Thursday, May 01, 2008

Technology Schmecknology: Selling and Celling Part I

Lost among all the news coverage of the Sean Bell verdict and this Reverend Wright who is singlehandedly trying to derail the Obama Campaign, was a little news story about a blogger who used a one word blog column to get himself out of jail. The trend among blogs, but obviously not this one, is to be as brief as possible. There is a site which I believe is called Twitter where people update their day to day whereabouts and activities. I have noticed that people do this on Facebook too. The guy who was trying to get his get out of jail card simply typed in one word - "Arrested" and yadda yadda he got bailed out of jail.

Today's column was originally supposed to have been a consumer review about my new Red BlackJack II cellphone. But, part of the column evolved into a lengthy commentary about purchasing cell phone accessories on eBay, so to follow Arrested Man's theme of brevity on the blog, I will split my phone review into a Lost-esque 2 part non-linear time line, commenting first about accessories and then in Part II, talking about the actual phone itself. This will also give me some more time to learn more about the phone and all the cool stuff it can do. And by the way, one Lost comment for this week - check out - it seems to have all the answers using a theory I mentioned in my previous column which was written before I had heard of the website! The theory of how a person can be in 2 places at one time is explained a lot better on that website.

A couple of comments about Wright and the question if the Bell non jury verdict was "right". This Pastor Wright has been plastered all over the media and he appears to be totally n-v-t-s, to paraphrase History of the World Part I. The more I listen to this guy, the crazier he sounds.. talking about such mashugas as people are anti-black church because they refuse to learn about how black band music is conducted vs, white band music. And he goes on and on and on. It's not the content of his comments that makes him nuts.. its the fact that he is riding that Obama connection media exposure to his own 15 minutes of fame, knowing full well that the more we hear him talk, the more this association hurts Obamas chances of winning. However, this whole situation could possibly work to Obama's advantange if it turns out that this Wright media tour was orchestrated by supporters of Hillary or McCain.

In the other big news story, when Al Sharpton in the post Sean Bell judge's verdict says he wants to shut the city down, why doesnt he shut something else down? His big fat mouth.

If Al is such a legal expert that he knows more about the law than the judge that presided over the non jury trial.... why didn't he use that legal expertise when he lost that huge case against the prosecutor he blasphemized during the Tawana Brawley hoax? Interestingly enough, since that judgement against Sharpton remains unpaid, one would think there is a lien against his house in Bergen County. And now that Sharpton has split with his wife, wouldn't Mrs. Sharpton be entitled to half the value of the house?? Yet, Sharpton cannot refinance or sell that house until he pays off the lien that is on his title. This is something that I have wondered about, since the Sharptons split but you don't hear Al talking about it much and Mrs. Sharpton has not made a vindictive You Tube video like that loonie kazoonie woman did a few weeks ago.

And I still don't get how it makes sense to "shut down the city". Innocent business owners who are struggling with a sinking economy and rising gas and food prices now can't make a living because of the judge's ruling? That doesn't mean Bell deserved to be shot...,... but when cops confront a guy using his car as a lethal weapon, and the witnesses allegedly don't tell the truth on the stand you wonder where Sharpton got his law degree from that he would know the law better than the judge.

Next week I will do my consumer review about my new cell phone.. but today I want to talk about getting those accesories at probably the cheapest place around for this type of stuff... eBay, First of all....I am quite pleased that eBay will be putting in that new rule this month that allows feedback to be left only by buyers for sellers, and not vice versa. This is probably quite unfair to certain sellers... but the current rule should have been that the moment a buyer pays for his item, he gets a positive score.. After all... what is there for a buyer to do... Pay... and after that the buyer's job is done except to get the package from the mailbox... open the package and hopefully leave a positive feedback for the seller. However, due to the numerous bully sellers out there, a lot of buyer's scores are getting slammed by negatives that they do not deserve.

Back on Saturday night March 15th, while trolling on eBay I bought a NJ Devils 2003 Stanley Cup Champion hat because I thought would be a good idea to wear during what I hoped would be a long run through the 2008 playoffs. Well I was wrong about that, and I was wrong to think I would have a hat! I bought it that day from a seller out of Canada... and as I have done with every other purchase I promptly paid through Pay Pal. Once it was paid, my theory is I should have automatically earned a positive score. However, a lot of sellers tend to wait to get their own positive feedback first and then they leave the positive score for the buyer.

After a week with no hat, I emailed him to ask about it and he told me that due to delayed shipping from Canada to the US, the hat was en route but delivery might be slow. Another week passed without the hat, and I again asked about it and again I got the same response. I emailed again at the 3 wk mark, with no response, and then as we approached the 4 week mark I first politely requested and ultimately demanded either a full refund or a postal receipt to prove that he actually mailed the hat. Once we hit the one month mark, and I had no hat nor a postal receipt... I had enough! I bought the same hat from another eBayer ... (which finally came in the mail today!) and I filed a complaint with Pay Pal. Within a day, Pay Pal reimbursed my money to me after the seller wrote them some kind of absurd excuse that he ran out of hats, but his parents in FL were supposed to have shipped it, but they forgot to get a postal receipt! Pay Pal saw right through that blatant lie, and they wired the money from his account into mine.

Even though, the seller should have gotten a negative for his refusal to answer emails and his lies. I did not leave him a negative feedback, I had gotten my $ back thanks to Pay Pal, so instead I left a neutral which doesn't affect his percentage, but I was quite honest. The feedback I wrote and this is a quote:

"Item never arrived; emails were ignored; Money refunded ONLY due to PayPal"

Then I realized the wisdom of the new Ebay policy, This shmuck left me a negative ending my DiMaggio-esque streak of having a perfect 100% score! In his comment he claimed that he offered me a free replacement (lie #1) and refunded my money on his own (Lie #2) ... I rebutted his lie on both my and his feedback sites... and now I eagerly await the new policy to take effect so honest buyers like myself will no longer be tainted by dishonest lying bullies like this guy who thought he would get away with keeping my hat by dangling the threat of ruining my perfect score over my head.

Since that time, I have closely reviewed his feedbacks, (and a bunch of other questionable sellers) and I see that he has replied to numerous neutral responses with negatives and each time it was the same thing - he lied about shipping, the buyer left him a neutral and this seller vindictively reciprocated with a negative causing a number of buyers to lose a perfect score. Obviously the score of the seller is more relevant than the buyer's score, sellers don't see buyers profiles prior to the transaction, and many buyers carefully scrutinize the feedback percentage before making a purchase. Even though the eBay buyers score is a matter of pride, I ended up doing more damage to his future selling strength with my neutral score and truthful comment than he did to me with his negative.

It was only a 20 dollar hat, but principle matters more than the money, and now thanks to this new rule, the era of bully sellers will finally come to an end. In a perfect world, every buyer should get an automatic positive once the item is paid for... but I guess technology and schmecknology are so advanced that it would be impossible for eBay to put such a rule into effect. The end of buyers feedback seems to be the fairest compromise. And the timing couldn't be better because cell phones have so many accessories and eBay seems the place to go to buy them.

Next week: The Red Black Jack II.

CLIP OF THE WEEK: As you might have noticed, I rarely watch American Idol. But I have heard that they are doing surveys on what the show can do to improve and snap out of its ratings slide. I found this video on You Tube (while futilely looking for the Greased Lightning - Gene Rayburn video from SNL) that proposes a combination American Idol - Match Game. I think this is going to be a love it or hate it clip... but frankly I found this hysterical!!

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