Sunday, February 28, 2010

The fuzzy end of the auction site lolly

Hey!  Guess what!  I bought another thing that I am going to lose money selling because I goofed!  This is normally how I justify buying old things.  Go to the consignment store or the antique store or the auction, decide I don't want it and then get rid of it on an auction site. Which is good if you are in it for the adventure.  But the truth is, I am too broke to be taking a bath on this stuff and the profit part is necessary but not always the end result.  So here's what I'm going to do.....I am going to let you benefit from my auction site idiocy so that you don't grow up to be like me some day.  And possibly make some money from this nonsense.  Here are some what not to do's.

  • Don't purchase anything to resell without looking at the closing prices on similar auctions on line.  I don't care if it is made out of solid gold and belonged to Princess Margaret.   It is only worth what it will sell for and the buyers won't change just for you. Save your novelty collecting for after you are rich.  If possible, go to the auction sites on your smart phone.   If not possible, go home and look it up and go back or call someone with the info to look it up for you on the "completed" selling section of your favorite auction site. Think of it as insuring that you have one more latte in your world in the future.
  • If you go to an auction site and some items in excellent condition are selling well and some aren't?  It is almost always because the shipping is priced to high.  Which is very difficult to do these days since the auction site police are strict about their pricing policies.  Odds are, they are taking the most expensive, fastest high fallutin' route to post an item and folks just don't want to pony it up when things can be had cheaper.  Also, sometimes the auction site will not let you post it about a certain price and you have to move, say, a very heavy book into a non-media mail category because it is simply too heavy and the auction site has a cap on $4.00 for books.  Will the buyer be willing to pay for the difference?  Be careful of the totals with shipping, tax and insertion fees.  If you are not allowed to charge enough to cover the cost or you are posting them at a price that will not sell, you will lose money.  And this is not the point of this endeavor.
  • Detail your needs.  This includes how you are going to package your shipping and international shipping policies or anything else that could cause consternation in the future.  Look at the individual sellers with over 300 good comments in their feedback statuses and see what they include in their completed sales as far as shipping/buying policies (not the power sellers/stores...the sellers like you who have to schlepp to the post office and don't have an office set up to deal with massive amounts of sales).  Then do what they do.
  • Be political.  Bad feedback is box office poison for auction site sellers.  There will always be incidents with things like the post office destroying goods (no other business could get away with mangling a product and not apologize when delivering it), tempestuous personalities looking for a reason to get in a fight with someone (auction sites don't have a "crazy bastard/beeyach" filter ) or just a customer misunderstanding the nature of the goods.  This is especially relevant when handling collectibles.  Super picky folks looking for specific things in certain conditions are the bastions of unhappy purchase experiences. I have found that it is always better to swallow your pride even if the buyer is difficult and always allow them to return the item, noting that you would rather have a happy buyer than the money.  It may not be true but bad feedback could lose possible future bidders.  So kiss ass and return it.
  • Condition condition condition.  Telling every stinking detail about the item that you can pull from the recesses of the most paranoid part of your mind.  Color. Weight. Demensions. The tiniest scratch or chip.  The size of the tiniest scratch or chip. The name of the tiniest scratch or chip. There is no such thing as too much.  Every detail is an "I told you in the item description" if there is ever a dispute.  It will prevent people from bidding on your item incorrectly, taking it away from a person who does want you to keep their money. 
 In a nutshell, do research and write down every detail that could possibly cover your ass in the future.  There is money to be had.  But there is also money to be lost if you go into the auction site world without precautions.

    Poverty Is Boring

    I'll be doing a series of things to do that don't cost.  This is the first piece in the pool.

    So you can't go to the movies because there is no extra money.  HBO and Showtime are no longer cable options.  Or even cable maybe.  It is too cold out to go take a long walk.   You already looked for jobs on the internet.   Made your phone calls.  Forget shopping.  Poverty is really really boring.  Here are some things that you can do to tap into some more creative interests and give you a chance to exercise those parts of your brain that are feeling stagnant.

    The internet is a miracle. Even if your electricity is turned off, you can find it at the library waiting to show you the world.  The only problem is there is so damned many options.  Right now my favorite choice in the road to creative stimulation is  This is really neat site created by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  You can contribute graphics, words, sound bytes, video to or grab a few that other people contributed to it and produce your own mash up of creativity.  It costs nothing but time. And you feel like a working genius even if you aren't getting paid.  Screw poverty!  Bring on the starving arteests!

    My next favorite somewhat free thing is mine the library for treasure. Oh, sure all of those books and dvds and magazines that normally would cost you the electric bill (or 2-4 lattes) are there.  We all know that.  But our library also has classes, knitting circles, reading groups and....bless them to passes.  Nothing is a better healer of poverty woe than appreciating what probably other at one time poor people created.  Sometimes the passes offer a discount but its still better than full price.  And it gives you a place to go that actually requires you to move.  A definite downside to the internet.

    And if those don't kill the doldrums, find yourself a reminder that there are worse things in the world than no cable.  Volunteer to help someone else. Seniors, shelters, whatever appeals to your sense of virtue.  It makes you feel better about yourself.  It reminds you that you still have things when others don't. You are contributing even if it isn't in a monterary sense. And if you don't have a library with museum passes and you don't want to sit in front of the computer for an exhorbatant amount of time, this will fill that poverty boredum hole in a big bad way.