Over the 5+ years I have been selling online, I have learned a thing or two. Here are the mistakes I made, and what I learned from them. May they be a lesson or some help to other sellers out there!
Amazon Marketplace: If you’ve ever had to take a Law class of any kind, you know how much the textbooks for these classes are. I was enrolled in Business Law and had to buy a textbook that was about $200(this was the days before renting textbooks). At the end of the semester I put it up for sale on Amazon Marketplace for $100+(however much it was going for at the time). The book sold and I shipped it off from NY to CA via standard shipping as per Amazons rules at the time, you were supposed to ship media/standard. Big mistake, the customer claimed to not receive it. I never received it returned to me, and the likeliness of a heavy textbook being stolen is highly unlikely. Amazon took my money and I had no book. Lesson Learned: Always ship Priority on Amazon Marketplace when you will take a significant loss if it doesn’t make it to its destination.
Ebay: I had a large amount of orders to ship one day and I put the wrong shipping labels on the wrong boxes. Lesson Learned: When packaging a large amount of orders, write on the outside of the packages a note to yourself of whats inside if you seal it before putting the label on.
Etsy: If a customer is from another country and their address is written in their native language, DO NOT SHIP IT. Did you hear me? Have them rewrite the address in English, because while some USPS workers will let it pass through once it gets to the point of leaving the country it may not and it will take a long time to come back to you.
Lesson Learned: Never send a package out with an address not written in English.
On the opposite end, I have also been a customer. Here are my mistakes as a buyer, may they help you keep a firmer grip on your money.
Amazon: As a budget conscious student I lasted about 2 semesters buying textbooks from the college bookstores. Textbooks cost way too much and I felt guilty buying new(when there wasn’t any used left) because it’s just wasteful. So I started looking on Amazon for used books and textbooks.
Lesson Learned: After many bad experiences with the Amazon Marketplace I highly suggest NOT purchasing from a seller on there that is obviously a company. This is because
a) They do not ship it out as quickly
b) They get about 5 negative feedbacks a week(yes it may say a high star rating but go skim feedback for a few pages) for not shipping quickly or sending books that do not match the actual item received whether its paperback and not hardcover or highlighted on every other page
c) They don’t answer their emails, or when they do it’s a generic cut/paste/send response.
d) They ship from a state other than mentioned on the listing.
I highly suggest buying from a person not a company(a student selling their used text book), purchasing faster shipping if possible if not buy from someone in a state that is closest to yours because it will arrive faster with standard shipping. Whenever I list on Amazon I always mark that I am a person not a company in the listing and that I’m from NY and usually, my books/DVDs/whatever are purchased much faster than those lousy, mass book selling company’s.
Etsy: Don’t trust the elusive front page as a guideline for good sellers. Anyone can end up there and sometimes they are sellers with unsavory feedback and customer service but pretty pictures.
Lesson Learned: Scrutinize feedback and care that a seller puts into its business presence to evaluate whether or not they are worthy of your business.
Websites: Be *especially* weary of buying from a unknown website that isn’t Etsy or Ebay because if something goes wrong on those sites, you have options. I recently ordered from a website I saw advertised in the lovely Neet Magazine and am down $63 for a romper which straps were too short for my torso and was damaged by the heavy scent of cigarettes(how unprofessional). I returned it and it safely arrived at its destination but I never got my money back. I can’t even get a email reply from the seller. Shame shame shame.
Lesson Learned: Sticking to local shops and excellent Ebay and Etsy sellers.
Shipping: Make sure your shipping address at Paypal is correct, otherwise you will not receive your purchase! The only times a package of mine internationally and domestically hasn’t arrived to its destination is because the shipping address was wrong(or not written in English). If your dorming at college make sure that shipping address is going to you and not your parents. Double check before sending payment!
The internet can be a scary place to buy and sell, most people are not out to hurt you, but some are. Use the tips above and exercise common sense !