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Customer Service: Or How to Get the Most out of your Holiday Shopping Season for Buyers and Sellers.

Discussion in 'Customer Service 2004 by PatentLeatherShoes' started by Patentleathershoes, Nov 7, 2004.

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  1. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    Good afternoon everyone
    (or Good evening to those of you joining us in the UK and Europe)

    (or insert snappy title later!)

    Wow, the shoe workshop was fantastic, and certainly a tough act to follow!

    For the next week we will be addressing a number of topics.
    The synposis is as follows according to our calendar:

    The holiday selling season is fast approaching and with all the buying and selling going on, it helps to polish up on your service skills. Chris will be addressing various areas including, steps to take before losing your cool, customer follow up - after the inquiry, after the sale, after the shipment, tips for buyers to get the most out of their holiday buying sprees and much more!

    The intent of this little exercise is two fold:

    1) A "getting back to basics". Fall and Winter is a busy selling season and everything is rush,rush. rush it helps if we slow down for just a minute and make sure that we have all of our ducks in a row....from stock control, to remembering to include all pertinent information to prevent customers from scratching their heads, to preventing accidental damage and misplacement....or losing control of your sale.

    Whether you are a brand new seller wanting a good foundation, or are an old pro "sharpening the saw," there is something for you.

    Let's work smarter not harder!!

    2) We will also discuss the other half of the "Team"....for which there would be no sale at all....the buyer. For the buying process.. we will discuss some "last minute flight checks" before you start shopping from effectively communicating with sellers....being thorough, and such information as what it means to "compare item to similar garments that fit you.". We will go to our closets and learn first hand how to translate "flat measurements" into "could it fit me or not?" Also, we will look at payment methods, red flags, when to ask for more information and when to just keep looking.

    I say "We" not because I enjoy speaking in the 2nd person plural but because I expect to learn a lot from the questions that are posed as well.

    There will be a few interactive exercises so you can play the home game version too. (I bet that sounds curious)...

    Now that this is all out of the way, I suppose I best introduce myself.

    I am Chris Mastrangelo who most of you know. I have been selling on ebay for 1 1/2 years specializing in vintage accessories, and have since branched out into vintage clothing. I have experience in many design areas, but the experience that most relate to this workshop is my background in customer service, productivity, and project management. I have performed top to bottom customer service audits on shops, worked closely with fortune 500 and startup clients on image management. Hopefully, that experience will be put to some use!
  2. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    COMMUNICATION! or yoohoo i can"t SEE YOU!!

    The biggest challenge to selling on the internet is communication. Either communication breaks down or things spin out of control completely. It could be due to technically difficulties, or more often, it is due to misunderstandings in the written text.

    When you are working in a face to face environment, things are a little more clear as to intention and meaning. People can see eachothers faces and body language. Many times, even if you cannot immediately solve the problem, you can express feelings of empathy and concern. People can tell whether you are genuine or not. When comminucating by email, and when people do not know your "voice" or do not know you well enough to understand your way of communicating, it is easy to take things the wrong way, or to merely miss things.

    This is why, I think, that emoticons were devised in the first place.

    No Way!

    No way! :)

    See the difference.

    We are not going to have a whole course on smileys here, although the subject is quite delightful.

    What we will discuss is taking the idea and "upping the anti" so to speak.

    Many vintage clothing sellers, unlike sellers of other manufactured goods, or suppliers who sell on the internet come from a more diverse background. Some might have come from the business world, but very many have come to it as a result of first selling items from their own collection, or clearing out a few things around the house....a yard sale if you will at first...and then later turned it into a true business.
    So lets look at ourselves as not folks who are "selling a few things we found" but each one of us having a start up business.

    So, which brings me to a few basic communication ideas.

    Every time you send an inquiry:


    This may sound rudimentary or silly , but when you are at a total and complete loss for what to say or are too tired/aggravated to muster a thing...the formula will get you there every time....and you will sound like someone they will want to deal with, not the hungover, tired, grouchy, over hungry, late for a meeting, or freezing person that you are that very moment. I am being facetious of course!

    Firstly, even if you don't have the information, or think the question is rediculous or silly. Always thank your inquirer.

    At the very least

    "Thank you for asking"
    "Thank you for writing"
    "I appreciate that you asked"
    or "Thank you, signed you"

    Part two:

    Okay this is the meat...what are they asking you? give them "just the facts"
    "Yes, the belt is included" "THe height is 1"" whatever it is.


    Okay, we have acknowledged them and told em just the facts ma'am.
    Remind them.

    "The auction ends tomorrow."
    "Remember, as this is a circle skirt, leave room in the hips for movement"

    "IF you should have any other questions, do not hesitate to ask"
    Or if this is post sale "I do have an auction update list..wanna join?"
    I am about to list a few things that are just like that but might be closer to the size you are looking for...i am listing them wednesday... (you are inviting them to come bacl

    TITLE: OOH LA LA Kissing Poodles Circle Skirt 28" W . Magnifique!
    Measurements are 28 in the waist, "open" in the hips, but you include hip measurement of 52" and length of 30"


    Asker: Hi. I really like this skirt. it is 1" too small in the waist, but the hips should work as their are two inches to spare. Can the hooks be moved?


    What you could say,

    You mean to tell me you have a 28" waist and 50" hips. what kinda mutant are you...are you sure you are measuring right??? Do you KNOW ANYTHING? Or girl, you have a big rear end!

    But you won't


    Thank you for writing
    There is room to safely move the button another inch or two.
    However, please remember as this is a circle skirt, it requires lots of room in the hips for movement, so please keep that in mind.

    If you should have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask


    I am not saying that it will solve all problems in the universe, but if you take a deep breath and follow it, it may avoid a lot of conflict down the road, or prevent the feeling of "did i answer their question? remember...smarter not harder!



    ASQer Profiling!!!

    Could ONE of these people be YOU.....
  3. Oh, great advice, Chris!
    Remember, if they are asking questions, they are looking at your auctions.
    That is more than half the battle. In saleman's terms, that's a hot lead! Your opportunity to not only answer the question but to SELL. Make the client know that you are professional, friendly, personable and just flat out someone that they want to buy from. So it is an opportunity to soft sell yourself (so they continue to shop your auctions) as well as the specific product that they asked about (Thanks for your question and for shopping my auctions. Isn't this a fabulous dress? It is incredibly well made. And to answer you question, yes, the belt is included. How fabulous is that? It is so rare to find a dress with the original belt in such good condition....blah blah blah.)
    Ask them to add you to their favorite sellers' list.
    It is also a good idea to have a signature that attaches to each of your emails.
    In mine I invite everyone to join my mailing list and I provide easy links to my auctions, store, and an email link.

    Thanks so much for running this workshop, Chris.

  4. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Alumni +

    Exellent points, Chris- especially as so many questions are so very terse that one is tempted to reply to them in the same mode.

    StitchesandSnags likes this.
  5. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    That is another good point Marie...

    I was going to bring it up later but I will bring it up now.

    (as well as the additional info on ASQ I was ready to copy and paste in this space just now...)

    Ask leading questions....

    This is a more advanced topic, so we are jumping ahead.

    When I was selling high end merchandise, or anyone has shopped a high end retail outlet or a really well run boutique knows...

    I call it "Shall I wrap it up for you?"

    Ask questions and provide information that needs a response.

    BUYER: Wow, what a pretty pair of shoes, jsut what i have been waiting for. Is that a reflection on the heel, or is that a small scuff. I really like em and don't mind polishing them, but want to know so i can plan. I am going to my little sister's wedding. she is getting married on Thanksgiving.!

    YOU: Well congratulations, that is wonderful. Not to worry, the white mark is just a reflection, so they would be ready to wear. They are a nice high gloss aren't they? I have Buy it now (or the auction ends tuesday or whatever), and as soon as I get notice of your payment, I will ship them in more than enough time for the wedding. Thanks so much!


    Even if you didn't follow the formula, that is a good response, and i wasn't even thinking about formula but it ended up happening.

    (did so at the end)
    (it was just a reflection)
    (you are reinforcing what a nice shine those babies have!)
    (I have a buy it now, i am assuming you will use it)


    I will ship as soon as i get your notification!

    (People when shopping for a special occassion or 9 times out of 10 otherwise don't want to drag things out...it is who sometime s perceive they do.


    Look for closing cues: "How quickly can you ship it?" etc.. people may muddle around on somethings, but when someone is asking about combined shipping, that is a sale


    I also want to bring up a point that Marie made ASQ=sales. A lot of people say that ASQs usually mean people aren't serious. If you are getting a way higher volume of ASQs that you feel are just screwing around and wasting your time, we will discuss another issue next about looking at what they say and not how they say it. (believe me there are somethings that were asked that i thought head would explode on..more later..)

    and then we will talk later about what you can add to your listings to answer the questions ahead of time.

    Also, when something is an item that is not so unique, people tend to shop around too...but if you can take advantage of the opportunity you have with them face to face...you can

    NEXT....FOR REAL..the ASQers...
  6. Sorry Chris...I didn't mean to make you jump ahead.
  7. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    No..jumping is good!

    ASQer profiling
    Okay, now...

    Instead of focusing on the outgoing, let us reflect a moment on incoming inquries.

    To break it down for new buyers and sellers, on ebay you can "ASK seller a question" or if they have a website it usually is the link that says "contact us" and the item description may or may not be tied to the email that is automated from the system.

    So please be gentle on your sellers, and sellers please be gentle on your customers who you are following up with after the sale and be sure to reference the item that is being talked about

    "How wide is this table pad"
    vs"How big is it"

    It definitely clears up any confusion from technical dificulties

    Firstly, as a buyer it is easy to get caught up in the moment, and the thrill of bidding or buying, and not read thorughly. We will cover important things to include in a listing to allow buyers to have everything they need to make a decision...but that is a bit later.

    It is really difficult sometimes to read questions about our items. Especially because many of us are collectors we look at our items differently. Some things we can analytically look at as sale merchandise, but other items we can be sensitive about.

    You may be required to take off your "collectors hat" and put on your "business hat"
    and know that an individual might not have the background to just automatically figure some things as common knowledge.

    "How could they possibly ask that about this item? Can't they see how beautiful it is?" or I have 56 million zillion positive feedback scores, so why would i sell junk? they should know better"

    But they don't yet!

    SO lets slow it down a minute and really think a minute. It is easy - again - because we cannot hear voice tones or see body language, we can read into things differently than intended.

    THere are several reasons people ask what they ask or say what they say.

    Sometimes, they have a very legitimate question because something is unclear in the listing. The seller could have left incomplete information...there is not enough information for them to make a decision..measurements are missing, etc. (we will workshop this with real examples later)
    Othertimes, everything is all there, and they just might have an additional or special circumstance that requires further information that could not be foreseen. Its nothing wrong with you, or them, it just is...well unforseen..)

    For example, I am short waisted, and not everyone adds a shoulder to waist measurements on jackets with a nipped in waist, (peplum or belted people always do) and the overall length doesn't tell me the whole story sometimes on whether the proportions will work so sometimes i will ask.

    Sometimes they have been "burned" before and want to make sure they know what to expect.

    And then there are questions that will really try you....

    Second is the "alert" or "informant' ASQ.

    Whether these folks are extremely helpful or they are not helpful, a simple "thank you for writing" is sometimes just what you need.

    "Your photos aren't loading...i can't see it"
    "If you priced it lower, i would have taken it"
    "that ain't a Rialto!"

    Some of them are very positive things that we are happy for and some might be a little trying.

    But, if you get to the meat of the issue, you can get through anything.

    Information alerting you to server problems...take it as a good thing. Bad that your server is down, good because someone was interested enough to want to see your item. There is a theory that they really don't want it...they just want what they can't see but they sure just saved you a bundle.

    Then there are ASQs that can be almost accusatory in nature if you read them at face value.

    I received on to the nature of
    "i liked it, but i thought the start bid was too high. I didn't think you made it challenging enough. i would have bid if you lowered it." Or i got one that said "you are selling a faux as real"

    Okay, my first thought was, what the nerve!!
    And then i stepped back and really reread the first one and realized a few things. I probably shattered their whole paradigm that i was a seller putting an item up at serious price in two different ways. Firstly, even though it was quite a bargain from what they would be able to get it at in shop, i was showing that i had respect enough to not give it away for a penny. I had respect for my bidders because instead of starting at a penny and making the person who really wanted it fight tooth and nail for it, I started it out on the low end of fair so only someone who really wanted it would bid. Nothing against people who start things out low, but people tend to throw in the towel if they don't have a legitimate shot at it.

    It also occurred to me that quite frankly they were asking for a better price.

    Well, okay. I was a little miffed. But I put aside and didn't respond for a few hours and got to the real heart of the matter and i could answer their motive and not their belittling tone and get onto the next matter.

    There are also some things that come through that bring into question the quality or legitimacy of your item. Sometimes these are genuine, sincere folks wanting to lend a helping hand and truly are knowledgeable, sometimes people just want to be "heard'",

    It might be something important that you have been wanting to hear. But sometimes, there are people out there who are just busybodies too. So, read what they have to say. If you respect their info, and that unlocks the key, great!, but if they should come off as pompous or incorrect....

    ....don't get into a heated debate. sometimes just a thank you for your response is all that is required to end the matter. politness always wins out. But also don't lull yourself into the fact that you can't be wrong either!

    That's why we have this forum so we can verify with more vintage afficianados ..

    Remember....be fair to yourself and your bidders. Start your auctions or sales at a fair price to you, but as we draw closer to the holidays, make them obtainable.
    Start closer to the reserve price, use the Buy It Nows, and start them off resonably, and reasonable doesn't always mean the cheapest
  8. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    Anyways...a legitimate question or an unfulfilled need is always buried in there somewhere if you look
  9. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    And Marie...i will steer whatever way people request...and if they don't pipe up, i will just carry on by my own particular "idiom" in the words of Monty Python
  10. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    To be continued in the a.m....

    when I will bring up other tips before you venture out for buying...like determining fit. For sellers, inventory control, and handling shipping in a more effective fashion pertinent to the holidays, and any additional issue that anyone brings up..

    And there might just be an interactive part too....
  11. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President


    Lets look through a buyers eyes. All that mumbo jumbo about lead times and payment methods. We tend to forget about all that when the time approaches to buy a gift, so it is wise to shop early, or to at least have realistic expectations when we are shopping last minute.

    When you pay someone electronically by paypal with a paypal balance or with a credit card, the payment is usually instantaneous. There may be a lag time for the seller to receive payment notification, so lets just say it is anywhere from instant to 24 hours.

    When you pay something by Bidpay, notification to the seller could take up to 24 hours because Bidpay is authorizing funds from your account. Then, most sellers wait for their own safety for the Bidpay Money order to be received in their hands. THis could take anywhere between 2-7 days. (or could be longer if there are mixups).

    If paying by Paypal echeck, which is just like a normal check, there could be anywhere from a 4 business day or more time to process.

    If you pay by money order, the money order could take anywhere from 2-5 business days or even more to arrive, but the seller can ship right away.

    If you pay by check, the check may take between 2-7 business days or more to arrive, plus being held by the seller until the check clears the bank.

    Most sellers offer priority mail and first class mail depending on the item. Royal Mail in and from the UK, and airmail post in most cases from.within Canada. There are suggested or guranteed lead times for each, but just remember they might be holiday overlaod, or it is still quite possible that international packages can be spot checked, or will be flagged because of the contents.

    When this happens, a package can be held up indefinitely with no way of knowing. This is unforeseen by the seller.

    It is reconmmended that if the package is not tracked, for the seller to keep the post office receipt on all international packages. (in the US anyways, the desination prints out on your receipt from each packages mailed). That way you have some documentation should the need arise to reassure the customer it was indeed sent.

    Buyers, not all shipping methods provide for tracking. It is possible to track a Global Priority Mail package, but is not immediate. It has to be extensively "researched" unlike standard tracking. I attempted to track a package to the UK once and the best information I could get at the time is that it left the United States.

    I am not trying to detract from International Business and in fact have found that packages from other countries get to me faster sometimes than domestic, but just making buyers aware that it is dificult to expect that if you purchase something from overseas December 22, it would just be sheer luck, one in million if it arrived on December 24th.

    We're going to talk about TIME, and Inventory control and will relate it back to the above.


    Plan ahead.

    Or don't plan at all, and just follow a few steps that will insure a smooth experience at the close of the transaction.

    One of the keys of cutting down on shipping time actually has nothing to do with standing in line at the post office.

    It starts with inventory control. Both the physical storage of and initial inspection.

    If you don't have easy access to a particular item, or even misplace it, it cuts down on valuable time. It is easy to lose track of small items, especially if you do not deal exclusively in them. Don't believe me...Try this experiment. Put a piece of long grain rice somewhere in a room. Or a piece of packing popcorn. It will porbably get moved, stepped on, tossed out by a family member who has no clue ("oh, I didn't know this was something you were selling!), moved out of being helpful ("I thought this was yours, I put it in your drawer!_ or eaten by a pet. That's just what could happen to an earring or...even something a little bigger.

    Personally, I don't let my husband or house guests handle any of my sale items. I might show someone something, but I am sure to hang onto it, not just to prevent damage, but just in case I do move it to a place that is not usual for it, I can retrace my steps or it will come to me if I was the one who moved it. I keep very tight control over where everything is, but that is just a backup safety.

    Here are a few ideas on to take control of your inventory:

    For the organized or the hopeless. But even people with messes on their hands surprisingly know where things are.

    If you have a few tiny items up that week, especially if you don't usually deal in them, put them in a box on your desk. This works if your office or storage area is particualrly disorganized. Whether its a shoe box, a card box with dividers, whatever will be specifically designated and not used for anything else. They will be ready immediately and you won't have to dig through and wonder where you saw it.

    Some folks use a complex inventory numbering system. For some it is all in their head. Or they have a big box of purses...carefully with tissue paper or some other barrier in between them to prevent damage. Or have a particular closet with dresses hanging up. At any rate, they know where their stuff is.

    How does this relate to customer service.


    Let's say the standard shipping time for a seller is within 3 days of payment if they had immediate payment.

    Here's a little game

    Lets start with 3 days...and add or subtract the following.. (now we are just using that at random. Some sellers take up to 7 days per their terms of service, which is right inline with ebay standards, but we are speeding it up for the holidays)

    "I can't find it" +2-4 days or +10 -100 if you can never find it.
    "Using a service that allows you to click and ship. " -1 day
    "My inventory is at my finger tips, name it i will tell you where it is!" -1 day
    "I didn't notice that hole when i got it" +1 day to explain it to the customer. +1 if you can repair it agreeably.
    "I know where it is, but geez, it really smells musty" +1 day to fresh it up. +2 days for drycleaning. If it gets damaged in the cleaning process, you are out of the game.
    "I am sick in bed" +2-4 days
    "..but my spouse, adult child, sister can take it to the PO for me!" (take off half the points you just added from the previous one...you never know if they got sidetracked.)
    "i didn't see that payment in my spam filter" +3 days

    How are you doing so far? What is your turn around time? Are you holding a stellar 2-4 days? A respectable 3-7 (but you might want to tweak things for the holidays? Or can I expect my package for New Year's 2007.

    Some of it is out of your control, some of it isn't.

    "Payment by echeck" +4-7 days
    "Payment by money orde/casiers check" +2-10 days
    "Payment by check" +2-10 days. if you wait for clearance add +10 also
    "payment by Bidpay" +0 if you are waiting for the e confirmation only. add 2-7 days for the money order to arrive.
    "instant payment" +0.
    Person on buying end didn't check spamfilter for invoice +3 days

    Now lets see....
    First class mail +2
    Priority Mail +4
    Express Mail. -1
    Global Priority +4-7
    International surface +Forever. kidding, 16++ days or MORE (my record 27!)
    Airmail. +2-10
    Add your own lead time within your country

    (and that wasn't the "interactive part" i was alluding too.)

    Now, the moral of the story is....see what you do affects the outcome and the lead time. Buyers, you can control the payment method and upgrade your shipping, and sellers with just a little polishing, doorstep to doorstep can be quicker!
  12. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    More talk about time, and streamlining, and saving yourself a lot of hassle later is assessing things carefully when the first come into your posession. Hollis will discuss next week more about caring for vintage garments, but this is just a spot check. Make note and take care of any issues before you list.

    If you use dryel or a similar product, or run them through with a dryer sheet t freshen them up, do so as soon as you get them. If you prefer, and the garment age/condition/fabric warrants it, take it to a cleaner or steam it. The reason is several fold.

    Firstly, you will save a lot of time, Things will be ready to ship as immediately upon purchase as possible. You don't have to wait a few days or hours and miss your package pick up.

    Secondly, its an additional chance to go over an item (i know we are careful in selection, sometimes the thrill of the find blinds us with its blazing lights.). While it is fresh in our minds, we can note everything so there are no surprises later

    Thirdly, which is really important....there is no "cross contamination" with your other stock. You don't have to worry about your other garments taking on any whiff of a garment's previous life. There is no or low potential for bringing in a garment that had attracted a moth and having it spread to the rest of your inventory.

    and Lastly, to decrease the risk of handling damage post sale. It happens in a blue moon. you are packing a vase up and you drop it. It is not common, but we are all human. Don't take a risk by having the customers money in hand and then taking it to the drycleaners afterwards where it has potential for damage, button loss, etc. A customer hates to hear that after you have sealed the deal that the item is no longer what they purchased. It is not the end of the world, it still could work out, but we are trying to eliminate issues before they have the potential to happen..
  13. artisannes

    artisannes VFG Member VFG Past President

    I'm enjoying this - :)
  14. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    Thanks, Anne...

    [size=-2]Care to reveal your "score" hee hee hee[/size]
  15. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President


    One other thought on "TIME"

    when you are waiting ffor an important call, email, or package...

    5 minutes seems like 15....1 hour feels like 3...and 3 days feel like a whole week. It works both ways... So just keep that in mind when you are anxious about receiving a payment, or you are awaiting a package in the mail that doesn't seem to be showing. Sometimes when you are working at a computer a lot or any place...you need to listen to the radio or watch a show that only comes on at a certain time, go talk to the mail carrier, or if you work at a 9 to 5 job, leave your desk for awhile and get some fresh air.
    Different things can give you a more accurate sense of what time has really passed and what hasn't. How many have said "oh yeah, its friday, but it feels like a sunday for some reason.."

    lets back up to when I was talking about the questions.

    Now you say...

    "well, this is all fine and good but a little too happy for me. I am a busy person and sometimes i get so many inquiries i don't know what to do. What do i do"

    Okay, first of course, iif you use the ASQ formula, you can answer people without needing to think in depth about it so that will speed you up...

    But most importantly...

    Let's make sure that we have covered all bases in our listings before we jump to conclusions on the sanity of people. I know it is hard sometimes to see things we have missed when we stare at them too long...but we have to be honest. If we answer all the questions upfront, there will be no confusion later. Okay, we are all human and there still could be confusion, but at least the facts are printed there for all to see to back us up if we need it.

    Oh, and something else that just occurred to me. How many threads have we started that says "IS THIS PERSON FOR REAL" and all they had done was Buy something, pay right away and ask no questions. We can't BELIEVE IT!!! I will admit that i was flabbergasted myself - for the past two weeks i have received no ASQs...but yet i have had bids and sales!! I wondered "don't they like my stuff?" But then i realized...i dd everything right this week....i am in shock. They had no questions in their minds and they just bought/bid!

    My husband always wondered..."if you just list your stuff, then why is it so much work during the other days?" Sure i spend some time pitching and getting the word out about my auctions, but why if i am doing something such as this...why am i not outside gardening or looking for new stock while these folks shop. why do i have so many emails (the ratio of emails to item that is) Its not like i am standing at the counter or knocking on their dressing room door to ask if they want another size.

    and the answer is....put all the information out there up front.

    Granted, there are people that are lonely, people that are excited about the item and just wanted to share their joy, but a lot of time we are missing out on deal breaking information...and if the "law of 10s" holds water...for every 1 person that asks about it...9 other people have sailed by and thought the same thing but didn't bother/
  16. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    This had been a real listing that had been brought to my attention..

    40s/50s? Family estate item, I belevie these shoes are leather, a little button at the strap, the entire shoe shows very little wear, a small dull spot at heel (pic), a couple light scuffs, all showing normal wear. The maker is XXX. I cannot find a size but they look narrow, measuring a 9.5" inside heel to toe and 2 3/4" wide, 2" high heel. Buyer pays ship, check, money order or paypal and Thanks for looking!

    At the bottom of the page, the person has a shipping calculator to determine your rate. Right now!! BTW...you just add the shipping rate in when you list. You can do it direct with ebay or through inkfrog. not sure with other auction listers...sure saves time.


    First of all, I had to reread this a few times because there are no paragraph breaks to make it easy on the eye, and it is a major run on sentence. Not a big deal, but for some folks if they scan and don't see the info they need right away, they sail on.

    The person has the measurements, good! i don't need to ask about that.

    However, the person is not sure if this is leather or not. Asking may not clarify this. so either i take my best guess or a sail on.

    Okay...the shoe shows very little wear...but then it shows Normal wear ? Okay, what is normal?

    This is wear sounding confident about your items come in. Everyone's idea of good shape is different. If you have not already, a condition rating system or chart is very helpful. And this is wear you have to look carefully at the small parts that make up the whole.

    A common trap to fall into is saying something is "in great shape for its age!" With the items that are available vintage wise that are in near perfect condition this is no longer acceptable. You might get away with that with an ancient Egyptiona relic, but there are varying degrees for that as well.

    By actually defining your reasoning behind the rating, it gves you and your customer the opportunity to be on the same page, and to let them assess what is acceptable. (of course, we are offering the best we can, but we can't know what an individual customer is looking for).

    I collect purses and if i see a nice clutch with the chain handle missing or the like, i might say "that is really a unique color, that will go great with an outfit i have".....but if i were buying it to strictly collect, i would say...well..its not as in good as shape as i would like for posterity..but at least you have told me what to expect as my idea of good or excellent might be different from you. I know chains can be replaced and have never really seen it have as much an affect with a unique one with an unknown label, but its just a random example.

    Or a wild circle skirt. if i was blown away by it, a few picks, or a mark near the hemline may or may not be issues depending who i am and what its for...but you are laying it all out for me to determine...
  17. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Alumni +

    I'd love to hear suggestions on how you would approach the winning bidder on ebay who never contacts you, the seller.

  18. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    Thank you for the question!

    I don't declare to be definitive.

    Excuse me for just a minute Hollis...I am going to answer your question, but first lay down some ground work for the people reading who might not be a seller or might be a new seller...

    First of all, I am going to address the troubleshooting aspect of things first just for the benefit of the newer sellers (though we all could use a reminder from time to time). So excuse me a minute while i don't answer your question, but i will after..

    First, make it easy for customers to contact you and make it clear, If one says "one must make contact with the other/eachother within X days"...then a person could think by you sending an invoice, it could mean that this is the contact you are talking about. It could also mean to them that as long as they acknowledge you within said amount of time, then they can pay whenever.

    It shouldn't be this way, but people sometimes need you to say "You must email us to acknowledge the auction win" some people don't interpret "contact must be made" in the same way. Believe it or not, and i have done this too....is i emailed in reply to an invoice and the reply email comes up as [email protected] so i get it back instead of going to the customer.

    Just a side note, i was considering putting an email address on my "me" page or in my listings...."if you are having trouble contacting me....email here" or something just in case..

    I myself had an issue when i realized that my TOS said within 3 business days for payment etc. I have this as a lot of my customers bid from work. They could bid friday morning, the auction ends later...then they are not back to the computer until monday morning and i pretty much get payment right away after that. There was a time an auction ended thursday and i didn't hear til Tuesday. turns out that friday was one business day, then there was saturday, sunday, and monday was a holiday, so when they responded and paid Tuesday, they were within the time i set. So I learned that either i have to clarify and change things or just leave it the way it is, but then allow people that time

    Also remember that spam filters pick up ebay email, and even when i reply to the person by hitting the reply button. I make sure sometimes to start an email from "scratch "..a new "compose message" if its crucial i get through to them as well as through the ASQ system because odds are they will get one of them.

    Remember also, that people have spam filters and sometimes that ebay emails, as well as when you reply to an ASQ not through the system, but direct, at times it gets lost in the spam filter.

    Another thing to think about when listing an item for sale is having consequences....if i don't recieve payments by X, contract of sale will be forfeited just as if they were buying a house. It is not such a big deal at a webstore because they are not bidding...they buy or they don't...but it is a big deal for ebay..

    Okay...so now we have mulled this over

    let's answer the question...
  19. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    This is something that happened to me very recently...
    and perhaps it is not a direct answer but maybe these suggestions will jog some ideas.

    Sometimes it depends how long it has been also..

    I had someone do a "Buy It Now". On those I expect payment on invoice, so i sent one. I didn't hear for 24 hours. (no panic on an auction, but i was chomping at the bit a little as it was a BIN).

    anyways, i didn't get an acknowledgement of my invoice. Zip.

    Actually, i think it was purchased night on a Tuesday, and now this is Wednesday night. I see the address is to a business, so I email very early on Thursday morning. (now since i realized that somehow the wanting immediate payment got deleted from the template but that is besides the point)

    this is what i wrote to him:

    "Good Morning Mr. Pucci. Thank you for your purchase. I just wanted to inquire as to whether you received the Ebay invoice I sent. Reason being is, lately automated messages from ebay have been getting caught or deleted in spam/bulk mail filters. If you have not received it, please let me know. It would be a great help so I can try something else. Your business is most appreciated, Chris @ KitschNSink."

    And bingo, not 15 minutes later I checked paypal, and there it is

    Just one other aside...nothing to do with the present topic.

    And if it a person at an advertising firm, a law office, or Dr. so and so, I always address them as Dr, Mr, Ms, etc, unless they have previously chit chatted with me and signed themselves as "Kelly" "Frank" etc... you don;t have to do that, but i find that if you use your customer's language it helps and we are all about upping the anti, aren't we.

    If i have someone email me and say
    "Dude! That is one rockin pair of shoes!"

    Then i wouldn't say "Dear Sir, i concur"
    I would say:

    Thanks! Those sure are cool, huh? etc et

    I am not saying to not be yourself but just like a live customer...sometimes it is apropriate to "speak the language of business" and some customers walk in with their hair constantly metaphorically down and cuss like a pirate and talk to you like best friends when they meet you. Nothing against pirates, but you get the picture.


    ANytime you can take the onus off or the fingerpointing off, it helps. The real translation is: "Hey dummy, guess what you forgot!" doesn't usually work (and i am still trying to remember time goes a lot slower than i think it does.)

    This is another one that was recent. i use the gist of it all the time.

    "I was getting ready to ship all of the gowns for my customers and I realized that you must have made an oversight as I have not received your payment (or I realized I have not heard from you and you might not have learned that you were the winner). If you have already sent me a money order, thank you very much, and please email me directly so I know to be expecting it, otherwise I will be awaiting notification from paypal"

    I usually get the response of


    or i get a paypal notice.

    But make sure and give the benefit of the doubt and check your spam filter to. I also email them through ebay and directly, that way it is sure to get there somehow and my ASQ is recorded.

    The other thing i found effective was the ebay unpaid item...i had a gal that i had never heard from for 3 weeks. I know, i should have just moved on, but she was sent the email from ebay and she answered me within 10 minutes! Every response back and forth is recorded.

    But...sometimes you don't want to chase people down anymore.

    You've done all you can reasonably. And if you have given them a friendly reminder email two different ways and no response, then you have to decide if you want to cut bait.....and if your TOS is clear, you can do that.

    Just like in real estate "the contract is null and void if not received by the deadline" cut and dry.
  20. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    Next we will be discussing...

    When to end a transaction and walk away...(to elaborate on points that were already broke up)

    but i have reached a dinner intermission....

    To be continued..........
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