Friday, April 26, 2013

Telemarketer strikes back!

A few months ago we inadvertently signed up for something that we thought was something else. You know how that happens right?  We were at a convention were multiple things were going on and there was a large table in the hall surrounded by many people filling out these forms. The sign said win a $500 gift certificate to Home Depot! So of course we were like OK, didnt think about it and signed up for it and forgot about it.

A month later we get a call from someone at a place called Blue Green Resorts. She goes on to tell me that we signed up to get information at a convention center, the exact same one as mentioned above. I was like I wouldn't sign up for information on timeshare resorts.  She goes on to give me more details and it all comes back to me. We signed up to win a give certificate to Home Depot not for information on Blue Green Resorts. She of course has no idea what I am talking about but was nice about it and I said we are not interested just remove our number from your list. She agrees and I think thats the last I hear about it.

Just last week I get a call from guess who? Yup Blue Green Resorts, telling me how I signed up at the convention center requesting information. I said no we didnt and the conversation goes back to yes I did, So now Im pissed of course and I say "We didnt sign up for that, it was a gift certificate to Home Depot and I told you people to remove...." I never got to finish that sentence. The man on the other end cuts me off and says 'I am not YOU PEOPLE, I am a consumer just like you and dont appreciate you says YOU PEOPLE, Jesus is my savior and ...' I stopped listening since I was in shock now.  I did hear him say that we were removed from the list yet again and that we should pay attention to what we sign up for.

I said thank you and hung up.  Never have I had someone do that!

Someone has opened a case against me... now what? Amazon or eBay

We have had our share of cases. Most of them unfounded and in our favor anyway. Many of them used improperly.

The first thing is not to panic. There are many times of 'cases' that can open against you. Ill start with Amazon first.

On Amazon someone can open an A-Z Claim or a Chargeback.  A Chargeback is usually when a buyer complains to their credit card company about a charge not being theirs. So its a 'fraudulent'. In the past 3 years we have seen 2 chargebacks on our account. Or rather we have noticed there were 2.  These usually happen in behind the scenes, sometimes they will ask you to provide details to help with the case but since everything is done online you are really protected especially if the item was marked delivered.  Both cases were escalated in our case but they were dealt with by Amazon. We proved they were shipped and received by the buyer and Amazon decided to refund the buyer on their own, we were not held responsible. Unfortunately there are a few dishonest people out there.

An A-Z Claim is when a buyer is disappointed with a product or it was damaged, defective or wrong, or non receipt.  We have had about 3 of these over the years. The most recent was a buyer claiming they did not receive the item. Turned out it was sitting in the post office! They never picked it up or answered the door since it need a signature, Amazon immediately refunded the buyer because the item truly was not delivered, rightfully so. So at that moment I contacted the post office over there and told them to return it to me. Which they did at least I had the product back.

We had one case years ago where they buyer claimed they were over charged shipping. Its one of those where the buyer does not read the listing and selected two day shipping for an item and yells at us telling us it was supposed to be FREE... you know what Im talking about.  Needless to say we won that case but not without getting a nice big fat negative on our rating.  We are starting to call them battle scars lol.

I get a kick out of it when a buyer says they were never informed of the prices! I mean Im actually not a big buyer online but I know that Amazon and eBay show you the prices of the item and shipping MANY times over before you say send payment. Amazon also gives buyers 30 minutes to change the order! So they get an email and they can see the order in front of them!

On eBay buyers can open a case with eBay or Paypal. Most cases with Paypal hold funds on your account until the item is either returned or the buyer escalates the issue and Paypal refund them.  We've seen that happen only a handful of times. When someone opens a case with paypal they never expect that they have to return the item. I ALWAYS  say they have to return the item before we will issue a refund.   We had one were there was a chargeback. I was totally shocked as they buyer ordered a personalized item and we had a complete conversation with this buyer! Not only that they lefts us positive feedback the same day they received it! I had to upload the conversation to paypal and in the end they found in my favor and they dealt with the credit card company.

There are these other 'cases' buyers are opening on eBay. Ive had two in the past month. They work a little differently. The buyer says the item is not described and eBay says we have to 'work it out' perhaps until the buyer is satisfied or closed the case. Not exactly sure what happens on their end.  But what gets me is when they use the wrong thing. Example: The one I got today said the item was not as described, but then it says they want a replacement as its broken. So which is it?  Last one said same thing... but I fixed that. Apparently we shorted an item so we sent them out and they got it. So how does sending one to little mean item not as described?  These cases dont hold funds against us but it still makes me wonder.

What I dont get is why people are so quick to open a 'case' against us when they can just send an email telling what the issue is.

We once had a buyer accuse us of listing the wrong color.  Im like its blue you got blue how is that wrong?  Buyer says the picture is light blue, the item is dark blue, or it may have been the other way around I forget but Im like seriously?  Its not like you got it in red, now thats a wrong color. Disclaimers started becoming a staple in our listings.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Considering drop shipping?

Half the sellers online use this method to sell products. Why not? Its easy, all you have to do it list the items on your website, sell it, place the order with the company, pay your cost and the rest is yours!  Easy no?

When I first started selling online I said I would personally never, ever do that.  One of the main reason is because you dont see the product, your looking at it just like anyone else and trusting that the quality is what it says it supposed to be. Your also trusting that the item is in stock for them to ship it.  Your trusting that the company is doing everything to ensure that the item arrives undamaged and as it is described on their website!  There is a lot of trust behind a computer.

The other reason is that there are many companies promoting to eBay and Amazon other size to sellers to drop ship their item and it turns into everything else... hundreds of sellers selling the same exact item and eventually someone is selling the item at cost and you cant sell it like that since you make nothing. Now you have to research again for items to sell.

When selecting a drop shipper be sure you can view their products BEFORE you agree to sell it. Im talking about handling the item.  There a tons of companies covering all kinds of products so dont stick with one just because they advertise in a magazine and you think they must be good.  No take your time and search around the internet.  Look for manufactures that drop ship too.

There are many companies that do not charge a drop fee. I seek these out cause any MORE fees you have to pay come out of your pocket. Request samples or order them if you have to. At least you will get an idea of what you are dealing with.  I would rather pay for a sample then try and sell a horrible product that you will have to accept as a return cause the buyer does like it and lose money.  Dont tell me you wont accept returns cause its just not possible. Remember these buyers can call their credit cards to dispute a transaction and just like that you are out the money and the product.  Accept returns and re-list the item even if you have to do it at a deep discount.

Be sure to review weights of the item in question.  Ill give you an example:  I had this item listing in my store.  It was a sash, it weighed maybe 5 ounces. They purchased the item for say $6. So according to my shipping calculators they only paid $3 to ship it. This is fine if I am sending it myself via USPS. I would pay just about $2 to send it and all is done right? Well for drop shipping this particular company had a drop fee and used UPS so if I submitted this item for drop ship I would be seriously underwater.   Lets do math - Total they paid me $9 - the item would cost me $3 plus $2.50 drop ship fee - 5.50 - the shipping fee could be anywhere from $4 to $9! Not counting the fees for that transaction where am I at? At the lowest shipping fee I would be under by 50 cents BEFORE transaction fees! Is that worth it? No way!  

Stick with items that are over a pound for drop shipping.

You want to deal with items people are looking for yes but you need to profit at.  I have some items listing my store for $50, they cost $25. The weight they tell me is like 3 pounds but I enter them as 6 pounds. Not to charge an excessive amount of shipping but to make sure that I am covered.  The buyer paid me $15 in shipping and the drop shipper charged me $13 to ship the item so I made $2 on shipping plus $25 on the item.

Remember most shipping companies are zone specific.  A 3 pound package from NY to VA will cost less then a that same package from NY to CA. Many programs are not that complex to be able to tell you in advance what the shipping costs will be.  Since we ship across the country its better to have a buffer with the shipping then to end up eating it.

Where do you find drop shippers??  Besides online?  Believe it or not many of my current vendors offered drop shipping and I had no idea.  Read their terms and ask them to see if they do it and how its offered.

Good Luck in your search.

Moving to another state

Its quite possible now.  The spouse went on a business trip to California, three weeks out there and he loves it.  The place, the people, the weather, the location... he applied for the open position out there.  I suggested it when he first found out but he was a little scared.  After the second week he finally applied for the job.  They said it was his, they still have to create an 'offer' for him to review and accept so we are still up in the air at this point.

Im so nervous about it. Ive never lived anywhere but NY, I lived in North Carolina for like 4 months but thats not really living is it?  While we wait there are so many thing to consider... Ive always wanted to move but to Florida not California.  Everyones got their opinions and thats fine but I hate NY and it just grows more and more every year.  Cant stand the cold, ice or snow.  And yea Florida has hurricanes and California has earthquakes, but dont forget in the past few years we had two hurricanes and a tropical storm that knocked out the tri state area for well over a week!

So much to investigate, so much to review. I am fortunate that I can do my business virtually anywhere in the US so it does not matter where I go. But now I have to learn new rules, sales tax requirements, business requirements, etc. Should I sell everything and start over all new at the new location.  Will we find a place big enough so I can work from home? Should I try a store front at the new location?

So many people move across the country, every one has their own opinion of where we should live. Its hard to listen to everyone.

I pray this is an easy transition.