Tuesday, December 10, 2013

HO Trains and Holiday Sales...a little bad, but mostly good!

Holiday sales continue to chug along here at MoneyintheGarage. Using eBay and some Craigslist, I've been able to clear out nearly all my Christmas inventory. I am a one-man version of Amazon...shipping packages all over the country! I even broke down and began selling stuff I'd been saving for winter auctions like hockey and basketball jerseys. You have to strike when the iron's hot, so why wait?

The Post Office said it was delivered!
But even with the awesome number of sales, there's always a small downside. I've noticed that increased holiday sales always brings a corresponding increase in buyer complaints! It's just the way the numbers work. This past week, I've attempted to de-fuse three separate complaints. One buyer wrote me claiming she never received her item...even though USPS tracking showed it was delivered! This is an all too familiar story for seasoned sellers. Many know that despite having proof of USPS delivery, Ebay will still give buyers a refund when they claim non-receipt! Seriously, what's the point of tracking and proof of delivery if eBay chooses to ignore it?

In another test of my patience, a buyer balked at the condition of a HO scale model train building purchased in one of my auctions. The building in question was a small plastic farmhouse in the original box. Similar models have been selling on eBay in the neighborhood of $60 dollars. While my set wasn't perfect, I knew it would sell for decent money. Vintage HO railroad pieces are always popular with train hobbyist. I listed the model in "As-Is" condition. I also attached a bunch of close-up photographs. I believe in giving buyers the opportunity to really look the item over. This "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" approach helps to avoid complaints regarding an item's condition. The train model ended up selling for $44 dollars! A nice sale...until I received an e-mail from eBay's Resolution Center. This is Ebay's version of getting called down to the Principal's office! The buyer whined about the model's condition, complaining it had some drips of paint on it. He even went so far as to claim the paint drips made the model unusable! This despite the fact the small paint drips were clearly visible in the original auction photos! Gimme a break!

I tried to compromise with the buyer, offering him a $25 refund and reducing Mr. Picky's out-of-pocket costs to $19 dollars. But this magnanimous gesture on my part was rebuffed! It was obvious the guy knew eBay always takes the buyer's side in most disputes. Facing this no-win situation and possible negative feedback, I waved the white flag and gave the guy his full refund. I didn't even ask him to return the model back. Why bother? With the buyer insisting I pay the return shipping costs, it would have been just another expense in a losing proposition. So the guy kept the model and got his money back. I'd be willing to bet my model is sitting on his HO train platform right now...paint drips and all! But I am over it. Besides, it's Christmas time and for every deal gone wrong, I have a hundred happy Christmas sales that went right!

I had a great experience a few days ago when I sold a nice little HO train set on Craigslist. I purchased the train set at a yard sale last summer for ten dollars and waited until the holidays to sell it. I posted it for $75. A young dad e-mailed me, asking if I would go any lower on the
The little guy loved his HO Train set!
price? Heck, I am no Scrooge, so I agreed on $65 dollars. Before I knew it, Dad and his adorable four year old son were standing in my garage eager to pick up the trains! I am not sure who was more excited about buying the train set...the dad or his kid? Dad was definitely in the Christmas spirit, constantly referring to me as "Mr. Train Conductor" in front of his son. I played along and this delighted the little guy, who actually thought I worked on the railroad! After I explained how to assemble the set, Dad handed me $65 dollars. Some more small talk ensued, while the happy little kid looked over his new trains with wide-eye wonder. I then handed Dad the large box containing the HO train set. I gave his son the much easier job of carrying the roll of green platform paper. As they headed back to their car, Dad promised his little guy he would set up the trains that night. Watching this cute scene between father and son would have made even the Grinch bust out with Christmas spirit!

So around here, Christmas sales are going pretty great. How's your sales going?



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17 comments:

  1. Mine have been decent. I am expecting a return for a Chicago bulls Jacket I listed. I listed it as a womans xl because I wore it and the buyer claims it was a youth xl I even provided measurements for a good fit but like most buyers, he didn't bother to go by them. He kept insisting it was a youth size and his 5'6 120 pound wife could not wear it. hmmm Im the same height but about 40 pounds heavier and I had no problem wearing it. He also addressed me as To Whom It May Concern. and then he suggested I relist the coat in the youth category. It look a lot for me not to be rude

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    1. I am feeling your pain! Every so often you'll run into a buyer who will just make stuff up to get their refund. It's hard not to call them out on it, isn't it? Many a time I've had to bite my tongue. The satisfaction isn't worth the negative feedback they're likely to enter.

      On the bright side, basketball season runs all winter, so you have that going for your re-sale.

      Thanks for checking in...Dude!

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  2. oh and that was an $89.99 sale plus he paid like $8 bucks for shipping :-(

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  3. I've had 300-400 sales since Black Friday and only 1 complaint...Knock on wood. It's over a 13.00 item. 0 feedback joined ebay the day she bought. Opened Paypal case and gave neg feedback. Never contacted me. Oh and FYI in the case of "delivered" I tell ppl to escalate to ebay. With new seller protections they give the $ back to the buyer....but let the seller keep it too...have had that happen a few times. Bout time ebay did something right by the sellers :)

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    1. mrs4jachi - Ouch! Over the years I've been whacked by "newbie" Ebay members too. As amateurs, they have no clue about the effects of a negative feedback. Seems like they think it's like leaving ing a bad Yelp review-what's the big deal?

      If I remember correctly, back in the day a seller could block a Zero feedback newbie from bidding on your item. Kinda doubt eBAy will let you do it now.

      Sounds like you're tearing it up with the eBay sales-nice going! Only another week and we can all take breather and counts our earnings!

      Thanks for writing in....Dude!

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  4. I'm glad your sales ended a little more happily, Mr. Train Conductor. Grrrr about that buyer and the HO building. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous buyers really work the eBay system to their advantage. Merry Christmas to a guy with a great attitude!

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    1. HA! I may buy a conductor's hat for my next sale. Might as well play the part!

      Unfortunately, you're right about some buyers-they "game" the system. But the overwhelming good sales, outweigh the few scammers, so it's all good!

      Thanks for your nice words...Merry Christmas to you too....Dude!

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  5. I stumbled across your sight while searching for LL Bean discontinued merchandise, LOL. I just started selling on ebay in August, and I had been purchasing merchandise at Liquidation.com, but I find that the quality is questionable. My Christmas sales have been pretty good, I am pleased that my sales are increasing monthly, but like all of you, I have also already experienced the ebay buyer who works the system and I have given away 2 items so far to avoid negative feedback UGH. But all in all it beats going to an office every day!! Happy Thrifting and flipping, and may we all have a prosperous New Year.

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    1. Kathleen- Thanks for visiting my blog and welcome to the world of eBaying! HA! It's frustrating dealing with some of those buyers who "game" the system. In reality, when I tell a buyer to keep the item, I am really paying the person off to avoid the threat of negative feedback. Although its frustrating there's there's not much we can do about it. eBay created the game and rules, so it's the price we have to pay to play .

      I don't let it bother me too much. The $$$ made on all the other stuff takes the sting out of it !

      Good luck with your sales. Make sure you bookmark my site and thanks for writing in....Dude!

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  6. I haven't sold on ebay for years but I'd be blocking those buyers so they can't bid on any more of your listings

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    1. Julie- I normally do that, but haven't gotten around to blocking this fella. Thanks for reminding me...gonna do that....Dude!

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  7. I recently had similar experiences. One lady said she never received her item although tracking showed it was delivered. Rec'd a message via Resolution Center. I asked her to check with her mail carrier or post office. Haven't heard from her in several days. I contacted eBay and they told me I can escalate the case and they will side with me since tracking shows it was delivered. IF the item had NOT been delivered - lost in the mail - I would have refunded the money, as eBay would have sided with buyer. Even so, I have no problem doing that since I have been in those shoes. Good thing I've only had to do that once!

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    1. Thats, funny because I asked my seller the same thing-did she check with her carrier and/or local postmaster? I haven't hear from her since asking that question, so maybe I called her bluff? Hope so anyway.

      I've heard that eBay will often back the buyer, even though the seller had proof of delivery confirmation, but maybe each case is different?

      Thanks for sharing your story ....Dude!

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  8. Luckily, those customers are few an far between, but yeah, the best thing to do is make them go away asap and block them just as quickly. Thankfully, we have lots of good honest buyers who make up for those few bad apples.

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    1. I agree with you, the "good" buyers totally negate the scammers out there.

      I did block my "paint drip" buyer. Would be nice if he happened to bid on another item..you never know, right?

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  9. A few months ago you mentioned you sold a Coach item. Well I had just shipped out a pair of Coach boots to Canada that same week. I soon get a message through the resolution center claiming that "seller had somehow changed the boot size, because these were not the same size she had tried on in the store" Ha! I tried so hard not to ask her "if she had gained weight" .. had thick socks on?...the list could go on and on... Ebay sided with me because I had taken so many pictures of the shoe tags. Then she immediately left me negative feedback saying seller had sent the wrong shoe and that seller wouldn't accept return. Ha! I like ebay too much to let that one time get me down. Seriously, how else can you ship a Radioflyer rocket to Argentina, and a Furby to Thailand! Thanks for all your time you put into posts. Merry Christmas. Cheers to a great New Year.

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    1. Wow-Sounds like a nightmare buyer! That's great that eBay backed you, good thing you took all those photos. If you haven't done it already, you should ask eBay to remove the negative feedback she unfairly left you. I think if they backed you in the first place, they should do that for you.


      Thanks for sharing the story and for your nice comments about the blog. I hope to crank out another piece over the weekend.......Dude!

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