Support Your Local Postal Carrier: Buy from My eBay Store

Rather than checking potential eBay items for flaws; laundering and ironing or sterilizing them; photographing them, measuring them, weighing them, preparing them for shipping, and then listing them; it would probably be more efficient, from a financial standpoint, if I just drove past the post office and threw money at it.

This has been a particularly unfortunate week, profitwise, for my eBay store, even though I sold five items.

It began when a woman named Shelley purchased a particularly nice little throw, in pastel plaids, which I couldn’t price very high because it had a few loose threads. Still, it was too nice to give to the thrift store on the other side of the church where I live.

Shelley very kindly paid immediately, and the $$ went instantly into my PayPal account, and I printed the shipping label, only to discover that the parcel weighed more than I thought it did, so I applied for a postage refund, but these things take time. (It requires much more time to give you back your $$ than it does to snatch it up. They must use third-party fiscal intermediaries, as Medicare does – those nonmedical personnel who sit and scratch their heads and decide whether Mr. Arthur Proboscis really needs that triple bypass.)

SOLD for minus $8

SOLD for minus $8

Before I could print a new label, eBay swooped down on its broomstick and grabbed what was left in my PayPal account plus about $30 – “final-value fees” – and suddenly I was, like, $25 overdrawn. The next day, three more buyers purchased inexpensive little doodads – clothing, actually – so my PayPal balance crept back up toward zero.

It soared to a buck-fifty when someone bought a thank-you card from my website, and I had enough $$ in Stamps.com postage, fortunately, to ship the card right away, along with two sample Christmas cards, which brought the price of shipping to roughly even with the revenue from the card. But I still couldn’t ship the four eBay items (via parcel post, as specified in the listing).

So I did what any attention-deficit-disordered individual would do when confronted with such a dilemma. I read a book and waited for the money fairy to fly past, sprinkling gold dust on my bed.

Happy birthday, Uncle Sam

I use Lulu.com’s print-on-demand service for my books. Lulu.com recently informed me that it was raising its prices and that if I wanted to continue to not earn any $$ by not selling any books, but at a higher selling price, I was welcome to raise my own prices accordingly.

Inspiration struck, kind of like the rock some kid threw at my head last year when I was out working in my yardlet. (He had good aim, too; or else he was trying to hit the fence and had bad aim. In any case, I saw stars.)

My Yardlet (July 2008)

My Yardlet (July 2008)

I could have a one-day pre-price-raising sale on my most popular book(!), which is to say, the one I give away the most: Unfamiliar Territory. I sent out an e-mail, mostly to people to whom I have given copies of the book, thinking that they might like to buy a couple for Christmas presents or something. I offered the books at my cost, with free shipping, and three very discerning and thrifty persons responded affirmatively, which meant that I now had money to ship my eBay items.

But of course I had to send them via Priority Mail, as the eBay buyers had waited long enough, and of course I had to throw in an extra item or two. So this morning I repacked the four items and the extras in Flat-Rate Priority Mail boxes, at $12.95 (or something) per parcel, and I delivered the boxes to the post office, and as I was walking back toward my borrowed car, the postal clerk came to the door and shouted to me that the flat-rate boxes I had used required only $8.95 (or something) in postage, not $12.95. “Oh, well — happy birthday, Uncle Sam,” I shouted back, and it didn’t occur to me until I got home that maybe they would have compensated me with $16 worth of stamps.

Bottom line: I sold four items on eBay for a net revenue of, oh, minus $26 and change, and I gave away some pretty decent merchandise to boot, and in a few weeks I’ll have to pay “final value fees” on those items. To make my day even bleaker, I discovered that one of my other buyers had given me a “neutral” rating. I have no idea why, because I shipped his item the day after he paid for it, and he was all complimentary about it in the narrative part of the rating, plus I sent him a T-shirt to go with his grunge Levi’s, which he bought for 99 cents. Were they damaged in shipping? How can you damage ripped Levi’s?

Now I have to figure out how to pay Lulu.com for the three books I sold, and I’m very much afraid that the money fairy is currently working somewhere in the Western Ghats and won’t be back this way for a while.

But it’s a beautiful autumn day, and the sun is slanting in benignly from the western sky, making clever flickering fan shapes on my wall, and I intend to sit outside a bit and enjoy my chrysanthemums.

May Whoever Is On Duty bless you and your endeavors. -Mary


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