And They Wonder Why…
Dedicated to Jimmy Dowd, a very wise man,
May he rest in peace.
This is a true story about my own experiences in small business, EBay, and the “American Way”. I am a 38 year old man, not extremely educated, but an intelligent, semi-grounded person, who is capable of rational thought. I had been working from a home office doing Real Estate Appraisal reports for my father, until the market took a turn for the worse and I ended up unemployed. Lacking any formal education in any specific field, my options were pretty much limited to either driving pizzas around at night, or finding a way to make my own income from home. I quickly decided on the latter.
After doing a bit of research on what sort of business or work I could do from home, I outlined a plan to use EBay as my workplace. I had a few things n storage that were basically just collecting dust. After going through endless registrations, confirmations, and orientations, I listed these items for sale on EBay. I planned on taking to money that I made from these items, and buying a bulk lot of something and trying my hand at resale.
Now I didn’t just jump into this half heartedly, or without a clue of how it worked. I did my homework. I searched out websites that specialized in market research, wholesale suppliers, police auctions, and small business tools. I read everything I could find about small business, internet business, and EBay. I downloaded, installed and learned how to use various small business software packages including, accounting, inventory, shipping tools, records databases, customer logs, sales reports, invoices, etc., etc.. I read testimonials from people who had already succeeded and some from those who didn’t. I set up accounts with Fed-Ex, UPS, and the US Post Office. I opened a new checking account and had it linked to all of my other accounts. I did EVERYTHING I could possibly think of to prepare and educate myself.
Finally, after all of this, I felt I was ready to give it a shot. I listed my stored items on EBay, and started boxing stuff up and getting it all ready to ship. It didn’t take long before my stuff started selling like mad and I brought in a pretty decent chunk of change to start my new home business off with. It was kind of exciting! I took the money that came in and bought a few small bulk lots of items that I thought might resell, and started posting them on EBay as well.
It wasn’t just 1-2-3 and it’s running though. I made a few mistakes here and there and cost myself a little money at times, but after a few weeks of learning my way around, so to speak, it was slowly starting to come together. I was learning the “do’s and don’ts” of online business and sales, and every week my listings got a little better, my postage rates became more accurate, and my sales slowly started to climb. I could see how, after investing some time, and work, that this could actually work!
Even though it was minimal and not enough to support myself on, I WAS making money. As I kept doing what I was doing and buying a little more stock every time I made money, my business started to inch its way forward. I ordered some packing and shipping supplies (boxes, tape, bubble wrap, etc.) and began shipping things off. It was, at times a bit more than I could handle to be honest, but that’s a good thing. Too many sales beat too few every time! All of the payments I received came through PayPal, and then I’d transfer it to my checking account, or use PayPal to pay for postage online, EBay fees, etc. When I bought something, I’d use PayPal to pay and since PayPal was linked to my checking account, the money came from there automatically if my PayPal account balance was too low to cover it. I began printing my own postage labels at home through the USPS (United States Postal Service) website and invested in a postal scale.
Now my business was starting to run a little smoother. The more time that went on, the more automated things became. This has only been maybe 2 months from startup and I am feeling like I am getting a handle on things. My inventory is getting more organized. Gone are the days of spending 20 minutes trying to remember where I put that one item I just sold. I’ve even figured out international shipping and filling out customs declaration forms. Everything I sell is shipped on time, every debt I owe is paid on time. My customers are happy and I receive a 100% positive feedback score on EBay, which has a lot to do with peoples choice to buy from you or not. Everything is working as planned and I might not have to be a pizza guy after all!!
Then it happened. The glitch in the plan that I had expected early on. Someone in New Jersey bought a used calculator for $2.99 plus shipping. I rapidly boxed it up and sent it off. A few days later I received my very first and only negative feedback comment. The buyer of the calculator was unhappy because they said that the calculator was much smaller than in the picture and that the AC adapter was missing. Below is the entire listing (minus the picture) as it was written and formatted, word for word, quoted from my listing that advertised the calculator…
“Radio Shack Printing Calculator/Adding Machine. Used. Hold roll of paper in back and will print in several different modes, or not at all if you don’t need to waste paper. Roll-holding plastic bracket is missing, as is the AC power supply. Will run on AA batteries. Untested but worked when it went into storage years ago. No returns, sold “as-is”.
I’d like to point out that the ad clearly states that the AC power supply is missing. I italisized and underlined it in this document but it was not any different than the rest of the text in the actual listing.
The picture in the listing was taken on my kitchen table. There was a green tablecloth on at the time. The picture is of the calculator itself, and nothing else but the green color of the tablecloth is visible. There was no point of reference to size the calculator by.
Therefore, both of these complaints are invalid. I provided good, if not excellent, customer service. The product was as advertised. The shipping was timely and prompt. There was nothing I could’ve done differently that would’ve changed the outcome. I did everything the way I was supposed to, but because some kid in Jersey thought he was looking at something he wasn’t. I got a negative feedback comment on my EBay account, knocking my perfect 100% positive feedback score down to 97.4%. No big deal, right? I mean, what’s 2.6% anyways? Who cares? 97.4 is still damn good, right?? Maybe so, but here’s the catch…
If you are relatively new and have a low number of feedback comments, and your feedback score falls below 100%, then PayPal puts a hold on your incoming payments, until they can verify that delivery has been made, or positive feedback is received by the buyer. This hold on my funds can last as long as 21 days. Then there’s the normal 3-5 days processing time for the transfer to my checking account, plus the 2-3 business days that my bank takes to process deposits, and my incoming payments could be tied up for a month or more. This may not be anything to worry about for big companies like PayPal, after all, it’s only a month. To me, it’s everything. I use the incoming payments to pay the costs to ship the item sold. If my payment is held until the item is received, then I can never ship it. I’m close enough to broke that even 21 days will surely put me out of business. I can’t afford to pay for the shipping out of my account. I depend on the payment in order to ship.
In summation, the “American Dream”, in my opinion, is dead and gone. An honest, hard working, semi-intelligent man like myself can build up a business, work hard and sacrifice time spent with family, let alone all the effort that went into the whole venture, only to have it ripped apart and torn down by some snot-nosed little puke with a shitty attitude, over his disappointment in his $3.00 calculator. I will be forced out of business, possibly lose my house, and maybe even have to go deliver pizzas with the high school kids, just to survive. There is no justice in this country. There is no “fair”. I have a 165 I.Q. and have been a hard worker my entire life. I’m an honest man and I try not to take advantage of anyone or step on any toes. This is what happens. The cliché, “Nice guys finish last”, has never been truer than in the good old U.S.A.
So, someone like myself has a similar experience, or maybe dozens of them throughout their entire, miserable life. Maybe they’ve tried repeatedly to make it in life and, for whatever reason, it just never really worked out for them. Maybe, after the failures start to pile up like so much rotting feces in the corner of his mind, maybe he gets disgusted with the wretched, vile, sickening, stench of all those decomposing hopes and dreams that lie there taunting him, poking him, laughing at him, humiliating him, and then he loads up his truck with an AK-47 and six crates of ammo, and heads down to the local mall for a little target practice. The rest of the country is at home, obliviously eating their dinners, and when they see it all play out on the 6 o’clock news, they shake their heads in shock…….
“…And They Wonder Why!!”
I know why Jimmy, I know why.
One man’s expression of his own frustration with the American Financial System and his inability to fit into it.