Over the long Holy Week weekend break, I finally had the time to look over the items I intended to sell on Ebay. The last time I sold something online was before November 2013 ended, and we all know what happened the month after. Anyway, I did not realize how many items I currently have, not until I finished my inventory. It was grueling work to gather all of the photos, description and measurement I took months ago onto one Excel file. I also tried to remember where these items were located, as some some of them were at home, while the others are in the apartment. To make the story short, they were all over the place.
My first weekend going back to Marikina after starting my second job in Pasay was full of — REST. I’ve spent the whole Saturday afternoon lying down and lazily playing with my nephew, niece, dogs and cat. I have also moved my usual Sunday activities with JB on a Saturday, because I should be going back to Makati after early dinner on Sunday to prepare for Monday. I also managed to take pictures of some of the things I will be listing on Ebay.com, using Mama’s newly painted wall by the kitchen. While taking the pictures, I’ve heard the balut vendor pass in front of our house, and we had to rush outside just in time before he turned the corner.
I can’t remember when was the last time I have eaten balut, but I definitely can’t forget that one time in 1996, when I was too obsessed with it and devoured three eggs in one sitting. I eventually ended up with a headache the whole weekend. LOL I am not too fond directly looking at what was inside the shell, so my strategy was just to look at it cross-eyed as I sprinkle a pinch of salt on it.
One of the first things I have brought inside the apartment was a full-length mirror — something I did not have in our house in Marikina. As we still do not have a closet, all of our clothes are still to be taken out of our luggages and bags. We also do not have a flat iron, so we just resorted to the old ‘pagpag-and-hagod’ method to sort out wrinkles.
Last Friday, I was shocked to see that an item sent via Registered Mail, which I thought to have been lost in transit to a buyer in Netherlands, suddenly showed up as “Item Delivered” in PhilPost’s online tracking. It has been almost a month since I sent the item and as the online tracking was under maintenance for weeks already, I was left with no choice but to refund the buyer. My mistake because I was too quick to refund her without waiting for Ebay to do so. Maybe I just wanted the whole thing to be over, and I was counting on the buyer’s honesty that she would return my funds back to my PayPal account once she gets the bag. Of course, I was wrong and naïve.
My initial reaction was to dispute the case, but as it was already past the 45-day period to open an appeal, I was left with no other choice but to contact the buyer directly. In my email, I have informed her about the online tracking showing delivery, and if it was okay, she could send my money back OR return my item because I cannot NOT have both the funds and the bag. I gave her 24 hours to reply because we live in different time zones, and maybe she was busy with something. Then when I received her reply, she mentioned that she was preoccupied (for three weeks, huh?), that was why she was unable to give a feedback about the bag. The catch was, she did not like the bag because it was too small, has several scratches and the leather was stiff. Hmmm… I have disclosed all information in the auction description so I did not get why she was just telling me that when I already contacted her. As a buyer myself, my initial reaction would be to immediately contact the seller and inform her my dissatisfaction. So why wait for 20 days to react? I guess somebody wanted a free bag.
The worst thing about her reply was she was short of asking money from me so that she can send my item back. The auction description clearly mentioned that in cases of return, the buyer has to pay for return shipping. It was fair enough, considering that as Ebay and PayPal have a 21-day hold on my received funds, I have taken the shipping fee to Netherlands out of my own pocket. Therefor, it was unjust tht I shell out money just to get my bag back.
She did not bother replying until I gave her an implied warning about her school hearing from me, and discussing in full details about her fraudulent online activities. I managed to contact another seller from Slovenia, who received a negative feedback from her on May 5, 2013. I found it too hard to believe that she was busy to inform me of her dissatisfaction, yet she managed to give that poor seller a negative feedback three days after receiving my bag. I think her school administrator would not be too pleased to hear that they are employing a teacher with questionable morals in their school.
I think she got scared after that stern warning, as I flat out told her that all that hassle was not worth it — all of that for a bag. So in the end, she ended up shouldering the return shipping and eventually sent the item back to me. However, she did not mark the item as a “Returned Merchandise” and I have a feeling I will end up paying custom fees for a returned item. In my return policy, I have specified to send the item with the original packaging, but apparently, this seller was intent in keeping a bag and thought she got away after not hearing from me since May 2. What a devious buyer.
Moral of the story? Do not use Registered Mail because it takes forever. I am now using International Express Mail Service (IEMS) from PhilPost, and even if it was slightly more expensive, the 3-5 working days delivery time would surely be more favorable against impatient overseas buyer. For instance, a 500g parcel sent to US via Registered Mail cost Php 885 (and Php 1,770 once it passes the 500g mark), while a similar weight via IEMS cost me Php 1,409 (and Php 1,853 if more than 500g). PhilPost’s website is also updated with the fee, and they have the rates printed and inside a clear book so they are definitely accurate. (See link: http://philpost.gov.ph/web/international-mail-rates/) Well, the new batch of items I have sent via IEMS should be received by early next week, but my first experience of IEMS years ago was pleasant. I do hope that my funds get released earlier than the expected 21-day holding period because shipping via IEMS was no dime a dozen!
Mama, Kuya and Ate Ja visited our apartment today, and I was so happy they thought our unit was fair enough! ^_^
Last Friday, I was able to sell several items on Ebay.com. But even if I still have to wait 21 days for my PayPal funds to clear, I am obliged to ship them immediately because providing a working tracking information MIGHT help to increase the chances of getting my funds quicker. I haven’t been inside the post office in about two years and I can no longer remember the fees I have paid. So before going to Makati Central Post Office, I reminded myself to make a lot of mental notes for future forays into their premises. LOL
Words cannot capture how hot the weather was. Summer is definitely in full swing but it did not deter us from walking all the way to the post office in the intersection of Ayala Avenue and Buendia Avenue. I had everything inside my bag: shipping labels, a packaging tape, a pair of scissors, and the items wrapped in their respective bubble wraps. It took me a while to realize that I have forgotten one important item: a fan. The post office was not air-conditioned and it was definite that I will be sweating a lot. LOL
Upon entering, we immediately purchased corrugated boxed from the e-Post Shop, where they sell different nox sizes. As I only need boxes enough for a single garment, I opted for the number 4, which was sold at Php 20 each. I had no idea what time the post office closes, whether it was 5PM or 6PM but we arrived around 4:30 and we immediately rushed weighing and prepping the boxes. The items must be fitted snugly inside the box before sealing with packaging tapes, so we still had to adjust the size by cutting the four corners. (The lady manning the shop was very kind and gracious, as she helped us in preparing the packages).
Now, the tricky part was the shipping fee. I charged my buyers (who are all from USA and Western Europe) a flat rate of US$ 20 or Php 780 fee. I originally intended to send these via International Express Mail Service (IEMS), but I was not too keen with the prices seen on PhilPost’s website. Shipping a 500-gram item to the United States would have cost me Php 1,409! That was twice the shipping fee I have charged the buyer. LOL But wait, France was more expensive at thrice the fee at Php 1,980!
I scrapped the IEMS and opted for the Registered Mail because it still fell under the average of two weeks shipping period I have promised the buyers. However, I just found out that the rate for items weighing 251 grams to 500 grams weigh was Php 885, meaning I had to add money from my own pocket because I had undercharged the buyers (take note that it was for the shipping alone, not also the handling which includes shipping materials, etc). Now, once the total weight (i.e. the item + bubble wrap + felt cloth container + packaging tape + corrugated box) reaches 501 gram (yes, even a single gram excess in their digital La Poste weighing scales), the cost of shipping automatically doubles from Php 885 to Php 1,770. In two out of four items, I had to remove either the freebie sweets I have included or something as light as the felt cloth container because I reached 508 grams. Removing the latter brought me back Php 885 mark, once the scale showed 498 grams.
I was made to fill up a form, one for each package containing important information about the sender, buyer and the item. I also then paid a total of Php 3,540 for the four items and was thinking of my held up PayPal funds while getting the money from my wallet. =/ She then attached the forms and some weird looking long stamps on top of each package and then stamped them with the date.
After this, I was sent to the next counter, where the lady inspected and began attaching the stickers with tracking code to each items. She also issued a registry receipt, containing the same tracking information.
I have learned a lot from everything that happened to me in the post office earlier. From glaring realities (e.g. my net profit for one of the items was just around Php 20! It was not even a dollar!) to realizations preparations on shipping internationally. I will definitely continue to sell on Ebay.com, but armed with these newly-acquired information, I hope it will help me strategize better for future sales.