Archive for October, 2007

A Smile on Children’s Faces

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

One of my neighbours is overdecorating the area outside his apartment door for Halloween. It now has more cobwebs than I’ve ever seen, a coffin wrapped in chains, a spooky fence, a decapitated head hanging from a real apartment complex tree, a huge skeleton, a skeletal and bloody devil clown surrounded by bloody fake cobwebs, half a sinewy skeleton made to look like it’s trying to push its way out of the ground, a skull on a stake, a tombstone with battery-powered hands that seem to be coming out of the ground and scratching at the stone, a scary sign, and lots more. Yeah I wasn’t done listing what he’s put outside his apartment door.

I asked him if he were trying to win our apartment’s Halloween decoration contest. Nope, he said. It’s for the kids. I said that nothing’s good for kids like good old blood, death, and destruction. He said, "It puts a smile on their faces." I offered to pay for their therapy. I’ve seen his kids, and I’m guessing they are age 1.5 (girl), age 3 (boy), and age 4 (boy). The guy is out there setting this up with a buddy, and I think they’re really having fun. But is this age appropriate?

Sometimes, people are crying out that video games, movies, and TV programmes desensitise kids to violence. How about the decorations we put up at Halloween? When I was a kid in the 1970’s, I remember most Halloween decorations being cardboard prints of an ugly witch on a broom stick with a black cat and the moon behind her. Now, my supermarket sells a tombstone with hands coming out of the ground that really move and claw at the tombstone. In the 1970’s, a kid dressed up as a kitty cat. Now, you can dress up as "sexy pirate" even if you’re age 11.

I have no idea what kinds think when they see this. Are they scared? Are they not scared? Are they haunted by this? What do they really think of the severed head in the tree? Would they think the same of a real severed head in a tree? Do the think cutting off a head is a fun thing that’ll bring a smile to their faces? I have no idea. When did we decide that children needed to decorate their homes (supposedly a safe place) with symbols of death, mutilation, torture, undeadness :), and fear? This just can’t be good for the soul.

I just think we can do better.


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Improve What?

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

I’m very used to checking my spam filter and seeing headlines over and over relating to things that will supposedly improve my sex life. Most assume I’m male, but I know we’ve all seen these. They want to make "it" bigger. Last longer. She’ll love you more. She’ll have more pleasure. Don’t be the little guy. Satisfy your partner. Take this pill, use this device, etc…

But I was recently eyeballing my spam filter (as I do a few times a day) to make sure nobody I recognise got stuck in it, and I noticed a spam headline that went in a new direction. At least I’ve never noticed this one before in my 15+ years of getting email.

Really? With all the spam about my partner and giving it to my partner and so on, I wonder how much this product will sell. I think people think about improving sex as they may imagine the other person is judging their performance, comparing to past lovers, or who knows what. So there may be some pressure felt to improve in the bedroom. But are any of us really looking to bring masturbation to a new level? The people who may have that as a goal may have already found some things to help, I would imagine. Isn’t that what porn’s mostly about? No lack of that stuff!


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A GREAT eBay and Online Seller

Friday, October 26th, 2007

eBay User ID bidpax

This guy is fantastic. I was searching eBay for two-way radios for our upcoming conference. I found his listings and those of other sellers. I loved his pictures. I liked that he was an Authorised Dealer for Motorola. He had a great guide about how to buy a two-way radio, which made me start to rethink what I’d been searching for. He answered my emailed questions quickly and expertly. He helped me choose the right products for my needs.

All eBay sellers should be this patient, knowledgeable, and pleasant. If you are looking for two-way radios, you want to buy from bidpax.


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It’s Hard to Focus with Hot Pockets

Friday, October 26th, 2007

"It’s hard to focus with Hot Pockets" is the caption on a photo from the Hot Pockets "Got Milk" photo contest. I sure agree, but more for the dizzying lack of nutrition.

Hotpockets

This was the photo. Evidently like sleeping pills and other heavy drugs, do not eat Hot Pockets while driving machinery. They are so distractingly scary tasting that you may run over a farm hand or perhaps a family member with your tractor.

Maybe instead of cell phone bans, we need to look at banning Hot Pocket eating and milk drinking while driving. This is clearly dangerous not just to the human digestive system.


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Like New and How To Fix That

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

eBay is reportedly starting to ban the use of the phrase "like new." Of course, people are going wild over it. They are saying that "like new" is a term used all the time in the sales of items, so why ban it?

Let’s think about this from the point of view of a shopper. If you want something that is new, what percentage of the time are you willing to buy something that’s not new? For me, that’s not often. If I want something that is really brand new, I don’t want anything that was used, opened, returned, or who knows what.

Now let’s think about how eBay searches work. If in your listing title you say LIKE NEW, and I search for NEW, I will get your listing unless I know how to use Boolean operators in eBay searches. That’s probably relatively few people. But you could search for NEW -"like new." As I am writing this, I’m searching eBay.com:

2,288,673
items found for: new
8,259
items found for: (like new,"like new")

That means that less than 0.4% of items are saying LIKE NEW. That seems small to me honestly. I expected to see many more in my search results if eBay’s cracking down on this. I know that as a shopper, when I want new, I probably don’t want LIKE NEW, so I get this. When I want used or refurb, I search for that.

I think the best way to go is to create condition grading. Then, you can ask people what is the minimal level of use. So you might have:

  1. Brand new, in box, never used
  2. Brand new, open box
  3. Slightly used but with box and all manuals/parts
  4. Slightly used missing box and/or manuals/parts
  5. Moderately used
  6. Heavily used
  7. Not fully working

So for one item, I might want level 3 or higher. For another item, I may only want level 1. For another item, I may be OK with level 6 or higher. If you could do a range of levels, that would be great. Say I want to save money by getting something used that works. I could search for anything that fits into levels 3-6.

I like my idea, and hope eBay adopts it. :)


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It’s My Shoes

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

If you read my blog, then you know I was recently in court. I had to go through a metal detector. It went off. I told them it was my shoes, which are Z-Coils, so they have a huge, metal coil in them. The guard with the wand said, "OK." And let me go.

???

You don’t want to wand me? You don’t want to ask me to empty my pockets? You’re just taking my word that it really was my shoes that set off the metal detector? So I could have carried ANYTHING metal through, and just said it was my shoes?

???


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AuctionBytes Survey

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y207/m10/abu0200/s03

I’d like to see the same people surveyed in 6 months about what they DID do. Many of them said they would leave marketplaces or stop selling through e-commerce systems like MarketWorks. But did they? We’d only know if we surveyed the same people in 6-7 months to see what they really did.

We all want to eat and be healthier. Many of us think we eat right. But do we really? I know there is sometimes a gap, purposeful or accidental, between what we say we will do and what we actually do.


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I’m Not Doing What I’m Doing, So Don’t Notice!

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

There are "eBay experts" out there with whom I rarely agree, and when I look at these people, I wonder why people follow them. So what I like to do is point at them. Give them more attention. You can decide for yourself what you think of these other people. I make or lose no money when you decide you think they are fantastic experts or losers. You pick! I’m pointing. :)

So this appeared in one of the "expert" blogs last week. I guess he doesn’t like my pointing, but from what I heard is being posted about him on discussion forums that I don’t read, my pointing at him is the least of his problems right now. But here is some of what he posted. Then, let’s discuss.

The other thing you should do is consider who is giving you the advice.  What are their qualifications and experience? 

Karen
and I have been selling on eBay for over 8 years and still sell on eBay
every day. In fact eBay is responsible for about 1/2 of my income.
Other experts that I work with like Lynn Dralle, Jennie Hunt, Jim Cockrum, Tim Knox, James Jones, Mike Enos
and others, are all people who can do, and do do, what they teach and
write about. Yes, we do profit sharing our knowledge with others but
there is nothing wrong with that as long as you are delivering good
value for the money.

I have read blogs and websites by many
others about selling on eBay, and the internet, who have little or no
current experience actually selling. Mostly these inexperienced
people just write, grouse and critizise. They usually have little of
value to contribute.  Often these are people who make money selling
something else, who write stuff about others to generate hits to their
own site to make money for themselves –rarely do they care if they are
accurate or not. So one thing you should always do is research and
consider the source.

As for attacking and criticizing the opinions of others, I have better things to do with my time.

He had links for most of those person’s names, but I’ve taken them out. So here is my commentary on the above.

  1. I agree with most of what he’s saying. People should do more research on who is giving advice. Check if they speak at eBay events as that’s a good mark of who eBay wants people to hear from. Always consider your source, especially money they might make from the products they are recommending. Some people actually recommend things because of what they get paid for the recommendation, and I’m against that. Always have been, always will be. I’m not for sale. Is your eBay expert for sale? :)
  2. I like the part where he says that people write about others to generate hits to their own websites… but then he takes the time to mention names that are probably put into search engines more than his own. When I point at this particular guy, I rarely name him, so I won’t today either. But he’s welcome to pretend that I name drop him for hits to my own site.
  3. Do I make money selling something else? Yes, I make money when people hire my company for our design, marketing, branding, strategy, operations management, and other consulting services. But this is my Marketing commentary blog. I rarely mention my company’s services here. It’s not like I have a post about a tip for selling on eBay, and I link it to a bunch of my own books or webinars or something like that. I’m just here to share my ideas, opinions, and point at people since we should always take more opportunities to look in the mirror.
  4. I buy heaps of things on eBay each month. I don’t claim to be a big seller, but I used to sell daily as a part-time income (under another ID, not the one you see me with now). My company has an insanely awesome track record with our seller clients, which speaks for itself. But if you’re looking for an eBay consultant, what do you need more? Someone who makes half their living selling, may have a view on what it’s like to sell, and spends all that time selling? Or someone who makes a living helping sellers of all kinds, sizes, and levels of proficiency start and grow? Someone who is your potential buyer, helping you tap into the minds and behaviours of your potential buyers. If I wanted to know how to improve my consulting business, I probably wouldn’t talk to other people with potentially competing consulting businesses. I’m not sure they’re really want to help me. I’d ask clients and potential clients what they want and how we could be better. Being a seller is great, but I’ve sometimes received calls from people who tried to use sellers as consultants… I was told that that seller really knew his or her business, but not how to grow a business that may sell something else or have another model. We don’t have that narrow focus. We work with sellers that have forklifts, shoes, sporting goods, diamond rings, posters, electronics, everything you can think of including sellers who never know what they’ll sell tomorrow.
  5. I like the part where he says he doesn’t have time to attack or criticise the opinions of others after taking a paragraph to attack and criticise others.

This guy must be going through some real stuff right now to post that. I’ve never been asked to prove that I have eBay expertise… I’ve spoken in so many places, I’ve been interviewed, I’m an author, I help other authors (check the index for my name), I work with eBay, I don’t hang with a small group of internet marketers who just keep mentioning/plugging each other, my clients speak up for me… my knowledge and expertise on eBay is rarely in dispute. I guess if you’re writing what this guy is, yours must be in dispute, and this is the best way you can think of to distract from that.

I always look at the hand the magician wants me to NOT notice. The hand that waves around in the air is the one he wants you to watch. I watch what the other hand is doing. And in this blog, I’ll point at it. I am not afraid to point at behaviour that in my opinion may be odd, inconsistent, or lacking integrity. I think the general public is better off when someone is willing to not say the popular thing and be willing to rock the boat by telling you to pay attention to the man behind the curtain. Watch the hand the magician doesn’t want you to see. Look very carefully at these things… read what’s being said, what’s being implied, and what’s not being said… and decide for yourself.

If you don’t want me to point at you, stop doing pointable things. :)


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I Lose It in Court

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Well, I won a lawsuit recently. It was a civil suit. I sued an ex-boyfriend for money I had lent him that he never repaid. It was over $4,000, so it was in justice court and not small claims court. Filing the case was a good, empowering thing given who I used to be. Winning the case was a slam dunk, but still felt good.

At one point, I lost my cool. The Defendant was using my exhibit 9, which was an email from me to him. He had offered to pay me $50 per month (for 8 years?) but had said he didn’t even had that money, and he’s "had to cut back on food" (sob sob). I really disliked that email (it was from July 2006), and wrote him back that day that, among other things, he shouldn’t bother paying me anything this summer. Use the summer to come up with a better remedy, and I’d decide in September if I wanted to sue him or enjoy having nothing to do with him.

I ended up choosing both. I was loving having nothing to do with him, but really wanted my money. I decided in September 2006 to sue, but didn’t make time to write up the paperwork and go down to the court until March 2007.

So back to my story. The Defendant asks me in relation to exhibit 9 if I think that it would be unreasonable of him to assume that my statement saying not to pay him for those two months really meant that the whole loan was called off. Oh I lost it. I address him by Mr. ______ (last name), and said, "If you buy furniture, and they offer you no payments for your first year, do you then have free furniture with no obligation to ever pay for it?" The judge reminded me that it was the Defendant’s turn to ask questions. Oops.

The judge had to reel me in another time when I gave a long-winded, somewhat angry answer. I was pretty ticked off since I had lent someone I didn’t like money I didn’t have while I was in the process of leaving him because he seemed to be more needy than I was at the time, and here he was telling the judge how he hadn’t paid me anything, but was just trying to do the right thing. I was really not OK with that statement, and went on a bit in response to a question from the Defendant. The judge asked for yes or no. Oops. Sorry. I can be long-winded. The judge said it was OK, and that part of his job was to "direct traffic." :)

I may have lost my cool twice, but the Defendant lost the case. His evidence for trial? My exhibits 8 and 9 that I submitted (he brought nothing). The judge asked him great questions, and the Defendant admitted that it was a loan, he knew it was a loan, he wasn’t disputing the amount of the loan, and he’d never paid me anything back. He was not successful in proving that I had released him from the loan, which was the most recent of his many claims.

I’m posting here because I’m proud of myself for standing up for what was right, which was the repayment of the loan. I’m glad I stood up to this person after being in an abusive relationship with him years ago. I hope that in court that day that this person felt as low and powerless as he used to make me feel. I hope he felt like the judge had his number when the judge was reading my exhibit 11, which was a copy of a police report from when the Defendant had threatened to kill me the first time I tried to break up with him. I didn’t end up using that one, but it was in the exhibits I submitted, not knowing which ones i might need. If the Defendant had asked me GOOD questions, which he didn’t, exhibit 11 was going to answer some of them.

And now that I have a judgment, I hope he pays me. Based on what my lawyer said are my options to get paid, he should be hoping he pays me. The judgment was for the full amount with interest starting to accrue the day I won the case. I hope that when the Defendant is scraping together the money to pay me back he thinks about how I must have scraped to lend him money when I didn’t have it to lend. The Defendant always seemed like a proud guy and put himself out there as a man of his word. I hope he’s looking in the mirror wondering what’s looking back.

Sorry, just wanted to vent. And I like to remind people who have been or are in abusive relationships that you can get out, you can have your power back, and you can get past those things.


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To Marketworks Users

Friday, October 19th, 2007

After eBay Live 2007, we decided to no longer recommend Marketworks to our clients or eBay sellers we met here and there. I was upset by the number of negative comments I heard about my clients’ experiences with Marketworks. It definitely doesn’t benefit me or my company to have clients using a service they don’t like, or clients wondering why I recommended to them a service they didn’t like.

We thought that most of these sellers would be better off with a service like Kyozou, and we emailed some of them about it, just in case the idea of switching were attractive. In the continuation of that suggestion, I wanted to point people to:

http://www.kyozou.com/marketworks.asp

Kyozou is offering a sweet deal for MW users who want to move to them. I say talk to Kyozou, see the demo, and consider them. No, I’m not being paid to say this. I have seen many people unhappy and frustrated with Marketworks. If that’s not you, you’re welcome to stay with them. But if you are looking for another option, we have been suggesting Kyozou as many of our clients have been very happy with them. What’s in my best interest is seeing my clients with a service they like, whoever it is.


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