Saturday, December 17, 2011

Should I hire family?

That question always weighs on my mind. As a business owner, I figured it would be best to hire family for a number of reasons and Im learning now its not such a good idea.

I have not 'hired' anyone officially but my kids 'work' for me when I need help. I even get my mother here to help me out! Its free labor I call it, but they do expect something. Most of the time I buy them lunch. Its not like they are doing a job for me, they call it hanging out. The may run around or give me tips or make a trip to the post office. I dont give them 'official job'. Sometimes when Im away they may open the store and ring up sales, or help with my online store.

The good things about it:

I dont pay them and I know they would help me out if I asked.

The bad things:

They dont like working for free, the do huff and puff when I ask them to help me out, they really do a lousy job, and they do the bare minimum!

I had to go away and I couldnt get anyone to open the store for me so I had to be closed for a few days, it really sucked and hurt my bottom line. I should have hired someone for that.

Family came in and packed and shipped my online orders and they didnt do it with 'care'. So I had a few items damaged along the way, which ended up costing me more money. Maybe I should have just closed the online stores during that week but with the store closed I needed something operating.

Nothing bothers me more then the huffing and puffing. When they do this I just dont want to ask them at all and I know its their way of saying they dont want to. When they do this they usually call me the whole time they are at the store 'working' with questions. Its not a hard 'job' but it takes thought and working the bare minimum wont work here.

I had someone walk in to my store asking if I was hiring and I said not right now. He left and bumped into one of my kids, and they told this person ' oh my mom would hire me first." I was shocked and I said no way!

So tossing the idea of hiring someone, Id have to write a description of the job, figure out rate of pay, hours needed, can this person be trusted.. you get the idea.

I know when I seriously hire someone it wont be family.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Buyers not following the rules

So I like to write about my adventures on eBay and Amazon to give others the feel on how it is to sell in these platforms.

Just the other day I got a complaint from a buyer on Amazon - the complaint was the item they purchased exploded in transit and spilled all over them. They wanted a refund and they wanted me to pay for their dry cleaning! I was so mortified I was not sure what to do. Amazon is so strict and if this person filed a compliant I was sure to lose the money anyway. So I refunded the amount they paid, sent a replacement AND give them money towards dry cleaning! Yes I believe I was taken advantage of but I believe it will be a done deal and this person would 'go away'. Its been a week and I have not heard anything new and Im hoping it stays that way.

Now I get another complaint from someone on eBay this time. The complaint was the item they received was damaged. They complained about how I sent the item in a polybag and not a box and I am not a good seller, you get the idea. Well I ask for am image of the damaged item. The book had some bends in it but was not totally damaged. I asked that they send it back and they refused. They said its unusable and they demanded a refund without a return. They also said that they would give me such negative feedback if I didnt 'do the right thing' . I couldnt believe the nerve of this person.

Now eBay policy says I do not have to issue a refund until the item is returned. It also says if someone threaten to leave negative feedback & demands a refund without returning an item I can report them for feedback extortion! So what did I do? I reported them. They have not left feedback as of yet, but they gave me 7 days to refund the money before they do. And when they do I will report it again!

Now I wondered if this really does work and it does. I had someone a few months ago do the same thing and another seller told me about feedback extortion and well this persons feedback was removed. Had I knew about that sooner I would have used it and had another removed.

Too many times buyers say that they will refuse to send something back and demand a refund. Its against the rules! Dont let anyone do that to you!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Low DSR scores with positive feedback.

So Ive been doing well with the feedback lately (Knock on wood). Everything has been in the 'green' and all the notes left by buyers has been great, so why did I notice I have scores of '1' and '2' on my DSR ratings?

How do you deal with this? These scores are permanent and damaging to me. How does a person leave stellar feedback but a score of '1' or '2' in every category?

Im so hurt and confused - the worst part is that you cant see who left it or on what item so if there is a problem it cant be corrected.

Im thinking someone just left the wrong DSR score by accident and who pays the price? Me.

How do you handle this since there is nothing you can do about it?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Selling on Amazon vs Selling on eBay.

Ive been selling on eBay for a few years now and took a while before I decided to sell on Amazon.

Here are a list of my pros and cons for both.
First let me say when it comes to fees you will spend the same amount of money.

The pros and cons for Amazon vs eBay:
1. Amazon - Pro - You can list as much as you want and there are no fees to do so. Con - You have to share you listing with other sellers. If someone else is selling the same product as you, its grouped together, so who ever is on top is the main seller. Chances of selling your product drops down a lot. Unless you get the shopper that actually searches thru the sellers your item may be listed for a while, or unless you are the ONLY person selling that item. eBay - Pro - you can list as much as you want and be exclusive. You will not share your item listing with anyone else selling on eBay. Con - There may be pages of the same item and yours may not be found until the next pages. eBay also charges you per listing in store format or in auction format.

2. Amazon Pro - No need for paypal account to accept payments. Con - Funds are not applied to 'your account' until you ship the item!* Then your funds sit 'on account' until they deposit it into your account every 14 days. So you have no access to your money as quickly as you would with paypal. eBay Pro - your money sits in paypal until you withdraw it, you have access right away. You can even use a paypal debit card to withdraw your funds or use as a credit card. Cons - paypal fees are high to accept payments and its yet another website to deal with.

*Note: Too many sellers are marking items shipped to get 'paid' but not mailing the packages which makes other sellers look bad, DO NOT GET INTO THIS HABIT!

3. Pro - Its easy to use the website for Amazon and eBay. You can also create shipping labels right there on the 'sale'. Con - the shipping fee chart for Amazon is grouped together and its based on weight or per item - if another seller inputs the wrong weight, the shipping fees will be all over the place unless you offer FLAT RATES - but this method does not always cover your shipping costs. With eBays weight program it will be based on their zip code as well so your shipping rates are more true.

4. Pro -Plenty of shoppers prefer Amazon over eBay and plenty of shoppers prefer eBay over Amazon. There is a wide variety of buyers out there, you just have to have the listing they are looking for. Cons - Buyers on eBay tend to look for deals - they often ask you for a 'better price' - while on Amazon there is no bargaining.

5. Pros if you find errors on eBay you can just go into your listing and correct it - Con - on Amazon you have to contact customer service to get them to fix it. Since they group the sellers information together its not always correct. If you have to correct a UPC code you often have to show proof via images.

6. Con - Amazon - you have to request permission to sell in certain categories. You are also required to have a UPC code to list your items. There can be be over 100 other sellers selling the same item you are. It becomes a war to get 'on top'. Eventually the selling prices dont even cover your cost and its not worth selling. eBay allows you to sell in any category you want.

7. BIG Con - Amazon also SELLS items! This feels like a big box store opening up right next door to your store, it really sucks! So now Amazon has buying power and can purchase more then you can and then sell it lower then you can. Not only that, majority of buyers would rather buy from Amazon directly then from the Marketplace. Fulfillment by Amazon does not help the little sellers either. BIG PRO - eBay DOES NOT sell items itself! Your only competition are other sellers.

8. Cons for both eBay and Amazon - Feedback! Amazon buyers dont leave feedback so your score can be rather low. Half of eBay buyers leave feedback. The ones that are upset ALWAYS leave negative which brings your score down. You say the wrong thing to a buyer and they will leave a negative and not care. Forget having a perfect score!

9. Pro - Amazon you can easily access your listings to adjust prices, in fact it will tell you if you are the lowest price for that item listed. You can also easily adjust your inventory count all at once. Con - eBay - once your quantity is done you have to 're list' the item, unless you catch it before it ends and adjust your quantity. To make adjustments you have to do it individually. There is a feature to change multiple items at once, however they all have to match. Its a real pain.

10. Amazon store fee is $39.99 plus a percentage of the sale - eBay store fee is $49.99 plus a percentage of the sale. There are too many variables to go over to give details of fees. eBay also charges listing fees while Amazon does not.

After a few months of selling on Amazon they 'investigated' me. I freaked out because many people put horror stories online about being investigated and being dropped as a seller. They basically held any funds due to me for over a month while this was being processed. I had to provide them with all kinds of papers and I guess I passed with flying colors. (Business certificate, tax id numbers, duns numbers, EIN numbers things like that.)

Not everything is bad but its not all good too. Ive been tossing the idea of selling on my own site but there is too much involved. So I created 'add to cart' buttons using paypal on my personal site. I have yet to get a buyer lol.

If your tossed on where to sell, try them both and see what happens. Certain items sell better in one place but not the other. As I said the fees come out to be the same amount in the end. It always depends on your sales and its always a percentage.

I think I will keep selling on both platforms for as long as possible. They both sell pretty well for me. The only thing I would change is getting more sales and more items that no one else is selling, but that is a feat in itself.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blue Orange Games Review

In my store you will see some of my favorite games by a fantastic company!

Spot it! & Bendomino.

They carry more but Ill talk about just these two games. At the Toy Fair I was scared by the amount of companies there so I pretty much ran thru and left. On the ride back home I found a sample package of Spot it! inside my bag. So I of course opened it and found these round cards. Each card has images on it, it says there is at least one match on each card in the deck. When I got home I showed it to my daughter and we tried to play. There are 4 ways to play this game but with so little cards we didnt know if we could play.

So the game was played was to get rid of all your cards. You distribute the deck between the players and flip one at the middle. This is the starting card. Then you have to 'dump' your cards on the starter card by matching a symbol on your card with a symbol on the starter card. As you place your card on top of the starter card that card becomes the new starter card. This continues until you finished all your cards and are declared the winner!

Well this sample game gave me the desire to just go forward and get the game for my store.

Bendomino is my other favorite game. If you love dominos you will get a kick out of this one. All the pieces are curved! Because of the curve you may not be able to play your last piece! If you are counter, you can easily lock someone out of the game and win! Its a lot of fun, the game is visually stunning as well, a new board each time. The dots in the tiles are colored to make it look nice. A great game for the domino player in your life.

We also carry - Crazy Cheese, Gobbler Gobblers, Fastrack & Pengoloo - I hope to carry more games by this company in the future.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Finally Set up

So I believe I am done with setting up, unless someone purchases my old displays! lol.

The store looks full now and people come in and hang around for a bit checking it all out! Ive gotten a few invitation orders, which is exciting! I cant wait till the holidays! I am offering FREE gift wrapping as well as delivery options for those needing that service.

We just picked up some hats and gloves for the cooler weather. Slowly Ive been adding more and more items to inventory. I am using this program on the MAC called Checkout. Its amazing and works well on the computer. I still have to invest in the cash box, scanner and printer but the program works without those. Its so easy to use!

I know this season is going to be fantastic!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

MY new place

My new space!

Zebra walls with pink and hot pink trim. I thought it was strange at first but its growing on me. My place looks a little empty since I've been selling my displays and the largest one is gone! But I got new ones taking its place!

Its still a work in progress. I got this shelf at the front which is the length of the window and its got a lot of my items on it. I think its great... If I can get some tall shelving I can display more items and show out the window and inside as well. It would be great!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Took the leap! Got a new store location!

So on Friday I toured a storefront that had been empty for a few months. I should have gone sooner! I was afraid to see it because of the whole realtor fees and all! No idea what they would be and figured it would be a lot of money but I tried it anyway.

So I wont get into numbers but I have to say Im so excited because there are NO CAM charges! Its just rent plus I gotta pay my own electric but I can deal with that.

Its a work in progress and I set the grand opening for October 1st but I am elated with the new spot.

I am looking into getting matching displays and the zebra wall paper is not going anywhere, YET! lol.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

eBay complainers and whiners! Neutral feedback!

Oh what to do?

It seems you cant get away from them on eBay or Amazon...

People seem to think they have the only order on the planet and you have to tend to them quickly and give them the answers they want.

Its only Wednesday and here are a few of the email titles Ive gotten already this week:

Item not as described:
Where is my item?:
Where is my item?:
Where is my item?:

OK that not a typo, Ive gotten a few emails asking where their item are.

OK the first message was an error I did. The buyer asked for one game and I put the wrong one in the box, call it scatter brained... they emailed me and I apologized for my mistake, let them keep the wrong one and shipped the correct one out. I may have saved myself from negative feedback but I lost a little money on that one. Lets blame it on too much on my mind.

I cant tell you how many emails Ive gotten over the past month about 'Where is my item?' I dont understand it. Some packages have been sitting in one post office for over 10 days just being rescanned and rescanned with no explanation. I approach the local post master cause it looks fishy. She contacts the branch and miraculously the package is delivered a few days later!

I had an international person ask me the same thing and well I cant track international packages its in the hand of their local post office. Once it leaves the states, what am I supposed to do, fly there and bring it to them? There were so many over the past month I got frustrated and changed the shipping options to priority mail only since its traceable. Now Im getting complaints about shipping costs being too high! Im about to stop international shipping all together.

I have another guy that purchase something last Saturday Aug 27, I mailed it on the 29th. I get an email on the 2nd of September because the website says it should have been delivered to them by then. The message says I must have used a wrong address! Seriously? Like I would pop an address out of thin air? Now he emails me again asking me to track his package! Its been 7 days, peoples patience has gone out the window! My reply was LONG but serious people, I cant twist the arm of the post office and make them deliver packages when YOU want them to!

The post office should not put an ETA if they cant deliver it by that ETA, it only makes them look bad and make me wanna switch to UPS or something. Im so tired of people right now I just want to kick them! lol.

Doesn't it say on eBay DSR program that you shouldn't leave negative if the post office takes longer then usual to deliver your package. The seller has no control over the USPS! People need to read the rules. Especially an intentional pacakge! I shipped the next day, I should get credit for that, but NO, the buyer is allowed to give me a low rating because it took weeks to get to them. Well yea, who makes postal service in your country deliver any faster!

Argh... I love my job.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Going into Business with Friends...

So I just watched The Social Network... I thought it was a great movie. The one thing that stood out for me was that a friendship was lost. I know movies can be exaggerated but Im sure most of what happened could have been avoided had they spoke more.

If you have read my previous posts you will see why.

Ive asked others what they thought about going into business with friends and / or family. They have all mentioned the same thing. That roles and expectations of each other should be laid out at the start. Open lines of communication of course. And the seperation of work from friendship.

Its been over a year since the friendship dissolved for me. I wonder sometimes if she will ever come to me an apologize or if shes expecting me to apologize. At this point I dont think there is any thing left to create a friendship again. I often feel lost as I have no one to talk with like we used to talk to each other. It was hard to walk away from an over 20 year friendship, but I had too. I cant even get myself to go back and read my posts. I have only spoken with a few people about what happened and most have agreed with me. I don't know if its because they are mainly hearing my side of the story or if they truly agree with me and are on my side. I cant bring myself to get too close to anyone else because of what happened.

So can you go into business with friends? Im sure its possible when you have every ones roles laid out but if you wing it, I believe its doomed for failure.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Orlando Gift Show and Cash and Carry Show August 2011

So we decided to venture out to Orlando to see if shows outside of our area would carry products we dont normally see in this area. We've been to expos in Boston, Atlantic City, Philadelphia, NYC and Ocean City. Ive notice they do tend to carry products for that area. The Ocean City show carried products for resorts - Ocean City is a beach town. Philadelphia and Boston carried products popular in the city... etc...

So I got a package from JetBlue that included Air, Car and Hotel.... we went for a long weekend. Our flight left Friday at 8AM and landed at 10:30AM - The show did not start until Saturday so we drove to universal studios and visited Island Of Adventures. We had a great time but were super tired. Saturday we head show at the Orlando Convention Center. The show was West wing, this place is HUGE! But it was easy to find.

Parking was $13 but the show reimbursed me for $5. The hall appeared small from above, the front half was not cash and carry but the back half was. We walked around first then made choices and walked back thru. There was A LOT of jewelry. Something Im picky on carrying... but I did find other things that were worth picking up at the show. A lot of low priced products were available but there were also a lot of sales people trying to get you to buy their products. I thought cash and carry was you buy and take it with you right? Well most of these people were selling single pieces and all. I have no idea if I was getting a deal for because there were not too many people buying by the dozen of in minimum orders.

Overall I was not impressed with the cash and carry part. I went back to the non cash and carry side and made a few purchases. Will I attend again in the winter? I dont think so unless I happen to be in the area already.

I hope the purchase I made will cover the cost of the trip.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mini Trip - Island of Adventure

So this past weekend we took a short trip to Orlando. We had a 8AM flight out of Newburgh NY - we arrived in Orlando just after 10AM. We picked up the car at the airport and drove along. We ate lunch at the Golden Corral, one of my favorite places to eat while down there. We do have a tendency to eat A LOT. We purchased one day passes to Islands of Adventure - which we picked up at the park. Parking is up to $15! Which is insane! Anyway the park was pretty packed as usually for a summer Friday.

We entered and headed toward the right as I wanted to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We walked thru the Dr Seuss area as I did not have the kids with me. Going over a bridge we found Poseidon's Fury. We stood online for a half hour only to be turned away when we reached the door. Something had happened and they closed the ride at leaat we were in the A/C. So we started walking again.We had quickly reached the WWOHP - the area was crowed. There was the Train, which blew smoke every so often. Then the stores.. so many little stores with cute little features... forget the snow atop of the buildings... the crooked windows and doors, the signage. The ambiance was very good. There was the Dragon Challange, Flight of the Hippogryth and The Forbidden Journey. They wait was over an hour for all of them so we left and decided to check out the rest of the park.

The day was very hot and it was tough walking around but we checked out stores and the next ride we came upon was the Hulk ride. One of my faves but it had been over 8 years since we had been on it. We were able to put our things in a locker just in front of the building and we waited about 15 minutes to get on the ride. Its still as amazing as I remember it! We walked back to the stadium to see a bike/skate show which was fabulous. We also got on the Spider Man ride which was pretty neat.

By now it was after 6 and we walked back to WWOHP - we walked in the 'back way' - there are two entrances into the the area. The wait was down to 40 minutes for the Forbidden Journey. We put our things in the locker and waited on line. It was super long but the ambiance was amazing. It was the back of the castle and it had a cover to make it look like a green house. Once inside the castle there were statues and the bird to Dumbledore office, then you passed the area with the Unicorn tapestry, then you passed the area with the talking paintings, then you were in Dumbledore office... you pass the sorting hat. It was totally amazing! I was in AWE. You get on the ride and I couldnt believe how fantastic it was!

Once we got off the ride there was this horrible rain storm which caused everyone to gather inside the building. It was so crowed we could not move, it was almost an hour before we were able to get out - the worst part of the day. Finally it let up and we were able to leave but the rides were delayed and lines started to form already. We walked back to the other side of the park. We managed to get onto the Hulk ride again. Once again we walked back towards WWOHP to try the other rides we finally got on Poseidon's fury and tried to get the other rides. By now it was close to 9 and the ride still was not ready so we just left the park.

It had been a long day and we were tired. We are planning a trip in the future to take my kids to these parks. I loved it, but it was not worth the over $80 for a single day pass.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Heading to Florida again!

OK Im a travel nut, but this time is business.

Ive been attending business expos in the area within a 3 hour distance from my store. I started to wonder if going to another place entirely would show me different product. We tried Ocean City Maryland... which was filled with Beach Resort themed items. So I found out about the Orlando Gift Show in August. They actually have this twice a year. The dates for August 2011 are the 5th thru the 8th which is a weekend. Normally this would have worked out perfectly since our timeshare is the same weekend. However this year we were unable to use it or rather reluctant to use it since I already went to Orlando two weeks before and stayed at my sisters timeshare. So we banked our week and I was going to forget about the show.

It kept bothering me, you know that feeling that I should attend the show. So I kept researching rates to fly, rent a car and a hotel. We usually drive but for just a few days it would not be worth it. I had so many prices my head was spinning, in the end I figured it was going to cost me close to $1000 for two people to fly down, rent a car and stay at a hotel. Not counting meals! Again I gave up.

So about 2 weeks ago I get this feeling, I start to look at prices again. I found flights, hotel stay, and car rental for 3 nights for two people for $625! I booked it without even a second thought! Since this was the lowest price I had seen. Now I gotta admit I am afraid of staying in a hotel. We've been staying in Condos and suites for so long Im not sure what to expect, lol. Call me spoiled or what you will. We leave on Friday, I have no idea what we are going to while there.

We will attend the show on Saturday and most likely on Sunday too, but thats done by 3pm. I like to look at product on the first day and buy on the second day anyway so it will work out. But we will arrive in Orlando at 10:30AM on Friday and have the whole afternoon to play. I have not figured out where we are going yet, I was thinking of checking out Aqautica since we have never been there.

We want to see Universal Studios, well I wanna see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I love the movies but Ive never read the books. I still wanna see it! Besides we have not been to Universal Studios or Island of Adventure in over 8 years. My husband is calling it a mini vacation for us, lol. Isnt he cute?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Left handed store in Downtown Disney

The first time I ever saw a store called Lefty's was in the 90's. It was a small kiosk in the Manhattan Mall. I purchased a book were the spiral was on the right side. I never wrote in it since I thought it was so cool. I still have the notebook.

While visiting Disney last week we found Lefty's by the water next to Little Missmatched. Being the only left handed person in my family I have always been intrigued by these items that are supposed to help us. I do a lot of things right handed but I write lefty. I once had a subscription to a magazine called SouthPaw. What made it different was that the bind was on the right. You didnt read it any differently it just opened it differently. I have one child out of three that is lefty!

At the Lefty's store I picked up a pair of wooden utensils which cost me about $19 for 3 pieces. Everyone thought I was crazy but any item you use you will see they are meant for a right handed person. Everything I do backwards apparently but its nice to see there is a company out there for lefty's.

They had pens that help keep the ink off your hands, scissors, notebooks and more. I personally dont use scissors anymore as they caused pain in my thumb. I either ask someone else to cut things for me, or I use an iSlice by The Pampered Chef, lol.

Dont forget: Lefty's are in their Right minds! lol

Friday, July 22, 2011

The case of my shrinking daughter!

Ride Restrictions: We know its for everyone safety right? And I am ok with my kids not being able to ride because they are not tall enough. But what happens when one day you meet the requirements and the next you don't? lol

That happened to my daughter. While at Busch Gardens she met the 48 inches requirements for many rides. I guess cause she was in sneakers - amazingly enough at Typhoon Lagoon, she almost touched the 48 inch marker on the rides. At the first ride they measured her they gave her a wrist band so they wouldn't measure her again. We had a blast running from ride to ride and getting on everything. Finally at Blizzard beach she was so far from the 48 inch mark she couldn't ride one of the rides. We were OK with that ride as it turned out that the pool at the bottom would have been way over her head.

So did she shrink over the course of a few days? The chlorine caused it?

Who knows for sure lol. I just know my little girl shrunk overnight.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fuji Japanese Restaurant Middletown NY

So this hot new restaurant opened up at the Galleria at Crystal Run in Middletown NY - we decided to visit for lunch on Tuesday for our monthly 'date'. They have strange hours - for lunch they are open till 2:30 then they close and open up again at 4:30 for dinner. The prices are also higher for dinner, but they offer the same dishes during lunch.

We arrived and were seated at a table with two other couples. The 'tables' can fit up to 10 people, and I guess they try to squeeze as many people at the tables.

I ordered Hibachi Shrimp and my spouse orders Hibachi Salmon. We got appetizers too.. we dont normally but we were starving. I got the Shrimp Shumai as seen in the image. The presentation was cool... they were like shrimp dumplings. I never had it before, but they were AMAZING! We loved it!

The spouse got Eel Rolls - he said it was fantastic, but I dont do sushi so I couldnt say.

Of course they had a show for everyone which was fun, but they always do this at Hibachi style dinning.

We has not been to hibachi style dinning since we were in Hawaii a few years ago.

These meals included soup or salad, vegetables and fried rice! My shrimp hibachi cost about $11 I think and the salmon hibachi cost about the same. All together we paid $45 including tax and tip for two entrees, two appetizers and one soda, I had water. We ate it all, the food was amazing, but let me tell you. Without getting to detailed... it went thru us within an hour lol...

Overall great meal, great show, nice atmosphere.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Using paypal for returns.

When a return is needed the best way is to print a label online. There are many home bound people that can not get to the post office. Or people that just dont have time to stand in line. You could go to the USPS website! Unfortunately USPS only offers Priority mail on their website.

There are other ways to select first class mail. If you do not already use or Endicia for your mailings you can use paypal. How?

99% of buyers have a paypal account and dont realize they can create a label using it. There is a special link and you cant find it easily on the website.

Why spend $5 to ship an item priority mail when you can ship it first class and spend under $3, depending on weight. Remember first class is 13 ounces and under.

I had a buyer complain they did just that, I spent $1.75 sending it to them they spent $5 returning it and wanted me (the seller) to refund the shipping fees. I explained you can not get refunded more then what you paid out even before they filed a claim to return the item.

If you buy an item for a total of $8 why would you want to spend $5 to return it?

You have to be logged into Paypal and use this link:

Once in there all you need to enter is the address you are sending it to along with the weight. It helps if you have a scale, if you do not check the label that you received the package in. I recommend turning the poly bag inside out and checking the weight which should be listed at the top of the label. No need to buy a poly bag! No guessing!

Youll get delivery confirmation as well, print out the label - tape it to the package and drop it in the mailbox and await your refund!

Simple, easy and low priced!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I had it for a second!

I contacted a company that I thought was charging was too much for office space. But with limited space in the area I had to try. They offered me a small space, just shy of 400 square feet. They wanted 15 per square foot, plus common area maintenance fees. Can I afford it? Yes... do I want to? Not really but anything to get out of this space.

After viewing the space and loving it! I said yes draw up the lease. A few emails back and forth, they want me to fill out all this paperwork. They want profit and loss statements, net worth statements, tax returns... and the list goes on!

Oh my I nearly lost it. I felt like I wasted my time with this whole thing. Back to the drawing board on finding a place. I dont think they are going to let me take the space since I have none of the papers that they want. I can cross my fingers but Im not getting my hopes up.

I had it for a second!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Stuck in this hole in the wall

Well I finally got word that I did not get the store front down the road that I really wanted.


So Im stuck in the hole in the wall a while longer. I was going to bring everything back home but I have way to much stuff and not enough house. Its too bad I dont have an extra garage or a spare room. Not until the boys move out, if that ever happens! LOL...

Ive been told that one can smell the mold on my boxes in the office! Its scary coming home with headaches daily. I dunno what to think.

There are three store fronts in town available that I am aware of... one is way to large almost 2000 square feet which will cost $2K a month. It has the ability to be split. The other two are about 900 square feet for $1K a month. They also have to go thru a realtor, which means more money. It also means expenses will go up A LOT with rent starting at $1000!

I really dont want to move to another town, I continue to pray something opens up and soon!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Hole in the Wall Part 2

Its been raining non stop in the north east for what feels like a month! Apparently the water decided to enter into my store last week. I took pictures to show that Im not crazy... the landlord tried to tell me the water came in thru the door. I show the water coming in thru the ledge next the window. We believe its running down the wall/window and landing on the floor.

The smell is horrible and its been a week and the carpet is still wet. Apparently this is not the first time this has happened either. I have noticed water stains on the ledge before but was not sure where it was coming in from. I thought maybe someone upstairs spilled something and it came thru the floor.

After this horrible non stop rain I started to notice the water on the carpet. When I was able to move my displays I found them to be saturated! Its not the best material when wet. The bottom of one of my displays is bubbling up. Ive also found mold along the side wall which has upset me to no end. I continue to pray that a new location opens up for me soon.

Negative Feedback on eBay.

Well it happened again, I got a negative feedback on my ranking.

I take it personally yes, because I have done everything by the book yet people seem to feel that they can crap (PG word) on you.

So the day goes along, you get a sale, you pack and ship it and send it out. I make sure all my items are packaged so they will not damage in transit. I especially examine my sunglasses before sending them out for scratches or damage. I do have items on shelves and they can collect dust from time to time, so I clean them off.
Carefully put them in bubbles or an indestructible box. In this case it was a pair of sunglasses that were on a card, provided by the manufacture with a free eye glass cord. I used a stock image as it was exact. Well the item arrived in 3 days! The item cost $5.99 and shipping was $2.05 - very low priced item. It was received at the address on the 16th, I get the first email on the 17th:

Title: Item I received isnot as described
hello. The side little round circle was off sunglasses as soon
as it was removed from package. He never even tried them on.
Please give me address to return. I hope you refund shipping
both ways also. This was a waste of time and money.

So I had no idea what this person meant by round circle until I pulled the other pair I had available. View the images.
My reply:

I dunno what that is thats broken I guess but return them to PO box *** Some City NY 99999 - refunds are less shipping costs but in this case I may make an exception, Ill have to examine the item when it arrives here, however I cant issue refunds for more then what you paid to purchase the item. Sorry.

Well within a few minutes I get this reply:

If I have to take a loss and you are not refunding shipping, I will have to open a claim then.
I should not have to take a loss when you send a broken item.
Please give me address you wish returned to.
thank you.

Here is the first threat to open a claim since they buyer has to take a loss in sending it back.

I stopped issuing refunds on good faith because too many people expect to get things for FREE by issuing false claims, getting eBay to refund them for the full amount and then leaving the buyer negative feedback anyway despite doing everything according to the rules.

So here is my reply:

I assure you these were not broken when they left here, I examine everything prior to mailing. Its bad enough your marking this as 'item not as described' when its is as described. Im not the kind of seller to sell broken items so please dont threaten me with 'claims', please file one if you feel that strongly about it, you not the first to make such claims and Im sure you wont be the last. If it was broken prior to shipping I would have told you in advance and cancelled the order. If it broke in transit thats another story then I will issue a full refund of your purchase price and shipping, pending further examination.
Return address as stated in the previous email is ....

So this goes back and forth a few more times:
She replies:

The glasses were sealed in the package so how could you have checked before shipping?
Since you won't answer whether you will refund my original shipping, I will be opening
a dispute. That will guarantee my original shipping will be covered. I have no clue
what you mean by "investigation". Round side piece was broken when we took out of
package. What is there to investigate?

Second threat to open a dispute. I believe as a seller I have every right to investigate everyones claims! Right? And these were not sealed in plastic, they are in a plastic pouch but not sealed.

My reply:

These are not sealed in plastic at all, they are opened at the top and I can examine the product, I have more here so i know what Im talking about. On the other hand I dunno what you are talking about when you mean round side piece was broken, are you talking about the little spongebobs in circles? These are not broken prior to shipping this is why I said its possible they were damaged in transit, If you go back and read the last emails I will investigate your claim and make the decision to refund your shipping fees at that time. File a claim if you must.

By this time I was already livid Im trying to work and ship products for my other customers and this person keeps emailing me about this. Even writing this gets me heated!

So she appeared to calm down and explain a little to me, I grabbed the other pair that I had in my hand and looked it over. I agreed it may be defective but certainly not broken. I told her I would contact the manufacture and Ill issue a refund when it arrives here.

Her reply:

I opened a dispute when you would not listen.
Please respond to dispute. It is a shame it got to that.

I simply said Thank you!

Now the fun part. Keep in mind she threatened to file a claim twice already and now does it when I agreed it may be defective. Then says I wouldnt listen?!?

So that night I already left 'work' but I knew that the claim was coming so I logged in from home. So I get the claim and this is what it says:

"Took glasses out of sealed package and side round piece immediately fell off. My grandson never even tried on. Seller said he can't guarantee original shipping refund without "investigation". I would think he would say he was sorry for the problem but instead states he has to do an "investigation". I said I preferred to work out with him and tried to sending several emails. He told me go ahead and open a dispute. All I am asking is refund for glasses & shipping since they were broken when opened. I emailed him within minutes of opening package. They are unused. See his ridiculous emails? What does he think I broke them to loose $ ? I want to return & want my original shipping reimbursed also. HE won't guarantee that until he does investigation. Didn't want to involve ebay but he told me to. I do not appreciate the rudeness. Thanks!"

Shocking huh?

I was floored! Not only is the buyer referring to me as a 'he', she says she wants an apology and tried to work it out? I recall writing Sorry in my first email! Says my emails are Ridiculous? Seriously? The package was never sealed, the plastic was open at the top the whole time. I truly believe this person was hoping that I would just refund the money, let them keep it and forget about it. Even my FAQ page says you want a refund item must be returned! So I didnt reply, I selected the option 'Issue full refund upon return of item'... a few days later I get an email that says:


So I was like OK, I didn't reply again because what was the point. I waited for package to arrive. Apparently the package arrived on a Saturday to my PO Box, I dont work on Saturday. So Monday morning I logged into my mobile device I get this email:

"hello. USPS tried to deliver 3 days ago and notice was left. Please pick up. Please refund & my shipping back as promised. I don't want to have to escalate this. Thank you."

I was like seriously? Now your being pushy, complains and threatening to me again?!?

I never thought I was being mean, rude, or anything like that. I was to the point in all my replies.

So I replied:

I see your replies. Your package Attempted delivery on a Saturday to a post office box when I don't work. It will be retrieved today. (Monday)

She replies again:

Thank you.
Shipping back was $4.75. where I printed label didn't have first class or parcel post.
I didn't go to post office as I am in heavy chemo & Dr. doesn't want me driving right now.
I printed off label and put in my mail box for pick up.

So now Im supposed to feel sorry for her? I mean I dont know her do I? People make up stories all the time. Now this item was received in tact with the tiny little disc missing on one of the sunglass arms. (view images) I picked it up Monday late (4:45pm) and again went home. Last thing I needed was another email stating that I didnt issue a refund. I would normally waited till Tuesday to process the refund! So I get home, go online and issued the refund there, it was for the cost of the item plus the shipping to her total of $8. I was surprised to see eBay gave me the seller fees back! But I lost out on the shipping fees, the USPS never refunds that. I didnt care, I could relist the item, who cares about a little disc? Any child would love the glasses like that and would wear them anyway. Or destroy them as kids can do.

Well imagine how NOT surprised I was to see a negative mark. Well not only that she gave me a score of 1 star in description and 1 star in communication! How wrong is that? I replied to all her emails. How do I know I was her? Well I dont know for sure, but I check the scores a few times a day and see how they change.

Was it deserved? You tell me. All the emails received and replied are word for word I did not change or alter any of the wording except address and tracking numbers. I didnt even put names. What are the chances this buyer will find my blog?

The negative remark says she lost money on the return. Who told her to ship it Priority mail? It could have easily went first class for under $2. Cant drive to the post office? may not offer first class but there are other companies that do.

As a buyer and seller, I encourage everyone to use eBay to settle disputes. The buyer has to file the claim and return the item before refunds are issued.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kespon Id Guard Stamps, Rollers and Tape Runners

Guard your ID stamps are some great products. Product Review

I found them a few years ago when they just had one product in two different sizes. There were large and small stamps. What are they for? Well you know those annoying junk letters and catalogs we get in the mail? Most of us just shred the address or rip up the mail and toss it in the trash. Did you know that a lot of shredded paper is not recyclable?

What the stamps do is give you the opportunity to cover your address and still toss the papers into the recycle bin! How about that? Be eco friendly while hiding your information! The large stamps cover an area of 2.5 x 1 inches and the small stamps cover an area of 1.5 x .5 inches. Both work fine for all types of mail, if you have a small one you may need to stamp more then once to cover the entire area.

Stamps are available in Large and Small in a variety of colors. While they print in BLACK only you can be flashy with a White, Pink, Green or Navy Blue stamp! Great addition for your desk to match your decor lol...

You'll also find rollers! These are handy devices for covering a long area in a continuous stream. It is 1 inch wide and also comes in a colors White, Pink, Green and BLUE.

Need something portable? You'll find portable stamps that cover an area of 1.5 x .5. What makes these different is that they are retractable, so you have to draw it back and out between stamps. Great to stamp receipts while your out on the town that show your credit card information. Should it get lost, no worries as you've blocked your information. They also have this handy little clip to attach to paper or your pocket. Available in Pink and Blue

A nifty one is the tape runner! These cover a line at a time. Whats it good for? Well lets say you have to fax a statement to your accountant, you dont want your accountant to see your account numbers or that one insane purchase. You can pull out your tape runner and cover that ONE LINE! No need for white out or using paper to cover it up.

All the stamps are refillable, meaning once you see you have no more ink you can find refill cartridge for the stamps and continue using the stamp. All stamp pads are good for about 1000 impressions. The portables are the only stamps that can not be refilled. They also use special ink so its important to purchase the refills supplied by Plus, dont fall for imitations.

Which one do I use? Ive had the small stamp for almost 2 years now.
Does it work? Of course, I stamp EVERYTHING!

Please note: It does not work well on Glossy paper as the ink my rub off. What do I do? Ill stamp the magazine and let it sit for a few days before tossing it. It usually dries up no problem and I recycle the magazine.

All the products come with disclaimers: This product may not conceal all data completely, Plus Corp is not responsible for damages which may be incurred trough the use of this products, Do not use this product for any purpose other then covering information on paper. Keep out of reach of children. May not adhere to all surfaces. Avoid leaving in hot, humid or in direct sunlight.

All instructions can be found on the back of the products.

They now offer these interesting clipboards that have these amazing symbols all over it. Slide your paper underneath it and no one can see your paperwork. Great for doctor offices or any type of office where you have to walk around with papers that no one else should see. I hate walking around holding a stack of papers to my chest. This makes it easier. Check it out!

Canada postal service on strike!

Well Ive been selling on eBay and Amazon and many of my orders are from our friends to the north. Ive never really had issues with them and have not put them on my 'list of countries I dont ship to' yet!

Canadian postal service went a strike a few days ago, the USPS has issued statements saying that they will not accept packages to Canada until this is resolved. Only Global Express mail... well none of my buyers are willing to pay that amount of money.

You would think the people that live in Canada would know they are not getting mail!

Why are people from Canada still placing orders from me? Ive put messages and I am sure eBay tells them about this strike yet Ive gotten an order every day so far. I have emailed the buyers and when they dont reply I just cancel the order. No sense in holding the order open until the strike is over, that could take weeks.

One of the buyers denied my request for cancellation and then sends an email apologizing they should have read their emails. Well yea you think? So now I am out on seller fees and then he says where is the refund as he does not have a paypal account? Seriously? How else can I issue a refund?!? Im so fed up with this mess and new buyers not understanding how eBay works. It gets worse... this buyer goes back into my store and buys the products AGAIN so now he had two pending orders without payment. Argh!

There is no way for me to 'turn off' shipping to Canada unless I do it with each individual listings which would take me FOREVER! Thank goodness with Amazon I could just take Canada off my list and I have not had a problem with buyers there.

Buyers need to wake up and read!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Is Primerica A Scam? What it cost me..

This is the all time famous question isnt it?

Well this is just my experience with it.... about 5 years ago a friend invited me over saying they wanted to show me something. And of course I went to find this person representing Primerica. It was a time in my life when I was big on reading John Cummuta and Suze Orman. So what I got from the presentation was making money while teaching people these concepts that Ive been studying. The snowball debt payment plan worked well for me at the time. So why not teach others? My friend and I signed up on the spot. The sign up was what $200 at the time.

We immediately took the classes to learn about Life Insurance. This was not something I ever thought Id be selling. We didnt have insurance as a family so we got it thru Primerica, in NY they use National Benefit Life. We never bothered to ' shop' around cause this was the 'last place youd ever get these products from'. This representative was either very convincing or we were just gullible. Cost of class? Not sure.

Once we had license we were able to write policies on our own. I have written a few policies in my time as a 'Primerica' Rep. Only one of them has had a problem. My RVP reviewed the application and checked a box that I didnt check. It automatically increases the benefit annually. This person has had so much trouble cancelling this feature and I have no idea why the RVP would have check this. As a rep I never past Sr Rep level. My commissions were piddly as they have to pay me, my upline (my friend the District Leader), the RVP, the SRVP and everyone else above them. So I figured Id go for my securities licenses, I knew some people that wanted to do roll overs and such. Well that cost me about $600 give or take. I had to pay for books ($100), computer online classes, taking ALL the tests and that was just the first year. I didnt even pass the series 6 the first time! My RVP told me to study the computer classes and get at least 90% before taking the test. I dont know if I really learned anything, it felt like all I was doing was memorizing the answers. When I passed I was so excited! But I still dont know anything. I rolled over my IRA which was about 20K and I was paid under $150. There was an upfront sales charges I had to pay for the roll over, which was basically the commissions. My uplines made the most on this transaction. Then I rolled over one for my friend, which was about 75K. I made about $800 on that one. I realized that again I was not making money on these transactions. What the heck? I learned from interviews at other companies I should have been paid a whole lot more then that!

As the years went by I couldnt find anyone to 'help', so my licenses were just sitting there. The first year of renewal they told me if I didnt have a 'transaction' I couldnt renew my series 6 & 63. They eventually came back and said they were waiving that specific year so I was able to renewed the first year. Cost me close to $500, the second year I couldnt do it, and I was not allowed to renew since I didnt have a transaction. Besides I didnt want to spend another $500 for these licenses. I let them lapse, my life insurance also lapsed on my birthday. I was happy as I felt restricted from doing anything else during this process of waiting.

After some point my RVP convinced me to refinance into a SMART loan. In the end you pay less interest, you pay bi weekly, stop chasing rates... etc... we didnt have a bad loan, it was fairly decent. There was nothing 'hidden' in the mortage. I have seen mortgages that were actually 40 years loans, Ive seen some with balloon payments, and of course ARMs. We had none of those. We had some debt out there but we were fine. They convinced us to combine it all into a refinance. Well we did. I made $800 on that transaction. We never knew the 'rate' as he said its irrelevant and dont worry. It wasnt until the mortgage was moved to another division of Citigroup that we saw an interest rate of 7.78%. No we do not have bad credit and we didnt have bad credit back then either. So what was that all about?

We had plenty of equity in the house so the refinance was a cinch. But we had to pay our own property and school taxes. There was twice a year that were a little hard for us since they were taking payments directly out and the month had 3 payments. We were paying $806 bi weekly plus had to save an additional $500 a month for taxes and insurance. Today I find out that 7.78% was based on saving .25% because they took the money directly out of our account! So the actual rate 8.03%?!?!

My spouse was livid when we found these things out. But he is nice enough to mention it was all my idea. What makes this worse is viewing the statements on line and seeing that maybe $100 was hitting principal! But you expect that with mortgages. We were stuck with this mortgage for at least 3 years or we would have had to pay a penalty! Our three years were up a few months ago but the value of the house has dropped a lot. So we've been shopping.

On a positive note: We were able to get Quicken loans to help us out of this mortgage. Yea its a 30 year again, but the monthly payment will be $1670 which includes EVERYTHING saving us over $400 a month. And the rate is 4.5%! Its an FHA loan and nothing is hidden. This will be our last mortgage for sure. With that extra $400 a month we can pay down the mortgage easily.

I am almost rid of Primerica in my life.... we refinanced, I let the licenses expire, I closed out that IRA, (Cant tell you how much I lost over the years), havent decided if I will explore a new term life policy. I am strongly for TERM LIFE as I believe its the way to go, and I know as one gets older rates go up so I may not change that.

Oh and the rep that signed us up left Primerica for Chase! Can you believe that crap! All that talking about having a 'job' Just Over Broke, Primerica is the way to go.. blah blah blah! I was livid when I heard that. Any they keep calling me to work with them. Aint happening!

So what is my final tally: $1400 in expenses listed here, but there were plenty of boot camps, get together events (probably at $100 a pop!), oh and dont forget the convention! We flew down to Atlanta, stayed for a few days and drove home. That may have cost me $600 there, plus all the flyers, catalogs, post cards, paperwork, CDs that were purchased. Let not think about how much that mortgage cost us!

Please think hard before joining that company. Yes many people can make it work but more then half fall out.

Friday, June 17, 2011

My Hole in the Wall.

So I ran my business out of my house for years until it consumed my living room/office space. At the time I was also selling for someone else, so my days were filled with driving back and forth from my home to theirs to retrieve items for mailing. It was a big pain in the tush. Eventually they starting dropping things off, That was done when it worked out for them which drove me crazy. So I suggested getting office space to share were everything was done in one central location no dropping off of picking up as everything will be in one location.

This was a great idea while it lasted. All my inventory was out of my house, I got a business phone number, and a business address. It felt more official for me. The first space we got was a small office on the second floor of the building. Heat and Electric were included. There was a window which was great. The lighting was OK, kinda dark. The room had two closets which was nice for storage. I picked up some displays from a store that was closing in the next town over. It was a nice start. I enjoyed getting my mail, going to 'work' at my office, doing my job and finally feeling like I had a real job.

When I broke ties with the person I was selling for I now had a decision to make, do I stay or do I go? I was not making a whole ton of money as my inventory was limited. Honestly I was selling their products more then I was selling my own. Well it was $150 a month plus I had to pay for my own internet and phone which was $60. Could I afford it? Well I made sure I could. This also meant I had to get a computer since we were using theirs. More money out of my pocket. Well I dunno how I did it but I leased one, actually two - a desktop and laptop. It was great, everything was falling into place. My sales were finally heading up!

I had sales people calling me! I was buying new products, listing new products. Everything was runny smoothly. I started to get to large for the small office I had. I was on the hunt again for new space. I found an ad in the paper for a 1000 square foot space, it seemed like a bit much but I called anyway. The person on the other end tells me everything is included and its $13 a square foot. I almost died at the moment. I did math quickly in my head. $13,000 a month? What the heck? This guy was nuts. I said ok thanks and hung up. Who in the world would pay that amount of money!?

So I went back to my hole in the wall.

Well I found out the small store front in the building I was in was available. So I scoped it out and it had about 100 square feet as store front and the rest was storage. It was going to cost me $250 a month, $100 more. So I did it, I moved into the little store front. Its taken me months to get it the way I like it to look but honestly I hate it. There is no direct heat source, no baseboard or radiators. Let just say I was freezing my butt off in the winter.

The heat was turned off by end of March but it was still freezing temperatures in the April so I had to buy a heater! My toes would get so cold I couldnt feel them. Its horrible. Ive only been here 7 months. Ive been frozen because of no heat, people cant find me cause its the 'basement', the bathrooms are right above my space so Ive been leaked on and I hear rushing water all day! Ive caught 4 mice and lost some inventory because of water damage. Now the weather is warming it, its humid as hell in there. My boxes are becoming flimsy and I cant stand the smell. I should have stayed in the first office.

I found an ad for storefront space down the road. She showed it to me, I was in love! It was just over 700 square feet, next to an Italian restaurant and there was parking, at an intersection, Im sure everyone can find me. I was elated. Then she tells me its $15 a square foot. I was shocked again! Do the math $15 x 700 thats 10,500 a month!? NO she tells me... thats the annual rate! Im like WHAT!?! its $15x700/12 months. Oh boy was I wrong lol.. I could have kicked myself, so it would be $875 monthly. Oh nice, not bad Im thinking. Then she mentions I have to pay my own electric, my own heat and there are common charges. Confused yet? A store front with common charges? Are you kidding me? OK so before Id pay electric and heat, Id have to pay about $1100 a month! Oh boy. I had to cry and turn it away. Sad day for me.

Back to my hole in the wall.

I live in a small town and well I may be able to find something in the next town over I really want to stay in MY town. There are a few other places open for rent so I checked them out. All about 900 square feet and they all want $1000 a month. So Im not ready to pay that kinda money. All of a sudden one of the buildings that was renting for $1000 a month for 1500 square feet put up a sign that they were willing to divide the space. I had to check it out. The smaller side was 600 square feet and $600 a month! My kinda budget even with paying electric and heat, there was no common charges! Id have more space, in a nice location and a HUGE window! I was looking at $900 a month, I could swing it.

Its been over a week and I have not heard from the guy, apparently there were people that were looking at it that wanted to open another restaurant in that location. Argh! Im sure he would give it to them before me as I just wanted half the building.

Back to my hole in the wall.