Thursday, July 06, 2006

eBay wakes up!!!!!

In my spare time, I buy and sell military surplus and almost anything else that catches my attention. I prefer to sell at flea markets, car shows, and gun shows. As I tell people at work, I prefer to sell "belly to belly". I enjoy the interaction with live humans as opposed to the coldness of the Internet. My older son describes my selling style as "heckling". He may be right. It is rare that I let someone walk by my space without saying something to them. Call it whatever you want, it works. I manage to come home with money in my pockets and less stuff than I left the house with that morning.

When I can't get to the flea market or other events due to weather or schedule obligations at my real job, I sell on eBay. I don't enjoy selling on eBay quite as much as live selling, but it has some advantages. You have almost a worldwide audience. Last week I sold two MOLLE packs to a guy in the Czech Republic. I have sold to people in other countries such as Australia, Honk Kong, Germany, France, Great Britain, Iceland, and California. Yes, I know that California is not technically a foreign country.

What I don't like about eBay is shipping and handling charges. This is a way that some sellers use to cheat customers and eBay. Let's say that you are searching eBay and you find that perfect MOLLE II hand grenade pouch that you wanted in woodland camo. The auction starts at $.01 or you can Buy It Now for $.05. WOW! My perfect grenade pouch for only a nickel!!! How can they do that?? Here's a hint! Before buying anything, check the shipping costs. In this case the shipping costs were $12.20 for First Class Mail or $14.40 for Priority Mail. This for a pouch that weighs three or four ounces. Just for the record, a Priority Mail Flat Rate Box will ship anywhere in the USA for $8.10. You can fit about 20 grenade pouches in that box. These bandits make their money on shipping charges. Why do they operate this way? First, their eBay fees are based on what the final sales price is for an item, not including shipping. Second, they grab buyers' attention with the low price. So they rip off both eBay and the public. Not bad for a day's work.

eBay has finally come to life on this subject. Beginning June 19, they started cracking down on sellers who use this business model. We will have to wait and see how long it takes to end this practice. I can't believe that they have waited this long. Their own research shows that the TOP thing that buyers hate about eBay is seller charging ridiculous shipping charges. What took so long guys???

A final note about the grenade pouch. I checked the price before I listed one that I was selling. I sold mine for $5.99 plus actual shipping. It went to the Czech Republic for less than the other guy wanted to ship his to North Carolina.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

This Just in!!!!!!!

July 4

The North Koreans have test fired three missiles into the Sea of Japan, two Scuds and a Taepodong . The Taepodong is reported to have a range of more than 9,000 miles. It exploded after 30 to 45 seconds of flight. The news departments at local country music stations have been flooded with calls asking if the Taepodong has any connection to the Honky Tonk Badonkadonk. Local newspaper writers are thrilled that Taepodong is easier to spell than badonk........

This brings back memories of an incident during Desert Storm. A video store opened in Gibsonville, about twenty miles from Greensboro. They had a big searchlight lighting up the sky that night. The bad news was that the cloud cover was pretty low that night and the light reflecting off the clouds created quite a sight in the night skies over Greensboro. Local news outlets were flooded with calls from folks asking if we were under Scud Missile attack!
"Step away from the television, let your brain get some oxygen."

Holiday Ramblings

The Fourth of July always makes me recall one of my favorite stories concerning the failure of public education.

On the Fourth of July in 1979, I was managing a Taco Bell in Tampa, Florida. Looking at the schedule and our projected sales, I realized that I had one more person working than I needed. So I decided that I would let someone take the day off. Just to make it interesting, I decided to give the day off to the first person who could tell me why we celebrate July 4.

I first asked the three people who were the opening crew at 8:00 A.M. Strike one! None of them knew. So when the 9:30 person showed up, I asked him. His response was "That was the day we fired the first shot on Fort Sumter." Strike two! Not correct of course, but I almost let him go anyway. I decided to hold out for the correct answer. The 10:30 person arrived with nothing more than a blank expression when questioned. Strike three! With only one more person to go, I was getting pretty desperate. I couldn't believe that five reasonably bright high school and college students couldn't answer this question. Maybe I should have asked an easier question. Maybe they could have handled something like " What date do we celebrate the Fourth of July?" Finally at 11:00, we had a winner. Paul, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina, had actually heard of the Declaration of Independence. Further questioning revealed that he had no ideas about the words or the author, but at least he knew the concept. It was a good thing that Paul was the winner. Not wanting to get his uniform shirt dirty, he had carried it instead of wearing it. Bad news for Paul! He had dragged his shirt through the freshly paved road out front. His uniform shirt was covered with road tar. HEY!! He might have been a dork, but at least he knew about the Declaration of Independence.