Saturday, November 28, 2009

Misusing Priority Supplies and the Seller Response

I had to go to the post office on Friday to pick up a package that had arrived postage due. The seller had used a priority mail flat rate box turned inside out. The priority mail boxes are easily recognizable even when turned inside out since they come in certain sizes that do not match the boxes sold by Uline and other companies.

I realized later that the seller also used one of the plastic sleeves that the post office provides for the customs declaration form for international mail. It might actually have been the plastic sleeve that was noticed first instead of the box itself. In the below image, I have placed an arrow pointing to where "priority mail" can be seen on the plastic sleeve.

I am always highly annoyed when I receive a package that is postage due. I already had paid the seller nearly $5.00 for media mail shipping. When I pay for media mail, I assume that the seller is using boxes that are not priority mail boxes. Since the seller used a priority box and was caught, I had to pay an additional $6.22 for the package.

By the way, most packages in which priority mail supplies have been misused are returned to sender for insufficient postage. The people at my post office know me and have asked whether I want to pay the postage due or have the packages returned. I would rather receive the books and then take it up with the seller, so I have requested that the packages be sent to me postage due. Sometimes these packages contain books that are very important to me, so I don't want the packages returned and then shipped again. It is better to pay the extra postage and guarantee the safe arrival of the books.

So that there is no doubt, this is what I saw when I opened the package.

It was a priority mail flat rate box. I photographed one of the flaps. Read the part that I highlighted.

I am sure that some people reading this blog think that it is okay to use priority mail supplies for other classes of mail. Some people cannot be convinced otherwise, regardless of which argument is used. All that I will say is that the postal service, as can be seen above, has a problem with it, so it is against regulations to use priority mail supplies on other classes of mail. It is not worth the risk of upsetting your customers.

As always, I contacted the seller, provided a photo, and requested a refund for the $6.22 I had to pay for the extra postage. The seller apologized, sent me a full refund of my entire original payment for the books and the postage, and sent me a PayPal payment of $6.22. Now I have some free books, which is not at all what I wanted. I just wanted a refund of $6.22.

I think that sellers are now so afraid of buyers, because of eBay's changes during the last year, that they will do anything to make buyers happy. I did not want free books. My first reaction to the seller's full refund was that I wanted to send the seller the original payment again. I then reconsidered. The seller did what she thought was right, and even though I disagree, perhaps I should just let it rest. I feel bad about having a full refund and the books, but this is apparently what she felt she needed to do in order to make it right. What do you think?

Friday, November 27, 2009

eBay's Search Outage

On Saturday, eBay suffered from what was apparently a major search account—at least from all of the reports that I have read. Oddly, I was able to search on eBay with few problems on Saturday. On days that I am off work, I tend to check eBay several times a day to see what has been listed. Saturday was no exception.

I do recall that early in the day, I ran a search, and it took unusually long to complete, probably around 30 seconds. In spite of the delay, I did get my search results. Later in the day, I viewed a listing and clicked on the link to see the seller's other items. The resulting page returned no items, which was a result of the outage.

At some point after that, I read of the outage on AuctionBytes, and I realized that many people were unable to use eBay on Saturday at all. I checked my searches again, and they were all fine. I then learned that the "Buy" section of eBay was broken in addition to search. I checked the categories and found that all of them were empty. I never use the "Buy" section of eBay to search.

Later, I read that eBay posted a workaround to the broken search, which was to go to eBay's Advanced Search page to search. This surprised me, since I always search through the Advanced Search page. Apparently most people search eBay through the "Buy" section of the site. Is that true for those of you reading this, or do you use the Advanced Search page? I use Advanced Search because that was the place to go back 12 to 13 years ago to search, and old habits die hard.

For me, this was the major outage that never was. I don't doubt that it was a major outage because of how eBay has reacted. According to AuctionBytes, eBay sent this letter to sellers who had auctions end during the outage.
"All auction-style listings completed during this time will be protected from negative and neutral feedback as well as DSRs below a five star rating. In addition, we will not expect you to fulfill Auction-style orders completed during this time if you feel the search outage prevented you from realizing the full expected price from your auction-style listings that closed during the outage or within an hour after the outage. It's up to you whether you want to fulfill the item in the interest of good relations with your buyer or cancel the transaction."
I won a couple of auctions during the outage. I was able to bid with no problems, and I feel that the ending prices were about what they would have been anyway. Fortunately, my sellers are honoring the transactions. I have never heard of eBay allowing sellers to refuse to complete transactions because of an outage. Protecting sellers from negative or neutral feedback is also unprecedented.

It gets even more interesting. Anyone who won an auction during the outage is to receive a 10% coupon as compensation. I assume that buyers are getting the coupons since it is possible that sellers may renege on transactions. Of course, this really interested me since I won a couple of auctions.

True to their word, eBay sent me a coupon. The message stated, "You may have experienced difficulty shopping on Saturday. We'd like to offer our apologies for any inconvenience you may have experienced by offering a 10% off coupon, good until December 14, 2009."

This is a bit amusing since I really did not have any problems on eBay on Saturday. I will happily accept the coupon, however. I hope I can find something priced at around $100 or so to purchase by December 14. I'd like for my coupon to save me at least $10.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #37

A Collection of 30 Nancy Drew Mystery Books
Question: how many of the 30 books have a blue cover with an orange picture on the cover? also of the the above books that are this way do any have a blank page on the inside of the cover, and if so what books?

Answer: The Sign of the Twisted Candles - inside covers are white with orange pics inside The Quest of the Missing Map - white w?orange complete and unabridged The Mystery of the Tolling Bell w?o The Message in the Hollow Oak w/o The Secret at Shadow Ranch w/o Thw Whispering Statue - w/o complete and unabridged Nancy's Mysterious Letter w/o The Hidden Staircase w/o The Mystery at the Moss Covered Mansion w/o writing in front cover The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk w/o writing in the front cover The Secret in The Old Attic w/o The Clue in The Diary w/o writing in the front cover The Clue in The Jewel Box w/o The Secret of Red Gate Farm w/o The Haunted Bridge w/o The Password to Larkspur Lane w/o The Clue of the Tapping Heels w/o The Mystery of the Ivory Charm w/o Complete and unabridged The Clue in the Crumbling Wall w/o 11 white with blue in cover *Complete and unabridged = This Book, while produced under wartime conditions, in full compliance with goverment regulations for the conservation of paper and other essential materials, is Complete and Unabridged these are only ones marked this way
It sounded like the prospective buyer wanted to know how many of the books had the orange silhouette on the cover, and of those books, whether any of them had blank endpapers. It is not possible for a book with an orange silhouette on the cover to have blank endpapers.

It is worth revisiting Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #7. In that post, I stated, "All books with the orange silhouette in the center of the front cover have the orange silhouette endpapers. There are no exceptions whatsoever! Notice that the center of the front cover has an orange silhouette. Likewise, the endpapers have the orange silhouette."

I then pictured a blank endpapers book, which has no silhouette on the front cover. I stated, "Notice that there is no image of Nancy Drew on the front cover. Likewise, the endpapers are blank; there is nothing printed on them."

Going back to the above question and answer, I have to admit that the seller's response was a bit confusing. Trying to understand it all just about gives me a headache. The seller stated that a book had the orange silhouette endpapers, but for most of the books, the seller only made the comment "w/o." It rather made it sound like all of those books had blank endpapers, but the books had to have had some other type of printed endpapers like blue silhouette.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Describing Books as Pristine

This is a mini rant. I'm getting really tired of seeing eBay sellers use the word "pristine" to describe books that are not pristine.

pristine - Remaining free from dirt or decay; clean: pristine mountain snow.

The example that prompted me to write this post has some books that have dark, dirty spines and other books that have faded spines. Could someone please explain to me how a book with a dark, dirty spine is pristine? I really would like to understand, because I sure don't get it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Economy and Series Book Prices

I have been meaning to write this post for a while. Series book prices are the lowest I have ever seen. While some books that are rare and desirable still command high prices (this one, for instance), many others are slipping through the cracks and selling for atypically low prices.

In particular, thick blue Nancy Drew books with either one glossy illustration or all four glossy internals and intact dust jackets are selling for ridiculously low prices. I could cite quite a few instances of these books selling for $20 to $50, when they are supposed to sell for hundreds of dollars.

Here are a couple of low auction results:

Nancy Drew Hidden Staircase WS dust jacket OEPS Item #330373145796

This is a thick blue book that has a dust jacket listing to Tapping Heels. It sold for $10.99.

Nancy Drew SECRET SHADOW RANCH early formt internals dj Item #370272219711

This thick blue Nancy Drew book had the glossy internal illustrations and a dust jacket. It sold for $57.78. The same seller auctioned off a Lilac Inn with internals and dust jacket for the same price.

I could give many other examples. I dislike mentioning specific information when I have purchased something at a bargain that I will ultimately resell, but I have a similar story on something I purchased in recent months. The book was something that was very desirable, and this could be seen in the gallery photo and in the title of the auction. There was no reason for it to sell at a bargain. It was clear what it was from the description. It was a very scarce book but not quite rare. I placed a lowball bid and won the auction at a fraction of the book's value. If I wished to fully disclose the details, you would be impressed. It missed being better than the copy I have, so it will be sold. It will bring in a nice profit even if I price it at the low end of what it is worth.

I have blamed eBay recently for these atypical results, but it is actually more the economy than eBay's foolish actions. The economy is still in bad shape. The media have reported that the economy is getting better, but the results have yet to be seen for the average person. As I stated in comments to my last post, I expect sales to be very slow through the end of the year. I think sales will get better in January, and we just have to wait it out. The prices will go back up again eventually.

I admit that I am disgusted with how difficult it is to sell good books. I am not happy about the situation, but I know that it will get better at some point. The value of series books is always going up or down, depending upon supply, demand, and the economy. The 80th anniversary of Nancy Drew in the spring will hopefully generate some good media coverage and maybe that will help.

Remember the buying frenzy of the summer of 2008? Gosh, those were such great times! We could list anything for a high price, and she would buy it! For those who don't know what I mean, a certain buyer was buying approximately $20,000 worth of series books per month for around three months on eBay in the summer of 2008. She paid $50 to $100 for $5 books. She paid $500 for $100 books. She paid $1,000 or more for $300 to $500 books. She won just about all auctions she bid on because of her huge bids. Months later we learned that she had stolen several hundred thousand dollars from a bank and went to federal prison.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #36

This time the question was for me. A prospective buyer asked, "I'm concerned about the disparity between this cover and the multipic endpapers, this looks like a very old dj (which is great) w/ a newer edition, especially w/ the listing to The Golden Pavilion which was, I think, after the sixties rewrites. Can you help me out on this one?"

This is the listing:

Nancy Drew #12 Message in Hollow Oak Carolyn Keene HCDJ

It bothers me to get comments like this. I am not sure whether they just need an explanation or whether they think I have misrepresented the book.

First, Golden Pavilion was published in 1959, which is not after the 1960s. My copy of Hollow Oak has a jacket that lists to Golden Pavilion, which means that it was printed in 1959. According to Farah's 12th edition, the book and jacket match the points for the 1959B-52 printing. This is not a mismatch, and there is no disparity.

The blue tweed books went out of print in 1962, so a blue tweed book cannot be from years later, if that is what the buyer thought. The blue multi endpapers were used on all original text books until they were revised, with the exception of #35-38 which had blue multi endpapers but were never revised. Additionally, the older picture covers for the revised books, #1-4 and #6, did have the blue multi endpapers. The blue multi endpapers were used on at least some books until when they were revised or went through a cover art change in the 1970s.

Aside from #1-4 and #6, all blue multi endpaper books have the original text (#35-38 do have the original 20 chapter text). This might be the first time that I have found someone who thought that the blue multi endpapers likely indicate a revised text book. The presence of blue multi endpapers is more likely to indicate that a book has the original text rather than indicate that it does not have the original text.

Hollow Oak was not revised until 1972, so all printings of Hollow Oak from 1935 through early 1972 have the original text.

All blue tweed books have the original text except for just a few printings of #1-4 and 6. Those are the only blue tweed books in which a buyer needs to worry about which text the book has. Even in those cases, the vast majority of tweed books that surface will have the original text. It is actually quite difficult to find #4 and #6 in blue tweed books with the revised text.

This is a battle that will never be won. We have quite a few people who are confused about formats and must not be visiting the several websites out there that explain formats. Just do a Google search for "Nancy Drew formats," and you will find the information you need.

I remain convinced that the popularity of the Nancy Drew Applewood facsimile editions is largely due to people who cannot figure out which of the older books have the original text, so they pay high prices for the Applewoods so they can be guaranteed to receive a book with the original text. For those who disagree, remember that someone once commented in this blog that it was too confusing to figure out which old books have the original text, so she found it easier to buy the Applewoods.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Foam Pellet Disaster

This catastrophe can alternatively be called "The Foam Peanut Disaster," depending upon which type is used inside the package. Whenever I receive a heavy package in which the seller has used some type of foam, the foam is usually damaged enough that small pieces go everywhere when I open the package. It is worse when the foam is not the anti-static type and sticks to me and everything else. It can take forever to clean up. I received one such package this week.

I had bought a large lot of books. When I cut open the top, I saw a sheet of foam as well as tiny pellets that had broken loose. Oh no... I immediately closed the box and began dragging it towards the front door. Despite my quick action, a number of tiny pellets had already escaped. I pulled the box outside, then I went to get the vacuum cleaner, which I also took outside.

This is how the books were packed.

The books were packed well, but the problem was the foam. The little pellets that had broken loose from the foam sheets had found their way between the dust jackets and books and into the front and back hinges of the books.

In some cases, the smashed pellets had lodged in between the mylar covers and dust jackets. It took me 30 minutes to remove the books from the box and vacuum all of the pellets off of and out of the books.

This is why packing unwrapped books in foam peanuts or sheets is a bad idea. It causes the buyer to waste a lot of time cleaning up a mess. That same night, I wasted some more time on the next package. I went inside and opened that package, which was a lot of 15 books. That seller had wrapped every single book individually in paper and taped the paper shut. It took at least five minutes to extract those books from that package. I was not prepared to spend the better part of 40 minutes opening packages.

While I prefer to receive my books packed well, the sellers can go too far, such as wrapping every book securely. It would have been better to have wrapped the books in groups so that it didn't take so long to extract them.

As to the foam, it is always a nightmare.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Destroyed Package

It was bound to happen eventually. I have written of some of my damaged packages, and sometimes the packages have been missing a book or two but most books arrived okay. I finally received a package which turned out to be a total loss. I knew it was likely a total loss as soon as I saw it.

The package was enclosed in a plastic bag that USPS places around damaged packages. The thin brown paper that the seller used was quite torn. The seller sent the package priority, so it was destroyed in the first two days of transit. I received the package a week later after it had been processed through the place where damaged mail is sent.

Before I opened the package, I could see what was inside. This next photo shows what I saw.

There were two DVDs, a book that was definitely not anything I had bought, and a mysterious smashed box-like shape. Hmm. This was definitely not good. I opened the package, and this is what I found.

I was the lucky recipient of two Pam Grier videos, Sheba, Baby and Fox in a Box. I had never heard of Pam Grier until I received these DVDs. Wow. No offense to Pam Grier, but I was not impressed. One of the DVDs was badly scratched.

Even better, I received my very own Reader's Digest Condensed book. I'm sure all book collectors know that RDCBs are the most unwanted books ever printed. You have to just about pay people to take them. Most book readers want to read the entire story rather than a condensed version.

The only item that was kind of cool but still unwanted was the mysterious box. The box was smashed, but the model railroad log car inside was in perfect shape. I noticed that the log car did not have a UPC on the box, so it must have been part of a set of railroad cars and got separated from the rest.

I knew that these items were so random that likely the seller did not mail them to me. I checked with the seller, and she had never seen any of them before. She is supposed to be sending me a refund for my payment.

What must have happened is that my package was ripped open, which was not surprising since the brown paper was quite thin. My books fell out and were separated from the wrapping. The package was sent to a mail sorting center along with all of the other damaged mail, and USPS was unable to figure out what the package contained. Someone took random stuff from other damaged packages and placed enough stuff in the wrapping to fill up the package, then sent it along to me. Nice.

I did get a good laugh out of the message on the plastic bag that contained my package. The beginning of the message read, "We sincerely regret the damage to your mail during handling by the Postal Service. We hope this incident did not inconvenience you." Inconvenience? I got random junk I did not want and will never receive my books. I spent 20 minutes taking pictures, cropping them, and sending them to the seller with a letter of explanation. It was much more than just an inconvenience.

I have heard of this happening to others in the past. I have been lucky that this is the first time it has ever happened to me.

In closing, remember that it is never a good idea to wrap a stack of books in brown paper, especially thin brown paper. If you must package in brown paper, at least run a strip of tape all the way around the package horizontally and vertically just like you would do if you were using ribbon on a present for someone. If this package had had tape around it, the books may have been damaged but would have arrived. I would rather have damaged books than no books.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #35

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories- Lot of 2 Books Item #110441656908

This auction was for two Nancy Drew books with dust jackets. The seller stated that the books have the wartime conditions notice, which dates the books to World War II. The seller stated that one book lists to Missing Map and the other one to Moss-Covered Mansion. The seller also stated that the books were printed around 1942-1943.
Question: Please send pictures of the book without the dust jacket. Are they blue cloth or tweed? Orange on blue or blue on blue? Are the inside end papers orange?

Answer: Yes books are orange lettering on blue. and inside Orange figures/pictures
The buyer's questions were all unnecessary. While the seller did not state the requested information in the original description, the books were printed during the early 1940s (for multiple reasons given by the seller and mentioned above). All Nancy Drew books from the early 1940s have orange print on the cover and orange silhouette endpapers. The prospective buyer asked whether the books are tweed. The tweed books did not come along until the 1950s, so the books cannot be tweed. Please see my Nancy Drew formats page for this information.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #34

Question: Is there printing on the reverse side of the dust jacket or is it blank? Thank you.

The prospective buyer was asking the question in order to determine whether the dust jacket is the first/second printing dust jacket, which are identical. Only the first/second printing dust jacket has the print on the reverse side.

While the seller did not show the reverse side of the dust jacket, one of the photos contained the information that the buyer was seeking. It is something that I always watch for when a seller shows a photo of either flap of an early dust jacket. Here is the important photo:

Notice along the extreme right edge of the back flap that something is printed in red ink. The only Nancy Drew dust jackets that have that message on them in red ink are the ones that have lists of books printed on the reverse side of the dust jacket. Therefore, this dust jacket is one of the very early dust jackets with the ads on the reverse side.

Both the front and back flaps have a message along the edge in red ink. On the front flap, the message reads, "LOOK ON THE REVERSE SIDE OF THIS JACKET." On the back flap, the message reads, "PRESERVE THIS WRAPPER FOR FUTURE REFERENCE." Anytime you see a photo of one of the jacket flaps and see a message at the edge in red ink, it is a very early dust jacket from the early 1930s that has the lists on the reverse side.