A Friend’s Passing

March 28, 2014

My heart hurts today.

I lost a friend of nearly 19 years tonight. It’s difficult to be home bound, and having a source of such great joy and love around to ease the loneliness, to hug when the pain seems too great, provides a comfort that little can match.

I could go on and on about what made him special, like most any pet lover can do. Instead, i’ll tell you that I suffered a great deal last week, and he was right there with me. I would wake up with him lying down my chest with his face staring at me, often followed by an attempt to bathe my head, cat-style; or he would be jammed up against me in my arm, gently tugging at my cheek to encourage me to scratch his head. Not unusual in a cat, but for him to be there all week long helped make me feel that I just might be okay.

Yesterday, I was feeling much better. My friend, on the other hand, still wanted to be held and particularly to zonk out on his favorite spot on my left shoulder all the time, then showed no interest in treats or people food. Later, he would go off and just lay in the coolness by his water bowl – typical of kitties running out of time. We brought him back in here and I held him on his favorite spot until I could tell his time was near.

I pulled him up on my chest on his favorite blanket and held him, looking into his face during his own twilight. He could barely move to put his front paws on my face like he had so many times, with his heart and breathing racing. With a few head scritches we had traded the last moments of pure love that only a wonderful pet can share. His little heart had poured out enough love for everyone that had ever set foot in this house and he had given me me all I could use and more.

My friend’s name was “Buddy,” an ordinary dark tabby cat with an out-sized heart, and we loved him very much.

And my heart hurts today at his passing.

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eBay Ditches DSRs as Yardstick, Announces Other Changes

March 11, 2014

Big things to look for with eBay SR1 2014 are SELLER STANDARDS, which:

  •  Combine with a change in DSRs to create the “DEFECT RATE”, helping avoid the one-shot kill
  •  the “Hassle-Free Returns” wording and other messaging being placed visibly in listings, which tie into the “ITEM CONDITION POLICY FOR RETURNS”
  •  a new option announced that allows sellers the choice to offer an “EXTENDED HOLIDAY RETURNS” for items purchased in November for December gifts
  •  some clean-up details in certain ITEM CATEGORIES AND ITEM SPECIFICS, much of them having to do with modernizing the platform and improving SEO
  •  and a variety of ways to learn, ask questions and understand the changes going into effect from discussion boards to webinars.

The most direct detail is offered in this morning’s announcement, found here: http://pages.ebay.com/sellerinformation/news/springupdate2014/overview.html

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Shoot It Like It’s a Crime Scene – They Could Be Snacking!

January 22, 2013

Cop shows are all the rage here. we say, “Shoot it like it’s a crime scene; write it like you’re the only witness.”

We’re going to have to deal with description writing with brevity-importance or brief up top, detail down below, as mobile devices continue to encroach on shopping behaviors.

The rapid rise in “snacking” – mobile shopping in the brief spurts of dead time like traffic lights, lines, waiting for something – doesn’t leave long detailed text descriptions playing the same role they have had.

With more shoppers “snacking,” great photographs and quick to digest descriptions are the way to treat today’s mobile buyer.

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Outright releases interesting infographic on 1099-K

March 13, 2012

The folks over at Outright continue to pour out good information for small sellers. The latest is an “infographic” full of interesting nuggets about the new 1099-K form. Click here for the full post at Outright.com.

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Tamebay Guide Features Services, Includes Uncle Joe Radio

February 8, 2012

There’s a new honkin’ guide full of eBay and eCom info from UK eBay blogs-alot master, Chris Dawson of Tamebay.com. It’s not just all about the UK, though – Tamebay included me and some of my projects (education through Uncle Joe Radio and informational podcasting with RRB Radio). You’ll recognize other names from our side of the pond, too. The Guide was recently discussed with Chris on RRB Radio. Grab yourself a copy – it’s free!

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Kabbage Awards UJ “Tallest Thinking Cap” Oscar Award

January 27, 2012

Oscar Season is upon us, and the fine folks over at Kabbage caught the fever recently, awarding me their gold statue for “Tallest Thinking Cap.” In their fun article, they cite my pointy-headedness in the win “for always having his eye on the future of ecommerce.”

I actually do enjoy trying to look ahead to the possibilities available in eCommerce. I want to see my small seller friends and neighbors be ready as these opportunities bloom. If they can be fast and agile, they can take advantage and be gone on to the next thing before Big Business can smother them. But as much as I enjoy the challenge of peering into my crystal ball, my real love is helping folks learn and refine the skills that make commerce possible for them. Not only to get into the game, but to enjoy success at it.

Kabbage pretty much nailed what I’m all about in their blog. And hey, It’s always nice to see that others notice your passion and think kindly of you, right?

Read more about the Kabbage “Oscars” and the other funny awards over at the Kabbage Blog.

I’d like to thank the Kabbage Academy, my Mom, my wife, my cats Buddy and Bobo, my loud-mouthed cockatiels Shady and Squeaky, … :-)

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EOL September II: The Return of Uncle Joe

September 1, 2011

I was cleaning up and updating the blog software and such when I ran across this little piece I’d written months ago. A lot of water has passed under the bridge, but I thought I should put this in place so that I could remember what this point in time was like for me. I’ll post the other pieces between then and now over the next little bit. It’s good to be back again. – UJ

September 01, 2011
As I write this, it was exactly a year ago that an accident during an eBay On Location event literally left me flat on my back. It seems like a cosmic justice that I should mark my return to a more active role in the eBay universe with a trip to eBay On Location in Orlando, FL. After what has often felt like the longest, wasted year of my life, this feels like a Victory Lap!

Even though I’m still working to manage the pain now, I am far and away in better shape than I was just a few months back when EOL Las Vegas rolled around. I was so utterly disappointed that things didn’t work out for me to go. Add my wife’s long-standing wish to go out there, and I truly felt that I had failed. Failed her. Probably silly, sure, but when you’ve spent a year counting and re-counting the blades on your ceiling fan you’d be surprised what tricks the mind can play. Truth be told? I didn’t have any business going anyway.

I will be “testing the waters” with this trip. I feel like a pilot taking a test aircraft out for its first real flight trials: I’ll be a long way from home if I’ve over-reached and things go bad; I’ll be exhausted and a long way from home if things go right.

I have to do this. I will do this. With any luck, I’ll see you there! Come say “Hi!”: I’ll be the happiest guy in a wheelchair you’ve ever met.

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Cranky Corner: Suggested Reply to Upset Customer over Shipping Quote Error

May 28, 2011
This was a suggested response to a customer who was upset that the shipping cost displayed by her eBay invoice was 3X the cost shown by the item page on a multple purchase. (Honor the first shipping price, you fraud, or cancel my order!)   

Dear Customer, I apologize for the problem you noticed with the shipping price eBay calculated for you. Thank you for letting me know about that. I’ve checked it, and the proper shipping price to you should have been $xx.xx. I can’t tell you why eBay made that mistake, but I can understand why you were surprised by it! I’ve reported the error to eBay. Meanwhile, if you’d care for me to ship this to you at the correct price of $xx.xx, I’ll be happy to send you a corrected invoice. If you’d prefer not to have these items, I’ll be happy to send you an order cancellation. I want you to be happy, and to have a fair deal. Thanks again! I look forward to hearing from you.     

  What’s going on:   

  • Always open and close with appreciation for customer bringing problem forward. We bitch about it when they don’t write us and just burn our feedback/DSRs, so we need to step up.  Even if they’re full of it and trying to pull a fast one – we don’t know for sure - so we just need to be professional and handle it that way.
  • Always apologize for the poor experience, whether it’s your fault, the platform’s fault, the full moon…. “I’m sorry” is often the most powerful way to extinguish a fire.
  • Empathize with the customer – I wouldn’t like it if my shipping quote tripled once I’d placed an order. I can understand that, ma’am.
  • Customer actually accused the Seller of fraud because the shipping price was one number, then was something else later at payment time. It is not a passing of blame to eBay, rather creating the understanding that the Seller is not personally calculating those costs in real time – it’s just a computer glitch, and eBay’s the one in charge of the computers at eBay! So we plant the seed that it’s an eBay thing, then water the idea by taking responsibility for notifying eBay of the glitch, finally harvesting a solution: here’s a corrected shipping amount.
  • With the identified problem solved – the shipping has been corrected – let the customer decide what will make her happy: the correct price, or cancel the deal.
  • Invest in making the customer happy, even if it’s to your apparent disadvantage of losing a sale. Since no money’s changed hands or product shipped, this is a no-brainer. Mutual Agreement to Cancel kills the trade and saves adverse feedback/DSRs. Completing the trade gets you paid. Win-win.
  • Be upbeat when possible. This disarms the negativity. If we’re professional, upbeat, interested in a solution that satisfies the customer… what’s not to like?
  • In this instance, I create a need for a customer response and invite her participation in solving her situation. This is a play to get her invested (if she stays with the deal, we don’t want her to hammer our DSRs anyway because we laid any demands on her). In other instances, a stronger call to action might be used, but I want a softer touch as a counterpoint to her harsh demeanor in the initial contact.

If her follow-on reponse states other demands or issues, the Buyer is just trying to angle for a discount.  Feedback will get mentioned along with a veiled threat. You refer that on to eBay for action. 

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“Slip & Fall” Injury Sidelines Uncle Joe

December 1, 2010

As the title tells you, I took a hard fall that seriously injured my back last September. I’ve mostly been laying down recuperating ever since. This has compounded other health issues and just totally sidelined me like few events in my life have ever done.

Lesson One: Back injuries suck. I don’t recommend it.

A number of folks have been remarkably kind to me in the aftermath, in tender small ways and crazy big ways. Putting up with me when I’ve been in agony all day probably qualifies as both (thanks to my missus in particular).

Lesson Two: Never underestimate your impact on other people. I’ve been touched by total strangers who took a moment to send me a thoughtful little note.

I say all this because we’re into the holiday season now, and folks travel and gather. Be careful when you do – don’t let unfamiliar places, cold weather and travel dangers get you. And be kind to the people with whom you interact, from the coffee shop waitress along the way to the whacky relatives (and their crazier neighbors!) who await you. A little smile may be the greatest, most awesome gift you can give to another person.

Happy holidays!

Uncle Joe

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“Free Shipping” Gets Automatic 5 Star DSR on eBay

August 24, 2010

The eBay feedback DSR for Shipping & Handling is automatically getting 5 Star ratings if the Seller offered FREE SHIPPING, according to alert reader SimplyMyBusiness. I was able to test and verify this myself later in the evening, though it isn’t clear that it’s anything other than a trial run.

When leaving feedback the Buyer is asked, “How reasonable were the shipping and handling charges?” If FREE SHIPPING was offered in the trade, the DSR stars are greyed out – locked – with a blue link next to the line, saying, “Why can’t I enter this rating?” It looks like this capture I made below.

Feedback Entry for S&H DSR is Greyed Out

Click to see larger graphic

When the mouse is moved over for an explanation, a word balloon opens up: “Free shipping automatically gives the seller a five-star rating.”

Because this has not been formally announced, it may only be a test of this set-up. It would certainly be a welcome change with many Sellers who have complained bitterly that any rating lower than a “5″ for S&H was unfair when FREE SHIPPING had been offered.

Today’s “PowerUp” newsletter said, “Starting in October, when you offer free shipping you could automatically get 5-star DSRs for shipping costs when your buyer chooses free shipping.” This would seem to foreshadow this as a permanent change before the holidays. The eBay newsletter added, “Listing with free shipping can also get a boost in Best Match for Fixed Price (where applicable), and visibility in Free Shipping search filters.” An official announcement about all this could come at any time, though eBay may wait until next week’s “eBay On Location” event in San Jose, CA to discuss any change.

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