant
jewelry - over 18,000 have an extra 'e' ( jewelery)
license - 232 switched the 'c' and the 's'
maintenance - 763 have maintainance, over 1,000 listings have maintenence
millennium - over 6,800 only have one 'n'
miniature - over 1,700 left out the 'a' and over 4,300 left out the second 'i'
necessary - 7,500 added an extra 'c', 4,700 added an extra 'c' and took out an 's'
noticeable - over 18,000 are missing the 'e'
possession - over 2,100 listings posession, over 3,700 listings possesion, over 113,000 have it spelled correctly
raspberry - over 1,300 left out the 'p'
receive - over 223,000 listings have recieve while nearly 7 million got it right
recommend - over 3,000 listings have an extra 'c'
reference - over 1,000 listings have referance
restaurant - 166 listings have the 'u' in the wrong place (restaraunt)
separate - over 71,000 listings have seperate
shipped - 11 million got it right, 11 thousand left out a 'p'
success - over 5,400 only have one 'c'
supersede - over 1,100 listings have supercede
until - over 27,000 have untill (over 3 million have it correct!)
vacuum - over 2,100 have 'cc' instead of uu (99,000 got it right)
weird - over 700 switched the vowels while 31,000 didn't

The counts probably change hour by hour so don't be surprised if your search brings up more or less than I've indicated. I searched by title and description.

While some of the errors can be attributed to language translations and others to typos, most of them are simply spelled incorrectly.

I'll be going threw...thru...through all of my listings looking specifically for typos and spelling errors. If you find any, please let me know!