Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Incorrect Addresses in PayPal

Most transaction problems are caused by mistakes made by sellers. In those cases, the seller shoulders the responsibility of making the transaction right. In other cases, a package might be damaged or go missing while in transit. Even though that type of problem is not the seller's fault, the seller still shoulders the responsibility of making the transaction right. Sometimes, however, the buyer is responsible, even if the problem was caused by a glitch.

PayPal has had a glitch for many years in which old addresses sometimes resurface when a buyer pays for an item. The old address might even be one that the buyer deleted from his or her account. PayPal keeps all of that information, and deleted addresses can reappear.

For anyone who has never heard of this problem, take a look at these message threads.

Old Address Still Showing Up

*WARNING* Remove old addresses from Paypal account!

Weird address glitch?

On these message threads, the buyers reported that the sellers were rude in response. I can understand why, since the sellers did no wrong. When a buyer confirms payment through PayPal, the buyer should always verify that the correct address is displaying on the screen. While this glitch is not the buyer's fault, the buyer is responsible for noticing whether the information is correct.

I recently mailed two packages to a buyer, unaware that the PayPal glitch had surfaced in the buyer's account. Much to my surprise, the packages arrived in my mailbox around two weeks later with "moved, no forwarding address" stamped on the packages. Needless to say, I was quite annoyed. Despite my annoyance, I contacted the buyer politely, apprising her of the situation and requesting her correct address. The buyer confirmed that the address was an old one from years ago and was mystified as to how I had been given that address.

I was very lucky that whoever received the packages did not keep them. At least I was able to get the books mailed to the correct address. This situation was not my fault, and I should not have had to pay to mail the books again. I decided that since the postage amount was low that I would not request the buyer to send additional funds. It was a gesture of good will just in case that buyer should ever decide to purchase from me again.

Regardless, I would have been well within my rights to refuse to mail the packages again without receiving additional funds. By the way, I did go back and check on Bonanza and in PayPal, and the address I mailed the packages to originally was the only address I was given. This was not my fault.

If you have moved at any point in time since you created your eBay and/or PayPal account, make sure you let your eyes scan over the address in PayPal to verify that the address displayed is correct.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Continuing to Seek the First Printing of Lilac Inn

I have written about my problems with seeking the first printing of the Nancy Drew book, The Mystery at Lilac Inn, due to seller paranoia and the inability of sellers to answer questions correctly. Follow the link embedded in the previous sentence to read about a very paranoid seller who refused to answer my question. This blog post is about a seller who was unable to answer questions correctly.

Around three months ago, another blank endpapers printing of Lilac Inn showed up for sale. I was going to write about that situation, but I forgot, since I was waiting for the 30-day fixed-price listing to expire. I saw the book relisted and remembered that I never wrote about the original listing. I am not going to link to either the original listing or the current one. If you want to see the original listing, go to my Facebook page and view my posts from around three months ago.


The book was listed at a fixed price of $625.00. At the time, I decided that all of these sellers have visited this blog and have incorrectly concluded that every single blank endpapers Lilac Inn is extremely valuable. Have you noticed that just about all blank endpapers Lilac Inn books are now listed at very high prices? This is not happening with the other titles. I am very annoyed that every single seller is missing the point that the only valuable blank endpapers Lilac Inn is the very first printing that has to have certain post-text ads in a certain order.

Anyway... another collector asked the following question, received the following answer, and then told me about the book in case I wanted it.
Question: Hello, I'm looking for a 1st printing of this book. The first printing book lists 3 pages of advertising inside the back of the book after the story ends. The first page advertises the Hardy Boys and lists 9 titles. The 2nd page advertises the Outdoor Girls and lists 20 titles. The 3rd page advertises the Blythe Girls and lists 10 titles. Does this particular book have these 3 pages of advertising inside the back? Thanks!

Answer: Hi yes to both questions and if you would like pictures ill list more for you and its a nice copy to. Thanks for asking
This is where I am paranoid, and I have reason to be paranoid. My reaction was that I did not believe the seller and that $625 was a lot of money to risk on a "maybe first." You might think I was overreacting, but wait for the rest of the story.

I decided to ask the seller for pictures of the post-text ads. What better way to prove whether the book was indeed the first printing?

The seller added the following pictures to the listing.

I was quite perplexed that the photographs completely contradicted the information that the seller agreed was present in the post-text ads. I see no Hardy Boys or Outdoor Girls lists. The book does have a Blythe Girls list, but it has 11 titles instead of 10. How could the seller think that what was present matched the information in the question? This is very strange.

I have learned that one should never feed the seller the first printing points, since for some inexplicable reason, sellers will agree to whatever is asked. I normally ask the seller for the name of the series and last title listed and give no other information. In the case of Lilac Inn, I also have to somehow convey that the order of the ads is important and that I need to know the exact order. This is because the third printing has the same ads in a different order.

Of course, if the seller wants to know why the information is important, I will explain. I am not trying to be secretive; rather, I am trying to get the correct information so that I do not waste money and avoid intense aggravation.

This particular Lilac Inn blank endpapers book looks to be in nice shape, but it is not the first printing. In fact, it is as far from the first printing as a blank endpapers example can be. The book meets the points for the 1932D-7 printing, which is the seventh printing and very last blank endpapers printing. It is not the first printing at all and not worth anywhere near $625. I would place the value at around $150.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Offering an Additional Shipping Option

I purchased a flat item on eBay, a collectible item described as being "unused" with "no damage." The seller's description stated that the item would be mailed in an envelope with little concern for protection. The description also stated that the item would be mailed with better protection at a higher price if requested by the buyer. Okay, no problem, right? Wrong.

I requested an invoice for shipping with better protection. I received an invoice for the shipping amount from the original listing, which was for shipping in an envelope with little protection. No message was attached to the invoice indicating that the seller had read my request. I assumed that the seller had failed to notice my request. I sent a message asking for the shipping with better protection.

The seller replied, stating that eBay would not allow for the invoice to be edited. I was rather annoyed. I was exhausted after a long day and could not think clearly myself, but I knew without a doubt that the seller should have been able to invoice me in some fashion for the higher amount. In the seller's message, he requested that I add $1.50 to my payment. eBay would not allow me to edit the invoice, since the seller had that disabled in his account settings. I was further annoyed.

I even went to PayPal to see if I could send payment from there, since many years ago, buyers could send payment directly from PayPal for eBay items. eBay has deactivated that option. I could not add the amount no matter what I did.

Altogether, I wasted approximately 30 minutes trying to fix the seller's problem. Finally, I sent payment for the invoiced amount, knowing that my item would probably arrive damaged.

Belatedly, I realized that all the seller needed to have done was add another more expensive shipping method to the invoice, while leaving the original shipping option intact with no changes. I would have remembered this myself if I had not been so utterly exhausted on that day. Why do so many sellers not know how to use eBay?

The above portion of this blog post was written before I received the item in the mail. The item did arrive undamaged, since the seller decided to provide some additional protection. Fortunately, this transaction ended fine, but I was more than slightly aggravated by the seller's expectation that I fix the problem on my end. This was not somebody new to eBay.

The situation could have been avoided in the first place if the seller would have included both shipping options when the auction was created. If a seller plans to offer a second shipping option, make it available from the beginning. Buyers should not be forced to ask the seller to add an option that was mentioned in the listing.

Most importantly, the seller shoulders the responsibility of figuring out the solution to this type of problem. A buyer should never be expected to try to figure it out. eBay has message boards and an answer center. Users can go to those locations and ask questions.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Effect of eBay Search Problems and Reduced Competition

Search Problems Can Cause Lower Sales

A small percentage of eBay users have had significant search problems on the eBay site for several months, at least as far back as February. The only reason I know about this problem is because I am one of the users who is affected.

At times, all of my saved searches are broken. Other times, some are broken, and some are not. Often, I can run no searches without getting either zero results or 12 million (or more) results. By being persistent, I can sometimes figure out a trick to finally get some valid results.

I seem to have the worst results when I use Firefox. Search is quite broken in Firefox, and I cannot fix it. Clearing my cache, removing all cookies, and reinstalling Firefox does not help. Since Firefox results are faulty, I use Google Chrome and can get good results most of the time. Sometimes, even Google Chrome is faulty.

I know that others are affected since a number of users have lodged complaints on eBay's search message board. Interestingly, eBay had a search meltdown a few weeks back that caused nobody to be able to search for a few hours. I missed out on the meltdown, but when I checked my saved searches later that day, all of them were working properly. It was as though the search meltdown reset my account. After around a week, my problems resumed.

The result is that I am now running far fewer eBay searches than I was prior to February. This is affecting the outcome of eBay auctions, at least on a small level. Since some of us are not able to search easily, we are searching less and are probably missing out on some items. Let's give an example of how this might affect a seller.

Let's say that I am willing to pay $300 for a certain book, that a second person is willing to pay $100, and that a third person is willing to pay $200. The other two people notice the auction and place bids. Due to my search problems, I do not notice the auction. The result is that the third person wins the auction at $102.50. If I had noticed the auction, I would have won at $202.50. This is all hypothetical, but you can see how a seller might get far less for a book when some interested bidders are not able to run searches.

Less Competition Can Mean Fewer Buyers

Four years ago, eBay introduced the DSR system. This change was what caused me to leave eBay on January 1, 2009 and open my Jennifer's Series Books booth on Bonanza. In short, during those early months of the DSR system, I had one buyer who left me a low description DSR due to not understanding the points of early Nancy Drew books and another buyer who left me a low communication DSR when I did communicate. More importantly, I was targeted by another eBay seller who repeatedly left me low ratings in an attempt to drive me off the site. It worked, and I left.

I believe that ultimately, this other eBay seller caused harm to his/her business by driving others off the site. Four years later, the selection of vintage series books on eBay is pathetic. Many buyers still use eBay as their first or only source for series books, but Bonanza is now pretty well known in series collecting circles as another place in which vintage series books can be found.

The selection of good series books on eBay has declined precipitously in the last four years. This means that eBay is no longer the one place to search for series books online. Those sellers who remain on eBay have been hurt by the decline in selection.

I believe that there is strength in competition. Why else do Walgreen's and CVS build their stores on the same street corners in direct competition with each other? You would think that they would want to build their stores away from each other, but there they are right across the street from each other. They do it because more stores in close proximity means more traffic.

My business on Bonanza is strengthened by having other series book sellers' inventories also present on Bonanza. I cannot possibly stock Bonanza with series books by myself. I tried at the very beginning and was happy when others listed on Bonanza. By having others join me, a better selection is present for buyers. This brings in more buyers.

I'm not sure how other people are doing on Bonanza, but my sales are at a steady rate where I can depend upon at least 20 transactions per month. When I choose to sell on eBay, I cannot depend upon any sales at all due to not knowing whether my items can be seen in search. As stated in my first topic, not all buyers are even able to search eBay currently. For those who can search, eBay may be hiding my items in Best Match. Who knows?

With a declining selection on eBay, fewer people are drawn to eBay to search. This is why I believe that the declining selection has hurt the sellers who remain. Instead of seeking to destroy other sellers, people should strive to set themselves apart and give buyers a reason to choose them. Most sellers have figured this out and try to give buyers a reason to choose their listings over the rest.

Four years later, eBay has now tweaked the DSR system a bit, so that sellers cannot harm others quite so easily. Sellers can receive an automatic five stars on one or more of the DSRs by offering free shipping and one-day handling. Transactions in which no communication is needed will also result in the seller receiving an automatic five stars for communication. Even though the DSR system is now much better, the damage has already been done. I will never return to listing all of my items on eBay.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Nancy Drew #21 Secret in the Old Attic

In Nancy Drew #21, The Secret in the Old Attic, Nancy searches for missing sheet music written by Mr. March's son, Fipp. The original text also has a subplot in which Diane Dight tricks Ned Nickerson into taking her to the Emerson dance instead of Nancy.

In the beginning of the original text, Mr. March collapses while at the Drew home. He is said to be malnourished and spends the night with the Drews until he is well enough to go home. While Mr. March is with the Drews, he hears one of Fipp's songs on the radio, which causes him to realize that someone has stolen the song.

In the revised text, someone throws a rock at Mr. March as he leaves the Drew residence. Mr. March is hit in the head, and as a result of his injury, he spends the night with the Drews. In this version, Mr. March also hears one of Fipp's songs on the radio.

The rock-throwing incident, which is very typical of the revised text books, is stupid. Once again, the villain alerts Nancy that a villain exists. Mr. March's ill health in the original text was sufficient to create the sequence of events resulting in him spending the night and hearing the song on the radio.

In the original text, page 22, Mrs. French informs Mr. March that his granddaughter is missing. She insists, "It's not my fault." Even if the disappearance was not Mrs. French's fault, she waited a day to tell Mr. March, which makes her negligent.

Since Mrs. French is negligent in the original text, I assume that this is why the revised text does not have Susan disappear. Rather, Mrs. French arrives with Susan, telling Mr. March that Susan is ill. Mrs. French still declares, "It's not my fault," which comes across as a very odd remark. Really, would Mr. March assume that Mrs. French purposefully made Susan sick? That statement is out of place in the revised text.

In the original text, page 16, Nancy asks about the old stone wing of Mr. March's house. Mr. March replies, "That part was built way back when people had slaves." When Nancy asks about the old stone wing on page 15 of the revised text, Mr. March replies, "That part was built way back when people around here had plenty of servants."

I disagree with this revision since it attempts to rewrite history. I understand that part of the revision process removed ethnic stereotypes, but it is a fact that people owned slaves in the past, as horrible as that idea is to us now.

I do agree with the removal of Bess's comments of page 17 of the original text. Bess acts like the past history of the slave quarters is romantic, sighing as she thinks of "mammies crooning, little pickaninnies dancing." Since the term "pickaninny" is considered derogatory, that part had to go. However, I see nothing wrong with the initial mention of the existence of the slave quarters.

The Secret in the Old Attic is one of two Nancy Drew books that was never bought for me when I was a child. I never read it. Much of the reason we collect is due to nostalgia, and our favorite books are influenced by what we read as children. Since I never read Old Attic, I did not like it when I read it as an adult years ago. I enjoyed neither the original text nor the revised text. As I recall, I was really annoyed by the Diane Dight subplot of the original text, so I liked the original text even less than the revised text.

This made me feel odd, since apparently Old Attic is loved by many Nancy Drew fans. I realized that my dislike could only have been caused by never having read it when young.

I wondered whether my opinion would shift upon this reading, since now, I do have a memory of reading this story, even though the memory is unpleasant. This time, I rather enjoyed both texts and no longer have any of those lingering negative feelings. I can no longer consider Old Attic to be a least favorite Nancy Drew book; rather it lands somewhere in the middle.

During this reading, I enjoyed both texts equally, but I favor the original text as a slightly better story.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nancy Drew #20 The Clue in the Jewel Box

In Nancy Drew #20, The Clue in the Jewel Box, Nancy tries to catch the man responsible for a series of robberies. She also becomes friends with Mrs. Alexandra, who was once queen in her native land. Mrs. Alexandra hopes to locate her missing grandson, who was lost when the royal family escaped the revolution.

I did not enjoy this book as much as I did years ago. I found the entire subplot involving David Dorrance and his double to be rather annoying. The handkerchief signal that Nancy and Dorrance arrange seems stupid, and it is rather apparent that both Dorrance and his double are in league. Nancy is clueless about the men until near the end of the story.

On page 66 of the original text, Nancy hears a woman cry out for help after her pocketbook is stolen. The woman indicates that the man running down the street is the culprit. Nancy follows him into a department store. The text states that Nancy is able to keep him in sight the entire time. The man then turns and waves his handkerchief at Nancy.

Think for a minute, Nancy. The man was running away right after a robbery. Why was he running? He was likely guilty, but then he waved the handkerchief. Nancy should have already been suspicious of David Dorrance at this point, since the man Nancy followed knew Dorrance's signal. But no, Nancy is dismayed that she has mistaken the pickpocket for Dorrance yet again. She should be asking herself why Dorrance is always present when a theft occurs.

The original text introduces Burt and Dave on page 106. This is the first appearance of Burt and Dave in the series. While Burt and Dave make appearances in a number of the revised text versions of earlier titles, those stories were written after this original text was published.

The revisions often remove information that should not have been removed. For instance, Michael behaves oddly when the young people meet Mr. Ellington while in the presence of Michael. The original text makes it clear that Michael is trying to avoid Mr. Ellington, as though he is afraid of being recognized. Michael's odd behavior is missing from the revised text. It would have been far better to have left Michael's odd behavior in the revised text.

I found it difficult to write this review, because I did not enjoy this reading of either text. I know that I liked the story when I read it years ago, but this time my experience did not match my memories.

The original text is better than the revised text, since it tells a more complete and better detailed story.