I have written about my wife's eBay business several times over the years. I am very careful to preface each post with the disclaimer — actually fact — that Mrs. Pincus will not sell your stuff on eBay. I never really elaborated on the reason behind that statement, just hoping that you (the reader and possibly any friend or relative) would just take it for face value and dispense with any further cajoling, convincing or downright begging.
Well, not that I owe anyone any sort of explanation.... here's the reason why Mrs. Pincus — in my opinion, the nicest person in the world
— will not
sell your stuff on eBay.
Mrs. Pincus sells a wide variety of merchandise in her eBay business. Over her years in the field of retail, she developed an uncanny sense for what will sell and she has managed to use that knack to her advantage for nearly 30 years. As buying trends change and "hot products" pop up, Mrs. P is front and center, cashing in quickly and getting out just as quickly before a fad turns sour. From Cabbage Patch Kids to Pogs to Beanie Babies, Mrs. P was there at the beginning — sneaking stealthily away before interests waned.
With a child well out of the "toy-buying" age, keeping abreast of the current trends in "flavor of the month" playthings is a little trickier. However, since it is in her best interest, Mrs. Pincus keeps a sharp eye on "what's hot" and "what's not" and what the parent of an eight-year old will buy at any
price. Of course, toys aren't really limited to the wants of a child. There are plenty
of adults who collect any number of toy varieties (Hell, we ourselves
fell into that category for years, before we unloaded our vast Disney collection
via the eBay route.)
One of the more recent trends is something called "5 Surprise." 5 Surprise is a cute line of toys that, as far as I can tell, presents a dangerous choking hazard to any child engaged in its play. The 5 Surprise line of toys consists of miniature versions of characters that kids love, like unicorns and dinosaurs. They come packaged in a sealed spherical opaque container that is divided into five segments, each one containing a different character. The buyer can't see the selection before purchasing (in what is known as "blind packaging"), making the process of collecting more exciting... or frustrating, depending on how you look at it. In addition to kid-friendly characters, 5 Surprise also offers mini versions of popular grocery items in a line called "Mini Brands." The same premise of distribution is applied, but in this case, the spheres are filled with very
detailed versions of Skippy peanut butter, Dum-Dum lollipops, Hostess cupcake boxes and a whole slew of tiny doppelgangers
of your favorite products from supermarket shelves. In the assortment, there are also mini shopping baskets, shopping carts and even store shelving units on which to display your little collection. Evidentially, these little gems are pretty
popular and Mrs. Pincus was able to acquire a quantity of individual pieces of 5 Surprise Mini Brands, out of their packaging. She listed them on eBay and they began selling immediately. This was good, as they are pretty simple to pack and ship. Most of them measure just a few inches in size and they certainly are not breakable. Every week, Mrs. P ships five or six of these little things along with the rest of her larger eBay item shipments.
A week or so ago, she sold a 5 Surprise mini replica of a jug of Kikkoman soy sauce. As per eBay procedure, the auction ended, the high bidder paid, included a nominal pre-determined shipping fee and Mrs. Pincus dutifully sent it off on its way. The end.... or so she thought. A short time after sending the mini Kikkoman jug to its new owner, Mrs. Pincus received an irate — borderline accusatory — email from the unhappy buyer. She stated that she was very disappointed that she had only received one
item, when she was expecting five
items, as the auction description stated. She was further
disappointed in the size
of the item. She expected it to measure three-quarters of an inch tall. Then, without waiting for Mrs. Pincus to explain or offer some compromising solution to this self-imposed dilemma, she proposed her own
(somewhat threatening) arrangement. She instructed Mrs. Pincus to send the additional items — free of charge — and negative feed back would not be left for this transaction. Okay.... there is a lot going on here. First - let's take a look at the original listing for this particular item.
Let's begin with that fact that this item sold for $2.99. Obviously, we are not getting filthy rich selling these, but eBay is a volume-based business. In each one of the listings for 5 Surprise items, a line was consciously added to the description for the benefit of clarifying any questions a potential buyer would have about exactly how many items would be sent to the high bidder. The line, purposely put in bold red text, reads: "Manufacturer brand name is "5 Surprise", you will receive one item." This listing also clearly states the size of the items as two inches. Another disclaimer was added for the sake of those who, for whatever reason, would think they were buying a tiny jug of soy sauce. This line, in the same bold red text but in all capital letters, informs the buyer that this "DOES NOT CONTAIN ACTUAL PRODUCT, MINIATURE REPLICA FAKE FOOD" This, of course, is to discourage anyone from following their dream of opening an Asian-style restaurant that caters exclusively to mice.
All of our angered buyer's complaints are distinctly addressed in the original auction listing. The size, the quantity, everything. Plus, all of the correspondence was tracked and recorded through eBay's messaging system, so there is a record of the entire transaction and complaint. Oh, and eBay doesn't take too kindly to what they refer to as "feedback extortion." Feedback, for those unfamiliar, is an eBay rating system that rewards sellers who offer smooth, hassle-free transactions. Buyers have learned they can threaten to leave "negative" feedback until they get what they want. This will affect a seller's rating if enough "negatives" pile up. eBay warns about this practice and discourages it at several places on their website. Mrs. Pincus prides herself on her strong positive feedback rating and does not stand for idle threats ...especially over a $2.99 item and an unscrupulous buyer. She replied to the intimidation immediately, explaining how all details were plainly stated on the listing. She went on to make it perfectly clear that no additional items would be sent and that unjust negative feedback would be reported to eBay authorities. In a subsequent email, the buyer backed off with a far different tone than previous. She thanked my wife for the item and even offered a "God bless you" as a closing salutation.
This is just one example of an annoying transaction. They don't come up often, but when they do, they take a good chunk of time to resolve. Although most resolution is quick, some stretch out for weeks or even months. Most are not the fault of Mrs. Pincus, who is very careful about how she lists items for sale and how she packs those items for shipment (she does both single-handedly). A lot of the issues are postal-related, which, of course, Mrs. P has no control over. Even with United States Postal Service package tracking, buyers contact my wife first to find out why they haven't received their precious item in the blink of an eye. All they need to do is enter their tracking information on the USPS website and they will find out when to expect their M&Ms coloring book or their unopened pack of Dick Tracy movie trading cards. (Contrary to the behavior of panicked buyers, Mrs. Pincus does not sell life-giving elixirs nor does she operate a clearing house for transplant-ready internal organs.) Instead, hysterical high bidders frantically email my wife as their first line of defense... and when she replies to get details (because she is nice), she is invariably told: "Oh, I didn't check my mailbox today. I got it. Thanks."
|Beetlejuice won't sell your stuff either. |
Mrs. Pincus sells thousands of items. That's right, thousands!
When one of those items sells, she gets the entire amount of the sale — less fees from eBay. And there are a lot
of fees from eBay. A lot
. She does one hundred percent of the work. She is entitled to reap one hundred percent of the benefits. Now, if she were to sell an item for you
, she would have to create the initial listing, take and upload several photos of the item and answer any questions that buyers may have about the item. What if it is something with which she is not familiar? She would have to contact you and you would have to answer the question immediately, because eBay buyers are not a patient bunch. They don't sleep and they sit by their computers 24 hours per day, waiting for answers to their inane questions. If your item sells, Mrs. P would have to pack it securely, take it to the post office and ship it. Then, she'd have to field any subsequent questions about delays in delivery or — eek!
— complaints about the item itself once it is received by a remorseful buyer. All for a small percentage of the final selling price? How much? Ten
percent? If your item sells for ten bucks, then Mrs. P's indispensable efforts would net her — what?
— two dollars?
For doing all of the work while you sit on your butt and wait for the money to roll in? Would you
do it? Yeah, I didn't think so.
So, while Mrs. Pincus is the nicest person in the world, a line has to be drawn somewhere. In this case, the line is drawn from eBay to you.
Any further questions?