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Sunday, September 26, 2010


It will eventually happen to everyone who sells on eBay, the email from an unhappy buyer. I’ve had a few and have been able to, so far, successfully satisfy the customer. Customer service is important to eBay sellers because this is their livelihood. This is the extra money, or THE money, that helps their families. One bad mark can ruin a seller’s day as they think that it will harm future sales or impact their standing with eBay.

Recently, I had a good friend of mine who sells occasionally on eBay contact me in a panic when she received just such an email. Her customer was dissatisfied with the Coach purse she had recently purchased and used words like fraud and reporting her to eBay. Now let me say that the purse was indeed authentic and new, however the customer was stating there was dirt in the pockets and that it couldn’t possibly be new. Her customer was definitely angry and was letting her know it! Now I actually helped my friend with this listing and handled the purse myself and knew that it was new and authentic. But none of that really matters when you’re dealing with your customer, what does matter is how they perceive it.

The first thing you want to do in this situation is respond quickly as they are just waiting to hear back from you. Give yourself some time to gather your thoughts and then when you are satisfied you have a good response email them back. The customer wants to be HEARD. In this situation, she threatened harsh action because she doesn’t know her seller and doesn’t know whether she is a reputable person and is assuming the worst. You want to acknowledge, apologize, and reassure that you are going to do the right thing!

So my good friend, blindsided by this buyer calls me for help and I say let me help you draft this email. I’ve handled a few situations like this and knew I could help her. Here is what we sent to her customer:

Dear Customer:

I am sorry that you were unhappy with your purchase. I can assure you however that the bag is new, has never been used and that I would never defraud any customer. That said, I always want a happy and satisfied customer. I know the return policy states 3 days; however I am willing to extend this to 7 days to give you an opportunity to send back with delivery confirmation and insurance. Once the bag is received I will issue a complete refund.

I know making a purchase on eBay and then receiving an item that has not met your expectations, especially an expensive item can be stressful. Most sellers are willing to work towards a peaceful resolution because they value their reputation on eBay as well as their customers. Contacting eBay or leaving negative feedback should be a last resort when a buyer feels they have no other options.

I hope I have met your expectations with my service. If you have any other questions please feel free to contact me anytime.

My mailing address is:

Kind regards,
Your humble seller

This letter was received well by her customer, of course this was a customized response to this particular situation but you can do the same.

What we did here was defend ourselves a little (not get defensive) but assure the customer that you are an honest person without sounding holier-than-thou. Acknowledge her concerns and even frustration with the situation. Imagine how you might feel after dropping $100 and you don’t get what you think you paid for. Apologize for the inconvenience and then move in for a solution. In this case, it was apparent from her email that she just wanted out of this transaction so we offered a complete refund. But other times the buyer may just want to keep it, but feels they spent to much and the value just isn’t there. Gauge the situation and customize it so that your customer has the power in making a decision as to a solution, don’t just make it for them!

I don’t normally mention feedback in my initial response to a customer, but in this situation she threatened to contact eBay and I wanted to explain the process a little. The process being that you should work it out together and if all else fails, THEN you contact eBay as an arbitrator.

Once you have resolved the problem, then a “thank you” is in order. You can then email back your customer and thank them for working with you, being patient and understanding and also state something like this: “I hope I have turned this into a 5 star experience for you!” Hopefully your customer is so impressed with your service that good feedback will naturally follow.

This approach will not help you against “the difficult buyer”. There are buyers out there who will not care what you do for them and may just be looking for a freebie. They are out there, and fortunately few and far between. When you run across a buyer like this you will still try to work towards a resolution, but it may not be enough to satisfy a buyer like that. In a case like that, you will have to cut your losses and move on.

Many times you can totally turn around the situation in your favor just by following these simple steps. For the record, the customer mentioned above has opted to keep the bag. I guess it wasn’t that bad after all!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A picture that sells!

The most important thing you can do to sell your item for top dollar on eBay is to have a great photo. You have to remember that your customer cannot touch what they are buying, so it is up to you to provide pictures so they know exactly what they are getting. The most important picture is the 1st picture. This is the picture that will pop up on all the searches on eBay, and will also “get them in the door” so to speak, whether it’s to look at your other listings or to view your entire store.

Follow these steps and you will have professional looking photos that will make your items stand out from the competition!

I’ve seen plenty of pictures taken from all around a seller’s house, from the dining room table with clutter in the background, from the bed with the busy quilt, the floor in the hallway and the back of a closet door. None of these are very good. They are not professional and are not for serious sellers. The most important thing you can do is be consistent. Being consistent will keep you more efficient. Efficiency saves and makes you money!

If you are selling kids clothes, it is my opinion that you do not need a mannequin. What you do need is a clean wrinkle free backdrop (I use a vinyl black or white fabric) and plenty of natural lighting. If you are selling women’s clothing, I do recommend a mannequin and here’s why. A woman wants to see how the item hangs on a mannequin so she can imagine how it might look on her. You can order a mannequin right from eBay.

Clothing you are photographing should be free of wrinkles, as this will distract the customer and will detract from the garments true beauty. Do not use a flash. It’s not necessary when you have plenty of natural light. Do not take photos at a deep angle. This is almost as bad as photos that are not rotated and you have to tilt your head to the side to view. Hint; don’t do that! Next, focus in on your subject. Take several photos, including close-ups of any special features. Don’t forget the back of the garment! Use the “macro mode” on your camera for close-ups; it’s the little flower symbol on your camera. If you have a shaky hand, use a tripod so that your picture is not blurry.

Once all of your photos are done, it’s time to edit. There are several FREE great editing tools which can be used to enhance your pictures. I use both Google Picasa 3 and Picnik. With these you can enhance the natural color and more importantly, crop the photos. Crop out any excess blank space around the subject. The small block that eBay provides to show off the item should do just that. The image should fill the block. Use these tools to your advantage for professional looking pictures which will translate into a sold item every time!

Happy eBaying!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Could you take these coins off my hands?

I don’t usually mind when people pay me with change at my resale shop, because most of the time I’m short of it. So when my customer asked me if she could pay me $10 of her almost $30 purchase with half dollars, I said sure. Not that I give out half dollars as change usually, but hey, money is money!

She counted out her money and handed me the coins. These coins looked new and even fake to me because they were so perfect. I inspected a few to make sure they were real and didn’t see any red flags.

A few hours later my husband shows up at the shop to take care of some business and asks me if I need him to go to the bank. I say yes, I’ve got a deposit to make and I would rather convert the coins to some other currency. I tell him about my earlier customer and the coins she used to pay with and open up the register to show him what I’ve got. I thought his eyes were going to bug out of his head when he picked them up and began to look them over. “These are silver half dollars”, he says.

I know nothing of collectable coins. I knew they looked different, but frankly got caught up in other things that I normally do when I’m running a business to give it too much other thought. Tom sat down at the computer and started researching these coins and checking eBay for sales. These coins were dated from 1958-1963, were 90% silver and had all the earmarks of being kept in a roll for all those years! My customer that day had literally opened up this roll and then circulated them at my shop. I wonder the story behind the coins, where she got them, how long she had them. Obviously, she had no idea what she was handing me that day with her $30 purchase.

These coins sold last night on eBay for $145.05!

Off to ship…

Happy eBaying!