Thursday, December 12, 2013

Funny, offensive, or both?

If you keep up with the news, you know that the top story of the day is the “fake” sign language interpreter who worked Nelson Mandela’s memorial.  While I don’t know sign language, I do know funny, and that, my friends, is funny.

It’s so funny, it ought to be a plot for a TV sitcom.  Oh, wait a minute, it is.  Remember Spin City?  It was a comedy back in the late 1990s that starred Michael J. Fox.  In one episode, titled “Deaf Becomes Her,” an office temp's attempt at sign language during a press conference offends the deaf community, and a leading advocate for deaf rights threatens to demonstrate at City Hall.

Office temp "interprets" the mayor's remarks
Trust me, the clip is hilarious, and you can find it on YouTube.  It’s ironic that life imitates art so many times.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you want to see an exemplary use of sign language that even hearing people can relate to, look up allyballybabe on YouTube.  She interprets contemporary music, including many Taylor Swift songs, and shows how a skilled interpreter can translate not only the words of the song, but also the emotions as well.

Speaking of being offended, I was offended yesterday at my distressing lack of sales.  I was 0 for Amazon (my term for not selling anything on the big river) until last evening, and Ebay was no better, with only a couple of sales. Granted, we are closing in on the mailing deadlines, but that was ridiculous.  Here’s hoping today is better.

Happy sales everyone.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Probably scammed

On December 2, I sold a pair of Bates Men's 6" DuraShocks Steel Toe Boots to a buyer in South Carolina.  The boots were new, with tags, and still in their original box.

On Saturday, December 7, I received this email:

Uh..... The boots are falling apart. BAD I am going to be taking action on this issue.

Me: “Sorry but they were new in the box. Please return them and I will refund your money plus shipping.”

They MUST be counterfeit because I've had the same model for almost 3 years. And 2.5 years before that.

Me: “They are not counterfeit and were purchased at a real store.”  (OK, so I fibbed a little on this response. They were purchased at a yard sale.)

And now I have to drive home to put my old boots on!? Wasting my time, on my job, time is money!

There's no way... As I said, I've used nothing but 2 pairs of these same boots for almost 7 years. For BOTH of the boots to have the bottoms falling off after not even ONE day of use. Not to mention, they didn't feel right, the tongue was thinner. Counterfeit boots. I am in no way going to send back boots and crossing my fingers about getting a refund. I will send you pictures of these boots if you want me to, but I will be going through eBay and PayPal to get my money back if you don't just do it. As you can see by my feedback, I am honest and don't screw anyone over. I don't mind paying for things, but when I get obvious fakes, I will take action on it if I don't get refunded. I have the pictures ready now to send, if you want to give me your email. I don't think my request is AT ALL undeserved.

Me: “There are no doubts that you are an honest buyer.  If you check my feedback, you will see that I an honest seller and would not jeopardize my reputation by selling counterfeit items.  To put this matter to rest though, I will provide a refund when i return to my office this evening.”

ok… I appreciate that.. because I really need to get myself some boots so I can work monday. I'm off tomorrow, fortunately. thank you very much, I will send you pictures if you wish.

Here’s the kicker, though.  He left positive feedback before starting his email refund demand.

So, as I am trading emails at the local Chinese restaurant during dinner, I am doing the math in my head in between bites of sesame chicken.  Since he had already left feedback, he couldn’t hurt my DSRs if I refused a refund, or tried to make him return the item.  On the other hand, he had opened a case, and if he screamed counterfeit loud enough, Ebay might just sit up, take notice, and take some kind of action against me, no matter if the seller was telling the truth or not.

I decided that the loss of the boots and the $70 refund was worth making this guy go away, so I refunded his money, and blocked him from buying from me in the future.  I also noticed this morning that he had removed his positive feedback.

Was I scammed? Probably. Do I care?  Yes, but it’s time to forget it, and move on. 

Elsewhere on Saturday, we visited a going out of business/clearance/just take it sale at a local stationery type store.  The proprietor was offering insane deals just to clear out the building, which was scheduled to be demolished soon. I wish that I had a real thrift store because I could have filled the shelves with gift bags, party items, paper goods, etc.  Ella purchased some gift bags, and knick knacks (fill the box for $2), while I wandered around trying to figure out how to make a profit on what I was seeing.
A great business deal!
Finally, I saw a box of new Swiftach guns, which attach sale tags to clothing, and several boxes of the barbs that the gun uses.  A quick smartphone search revealed that the guns sell for roughly $20 each, and a box of barbs ranges from $10 to $20.  After a quick negotiation with the seller, I got 33 guns for $2 each, plus two cases (20 boxes) of the barbs for $10 each.  Just to get rid of them, the seller also included three more cases of the barbs.
I priced a gun and a box of barbs at $24.99, although I’m not sure if they will be a big Christmas seller.  More likely, they will sell in the new year as store shelves transition from winter to spring clothes.

As far as sales go, the first full weekend of December was steady, but not the record breaker like last weekend.  On Amazon, I had 25 orders over the three day period (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), and on Ebay, I only had five.  My favorite sale was gift pack of fishing accessories called Luscious Lures.  After all, nothing says Christmas like a box of fishing lures featuring half-naked women.

Are fish really fooled by lures featuring mermaids?
In closing, just a reminder that mailing deadlines for the holidays are fast approaching.  From the USPS website:

Standard Post Service                Dec. 14
First-Class Mail Service             Dec. 20
Priority Mail Service                   Dec. 21
Priority Mail Express Service     Dec. 23

Have a productive week everyone.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I can think of no better word to describe my sales over the five-day, Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, shopping weekend.  Sales may be dead the rest of the month, but for one brief shining moment, it actually felt like I was running a successful online business.

Of course, the drawback was that I spent most of my free time in front of the computer, either listing items, or packing the day’s sales.  On Thursday, I managed to sneak away for a Thanksgiving brunch with the family at Golden Corral, before hopping back in the saddle, so to speak.   I packed sales on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and Ella made a post office run on Friday morning, and Duc and I went to the main post office on Sunday afternoon.  On Monday morning, I mailed another large tote of packages, and Ella rolled my five larger packages into the post office via hand truck later in the day.  Tuesday was much the same, with me mailing a large tote full of small packages, and Ella braving the rain with several larger packages.
I wish I had more!

My biggest seller was a Star Wars LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game.  A church rummage sale back in October had a whole slew of the LeapFrog games, but had them priced at $9 each.  After meticulously scanning all of them, I found that only the Star Wars edition was worth any real money.  Still, $9 was more than I usually pay for resell items.  So, I crossed my fingers that they would still be there on half price day.  They were, so I walked out with six of them.  All six sold this past weekend on Amazon for $45 each.

I also sold five vintage Notre Dame Christmas ornaments, four of them to the same buyer.   The five ornaments, which had their own gift boxes, were taped together, and cost $5.  I hesitated to pick them up, but convinced myself that they had to be worth more than the asking price.  I couldn’t find a comparable item on Terapeak, so I put one up for $24 with free shipping.  It sold within hours.
My Notre Dame Christmas ornaments sold like hotcakes!
The next day, I listed the remaining four for $29.99 each, with no free shipping.   All four again sold within hours.  I probably should have listed them for more, but a profit of approximately $135 on a $5 purchase is still pretty good.

Have I mentioned before that I love finding obsolete technology?  I found six rolls of Kodak movie film for $6 at an estate sale, and flipped them over the weekend for $40 with free shipping.
Always pick up obsolete technology!
And last, but certainly not least, on a cold Saturday morning two weeks ago, I found a box of Playmobil figures and accessories with a “Make An Offer” sticker on it.  Five dollars later, they were on their way home with me.  The box sold for $60.
The little people didn't last long in my inventory
Cyber Monday proved to be a late bloomer, with most of my sales coming in the afternoon and throughout the evening. 

In fact, the only early sale that I had was a box of Bakugan Battle Brawlers and cards that I picked up for $1 at the same sale that I found the Notre Dame Christmas ornaments.  The brawlers sold for $9.99 plus shipping.  Not a big sale, but every little bit helps. 

I also had pulled five Foxfire books off my bookshelf and listed them over the weekend.  They weren’t in the best condition, but they sold for $30 with free shipping.

As the afternoon and evening progressed, though, sales started to trickle in, including a Harry Potter Clue game that sold for $125.

Also, Ella thought I was crazy when I paid two bucks for two boxes of Count Chocula cereal after Halloween.  I got the last laugh, though, when they sold!

Me and the Count are laughing all the way to the bank
All told, we sent out 89 packages, large and small, and grossed more than $1700 across all venues for the period; Amazon accounted for the lion’s share of the sales. Net income was roughly $1300.  Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

Now that I’ve bragged a bit, how were your sales?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Turkey trouble ... again

OK, I am officially done with cooking turkeys.  I don’t care what holiday it is, be it Thanksgiving or Christmas. I know that I’ve said it before, but this time, I mean it.

I’ll have leftover Chinese food before I prepare another foul fowl.

This Thanksgiving was going to be different; I had a fool-proof plan of attack:

  • Turkey thawing in the refrigerator on Monday:  Check.
  • Purchased turkey cooking bag and throwaway baking pan.  Check.
  • Purchased new meat thermometer to check doneness.  Check.
  • Simple recipe; no brining, stuffing, etc.  Check.

On Friday morning, I went to get the turkey out of the guesthouse refrigerator, only to discover that the bottom of the refrigerator was covered with turkey juice.  Not a good start, but easily cleanable, or so I thought.  The juices had flowed under the plastic bins, and I couldn’t remove the bins because the door was in the way.   I would have to remove the refrigerator door.   

I really should have just thrown the bird in the trash at that point.

The rest of the turkey prep went smoothly, thankfully, and I popped it in the oven.  Three hours later, when my thermometer beeped, I pulled the bird out of the oven, and opened the bag.  It looked done, the little gizmo had popped out, and my thermometer said 180 degrees.  Just to make sure, I poked the bird in various places with the thermometer, and every indication showed that it was fully cooked. 

So, I let it rest, got all the other food ready, then proceeded to carve.  Unfortunately, the closer I got to the bone, the pinker it got.  

I managed to slice enough for dinner, while avoiding any semblance of pink, all the while cursing under my breath.  Dinner went smoothly; no one complained, and no one got sick … until Sunday.

Ella had eaten the turkey on Friday, then a turkey sandwich on Saturday night.  She woke up with a stomach ache on Sunday morning, and was sick most of the day.  She blamed my turkey dinner.

Honestly, I don’t believe the turkey was the culprit because no one else got ill. However, it was the final nail in the coffin.  Turkeys are persona non grata in my house now.

Other than dealing with a semi-raw bird and a sick wife, I listed and packed, packed and listed.  It was a record breaking four day weekend, at least for me, and I will share the details tomorrow after I see the sales tally from Cyber Monday.