Archive for January, 2008

Because Customers Are Too Demanding

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Holy cats, I just got an email from a client. He asked a certain Certified Solutions Provider who will remain nameless why their software doesn’t accept the template my company built for them. In a live chat, this is how that went.

Tech support guy: so at this time, we are not actually able to import
custom templates

My client: well how come?????????

Support: basically? Because customers are too demanding and the code doesn’t always fit in the listings and it’s just not worth it to pull an engineer off a project to do it ugh = (

WHA? Customer support just told a customer who wants to do something that customers who tend to want that are too demanding and get stuff wrong? That just sounds weird.

Meanwhile, here’s a better question. If this company really CAN accept custom templates but it’s the customer that gets it wrong, I bet that company can train my staff on how to get it right the first time. That would eliminate what they claim the problem is, and then my clients could use this company if they wanted. So far, nearly all of my clients have been totally fine with leaving this company when they hire us.

After eBay Live 2007, someone from that software company shot me a slightly grumpy email asking me why his clients can’t use us and my clients can’t use him. I reminded him that it’s all about allowing our templates into their system. You’d think this might inspire them into a problem-solving mode, but the guy never wrote me back. I was always told that getting any designer’s custom eBay templates into their software was not a priority, which is why this service is now one of only 3 pieces of software I can think of that still don’t take totally custom HTML templates.

Guess I’ll shoot a note to this company and see if they want to help us learn how to get templates ready for their system so that we don’t have to pull a busy engineer off a project, ugh.


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eBay eCommerce Forum Secrecy

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

I don’t understand the shroud of secrecy behind the eBay eCommerce Forum. Each January, eBay holds an event for big PowerSellers, invite-only. Lots of TSAMs come, and they invite some of us Certified Providers. It’s a fun time. Jan 2008 will be my 2nd year attending.

Each year, the event is shrouded in secrecy.

Last year, they wouldn’t tell me where it was. As in which city in the entire country. They told me that everybody gets that information a couple of weeks before the event… which means everybody has to buy a last minute plane ticket as most fares rise 21 days out. When I explained that I was coming in from Europe and needed to buy my plane tickets well ahead of time to go straight from Europe to wherever, they told me the location.

I kept their secret!

This year, they told us the city, but not the hotel. OK, well you chose a city with 3 airports. I have no idea which is best for me to fly into. I can’t arrange an airport shuttle now because I don’t know to which hotel they’re going to bring me. This is just inconvenient and annoying for me as I love to make plans well ahead of schedule. Every year, I book my eBay Live hotel rooms 11 months before the event. That’s just me.

So why the secrecy? I just don’t get it. If the information is going to be public or more commonly known 2 weeks before the event, then what do we prevent by not telling people about it earlier? You don’t stop an uninvited person from coming by keeping the event a secret. You prevent them from coming by checking badges and having security. Any uninvited crasher can buy plane tickets during those last two weeks when people know where this is.

I appreciate the event. I like it. I’d like to keep being invited to it. :) And I’ll always keep any secret eBay tells me, should they be telling me anything. :) I just can’t make sense of why it’s such a secret, and what the secrecy accomplishes!


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Why Do I Write These Things?

Monday, January 21st, 2008

I think some people read some of what I write and wonder why I’m saying that. Well, these things make sense to me when I’m writing them. :) Some people wonder why I don’t say it more delicately.

I never learned. I didn’t grow up in a household where things were said delicately. It was all out there. There were no boundaries, and that’s the style in which I was immersed. It’s some of what’s made me who I am, for better or worse.

My father has a lot of good qualities. He has a huge sense of injustice, and I think of him as the guy who takes on clients who can’t pay him because they need him. It’s helping people first, money second. And anybody who’s ever spent a fun hour on the phone with me and then never hired my company knows where I get that. :) I get joy from helping people, so it’s still rewarding even if I like money too.

I always thought my "sense of injustice" and wanting to defend the person who can’t defend himself or herself was a good quality. Hey, if you needed help, you’d be glad you knew me because I’d stop everything to do everything I could for you. I may come off a bit rough, but my friends know me as a listener and problem-solver. I don’t let problems hang around for long!

So people with problems come to me, which means I’ve heard it all. I hear about the bad apple that could spoil the bunch. And I want to protect these people and make sure future people aren’t hurt or disturbed. So I speak out against certain things. Sometimes that comes off as totally appropriate and you agree or laugh along, and sometimes it comes off as brutal and tactless and just wrong. I never mean to be tactless and I don’t see myself as wrong. :) I know I can be unflinchingly honest… I like to joke that I’m the girl who wants to hear that "my ass looks fat in that" if it in fact does. :)

But that’s not most people. I forget that’s not most people because I sit alone in a room with a computer. Growing up, I sat alone in a room (and as of 1985, with a computer), and tried to come up with ways to make sure that people never felt as hurt as I did. When I write or say things, I never mean to hurt anybody. I mean for the hurt and bad stuff to stop. I mean for the scam artists to go away. I mean for the lying authors to stop getting book deals. I mean for the people and companies breaking rules to stop breaking rules. I mean for the people who crap on me or some little guy somewhere to stop it. I mean for the seller who got wronged by someone claiming to be an expert to see his/her situations fixed. I mean for the bad instructor to maybe decide to stop instructing.

The good companies, instructors, authors, and experts should keep on keepin’ on. :) But when I say I’m wary of something, it’s the nicest way I can think of to say, "OK, there are a lot of good people out there, but I’ve spoken to a number of sellers who had bad experiences with certain people. That means that like any program or group, some are great and some are so-so and some are bad. People should be more careful about who they choose because not everybody is as great as they claim!" That doesn’t mean I’m against the whole program or the good people. It means that I don’t like that the not-as-good people out there hurt people or gave them a negative experience. So I’m wary. I’m allowed to be wary! More people should be more wary. :)

I don’t find it easy to watch people on the crap side of some situation. I can’t just watch people struggle. And so many people who are struggling call me. Email me. Stop me at eBay Live. They trust me and tell me their stories. I keep their stories private. They like that! But I feel like I’m the injustice confession booth of the world, and it pushes that button that I have… which leads to statements or blog posts that sometimes are exactly what I mean and sometimes come off in ways I don’t mean.

So this is therapy post :) to say that I don’t mean to hurt anybody but I do mean to stop the people who hurt, abuse, or lie to others. If you’re doing that, you’ll probably be written about again in this blog. It’s who I am, and I’m not sure I’d change that. Everybody needs somebody looking out for them. But I know that I could be writing more carefully than I do so that I’m misunderstood less often. And that’s my new 2008 goal: commnunicate more clearly and more positively so that my ideas can get across without accidentally hurting or bothering anybody.

It’s the best I can do, and thanks for understanding. :)


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No More eBay University

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Evidently, eBay will no longer be holding eBay University, which sent eBay and PayPal staff around the country with classes on the basics of eBay selling. Filling in the gaps will be a program from eBay’s Education department that designates people as an Education Specialist Trained by eBay. The better of that crop are designated as Certified Education Specialists Trained by eBay.

These are typically eBay sellers who know eBay quite well, and are generally good with public speaking. :) They hold classes on a variety of levels, usually near where they live. So chances are that there’s a least one near you, and you can attend their classes for reasonable rates.

Classes right now include:

The Basics of eBay Selling
Beyond the Basics
The Basics of Buying
eBay Giving Works
eBay Stores

This program is also designating better instructors as eBay Business Consultants. My company specialises in eBay Business Consulting, but we’re actually not listed with those Business Consultants. You’ll find us with the Certified Providers at this cool new website. :) http://www.certifiedprovider.ebay.com/

Another place to get education would be our conference! http://www.aswasconference.com We may not be looking at the basics of selling on eBay, but we’ll be looking at intermediate and advanced topics to help eBay sellers at all levels grow and be more profitable. As a business event, you can write your whole trip off on your taxes, plus we’ll be teaching you how to make more money. So it pays for itself.

You can find Education Specialists and their classes at www.poweru.net/ebay.


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Comedy Video

Friday, January 18th, 2008

Like comedy? Enjoy our video about our conference. Then tell a friend. :) That would be good marketing. :)
ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23BgMhYw12Y


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Are eBay Stores Viable?

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

I did an interview yesterday with Ina from AuctionBytes. http://podcast.auctionbytes.com/ We spoke a bit about our upcoming conference, but she asked an interesting question. Are eBay Stores viable? Ina made it sound like ever since the Stores fee hike, maybe eBay Stores aren’t a good option for sellers.

My opinion is that there’s ALWAYS a good reason to have an eBay Store. The main reason is to make it your showcase on eBay. The eBay Store is a great place to offer some branding so you stand out, but then make your Store easy for your shopper. Great categories, great layout, great products, and focus everything on streamlining shopping. If your Store doesn’t make shopping easy and attractive, then you may drive people away.

But a better eBay Store can be a great place, even at the Basic price of $16/month, to drive shoppers. Getting them in there is a click that is NOT on the back button to see your competitors in that shopper’s search results. The eBay Store, no matter what else you think of it or Store fees, makes a GREAT showcase, a great one-stop place to show off everything you have on eBay. You also have a great chance to create your own category hierarchy to help your shopper find what he or she wants.

eBay Stores are extremely viable. I tend to think that the fee hike was really a correction for the people who had seen some sort of seminar or infomercial saying hey, all you have to do to sell on eBay is to take our catalogue of drop shipped products, drop them in your eBay Store, and just sit on your pool raft and make all that money. So you have thousands if not millions of items from hundreds or thousands of people, and those items just SIT there. They have an insane amount of competition, and as Store items, they may just not be found. Not only is that going to be a weight on eBay’s system, but it’s going to be a bad experience for the sellers who have all these high expectations. I was for anything that forced those sellers to make changes. I didn’t like that it hurt some serious eBay sellers who didn’t want that change, but I did want the people who fell for the informercial to change.


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What It Costs to Attend Conferences

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Registration is open for The 2008 As Was Conference. http://www.aswasconference.com

I’ve been looking at other events that are going on, and I’m just surprised…

Last October was Online Market World. They were charging $799 for 1.5 days. They didn’t really focus on eBay last year, and they didn’t serve much food.

You can attend the IMA conference in early March 2008 for $399 if you’re not a member. Their event is 2 half days and one nearly full day. They’re "internet merchants," so eBay is on their list but not the main focus.

You can attend a conference on sourcing in March 2008. It’s $3495. I didn’t forget a decimal point. It really is nearly $3,500. As an early bird special, they’ll pay for 2 nights of your hotel. Still, yow! Skip McGrath lives up to his name (as in you can skip him :) in my opinion), but Magniphy and Worldwide Brands are nice folks. You can find them at our conference for a lot less money. :)

You can attend ChannelAdvisor Catalyst (we’ll be there) in April 2008. It’s $299 for the early bird reg, and it’s 1.5 days of sessions plus a day for playing golf. They’re serving lunch. CA tends to be focused more on eCommerce than eBay, but I know eBay will be in there.

You can attend the PESA and ECMTA Spring Summit in April 2008. They have no agenda up, but they have pricing and you can register… for a mystery event that might be 1.5 or 2 days long. No agenda, no idea! Early bird for non-members is $299, but goes up to $599 on site. Yowz! PESA is typically focused a bit on eBay but often is about the multi channel message.

So you have a bunch of conferences out there, and you have ours. We have an incredibly strong program, focused mostly on eBay. Let’s help PowerSellers and future PowerSellers grow, be more profitable, work more efficiently, and make better decisions. We’re only charging $299 and we’re serving three full lunches. Not three cafeteria sandwiches. Three sit down, networking lunches.

http://www.aswasconference.com/paysforitself.shtml will tell you more about your total costs for the As Was Conference.


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The As Was Conference Pays For Itself

Monday, January 14th, 2008

http://www.aswasconference.com

Let’s do some math! :) Let’s say that to attend our event, your expenses look like:

  • Conference attendance fee: $299
  • Flight: $350
  • Hotel including tax for 3 nights at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort: $830
  • Rental car and gas: $0. Remember that if you stay in the discounted rooms Disney has blocked off for us in the Yacht Club Resort, Disney is giving you free round-trip airport transportation. Once you’re on Disney’s property, you can use their free, internal transportation system to get around all of the parks and hotels.
  • 3 breakfasts and 3 dinners not included in our event (we’re serving 3 full lucnhes): $165

Total estimated trip expenses, which you can write off on your taxes:
$1,644

How much money can our conference make you?

The sky is the limit. :) We told one of our clients about one of the companies who will be speaking at our event. He started working with them, and said that they started saving him nearly $500 per month right away. That’s from only one change he made!

Let’s say that you’re a Silver PowerSeller, selling $5,000-$10,000 per month. The techniques, strategies, and tools you start using because of our conference should immediately save you eBay fees and make more sales. Let’s say that those lower fees, new sales, and repeat business bring you an extra $400 per month. Let’s say that a higher-level PowerSeller could see an increase of $600, $900, or even more per month from using what we teach.

How long would it take for the conference to have paid for itself?

eBay Live! is in mid-June, and most people attend to learn as much as they can about how to increase sales and profits, and grow their eBay businesses. When this summer rolls around, you and your competitors will start putting into effect what you learned at eBay Live in June. By the time it’s July, you will have been putting into effect what you learned at our conference all through March, April, May, and June. That’s four months of the estimated extra $400 per month for our sample Silver PowerSeller, which is $1600, and our conference has paid for itself. A higher-level PowerSeller would see the conference pay for itself in only 2 or 3 months of sales.

Can you afford to NOT attend our conference, especially if your competitors are coming?

View the agenda and schedule, or register now!


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Best Review of the Worst Restaurant

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

It’s time for me to publish my all-time favourite restaurant review. This was in our local-at-the-time (Long Island, NY) paper in 1989. The review was of a local seafood place. I heard that after this review, it changed chefs a zillion times, closed, reopened, was sold, and finally became something else. However, this review lives on. It’s so dear to my heart that I have taken phrases from it and I use them in everyday sentences.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: PETER M. GIANOTTI
Date: Mar 12, 1989
Section: THE NEWSDAY MAGAZINE
Text Word Count: 975

CAPTAIN
BILL’S COMMODORE INN 122 Ocean Ave., Bay Shore (516) 665-3677
Assessment: Sail on by.
Days Open: Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and
dinner. Closed Monday.
Price Range: Main courses, $14.50 to $30.50.
Appetizers, $3.25 to $10.50. Soups, $2.75 to $3.75. Special weekday
dinners, $14.95. Credit cards.
How to Find It: On the water, less than
a mile south of Montauk Highway.

THE BEST appetizer at Captain Bill’s Commodore Inn is fresh, varied and colorful. Unfortunately, it’s the fruit cocktail.

Once you go beyond the grapes and chopped apples, Captain Bill’s ranks
no higher than seaman apprentice. Whatever stripes or insignias it
earns for the pretty waterside site are stripped away in the kitchen.

This is a "restaurant complex" where you must assume food is secondary.
On a sunny summer day, you could be content walking around the marina
and gazing at Great South Bay. You no doubt could be satisfied sailing
in, too. All you need is a warm breeze and a cool drink.

But be careful. The "framboise kir royale" is akin to Smucker’s and
seltzer. For $6.50, you can imbibe a kiddiecough-medicine punch called
"The Commodore," and keep the glass as a warning. Other cocktail
suggestions could lead you to form a temperance union on the spot.

So, instead of accepting the formal escort to your table and immediate
decision-making, choose to wander. Survey the scenery and the expanse
of the establishment’s quasi-colonial rooms. Captain Bill’s sprawls
from catering spaces to a bar to the main dining area.

Tables for two have most of the top water views, especially those that
look onto the permanently berthed Commodore. The 72-foot
sloop-turned-schooner now claims Captain Bill’s as home port.

Exiles are in the center of the room, where disappointment can be
remedied only by the company of very good friends. Some bucolic images
decorate an elevated gazebo that’s set apart from the high-occupancy
tables.

The cuisine and service at
Captain Bill’s tell you bluntly that, as at receptions gone by, the
meal is an aside. The food is carelessly prepared, sloppily presented.

In an unintended gesture of benevolence, a waitress may delay bringing
the bread, a substance so rubbery you wouldn’t feed it to the ducks
that swim near the schooner. You do get a celery-and-carrot laden metal
relish tray. Don’t fight over the lone scallion.

You won’t battle over the soups, even if Burry Oyster Crackers come the
closest to a decent carbo. The soups are uniformly sad. The New England
clam chowder is dropped into your bowl like paste; the Manhattan
version is thin and watery. The content of the dense seafood bisque is
barely identifiable.

The hot
combination platter is a grouping of papery fried shrimp, stuffed
mushrooms coming apart, a tasteless "shrimp scampi" greasily afloat in
its own plate, and the sole survivor, an acceptable baked clam.

Its cold counterpart is a tribute to small, flavorless shrimp, tough
raw clams and what a waitress acknowledges as "Sea Legs," a testament
to culinary chemistry and engineering. Beneath the heavy mantle of
cheese and mystery that shrouds seafood au gratin is another sample of
the flavored fish paste – though any description implying flavor
shouldn’t be misconstrued.

At $15.50,
this indignity is a moderately priced main course. You could, for
example, spend $23.50 for bendable, bland Alaskan king crab. Or drop
$30 for a two-pound lobster that’s broiled into a steel-belted radial.
Or lament the fact that your tab here could end up more expensive than
the pre-theater dinner at The Rainbow Room.

A pale, monochromatic coating enfolds each item in the fried
combination seafood platter. Shape will enable you to tell scallop from
clam from fish filet. Lobster thermidor is a clearly defined travesty,
ruthlessly overdone.

Broiled swordfish
is a thin cut, not bolstered by the shower of slivered almonds. Two
mounds of stuffed flounder fall apart, revealing some kind of mushy
fishchow that Garfield would reject.

You can order the staple, lobster tail and filet mignon. It’s an
adequate choice, given the alternatives. The cut of beef is tender,
especially compared with the charcoal-gray slab of juiceless sirloin.

The wine list is routine in an eatery that pushes cocktails. But the
1987 Drouhin Chablis ($19) is a dry, reliable white; and 1987 Drouhin
Beaujolais-Villages ($12.50), a fruity, friendly red.

Desserts receive their own carte at Captain Bill’s. Key lime pie is a
single-shaded crime and apple-crumb pie is pasty. Cheesecake is
commercial grade. The "Double Chocolate Truffle Delight" mistakes
hardness for richness. You could support a mailbox in the chocolate
mousse.

But, be philosophical and
remember that in your end is your beginning. The best dessert at
Captain Bill’s is fresh, varied and colorful. It’s the fruit salad.


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Adam Ginsberg Complaints Dot Com

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Someone was kind enough to point me to http://adamginsbergcomplaints.com/

Now in my opinion, that’s a domain that should be getting a lot of use. :) I’ve heard that Adam himself or one of his many companies owns/runs this site. It is surprisingly Adam-supporting and Adam-apologetic for anybody who isn’t Adam. Who other than Adam has time to post things like this?

It looks like he likes to rub salt in wounds. Evidently, if you have a problem with him and you’re not calling him, you’re a coward and not an adult. I don’t like Adam Ginsberg, and I’m in no rush to call him, but that doesn’t make me a coward or immature. Name-calling just makes HIM look immature! And based on what I heard about his seminars, he’s being a coward; I heard he won’t give out the eBay ID he’s supposedly using right now to sell. I’d love to know what that ID is partially for my own fun and partially for a point I’ll make later in this post.

Adam’s right. One thing about him is that most of what he’s done is public record. But don’t just Google since on Google, it’s too easy to find the sheep who are just recommending him. I think it’s more fun to find the things on Google like the discussion forums about him. I love the posts years ago from pool table installers who were refusing to install pool tables Adam was selling on eBay because the quality was so low. You’d have to Google names like Zbilliards and Pegasus Billiards for that stuff.

Plus, you can see that his ID on eBay has been suspended for years. Adam had other IDs suspended as well like this one that hit eBay’s automatic trigger for suspension at a -4 feedback score. That’s public knowledge, and doesn’t require a call to Adam. eBay’s policy on suspensions is that if they suspend one of your user IDs for any reason, they are all suspended. It’s not that eBay just doesn’t want that name being used. If they suspend you, they don’t want you under any name. That means that if you sign up to eBay again under another name and they find out, they’ll suspend it pretty much immediately.

So if Adam is selling on eBay, it would not be with eBay’s blessing. More importantly, I am not sure who wants to learn eBay from someone who went down in flames. His demise is not rumour or gossip. It’s just true, and public records back that up. The question is do you want that guy as your eBay author or speaker or consultant. You can "be an adult" and choose for yourself. I would choose someone with a better reputation… someone who doesn’t have to put up a defensive website.

I think putting up a defensive website is a bad sign.


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