Specializing in postcards and antique photographs

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Still having ecard problems

I still can't link this blog to my other blog in entre-card.  Everytime I write to them I get a one sentence reply saying "my blog is now active".  This put's Entrecard's customer service on par with eBay's, and that isn't good.

So, I can't return drops, or advertise or anything at the moment.  I'll try again, but I may throw in the towel as far as this blog is concerned.  We'll see.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

EntreCard problem

A week or so ago, I noticed that this blog was no longer part of the EntreCard system.  I had it linked with another blog (A Valese Blog - I'm not that creative blog naming wise), so it was easy to switch back and forth in EntreCard when dropping and such.  But suddenly, it wasn't there.  I looked in my email & there was a message from EntreCard saying they had deleted the account because of a security issue.   I contacted them and asked them what I needed to do to rectify the situation, and they contacted me and said I was reactivated. 

However it is still not linked, and I can't seem to link it.  I can't add it as a new blog - because it already exists in EntreCard.  Same thing happens when I try to link it as an existing blog - there is a box for an email address & password, and an "add" button, but it won't accept it.  It says it already exists. 

So I sent another email to them to ask what I needed to do, and I'm awaiting a response.

In the meantime, I cannot drop with this blog.  People can drop on me, but I cannot drop.   Also, I cannot accept or reject ads.  Most ads are accepted automatically so maybe that's not an issue.  But at least one ad was rejected - not by me, but by the EntreCard admin.  So I apologize for that.

I don't know when this problem will be solved, but hopefully soon.    In the mean time, I'm not able to return any drops with this blog.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

S&H Modifications for CDVs

The fallout continues from our recent "charge back" experience.  The only way to even have a hope of protecting ourselves from things like charge backs or "Item Not Received" claim by a buyer is to have delivery confirmation on our items, signature confirmation if they are above $250 (I think).  This is because PayPal, the most common way things are paid for on eBay, assumes the seller is at fault, unless the seller can prove other wise.  If the buyer says he didn't get an item, or that it was an unauthorized use of a credit card or pretty much anything else, PayPal, and by extention eBay, assumes the buyer is telling the truth and the seller isn't.  PayPal apparently puts a hold on the seller's account immediately.  If the seller respsonds to a claim with a delivery confirmation number, PayPal investigates, and presumably releases the hold after awhile and all is well.   But I've read about some absolute horror stories on the eBay community boards.  I don't know if anyone in eBay pays attention to the boards, but there is a fair amount of discontent floating around.  I subscribe to the belief that it is usually the discontented that do the most posting, but still.  It seems significant.

The picture above is a beautiful little CDV, sold and shipped already.   Take a good look at it, because it is the last of our CDVs to be mailed without delivery confirmation.  It is also the last CDV to go out with a  $1.50 shipping and handling charge.   We can pay postage online and print a label off on the printer - the cost for delivery confirmation is cheaper when bought this way than it is if you purchase it at the post office counter.  But we send these CDVs out first class, so delivery confirmation is not free, and $1.50 will no longer cover the actual mailing cost for most of them.  So we increased the shipping and handling cost to $1.75, which should cover the cost of the actual postage, the cost of delivery confirmation and the cost of the mailer, with next to nothing left over.

I absolutely hate to do this, but it seems to be the only way we can protect ourselves.  $1.50 S&H was very reasonable and cheaper than most others charged.  $1.75 is still reasonable & may still be cheaper than most others, not sure, but I liked a $1.50 a lot better.  CDVs are the only thing we're changing our rates on though, postcards & cabinet photos & such remained unchanged, at least for now.

In 4 years of selling we've never had a problem like this.  In recent months however, eBay/PayPal has made changes which make it very easy for a buyer with larceny in his heart to cheat a seller. It was only after these changes that we got our very first charge-back.  Co-incidence?  Maybe.  But it was a wake up call, it is irresponsible for us not to take some kind of precautions.   So this stuff goes out with delivery confirmation to at least partially protect ourselves, and we have to increase the S&H rates to cover the extra cost.

I really, really hate having to do this.  I hate that all of us have to pay because maybe 1 person in a 100, or even 1,000 is dishonest.  But that is life, isn't it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I guess we've made the big-time

After 4 years of doing business on eBay we finally got a charge back.  I've heard hints & rumors of charge back horror stories, but we never experienced it.

On March 25th we sold an antique photo and shipped it off to New York.  It wasn't expensive, the total cost, including shipping was $8.09.  On April 15th, the person opened up a PayPal dispute claiming "unauthorized use of a credit card".  It turns out that because of PayPal rules,  we, as sellers, didn't have a leg to stand on, and we realized that fairly quickly.  It also turns out that not only were we out our item, and the $8.09, but then PayPal charged us a $10.00 fee, to cover the fee that the credit card charged them.  Insult to injury.

And looking around the discussion boards, it turns out that this person has been doing this to quite a few people, there are several threads about it, and at least once person mentioned her by name.  Her feedback is private, so you cant see any comments, and but you can see that her account has over 200 purchases in the last month.

So one of two things happened.  Perhaps her credit card was stolen, or perhaps it was used without her permission to buy a bunch of stuff.  Perhaps her eBay account was compromised & a bunch of items purchased under her name without her knowledge.  That's a lot of perhaps, but if that is the case I can understand her predicament, but it irritates me that we're left holding the bag.  We did nothing dishonest.

The other possibility is that she is doing this intentionally, to a lot of sellers.  That is the possibility I'm inclined to believe.  Maybe she'll get away with it, or maybe she'll end up in some legal hot water.  I'll never know, one way or the other.

We've sold thousands of items over the years, and the worst that has happened to us up to now is that every now and then someone decides not to pay.  And that can be irritating, but in the grand scheme of things it's no biggie.  But a charge back is not good.

Perhaps all I had to do was put delivery confirmation on the package.  My understanding is for PayPal seller protection to kick in they require delivery confirmation on items less than $250 in value, and signature confirmation on items over $250.   We hadn't been doing that for the lower priced items, but we may need to re-evaluate that.

Most buyers are honest - the vast majority.  If you go into selling (or buying) on eBay thinking you're going to get cheated everytime you do anything, then you're going to have miserable experiences.  But you also need to take reasonable precautions.  And hope for the best.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Thackrey Family (except Otis), circa 1880's.

This is a detail of a cabinet card we have for sale.  The whole card measures about 4 1/2 X 6 1/2 inches, and it is of the Thackrey family, except Otis, who might have been no 'count anyway.  Who knows.

The names are listed on the back:  In the back row, left to right, they are Birtha, Cora & Mandy, center is Dad and Mother, and in front are Alice, Logan, Ioa(?) and Torrince.  Another sibling, Otis, is not in the picture.

The photographer was F.K. Frasier, but there is no indication of where the photographer's shop is located, or where these people lived or when the picture was taken.  Based on the looks of the card & clothing styles, we guestimate the age at 1880-1890s, with more of a nod toward the 1880s side of the estimation.   It is a family picture that was probably important to someone at sometime, and may still be if someone can tie themselves to them.  

I was just kidding about Otis being no 'count.  It's my sense of humor.  Most likely Otis was either the oldest and on his own somewhere, or he had yet to be born when the picture was taken. 

I like it because it documents what they consisered their "Sunday Best" clothes, and you can see some of the family closeness in it.  Alice is young and leaning into her father's leg, Logan has one hand on his father's leg & another on his mother's, Cora, I believe, has a hand on her father's shoulder. 

This was a good sized family - they almost certainly have decendants running about today, somewhere.  

You can click on the title to go to the listing.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Young Man Sitting in a Chair - Watertown South Dakota, 1911

I honestly don't know why I dwell on stuff like this.   What is it about this photograph?  This is actually a postcard, a Real Picture Postcard (RPPC), with a handwritten message on back dated May 12th, 1911, in Watertown, South Dakota.  The sender (we assume the person in the picture) was sending this to his cousin, most likely included in an envelope with a more formal correspondence.  This was never mailed.

So I look at this, and he reminds me a little of my son.  His age when this picture was taken is about the age my son is now.  He looks like he's tall, tho it's hard to say.  My son is tall.  He's not a physical double for my son by any means, but there is something about him that is a reminder.

He was photographed and wrote a message in 1911.   I'd say he was born in the late 1880s or very early 1890s.  He is young, looks to be in good health, physically strong, and he has nice clothes, in what was a much more formal era.  I know nothing about him, not even his name - the person he was writing to was obviously very familiar to him.  But I do know that 98 years 11 months and 2 weeks after he wrote this message on the back of his picture, he is no longer living, but yet he has me looking at his image and thinking about it.

If he had a normal lifespan, if he survived WWI, it is possible our lives overlapped. It is not inconceivable that he would have lived into the 1970s.  Had we met he would have been very old, and I would have been very young.  I would have looked at him and thought he had always been old, that he was born that way.  I would have thought, this is the way it is, the way it was, and the way it always will be.  I know better now.

I guess it all boils down to a mortality thing.  It's a reminder that people who are old and weak, or even have already died, were once young and strong, with optomism and hope.  They burned away their days as if they had an infinite supply.  I see myself and everybody I know in this picture. 

So, I'm going to list this card on eBay - I scheduled it earlier today, it should be there soon.  You're welcome to it if you want it.  Just go to the store & do a search on Watertown.