Saturday, March 23, 2013

Arrgh, Why Does Ebay Have to be Such a Pain in the Butt?!!

I've been trying to correspond with someone who wants to buy a lens from me.   It would be far easier for us to communicate directly by email, but NO...!!!  If you correspond using Ebay's service, then they limit the number of characters allowed in the message, they don't allow you to type in a website URL, and they won't let you put in any email addresses.

Here's the message I just got from Ebay.  I had to retype my message three times since Ebay kept deleting what I had just written, too:

For your safety, eBay does not allow the exchange of email addresses in member to member communications . This protects both buyers and sellers by keeping a track record of communications. It also helps ensure that transactions happen on eBay so buyers and sellers are covered by eBay protection programs.
Please remove the email address and resend your message.
If you want to receive photos from another eBay member, you do not need to share your email address. Buyers and sellers can now attach images to messages sent from eBay by using the “Attach Photos” button.

Hey Ebay: I understand that you don't want buyers and sellers buying and selling outside of your service.  But crippling communications between buyers and sellers in your site doesn't do much to deter this.  All it does is make things difficult and anger and frustrate your users.  Most of the things you do to deter transactions outside of your site don't deter those transactions from happening.  They just make your users more determined not to use your service in the future. 

Talk about a Hate/Hate relationship.  I love getting rid of my old stuff and knowing that someone else can use it.  But I've come to despise Ebay and its dictatorial, anti-seller policies.

It's as if the entire site has been conceived of and written by the Nazi SS. Would it kill them to have a bit of levity in the copy? Perhaps a bit of gentle reassurance? "Look, we know this is a pain in the ass for you. Just hang with us and you'll get to go to Dairy Queen afterwards." I think something like that would be really helpful to the sellers who are being forced to constantly conform to new rules that emasculate them even more, to eat 10-20% commissions from Ebay and Paypal, Ebay's BS return policies, etc.

Here are just a few annoying and frustrating messages and rules from Ebay that I've encountered in past months: 

Buy It Now price -- if you are listing an item as an auction, you have the option of listing it at a Buy-It-Now price.  So you list the price for starting the auction.  But does Ebay help you or place an obstacle in your way?  It sure doesn't make it easy.  It could pop up a line that says "Your buy-it-now price must be at least 10% over your starting price.  This will be $XX.XX."  Instead, Ebay just shoots you this message: 

Please enter a valid Buy It Now price that is at least 10% more than your starting price.

Now you have to get out your calculator (who does math in their head any more), and go BACK to the pricing page, and put in a new price.  Repeat editing process for your listing.  
We’ve noticed that your listing included a non-clickable link. eBay no longer permits non-clickable or static links in listings (in item descriptions, payment instructions, return instructions, etc.). Please go back and either remove the non-clickable link, or update it to make sure it complies with the links policy.

So why can't Ebay just make your link into a clickable link?  I know that you can enter listings as either text or HTML, but I know that other forums are smart enough so that if you are entering text, these sites AUTOMATICALLY AND HELPFULLY change your web links into clickable links.   Ebay, as usual, shouts at you and makes you search for anything in your listing that looks like a link and change it.  I've wasted way too much time searching for links in the listing when Ebay could just point out the offending text.  I still don't know how to do this when in the text mode for listing something; I just get around it by fooling Ebay.   Great way to enforce rules and make life harder for your sellers, Ebay; and it has little affect on whatever your links policy is trying to do. 

So when you try to sell something on Ebay, you keep filling out the listing form, but when you finally think you are done, BONK!  you are screwed and another rule pops up that you did not know about.  And Ebay tells you that you can't do this, but they don't tell you the solution:

> eBay no longer permits non-clickable or static links in listings (in
> item descriptions, payment instructions, return instructions, etc.).
> Please go back and either remove the non-clickable link, or update it
> to make sure it complies with the links policy.

Uh, OK, Ebay, so how do I put a stinking link in my listings and make it "clickable" if I am not using your HTML editor?  How about a link to your "links policy"?

More rules upon rules upon rules upon constantly changing rules: 

Attention Sellers:
 A listing may not include statements that discourage bidding activity.

For example, you cannot say things like:

 0. Find out more about our selling practices policy.

 0. “Don’t bid if you do not agree with my terms”

This kind of information is unprofessional and may discourage good buying activity on your item.

Please edit your listing, making sure there's no mention of these words or something similar. If there is, you won't be able to list your item. This could also negatively impact your ability to participate in the Top-rated seller program.

Find out more about our selling practices policy.

Starting this fall, all new listings and relistings will be required to have at least one picture, and all photos must be at least 500 pixels on the longest side and cannot have added borders or text (watermarks okay).  

Ebay lets sellers say "no returns" on an item, but they will force you to accept returns if the buyer complains, however unfairly. 

In May 2012, we're updating our requirements for return policies. As a result, you may need to update the refund methods you offer, and increase the minimum time you'll accept returns.


Here's Ebay's "real policy for sellers."  Even if you as a seller specify that you don't accept returns, in fact, we will force you to accept returns.  Even if your item is as described, all a buyer has to do is say that the item is not as described, and we will take his side and screw you over.  The buyer simply has to say that the item is not as described, then you will have to refund the buyer the entire amount you received, including shipping costs.  Then all the buyer has to do is ship you a rock or a wad of used toilet paper with a tracking number, and Ebay will refund everything to him.    

Here's what Ebay writes: 
Even if you specify that you don't accept returns, a buyer may be able to open an eBay Buyer Protection case for eligible items if the buyer didn't receive an item or the item doesn't match the listing description. It's important that you reply quickly. 

Here's how to get even with your worst enemy.  Create a false account on Ebay.  It's easy to do.  Bid on one of his items, preferably something heavy and not too expensive, but that costs a lot to ship.  Buy his item and ask him to rush shipping to you, so that it costs him a lot to pay for shipping.  Then file an "item not as described" case on Ebay and Ebay will force him to refund you the cost of the item and the cost of shipping!  Then send him back a rock or something in a priority mail envelope that has tracking, and that gives "proof" to Ebay that you returned the item.  Voila!  You have all your money back and your enemy is out the cost of shipping the item to you.  And you have kept the item also.  No one can possibly get through Ebay and Paypal's phone tree to resolve the situation, and I can double dog guarantee you that Ebay and Paypal will not believe the seller.

Ebay does the typical thing that bad websites do to screw you over when you create a password. Create a password.  You enter a password.  Twice.  ONK!  Sorry, the password you created is not strong enough.  Create a password, Enter it twice.  It must contain a special character, a capitalized character. You enter a password twice, and now you are scewed because you have to write this password down and you will never remember it.  ONK!  Sorry, your password must not contain an easily guessable word that is in the dictionary.  You enter a password that has no meaning, is not in the dictionary, has a capitalized letter, has a special character, etc. ONK!  Sorry, your password must be at least nine characters long. Please call a customer service representative at 1-800-SCRE-WYOU!!!! so that we can make you wait for hours on hold!  And screw you over by making you press buttons for thirty minutes going through the phone tree from hell that then disconnects you.  Start over and repeat.  ONK!  You cannot use a password that you've used before.  And it goes on, and on, and on, and on...


Friday, March 15, 2013

Best Plan for Intermittent Cell Phone Users

 As I've mentioned in the previous blog post, I use that AT&T GoPhone service for my voice calls and texts.  I don't talk a lot on my cell phone since I can use Google Voice to direct all calls to my landline when I am at home or in the office, and when I am on the road, I either rarely make calls or can use Google Voice using my laptop or ipad from a wifi network or even (now) a 3G cellular network. 

So, if you don't make a ton of calls every month, and just need a phone for voice calls and texts, I  recommend the AT&T GoPhone prepaid service.  You can buy a phone from them or department stores like Walmart or Fred Meyer for $15. 

You then pay $25 per month, and use your phone for 10 cents per minute for calls.  Your credit on your account lasts 3 months; if you put in another $25 before the credit expires, the credit rolls over.  I have about $60 on my phone now.  Basically I pay $100 per year and always have a cell phone on the AT&T network.  I can get text packages at 200 texts for $4.99 per month.  This comes out of my credit.  I can forward my emails as texts, and I can also reply to people using texts which go to their emails, which is awesome.  See more info in the previous blog post.

A friend sent me a link to Republic Wireless and asked me about it.  Here's what I wrote him: "The link you sent me is for a phone that normally uses Wifi.  If there is no Wifi, then the phone automatically switches to the Sprint Network.  Big deal.  Nearly all phones can do that  -- use wifi as a default to avoid cellular data charges, then switch to a cellular network if there is no wifi network available.  The problem is that the Sprint Network is very limited.  Its reach is limited to large metropolitan areas.  For instance, I can't get a Sprint (or Virgin Mobile, or Republic, or Datajack) signal when I recently stayed with a friend in Washington State unless I walked up the hill or walked down by the water.

Using the AT&T GoPhone Texting Service for Emails

 Here's an interesting thing.  I bought a Pantech Crossover Android phone for $80 or so.  It's awesome.  I just use it for voice, emails, and text, have not tried internet on it much other than some in Australia.

It is a quad-band GSM phone so it worked in Australia, easy.  Just dropped in a SIM and I had data and voice.

I've known for a long time that with AT&T cell phones, I can receive emails as text messages.  For instance, my cell phone is with AT&T's prepaid GoPhone service now.  An email sent to will send that email as a text message to my phone.  When I am on the road, I have Gmail automatically forward all business emails to me using this email address, and I get them as text messages.

I've had other cheap phones and got the emails as texts, but they were truncated and messed up.  I could generally figure out what the email was about, so that was OK, but not great.

With this phone, however, the texts come through formatted clearly and just like emails.  I've even gotten someone's profile picture associated with an email.  The really amazing thing is that I can reply to an email through my phone as a text message, and that email will go to the proper email address.  The only downside is that person will see that email from a mysterious email address, something like

So I am paying $25 every three months to keep my plan alive, and pay $0.10 per minute for voice.  I rarely send or receive calls through my cell; everything is routed through Google Voice which makes everything free.  I rarely use any funds from my GoPhone account since I rarely make calls or take calls through my cell phone.  Every three months, the remaining amount rolls over and gets added to the new $25 fee.  For instance, my balance is $53 right now since I hardly use the phone for incoming or outgoing calls.  I get my emails as part of a text package (200 texts for 30 days) which costs $5 per month off the $25 per three months.

If you retire and must go frugal, this is the way to go.  About $8.33 per month for voice calls, texting, and emails too!