Auctions are still going strong on eBay as indicated by the following sampling of ten listings from across the spectrum of antiques and collectibles which sold on eBay in the last 30 days. Our lead story is a rare collectible album:
The seller, agm67, offered the following description of the item:
'The Beatles' (more commonly known as 'The White Album' ) was released exactly 40 years ago on 22nd November 1968. Widely held to be one of the most influential albums of all-time, it was recently given the number one position in the '200 Rarest Records of All Time' by 'Record Collector' magazine. The two-record set, housed in a plain white cover was designed by Richard Hamilton and each carried its own unique number stamped on the front cover. Copies numbered 0000001 to 0000004 were originally given to the members of The Beatles themselves and as yet, none of these first four numbers have emerged onto the market.
This auction for mono No.0000005 is the lowest number to emerge to date and represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own the lowest numbered mono copy which may ever be offered for sale.
Just a quick note to tell y'all about the eBay/PayPal Bay Area GIVE Team's 2008 Holiday Charity Auction. We're auctioning off some great items at unheard of prices (e.g. Breitling and Michele watches, Ray Ban sunglasses, Manolo Blahnik shoes, and even Farouk Flat Irons) and 100% of all the sales will go to benefit some great charities, like the Family Giving Tree and Second Harvest Food Bank.
The eBay/PayPal Bay Area GIVE (Grantmaking and Inspiring Volunteerism Everywhere) is a group of eBay/PayPal/Shopping.com/StumbleUpon employees in the San Francisco Bay Area who work with the eBay Foundation on projects to give back to our communities and planet. All these items were listed (and will be packed and shipped) by eBay, Inc. employees during Charity Listing volunteer events.
The market on eBay for all-things-Modern continues to generate interest among collectors and designers as indicated by several recent successful listings for mid century designer furniture. In the last two weeks alone, several choice examples of Eames / Herman Miller chairs and lounge / ottoman sets have sold on eBay. What follows are a few examples of those as well as some other Mid Century Modern items of interest. (click any photo for a larger image).
This set of Four Original Charles Eames designed Dining Chairs, manufactured by the Evan s Products Company Molded Plywood Division, sold for a Best Offer of $4639 on Oct 30th. These chairs were extremely popular in the 1950's so many of them have survived. However, they do bring a premium when preserved as sets with the original finish in good condition like these chairs.
Eames lounge chairs continue to draw interest and there are usually at least one or two available on eBay every few weeks. If you are considering acquiring an example, always look for those that are good to excellent condition, and of course, think eBay first!
It's always a bit disconcerting to find items on eBay that are considered "antique" and were also manufactured during your childhood. Although not quite considered "Art Modern", this molded fiberglass and tubular steel 1960's Pop era Laverne Tulip chair, designed by Erwin and Estelle Laverne, is nonetheless a top example of hard-to-find 20th century design. It sold for a Buy It Now price of $2900 on Oct 31. The chair, which swivels on a tubular stell base, would be the perfect foil for Barbarella.
As the seller stated in their description: the "...Shell is an extremely early (c. 1948) rope edge example..." the condition of the wood base and plastic shell along with the superb sage green color make this a highly desirable example of the type.
You can always find current listings for Art Modern furniture and decorations by using the keyword "modern*" as a search term in the Antiques > Furniture category. This will display a wide range of furniture of every type and from every designer/manufacturer where the seller has used the word "modern" in their title, which mid century sellers most do. To explore a larger selection, including listings without the word "modern" in their titles, navigate to the Antiques > Furniture category and select "Mid Century Modern" from the option drop down list under Furniture Finder.
eBay Reviews & Guides of Interest by expert eBay sellers and buyers:
Next time in the Antiques & Collectibles News...Antique Cameras and Film
By the way, this is the first edition of The Antique and Collectibles News, a new column here on The Chatter. In this column, we will share news of recently-closed auction listings of interest on eBay for a wide range of categories in Antiques and Collectibles. We'll also publish general news and information about the antiques and collectibles business on eBay. In the future, we'll add additional columns and articles focusing on other eBay categories.
If you are an expert in a particular field of collecting or dealing in antiques and collectibles, enjoy writing, and would like to contribute content to this new column, please contact Griff at firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions will be considered.
eBay lost a beloved Community member this week -- our dear friend Bobal. If you've been to an eBay Live (any of them but the very last one in Chicago), or if you've ever sought expert help on the Photos/HTML Discussion forum, then Bobal needs no introduction to you. From his ubiquitous "bull" icon signature -- to his one-of-a-kind eBay uniform which he wore proudly as he wheeled around his favorite eBay Live conferences -- to his dedication to helping others, Bobal was a stand-out. He epitomized the barn-raising type of generosity that made eBay's Community so special.
It's been said you can really know a man through his friends. I leave you now with this tribute from two of Bobal's closest eBay friends -- giraffer and shipscript. On behalf of all the staff here at eBay, our hearts and prayers go out to Alice, Bobal's devoted wife. We thank you, too, for helping Bobal help so many others over the years.
Last Sunday, eBay lost a pioneer Community member and its most colorful legendary figure - known to many as simply Bobal. At 5:06AM on Oct. 26, 2008, after a two-month battle with cancer, Robert E. Bull quietly slipped away when his wife Alice released his hand and his grip on this material world.
Living with Multiple Sclerosis, emphysema, and diabetes, attached to an oxygen hose, and navigating a motorized chair with only one eye could be daunting for many, and it was indeed a life-changing challenge for Bobal years ago. However, he credited eBay with lifting him from his morose existence by providing him a new purpose and new lease on life. You can read his words here:
Bobal became an eBay member on April 21, 1998, learned buying and selling, and quickly realized what a fantastic venue this afforded people with disabilities. He soon discovered eBay’s help forums, where other new members were struggling to learn eBay, and he has been answering questions and helping members ever since. His warm and friendly style set the tone on the forums where he seemed to be available any time of day or night, every day of the year.
And people quickly found his posts by looking for his snorting bull avatar.
That dedication and generosity didn’t go unnoticed by eBay staff. Because of his commitment to helping fellow members, Meg Whitman presented him with the Community Hall of Fame Award in 2002 in Anaheim, California.
Bobal’s favorite hangout was eBay’s Photos & HTML forum, where Bob’s Tips are the defacto help pages for new sellers: http://www.bulls2.com/indexb/bobstips22.htmlHe also hopped around to many other forums, such as the eBay Live Board where he answered questions and helped people get to eBay Live each year. Bob loved to have fun, enjoyed meeting people, and encouraged members to join him at the annual Live events where he, with his wife Alice, could be spotted from across the exhibit hall wearing outrageously bold outfits, holding court among a knot of admirers.
Photo left: eBay Live 2007 Boston. Bob with wife Alice (the "Al" in "BobAl"), daughters Cheryl and Barbi
Photo left: eBay Live 2006 Las Vegas. Bob with daughter Barbi and granddaughter Brandi
Bobal was a man full of patience, honesty, humor, and caring, with a love for helping others. Bob frequently commented that the eBay Community was “the fuel I need to keep my fire going each day”. He was rarely seen or encountered without a smile on his face and a warm welcome in his voice, whether meeting in person or chatting on the forums.
We'd like to share some comments posted on the forums by other members.
nates_tips from the Photo/HTML Board ---
“When I first came to eBay, I had no clue where to start, and I didn't even know what templates were. I was literally clueless about eBay, and about computers. I stumbled across the eBay forums, and I found myself on the Photo/HTML board. I asked a question, and within minutes, this guy with a bull thingy responded. You gave a link to your help pages, and within a couple of weeks, I had read every single page on your website.
“Honestly, your help pages helped me get started on eBay. If it wasn't for your help, I don't know where I'd be. After getting a good understanding of things through asking questions, trials and errors, I decided to start posting on the eBay boards. I sorta had a newbie type idea, and had a million links to other sites that I couldn't vouch for. You kindly emailed me and gave some advice on what I could do to be of better help, etc.
“You had and still do, have an influence on the way I post on the boards. You have always been kind, helpful, full of joy, and never posted in a negative way, ever. You have set the path for me and others to follow.”
kaleidowonders from Photo/HTML Board ---
“Thanks so much for all the help you didn't even realize you gave me. I've used your tips to learn some basic html, and as a nice safety net. Always knowing that I could come back here and reference your easy to follow info.
“No doubt there are countless others like me who have silently benefited from your hours of work and generosity. And many of them may not get the word to come here and acknowledge your help. So I just hope that you realize you have touched many lives and businesses with your generous spirit!”
purpleferret999 from Canada Town Square Board eBay.ca --
“A dear man that I am proud to say taught me html and I was thrilled to have met him.”
thevintagezone1 from Photo/HTML Board ---
“Bob, I am sure you don't remember me but you have helped me soooo many times. I could never have worked from home if you had not been here with your advice and knowledge. I have been able to make a living and raise my son (that has autism) without having to leave him with a baby sitter when he was little. I can't thank you enough for the help that I have received from your emails, posts and links. You made a DIFFERENCE in our lives....Much love, Rebecca”
shipscript from Photo/HTML Board ---
“Bob, this may be changing from a 'thread of hope' to a 'goodbye thread'. And yet, it will still remain a thread of optimism and inspiration to so many because of your phenomenal legacy.
”You have uplifted and expanded the lives of many who just needed to see from your example that it is possible to live with untold adversity and to succeed in a special way. You have reached outside of your own personal limitations to enrich the lives of so many, and you have done that with grace and with a special kindness toward those you help. Your friends and admirers are more numerous than you can possibly know, and even when you move on, you will still be winning new friends and admirers. Your journey has been, and will continue to be, a noble one.”
The eBay forums are buzzing with memorial posts from community members remembering Bobal, as can be seen in these few examples:
How can we remember Bobal and honor his legacy? Several charities were mentioned (Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, and Cancer research) for those who would like to make a contribution directly or through eBay’s Giving Works.But Bobal was an ardent believer in “paying it forward” and spoke of this with his wife and friends. Many of us have been helped by Bobal at one point or another, and one of the finest tributes each of us could make is to pass along his patience, honesty, and overflowing kindness when helping others. Pay it forward for Bobal.
Rest In Peace, dear friend.
Bob’s remains have been donated to the Arizona State Medical Center in Tucson for disease research and the family will forego a funeral or memorial service. Notes may be sent through eBay’s contact system to Bobal. To send cards or letters (no flowers please), please see the Photo/HTML forum for information. Bobal would also approve of using eBay’s Giving Works to send anonymous donations in his memory to any charity of your choice.
Good news for sellers who sell low cost items on eBay (typically, $10 and below). PayPal has launched a special pricing solution called Micropayments that can save you money if you regularly accept payments with small total dollar amounts.
The Micropayments account pricing is 5% plus 5 cents per transaction (for USD accounts). Compared with our usual 2.9% plus 30 cents, micropayments pricing will cost you less if the total transaction amount is under $12.
You can only either have micropayments or "regular" pricing on any given single PayPal account, so PayPal suggests maintaining two accounts if you're a seller of low cost items who also sometimes has higher dollar amount transactions - one account that is setup with micropayments pricing, and one with the standard rate - and then processing to the appropriate account depending on the total transaction amount.
Some of you who pay close attention may remember that micropayments pricing was actually launched a couple of years ago, but was only available to select customers. We're happy to announce that micropayments pricing is now available to all accounts worldwide, and we now have a new website that explains all the details.
Last week, eBay seller and Education Specialist Joyce Banbury (danse on eBay) hosted a special event in Hays, Kansas titled, "Kansas Jubilee eBayer Convention for eBay/eCommerce Sellers and Buyers." The two-day convention was held at the Memorial Union hall of the Fort Hays State University campus and was sponsored by the Fort Hays State University College of Business and Leadership.
How did eBay become involved in a member-sponsored event? Joyce approached us several months ago with news of the upcoming Jubilee and asked if we in Community Development might send a few employees to instruct or speak at the event. We were happy to oblige. (I never miss a chance to visit our members in the great Midwest, especially a town or city which I have never visited. Big cities are OK but they are no match for small town hospitality.)
Five employees from eBay and one from PayPal attended as part of a larger staff of 14 guest speaker/instructors:
Nearly 50 eBay seller's from as far away as Nebraska and Texas attended the Jubilee to learn about a varied roster of topics including Catalog Photography, Marketing on eBay, Creating a Brand with eBay Stores, Packing and Shipping, Using PayPal, etc. Other workshops included an Extreme Listing Makeover session, a workshop on boosting DSRs and feedback, and a session on improving visibility in Search.
Although the two day event concluded on Saturday, Oct 4th, the spirit of the event will continue with a 10 day Charity Auction of two, extensively autographed and bejeweled (with eBay Live! pins) eBay Live! white lab coats.
100% of the auction proceeds will benefit the High School Rebuilding funds of Chapman and Greensburg, Kansas school districts. Chapman High School was extensively damaged in a tornado this year and the town could really use a helping hand in recovery. The auctions will go live on Oct, 15th so if you want to do your part and own a rare piece of eBayana, bookmark the seller ID yabiecentral and get your bids in starting October 15, 2008.
Our thanks go to Joyce Banbury for inviting us to her event and to all of our hosts and fellow speakers and attendees for your enthusiasm and kindness during our all-too-short stay in Hays, Kansas.
The Community Development team says goodbye to one of our own this week. After 7 years, Jeff, who many know from this blog, from Voices gatherings, and all eBay Lives but the very first, is moving on. Our team has a long history together, and for this reason, we've always been close like family (you know, that kind where everyone is always in everyone's business). We've watched and supported Jeff during many of his important life milestones over the years.
Oh, the memories...
Jeff's always been a free spirit. He came to work each day with a smile on his face and music in his heart, although his friends knew behind those twinkling eyes there was a streak of rebel in him.
Jeff's boyish charms (and intractable ego) made him a bit of an office flirt....strange as it may seem to us, he regarded himself as a chick magnet.
One of the MANY (too many to count, really) Jeff quirks was his eating habits. (I've personally watched him eat his weight in garlic mashed potatoes.) He's a simple man with simple food preferences. But we did keep trying to tell him that you are what you eat.
Eventually, he did settle down with the woman he loves. We love Kristin, too, and their wedding was such a joyous occasion for all of his eBay co-workers! (Jeff really made a beautiful groom.)
When we learned Jeff and Kristin would be having their own little eBay-er this summer, we were ectstatic for them.
So....So Long, Jeff!May, as your Skype message has told us for the last 2,555 days, your mom keep thinking you're cool, and your Feedback stay 99% positive. And don't forget, you still owe me $94,323,754.37.
Just about a month before everyone goes crazy with their Halloween costumes. I bet this year we'll see a lot of election-themed costumes, not to mention the horrors on Wall St. or the evils of rising gas prices. Most people might not start scratching their heads about what to do for Halloween until around this time every year, but for a group of eBay sellers, it's Halloween all-year round. Meet the Eclectic Halloween Artists Group or -- as they like to be called (to the sound of sinister thunderclaps) -- EHAG. It's one of our smaller eBay Groups, with only around 71 members, but since it began it has quietly established a great reputation for itself among fans of Halloween art and collectibles on eBay.
As you plan your Halloween deviltry this year, be sure to look for EHAG items on eBay -- just type "EHAG" into the search box to find their wonderful offerings. Here's one of their members, ivas_creations, with more information about the group: -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Second only to Christmas, Halloween is the biggest shopping holiday, generating more than $6 billion in sales, according to some online sources.
Search eBay at any given time in the year, and you'll find hundreds of Halloween items for sale. With so many enthusiasts, it was natural for long-time eBay seller and artist Pat Benedict (woopitydooart) to want to connect with others who love all things Halloween. So in April 2006, she started Eclectic Halloween Artists Group, or EHAG, the first, original Halloween art group of its kind on eBay. "I started EHAG because I found a need for Halloween artists to share their thoughts and love of Halloween," Pat says. The small 71-member group is for professional artists and enthusiasts who share a love for the art that celebrates the magic of All Hallows' Eve.
EHAG members sell Halloween art year around, even outside the typical Halloween season. The group's membership is varied—you’ll find those who make miniature dolls (like Pat), painters, folk artists, doll makers, and collage artists. Some are well-known in the Halloween art world having their work licensed by large distributors, while others are just beginning. The diversity creates a great opportunity for collectors to shop direct from the artists themselves in every medium and find one-of-a-kind works.
Pat, who's been on eBay since November 2003, began selling her Halloween haunted miniatures in May 2004. She formed EHAG almost two years later. Part of her goal was to create a home for artists who created "a less horrific" Halloween. EHAG is not about gore or extreme Goth art. "EHAG is a place for members to give mutual support, nurture, discuss and celebrate their artistic creations," says Pat. All members list their items using the EHAG acronym. And, EHAG has built a reputation of quality art among eBay's Halloween art collectors.
Additionally, collectors turn to EHAG because they are as much a part of the group as the artists they buy from. In fact, EHAG's membership is comprised of both artists and collectors. "Allowing collectors to join was a natural. They provide input on the lively online forum discussions about ideas, trends and general questions put to the group," Pat adds.
Membership is by invitation only, thus making it a private eBay group. Membership guidelines include having a minimum of three months' experience selling Halloween art and having a certain amount of positive Feedback. EHAG group members are expected to be active participants in the group's discussions, which typically include a thread on members' latest creations listed on eBay, what everyone is working on that week, and who in the group has made the eBay Pulse page, which all celebrate. Halloween related topics include sharing pictures of a Halloween collection, talking about what inspires the artists, or sharing a newly made costume, home decorations or favorite Halloween movie. Members also share news about awards, published articles, upcoming art shows open for participation and calls to artists from various publications or online sites. Then there are the topics about fantastic art finds, new art supplies or how to use a specific medium.
To keep artists motivated, the group has regular art challenges. Members come up with suggestions for a theme and then everyone votes on their favorite. These are particularly popular because it encourages the artists to break out of their typical work and expand their offerings.
The group's popularity has grown since its inception. Less than a year after it began, the members started ehaag.com, an informational site. Visitors to this site will find links to EHAG member websites/blogs, an eBay search of current EHAG auctions, a quarterly newsletter, member photographs, several member collectors, artists' past works, upcoming Halloween shows, an EHAG contact and other links.
With Halloween fast becoming the nation's most celebrated "unofficial" holiday, it's no wonder the group has seen much growth. And, as the number of enthusiasts and collectors of all things October 31 grows, so does EHAG's opportunities for artists and collectors on eBay.
To find the latest EHAG offerings, just type EHAG into the eBay search window.
If you missed us in New York, catch us in San Francisco, November 16-19 at Adobe MAX. eBay picked up a couple of coveted MAX Awards last year, and we're looking forward to meeting Flex, Flash, AIR and ColdFusion developers again this year!
I had a lot of connectivity issues at the hotel in Miami, plus my laptop battery chose this day to give up the ghost, so I wasn't able to blog live from yesterday's eBay In Person. However I took a lot of notes and will be back with more information from the event over the next few days. Meanwhile here are some high-level details:
We had a decent turnout -- about 175- 200 people, mostly local sellers from the Miami area, attended. Some people have criticized eBay on the Chatter discussion board for not advertising eBay In Person Miami enough. To be quite frank, we kinda wanted it that way because it was the very first full-day eBay In Person (our previous events, for example San Francisco, were only for a couple of hours). So it was a test run for us and we figured that a more low-key event would help us refine the format for future eBay In Person meets.
A lot of the attendees were relatively new sellers, although we had a large proportion of experienced/veteran sellers as well. A few people didn't seem to know the details of the recent changes (in fact about a dozen or so people said they hadn't even heard of DSRs!) but for most attendees the focus was finding out more about the recent changes as well as understanding how best they could adapt their individual businesses on eBay. We did get a lot of questions (and from a few people criticism) about the changes. However it was also very heartening to note that many sellers are feeling positive about the changes, especially the new "35 cents for 30 days" model.
The day began with opening remarks from Griff, followed by people breaking out into one of three educational sessions:
Become an Overnight "Star" Seller; Boost Your Customer Service, DSRs, and Feedback
Catching Customers: Improve Your Visibility in Search Results
The sessions rotated throughout the day so everyone could get a chance to attend all three. I felt the sessions were a good mix of eBay going into more details into strategies sellers can use to adapt to changes on eBay and to online selling overall, and people asking questions about eBay's rationale for the changes and sharing their perceptions about how they themselves were affected.
I'd say the overall mood was very pragmatic. Most sellers seem to agree that bad buyer experiences caused by a minority of bad sellers on eBay, combined with buyers having many other shopping destination choices have led to the changes that were introduced recently. Most were also concerned about the state of the U.S. economy and were worried that it could hurt their businesses even more. Of course there was some criticism of eBay as well (I would be disappointed if our usually vocal Community chose to stay quiet during one of these events), but there were also many positive stories. Several sellers walked up to the microphones to let us (and their fellow-sellers) know how their DSRs had improved or how the fixed price format was working for them. (Watch out for a cool video story soon).
I'll be back with more details in the next few days. Meanwhile here are some pictures from eBay In Person Miami.
Since 2002, the biggest event that brings together eBay (the company) with eBay (the Community) has been eBay Live!, with thousands of attendees. But in June, at eBay Live! 08 in Chicago, eBay announced a change to the way we meet our customers face-to-face. Instead of one massive annual event like eBay Live! in 2009, we would have more smaller, regional events called "eBay In Person" where customers and staff can interact in a more effective way (the next eBay Live! is in 2010). We've been experimenting this format since last year (for example, we held an eBay In Person in San Francisco in November 2007).
This week, on Thursday, September 25th, eBay In Person is visiting Miami, Florida. In an all-day event (9:00 am - 5:00 pm Eastern Time), eBay staff from various teams will meet about 200-300 sellers at the Hyatt Regency Miami (400 South East Second Avenue, Miami, Florida, 33131) to listen and learn. We encourage participation, so if you're an eBay member in the Miami area, walk-ins are welcome! (There's a $25 charge.)
Besides discussions about eBay's recent policy changes and future direction, the eBay team will also conduct informative sessions on how sellers can improve their businesses on eBay, such as "Boosting Your Customer Service, DSR, and Feedback" and "Improving Your Visibility in Search Results." They'll also have a session on Shipping Best Practices, including the importance of specified shipping, using the Shipping Calculator, and how to save time and money with label printing solutions.
We'll be covering much of the event here on the Chatter, so please stay tuned.
If you ever need a reminder of the inherent goodness of people on eBay, look no further than the Hurricane Buddies on the Clothing, Shoes & Accessories board. With this year's hurricane season being among the most intense in recent years, they've taken it upon themselves to take care of each other.
Essentially, sellers living in hurricane zones "buddy up" with another seller. In the event that a hurricane (or really any disaster) strikes the first seller, the second has a pre-set email ready to go that they send to their buddy's buyers, informing them of the situation and a possible delay in shipment. They even offer to answer any questions that they can. For example, here's an example letter one buddy posted for others to use if they wished:
I am contacting you on behalf of the seller of the (enter item title here) you purchased last night, (enter seller User ID here).
She lives in the Gulf Coast region of Texas and was required to evacuate due to Hurricane Ike.
Emergency officials will allow her to return home tomorrow. She will be shipping your item within the next few days.
Thank you for your patience.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask me.
You can read more about it on this thread on the Clothing, Shoes and Accessories board (just set aside a few minutes - there are a ton of posts). It really shows what makes eBay a truly great community.
Grab a sandwich and join us for a lunchtime (at least on the West Coast) Town Hall event tomorrow, September 19th, from 11:30am to 1pm PT. Senior Vice President and GM of eBay's North America Marketplaces Stephanie Tilenius, several people on her executive team, and Griff will be taking your questions about anything going on around eBay.
Never attended a Town Hall? They're broadcast via online radio, and you can email (email@example.com) your questions for the panel. You can also call in your question live on the air (1-877-474-3302). Just make sure you've finished chewing that sandwich first.
Update on September 19th 12:00 noon. Here are a few pictures from a few minutes before the Town Hall began.
Stephanie Tilenius, Senior Vice-President and General Manager, eBay's North America Marketplaces, with Griff, our friendly emcee:
Stephanie and Griff with Lynda Talgo from our Trust and Safety team:
Stephanie answers a question as the rest of the Town Hall panel listens:
While preparing for this week's eBay Radio show, I went through my inbox to see what's been on listeners' minds lately. Here are a few emails, and my responses:
From: Brian Sent: Thursday, August 28, 2008 5:16 PM To: Griffith, Griff Subject: eBay auction/Buy It Now moral dilemma Griff!
I love the show! I listen every week through the podcasts while I work my non-eBay job. I thought I'd ask for your take on a situation that has come up several times for me.
I have had auctions up (for CDs mostly) where the auction has been going for 5-6 days. I'll get an email from a potential buyer asking if they can buy the item 'now'. They are not asking to complete the transaction outside of eBay, but rather for me to add a Buy It Now price to the auction.
Sometimes these items have bids, and I will not (and probably cannot) change those, of course. Sometimes they don't, but they might have several watchers on them. I always respond to the potential buyer with something like “Sorry, I've had the auction up for a few days and don't feel right adding a Buy It Now to the listing. Feel free to put a bid up and see what happens. You may win the item for less than I'd have charged through Buy It Now.”
Now, I know that I can add a Buy It Now to a listing if there aren't any bids on it, but is this really fair? I know that if I can immediately get a profit on it by adding a Buy It Now it would be nice, but on the other hand it takes away from the bidder's fun and hope of getting a good deal and feeling good about it. Not to mention if they've been watching the item for several days at an opening bid of 99 cents with no action, and then the next time they check it's been sold (maybe for $4.99 or whatever). For some reason that just doesn't sit right with me.
It's a moral dilemma. Maybe a good discussion for the show. Would you let me know your thoughts if you get a chance?
We discussed your email on a recent Ask Griff show. My recommendation (and the consensus among sellers) is that you should never agree to sell an item to a bidder before the listing closes. In nearly every case I have monitored, the item has ended up bringing more than the bidder's offer. It only makes sense that if they are interested enough (and concerned enough about other bidders raising the price), that it is worth the chance of letting it go till the end when ALL bidders will have had a chance to post a bid.
In my experience, bidders on a listing which is subsequently ended to sell the item to one of the bidders or another party altogether, are invariably unhappy and will usually hesitate to bid on that seller's items in the future.
From: Gary Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2008 3:42 PM To: Griffith, Griff Subject: Re: Return Policy Revisions
Really appreciate you getting back to me on this. On all of my new listings I am putting "All Returns are Considered on an Individual Basis" in the Return Policy Details box. Is this OK? You can see what I mean buy going to one of my listings item # XYZ. Since I sell low-cost items it is usually not cost productive for a buyer to return the item so I usually offer them a credit if they are willing to keep it. Since I do this I have only had 1 shirt returned in the last 3 years. I hesitate to put this in the details box because I am afraid some buyers make take advantage of it
Again, thanks for getting back to me on this. It really helps explain something I have been very confused about.
As a statement, it's OK (i.e., it is in compliance with return policy) but, as a marketing strategy, it's not ideal. It sends a message to potential buyers that a return might not be forthcoming should the buyer not be happy.
I recommend to all sellers that want to compete and succeed in this marketplace, that they adopt a flat out "100% satisfaction guaranteed or your money back or item replacement - buyer choice)” return policy.
Yes, it’s always possible that a buyer might take advantage of the offer. In the end, what matters is your gross sales for a period. If a generous, unambiguous return policy generates more business for you, the risk of a one-off sale where a buyer “takes advantage” of the policy (how does a seller ever know if this is the case?) is well worth absorbing.
This is the reason that every single major retail business has a reasonable –- and in some cases like Nordstroms, outrageously reasonable -– return policy. A good customer-focused business strategy works for any business, big retailer or small eBay seller. Even the person who only sells once or twice a year on eBay will benefit from employing the same business practices a big retailer uses.
From: Alex Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 3:42 PM To: Griffith, Griff Subject: Unfair negatives
I recently received 2 negatives from overseas customers. The first was for an ivory chess set. It clearly stated in my listing that ivory cannot be exported. This buyer purchased anyway and calculated his own shipping and paid by PayPal. As soon as I saw the address I contacted the buyer and refunded the entire amount thru PayPal. I still got a negative.
The second negative was from a buyer of 2 vacuum tubes. They were shipped to France and were at his Post Office and he was notified that they were there. He refused to go to the Post Office and pay the duty and wanted them delivered to his home. They were never picked up and they are supposed to be on their way back to me. This was in June. He decided to leave me a negative as well.
All my explanations to eBay have done no good. I seem to be talking to the wall that can only give "canned" answers that are in the book. As you can see by my other Feedback I try to run my eBay business as any good business should be run and bend over backwards to satisfy my customers. I hope that you can help.
Thank you in advance Alex
For the first listing, did you use Buyer Requirements to block bidders or buyers registered in countries to which you will not ship and along with that, did you provide ONLY domestic shipping options? If not, you should do so for future listings of items that you cannot ship overseas.
For more on Buyer Requirements, click the Help link on the top of any eBay page, enter the words, “Buyer Requirements” in the Search help box and click the Search Help button.
When you list an item, indicate there are only options for Domestic shipping by unchecking any options for International Shipping.
Since you stated in your listing that the item cannot be exported, you may have a case for Feedback removal based on the current policy. Go to the Report a Problem page and select the option for Feedback Abuse.
As for the second transaction, this is less likely for removal since the buyer paid and didn't receive the item (even for the reason that they didn't pick it up at their local post office). I suspect the buyer doesn't understand English. If you are emailing the person in France using English, they may not be able to understand your emails! If you are not doing so already, try using an online translating service like Babelfish.
Finally, I checked your entire Feedback history and it is excellent. So good in fact, that even these two unfortunate negatives won't affect your online reputation on eBay.
And now here's a light-hearted beginning to the blogging week. Someone should have told those scientists who switched on the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland last week. This gigantic machine, the world's biggest physics experiment, is looking for the Higgs boson, a tiny sub-atomic particle that has been eluding physicists for decades. Well, they didn't have to spend billions of dollars and years of their time to build this behemoth -- they could have looked for it on eBay, where you can find great deals even at the sub-atomic level.
I found not one, but two listings for the Higgs boson, including one that boasts super-fast shipping, promising to ship the item "directly at light speed from Switzerland." The other seller, perhaps thinking of those people who felt that the LHC could have resulted in the creation of mini black holes, warns that "packing also presents problems as there is the possibility that the package may disappear into the particle itself." (Always a good idea to set buyer expectations).
Jokes aside, if last week's news has sparked (or rekindled) your interest in science, look no further than eBay for smart deals on understanding our universe. I wholeheartedly recommend two excellent books by Brian Greene, The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, and pretty much anything written by Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
OK, it's not as much fun as smashing atoms against each other after racing them at near light speeds inside a vast 17 mile underground doughnut, but it's a start.
Over the past few days, there’s been some buzz on our discussion forums and within the blogosphere about an issue with our Best Match sort. As one member put it, “why when searching using Best Match, do the results show as the newly listed first? If I hit refresh, they go to regular Best Match? Just asking because I have a few ending today (of course!), and it looks as though they are showing up on the last page instead of first?”
To find out what happened, we went to Jeff King, who heads up our Finding team. Here’s what he said:
“We had a very unusual software bug that we unfortunately didn’t catch during our testing process. Essentially, it caused Best Match to sometimes sort items incorrectly over roughly the past 3 days, which is why the member mentioned in this post saw what they did. The members who did see these strange results were able to fix it by refreshing, but of course that’s not an acceptable solution to either us or them. We had teams working 24 by 7 to get this fixed as soon as we discovered it.”
So is the issue now fixed?
“Yes, we’ve fixed the problem, and Best Match is working properly again for all searches.”
What are we doing to make sure this doesn’t happen again?
“We of course don’t want things like this to happen, and we apologize to all the members who saw this strange Best Match sort order. We’ve already changed our testing process to make sure that this won’t occur again.”
Every week I get tons of email from listeners to my eBay Radio show. I've decided to share some of them, along with my responses, on the Chatter blog -- hopefully each week.
Here's a recent sampling:
On 8/30/08 9:32 AM, Chris wrote:
I've been listening to your show via podcast and I really enjoy it. I'm emailing to ask your advice with a situation I have.
I sold some Packer football tickets [Chris mentioned the item number here - Griff]. The high bidder almost immediately backed out claiming an error on their part. I did the 2nd chance offer but that wasn't accepted. I then had to relist the tickets and pay the listing fee again $5. They didnt sell at all so I had to relist again this time at $600 starting price and for some reason pay another $5 listing fee. This time they sold and I have shipped them.
I have now filed an unpaid item dispute. The buyer who cost me between $200 and $400 wants me to just say mutual agreement so I can get me fees back right away he says. To me this doesnt seem right. I am fearful though of some negative feedback and then trying to go through eBay to get it removed. It's been 10 years and almost 1500 feedback for me with zero negatives so I really dont want to start one now. I am also worried about my DSRs because I am at 4.9 4.9 4.9 4.8 lifetime and 5.0 5.0 5.0 4.9 for 30 days which is going to get me a nice discount.
What do I do? Do I agree or just press on. Another thing is I don't have those tickets any more even if they were to say offer to pay for them. Unlike other items they are very time and date sensitive.
This buyer "sniped" the listing at the last minute. They knew full well what they were doing. I would not let them get away with it (if it were me in your position). Since this was an auction format and not a fixed price listing, I would file the UPI and state the reason as "buyer backed out." I would not agree to the mutual option.
Yes, the buyer could leave you a negative. However, under the circumstances, you could expect the feedback to be removed (along with any DSRs they might leave as well).
Here's the reason: We need seller reports in order to remove from the site those buyers who continually back out of their purchase obligations. The only way to do so is to file UPIs and to state reasons honestly. The risk of course, is a negative but, if the buyer doesn't respond to the UPI dispute (or responds with something insufficient to explain a good, legit reason for not paying), any negative feedback the buyer leaves you will be removed.
The very nature of the items would make any attempt on the buyer's part to reply, "I am willing to pay for them now" an invalid excuse since the tickets were time-sensitive and you have, rightfully so, resold them.
Just a quick question, you had stated on the show about multi print labels with PayPal and that it would let you print a scan form at the end. I have read and tried to get that dang scan form but there is nowhere to print it with PayPal. Please let me know I am confused on how to get this form. I have read all the help files and still nothing.
In order to actually do this, you have to go through the PayPal Multi Item Shipping tool. Click the link Start Shipping button on the MultiOrder Shipping on PayPal page and follow the steps from there.
You won't like this, but I'm telling a lot of sellers to email you. That's because they're getting emails from buyers to whom they have made 100% refunds saying, "I'm going to give you all 1s on your DSRs just to teach you a lesson."
Sorry. But you're the only email address I have on eBay so I'm just going to keep herding them all in your direction.
Although this activity is always a possibility, our overall data shows it is extremely unlikely (and in the rare case it does happen, it will have a negligible effect on a seller's ratings, especially if the seller is a full time seller).
If there is evidence that the buyer has attempted to extort the seller, then the reports must be made by the actual seller through the Report a problem page.
Unfortunately, sending these to me will not result in any action on the part of eBay. I am always willing to assist any seller with a specific issue or case regarding Feedback abuse on the part of a buyer but in cases where a buyer has left a rating for which the seller does not agree and that does not violate policy or was not the result of an attempt to extort the seller, I cannot provide any redress.
Earlier this year, my father died of complications from prostate cancer. He was diagnosed in 2005 and for three long years he fought the good fight, along with my mother who was by his side all the time. Except in his last few days, by which time the cancer had spread to other parts of his body and he was fading in and out of consciousness, he remained the man he had always been -- tough, articulate, loving, and with an indomitable sense of humor that moved even his case-hardened doctors.
But it got him in the end.
It seems very unfair to me that some tiny, insidious cells cut short the life of a man who overcame many challenges to provide for his family, who was a great father and husband, and a good human being. But there it is. One in three women, and one in two men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes. Almost as sobering is this information from the Stand Up To Cancer website:
"Since 2003, the government's cancer research budget has been cut every single year. This lack of funds pits scientists against one another and stifles new treatments from getting to patients quickly."
Rather than wait around for the system to change, Stand Up To Cancer looks to take matters into our own hands. Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) is a groundbreaking movement in the fight against cancer (read their mission statement). Its innovative approach is designed to bring the best and brightest investigators and scientists from leading institutions around the world to form "Dream Teams." This collaborative effort will accelerate cancer research and bring new therapies to patients more quickly. The hope is to make great big strides in prevention, detection, treatment, and even reversal of one of the leading causes of suffering and death. The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the oldest and largest scientific organization in the world focusing on every aspect of high-quality, innovative cancer research, will conduct expert scientific review of the research projects and administer funds raised through the Stand Up To Cancer initiative under the direction of a Scientific Advisory Committee.
Our regular readers will quickly recognize one of the really feel-good stories we've covered late last year/early this year - The Traveling Lab Coat. The concept was the brainchild of Community Hall of Fame member danna, who saw a way to turn an ordinary coat, which some of our employees had worn during eBay Live! the previous year, into a force for charitable fundraising.
A few eBay employees had signed the coat, which they then listed through eBay Giving Works to raise money for a favorite cause. danna put in the highest bid, and then had a brilliant idea. Instead of simply keeping the coat, why not pay it forward and re-list it herself to raise even more money for charity? That's exactly what she did, and it turned into a small phenomenon -- future buyers knew that they were expected to re-list the coat themselves, and keep the cycle going (in fact, one winner, ebwizcom, even took it on a road trip and kept this fantastic journal). It was a fantastic grassroots effort to raise money for a variety of nonprofits.
And now danna is at it again. To raise funds for the nationwide Stand Up to Cancer campaign, she's listed an eBay Giving Works bag, with the same "keep re-listing it for charity" theme as before. In fact, she's even included a journal so that each buyer-turned-seller can record their story, a note, or whatever they want before sending it on to the next recipient in the chain. Hopefully we'll still be providing updates about this effort to make the world a little better, one bag at a time, for many months and years to come.
It's fair to say that last week's announcement about making electronic payments mandatory on eBay has been met with mixed reaction among the selling community. Some are unhappy, that's true; others, however, understand why we're doing this, and agree that it's something whose time has come. Here's a typical "pro" post from the Community forums:
"When PayPal started, 70 to 80 percent of business was in checks and money orders... It was, and still is a nightmare...[Buyer] wins, gets to PO or elsewhere to purchase a MO, couple days go by... Mail 3-5 more... If it's a check add 10 more to clear. Often, no shipping address for MOs, no item number, no hint as to what ID is paying...2 to 3 weeks from item end.
Send an e-check, sir! Over the last few years sales paid by check and money order has dwindled to less than a percent. Pay Pal account required this year.... PayPal only,.CC only will be a good thing!"
Buyer expectations about online payment methods have changed As this particular seller noted, times have changed. Online shoppers today expect a secure, fast and convenient online checkout and payment experience on any major e-commerce website, not just on eBay. Electronic payment methods are ubiquitous on the internet today -- unlike 10 years ago. Yet as this seller also points out, checks/money orders add time and expense for sellers, and hassle and delays for buyers.
So -- to retain buyers and turn them into repeat shoppers on eBay, eBay needs to match changing buyer expectations. With our new policy, eBay will be driven by almost 100% electronic payments, which is another important step in increasing buyer confidence in shopping on eBay.
With all that said, I'd like to share our answers to several of the most common seller questions and suggestions that my team and I have heard over the last week.
Question #1: Why not just require sellers to offer at least one electronic payment option, while still allowing checks and money orders? Buyers would have a choice of safer payment options.
Currently, in approximately 1 out of 5 transactions on eBay.com, the buyer must go off eBay to pay. Their experience varies widely by seller and payment type. Buyers frequently complain about this experience. And the lack of a consistent experience leaves many buyers vulnerable to off-eBay payment scams. Electronic payment methods integrated into eBay Checkout, help us provide a consistent, more secure checkout experience every time a buyer purchases on eBay.
So why not allow sellers to offer check and money order payments in addition to electronic options? Because buyers would continue to pay off-eBay and have an inconsistent checkout experience.
Question #2: eBay stated last week that if a buyer wants to pay with check or money order, a seller can accommodate the request and complete the transaction. However, eBay will monitor for abuse. What is considered "abuse" and how will you monitor for abuse?
When the payment changes go into effect in late October, a seller cannot in any way solicit check or money order payment from a buyer. This is considered "abuse of the payments policy." eBay will take action against such abuse.
One way we'll detect abuse is by looking at reports from buyers. We'll also monitor checkout completion rates for sellers. This, too, has generated a lot of questions from sellers. Here are some clarifications that will hopefully reassure our sellers:
eBay will not automatically take action against a seller with a low checkout completion rate. We realize that there are many valid reasons for low completion rates.
We won't investigate all sellers with low checkout completion rates, but only on a case by case basis. Specifically, we will check to see if the seller is soliciting checks or money orders from their buyers. If we don't find any evidence of this occurring, we won't take any action against the seller.
Question #3: What does eBay plan to do to retain check or money order buyers? What do you plan to do to prevent sellers from bearing the brunt of communicating this change to buyers?
Let's be clear. We don't want to lose a single buyer any more than sellers do. We've started an aggressive campaign last week to reach out to heavy check and money order buyers and encourage them with more education, coupons, etc. to move to safe electronic payment methods. We've already reached thousands of buyers by phone and on-site messaging.
These efforts will be ongoing –- we know we need to change perception among these buyers. We'll have more online workshops (such as our workshop on preparing for paperless payments), more phone outreach, email, on-site messaging and media interviews. We're not just changing our policy and thinking that we're done here! We'll be working hard on an ongoing basis to raise buyer awareness about the benefits of the new integrated checkout and the security of electronic payment methods.
Question #4: With integrated electronic payments, eBay will know when a buyer pays. You could use this information to improve the Unpaid Item (UPI) process. Do you have any plans to change UPI?
This has been an excellent suggestion from several sellers. Strange as it may sound, for a significant number of transactions, currently eBay doesn't know if the buyer paid or not! That's because when a buyer pays "off-eBay" we can't track that information. Eliminating paper payments and integrating electronic payment methods into eBay Checkout will definitely give us more data about almost all transactions, and we'll be evaluating ways we can improve the Unpaid Item and Item Not Received processes for buyers and sellers, so stay tuned.
Last week Lorrie Norrington announced that, among other things, we're introducing a paperless payments policy in late October. Essentially, sellers will need to offer an electronic payment method to their buyers - credit cards through their own merchant account, PayPal, or ProPay, which will all also eventually be integrated into eBay's Checkout. Checks and money orders will no longer be permitted. To learn more about this, and how you can adapt your business, join our experts as they host a Paperless Payments workshop today from 1-2pm PT.
Last week, Seller Development's Todd Lutwak hosted a number of webinars to help sellers understand all the new changes announced by Lorrie Norrington on Wednesday. (Watch the archive, or attend our final Webinar tomorrow at 1pm Pacific.) I was "backstage" during these events with a (very) small army of helpers. We huddled over our laptops during the 1-1/2 hour sessions, and answered all the questions that attendees could chat in to us while Todd and other SMEs ("subject matter experts") were presenting. Talk about an adrenaline rush! The rapid-fire question/answer session was better than a triple Grande to get the blood flowing....
Slide #21 was a particular favorite for attendees, and, after several requests, I promised we'd share it here on the Chatter blog. Todd was covering a variety of proven Best Practices for sellers who are looking for ways to improve their DSR scores. He shared this example of a very effective letter that some sellers are using as package inserts:
Thank you for your prompt payment. I appreciate great buyers like you.
Your item has been shipped via USPS priority mail and you should receive it within 3 days. The tracking number is xxxxxxxx
I have posted positive feedback for you. I hope you will do the same for us. In addition to your positive feedback, we hope you will give us FIVE STARS on all of the Detailed Seller Ratings. If you feel like we fell short of FIVE STARS, please email me first at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make sure you are happy.
We appreciate your business and hope to do business with you again soon.
It's a great letter, because it is packed with meaning that sends a strong, positive message to the buyer -- 1) YOU care deeply about customer service. 2) YOU really want them to be extremely satisfied. 3) Assuming they feel YOU lived up to your aspirations, you are asking them for 5-stars as a measurement. 4) And if not, you are inviting them to write you and let you know how YOU can improve. I exaggerated the YOU parts, because this is more than a letter about Detailed Seller Ratings; it's about branding yourself as a customer-centric business. The customer-focused, personal touch can give eBay sellers a big advantage in a competitive market.
And while we're on the subject of DSRs....
Last week, in Lorrie's message, she announced a new selling standard that requires sellers maintain a minimum of 4.3 across all 4 DSRs in order to continue to list. It helps to know that 85% of all DSRs left in the marketplace are 5's. Only a very small number of under-performing sellers have less than 4.3 on any of their DSRs. What's more important -- this same group of sellers is also responsible for a large number of BBEs (bad buying experiences).
But out on the forums and in the webinars, some sellers pointed out that, since "4" is labeled the equivalent of "satisfied" for each category, a seller who delivered satisfactory service and who received all 4's from all buyers could be blocked from listing.
It's understandable that the question has come up, but how real is this concern? Are good sellers going to get "caught in the tuna net?" How many have received all 4's from all their buyers so far? The answer is ... zero. This has never happened, and there are NO sellers on eBay who've received all 4's. As Griff and the rest of the "PINKS" posted again and again last week on the 8/20 Announcement Forum, it's not the 4's that hurt a seller's DSR scores, it's the 1's and 2's, and the vast majority of sellers have no worries in this regard.
(Note: We will be archiving the best Q&A from the 8/20 Forum by topic announced....stay tuned.)
Here's another opportunity to have your questions about the changes announced by Lorrie Norrington on 8/20 answered. Lorrie and some of our execs will be available to take your questions in today's Town Hall today from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Pacific time.
To air your concerns or ask your questions, call our toll-free number – 1-877-474-3302 - between 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Pacific time and talk to us live on the air. If you'd prefer, you can drop us an email at email@example.com. For information on how to listen live on WSRadio or access the archives after the event, visit the Town Hall page.
(Updated at 1:55 PT). Folks, the Town Hall has begun -- here are a few pictures. Here's Lorrie Norrington, President, eBay Marketplaces (on the right) and Stephanie Tilenius, General Manager, eBay North America:
And here are a few of the Town Hall panelists. Griff, the emcee is being his usual boisterous self at far right:
The rest of the panel, with a few members of the "studio audience":
If you haven't attended one of our webinars to learn more about the changes announced by Lorrie Norrington yesterday, you've got one more coming up today in about an hour (3pm PT), and another next Tuesday at 1pm PT. We'll walk you through a presentation covering many of the changes, and you'll be able to send in questions that we'll answer during the session. Visit www.ebay.com/webinar to register and attend.
But even if you can't attend in person, you won't miss out completely. We're archiving the sessions so that you can view them at your leisure - check out that same URL, www.ebay.com/webinar, to do so.
If you still have a question, drop by our forum, which will be open until Friday afternoon. Many staff from many teams have volunteered their time to be here at different times for the next three days to answer questions. On Friday, we'll make the board read-only and highlight the best Questions/Answers by topic.
Here's a picture of our bunch from a few hours ago....before the pizza arrived.....