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.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Continuing Drama...

So if you've read my blogs you will know I have been having issues with someone that used to be a friend. My husband and I refer to them as Voldemort - cause we dont want to say names.

Well I heard from my hair dresser that she bumped into Voldemort last week at the post office. Voldemort explained that we were no longer talking and was looking to fix it! What a shocker!

First Im like, you told me to leave you alone forever & you said have a nice life! And now you want to mend this? Im so confused!

My hair dresser was floored too.. ok many of us talk to our hair dressers, she knows everything. At least everything Ive told her. It may seem like it would be a one sided story but Im not one to embellish or make her take my side over anyone else. I explained everything as I understood it and pointed out my errors in the whole situation. But why would Voldemort tell the hair dresser this?

Ok if you 'burn your bridges' and want to mend them what do you do? I think I will never hear from Voldemort, this person is so stubborn I bet they are waiting for me to make the first move. I dont even know if I could speak with them again. I mean this relationship will never be the same as it was before. If I even speak to them again it will be from a distance. I cant risk being hurt again.

Ive been upset since I have heard this information, I find myself crying each night. Sometimes I just wanna call Voldemort, but I cant since it feels like I would be setting myself up to be hurt. I am at a loss.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Expanding my business

So I added Invitations to my line of products.

Wedding Invitations, Birthday invitations, special events, bridal shower invitations, baby shower, holiday cards, save the date cards and more.

What make sthese different then anyone else?

These are completely personalized!
You pick the card size!
You pick the background color!
You pick the font!
Get as many as you want!
You pick the font color!
You pick your icon!
You can put your picture in the invite!
You can print as little as 2 cards and go up from there, NO MINIMUM QTY REQUIRED!
Get matching response cards, menus, programs, place cards, candy wrappers, stickers.. etc..

Or you can pick one of our already created cards!

Why not match your invitations to your theme colors?
There is a Nonrefundable set up fee of $15. Discounts available for multiple items purchased at the same time.

Check out my website for more information.
Here is a small sampling of our cards, I have tons of icons and fonts available.