Archive for March, 2010

When eBay Multi-Sku Listings Become Fee Circumvention

Monday, March 15th, 2010

eBay's new multi-sku feature is plenty exciting! We discussed it at length during our weekly radio show, Online Marketing Brains. We found a weird item using multi-sku, and it became a debate. My co-host thought it was a cool use of multi-sku. I was convinced it broke the rules and was fee circumvention.

Well, I just got word from eBay that I was right. It would be considered fee circumvention.

What is a multi-sku eBay listing?

Multi-sku listings are designed for sellers who have identical items in variations, and want to list just ONE listing on eBay, but offer these variations. Great examples include:

  • This shirt comes in 4 sizes and 6 colours.
  • These shoes come in 20 sizes.
  • These baking supplies come in dark choco, milk choco, and white choco.

That's going to save fees for sellers, make shopping easier, and make eBay more like typical eCommerce sites, where you hit ONE listing for a shirt, and use pull-down menus to choose the size, colour, or the variation you want.

Sounds great! Where does this become fee circumvention?

It's a fine line, but it's clear to me. The listing we debated on our show offered baking chips. It used multi-sku to offer about 15 different chocolate and toffee chips from different brands (Nestle, Hersheys, etc…). At that point, it's not variations of identical items.

The listing could have offered Nestle chips in various chocolate flavours. The listing could offer Hershey's chips in various flavours. But once you have different brands, you have a different item. In your online inventory, this would be a whole different sku or set of skus. And that's where the line's drawn.

When you break this rule, it's considered fee circumvention. That means eBay thinks you are listing in ways to avoid paying eBay fees. And you probably were. :) So it's a fair cop.   

Chapter and Verse

To clarify this, eBay has updated their rules page on Fee Circumvention. Check the area that says "offering choices." Hopefully this clarifies this!

And remember, if an "eBay consultant" of some sort advises you to list in ways that break the rules, fire him or her. I would have zero trust for someone who claims to be an eBay expert but either doesn't know the rules, doesn't understand them, or doesn't care to follow them. I knew that was fee circumvention before I got Trust and Safety to confirm it. A really good eBay expert would have known that. :)

List safely! :)


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Terrible Grammar and Up Yours

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

I got a notice on my door from my apartment community. Keep in mind that about half the people here rent, and half own as 'condos.' I rent. I wouldn't buy this. But do keep in mind that this development has one of the best views in town, so it's not cheap.

The notice is to let me know that this and next week, a tree specialist will be trimming trees. OK, thanks for letting me know. Here is an actual bit from the notice, typed exactly as it is:

"The trimming is necessary an arborist evaluated out trees and has made recommendations based on the desire for safety first and foremost, and then consideration was made for the long term health of the trees not for views and personal tastes."

Not only is that a non-sentence, but I sense a bit of f**k you in there. Nice marketing, fancy apartment and condo community.


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Your Friends And Followers… Aren’t

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

In the early days of Twitter, everybody you followed showed up in your timeline. You had to skim everybody to find the people you really wanted to read about. That lead me to choose to NOT follow everybody who followed me. Social media experts claimed that you'll get more followers if you follow back. Twitter analysis services measured how likely you are to follow someone back.

Well, that's all hollow. If I follow you back but aren't reading anything you say or interacting with you, then what is the "value" of that relationship? Am I getting your messages? Are we being social or networking?

Later, third party applications started helping you create lists and groups. That way, you can have a separate timeline of certain people. I jumped right on that. I barely read the stream of tweets from a pile of people, but I make sure I read everything on my "faves" list. Some are business people, some are friends, some are celebrities.

Same for Facebook. If you friended someone, you had to watch all their junk in the news feed. Now, you can hide applications, and you can hide people.

That means your "friends" and "followers" aren't either. They've hid you. They stopped paying attention. And if they're not reading you, there's nothing you can SAY to get them back… they wouldn't see that message!

It was never a contest of how many followers or friends you can have.That contest on MySpace panned out to be meaningless. The social media winner is the person who interacts and makes people feel interested. The winner is the person who isn't hidden on Facebook, and is added to the list I always read on Twitter.

Be that winner!


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Some Things Shouldn’t Go On Post-It Notes

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

I heard a story today so heartbreaking that I wanted to find a way to share it.

A friend was telling me about a friend of his, who had recently died. The guy was still legally married to his wife, but they had been separated. They guy fell in love with another woman, and had been involved with her for something like 2 years. So this was the love in his life. But he was still legally married to the other person… hadn't sorted that out yet.

The guy (who died) evidently kept a lot of Post-It Notes reminding himself to do things. I'm under the impression that people at the funeral could see some of these (things he hadn't done yet, but planned to). I don't know how they displayed them, but evidently, you could see them.

One of the Post-It Notes said, "Change will."

My heart broke when I heard that. He knew what he wanted. And he never got the chance to do it. One call or email to a lawyer.

It's so easy to put things off, including important things, and especially legal matters. Few people like to call their lawyer or pay their lawyer. But one thing's for sure. Everybody needs a lawyer at some point in his or her life or death. Might as well be prepared. It's like having insurance.

Put "buy soy milk" on a Post-It, but don't put life-changing things on a to-do list. Just do them. My heart is STILL breaking at this story… he had such good intentions that now won't be carried out. Do not delay in getting something done that changes your and other lives.

That means getting healthier, filing that divorce, changing your will, getting that checkup… these things may be scary, but you need to do them. Do not put them on a to-do list for later.


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Weird Shipping Time Math on eBay

Monday, March 1st, 2010

I was looking into the "Item Not Received" process for a friend. I went into my own eBay account, and pretended to start it. I had to pick which item I wanted to report. Well, I only have one item I JUST won this past weekend, and it's not here yet. I don't expect it here yet. :)

But just to see how the process looked, I selected it. eBay then told me that I should wait until March 14th before reporting that I didn't get it. Something about that seemed weird, so I went back to the item.

I read the shipping details, and found these important points:

  • The seller says he ships within 3 business days of getting my payment. If we give him all benefits of doubts, we could say that even though I paid this weekend, he is receiving it TODAY (a business day). Three days from now is Thursday 4 March. So he should ship no later than the 4th.
  • He's in a part of California that is 450 miles from my town.
  • He ships UPS Ground. I made sure to give him my street address rather than my PO Box. UPS Ground from California to Arizona is typically no more than 2 days. It's just darn close!

So in theory, I'd expect to get this package no later than Tuesday 9 March. Why would eBay say that I shouldn't consider it late until 14 March? Because eBay is telling me that UPS Ground takes 4-9 days.

But that doesn't make sense. eBay knows the zip code from which he's shipping. They know my zip code. They should know through the UPS API that the expected "Time In Transit" is 2 days. They know he's going to ship within 3 days, and they know when I paid.

I'm not understanding the math here. 3 biz days + 2 biz days = 10 biz days.

Well, I'll let you know when I get the item! :)


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