Archive for October, 2008

American Express Didn’t Stand Up For Me

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Many people have been reading about my Lenovo debacle, and a few people have told me that I should have bought the computer with an American Express card. Why? Because according to them, Amex has the best policies for standing up for you when something goes wrong.

I disagree, but mostly because I had to dispute a charge once, and Amex didn’t stand up for me.

In 2002, I went to London, England, and stayed in what was my favourite hotel. Good location. Cheap for London. :) I used a calling card that had a toll free number so I could keep in touch with people back in the USA.

When I went to check out, there were nearly $400 of charges on my bill for calling Malta or some weird country. I asked what that was. Long story short, the hotel’s computer didn’t recognise the toll free number, and thought it was a call to a foreign country. The hotel charged me as if I had been making long calls to Malta or something like that.

I told the hotel staff it was a free phone number, and if they weren’t sure, they could walk over to their pay phone (which you can see from the front desk) and call the number. They will find it’s a free phone number, and doesn’t require any money to go into the pay phone. Then, they can credit this to me because these were toll free calls.

I was told no, it doesn’t matter because if the hotel phone system thinks these are international charges, then surely they are, and surely the hotel will be charged international rates by their phone company. So why should they lose money just because I’m claiming they were toll free calls? I was told there was NO manager on duty who could help me, and that nobody on staff could adjust my bill.

I had to check out to catch a plane back to NY, and I didn’t feel like getting arrested for not paying my hotel bill. I believed that Amex would stand behind me, so I signed the charge slip, flew home, and disputed it with Amex as soon as I could. I sent them a 4-page letter explaining what had happened, proving these were toll free numbers, hating that no manager was on duty to discuss this or adjust my bill, etc…

The hotel won. What amazing piece of evidence did they send in that swayed Amex to their side? They faxed over a copy of me having signed the bill. They didn’t even write any prose. The idea was that I signed the bill, I must have agreed with the charges, and that’s that. I sent another 3 pages to Amex to fight this. The hotel faxed over a signed Amex receipt for the full amount including what I was disputing.

Amex found in the hotel’s favour. I was incensed. I don’t trust them to stand behind me any more than Visa or Mastercard will stand behind me. I will always feel that Amex owes me that $400.

You can tell me ALL the great "Amex stood behind me" stories that you want, and they won’t matter. When it was time for Amex to stand up for me for a whole $400, they didn’t. And that’s enough to piss me off for a really long time. I may use an Amex card again some day when I pull them out of the "time out" corner, but I will never believe that they will stand behind me in any bad situation. I will assume that it’ll be a fight, and maybe I win and maybe I lose.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Announcing 3 New, Easier Payment Plans

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Here at As Was, we are fielding more interest in what we do than we’ve seen before. Not only are people in love with our custom and unique designs, but they also understand the strategy help and advice that comes with our services. You don’t just get a pretty picture and a hardy handshake… we get to know your business, and work to improve sales and customer satisfaction, leading to higher DSRs. Did you read our study on the PowerSeller who tested her old eBay listings against the same pictures and information in the template we designed?

But with that high interest in our work comes economic concerns. And in this climate, it’s understandable. We want to try to make it easier for people to afford the best company out there (that’s us!), so here are our three new payment plans.

Each new client can choose whichever he or she likes for the services in your initial contract. As per our pricing page, the minimum for which you can hire us is for our "template and consulting" package at $2000. Many clients tend to add more services to their initial contract so that our work can have an even bigger effect up front.

  • Full payment up front. Pay your entire As Was contract in
    one payment when you sign the contract, and get a 5% discount. For
    example, if your contract is for template, 1-level matrix, and simple
    Store, you’ll be able to make one payment of $2,992.50 instead of
    paying $3,150.00 (the total of these three services).

  • Two payments. Upon signing your As Was contract, 50% of
    your contract total will be due. Six weeks later or when the tasks in
    your contract are finished, whichever comes first, the remainder will
    be due. For example, if your contract is for template, 1-level matrix,
    and simple Store, you’ll be able to make two payments of $1,575.00.

  • Three monthly payments. A third option is to pay your
    As Was contract over three monthly payments. We will add roughly 5% to
    your total as a finance charge. Your first payment is due upon contract
    signing, the second payment is due a month later, and the third payment
    is due a month after that. For example, if your contract is for
    template, 1-level matrix, and simple Store, you’ll be able to make
    three monthly payments of $1,110.00.

Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

George Clooney for President

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

I’ve been following politics more than I ever have in my LIFE. I don’t recognise myself. :) I’m even making new Twitter pals by finding cool people "tweeting" during the debates. Hi, new pals!

I’ve been thinking about who should be President, and my main criteria are:

  • Someone who knows "criteria" is plural, ahem John McCain. :)
  • Someone who is a great speaker.
  • Someone people want to listen to.
  • Someone with solid ideas but open to help and ideas from people who may know better.
  • Maybe this person isn’t a politician, but a political activist. Someone who cares about local, state, national, and global events, injustices, and changes.
  • Someone who gets out there and does things. Don’t just talk about it. Let’s see you mobilise people or get on a plane or DO something.
  • Someone with such broad appeal that he (or she) could bring the whole country together.

Therefore, I am suggesting that our President be George Clooney. I don’t go to his movies and I don’t think he’s hot. But I think he’s good at what he does, and is easy on the eyes. :) I think he speaks well when he talks about what’s near to his heart, and I think he’s clever. He could answer questions extemporaneously. He’s rarely (if ever) involved in any scandals, and the most the tabloids seem to be able to find on him is where he took a vacation. I’m sure they’re digging, and that’s all they can find?!

He’s somebody everybody would want. Who wouldn’t want to vote for him! But is he ready to lead as a President? Yes, and here is why.

I believe that the President of the US can be more of a figurehead. Did Reagan or "W" come up with every policy attributed to them? Probably not. They have a cabinet of people we know, and I’m convinced that the President has a shadowy cabinet of people we never get to know. These people fill them in where they don’t know the right answers or best ideas, and then the President can go out and make speeches that make people feel good. So whatever George Clooney can’t decide himself, someone will help him.

Who should be Vice President under Clooney? Well, thinking of the same kind of thing, I am really not sure. Which man or woman do you think would be a great unifying force, and would be dedicated to making the big changes and tough decisions that America needs to get back on track?


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Lower eBay FVFs Can Help Save The Economy

Monday, October 13th, 2008

OK, I have a weird idea here, and this is a long post. Stick with me on this. It’s more inspiring than watching CNBC right now. :)

Disclaimer: I am making this idea up. I have NO knowledge of any such plans being considered or undertaken by eBay. I hope they will do this because it’s a good idea. And I’m publishing it so that if they do it, I get to say "I told you so." :)

http://web.archive.org/web/20040211012310/http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/fees.html Remember early 2004? I do! Ah, the good old days. eBay Final Value Fees were much lower. I am asking eBay to drop their FVFs to these numbers, and to go back to the same FVFs no matter what category you’re in.

Problem 1: Between eBay and PayPal/credit card processing fees, someone can easily be losing 12%, 15%, even 18% of their sale price. We even had a client recently tell us her eBay fees were 20-25% of her sale price. This fee is probably most or even all of your entire markup. You can’t have money in your pocket when the costs of doing business leave you with little or no profit (or even a loss).

And what is your time worth? Even if you end up with a profit, if you are your worker, that money left over is your pay. If you spent an hour photographing, describing, determining the price, determining the best title, researching the best times and ways to list, answering questions, packing and shipping, dealing with any post-sale issues, etc… then whatever you made on that sale was your hourly pay. $1? $5? $10?

Problem 2: Sellers want to list items in
the WRONG category because the category they should be listing in has
higher FVFs than other categories. Bad idea since that would break
rules. Bad for shoppers trying to find you and your item.

Problem 3: What I’m calling the Negative Equity Mentality. People have become used to paying more than they should for things with ever-dropping values. My not-quite-2-yr-old car is in perfect condition, and I pay my car loan on time every month. I still owe over $26K on it, but the Blue Book on it is $19K. Your home? You may be one of those people who owes more than it’s worth. Things you’ve put on your credit card? The late George Carlin does a bit about people paying 18% for years on a $12 item they didn’t like when they bought it.

Here is an example of how this moves onto eBay. I once had a fight with a seller who told me that she buys her items for $9, and sells them on eBay for $10. I told her after her fees, she was LOSING money, and this was a BAD idea! "NO!" she barked back at me, "That’s a dollar I didn’t have yesterday!!!" Negative equity mentality.

We also know sellers who have ruined their product line on eBay by undercharging. I remember in 2004, I was selling body jewelry with my then-boyfriend. We got many pieces for 57 cents, sold them for $3.99 plus shipping, and undercut the mall and stores, which had the item for $12 and up. So we were doing OK, making a few dollars on each sale. A guy then started selling the same item for 99 cents. Even if he got it for FREE, by the time he pays all his fees, this is NOT going to be a major money-maker for him. He could have done better by undercutting us and charging say $3.49.

We actually got hate mail for charging $3.99 once this guy came on the scene. People were so mad that we wouldn’t price match because the item is only WORTH 99 cents. So not only did this guy ruin his own (and our) ability to make a profit. He priced it so low that the perceived value of the item plumetted. This is part of why manufacturers have MAP (minimum advertised price)… they don’t want you to sell an item for less than what they want the public to think it’s worth.

Problem 4: The economy. Hey have you seen our economy? It’s a mess. People can’t pay their mortgages. They are taking their kids out of good schools and putting them in stinky schools because they can’t afford the good school. There goes that kid’s education. People have to decide between eating and gassing up their car. They’re losing their jobs. They got into mortgages, credit card balances, and other things their either couldn’t afford then or just can’t afford now. People are losing their lives and homes. People are going without health insurance, procedures, or medications because they can’t pay for them.

As my husband put it on Friday, "I think we’ve seen five or six 1929’s over the last week or so." The Dow dropped 2400 points (22%) over the last 2 weeks. The credit markets are frozen. This is NOT a blip. Whatever any pundit or politician wants to call this, this is life-changing for just about everybody (other than the ultra rich).

Forget McCain’s proposed $2500/$5000 health care tax credit, or Obama’s tax drops, though you probably would like to have both. Serious eBay sellers seeing their fees drop like this could actually help the middle class. There are over 1 million people who make a full-time or part-time living selling on eBay. Make them more profitable, and it can ripple out. Maybe they can pay their workers on time, or hire the people they had to lay off. That’s a million people who might make their mortgage payment more easily this month. This could be big.

How does eBay slashing FVFs solve problems? Because math can be your friend. :) Let’s take a few examples for someone who sells around 500 items per month (17 items each day):

  • $10 sale price. FVF now, $1.20. Feb 2004 FVF, $0.53. Sell 500/month, and $335 goes back into your pocket.
  • $50 sale price. FVF now, $6. Feb 2004 FVF, $2. Sell 500/month, and $2,000 goes back into your pocket.
  • $100 sale price. FVF now, $9. Feb 2004 FVF, $3.37. Sell 500/month, and $2,815 goes back in your pocket.

OK, maybe the low ASP seller gets his gas money back for the month. But look at the other sellers. One month of these lower FVFs could pay a month of a mortgage. For many people, that one month could be TWO months of their mortgage, and NOW the economy is getting stimulated. Now people have that money to keep their kids in the good school… or pay down that credit card… or hold onto their homes… or buy something from that local shop… who can then keep their staff employed and the shop open.

This would be a marketing COUP for eBay, and could raise their stock price. Their stock price is partially a reflection of consumer confidence and what the media and experts say about them. What would the media and experts say about eBay if eBay made a move that could almost be seen as a "bail out" of the American middle class? eBay would be helping Joe Six Pack pay his mortgage and keep his house. I’m no economics expert, but I think that if people saw buying and selling stimulated on eBay, and public feelings about eBay improved, that could help their stock price. Which means a winning situation for EVERYBODY.

More items on eBay. Sellers being able to move their inventory, especially during the holiday selling season. Best Match showing shoppers lots of great items from great people, many of these people are the hard-working middle class just trying to make a full-time living on eBay or possibly desperately-needed side money. Joe Six Pack gets to keep his house… or get that medication he needs… or put his kids back in the better school.

This is a crisis, and eBay could help. Think about it. Do your own math. Based on your eBay sales, especially what they tend to be during the holiday season, how much more could you put back in your pocket with 2004 fees instead of 2008 fees? Would it solve your economic concerns right now? Does it pay your mortgage or rent? Does it put money in your pocket that you can save? Does it give you money to put back into the economy and put into play?

If you feel how I do, blog about it. Link back to this post, and let people know how a drop in eBay fees would change your life. Does it pay your mortgage? Does it allow you to create a job? I would love to know how this could work. I believe eBay is listening to people now, and we can at least communicate this to them in a friendly and honest way. Let’s let eBay know how lower FVFs could help save the economy. :)


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Lenovo: “I wish I didn’t have to help you…”

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Have you been following my earlier blog posts about my horrible experiences with Lenovo? Well, for 2 years, I was trying to get them to replace a faulty laptop that they couldn’t fix, over and over. That’s the short version. The story ended yesterday.

It started when someone from some sort of customer care department called me. His attitude told me he was not there to help me, even though he claimed that was his job. He told me the reason why my laptop didn’t get fixed when it was at the depot last month was because nothing was wrong with it. Everything tested to be totally fine. I told him that the tech team were high because they didn’t fix my problems. He told me he was very insulted that I would say such a thing about his co-workers, and he was taking it personally. Really? This is now YOUR emotional issue? I’ve been fighting Lenovo for 2 years, I’m frustrated, but YOU’RE insulted that I might think the tech team that’s had this laptop twice might NOT be the best at their jobs? OK, Tyrone in the North Carolina office, I am so sorry I hurt your tender feelings about your co-workers.

The message? I’m crazy, and I have nothing better to do than to create a two-year hobby of trying to get Lenovo to fix a good machine. I called back and asked for somebody else who might actually care about my situation. I got Janice, a "Customer Complaint Advocate." She immediately sounded unhappy to talk to me, but was saying that helping me was her job. So I can only imagine that my account is flagged as some sort of whiny troublemaker that people should get off the phone. Otherwise, you’d think a Customer Complaint Advocate is there to listen to me and help.

She basically said what Tyrone said, and her attitude was palpable. So basically, the computer works fine, and according to her, the techs did me a FAVOUR by updating the system software. I should evidently be grateful to the techs for what they did. According to her, everything works fine, and if there is anything wrong with my computer, it’s my fault. It’s something I installed, and Lenovo doesn’t support customer-installed software. She didn’t care about my 2 years of problems with the machine or how Lenovo staff are treating me.

So somehow, the software I use simultaneously on my old Dell Laptop, new HP laptop, and this Lenovo laptop is bad and causes blue screens, so it’s my fault. But somehow, the only blue screens I get are on the Lenovo laptop. But it’s all my fault and problem, and Lenovo can’t fix it when it’s my fault.

While I’m talking to her, the computer is blue screening. I boot it up, I put in the password, and about 10 min later, it blue screens and reboots. All on its own. She tells me that I must have some bad peripheral plugged in. Nope, I tell her all my peripherals are plugged into my new HP laptop, which replaced this Lenovo. She says I must have something in the USB, maybe an external hard drive. No, I can do this. I can see that I have not plugged anything into the Lenovo other than the power cord. Am I using the computer? No, I just turn it on, put in my password, and let it sit there.

I ask her what does Lenovo do if I go to outside computer shops like Geek Squad, have them diagnose the computer, and THEY find heaps of things wrong with it. Will they then believe me that it’s faulty? Will they ever replace it? She tells me they don’t care what anybody else says about the machine. It won’t matter what Geek Squad finds wrong with it. Lenovo techs found it to be completely working, and they go by that. She told me Lenovo will NEVER replace my computer because it works fine, but she doesn’t understand why I’m getting blue screens, so she’ll have me send it in AGAIN. OK, but I know they won’t do anything, especially while they have to keep up the "nothing’s wrong with it, and if something is, it’s your fault and not under warranty" thing.

Janice and I end up joking about spam email, and I asked which candidate we can vote for to end spam email. She said, "That would be Al Gore." I jokingly said, "I’m starting to miss that guy." She replies, "Well, now that you said that, I wish I didn’t have to help you."

Really. You so don’t like the idea that I might say something nice about a guy who happens to be a Democrat that you wish you didn’t have to help me. My reply to her was, "Get on the pile of Lenovo people who aren’t helping me!"

She emailed me a mailing label for sending the computer back in for more service if I wanted it looked at again. By then, everybody I knew was telling me to just stop with Lenovo. Stop wasting my time. This computer will never be what I wanted or paid for. Lenovo will never stand behind their own warranty. I’ll never have enough faith in this to put important data on it. And once you’re dealing with people who start out disliking you and wish they didn’t have to help you because you might not have the same politics, you’re not going to win. But my husband has come up with a good idea on how to use the Lenovo. I tell Janice I won’t send it back until I do more testing to make sure the problems are still happening.

My husband is working on turning the Lenovo into a "hackintosh." That’s what should be a Windows computer running a Macintosh OS. He has really wanted a Mac, and now is his big chance. I’m selling this one cheap. :)

And that’s the end. The Lenovo story ends with a whimper as Lenovo wins. You win, Lenovo. You got my $2500, and you should be proud of how you beat me down. Only took you two years. I’m sure it has taken others much less time to give up on you. I recently saw a new book that claims that one unhappy customer tells 3000 people. When I think about how things ripple out, I can believe that. So remember that by making one person unhappy… by not replacing my computer, which probably costs you internally about $700, 3000 people may know my story. Some of them may choose to not buy from you because of it. I hope your financial savings will be worth it. I’m a marketing person, and I’d say it wasn’t.

I also hope that someone in Lenovo tracks down Janice (I have her last name, but don’t want to type it here) for saying what she said. I hope that call was recorded. I can’t imagine my staff saying something like that to a client. I hope 3000 people read what Janice said to me, and buy someon else’s laptop.

Thanks!


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Web of Customer Service Lies

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

The web of customer service lies… I’d imagine nearly all of us have experienced this.

  • You take your computer to the shop, and they magically can’t find ANYTHING wrong with it.
  • You go to the doctor with complaints, and they can’t find anything wrong with you.
  • You take your car to the mechanic, and even though they drove it for 2 days, they just never heard that noice.
  • And OK, maybe they didn’t hear the noise and maybe you are fine!

But what happens when these things are actually part of a larger web of lies? What’s left for the customer to do?

Take my experience with Lenovo. My T60p ThinkPad laptop has never worked right, and I’ve been calling tech support there for 2 years. It went back to the repair depot twice in 2007, and I just sent it in again. I sent it in with a 3-page list of what’s wrong with it and my history with it. And guess what. They found NOTHING wrong with it and fixed nothing. I got back a laptop with ALL the same problems. But they’re claiming nothing was wrong.

This leads me to a number of conclusions:

  1. They will never find anything wrong with this computer. If I sent it back again, they would HAVE to find it totally working. To find it NOT working would raise questions about why they found it to be fine in Sept 08.
  2. To find it NOT working, now or in a future visit to the depot, would make me right, and would support my requests for a replacement maching or my money back.
  3. This is cover your ass in a big way. By making it seem like the computer is just fine, Lenovo gets to cover their ass and say that it’s working just fine.

This is incredibly wrong and unfair, and cheaters will always lose out. I plan my next move against Lenovo now…


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

What Survives in a Down Economy

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

This is my opinion. I’m no economist. But my theory is that some businesses can do well in a down economy. I remember my grandparents’ stories of The Great Depression, and I was surprised how many of my grandparents did OK during it. Evil Grandma Rose’s family were bakers and had a bakery. People still needed bread, and whatever they didn’t sell, they ate. Well, today we get bread in a supermarket, but I still think some businesses will do OK in a down economy.

Entertainment. Relaxation. I think that these will do well. Even when times are tough and it’s hard to pay bills, people will want some diversions. They may not afford the vacations they used to take, or maybe any vacation, but they will still want to escape from things a bit. This is where entertainment comes in.

I know people who are going to sell their personal possessions to get their kid a Wii this Xmas. I know people who may cut some things out, but are still buying concert tickets for their favourite artists and tours. I think you may not buy the CD but you may see the tour. And these aren’t cheap tickets. I’m still hoping to have a honeymoon this year, but I’m thinking about budgeting a bit less than before.

I think online sellers should do well if you have bargains. Now is not the time to open the boutique, luxury website with the $900 cigarette lighter (sorry to the person who recently called to show me her website). Now’s the time to be high in the food chain, have the great prices, and get these things online. There are still things people need or want, but they want them at Walmart or lower prices.

I think eBay and many eBay sellers can survive in this economy. I think eBay should lower FVF because I think they’re too high. Many sellers are paying 12-20% of their sale price to eBay and PayPal. That’s going to be most if not all of many people’s markups, especially on lower-priced items. I think eBay can stimulate selling if fees weren’t such a huge chunk of the sale price.

I think that people will look to cut costs anywhere they can. One person who called me said that her accountant questions her on anything that costs more than $5 per month (for subscriptions). I think people will cut $5 anywhere they can. Cut $5 once, and you still can’t gas up your car. But cut it in a few places, and it adds up. I think people will cut absolutely everything they can.

When it comes to eBay software companies, we are having a hard time getting people to sign on with the more expensive companies (not naming names). We know these are good companies and good services, and if we’re recommending them, it’s because they match the needs the client is expressing to us. But we can’t get people to commit to such large fees. I even asked one of these companies to help me and give me some selling points I can use. They told me their system is more stable than other systems. OK, it is, but I still can’t get people to open their wallets. They didn’t seem to have anything else.

So eBay sellers are moving towards the less expensive software tools. And hey, if they have all the features you need, we’re for that! I’m just mentioning this as part of the move this whole year towards people really wanting to cut expenses they don’t deem as necessary. If one company wants $500 per month and another wants $300 per month, even if I talk the higher-priced one up, I am watching people choose the cheaper one time after time.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

When The Freebie Isn’t Enough

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

I know from talking to eBay sellers and other online sellers that sometimes, you feel like you need to give someone something for free to smooth over a major bump. Maybe you shipped the totally wrong item, the customer got mad, so when you shipped the right item, you threw something else in. That’s an apology, and it’s tangible, and many people will respond favourably to it.

But they are responding to you fixing the problem. The freebie is an extra. You could have just said "sorry," and maybe most people would have been OK with that. Maybe that would have smoothed things over.

The trick is to remember that the freebie WITHOUT a real "sorry" and/or a freebie without making the original problem right doesn’t work. If you shipped that person the wrong sweater, you couldn’t send them the matching pants for free without shipping them the RIGHT sweater, and have fixed that issue.

If you haven’t been following my troubles with Lenovo, this post is part 2, and has a link to part 1. My point is that Lenovo didn’t fix my broken computer, but sent me a docking station to apologise for the troubles I had. OK, the free docking station is nice, and hearing that Lenovo never sends anybody anything free made me feel like somebody there almost cared.

But when I have a ThinkPad T60p computer that doesn’t work, tech support can’t help, and the fix-it depot gets it numerous times and doesn’t fix it, then the free"we’re sorry" is really empty and meaningless. There’s only so much a docking station for a non-working computer feels like an apology. It absolutely does NOT fix the bump in the road.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

eBay Seller Sees Sales Skyrocket After Only Changing Listing Design

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Tucson,
AZ — In a marketplace where most sellers think that
all you need for success are good products, good pricing, and good seller
reputation (feedback and DSRs), would listing design really make any
difference? Judy Oglesby of eBay seller “BluePennyLady” hired As Was, eBay’s
first Certified Service Provider, in the summer of 2008 for their template and
consulting package. As Judy is a liquidator and selling a wide variety of
items, the plan was to do A/B testing, comparing the style and layout of Judy’s
existing listings to the custom and unique design created from scratch by As
Was.

 

View
BluePennyLady’s original listing style and layout here: http://www.aswas.com/template-bpl-before.jpg.
Her new As Was template is here: http://www.aswas.com/template-bpl.jpg.

 

Judy’s
sales have skyrocketed. Items that were listed over and over but never sold now
sell quickly. Shoppers who had been confused about her policies and now very
clear. Judy said, “I know my seller friends are impressed with the template,
are asking me questions concerning how my sales have climbed. I have seen
almost a 30% increase in sell through rate in the last two weeks. I think it is
simply the template design.”

 

 

Judy’s
reports on her A/B testing were as follows:

  • After 10 days of running both old-style listing and As Was design listings, watchers
    on the As Was design listings were at least twice in number of those same items
    listed with Judy’s old template. Bidders who placed bids on numerous listings
    chose to bid on the As Was design listings before placing bids on items listed
    using Judy’s old template.
  • Between August 27, 2008 and September 2, 2008, the As Was design was being used
    in 13% of auctions but represented 50% of the successfully ended auctions.
  • In mid-September 2008, Judy announced at the RocketPlace conference that the As
    Was design was being used in 30% of her listings but represented 90% of her
    sales.
  • By late September 2008, the As Was design was being used in 50% of Judy’s eBay
    items but represented 90% of her sales.
  • As Was design Fixed Price items sold more quickly, some in less than 24 hours
    as opposed to the normal 36 to 48 hours.
  • The quantity sold from As Was design Fixed Price items also increased.
  • Judy’s Store traffic has increased, having changed nothing other than the
    template. She even removed the eBay Store categories from being displayed in individual
    listings weeks before using the new As Was template. Judy is finding that her buyers
    are entering her eBay Store from the template instead clicking on the Store
    link elsewhere on the individual item page.

Judy
also had examples of how inventory that had not moved in a while suddenly
started to sell with the As Was template.

  • “I listed some dry storage camping bags that have been listed since May 24, but
    had not sold a single one in my old design. I listed them in the As Was design
    at 5:30 pm CST and sold some by 6:37 pm CST.”
  • She moved product that had not sold after multiple listings in the old design to
    the As Was design template making no other changes as far as image layout,
    title, format, or time of day. Roughly 25% of those auctions sold by simply
    moving the product to the As Was design.
  • “I have had these Donner toothbrush/cup holders listed four different times
    without selling a single one. I moved them to the As Was design on September 10th,
    and they are now selling.”
  • “I have Amerock cabinet pulls listed ten times, 30 days at a time, and not sold
    one. I listed them with the As Was template, and they are selling.”
  • Judy explains, “Quite a few of the listings I changed over to the As Was design,
    which had not sold in a coons age, sold over the weekend as fixed price or
    Store listings. Staff noticed items that had not shipped out in a very
    long time, probably months. The stuff had been listed, but didn’t sell. If it
    were only one or two lots, I would tend to believe it was simply timing. But
    that is not the case.”

As
Was uses design to try to communicate important points that shoppers were
missing, leading them to feel confusion, frustration, and disappointment. When
buyers have questions, they often end up buying from other sellers; even if you
answer their question quickly, the shopper may have hit the back button and
bought from someone else. Therefore, it’s important that an eBay listing give a
shopper complete trust, and leave them with no questions.

 

Quite
a few buyers have been emailing Judy on how eye-appealing her design’s new look
is.

  • “I can easily remember you combine shipping because the Mule says it.”
  • “The goose stating "Ask me a question" makes me want to email. It is
    much more relaxing and friendly than a statement saying “have any questions,
    click here.” “
  • Judy is getting comments about the top of the template being interesting, and
    making shoppers want to scroll down to see what this seller has to offer.
  • Judy is getting comments about how the template depicting Judy’s life on her
    ranch makes people feel that it’s wonderful it is to have the "dream life"
    everyone else would like to have. The design makes people feel comfortable, and
    they love the feel of it. Buyers are sending Judy pictures of their own farms
    and ranches.
  • One repeat buyer Judy had not seen in a long time recently purchased product
    yesterday, and told Judy he just had to buy something and let her know how much
    he enjoyed the new look.

Learn
more about As Was at http://www.aswas.com.

About As Was

 

As Was is a full-service consulting
firm specializing in branding, design, sales and marketing strategies,
operations management, and training for eBay and online sellers. As Was has
been making the world’s marketplace your marketplace since it was founded in
April 1995, and has been an eBay Certified Service Provider since August 2004.
For more information, please visit www.aswas.com or call 520.204.1935.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

eBay and Bill Me Later

Monday, October 6th, 2008

eBay bought Bill Me Later. PayPal already had PayPal credit, PayPal credit cards, and various PayPal flexible payment stuff. Those aren’t owned by eBay as far as I can tell. My little PayPal credit account comes from GE Money. So if I incur interest on a balance, GE Money gets it. If PayPal gets anything, that’s between GE Money and PayPal, but if I’m paying interest, it’s to GE Money.

Why buy Bill Me Later? I’m still trying to figure that out.

Bill Me Later extends credit to people, and lets them pay for things on their own terms. If you pay in full by a due date, you are assessed no interest. So you don’t have to pay interest to have credit. That’s a nice thing!

If you don’t pay in full by the date, you get hit with back interest, and then more interest will be coming. So that’s not as nice. Plus, with such flexible payment options (like pay nothing now if you don’t want to), it’s easy to lose track, and end up owing lots of interest later.

So why would eBay get into that business? The only thing I can think of is that if you can deal with the money being "out there," if you can deal with the deadbeats who won’t pay or will declare bankruptcy, if you can wait for the interest on the people who will end up having to pay it, then lending money can be profitable. Lending money in THIS economy seems just a bit risky.

eBay will have to sit on this stuff for a while for it to make more sense. This is not the best time to be a creditor. But eBay doesn’t seem to be making the interest money on PayPal’s stuff because of what lenders are behind it. Why not just buy GE Money? I think they’re must more interesting than Bill Me Later. But BML was integrated with Amazon… maybe eBay wants to try to make money on interest payments for things people buy from Amazon.

Maybe eBay wants to track who buys what kinds of things from Amazon. That’s my best theory so far!

And will Amazon keep accepting Bill Me Later with eBay owning it. Who knows!


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr