Doc Brown, everyone's favorite frizzy-haired, wild-eyed scientific genius, is probably wondering if the appearance of Marty McFly's hoverboard on eBay could "unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum, and destroy the entire universe." Well, Doc, in your own words, that's a worst-case scenario. "The destruction might in fact be very localized, limited to merely our own galaxy."
Don't bust your flux capacitor just yet, Doc, it's a prop. It's one of the survivors from the original set of hoverboards created for Back To The Future II. Quoting from the listing description, "This piece has the complete fully functional and rear ballbearing-mounted footpad that rotates 360 degrees, as well as the bottom 'magnet plates'."
Perfect to pretend-dodge your own slow-witted nemesis while nostalgically going back (or forward?) into the eighties.
And if Doc Brown's direst fears are realized and the universe starts to come apart like Biff Tannen under a truckload of horse manure, you can always save the present by tweaking the past or the future in this spiffy little DeLorean DMC-12, also listed on eBay. Of course, if you attempt to do 88 m.p.h. in it, you'll probably get little more than a speeding ticket. Nostalgia just isn't what it used to be.
For the last 8 months or so, my husband and I have been on a campaign to rid ourselves of payments...forever. We were not drowning in debt, but we were tired of feeling that our finances told us what to do, instead of the other way around.
With this new goal -- coupled with food prices going up (and me with two pre-teen boys to feed!), not to mention gas -- I've turned into a big bargain shopper. Shopping on eBay has always been routine, but as every dollar has taken on new importance in the budget, I've learned to appreciate eBay in a deeper way. I've been buying more practical items, shopping earlier for the boys' school clothes (mostly good, used items), looking for bargains on gifts, etc. For many readers, I know this is your routine, but for me, having a vision of something I was working towards unleashed a frugal and resourceful side of me that I didn't know I had.
After 9 months, we've met our first big goal, and now our only payment is the mortgage. It feels great! Having goals makes all the difference....
So I'm curious -- how many readers are working towards some personal goal that eBay is helping you achieve? Are you saving for a career change? To buy a new house? To fund a trip around the world? To send your kids to college? I'd like to share your story, so write us at email@example.com!
It's been said that the dispute resolution process on eBay and PayPal is kind of like the dentist's office. No one gets excited thinking about the dentist's office every day (well, except for dentists, I suppose). But if you have a toothache, it's all you can think about. The same holds true with dispute resolution: you probably don't think about it every day, but if you do have a problem (which can be as annoying as a toothache) you want the resolution process to work smoothly and efficiently, so you can get the issue resolved quickly and get back to business.
New drill for dispute resolution Well I'm very pleased to announce some big improvements in the dispute resolution infrastructure at eBay and PayPal. To take the metaphor a bit further, imagine your local dentist's office upgrading from foot powered pumps and buzzing film-based x-ray machines to diamond tipped ultrasonic drills and computerized 3-D tooth scans.
The first change is a huge upgrade to the PayPal Resolution Center, which is the hub on PayPal where buyers and sellers can work out all their transaction and account problems. The Resolution Center was launched in 2004, and though many new dispute resolution "flows" have been added to it over the years, up to a couple of weeks ago it pretty much looked the same as it did when we turned it on four years ago. The new redesign has updated the Center and optimized everything in line with how we've learned people use it. For example, low volume users (e.g. buyers or occasional sellers) see a custom view with more help content and filing assistance, but as volume increases (e.g. professional sellers) the Resolution Center changes the view to make actions more streamlined. We've also cleaned up the tables and actions to present the most important information in an easily understood way.
But the improvements don't stop at just the front page. We've also launched wholly new dispute and claim flows, with major upgrades there as well. For instance, buyers and sellers can now negotiate partial refunds directly in the dispute phase of the process, and if both sides agree, the dispute is automatically closed and the agreed upon money moved from one account to the other. We've made the whole process much easier to follow, with clearer indications of where users are in the resolution process and simplified indications of what actions they need to take. In addition, we are now offering projected times for when each step in the claims phase will be completed, so users won't feel like their process is open-ended. We're also going to start communicating the reason for decisions much more clearly, so you'll know the rationale behind any outcomes you achieve.
Real-time dispute data automatically in eBay
However, the improvements aren't only on the PayPal site. We've also achieved something I've wanted to do ever since the first day I joined the company almost five years ago. We now have created a channel that exposes real-time PayPal claim and dispute data to eBay, and that has enabled us to put information into the eBay Dispute Console showing the current status of all PayPal Disputes and Claims currently in progress regarding eBay items. In the past, buyers have sometimes been confused when they tried to file an Item Not Received or Not as Described dispute on eBay and were then pushed to PayPal to complete the filing process. When they went back to eBay, there was no indication that a dispute was ever filed. Now eBay will know in real-time the status of the PayPal dispute and claim, and will be able to display it to the buyer right in their eBay Dispute Console. This should minimize confusion and improve response rates to disputes for both buyers and sellers.
I know you're curious to see the new processes, but let me be clear: I don't want everyone to intentionally create a transaction problem to check them out. As most everyone on eBay and PayPal knows, an occasional transaction problem is inevitable, so keep trading as much as you can and maybe (if you’re lucky? unlucky?) you'll get a chance to see these new tools in action.
Kudos go in particular to Scott Loper and Ted Fong, who lead the eBay Resolutions team, and Chris Wang, who runs Resolutions at PayPal, as well as Naresh Narwani, who led the console-linking project on the PayPal side. But these efforts involved dozens of engineers, usability designers, web developers, and quality assurance people, all working in concert around the world for more than a year. The successful launch of these improvements represent the end of this particular marathon effort, which we should acknowledge and celebrate, but it should be noted we're already hard at work on our next set of improvements.
As I said at the beginning, no one walks around thinking about the dentist's office every day except for dentists. The same is true for dispute resolution: as a resolution geek, this is what I love to think about all day and all night. And my focus on this area makes me doubly proud of all the great progress that has been achieved with these new features. These changes represent huge leaps forward in minimizing frustration and preserving trust. I hope you'll never have to take advantage of them, but they're there for you if you do.
We're shining our spotlight on eBay Groups, our Community platform where members can form their own micro-communities. You can find groups based on just about anything -– a topic of interest (say, Star Wars) or eBayers in your region (such as North West Florida, the Panhandle). Or you can start your own!
We're always looking for interesting Groups to feature. To nominate your own, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with a description of your group. You might just end up under the lights!
"In 2001 I read an article about a group of eBay sellers in Atlanta called 'The Atlanta eBaybes & eMales' (alas, now defunct) and really liked the idea. So I contacted the group organizer to get permission to create a sister chapter in Dallas. As they say, the rest is history. I have made so many close friends and always look forward to our monthly meetings.
"The first meeting of the Dallas eBaybes & eMales was held on January 4, 2002 with just eight attendees. Six years later, we have four chapters (expanding to Ft. Worth, Houston and Austin) with approximately 650 members statewide. Membership is free and the only requirements are to get involved and to RSVP. We meet twice monthly -– a standard meeting on the fourth Monday at Canyon Creek Country Club in Richardson, Texas, and a casual lunch for which the time and location will vary. We use meetup.com to host our website, keep track of our calendar, correspondence and RSVPs.
"Meetings include a Back to Basics class taught by member volunteers, with topics ranging from How to Improve Best Match Search Results to Digital Photography, a full dinner buffet and a guest speaker or PowerSeller panel. Guest speakers are usually an eBay Certified Solution Provider, author or an eBay/Paypal staffer. Our July 28th meeting will be the first ever joint meeting of the Dallas & Ft. Worth eBaybes & eMales chapters, PeSA (the Professional eBay Sellers Alliance) and ECMTA. We anticipate a record number of attendees.
"The Dallas eBaybes & eMales group is truly a labor of love and one of my greatest accomplishments. My vision is to see at least one chapter in all 50 states. My dream is to become eBay's ambassador and travel around the country teaching others about the benefits of an eBay group and how to create their own."
The newest Batman installment, appropriately-named The Dark Knight, had my buddies and I buzzing this past week. None of us are particularly huge Batman geeks, but Batman Begins, the "we're kind of starting this franchise over" film released in 2005, was extremely entertaining. We also all happen be big fans of Christian Bale, the latest actor to portray Bruce Wayne (and if you are as well, check out The Prestige...and also The Machinist if you want to see someone take method acting to an insane new level).
But coming out of the theater (the movie lived up to the hype, by the way), we could only talk about Heath Ledger, who provided a chilling new twist on his character, The Joker. By now almost everyone knows about Ledger's tragic passing, and his fantastic performance here yet again underscores what a loss to the acting world that was. But it turns out that The Dark Knight is helping keep Ledger's legacy alive and well here on eBay. After I fired up eBay Marketplace Research, I saw that "Heath Ledger" items, of which between about 400 and 900 items had been selling each week over the past month, were taking off - in the week leading up to opening night, almost 1200 items had been sold. By comparison, roughly 150 "Christian Bale" items sold that same week. Just like in the movie, it looks like The Joker has stolen the show.
"My husband is home." Simple, everyday words for millions of women, but for Terry Meade (eBay seller tootsiegirls) they go well beyond the ordinary. They mean that she and Mark, her husband, can begin the long, slow journey to a normal life again. Because, five weeks ago, Mark received the ultimate gift of life -- a heart transplant.
Those of you who have been following Terry and Mark's story will be happy and heartened to know that Mark is back home from the hospital and making -- in Terry's words -- "remarkable progress." In an email to one of my colleagues on July 10th, Terry wrote:
"We are making remarkable progress! It is totally unbelievable that we are where we are only 5 weeks after a heart transplant. We even went out for our first dinner and a movie last night...we are starting to feel almost normal again!"
Besides continuing to be a caregiver for Mark, Terry has one other priority on her mind these days -- raising awareness of the need for organ donation and the Gift of Life donor program. She's working with the Gift of Life Foundation to raise funds for a new Transplant Family House in Philadelphia. A "family house" is a place on the grounds of a hospital where family members of patients can stay free of charge and be close to their loved ones during their stay in hospital. Back in 2005, when Mark underwent surgery after having a heart attack in California, 3000 miles away from their home in New Jersey, it was a great relief for Terry to be able to stay at a family house and be at his side.
Terry's story has already caught the imagination of some of her eBay seller friends. They're contributing items, mainly collectibles and eBay memorabilia from events such as eBay Live! for a charity auction, with proceeds going to the Gift of Life foundation. Watch the Chatter Blog for more updates about this. (While you wait for the auction to go up in a few days, you can also contribute directly to the Gift of Life Family House project.) Welcome home, Mark! And best wishes for your continued progress.
One of the great things about our Community is that they encourage each other to succeed - and will get really creative when doing so. Take the current Yard Fard's "Anything Goes" Sale on the Auction Listings discussion board. It's one of the regular events that take place there (and elsewhere on the forums), run totally by members, that provide a chance for sellers to have fun, brag about their listings, and try to hit their personal listing goals.
Almost all of these types of events have a theme (although I admittedly am spacing on what Yard Fard means - I'm going to have to ask them). This particular one is pretty basic. Everyone is invited (as usual), with the main stipulation being that your starting price be between $0.99 and $22.22, and must contain duplicate numbers - for example, $1.11, $4.44, $13.13, etc. So if you're not afraid of a somewhat goofy starting price, it's the perfect opportunity to join in and have some fun. All listings for this event need to be up by end of day tomorrow, so check out their thread for all the details.
As someone who listens to sports radio all the time, and occasionally fills in on eBay Radio when Griff is traveling, sick, or has a jeff-needs-airtime-related mishap, I've been watching the Mike & Mike in the Morning auction with great interest.
If you're not already familiar with them, the Mike & Mike show is made up of ESPN's Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, an Odd Couple-ish pairing who hosts the very popular morning show on weekdays from 6am to 10am ET on ESPNRadio and ESPN2. Mixing sports knowledge with wicked humor, they're both hilarious and insightful, and are a must-listen for sports fans (at least for those of us up early enough on the West Coast).
Now you can watch them firsthand - as they broadcast from your home! As the winning bidder, you and your family and friends can revel in their merriment in person, while their 12 million listeners/viewers seethe with jealousy (and I'll be one of them).
The title of this post is in homage to Brother, can you spare a dime?, the song that came to symbolize the dark days of the Great Depression. It's being mentioned again a lot in the media lately, now that we're in another big economic downturn, the worst in many years.
Share your stories! eBay usually has a positive impact on people in a bad economy -- that's when more people look for bargains and also a little money to spend from selling things on eBay.
If you have a story to share about a great deal or a fabulous find on eBay, please let us know! We want to share your stories in the media to help raise awareness of how people can turn to eBay to ride out the worst effects of the economy.
Tell us about the great value deals you're finding on eBay -- they can be anything from children's clothes that saved you a ton of money to a great deal on a laptop that's now helping you enroll in online education courses which will give you new skills in today's tough job market. You can even share stories of the luxuries you've allowed yourself — tell us about how you indulged in buying those Jimmy Choo shoes you found on eBay for less than half the retail price.
And we'd like to hear stories of your selling success as well — perhaps a long-forgotten item that you unearthed in your attic sold for a tidy sum on eBay, or the bittersweet experience of having to sell a much-loved collectible on eBay to make some extra cash.
If you've ever had a hankering to ditch society and go live amongst some wild bears (and hey, who among us hasn't?), but are worried about getting mauled, what do you do? You check out this auction on eBay.ca, for the Ursus Mk VI supersuit that Troy Hurtubise wore in the 1997 documentary "Project Grizzly."
Basically, Troy built this suit of armor to protect him as he observed wild bears up close. There's an interesting video of him fire-testing the suit and giving you a glimpse into his psyche within this post on Wired.com, as well as a few videos included within the listing as well. He's apparently selling it to recoup his costs of making the suit in the first place, and suggests that the winner may want to donate it to a museum. That sounds a lot safer than using it for its intended purpose.