Archive for May, 2008

eBay Live and RocketPlace

Friday, May 30th, 2008

We have two main events coming up, and we wanted to remind people who love to run into us at events!

eBay Live is 19-21 June. We’re in booth 735, which is in the middle of the room next to the TSAMs. I’ll be speaking at 6 sessions. So you basically can’t miss us!

Before that is eBay’s Developer Conference. I’ll also be speaking at one session that I’ll be repeating. So look for me there at those sessions, but possibly not at too much else since we’ll be building our booth.

After that is RocketPlace, 10-12 September 2008. This "get ready for holiday selling on eBay" conference event is at The Rio in Las Vegas. Registration is open, and space is limited! http://www.RocketPlace.com With eBay Live taking a break, and with how fast eBay is changing, the twice-yearly RocketPlace events will be an educational and fun way to keep your eBay and online sales strong and growing.


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Is That Charity A Joke?

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

I just heard about Music Rising. It is described as:

Musical instrument replacement fund developed by U2’s The Edge
to benefit musicians of the Gulf Coast who lost their instruments and
equipment in the 2005 hurricanes.

So let me get this right. Most of an entire town is homeless. The land their owned is worth nothing. They had to leave their homes and for some, their city. Tornados are killing people all over our country. People are hungry. Other countries right now are dealing with earthquakes and other natural disasters killing tens of thousands.

And out of all of the pain in the world right now, The Edge from U2 puts together a charity to help musicians get replacement equipment?

I’m sorry, but I can’t believe it. I’m a musician. I want musicians to have instruments and equipment. But if I have to pick feeding hungry people, educating people, or helping people in natural disasters, I’m going to make somebody wait for that Marshall stack.


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eBay’s New Links Policy Clarified

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Your’e hearing it here first… I finally got clarification on eBay’s new links policy. This post was revised at around 3pm PT with further information I got from a conference call. This allows me to rewrite my eBay Live presentation slides this weekend! :)

Part of the new links policy is that listings are limited to no more than 5 approved links. This was confusing. I just got a clarification, and here is what you should know…

* You cannot link to ProStores, Kijiji, Rent.com, or Shopping.com. I assume this goes for Craigslist too. :)

* There is now a 5-link limit to "eBay community content" and "eBay properties" such as PayPal, Stubhub, and Half.com. By community content, they mostly mean forum posts, reviews, blogs, and guides. And the wiki if you remember that. :)

* The 5-link limit does NOT apply to your email address. You can link your email address all you like. You can link to third party credits and tools, and you can link to off-site photo pages as long as they don’t offer items for sale. Photos only!

* You CANNOT have any Skype links or links off-site to
information-only pages. So if you have an eBay listing for a printer,
and it links to HP’s page for the specs on that printer, that’s no
longer going to be OK. Any info you want to give people has to be in
the listing (or within eBay like on a Custom eBay Store page).

* The About Me page can no longer have links off eBay. So if you’re promoting your website on your About Me page, that’ll have to go.

* Third party credits will have to link to a web page that describes the service or product that company provided. For example, rather than linking to our home page, our As Was Third Party Credit will actually need to link to our Services and Pricing page since that is where what we supplied to that eBay seller is explained.

* Oh, did you know that Auctiva isn’t using compliant third party credits, and is dropping in extra links into your listings? Well they’ll now have to stop as non-compliant third party credits will be cracked down on.

* Speaking on non-compliant, eBay actually WILL crack down on Third Party Endorsements. I’ve been warning people about those for YEARS, including last October 2007 in this here blog. That means that any link or logo (even an unlinked logo) from an outside company that is verifying trust, membership, or the like will NOT be allowed. If you are part of some sort of society, group that certifies you as something, PESA, or IMA, you will NOT be allowed to have a logo or link.

* The link limit does NOT apply to eBay Stores, Custom eBay Store pages, your About Me page, or your own cross-promotions. That includes galleries (Vendio Gallery, for example). Those will be ALLOWED and not limited.

* That means that clients with our Matrix service are OK as those are Store links and/or cross promotion links. And I was just specifically told that those are OK. As Was clients can stop worrying now. :)

And I’d like to remind a bunch of non-compliant sellers that HTML pull down menus are not allowed in listings. I don’t care how big you are or how much you sell. It’s against the rules because of keyword spamming, so stop doing it!

When are these changes going to be enforced?

The people I spoke to said that no specific date has been set, but it should be roughly mid-July 2008. That means that you have around 6 weeks to get your listings, Stores, About Me, etc… into shape. As Was clients, call us… we need to help you navigate these changes!


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eBay Live! 2008 Vendor Reviews????

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

I stumbled on a blog post, and can’t contact the writer since he seems to have no email address on his website, so I figured I’d comment here.

A blogger wrote that he will be reviewing vendors in booths at eBay Live, and he’s going to give the following awards:

  • Best new Vendor
  • Worst new Vendor
  • Best booth
  • Worst booth
  • Best Giveaway/Swag
  • Best Customer Service
  • Best discount
  • Most improved product/service/vendor from eBay Live! 2007

My gut reaction when I saw this was, "This is part of why eBay Live doesn’t work." Then I had a number of more specific thoughts. :)

  1. This reminds of some of the reasons why eBay Live doesn’t work for vendors. Everybody we know who exhibits at eBay Live does so at a great loss of finances and other resources. Now, we’re all exhibiting at a show where we lose money, and a blogger is going to judge our booths, look for the best free stuff, and who has the best discount. He’s going to judge companies he hasn’t worked with, and broadcast that "advice." That’s like meeting some doctors, and deciding which one will operate on you based on what he’s wearing that day.
  2. Most improved? I don’t know this guy. He doesn’t know us. How would he know if we were improved or not?
  3. Best giveaway? I wish that shows didn’t emphasise giveaways. I once had a woman come to my eBay Live booth, and bitch at me for not offering "enough free stuff" as she put it. I told her that free stuff isn’t free, and the more "free" stuff I offer, the more I have to charge my clients to pay for that free stuff. I think my clients would rather I give away less free stuff and charge them less!
  4. Worst new vendor. How will that be determined? Will this blogger hire everybody on the floor and see which company is the worst? Or will he just pick me because I’m not totally cool with his list of awards? :)
  5. Best customer service… again, wouldn’t you have to hire someone to REALLY know how their customer service is? We can all put our best faces forward in our booths, and then hey let’s admit it… not everybody has great service. So I’m not sure how you will know from talking to someone in a booth who has the best customer service. Not everybody in my booth even works for me… some are friends who just come and help me give things out! I wouldn’t want my entire company’s customer service judged by a friend who is giving things out!
  6. Best discount. I can only write a big sad face here. :( I think it should be Best Value. Which company is offering something that is really awesome for what you’re going to pay. One thing to remember about discounts is that very often, the non-discounted prices are inflated so that the company still makes money when they offer their great discount. I don’t know why we enable that behaviour! We don’t offer show discounts so that we can offer the same great prices all year round. Show discounts, to me, are an instrument of pressure… sign up by this date and take money off. Sign up any other day and pay our inflated prices! Why do we do that to people!?
  7. Worst booth. You know who has the worst booth at eBay Live? The good companies that I respect who can’t afford to come. eBay Live has become so expensive and the return often so little that some of my colleagues aren’t exhibiting at all… and they’re the best at what they do. Sellers need them. To me, the worst booths are the ones that are empty because my colleagues didn’t feel that attending was going to pay off. That’s a shame!!!

So to this blogger, I hope you will reconsider your awards. I would love to see you awarding companies doing great work… helping sellers… giving a lot of bang for the buck… having great reputations. I may have the worst booth, the worst free stuff, and the most non-existent discount in your opinion, but what if we’re the best company on the floor? What if we help people the most? What if the ROI is huge? Will it have been the best thing for your readers to only hear that we didn’t have enough free stuff to give away.


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Why Would I Hold A Check?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Last year, I won a lawsuit against someone. I had lent him money. He didn’t pay me back. The judge found in my favour. Hooray. :)

The guy now has to pay me (with interest), so he sends a bit of money here and there. Every check he sends, whether he writes it or his wife writes it, has hand-written on it:

VOID AFTER 60 DAYS OF ISSUANCE

What in all that’s holy makes these people think that I am going to wait any longer for their money? As in why would I actually get money from someone I had to sue to get it, and then sit on a check for months without depositing it? Every check they have sent me, I’ve deposited it the same week if not the first business day after I get it. I lent this guy this money in early 2006, and am JUST getting it now. There is no way I’m going to sit on the check for months without depositing it. That truly makes no sense.

So we’ll call it what it is. Some sort of sense of power. Well, congrats. You’re very powerful. You’re going to make me deposit that check on the day I was depositing that check anyway! Feel the power that you have!


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Red Light Cameras

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Tucson recently installed some red light cameras. I hadn’t thought much of them until the day I pulled into an intersection to make my left turn on a yellow light, and watched a zillion flashes go off (in the daylight) when the light turned red. I remember that day, and was pissed off when the red light cameras all went off as I knew I had entered the intersection on yellow, committed to finishing that left turn, and got stuck with the light turning red while I was already out there.

I just got the ticket and letter. $280 for "failure to stop at a red light." Well, I didn’t stop at a red light because it was yellow. The ticket came with four pictures: my license plate, a close-up of my face (the "driver"), and two photos of my car in the intersection after the light was red.

It wasn’t looking good, and didn’t match my memory of the day.

Until I noticed something on the page of photos. There was a URL with a notice number and PIN. I could go to a website to see these pictures AND a video they have of the whole thing.

What? A video? Yep. This is new to me.

I watched the video in real time, and at first, it looked like I ran the red light. That still didn’t match my memory of the event. So I went frame by frame in the video, looking at fractions of seconds, and then I shouted out in triumph. There are frames of the video that show my car already in the intersection with the light still yellow. That matches my memory of the day. I entered the intersection on a yellow, and it soon turned red.

The FAQ web page for our police department says you will only get a red light camera ticket if you enter the intersection after the light is red. I think the fractions of a second made the machines think I entered after the yellow was gone, but my memory and some still frames tell the real story!

Well, I think I won this one. Thanks to Tucson for taking a video of the whole thing. It looks like the video starts when the light turns yellow, runs for the evidently 3 seconds the light stays yellow, and then records for a few more seconds when the light is red. I’ll be requesting a hearing for this ticket, and if this isn’t enough, I’ll also be entering into evidence the laws of physics. Based on how fast I was going in the left turn lane before hitting the intersection, and based on when the video shows me entering the intersection, I didn’t have enough time to hit the brakes and NOT end up in the intersection OR NOT end up with the guy behind me possibly rear-ending me.

Look out for the red light cameras. No mercy here! But at least with the video, there will be justice. :)


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Why Is eBay Doing All Of This?

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

I wrote a post here about 2 weeks ago about why eBay would connect with buy.com, and somehow today woke up to a bunch of people commenting in it. The comments didn’t agree with each other, but that’s typical. :)

Someone commented, "Griff said the boycott didn’t work." Well, there’s didn’t work and didn’t work. He may have meant that the boycott really didn’t affect eBay’s bottom line or the shoppers’ experiences. But the idea of a boycott is usually to get a message across to the company or supplier. To me, the message got across, and that message was, "If we get crabby enough about what’s going on, we’ll leave." I believe that was the message the boycotters wanted to get across, and I think they got it across.

So with more changes just announced, why is eBay doing all of this?

I still think it’s quite simple, and when I tell people this, they tell me it makes sense. The typical "angry seller" may not like it, but I still think it’s what’s going on. Here it is:

You (sellers) didn’t change when eBay changed their fee structures, which many people agree was designed to make people list in different ways and with different strategies than before.

You didn’t change when people left you negative and neutral feedback about your service. You thought they were jerks out to hurt your precious percentage. No, some of that was real feedback from people who had real beefs with you, and you didn’t listen or change.

You didn’t change when eBay put rules out there like keyword spamming and not putting URLs or links in listings and Stores. You tried to get around it and still do those things because rules shouldn’t apply to you.

You didn’t change when eBay put together classes for you at eBay Live telling you better ways to do things. eBay Live isn’t JUST a community conference. The classes can be helpful, even to the larger PowerSeller.

You didn’t change when you decided that since you had your success doing things how you were doing them, nothing you were doing should change. You can call eBay execs egomaniacal if you want, but it’s egomaniacal to think that you’re doing everything right and don’t need to change because you have some success.

So eBay had to FORCE you to change. eBay had to create punishments and rewards (almost like for children) because you weren’t having any of it when eBay, your shoppers/buyers, and outside experts were suggesting that you change. Now you have no choice. Now, if you continue doing the same thing the same way, you can be put out of business.

eBay wants you to succeed. The idea that eBay wants to kill your business is something you tell yourself and the media to make yourself feel better and shift the blame. eBay would only want to kill the businesses of bad sellers who make good buyers leave eBay and tell friends eBay is bad. eBay wants the good businesses to thrive because it’s nice :) and because that’s how they make their money. They make money when good businesses sell things.

It’s like your doctor telling you for the 10th time to quit smoking and drinking because your diseases are now fatal, and you’re pissed off at the doctor (when you should be pissed off at yourself).

There is a large seller who got some free advice from me a few months ago. Her DSRs were failing, and to me, it was because she was not being clear about why her shipping charges were what they were. I don’t need anybody to lower shipping prices that are fair, but if shipping DSRs are low on fair shipping prices. then you need to do a better job communicating.

I gave her a long list of what to do with her listings to help communicate things that were getting lost on people and then disappointing them. Did she take my free advice? As far as I can tell, the only thing she did was add a video about her shipping. She didn’t re-order her info. She didn’t edit her listings, which are mostly 8 feet long, and are mostly an ocean of text that nobody wants to read.

So she didn’t change. She got the change or die message from her doctor, and she put a bandaid on a wart. She previously had a linked MP3 song about her shipping (which I didn’t listen to), and now she has a link to a video (rather than an embedded video). But she didn’t really change. She didn’t rewrite or edit things. She didn’t lay things out freshly. She just added more, and to me, sellers who keep adding more is how we ended up with 8 foot long listings that are oceans of text that we KNOW our shoppers aren’t reading.

So even without eBay’s changes, why do we still show our listings in ways that we know eBay shoppers aren’t reading or getting? On the flip side of that, we enjoy being the only company designing and rewriting listings to help people with this stuff. :) So we’re here for you! :)

To me, eBay is doing all of this this big and this fast because you didn’t take any of the subtle and not subtle hints that you’ve been getting the last 3-4 years. Now you’re getting the change or die message, and you seem to be surprised by it. Well, I’m sorry you didn’t use all the previous changes and info to improve.

Some of my clients did. Some of my clients are LOVING eBay right now because they are on top of everything. Their DSRs are high. They are high in Best Match. They are getting the big PowerSeller discounts. eBay isn’t screwing everybody or even most people. The sellers who resisted change and are still resisting change are mostly screwing themselves.

So what will those sellers do? Make a big fuss? Post comments in people’s blogs? Leave eBay forever? Sell somewhere else? How about Amazon, with all of its rules? How about other, newer marketplaces? Once they get big enough, they will change their rules too. What works in year 1 of a marketplace may not fly in year 2. Businesses and marketplaces evolve. Sellers need to evolve with them or in advance of them. Otherwise, you end up where you are now, and hey, we told you so.


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If Your English Is Not Good…

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

If your English is not good, that’s OK. If you are writing to me asking questions about eBay, and I don’t understand you, it’s not because I don’t know anything about eBay, or I am refusing to help you. If I tell you that I don’t understand your question, please try asking it again. If you are more comfortable in Spanish, please write to me in Spanish as I’m nearly fluent.

If I tell you I don’t understand your question, please don’t insult me and tell me that I know nothing about eBay. I am trying to help you for free, and insulting me is definitely not going to help you or help the language barrier.

Thanks.


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Tattoos

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

For the most part, I just don’t like tattoos. I don’t get most of them. I can appreciate the artistry of some of the better ones, but the message of many of them… well, sometimes it’s unsettling.

I was in a tattoo parlour recently. A house guest we had from out of town wanted to get a tattoo. I’m the chauffeur, and we went down to watch the last hour of the work being done. We spent some of our time looking around all the samples and artwork hanging around the shop. Here are some things I don’t get that people evidently tattoo on them.

* A heart with MOM on it. It’s just too Oedipal for my tastes.

* Messages about being hopeless. "Only Jesus can save me," "Only God will judge me," and other things with praying hands in handcuffs. If tattoos area reminders of things, why keep reminding yourself about feeling hopeless or un-redeemable.

* Images of children in sexual situations. I kid you not. One sample tattoo hanging up said, "JAILBAIT," in big letters. Above that was a drawing of a teenage girl wearing WAY too much makeup, and wearing a half shirt hoisted up to reveal large, bare breasts. On one side of this girl was a baby bottle, and on the other side was a teddy bear.

WHO THE HELL GETS THAT TATTOOED ON THEM? And is this person a father to daughters? What the HELL. Why is something like that even allowed? If we arrest people for having child porn, can we arrest someone for having a tattoo that seems to celebrate sexual relations with minors?

I just don’t get tattoos.


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Concert Etiquette

Monday, May 19th, 2008

To the fake supermodel in 4" heels who showed up at last night’s Sparks concert so stoned and/or drunk that she and her drink appeared to be on a rocky boat, do us all a favour, and stay home or stand at the back.

She kept trying to stand on us while saying we were crowding her. Then she spilled her drink on us. She didn’t seem too sorry. Then she had words with the person I was with because according to her, he was pushing her. He was standing motionless. I think it was her rocky boat thing. He told her that all he knew was that he was standing there and had space next to him, and now he has no space next to him. She had just pushed her way to basically stand on top of him, and started making mobile phone calls.

Then she poured about half her drink on me, and tried to tell me she was sorry. When I asked her if she really was sorry, she told me to chill out – this was a concert. I asked her why she was giving me advice, and I wiped the drink off my arm onto her designer jacket. I told her that she had been in everybody’s way, which was true given the number of people trying to get by her every few minutes.

I then decided that something had to come between me and her since she still had a drink and she was still on a rocky boat. A friendly British guy soon appeared, trying to make his way through the crowd. I basically stopped him between me and her, and engaged him in conversation. He stood there the rest of the night. Mission accomplished. :)

So folks, please. You may be a fan and know most of the words to most of the songs. But pouring your drink on people and talking about them really loud to your friends, who are standing next to the people you’re talking about, is just very age 11 and absolutely not impressive. It can ruin even supermodel looks. :) Chill out. It’s a concert. You don’t need to be pouring your drinks on people for fun. You should be beyond that development stage.


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