Archive for January, 2009

Dan, The Guy Who Comments in My Blog

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Dan. Dan likes to comment in my blog. Dan says things that really lean toward him being a major Frooition fan. And that's OK! You're allowed to like companies even if I don't like them. I allow that here. :)

Dan pushes me, and picks, and asks questions. I answer them all seriously. People like to be taken seriously, and I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt.

My last reply to Dan asked him to give me his real email address because he challenged me to prove where in the past Frooition had planted blog posts to make my company look bad (since I said they had). Haven't heard back yet. Maybe because the work day is ending in the UK… it's past 5pm there now!

I decided to take a look at Dan's comments in my blog. Typepad shows you the name they give, and links their name to what they put in as a web address. Dan keeps linking his name to a website about anger management. I guess he's having issues with anger. :)

I decided to take a moment and look at the other information Typepad collects when someone posts a comment. Typepad tells me the email address he put in was noreply@test.com. Well, that's not really helping now is it. But the IP number tells me something.

Dan's identity revealed

You guessed it, Dan works for Frooition. Or he's Michael or someone else there who's out there commenting in message boards and blogs today. Is that you, Michael? I know you're just doing what someone asked you to do. And hey, nothing I'm out there saying should reflect personally on you. I don't think you make policy there.

That means when Dan referred to Frooition as "these guys" in his blog comments, I think he meant these guys, just like him, sitting right there with him. :)

So Dan, you wanted to see an example of Frooition posting anti-As Was crap in my blog, I think your comments might qualify. :) And since you work there, you'll know about the stuff you guys were pulling in late 2007 that I sleuthed.

Case closed, Dan! See you around. :)

Update:

Dan claimed that he doesn't work for Frooition. I emailed Typepad to ask if an IP number that comes in with a post could possibly be wrong. They said NO.


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Frooition Truth Comes Out: “Upgrade” Or Uninstall

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

I just found this page. It FINALLY tells the truth, so I am VERY excited to share this with everybody. Let's look at some highlights.

Froostoresfaq1

FACT: The Frooition Store could be considered an upgrade to their current Store. However, it is a solution to a problem. Notice this upgrade didn't come out until eBay announced new Stores including their initiative to crack down more strongly on eBay Stores that break the Site Interference rule. So I don't think it's true to say that new Frooition Stores are just an optional upgrade.

Froostoresfaq2

FACT: This is absolutely true, and the one thing I want all Frooition Store customers to see and completely understand. You have two options: pay Frooition to get their "new" Store OR remove your Frooition Store from your eBay account, and completely stop using it.

Note that there is no option to continue using the Frooition Store you have now. This is because these Stores continue to be non-compliant, and naturally break in the new eBay Stores environment.

Froostoresfaq3

FACT: 
The question here is actually not answered in their answer. Smooth! The Store is "distorted" because eBay's new Stores are stripping out most of the coding that would make an eBay Store non-compliant. The "distorted" Store you see is what's left after that's removed, and even then, there are still non-compliant elements in what's left.

Froostoresfaq5

FACT: Frooition's new Stores will be compliant. They will have to take out the coding and design formatting that was breaking eBay's rules. Frooition's old/current Stores (as of when I'm writing this) were not compliant, which was why they are breaking and would be unusable.

So, to sum up in a spin-free zone…

  • These Store designs break an eBay rule that's been around since 2004.
  • There is no good excuse they could use that would explain why they sold you a Store they would have known was non-compliant.
  • If your Store looks distorted in the new Stores preview, it's because eBay is stripping out the code they want to make sure is NOT in Store designs anymore. That rule-breaking code was the centre of what you were sold, and now it's gone.
  • Frooition will charge you to fix it. Our contract says that we don't charge for fixes you need because of something we do that breaks an eBay rule at the time we do it. That's our fault, and we should fix that for free, don't you think?
  • Your other choice is to remove the Store you bought from Frooition. Have no Store design or hire someone else to do your Store design. I'd recommend my company of course, but you have plenty of choices.
  • Your Frooition Store is toast, and it's only a matter of time before it breaks, and you will have to uninstall it or replace it.

Someone asked me why I'm so angry or what is my vendetta. I'm angry because I think this is unjust. I don't have a vendetta. I see myself as a "consumer advocate" and finally I get to expose what's going on. It's no longer, "Deb says these Stores are non-compliant and will someday break." Now it's, "These Stores are non-compliant, and you can count the days until they break."

I guess this would be like hiring an accountant to do your taxes. He's an expert, and he's going to get everything right. And then you find out he used tax laws from 2003, so some things got messed up for you. Now, he thinks you should pay for him to redo your taxes.

A friend and colleague said it would be like having a season ticket to a football stadium, but they go and hang a giant placard that blocks your view… and then they expect you to keep that seat (and see nothing) or pay again for a season ticket in another seat. I think he has the better analogy than my accountant one, so he wins!

OK my husband wins. He heard about the previous analogy, and went for, "It's like buying a season ticket in a crumbling, old stadium with safety issues, and your team moves to a new stadium, but you're still sitting in the old seat in the crumbling stadium." My husband is really funny, or so I think. Put your analogy in the comments below! :)

If Frooition would just be honest with people, I'd have nothing to say. Today's blog post might be about coffee creamer or something. :) If Frooition didn't keep doing things I felt were disadvantageous, deceptive, or harmful to sellers (my opinion), I wouldn't be doing a consumer advocate exposé about them doing these things.


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2-6 Weeks for Delivery??

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

You see them all day or evening… short-format TV commercials trying to get you to call and order an item. Amazing hangers! Amazing food bags! Amazing everything.

Call now to get TWO sets! It all reminds me of the Bloom County cartoon when Opus loses his mind while watching these commercials, and calls to order the "Ronco Pocket Nose Picker and Yogurt Scrambler."

I was looking at the last screen of these commercials, where usually in tiny print, you can learn the shipping and "processing" charge (it's not handling anymore) as well as when it'll get to you. You know the shipping and processing probably pays for the item.

But most interesting is the fine print about delivery time. Most of these commercials say something like "please allow 2-6 weeks for delivery." Which makes me say…

  • I can't imagine an eBay, Amazon, or other online seller getting away with that! In 2009, who wants to buy something today, especially an impulse item, and get it in nearly 2 months?!
  • In 2009, they can't find a way to fulfill orders faster? They don't have any ready to go? Multiple warehouses?
  • Are they using that time frame to actually first PRODUCE the product? Like hey, it's NOT in our warehouses, but when we get enough orders, we'll make some!

This just seemed like one thing that hasn't caught up with the times. We all have cell phones, credit cards, email, and other things helping our lives be faster and more immediate… yet buying from TV looks like it still comes to you via Turtle Express.


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Dissecting a Press Release about eBay Stores

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Oh man, this Stores thing is just getting more and more bizarre! One of the other design companies put out a press release, and there are so many not-true things in there, some people suggested that I write about it. I guess this week, I am official Debunker and Whistle Blower. :)

Firstly, what's missing from this press release?

  • This company admitting that they build and sold people non-compliant designs and Stores that they KNEW were not compliant. This is true.
  • This company admitting that their Stores WILL break.
  • What they're going to charge people to fix the Stores that never should have been broken.
  • That before this press release came out, they were telling current and potential clients that eBay is wrong and this change is only for US sellers.

So here are some quotes from this press release.

QUOTE: "The easiest way to describe the changes is to say that
eBay is rolling out a new version of its store software. Just like any piece of
software goes from V1 to V2 as it develops. In turn Frooition.com have adapted
their own software so that customers have the choice of upgrading to eBay's new
store or staying as they are."
Says Phillip Molloy,
President, Frooition inc.
"

FACT: No, you don't get a choice as to whether or not you upgrade or change your Store. If you have an Advanced eBay Store, it is going to break if it is not fixed or redone. You can't stay as you are. You just can't.

FACT: eBay is upgrading their Stores to what they call v4, but in this case, what's going to outlaw these Advanced Stores is eBay deciding to crack down more strongly on Stores that were breaking the rules. These rules have been around for years, so this is NOT something new.

QUOTE: "Much of our time here at Frooition.com is spent keeping
on top of the many changes and modifications which eBay make to their software.
Frootion.com has a long history of keeping customers stores looking amazing as
well as running smoothly. This keeps Frooition.com customers focused on selling
and shields them from software issue which they don't need to know about!"

said Adrian Bausor, Head of Development, Frooition inc.

FACT: If they are dedicating that much time to what they're calling eBay software, why didn't they choose to be compliant earlier? The rule they're breaking came out in 2004. We were told about it in 2004. We've been blogging, teaching, talking, and getting it out there for years. We even printed it in our 2008 brochure!

FACT: Software issues you shouldn't need to know about it? Like your design company built you something they knew wasn't compliant? I think you SHOULD know about that.

My point since the announcement came out is to make sure people have the truth. Hire whoever you want. Give Frooition the chance to fix stuff, or don't. Hate me for saying their name, or thank me for saying their name. But you need to know these things. You need to have all the info to make the best decisions for you, and you shouldn't fall for the spin.

Some people said I'm badmouthing a competitor. Firstly, we don't compete with them and never have. You can't get what they do from us, and you can't get what we do from them. That's not my competition. Second, I have tried to get this info out in subtle ways without saying their name. I tried for years. Nobody would listen. Now, sellers have another stressful thing to deal with when they really don't need it. It may cost them more money when it should never have had to. I thought maybe it was time to just put it out there totally honestly.

Say what you want about me. Say it's bad manners to point at someone doing the wrong thing. But so far, nobody has said that I'm wrong. What I'm saying is true. You may not like my delivery style, but you're getting the truth. Forget about my delivery style, and work with the truth. :) Maybe one day you will thank me for telling you the truth and the whole story.


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I Never Expected This To Be The Lie

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

When eBay announced their changes to Stores, I assumed that some design companies would feel like they had to lie to people so that their companies didn't look so bad for selling them something that wasn't compliant.

But I didn't expect these companies to tell people that eBay is wrong. Their Store won't break (when it will). Or that this is only happening for eBay US customers.

So people may not like my out-there style, but I need people to know the truth.

This will affect UK Stores, soon. eBay is right. Heavily customised Stores will break, and they will.


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New eBay Seller Compliance Workshops

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/aswas

We have scheduled a live internet radio show every Wednesday at noon Eastern time. It's all about helping eBay sellers be more compliant with rules, both the new rules that eBay announces as well as old rules. Just because you flew under the radar in the past doesn't mean you'll be able to keep flying under the radar! Really? Yes! Read on!

Yesterday, eBay's Stores announcement included more formally outlawing non-compliant eBay Store designs. This means thousands of eBay Stores will break, including Stores that people paid "professional" companies to design. This is bad!

The 15 Jan 09 deadline on getting references to paper payments out of your eBay templates and listings also shines a light on eBay rules and compliance issues.

So it's time to look compliance. Most eBay sellers don't know all of eBay's rules, especially as they have been evolving. This means that many sellers are breaking rules by mistake, and certainly some are breaking rules on purpose.

Non-compliance is bad for two reasons.

  • Firstly, the obvious… if you break rules and eBay cracks down on you, that's on your record. You could get suspended, and that can affect how you show up in search since compliance is part of the Best Match algorithm along with seller performance.
  • Second, the art of the scramble. When eBay cracks down on new or old rules, you probably need to change. This means time and money. For some people, the change feels impossible. We have a client who has over 6,000 items on eBay at any given moment. Any change that requires him to change something in all of his listings will be costly at the very least, certainly time-consuming, and nearly impossible at the worst!

So join us for our weekly talk radio show. Call in or get into the live chat. We'll take a look at what you're doing, and let you know what changes you should make. No, talking about non-compliant things won't make you a target for eBay. They will be glad you care and are cleaning things up.


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eBay Stores: Who Ya Gonna Call?

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Right now, there are some sellers who are worried about their eBay Store design and it compliance after today's announcement by eBay.

We're here to say DON'T WORRY. Contact us. Even if we didn't do your Store, we can quote you a price on doing whatever work it needs. Many will need to be rebuilt, some will need small fixes.

You might even decide that since you have time before you HAVE to use the new Stores layout, you can hire us for the template as well.

A designed, compliant Store is nice. But a designed, compliant, effective eBay listing template is even better. People might search, find, buy from you, or choose to not buy from you without ever seeing your Store. Therefore, we think you should be thinking about your listings, and what we can do for you.


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eBay Announces Changes to eBay Stores

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

eBay just made an announcement about eBay Stores. We support it! We think it's great that some changes to how an eBay Store looks will help the site be more consistent. That can only help shopping and buying. But the announcement raises some issues. Here is our press release:

As Was Assures The Compliance Of
Their eBay Store Designs

 eBay’s
announcement on January 13, 2009 means that so-called “Advanced” eBay Stores
that use certain design and coding will no longer display correctly, and must
be phased out immediately. Are you one of thousands of eBay sellers who paid an
“eBay Store design specialist” for an eBay Store that now has to be replaced?

For the last few years, eBay sellers who called
As Was looking for an “advanced” eBay Store design were talked out of it. As
Was told sellers individually and in classes at eBay Live, RocketPlace, and
other conferences that these designs break an eBay rule called Site
Interference. The staff at As Was were made aware of the Site Interference rule
in November 2004. Having seen eBay crack down on Site Interference, As Was didn’t
want to risk it for sellers, and has since chosen to stay away from “Advanced”
eBay Stores that break this rule.

Sellers
will no longer have the option to try to fly under the rules radar. eBay’s
announcement about the exciting new version of eBay Stores includes a more
stringent crack-down on the Site Interference rule. For example, under the new
Stores upgrade, http://www.aswas.com/img/bambinibarucci-old.jpg
(not designed by As Was) will look like http://www.aswas.com/img/bambinibarucci.jpg.
The repeating background and changed link colors mean that even in this broken
state, this Store is still not compliant with Site Interference. Watch our video explaining the Site Interference rule, and how currently-infringing Stores will break.

Thousands
of eBay Stores that were never compliant will now completely break under the
new Store layout that eBay is phasing in throughout Q1 2009. This includes
Stores built by “eBay Store design specialists” who have “extensive experience”
with eBay selling, and are claiming to provide you with the “most advanced high
impact eBay design”. These “professional eBay design” companies who took money
to build and install non-compliant Stores either didn’t know their designs broke
eBay rules, or they knew but chose to break the rules anyway.

“Years
ago, we made the decision to choose honesty, compliance, and future-mindedness
for our clients,” said Debbie Levitt, CEO of As Was. “Not only did we know
these Stores broke eBay rules, but they’re also often overdesigned for what the
eBay shopper expects to experience around eBay. We knew this, we heard it from
sellers who bought these overdesigns and saw disappointing results, and we feel
like this eBay announcement echoes our theory about the eBay Stores experience.”

Levitt
continued, “eBay disallowing this style of Store design seems to support my conclusion
that overdesigned Stores didn’t work very well. No Stores that have ever won
eBay’s Best In Stores Award had these “Advanced” (non-compliant) designs. If
these types of designs worked well towards converting shoppers into buyers, I’d
imagine that eBay’s announcement this month would be in greater support of this
type of design rather than to more formally outlaw it.”

It’s
not just the companies claiming to be eBay experts that worry Debbie Levitt.
“There are a lot of eBay sellers using freelance, outsourcing, and job-bidding
websites to try and find people who will cheaply build so-called advanced eBay Stores,”
Levitt explained. “I want to help get the message out about the new eBay Stores
so that sellers can spend their money more wisely. Anything spent on a
non-compliant eBay Store is wasted money, especially if the designer is not
going to fix the broken Store for free.”

As
Was designs like Msss Kel’s Place, winner of the 2008 eBay Best In Stores
award, will continue looking fabulous without any changes or alterations
needed. http://www.aswas.com/img/mssskel-old.jpg is the old version of the
Store, which will transition seamlessly to the new version of Stores, http://www.aswas.com/img/mssskel.jpg.

As
Was is happy to continue offering eBay sellers the best in service and
attention. As consultants and eBay experts, we are always advising clients on
what is allowed, as well as how to respond to all of the changes eBay has been
making. Best known for eBay listing template design and eBay Store design, the
one-on-one relationship As Was enjoys with each seller also extends to strategy
advice as well as off-eBay services such as website design, print design, and
marketing consulting.

As
Was will continue offering innovative and creative designs as well as tools to
help eBay and online sellers. Developed throughout 2008 in total compliance
with eBay’s current and upcoming initiatives, As Was will soon be launching a
new tool to help eBay sellers cross-promote items within their eBay listings,
eBay Store, and even outside of eBay.

Sellers
looking to upgrade from their current paid Frooition design to the custom, unique, and
compliant work done by As Was can enjoy our competitive upgrade pricing offer. Learn
more about As Was at http://www.aswas.com.


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How To Find A Designer Who Knows eBay Rules

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

I did ColderICE's radio show yesterday, and one of the points I was making was about only hiring design companies or people who really know eBay rules. That way, they won't design something that is non-compliant, and either gets you in trouble with eBay, or costs you more down the road to fix.

A good question came into the chat room, which was, "How can sellers know which designer really knows the rules?"

That IS a hard one! Anybody can say they know the rules, but you really won't know until eBay cracks down on something that was against the rules.

My answer was to talk about something that's in our contract. We have a clause that says that if we design you something for eBay that is NOT compliant with eBay rules at the time that we made it, and eBay cracks down on you, we'll fix it ASAP for free. If we design something, and you specifically request that we do something against the rules, and we tell you it's against the rules, and eBay cracks down on you, we'll fix it, but not for free. When would that happen? Sometimes, clients ask for lots of company logos in their listings. This is technically against the rules, but is often not cracked down on. We advise people this is against the rules, but sometimes they see their competition doing it, and they insist on doing it. If they get caught, we'll fix it, but not for free since that wasn't our fault.

So there are a few things to make sure your contract says when you plan to work with a design company making something for eBay:

  • Who owns the work? Do you own what they make for you, or do they reserve the right to use it for other people? If the contract doesn't specify, just know that US law says that artwork is the property of the artist unless and until the rights are signed away in writing to someone else. So saying NOTHING about who owns the work is the same as saying the design company owns the work. It may be important to you that you own it AND that they don't use the same look for someone else!
  •  What happens if something they design breaks eBay rules that are in effect at the time it was created? Will they fix it for free, or will they want you to pay to fix it? You may want the contract to detail that so that you're not stuck paying to fix something that never should have been broken.

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Designers’ Hidden Fees and Terms

Friday, January 9th, 2009

I was just reading the terms of business on the website of a company that does some design for eBay sellers. You have to agree to these terms when you order their services from their site. I am wondering if anybody read any of these…

"If you are not recontacted by [company] within eight weeks after our first acknowledgement, please contact us."

You might wait 8 weeks to hear from them?
And after waiting two months, it's your job to contact them?!? This doesn't sound like great attention.

"Orders not exceeding $300 will be charged in full before the start."

So you'll pay in full up front, and not get your money back. There was another term that said it was non-refundable.
This means you have NO choice but to pay in full up front, and no chance of getting it back if things don't work out!

"Browsing image databases for the Client is subject to a extra charge ($100/hour)."

I guess this means that if you don't tell them what images to use in your design, and they have to look for images for your design, you can pay for their time?!?!? Well, if you knew what images you wanted, you might as well hire a college kid for $10/hr.

"We reserve the right to use at our discretion all pictures provided or created by us in future projects."

Ah this is the big one. This means that anything they design for you, they can use for somebody else, and you can't say anything since you've agreed to that!!!

So look out for hidden charges, and remember that what they do for you, they can use for somebody else.

These are some of the reasons I don't see companies like this as competition. We don't have to hide stinky terms in some tiny iframe that you agree to when you fill out a form on our website. We email a real contract that you can read, and we can go over if you have questions about what the terms are.

Nothing hidden. No surprises later. And we don't re-use what you paid us to do and sell it to someone else.


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