Tuesday, March 28, 2017

ETSY - It ain't what eBay used to be...



So, I am listing on ETSY now.

I had been putting off listing there, simply because when I first registered to sell there, and attempted to do some business there, I found it, well, useless for the types of items I wanted to get moving.

I wanted a replacement for eBay, and ETSY was not at all it.

It still isn't.

But, it is something...it creates some income, though certainly not anywhere near what I'd like.

It has its place, for sure. I managed to move a $1700 worth of NOS hat parts I had purchased inexpensively at a closing auction of a Winnipeg based uniform factory/store, so that helped pay a few bills.  I had been wondering if I would ever sell the stuff, being that I hardly had access to any hat makers near by!

But, for that sort of thing, ETSY certainly IS the place to sell. I can see that if you were to concentrate on attending and purchasing bulk and inexpensive lots of obscure parts, pieces, components, etc of things from liquidations of manufacturing facilities, you could make a living doing just that off of ETSY.

The sale itself was not something I first listed, but resulted from an inquiry as to what quantities of some items I had, and my up-selling/mentioning that I had other millinery (hat making) supplies resulted in the large sale.

Would you have bought cases of these?


Those are not all he bought, but the bulk of the purchase was cases of hat brims.  The buyer certainly got a heck of a deal when you consider the individual retail value of piece meal selling of each item they bought, but I also pretty much doubled my money spent on the entire auction....and I hauled 14 truck and trailer loads from the place.

This was my last load...


Another issue with ETSY is that it is more a venue that you list on, but you really have to to the driving of traffic to your listings. Yes, it comes with a bit of its own traffic that you MIGHT be able to captilatize, but you do really have to create a following of your own...either that or be a real master of keywords and pray to the Esty-search-engine-god excessively.......

Anyway, ETSY works for some things, but certainly is not the "sold in a week" venue eBay used to be.  There really has not been any venue open up that is like what eBay used to be.   I have been trying to promote the idea of a Co-Op vintage, auction only website, but it just seems to not have any steam. Too many people want someone else to do the work, and then join.

No one wants to be help build a site....and by build, I mean build its presence online; be a founding member.

Not many pioneers out there.

Lots of "joiners" who want to capitalize on success, but no one willing to help create the success in the first place.

I have set up an auction group on Facebook that after a year-ish being established has finally taken hold as a decent venue, with some decent items being listed, and some serious bidders participating. But, it too has taken some time to take hold, establish itself.   It is set up somewhat like I would want a site to be (in a true "going-going-gone auction format", unlike eBay;s "timed" auctions.  However,  being that it is on FaceBook, it is limited by their structure/platform, the setup has some issues, and things that we have to work around.

You can check it out here, the Bang! Sold! Auction Group.

This post is already starting to get long, so I will pretty much end this posting here, to save you some eye strain.  I will likely discuss the idea of a Co-Op auction site further in the blog, so keep checking back!

Pick safe!


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Why I Do Not Sell On eBay - Part 2 -or- The Final Solution


So, now we come to the rest of the story....

Now, just to re-cap, I have established that eBay has/had a very serious software glitch that they were seemingly unaware of.

And that glitch affected my selling somewhat, but, as many things with eBay in the last 20 odd years, I worked around their glitch, as serious sellers have for quite some time.

However, this glitch came to a head.

Pushing a seller with over 10,000 transactions under his belt, off of ebay for good. Not that they cared, they have pushed sellers off the site that were doing 10,000 listings a month...heck, even a those with 10,000 a week, without remorse.

But I digress...

So, eventually, eBay suspended our selling privileges becasue of "non-payment" of this refund they gave our seller.

We sent them the proper amount, but apparently it disappeared in the ether.

So, they eventually suspended our buying privileges,also.

Interesting how they will let you still buy for awhile before suspending you completely, isn't it?

And, that is what they did, suspended us completely. No buying & no selling.

So, being fed-up, determined to get this dealt with, and still needing the income from sales on eBay,  I finally found a phone number that seemed to get through to real people.

Good thing I didn't have anything going on that afternoon!

I explained the whole story to the first person I got.

They put me on hold and forwarded me to someone else.

Again, I re-explained the whole thing.

Got referred to someone else.

Repeat process...

...through SEVEN different people....

over an HOUR AND A HALF of time!

The 8th person I was referred to I actually have respect for.

She was very sympathetic, and you could hear it in her voice when she (basically) said:

"Unfortunately they have forwarded you to the wrong department (again)..."

"But I will make sure and stay on the line with you until I get you to a senior tech."

And she did. Kudos to her.

A middle finger goes out to the other 7 previous eBay reps...all useless pieces of....well, you get the picture.

So, the tech I spoke to turned out to be a 15 year veteran with eBay. That puts him having started near the inception of the company. So, he actually knew his stuff.

However, I described what was happening, and, through the hour and a half we were on the phone trying things, he became more frustrated with the problem than I was.

I sent a small payment via the wife's PayPal account. Lo and behold, there was a balance that came through....but in a different amount than I sent!  And, because of privacy law, he could't tell me the amount, nor the DIFFERENT NAME THAT APPEARED ON THE ACCOUNT it went to!

SO, you could almost hear him pulling his hair out over that 1.5 HOUR conversation....about half way through it I was howling with laughter....it was all just SO ludicrous, and so much of a "perfect" ending to my eBay selling career.   He was SO apologetic (something that seems very rare amongst eBay reps) and was surprised at my taking the issue so lightly, with such humour.

But, I said, how else can I react, considering how absolutely ridiculous the situation was?

He was as understanding as anyone can be when they are absolutely stumped. The statements I heard the most from him were all to the effect of "This should not be happening."

But, it was happening.

Sadly, it was not happening not to a large corporation, however, but to a small seller in Manitoba, Canada...and one who was fed up with eBay and was not upset to not be able to sell there anymore.

More testing, and such went on over that hour, but it was clear that ebay was totally ****(insert appropriate set of expletives here)****.

He apologized profusely, and suggested I talk to PayPal...because, he said, eBay actually takes its orders from PayPal, not the other way around!

I said no, I am done, I have been on the phone for THREE HOURS, gone through and explained the entire story to each of NINE people, and I am not about to do that again, nor should I.

And I didn't.

Screw eBay.

And, I hope someone takes advantage of that glitch, and eBay gets sued into the stone-age for it...they deserve all the bad press, lawsuits, etc that they get...and then some.

I just hope those two eBay employees have gone on to greener pastures and are with companies that  appreciate them...I doubt eBay did.











Why I do Not Sell On eBay



SO, why do I not sell on eBay?

I have a big reason, and many less significant reasons.

The less significant reasons include:

Scammers proliferate the site; both "buyers" and "sellers."
The search engine sucks/is biased/useless.
Listing now takes way too long.
The fees have gone nuts.
It is no longer a fun venue, and hasn't been for some time.
Your sales will eventually become "throttled" and you will find yourself working harder and harder and getting nowhere.
Sales die in the summer. (That is a problem it has had for over 20 years, maybe even since its inception.)
and I could go on, and on and on and on....and on.......and on....

However, none of those would have stopped me cold in my tracks as the "last straw" did about 7 years ago.

A simple thing did it, really.

And something I know as a former computer programmer really should have been caught years prior.

You see, ebay is built...well, BADLY.

It is built on layers and layers of code, from what I can tell. Initially it was based on shareware code, from what I understand.

Yes, software that was free for use by anyone.  Now, I am not 100% sure that is fact, but it is no matter, because it being based on shareware/public domain or if it is based on code that is proprietary are both not of consequence to the issue I encountered.

And, I encountered it by pure fluke.

My relationship status cause it, indirectly, actually.

Yes, I got married.

But that is not the main thing.

Let me give you some history.

I met my now-ex (the fact she is an "ex" now is also irrelevant) and we both sold our homes in Winnipeg.

We bought a house in the country.

We both had been selling on eBay independently of each other for some years.

I had been battling with eBay over overcharges,  refunds I was owed, listings not showing up in the searches for 4 days after I paid for a 7 day listing, etc, etc, etc. These bits of occurrences are not at all a new thing on eBay. I am far from alone.  (The Facebook group at that link has grown stagnant, but  happenings at eBay that helped create that group  still occur)

So, in the battle, and me being the stubborn one I am, I refused to pay a bill on my one account...one which I  technically did not owe, considering the amount of fees they owed me and seemed unwilling to ever credit me, despite a mountain of evidence that they were in the wrong and thus owed me a refund that exceeded the bill I owed them.

Of course, they eventually cut me off entirely as a result, and suspended my other 2 accounts also, once they figured out they were mine.

But, we still needed to make money, so I started selling on my wife's account, under her name.

Now, the two accounts were not in any way linked. And they did not make any connection, and thus did not suspend her account....for that reason.

Here is what was happening on eBay at the time:

They had just forced PayPal down our throats. IE: If you did not accept PayPal, your listings would automatically appear at THE BOTTOM of people's search results.

They had just been told by the Austrailian courts that they could not force all users to accept PayPal and nothing else. That was writing on the wall for all of eBay;s sites.... whether it be dot CA, dot COM, etc. That action was considered monopolization and was/IS illegal in pretty much every democratic country.

So, putting non PayPal accepting sellers' listings at the bottom/low in the search results was how they forced every seller to start taking PayPal.

Seems pretty underhanded, but still not the reason I quit selling on eBay.

My frustration levels with the site were growing to astronomical levels...

But my severe eBay induced acid reflux was not the reason I do not sell on ebay anymore, either.

You will need some more history....


At the time, eBay also had a weird policy of refunding the buyer should they be unhappy with the merchandise...and, depending on how the buyer went about it, eBay ITSELF would refund the buyer OR PayPal would issue the refund.

It was a transitional time, and in true eBay fashion, they really made some ridiculous policies and programs during that period.

Anyway, this is what occurred.

We had been starting to accept PayPal. So, our listings were now appearing basically where they should have been.  Sales were "ok".

We sold an item, and the item was not in quite the condition as the description stated. It was my fault, and I owned the error, it was due to a copy and paste situation in the listing, and I missed catching it.

The buyer was polite and understanding, and had no issue with it. I told him I would issue him a full refund, including shipping costs. This was a Friday, and I told him I would do it once there was some money in my PayPal account on Monday.

He agreed that was fine, and was a-ok with that.

However....eBay had recently started a duplicate process for buyers to ask for a refund. One was already started via PayPal, but, the buyer, thinking he was supposed to also fill out eBay's new form, did so, and thus automatically ALSO filed a "Item not as described" claim.

What this did at the time was create an automatic refund...issued BY EBAY itself to the buyer.

Thus, then eBay charged us for the refund amount.

Well, my then wife's PayPal account was linked to her eBay account. The fees we paid came out of that account just fine, for the commissions and listings.

However, this refund amount WOULD NOT come out of the account. IE: We could not pay the refund out of the PayPal account.  Oh, we DID send them the amount from our PayPal account, but eBay claimed it was still unpaid.

Now, here is a little twist.

When we first started accepting PayPal, we noticed something, well, rather "curious"....scratch "curious", actually...make it REALLY F*****-UP.

You see, what we found happening was that ALL the monies from people making payments VIA PayPal was going NOT into her PayPal account (the only PayPal account linked to her ebay account).....

The payments were going into MY PAYPAL ACCOUNT.....which was in no way at all linked to her eBay account.

However, eBay, at the time, had no way to talk to a real person. It was all online menus, and a dog;s breakfast when it came to actually getting tech support. When you did actually obtain a phone number, you ended up in a maze of the same sort of menus....

 "Please Press 1 if you had this problem, Press 2 if you had that problem, Press 3 if you are going to blow up from frustration"

That was eBay. Maybe still is, I don't know...and don't care.

Anyway, SO, because we were getting our money; be it in a convoluted and really messed up way; we just kept listing.

Now, the ONLY thing our PayPal accounts happened to have in common was one thing.

Our mailing address.  Just our post office box number, town the box was located in, and the postal code.

That was it.

So, why was "her" sales' proceeds being deposited into "my" PayPal account???

A software glitch.

Imagine if "her" PayPal account had belonged to a major company selling hundreds of thousands of dollars....and "my" account belonged to a previous company at that location who happened to leave the mailing address the same....

I think eBay may have been sued into the stone-age.

And, imagine the use a thief could get out of a programming glitch/flaw like that? All they would have to do is create a PayPal account using the identical mailing address of any eBay seller and siphon off all of their sales that were paid via PayPal...!!!!

But, being the little people we are to ebay, and without the deep pockets to invest in a lawsuit, we made do, and were just happy we were getting our money.

And, that is far from the end of the story....but, I have a headache, just thinking about it all again, and need to take a break.....so, you can let some of this soak in before reading the next posting, and what became the "final solution."

















Adventures on Etsy


So, I am finally getting lots of inventory listed on Etsy. (Click on that to see my shop.)

I find, though, that it is a very niche market when it comes to selling antiques & collectibles.  The type of merchandise that sells on ETSY is not generally the merchandise I want to spend the bulk of my time dealing with.

Maybe it is because I am a Taurus, and we tend to be stubborn, stuck in our ways,etc.....

Or, it is due to the fact is just that ETSY is more geared towards crafts, fashion and decor, and "vintage" just happens to cover a portion of that.

I do have inventory that is of an ETSY ilk, but sales are still slow.  I find that all the extra activity it takes to get eyes to your listings is extreme, and, frankly, harkens of a ton of extra work that was at one time unnecessary.

If I had someone else working for me, and they could strictly run and promote the ETSY store front, that would be fine, but the only people working for me at the moment are the 3 of us...

Me, myself, and I.

There is always eBay, right?

Wrong.

eBay has long been out of the picture for me....and I will tell you one of the many reasons in the next posting.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

My Other Pursuits In History


One thing I have not really touched on in the blog much (in some cases not at all), are some of my other pursuits.

My hobbies and other interests, for example.

I tend to be interested in things that are related to my business in some way, on the fringes, or otherwise have some connection to the antiques biz.

My passion is history, after all.

Take, for example, my interest in the case of The Mad Trapper Of Rat River.

I have established a page of FaceBook that will assist you in following my progress on this case, here.

I am working on a book on the trail I believe to have discovered, which may lead to the man known as Albert Johnson being linked to 2 murders in Manitoba and at least one in near-by Saskatchewan.

But, that is not the best piece of treasure in this case I believe I have found....

You see, the identity of the Mad Trapper has not been determined. The posse sent to capture him ended up capturing him, which they did so, but had to shoot him dead to do it.

The body of Albert Johnson, mouth frozen in a death grimace.

And, the name Albert Johnson is ultra common, and was assumed to be a false name, anyway.

Also, at the time, no one claimed  him as one of their own, as one of their relatives, after the chase was over. Nor has anyone to date been able to do so, and today we have his DNA available to do familial DNA comparisons. All the 80 years of accumulated plausible potential leads to his family were eliminated when Myth Merchant pictures had "Albert Johnson's" body exhumed and DNA taken.

This DNA has also eliminated several plausible identities since.

However....

I may have found his family.

Yes, I am very close to having found a true treasure.....

Albert Johnson's true identity...

Well, this is a dual treasure, really....and the this portion of it may be worth the most...

A family could well find out what happened to a son, an uncle; missing for 90 some years.






Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year Dubstep



So, you figured you'd catch me dancing to Dubstep this first day of the New Year?

No, not quite.

Sorry to disappoint..... or, rather, for those of you who have ever seen me dance, "You are welcome."





So, what is it all about?

Boots on the ground!

Confused?

Well,  I had a vintage tin I wanted to empty before I put it out for sale....

Not an expensive tin, but I also have been needing to condition my leather work boots...

If you haven't guessed what kind of tin already, it was a DUBBIN tin.

So, seeing as I had some Dubbin handy, I figured I might as well just use it up....and a magic-al transformation from dry leather to supple leather.



The main point of the post, really, is to bring some attention to a relatively cheap collectible that is often overlooked....and that item is the lowly Dubbin tin!

Here are a couple other examples I had handy:



They also take up relatively little space, so you could accumulate a cool collection for cheap, and not taking up[a ton of display space in your residence or "man cave"...or "woman shed" or where ever you display your collections.

Pick safe, folks!