Why making money on Ebay is just a dream

The above statement needs some clarifications: it’s true if you are a normal, naïve human being, trying to make some money because you were fooled by the ‘cash in the attic’ kind of ‘reality show’, not if you know how to cheat people on Ebay. Because there is a way to make money on Ebay, it’s called ‘running a scam’.

After my son was born, about 4 years ago, I decided to give it a try to Ebay selling, mostly because I had lots of items I knew I was not going to use again, due to him being our only child.
I was not a seasoned seller and I learned a trick or two just by necessity.
What I have found out pretty fast- the hard way- was that you have to verify the shipping cost before listing something.
This is my lame experience with one particular item: I bought it for $120 and sold it for $28. Not bad would you say, right? But hold on, there are a few fees to be paid:
– Ebay listing fee (percentage of the starting bid, paid regardless if you sell or not)
– Ebay final fee (percentage of the selling fee)
– PayPal fee
And if you are stupid and don’t check the shipping fee, you get burned as I did.
I wrongly estimated the shipping cost as being $12, when the actual one was $22.
After that mistake and all the fees, I made a net $12.
Now imagine how much money you make from something listed for $0.99.

Unless you are a Power Seller- more about this later- or you have expensive items, it’s not worth the time.
I did it because I was on maternity leave and I had time to burn. Plus, I was walking to the postal office very often and it helped me lose the extra pounds gained during pregnancy.

I was a buyer as well, and my experience was different. Some sellers were really greedy and charged a lot for shipping. For example, one time the shipping cost asked by the seller was $7.00 and the actual one was $0.60. It was something small that fit into a regular letter. I got pretty mad honestly speaking. I understand asking a dollar or two extra to cover your time going there, or the cost of the fuel, but over $6 seems to be excessive.

Fast forward to these days: lots of changes in the site’s rules, and as per John Donahoe, the company’s new chief executive, eBay is trying to be harder on sellers in order to make the experience of buyers better.
As I have mentioned above, there are sellers and sellers. Some of them, the rare decent ones, are going to suffer because of these changes, while the crooks will prevail as they normally do.
As a seller I found that by the time you are done paying seller fees (listing and final sale fees) and PayPal fees you are making less money than selling the item on a place such as craigslist.org or Amazon marketplace.

I have mentioned the ‘Power Sellers’, right? Ebay has become the heaven for ‘Power Sellers’ and as a consequence, the whole experience feels geared to them. The process for posting an item to sell is so lengthy now that it would only be worth doing if you do it often enough to use templates or some other system. Furthermore, Power Sellers seek out only items they believe will sell, so you’re starting to see lots of lowest-common denominator items available rather than unexpected items that an individual might decide to sell were it not so complex to post now.
Ebay has become ‘Extreme Shopping’ — only the fittest survive, and it is dominated by fraud. Years ago it was fun, but now the charm has gone away. The gray-market guys do flood the listings, and the listings aren’t organic anymore so you can’t really tell what the thing you’re getting is really like. Ebay’s policies and procedures lead off into the no-accountability zone, especially for trying to get refunds on items a buyer just bails on. Feeback must work both ways – there are some horrible buyers whose MO is keeping your item and demanding half their money back for some inventive complaint, using their impending feedback as extortion.
Ebay wanted to make it a better experience for buyers and it opened the can of worms.

These days I visit Ebay only as a buyer when looking for items I can’t find otherwise on the net. But definitely it’s not my first option, more like the last one.


Between Silentbanker and bank robberies what option do we have?

I have asked a financial adviser a few days ago what is his opinion on the latest Trojan dubbed Silentbanker.
He asked ‘Silent what?’
He has not heard anything about it. Weird! I would have thought that financial advisors would be better informed.
I guess by now people are more alert regarding Silentbanker.
In case you are like our adviser, here it’s what Symantec advised regarding the trojan:

The Trojan targets many different banks using various methods in order to perform the following:

Gain access to accounts
Divert transactions to attacker controlled accounts

The Trojan performs the following actions:

Redirects legitimate requests to attacker controlled computers
Alters the HTML of pages shown to the user
Alters requests sent by the user to the bank
Captures screen shots of Web sites where the user must click instead of type the password
Sends full pages received by the victim to the attacker
Downloads new versions of itself
Downloads new configuration files
Records user names and passwords
Records the content of the clipboard
Steals cookies, digital certificates, and Adobe .sol files
Sends a list of all software installed on the compromised computer to the attackers

The threat hooks APIs in the following browsers:

Internet Explorer
Firefox
It may also hook APIs to the following file:
explorer.exe

We were told to avoid Internet transactions, including transfers and payments, and instead to go to the bank and make our payments over there.
Not a problem, it’s another pain in the butt, but it’s doable.
But we are running into another scare: bank robberies.
Updated statistics put Vancouver on the fast track of becoming Canada’s capital of heists.
Only in January we had 33 heists, an increase of 136 per cent compared to January 2007.
In 2006 we had 130 bank robberies, in 2007 the number jumped to 185, probably we will break the record this year.

This is the dilemma: we are between two scares: Silentbanker and a bank robbery. Which one is less dangerous?


Financial help to consolidate debt

Post holiday depression it’s like a postpartum one: lingering there all the time.
We are in January, meaning that we have received the bills showing the spending spree we went into during Christmas, right?
Now is time to do damage control.
I know, is as pleasant as having your tooth pulled out; it’s going to be painful but you are going to feel so much better after that.
Let’s say you don’t have any family around and no friends to ask for help but still want to keep your financial situation under control.
What can you do?

You could and should consolidate debt. But until you have an action plan you may be short on cash until your next paycheck. What to do then?

Get help with some payday loans.
You may think that a payday loan is just another loan, and this would only add more stress on you, but actually you should treat it like a lifeline.
On top of that, as soon as you get in touch with specialized help, you may bring up the issue of consolidating debt.
You are going to be put in contact with loan companies.
They will check your credit history, evaluate your needs and come up with suggestions.

Another solution: Start being very disciplined and make a rigorous list establishing what you should do from now on. But in the mean time you have to cover your emergencies, meaning that a payday loan may give you some relief until you can put all your ducks in a row.

Either way, you need to know that there is something you can do and you don’t have to feel helpless and overwhelmed.