eBay and Jewelry Candles – How I lost a good income stream due to poor business practices….

I had been holding off on posting this due simply to the hopes that there was possibly a chance that I would regain my selling privileges on eBay after all the low feedback scores had fallen off. Now before you go thinking that I am just another bad seller, and that eBay is protecting the little guy from thieves, let me explain what happened.

I originally was laid off from my FT job back in June of 2012, which had a major effect on our financial situation. For years I have sold off various items, clothing, home goods, etc on eBay in an effort to make a little extra cash, and rid our home of items we no longer needed. Prior to losing my job, I had been selling on eBay, Etsy, and Tophatter.

During the fall of 2012, I came across a brand new Direct Sales company called Jewelry Candles. I had found out about them from another person selling them on one of my most used websites, so I ordered a few to see what they were all about. The company was relatively new, and it was such a unique product, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get in early with a company like this, so I signed up as a rep. I started selling the product on a few websites, which brought in a few sales here and there, but no where near enough money to help cover our bills.  I had fallen in love with the product, thinking it was a great idea, and had hopes that I was in early enough with a company that was destined for great success.

So, in hopes of getting the most traffic, and of course most sales for this product, I decided to start listing them on eBay early on in 2013. I was a seasoned seller, having been on eBay for about 10 years, since 2003, and had a 100% positive feedback score, with tons of happy customers. I had started selling the candles on eBay prior to the holiday shopping season and things were going great. Customers were receiving their orders on time, and were extremely happy with the results, and love the surprise of what kind of jewelry they would get out of their candle. My following quickly grew, and I soon became one of the top sellers for the company.

It was when the 2013 holiday season started that things started to change. Prior to the holidays I always received automated USPS tracking emails when my customers orders shipped, making it easy for me to keep everyone updated on their order status, and orders always shipped relatively quickly, especially with this being a made to order product.

It wasn’t till around November of 2013, things started to go a bit south. All of a sudden I was getting emails from customers about tracking #s that never updated, items missing from orders, and even broken candles. The only contact info I had for the company at the time was an email address, so I soon found myself sending emails multiple times a day requesting status of outstanding issues to ensure all my customers were taken care of. Yes I was fully aware that I was just one of many reps selling for the company, so I tried to be patient and give them time to reply. Since the holiday rush hadn’t hit just yet, they were relatively prompt with taking care of any issues I had, allowing me to keep my customers happy.

Then out of nowhere I stopped receiving email notifications with tracking #s for my customers orders. This started occurring right around Thanksgiving/Black Friday. Keep in mind during this time, I still had a lot of orders coming in, and now found myself with no information to provide to my customers regarding their order status. I started to freak out, and have many sleepless nights because of the stress. I have always be a very customer service oriented, and I always reply to any communications from my customers as soon as I get them, and when I found myself in a position with customers asking questions and I had no information to give them, it freaked me out.

I began sending the company constant emails looking for tracking #s, and was told that the process of printing labels had changed and they would have to look into the system to pull the #s and send them over to me. While it took a little longer than I would have liked to get the info, especially since I already had a few unhappy customers at this point, they did provide me with the required information which kept most of my customers happy.

It wasn’t until the Christmas shopping season of 2013 that things really went south. The company had issued a cutoff date of Dec 10th for all customers to have their orders in by for guaranteed delivery by Christmas. Since this was the first real holiday season that I was selling for the company, I make sure to note this on all my listings so all customers placing orders knew that they needed to have an order in by that date if they wished to have the item in time for gift giving.

While I was still receiving tracking #s early on in December, the closer we got to the order cutoff date, the less communication I received from the company. Sure I still received invoices for every order, which I paid promptly, but it was finding out the status of a customers order that was next to impossible. I started sending emails on a regular basis with a list of customer names, requesting tracking #s for their orders. Soon the cutoff date for orders came and went and communication from the company ceased to exist.

Of course during this time I still had customers emailing me for status, and I did  my best to advise them on what was going on, based on the little bit of information I had from the company. While many people were understanding, and only cared that they got their orders by Christmas, as had been promised, others were not as forgiving, and took their frustrations out on me in the form of negative feedback, but this was not the worst of it.

The closer we got to Christmas, the more concerned my customers became, especially those who had placed their order by the cutoff date. I was getting sporadic tracking # updates at this time, yet no replies to my emails for status, so all I could do was guesstimate as to where they company was in terms of order processing. At one point I was told that they had received a much larger holiday order load than they had expected and were working non-stop on processing, leaving no time to reply to emails.

I understood the stress of an order load, but what bothered me was the lack of communication, especially when I had a lot of customers contacting me on an almost daily basis wanting to know when they would get their order and I had nothing to tell them. And yet this was still not the worst of it. Based on the little information I had gotten from the company, it seemed like orders that had been placed by the cutoff date would arrive by Christmas, but apparently my assumptions had been wrong.

It wasn’t until the day before Christmas Eve that I found out the truth. They were still behind on processing orders and all order that had originally been placed by THEIR issued cutoff date would not be delivered till after Christmas!!!! Yep, that was the nail in the coffin for me. As soon as I found this out, I quickly tried to do damage control and contacted every buyer that had placed an order on that date that I had yet to receive a tracking # for and let them know what was going on. Some people were understanding, others not so much, accusing me of the delay when processing was outside of my control, and my seller rating took the hit for it.

After the holidays came and went, I woke up one morning to a not so nice notification from eBay. All of listings had been pulled due to poor seller performance, and I had been restricted from selling on eBay. I was in tears!!! I called eBay support to plead my case, to see if there was any chance of the restriction being lifted. I had been given an outright NO, and there was no way to change their mind since decisions are made for the good of the buyer community. What bothered me was that this FINAL decision was based not on my 10+ years of ratings as a seller, but instead on a 2, maybe 3 month run of bad feedback that resulted from a situation that was outside of my control. I contacted the Jewelry Candles company about this and while they were a bit sympathetic, they did absolutely nothing for me except for an “I’m sorry to hear that”.

It was at that point that I stopped selling the product all together, and haven’t really missed it. What bothered me the most was the lost of a selling platform for the many items we have in our home that we no longer need. I have tons of gently used clothing that no longer fit after a fair amount of weight loss, DVDS, and other household goods, with no outlet to list them on.

After moving past my anger and frustration, and while I still continued to receive emails from eBay about selling, ie how to fix your ratings etc, I figured there may still be hope in getting my privileges restored after all the bad feedback had fallen off, which would be about a year from the initial restriction.

So, a few days ago, I decided to try and email eBay to plead my case yet again to see if there was any chance of restoring my selling ability. Since my restriction, we have had many credit cards go into collections due to our inability to pay the minimum, and within the past few months we incurred a large vet bill as one of our kitties got sick and required surgery for a urinary blockage. I was told I would receive a reply in a few days after they investigated the request, so I waited for a reply.

Well, this is the response I got from eBay on Jan 13th:

“Thank you for contacting us in regards to the Below Standard selling restriction on your eBay account.

After an in-depth investigation into your account, we found that the Below Standard status was caused by a high defect rate. In using this information, along with your email, we can confirm that the restriction was placed correctly and will not be overturned.

Please know we took immense care with this review as we understand the impact it has to you, both personally and professionally.

We understand this is not the outcome you were hoping for, but it was made with the entire eBay Community in mind. Furthermore, any additional communication regarding this restriction will not result in the reinstatement of your selling privileges. ”

Yep, that pretty much seals the coffin and is proof that you are fine to sell on eBay just as long as you stay in their good graces. If your stats slip even for a very short amount of time, they will pass judgement on you without even looking into your entire history which is OBVIOUSLY what happened with me. My low ratings occurred in a 2 -3 month time frame, which is a very small percentage of an account that has been active for over 10 years!!! They couldn’t be bothered to look back and see that I had a 100% positive feedback score prior to selling the Jewelry Candles product, and that the issues that occurred were due to issues that were outside my control. I just didn’t matter. eBay passed judgement and that is that! There is no changing their mind regardless of what you say! Once you are seen as a bad seller in their eyes, you will always be one, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

So what is the moral of my story, well it is two sided. First I would have to say if you choose to sell on eBay, make sure you are very vigilant about what you sell, do not EVER signup to sell items that are dropshipped, which in reality is what the Jewelry Candles products were. Whenever the processing and shipping times of a product are taken out of your hands and put in the hands of others, you put your own seller ratings at risk. eBay can be a great place to sell, provided you stay on their good side.

The second thing would be to avoid ever becoming a rep for the product Jewelry Candles! Keep in mind, I am not referring to other companies out there like Jewelry IN Candles, Diamond Candles, Hidden Treasure Candles, etc, as they all follow the similar premise, but are DIFFERENT companies. I have seen comments from other reps that stated this past holiday season was just as bad as the one that I experienced. One would hope that you learn from your mistakes and improve, but even though more than a year has gone by nothing seems to have changed, which is sad since they truly do offer a great product, its just the business management that sucks.

Anyways, I know this was a lengthy post, I just hope that it helps others out their make an informed decision when it comes to either eBay or Jewelry Candles. Sure there will be those who have a different opinion than me and that is completely fine, we are all entitled to our opinions, and I hope that in reading this post I have helped prevent at least one person from going down the same path that I have.

 

So frustrated right now…..

Between work and just life in general this week has pretty much sucked…. Today is the first day off that I have had from both jobs in over a week, and of course I was unable to catch up on all the sleep I have been missing. It never seems to fail, you can always get comfy, cozy in bed on the days that you have to get up early for work, but on the days you can sleep late, sleep always seems to be elusive.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, I learned of yet another ingredient that was in some of the foods we were using that, while made from a natural ingredient, are less than good for you. For those of you that have gone through the process of going gluten free, or who are currently going through the so called gluten detox, you probably are more than well aware of how frustrating it can be.

About 10 months ago, my husband and I stopped using regular milk and we switched to almond milk. We always liked the Blue Diamond nuts, so we figured their almond milk should be just as good so we decided to give it a try, completely unaware of the ingredients it contained. Well, this past monday one of my Facebook friends posted an article regarding the so called natural ingredient called Carrageenan. Odds are you have probably seen this in some organic foods, sometimes followed by seaweed in parentheses.

I, like many of you, figured this ingredient was fine, until I read the truth about this ingredient. It is commonly used as a thickening agent in milk substitutes, yogurt, and other organic products. While that doesn’t sound harmful, what really freaked me out was what this so called “natural” ingredient does to the body. It actually causes inflammation, which if you are currently trying to heal yourself from inflammation from gluten, this ingredient acts as a roadblock in the healing process. It keeps feeding the unhappiness in your system.

If you have read my previous posts, you probably know that I have been less than happy with this entire process, and I was starting to wonder why the hell I felt stuck. Not feeling better, yet not feeling worse like when I used to eat gluten. Then to find out that something we thought was better for us was actually doing us more harm. Especially when an article I read by Dr. Weil about this same subject specifically stated to not ingest this ingredient especially if you are dealing with some form of IBS. So why the hell is this ingredient allowed in foods? Especially those that market themselves as being better for you since they are “organic”. I have even seen it in uncured deli meat in the grocery store.

We have since switched to the Silk Almond Milk since it at least does not have this ingredient, and I will have to say that I am actually starting to feel a little bit better, even though I am still tired most days, but I attribute that to working 2 jobs, and not necessarily the food. You can learn more about this ingredient here: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA401181/Is-Carrageenan-Safe.html

And if you find yourself suffering the way I have been, take a look at the ingredients in the products in your fridge, you may find you have also been poisoning yourself with this ingredient and not even known it!

Hating Life Right Now…..

This past week has pretty much sucked… Working my butt off between 2 jobs, and still feel like crap from all this gluten detox. Head congestion seems to be back with a vengance, as well as the body aches, and some acid reflux. As if all the physical issues aren’t bad enough, I am still dealing with eight different credit cards that have been charged off by various credit card companies.

It has been about a month and a half since I cut out gluten 100% and I am so frustrated with the fact that is seeming to take so long for my body to get back to normal. Heck at this point I don’t even remember what normal feels like anymore. I have been feeling off for over 5 years now, so I guess it is supposed to take time for my body to reset itself and get rid of all the bad stuff that I have been feeding it for so many years. Sure I understand that things will not get better overnight, but I have to say I am really sick and tired of getting up every morning feeling like crap.

The real kicker is when you have co-workers that look at you and say oh, you are still young, so you’re the one that can easily bend down and unlock and lock the door at the end of the night. Yet there are days when bending over is a struggle without some form of almost blinding pain coming from your lower back. Not pain from your back specifically but cramping from the gut. Sorry if this is TMI, but many do not understand what gluten does to us, not to mention what your body goes through while trying to rid itself of the remaining toxins. Just because you stop eating it, doesn’t mean the reactions are not still there.

There are days that I just want to stay in bed and cry, but I have to pull myself out of bed and get to work, otherwise there is not enough money to pay the bills. I just want to feel better at this point, I just wish I knew when this roller coaster ride is supposed to finally be over, cause I seriously feel like I can’t take it anymore….

A Craving for Toast????

Every day brings a new set of challenges on the path to staying gluten free. I have not had any gluten in probably a little over a month now, and a few days ago I got struck with the weirdest craving I have ever had in my life, a desire for TOAST!!!

One may wonder how I found myself even in the vicinity of something that could make me so ill, so I guess I should explain that one of my jobs is at a Campground. I work in the store, and we have a mini food counter where we serve the basics, like bagels, toast, and sandwiches. During the week I have a set of regulars that come in for coffee and breakfast. One ordered toast with butter. Never in my life had I ever found myself salivating over a golden brown piece of toast, but part of me wanted it so badly, but I knew it would do me more harm than good, so luckily my willpower won out and I didn’t succumb to my bodies pleas for the gluten.

Luckily the cravings have subsided a bit, but I still find myself feeling utterly frustrated with the new “me”. Of course I know I am just one of many that are in the same boat, but since being Gluten Sensitive is still not widely known, it can be hard to ensure you stay completely gluten free, when many have no clue that gluten, which is most commonly wheat, barley, and rye, can truly make someone sick. Which makes the entire idea of going out to dinner a beyond scary experience.

Next up in this journey, my husband and I are going out to dinner with my parents for our wedding anniversary.  Will let you know how that hopefully goes soon….

My struggles with Gluten…..

I know it has been quite awhile since I have posted to this site. Honestly I can’t even remember the last time I wrote on here. It feels like it was only a year ago, but it was probably a lot longer than that. So to catch you up, I lost my job in IT back in June 2012, and was unemployed for over a year, until I finally was able to land a job with a local campground as a store clerk. The only downside is that the job is seasonal, and will only last until October. So in the meantime, I was still trying to find other work. Luckily I was able to pick up a second job working part-time as a stylist at Chicos. Needless to say that means I am currently working 2 jobs, with very little time to myself, but at least they bring in some money.

Well, during all this, my husband and I read the book “Grain Brain”, which if you haven’t read it yet yourself, simply stated it explains the effects that gluten has on our bodies. Needless to say the book explained a lot of the issues that I had been having within the past 6 years. I was dealing with a constant brain fog, making me feel like I could barely think straight, even after a full nights sleep. While that didn’t really bother me, what really started to scare me was the appearance of the migraines with auras. Those who have experienced them know exactly how frustrating they can be, especially since the aura part means you have some form of visual disturbance before the migraine actually hits. And you can even get the auras without even having the migraine afterwards.

I am one that can deal with a lot of pain, heck I have had to deal with horrible cramps for nearly my entire life, so dealing with headaches I have no issue with, but when things start to mess with my vision I really get frustrated. So after reading the “Grain Brain” book, I finally realized what could have been causing my issues, so my husband and I decided to cut back drastically on the amount of gluten in our diet. We went through our entire kitchen and threw out any processed foods, and even switched to many gluten-free products, but we did still eat small amounts of gluten on occasion.

Well, I wish I could say that solved all my problems, and while it did fix the brain fog, that one symptom got replaced by a wide range of gut related unhappiness. Tons of gas, and other digestive related issues. During this time I was dealing with a lot of sinus congestion, so I thought maybe my gut troubles were related to post nasal drip, ie all the lovely mucus dripping down my throat, so I became religious about using my Neti Pot to rinse out my sinuses. Needless to say that didn’t fix the issue, so I then turned to probiotics thinking that it may be due to an imbalance of the good vs bad bacteria in my gut. Well that didn’t work either. I dealt with these issues for MONTHS, and the migraines still reared their ugly head on occasion, although not as frequently as when I was on the full gluten diet.

I was beyond frustrated because I was so tired of waking up every day feeling like crap. It didn’t seem to matter what I ate, I always had gas, which made my life miserable and resulted in strange looks from my husband every time I belched. So after months of suffering, I started researching symptoms of gluten sensitivity. Well, needless to say I had 9 out of 10 of the symptoms on the list. The only one I didn’t have was being diagnosed with IBS, as I had never actually gone to the doctor for this. While it was a eureka moment that I finally had an explanation for what was wrong with me, it also frustrated me because I never had issues with gluten when I was younger. I could eat tons of pasta and bread without issue, and now I find myself pretty much allergic to the foods I used to love.

This also meant that I could no longer drink beer, Sam Adams and Guinness were two of my favorites, that overnight became something I could not touch, unless I wanted to feel violently ill afterwards.

So you may be wondering, am I Celiac? As far as I know I am not, but that is only because I have not gone to the doctor to be tested. And in order for the test to work, you need to still be consuming gluten for the proteins to be found in your blood. But if you know that gluten makes you ill, why would you want to poison yourself just to take a test? I just don’t see the logic in that.

At this time I have been off gluten for about a month now, and I expected that everything would magically improve. While I did feel better within the first few days, I now find myself feeling worse yet again.  Varying forms of lightheadedness, headaches, joint aches, and varying forms of gut distress. I am so frustrated right now. I had hopes that going gluten-free would solve all my issues, but it seems that I just replaced one set of symptoms with another. After more research, I found out that some individuals who have gone gluten-free actually suffer from something called gluten withdrawal. After countless pages that stated the same thing I wanted to scream and cry! Sure I had an explanation for all my issues, but there was no clear-cut time frame for this “withdrawal” as it varies from person to person. Some have had no issues, I WISH, while others have taken months to even years to finally rid their body of the gluten toxins.

So here I sit a month in to my new lifestyle, and all I am hoping for is an end to all this crap. I am just praying for the day where I wake up finally feeling like I used to oh so many years ago. Heck I have been feeling like crap for so long, I honestly think I have forgotten what it feels like to feel good. I’m going to do my best to keep this page updated with my struggles with going gluten-free, so others know that they are not alone in these struggles.

Wizard of Oz Dress Sells for $480,000!

 


I just had to share this as I must admit it shocked the heck out of me when I saw it on the news last night. Apparently the dress that Judy Garland, aka Dorothy, wore in the Wizard of Oz just sold at auction for 480k.  Oh, now if I only had that much money to spend on an item that would never be worn and kept only to “look at”.  Ah, the dream to even have that much money. Oh well, back to the daily grind…

Bad start to a Monday….

As if I didn’t already have a horrible nights sleep, our dog decided to chase after someone walking by on the street with their dog, barking the whole time. He’s not an overly large dog but for some reason he seems to think that everything within his eyesight is his territory and that he must protect it.  Luckily nothing bad happened, but now hubby and I both are peeved at the dog as he can be such a stubborn pain in the butt sometimes.
Anywhoo, currently working my way through my morning cup of coffee, and then to try and be somewhat productive today, although it is technically a holiday. I still have tons of Items to add to my eBay shop and I still have some experimenting to do with new toys for my handmade pet toy shop. Oh, and of course somewhere in the middle of all that I still need to find time to make more jewelry and other items for my jewelry/home decor Etsy shop. Its still somewhat amazing how I find myself busier now than I ever was when I had a FT job. Now if I could only get things to sell in a steady stream I’d be all set. I guess like Rome, my businesses won’t be built in a day. I just hope I’m on the right path to achieving success.

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