Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Clever, Thrifty or Stealing?

You be the judge. I'm currently addicted to eBay and have been buying books from various sellers. Most books arrive in an envelope that is either padded or the book is wrapped in bubble wrap inside the envelope; one book was wrapped in cardboard. Today's book arrived in a nice, tear-proof envelope. I opened it and pulled out a bubble-wrapped book. Looking inside, I could see that the envelope was really and inside-out Priority Mail envelope. Clever, the seller took a free Priority Mail envelope, turned it inside-out and taped it up -- thats one way to cut down on overhead. They were also annoyed that they had to take PayPal and suffer the percentage cut that the company takes (I think sellers on eBay can refuse to accept PayPal. I think these sellers indicated they wanted a cashier's check, but PayPal was also listed as an option in this auction. I would note that the PayPal option seems to include the advertisement that the seller "prefers PayPal,"which really wasn't the case here). Basically, these sellers may have gotten a bit screwed on this -- or, from a different view, they didn't do due diligence in crafting the auction.

Were these sellers really, really cheap or poor? Maybe both, I don't know. Are they thieves? The Priority Envelopes are provided free of charge for using Priority Mail; they took an envelope provided to Priority Mail customers and used it for something else. Sure its de minimis, but maybe Enron's CFO felt that way. Just thrifty or lawless?


clanlally said...

You have to be careful with ebay AND paypal. Those nickel and dime charges start to add up and really eat into your margins. But, if you price correctly and include a good postage and handling charge, you can make good margins on your junk. :) I was selling cds and was averaging about $5-$6 per sale. My local record store would have given me $1 each. I was netting $3 - $4. And it is stealing. No wonder stamps cost so much! They are giving away the materials for FREE. In my post office, I could even use tape for free! However, I did find a way to trick the self-service kiosk into giving me better postage rates. I wont go into it here. Quite by accident. :)

Marjorie said...

Yeah, it seems to me that you'd build those costs into 'shipping and handling.' These sellers were using actual selling costs with that calculator thingee. I've seen shipping charges vary quite a bit and I'm buying books that all cost the same to mail. I actually just won an auction (as the only bidder) where shipping was $7 -- but I figured they did that to ensure they would make some money. Fine with me, I just figured it in as part of my bidding -- though I think they might have turned off other potential bidders...well, I won with my bid of $1 (which was really an $8 bid).

I have too many books -- I may become a seller myself...though I have a friend who was happy with her experience as a used book seller on Amazon...so many choices.

Oh, as to stealing...its pretty stupid because they are shipping the evidence to people...I'm not going to do anything, but I have the envelope with their return address... I'm a former federal employee, my DH is a federal employee...if we worked for the Postal Service we might be annoyed enough to pass it along to someone who might be interested...