Topics in this issue:
- eBay 101 – PayPal dispute glitch.
- Bank transfer scam, be warned.
- Carpet overshoes.
- Ask Molly: How many times?
Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of The eBay UK Bulletin.
Wow, that was an intense few weeks. I can’t remember the Christmas season being so much hard work. On the positive side almost all of the toys have gone, cosmetic sales are steady and there has been a rush on electrical fuses; some stockings will be a little heavy this year.
This week in your force-friendly edition a warning about the dangers of internet fraud and some interesting thoughts about setting expectations.
[For admin details for this newsletter, please scroll down to the end.]
1. EBAY 101 – PAYPAL DISPUTE GLITCH
Here’s a quick heads up about an eBay glitch that almost caught me out this week. It starts when a buyer opens a PayPal dispute as opposed to an eBay one.
In my case the matter was settled and the buyer refunded but of course if no further actions were taken then the eBay fees would still stand. The attempt to open a ‘cancel transaction’ failed as eBay still saw the PayPal case as being open and this prevented me getting my fees back.
A quick chat to eBay and I was no further forward, the fees were only £3.50 so I couldn’t spend all day chasing them. Then after another coffee a brainwave [Ed - you still get them then!]: log on to the .IE site and try that. All sorted, for some reason it was possible to open a case via another site and in time the buyer cancelled.
There do seem to be quite a few glitches at the moment. If you find one try using another way in, it might just work.
Any thoughts please let me know at the usual address.
2. BANK TRANSFER SCAM, BE WARNED
I do take note of all the scam attempts you highlight via your newsletter. This is one only your readers who deal direct with factories via email and bank transfer need to watch out for.
I deal with China and am quite used to sending quite large money transfers to my suppliers out there. So much so we have a foreign exchange account that saves us around £4000 on bank fees a year. I placed an order for goods worth around $16,000 with a supplier I have known for over 8 years. We have developed a level of trust where he will often dispatch the goods before I even pay. On this order I had an email from him asking me not to send the money as he needed to amend the invoice. I thought this slightly odd as he had yet to send me an invoice to pay. He then sent the invoice the next day but asked me to send the payment to his other bank account to help avoid paying taxes. In itself this is not odd as the Chinese attempt to avoid paying taxes at every occasion. I do not like change and on checking the account details it belonged to an account in Poland. At that point I became suspicious and emailed my supplier. His answer on the security at his company did not match what I thought my supplier would say. He wrote it as a worker and not the boss. I then decided to use Whatsapp to contact my supplier via his phone. He confirmed he did not have an account in Poland. Had I not been so careful I would have lost $16,000!!
I did look into how the attempted scam was carried out. Both our PCs were confirmed as being free of viruses. The one email he sent could be seen on his iPhone but not on his computer. That confirms he used his phone to send it via a public WiFi hotspot (so he thought) which was actually set up to capture people’s conversations. They created a domain with a very similar name as my supplier – it had an extra s in it. They then emailed me using the information they gained in the captured email. It looked just like a carried on conversation with the email address almost identical and same email header as we had been using. With this they also carried on a conversation I had been having with my supplier about holidays and family. All of this was to make me comfortable and more likely to transfer the money.
In investigating this it is amazing the information contained in the header of an email. I could tell my supplier had a Levano PC and an iPhone. If an email is captured before it goes to a person’s mail server it also contains the mails server details and password. The moral of this story is open WiFi points are not secure. Also be very careful of unusual requests even from people you know well.”
A warning to us all. These guys want your hard earned, be careful out there.
3. CARPET OVERSHOES
I read with interest the item in your last newsletter about trying to maintain next day dispatch times and customer disappointment.
When eBay went with their policy for only offering seller discounts if you offer next day dispatch, I resigned myself to not having the discount as I can’t offer that on my items as they are personalised and often customised. It can take a couple of days just to complete an email conversation with a customer to agree a design so next day dispatch on things like that are a joke.
I set my dispatch times on all my items to 4 days. It has some advantages. Firstly, it does tend to reduce the number of emails from people asking where their stuff is a day or two after they ordered. But secondly, and most importantly, I usually manage to dispatch the bulk of my orders within one or two days so people receive their order way in advance of their expectations.
As a result I get lots of comments in my feedback about how quickly they received their order.
Sometimes I think the long delivery date does lose me some business because people will see it, decide they won’t get it in time and not order from me so there is that downside but as I’m only one person with a limited capacity for orders, it helps to keep the number of orders I have to a manageable level so that I can provide a good service to everyone.
I once read this anecdote about a carpet fitting company that always insisted that their fitters wore protective overshoes when entering people’s houses. Often people would comment on this when leaving reviews about their service. So someone suggested that they should mention that they did this upfront as it was a good selling point. However, after that people stopped mentioning it in their reviews and even complained when occasionally the fitter forgot to wear them. It had changed from being an added bonus that the customers appreciated to an expectation.
So I would say, overall it is worth taking the risk of underselling yourself a bit and then offering more than the customer expected rather than promising too much, too fast and struggling to meet their expectations.”
Good point, setting expectations is very important. As I always used to tell Mrs Molly when I was selling in the real world of work, “bread today, jam tomorrow.” I don’t even like jam.
I just wish more of my customers would set their own expectations and read that most items are not boxed, items to be delivered to Argos actually need to be collected from Argos and when the courier leaves a card about a missed delivery it would be worthwhile being in next time or talking to them.
Quite a lot of time spent recently sorting out stupid issues at HQ, as you can tell.
4. ASK MOLLY – HOW MANY TIMES?
Can I have a little advice concerning re-deliveries please.
My buyer sent an e-mail saying that the item had not arrived. It was a low value item so I sent another rather than risk poor feedback or an ‘item not received’ case being opened. This one was sent by first class post but alas it didn’t arrive either.
I appreciated that it is the busy time for parcels and also prime time for parcels to go ‘missing’ but wanted to know how many times you resend an item that has failed to arrive?”
It is indeed the time for parcels to go missing, there must be a huge pile somewhere but I am sure they will find there way back to the sender in due course. Stolen items are down this year with six a week over the past month or so.
My policy is simple, if an item fails to arrive then that’s it, no more. The buyer is refunded and blocked then I forget it. I am not suggesting that the buyer would steal the item, many of my ‘lost’ items are also of low value but something went wrong so why risk another package going the same way?
At this time of year it pays for sellers to delay refunds and ask the buyer to wait a few extra days, many items do arrive late but never it seems for one where a refund has already been made.
If you have a question about eBay or home working in general, please send it to me at the usual address. I will reply personally to every email I receive and, remember, there are FREE copies of my book available for the best questions, tips or stories.
– END NOTE –
Check out Harriman Intelligence for the latest news from Molly HQ.
I must admit that I have suffered a bit this year, maybe down to the vast quantity of items for sale on eBay, maybe I just had the wrong inventory or the wrong prices. Almost constant attention to to my listings and the use of targeted discounts eventually saw sales reach target so all is well. Time to plan for next year.
Well that’s it for now, the Christmas break will soon be upon us although I will keep the shops open over the holiday just to provide some entertainment for the Elves. I’ll let you know how they do.
Author of the bestselling title, The eBay Business Handbook, available direct from the publisher Harriman House.
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