eBay came pretty close to hitting "the last straw" with me a few weeks ago when they gigged me for listing a prohibited item, removed the listing, and docked my "policy compliance" rating down to "low" (which endangers my power seller status and makes my fees higher and goes on my permanent record in case they ever want to kick me off one day). The offending listing was not in fact prohibited and I was not in violation of any policy whatsoever, but attempts to get a human being to use a brain cell on this matter were doomed. Here’s how it worked:
I got an email saying my Five Around the Fifties bath salts were removed due to the listing being for a prohibited item. In the portion of the form letter that was customized to tell you what prohibition you violate, it said "salvia divinorum may not be sold on eBay." Since none of my listings mention salvia divinorum, I was perplexed and picked up the phone. I was assured by a very nice but completely impotent customer service person that he would look into it and let me know what was up (and if you know me at all, you know that I have to be pretty pissed off to pick up the telephone if email is an option). A week later I called again, as I’d had no return call. I’m deferred again. They finally get back to me with an email. Here is the glorious computerized, search-form-enabled, utterly freakin’ stupid and illogical manner in which my bath salt listing gets removed:
People who sell salvia divinorum and similar "legal high" types of things often use code phrases so those in the know will understand that this substance is a "drug substitute."
One of these code phrases is "not for human consumption."
My listing for bath salts contained the stock disclaimer "not for human or animal consumption; keep out of the reach of children" ( as does every single other listing in my eBay store, all 300+ of them, including the plastic statues and the metal nails and the rosaries. It’s stock text.)
Salvia divinorum is a prohibited item for which sellers have sometimes in the past used the code "not for human consumption," therefore I am in violation of eBay’s prohibited items policy.
My listing was removed – AND my account gigged and its "compliance" level ranked LOW — for this breathtaking bit of bad logic. (I have taught freshman writing and logic classes, and anybody who displayed this level of incompetence with basic deductive reasoning would not pass my English 102 class. Fortunately, it’s not very difficult stuff, and most 18 year olds do indeed grasp it fairly quickly).
To add insult to idiocy: I replied that I was gigged for selling something I didn’t sell, and that nowhere in any eBay site or page was it written that the phrase "not for human consumption" was prohibited, and that the entire premise of my account being gigged was faulty. How, I wondered, could I adhere to or not adhere to restrictions that were 1. not published, and 2. defiant of the loosest definition of common sense?
The customer service guy just had to defer to "the powers that be," was unable to answer my question, did not in fact even acknowledge my question, and made it clear that any attempts to communicate directly with these "powers that be" was futile.
I moved all of my stock over to bonanza.com to test the waters over there.
So far so good for a few weeks, except that bonanza.com gets zero traffic compared to eBay, and I couldn’t buy a stick of gum with my profits over there. No biggie, I think – I am happy to put some effort and time and money into pushing my own bonanza.com booth which will serve the dual purpose of publicizing bonanza.com in general.
Until I get an email that a prohibited listing has been removed. This time, it was my custom Turkey Foot protective charm.
I write, explaining that I went over the prohibited items list with a fine-tooth comb before I imported my eBay listings, and I specifically check for things like turkey and chicken feet, since they are consistently popular items.
Within 48 hours, I get an email from a human being, informing me that the item is indeed prohibited, but apologizing because the prohibited items list has not been updated to reflect this, and thanking me for bringing it to their attention so their code people can fix the problem.
Overall: eBay utterly fails. They fail English 102, they fail basic logic, they fail customer service and seller support, and they fail at even pretending to give a shit about not appearing to be fascist idiots.
Bonanza gets high marks for attempting to give a shit, even though the person answering my emails couldn’t tell me *why* turkey feet were prohibited, and they get high marks for having human beings answer inquiries with some modicum of speed and efficiency.
if you want turkey feet, chicken feet, or alligator feet, you can’t get them at bonanza.com. They are indeed prohibited there. You can get them at my eBay store, and you can order chicken feet from my website. (Yes, I’m still crossing fingers, toes, and eyes on my new web store being a reality sometime soon.)
Further: I have really just about had it with eBay, especially now that I make zero profit on smaller items like oils, medals, and holy cards, due to their listing fees.
This spring, I will be returning to the way I did things about a year ago, when you could get a few basic hoodoo condition oils, salts, and powders on eBay, but if you wanted a full listing of everything I have, you have to go to my website. The upside is that I will continue to list basically everything I make on Bonanza as well, so you have more than one option. I cannot, however, afford to keep listing all of my oils, powders, etc on eBay, so I will be removing those listings over the next couple of months. I will continue to list jewelry, special auctions, rare and OOAK items, mojo bags, etc on eBay, but I will not be carrying a full product line there.
In the meanwhile, in a continued attempt to publicize bonanza and my booth on bonanza, I am going to extend the "free bottle of oil" offer through the month of February. Any February bonanza purchase of $10 or more gets a free bottle of hoodoo condition oil (not voodoo or specialty oils, sorry – but any regular hoodoo oil that is $5.50 on eBay or $5.24 on Bonanza). Just leave a note in the "note to seller" box on the paypal payment page telling me your choice of free oils. Don’t forget that *everything is cheaper* on bonanza, because the fees are lower, so if you are stocking up, and/or you want a pricier thing like a paket or OOAK jewelry piece, you can save some significant money.
The only downside is shipping – at bonanza, I cannot program the cart to automatically charge 0 for additional items shipped in the same priority mail box. If you are making multiple purchases, and don’t want to pay more than $5.75 if it will all fit in my standard flat rate box, then you have to put all your stuff in your cart and then "make an offer," near as I can tell. I have to go in and manually adjust the shipping. I will recommend to them, since they have human beings answering emails, that they implement some changes in their cart programming. But for the time being, if you do the "pay now" thing, your cart will automatically charge you full shipping for the first item and $1 per item after that. (Please note that if you try to shop on bonanza and can’t get this to work, send me a message – I will go in there and figure it out and fix out as soon as I can. I do NOT want to charge more shipping on bonanza – I am happy to manually adjust it. I would love to move more business to bonanza from eBay. Bonanza is more time consuming for me, because they do not have a lot of the built-in features and integration that eBay has. But the savings are huge, and their entire ethos and perspective on customer service makes it a better place to shop and sell if you want to be treated right. So it’s worth the extra time in my book.)