I still don’t know what to make of eBay’s new feedback policy–I have been reading a lot of opinions about it–both pros and cons. Check out my feature article for more.
- Lynn Recommends: ecourse update pre-sale
- Special Announcement: Live Boot Camp is open for your Reservation!
- Feature Article: Long-term or short-term gratification?
- The Queen’s Update: We want to hear your eBay success stories!
This ezine is published once a week.
February 7, 2008 Volume IV, Issue 6
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to step up my workouts and get in really great shape this year. So Alida, my trainer, has me doing two strength classes, two private workouts, and five sessions of cardio each week. I am in pain! But it is working!
I was just out on Friday night with a bunch of girls to celebrate Alida’s 30th birthday. She had the nerve to suggest that Houston, Indy and I join her on Sunday morning to do a 1 1⁄2 hour hike at 7 am.
Photo of Alida’s party. Alida is in the green.
(Doesn’t that look like Bill Clinton behind us? Maybe he was out in the desert campaigning for Hillary…Just Kidding.)
As many of you know, I am NOT a morning person. But, I just re-read one of my favorite books, Debbie Ford’s, The Right Questions. One of those questions is, “Will this choice bring me long-term fulfillment, or will it bring me short-term gratification?” Not getting up early on a Sunday morning would definitely bring me short-term gratification! BUT it would not get me closer to my long-term goal of getting into great shape. So, at 6 am on Sunday off went my alarm–and I rounded up the kids. All two of them!
We were headed out the door when I got a text message from Alida…. “Forecast for the top of the mountain is rain–Hike is canceled.” Just my luck! So the kids and I decided to bike six miles to the gas station and back to fill up the air in our bike’s tires and I would buy them donuts for breakfast at Teddy’s Donuts. (BTW, I had a diet coke NOT a donut.)
So, I did make the right decision to support my long-term goal. I think that Debbie Ford’s question is a really great one and can also be applied to our eBay businesses. So, my feature article will take a look at how that question applies to the new feedback changes. How many times have we gotten an email from an irate customer and immediately wanted to fire off a nasty email in return? I know you can relate. Don’t miss this article!
So my garage saling buddy this week was Houston. Indy went to see the Hannah Montana concert in 3D so it was just he and I. Here is one of the reasons. Houston was chosen last year to be a participant in his school’s Odyssey of the Mind Team. Quite an honor and quite a lot of work for him! But, the team must find and construct their own costumes, so he thought that garage saling would be just the place to find some crazy stuff.
He was right! He picked up some wild fabric and a 1980’s awesome punk jacket. He was also a great buddy for me. I bought a bunch of Native American Indian Artifacts at one sale and Houston actually stood guard over my pile (in a bathroom yet) for 20 minutes until I could negotiate with the seller. What a trooper! He didn’t complain once and kept saying how much he enjoyed spending as much time as he could with his mommy.
Here is one of those little pieces that I have listed.
Then we went to one of our favorite thrift stores and I bought ahead vase type candle holder named “Lydia.” Houston and I cracked up as we carried our new friend ‘Lydia” all over the store.
To learn more about Lydia and who made her and her Leopard coat, click here.
Then for Super Bowl Sunday, Houston decided he wanted to entertain. He made guacamole (from scratch), put out trays of other hors d’oeuvres and even barbecued hamburgers. Check out his spread!
Because of the flexibility of my life selling on eBay, I can spend time with my children whenever they want and whenever I want. I know that they are growing up fast and won’t always want to hang out with their mom–so I am really trying to capitalize on it now! I encourage you to do the same!
Okay, enough of my sentimentality….Let’s get back to business. Remember those six-odd pieces of illy espresso items I found last week? Turns out that illy pieces are made in Italy, designed by famous people, and can sell for more than Starbucks items!!! My five auctions closed for a total of $103.99!!! All on a $10 investment. Insider stock tip….Buy illy when you see it.
Click here to see what the cup and saucer sold for!
I couldn’t believe how much that one single saucer sold for…
Speaking of Unbelievable, that is what the Live Boot Camp experience will be for those lucky enough to attend. We have already sold four seats!!! And with almost seven months until the event–you know that this will sell out completely. I don’t want YOU to miss out–please read more below.
In the Lynn Recommends section, I am very happy to announce that after two years, I have completely rewritten my original basic ecourse. The launch is coming soon.
Finally, I get emails from many of you that want to buy my full Boot Camp in a Box, but just can’t afford it. So I listed one on eBay this week starting at 99 cents. It ends Monday, February 11th at 4:06 pm Pacific time. Click here to place your bid.
I am happy to announce the winner of PriceMiner’s 2-year subscription. The winner is Ena C. Parcher! Congratulations to Ena!!! Let us know how it works for you. I can’t wait to hear about your success with PriceMiner!
Here’s to Successful eBaying!
I wrote my original basic ecourse back in 2005. For the infomercial, we had to update it and make it completely current. It is now not sent out week by week but is sent to you all at once as a course you can go through at your own pace.
It is now called “Six Steps to eBay Success” and still covers all the topics of the original ecourse but updated with new screenshots (remember eBay recently changed their SYI (Sell your Item form)) and my new and revised strategies.
I was amazed at how much had changed since I originally wrote it almost three years ago! Yikes, time flies!
So, if you have ever purchased the basic ecourse, watch for an email this Tuesday, February 12th with a special invitation to get this upgrade for a super special low introductory price!!! And if you have never purchased the ecourse, watch for a special intro price for “Six Steps to Your eBay Success.”
The invitations have gone out for the ONE and ONLY Live eBay Boot Camp of 2008. It will be held (once again) at the amazing La Quinta Resort here in the Palm Springs area.
To get the best room rates for my students (any myself!) it will be held the weekend after Labor Day; Friday through Sunday, September 5th-7th, 2008.
Click here to learn more.
This Boot Camp will sell out–especially with the infomercial coming out sometime in February, so I encourage you to reserve your seat as soon as you can.
We have already sold four seats!!! And that is months before the event–you know that this will sell out completely by September. I don’t want YOU to miss out
I am so excited to have another fun bunch of students meet us here this Fall. I hope that you will be one of those students.
Click here to reserve your spot now.
‘Short-term Gratification vs. Long-term Goals‘
by Lynn A. Dralle, ‘The Queen of Auctions’
As I mentioned earlier, I just re-read one of my favorite books, Debbie Ford’s The Right Questions. One of those questions is, “Will this choice bring me long-term fulfillment, or will it bring me short-term gratification?”
I love this question and try and remember it as often as I can (which I must admit is NOT that often). So, as I pondered over how it applied to my fitness goals for this year, I also realized that it really applied to eBay and how we feel when we get those nasty emails from eBay buyers. And we do get a lot of rude emails.
Every time I hire a new assistant or teach a class, I try and impress upon each and every person, that eBay has made retail a completely different beast than the one I knew from growing up. Actually, a different beast than we all knew about five years ago.
When I was growing up working in my grandmother’s antique store, it was all face-to-face. My grandmother’s policy was absolutely NO cash returns and we were quite strict about it. Every receipt stated it clearly and it was also clearly marked with signage on the walls.
My grandmother’s policy made sense then and I still use that policy today. I take NO eBay returns unless I have grossly misrepresented the item– Some examples would be that I didn’t notice damage, measured incorrectly, or dated it incorrectly.
In my grandmother’s antique store, the same policy was applied. No cash returns and store credit within seven days of purchase.
This is one of the reasons that I respected and admired her so much. She would put on every price tag if it were new, a reproduction, or antique. Actually, she didn’t have time to mark every tag, so she had a gift window (the front of the store) where everything was new and the rest of the store where she would try and put an approximate date of origin on each piece.
AND if it had damaged it was clearly marked on the tag, with “as is” or “chip,” with an arrow to the chip.
And as you were checking out, she would say, “Now you know this is a reproduction?” or “You do realize that this is a new piece?” or did you see the chip here that we have clearly marked?
On eBay, we don’t get that same chance to ask the buyer as they are checking out if they read the entire description. I think that this is one reason that eBay has implemented the new policy.
And how many of us have had customers complain about something that WAS CLEARLY STATED in the listing??? Too many times to recount… I am certain.
I remember one example in particular. I sold a clearly damaged wine holder to England and I couldn’t believe that the buyer paid $9.99 and then $24.95 to ship this extremely heavy item overseas. I should have (in retrospect) emailed them before shipping to say “Did you realize that this piece is damaged?” This would have saved me a ton of grief and negative feedback!!! This is something that I may start doing before shipping damaged items.
But back to my grandmother. She taught me that in business all you have is your reputation. If you are honest, customers will return again and again. AND THAT my friends, is how she stayed in business (in an obscure location) for over 50 years. Profitable every single year.
So that brings me to eBay. I know I haven’t addressed the new feedback policy yet, but all of this is getting us closer to my stand on that. Please bear with me. eBay has made the retail business faceless, nameless, and soooo impersonal. Out of the 50,000 (+ or -) customers we have had on eBay in the past ten years, I have probably spoken to 50 on the phone and corresponded by email (back and forth) with maybe 10%, or 5,000.
This makes eBay a very easy place for both the buyer and the seller to be people that they really aren’t in real life. Here is a real question that I got a few weeks ago…..
“$11.95 for shipping. Are you kidding?”
Well, the way this question was worded really got me upset. So, I immediately fired back with this answer….(please read this with a sarcastic tone because that is how I meant it to come across)
“Do you ship much? Did you know that with sky-high gasoline prices most carriers are adding on fuel surcharges? With those extra charges, it can cost us almost $14 to send a package cross country or to a rural area.”
Not very nice of me and not typical of how I do business. But I went for the “short-term gratification” of being a jerk right back instead of focusing on the long-term goals of my eBay business. My long-term goals are to grow a successful, return customer-driven, and highly profitable eBay business that grosses $200,000 a year. My answer to that shipping question is not going to get me there.
What I realize now, even more than before, is that I need to take a deep breath and maybe even a walk outside, before I answer emails that upset me. Or I need to ask myself this question before hitting the send button….”Will this choice bring me long-term fulfillment or will it bring me short-term gratification?”
I did a phone interview today with Lisa Suttora of www.whatdoIsell.com. She is awesome and we have incredible synergy. She was telling me that as one of eBay’s 35 Certified Service Providers (I am one also) that we are from a very elite and respected group. How cool is that? But she also added that she was on a phone call with eBay management where they were explaining the new feedback changes.
What eBay was saying was that ALL Internet shoppers are expecting better experiences and higher customer satisfaction. The standards for customer service across the internet are being raised. It isn’t just eBay shoppers who want and expect better customer service, but all Internet shoppers. eBay is trying to be ahead of this trend by making it nicer for buyers. And let’s be honest, if someone is going to leave us negative without contacting us first, they are going to leave it anyway–whether we have the ability to leave retribution feedback or not.
Here is an email that I got from Mo (Maureen–one of my assistants) who now sells part-time on eBay:
Mo and me.
Hi Lynn- I just received another neutral this month from a newbie. I am really sick of it. I know that the item I sent was in the condition that I advertised. I take special care in sending a personal message through ebay that tells the buyer when I send the item and that if they have any problems to please contact me through eBay. Do the NEWBIES read??? Here are the three neutrals I received this month
1. An ornament that stated there was wear to the ornament and that it didn’t have a box. Well, She wished she had the box….. I wish I had a million dollars but that is not what I described [isn’t Mo soooo funny!!!? You must try being a member of the Queen’s Court to see exactly what I mean. Mo does a Q & A with me each month and she is an amazingly funny host.]
2. A plate that retails for $89 on Replacements that is next to mint. The buyer received it for 24.99. No contact before leaving neutral.
3. The package that UPS blew the end out of and I re-embursed the buyer the day of the contact. We both agreed that UPS was at fault for this. I guess I had to take the whipping. Next time I will try and drive it to her house…..[Again Mo’s sense of eBay Humor–I tell you we do need a reality show.]
Oh, and I can’t leave this one out (even though it didn’t result in a negative or a neutral) The people that purchased over $100 on dinnerware on November 10 only to return it on November 27th when Thanksgiving was over…..I took the return and refunded all their money…What a sucker!!!
I try to be a person of my word, but it is really hard to have faith in people that don’t read, and are quick to assume that we, as sellers are out to rip them off.
On a good note, I have also had some incredible buyers over the last few months. Buyers that assumed the best, before assuming the worst, and I am very grateful to them.
I must add, that I have never given anyone a negative feedback…(I am starting to think about doing it) I am human and so are others. These are just items and we ALL make mistakes!!! —mo
I thank Mo for sharing. I have found that if there is even the slightest hint of negative feedback or unhappiness, the best thing to do is just phone the buyer. (Request the buyer’s contact info through eBay—very easy to do–just use “Advanced search” and click on “Request Member Contact Info” on the left). I have done this quite a few times recently. The contact clears away misunderstanding and all of a sudden–life is good for both buyer and seller.
That phone call makes the transaction REAL. The buyer is dealing with a human being and so is the seller. There is no hiding behind an email–where your tone can be taken as sarcastic (me), angry, antagonizing, angry, passive, etc. The list goes on and on. I highly encourage phone calls in these situations.
In fact, Lisa Suttora, in our phone call today mentioned that she has a client that calls every customer after about a week to see if they are happy with the product. Lisa’s client deals in high-end transactions—antique marbles and other expensive items. The recording of that interview will be available for sale soon and a free gift to my Queen’s Court members–BUT for now, here is the lesson. His business has tripled due to repeat customers. Think about that!
I read another comment that I really took to heart recently about the feedback changes. I don’t remember where I read it but here is the gist. If you go into a retail store as a buyer and the clerk (seller) is rude, what do you do? You just walk out. If you buy something that you don’t like–most stores (sellers) have a 30-day liberal return policy.
Looking at this in more detail, the buyer leaves the store to show their negative feedback and because they do that–does this mean that the store (as a seller) can leave them negative feedback in retaliation? I don’t think so. When has a seller in a real face-to-face retail business EVER been able to rate their buyers?
No, we had to bite our tongues and keep repeating the mantra, “The customer is always right, the customer is always right,” and believe me I have had years of that practice.
My point is this. As sellers, the fear is that if we can’t leave negative feedback for a buyer, we are going to get a ton of negatives that we don’t deserve and not be able to collect from non-paying bidders by threatening negative.
Here is what I see from my new positive outlook on this….
1. In the last ten years of selling on eBay I have received 37 negatives. 20 of those came in the last year. This is because of all the new eBay Buyers that eBay is recruiting (yes this will help sales). But I don’t think this new policy is going to change that. What I would suggest to eBay is this…A new eBayer can NOT leave negative feedback until they have 20 positives. This assures us that they have been through the process and UNDERSTAND how it works.
2. I rarely, if ever, leave negative feedback for buyers. I hate to admit this but it is true. I was always afraid of retaliatory feedback so NEVER did it anyway. So, what is the big deal? I can’t threaten the buyer now, but I never did anyway.
To wrap this article up, on eBay a buyer doesn’t know if the seller is going to be rude or cheat them beforehand. In addition, the buyer can be at a disadvantage because sellers (like myself) do not offer a return policy.
I am seeing that it is time for a HUGE customer service change. eBay is forcing us to make that change. They are encouraging us to go back to putting the customer first. Making them a person and NOT a number. Making us go out of our way to make each and everyone happy—even if it takes a phone call.
I am personally ready for the challenge. I just hope that Mo and Carmen are also. Our new motto around here is going to be this, “The Customer is ALWAYS right.” Oh my gosh….that used to be our motto at Cheryl Leaf Antiques & Gifts and at the May Company. Maybe Internet shopping has come full circle?
I am sure this will be another article with a lot of reactions–both positive and negative. Just keep in mind that it all goes back to a simple way of looking at life–either positive or negative.
I choose EVERY single morning to have a good day–not a bad day. I am going to make eBay’s decision regarding feedback a decision that makes my customer’s experiences better, keeps them coming back to buy more of my items, and increases my business each and every year. Will you choose that same positive decision? I hope so!
AND remember Debbie Ford’s question, “Will this choice bring me long-term fulfillment or will it bring me short-term gratification?” If you keep your customers MORE than happy–you will have long-term fulfillment.
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By the way, when I mention my ezine readers’ user IDs with links to their auctions–it actually helps their sales! Amazing how that works. Click here for the guidelines for submitting your stories.
eBay PowerSeller and third-generation antique dealer, Lynn Dralle, is the creator of Boot Camp in a Box, the home-study course where you can learn to implement the Dralle Method to maximize your eBay profits.
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