Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to find out who left you bad stars on eBay - with pictures!

This following post will bore my average reader to death. Seriously. You will die of boredom if you read this post. So proceed at your own risk.

I warned you!

Since eBay implemented their star rating policy, there has been all sorts of hub bub about the stars. Now, more than ever, our stars are incredibly important to us because they determine our placement within eBay's search function.  And the higher up on that page we place, the more money we make. So that's a big giant deal. GINORMOUS.

Stars are supposed to be anonymous. Sellers are not supposed to know who leaves what stars for them so that buyers can feel comfortable leaving completely honest stars without fearing any retaliation from the seller.

Now, I'm all for honesty. I think it's important that buyers leave honest feedback and honest stars because that's what is going to single me, a hard working and honest seller, from those sellers that have poor customer service and quality. However, now that eBay has implemented the Top Rated Seller program, my stars are everything to me.

And besides, what retaliation do we really have? We can add the buyer to our Blocked Bidder List and we can tell our friends. That's about it.

Over the past three months I have sold 416 items. If I receive more than two 1 or 2 star ratings in any category, I will lose my Top Rated Seller status. All it takes is three customers to decide that I didn't describe something as accurately as they'd like or that I didn't send them enough glowy emails (or maybe that I sent them too many!) and I lose that pretty little badge. If you're good in math, you'll note that three customers out of 416 is less than one percent. I can make 99% of my customers ecstatic, but three of them have the power to cause me to be shoved further down in the eBay search results and lose a 20% discount on my eBay fees. That's anywhere from one to two hundred dollars a month in lost discount and an immeasurable amount of money in lost sales.

So when someone leaves me bad stars, I want to know it. I want to know who that buyer is so I can make sure they don't buy from me again. I want to review the transaction and see if there was a legitimate reason for the bad rating so I can make sure I don't do whatever that is again. For me, a 1 or 2 star rating is worse than a big red negative.

So how do I find out who left me a bad star rating if eBay keeps those stars anonymous? Thanks to the awesome masterminds of some of my fellow selling friends, I found out how to do it. And I'm going to share it here with you.

First of all you need to go to your Seller Dashboard. You can find the link to your dashboard in a couple of places. One is at the top right of your feedback page and another is on the left side of the "Account" tab on the My eBay screen. I like to go from my feedback page.

Once you click there, you'll see your dashboard and you'll see a box toward the top of the page on the right that looks like this:

See that little link there that says "See your reports"? Click it.

When you get to your report page, you'll see a big blue button that says "Create report"... and here's where things get tricky. Click the blue button. 

Now you're going to get to this page:

If you forget to change the Report Type to "Item Numbers" this whole thing will confuse you. Don't feel bad, I've been there.

You can name the report anything you want that will make you remember to not delete it. I named mine "Test" but you can name it "Don't Delete Me" or "Important" or whatever. 

There's a field there that asks you to input item numbers. What you need to do is find 10 items that you've received feedback on and you need to input them into this field and run the report. 

But that's not all! 

Every one of those buyers must have left you all 5 stars in all 4 categories for the report to be accurate. So it may take a while for you to get your "Test" report. 

So input 10 item number that you've received feedback on and click "Run Report". You'll wind up back on the page where you clicked to create the report originally and it'll take a minute or two for the report to be generated. So just refresh the page until the link to your report is clickable. 

Once you click on your report, you'll find it will probably look like this one:

And you're like, "What the heck?? What do you mean there are no ratings?"  Some of those people definitely left you ratings, but not all 10 of them did. So you have to go back and pick different numbers until you finally get 10 that have left you all 5 stars in all categories. 

You also might get a report that looks something like this:

This one's no good, either. Here we did get star ratings from all 10 buyers, but one of them left us 4s instead of 5s. You can click on that little "Show" link to see that there were 4s left, if you'd like and you'll see it looks something like this:

But eventually, with perseverance and determination, you will finally get your test report with 10 buyers who left you all 5s. 

And the angels will sing when you click on a report and you finally see this: 

Okay, so you have your test report. Don't delete it! Now what to do? 

Now, you can find out exactly what stars were left for you on any transaction. You'll go to the page where you originally created your report and select your test report. But instead of running the same report again, you're going to click "Run Similar" to run the report that will give you the results of whatever transaction you're concerned about. 

Now, you'll just add the item number to the item numbers that are already in the report (making 11 item numbers total) and run the new report. I like to title the new reports with the item number of the transaction I'm testing, but you can title the new report with whatever title you'd like.

This buyer left me what anyone would think was glowing feedback. See?

But when I ran the report on that item I discovered this:

A dreaded 2 in the Item As Described category! I received no contact from this buyer at all and if it weren't for these reports, I would have no idea they were less than thrilled with the item. How on earth can I make anything better if I have no idea there's anything wrong? 

Now, as you'll notice in many of these screen shots, eBay makes it very clear that "It is against eBay policy to question buyers about the detailed seller ratings they left."

So I'm not allowed to contact this buyer to ask her what the problem was, but I might send out an email asking if everything was to their liking with no mention of the stars at all just to find out. And I'll definitely add this buyer to my Blocked Bidder List, because this is the scariest kind of buyer out there.

So there you have it! eBay secrets revealed!

Friday, June 17, 2011

I normally don't let myself get to the point of blubbering idiot... I swear...

I mentioned before that The Man and I went to a wedding last weekend. It was the wedding of The Man's cousin to his beautiful long time girlfriend who is awesome.  She's one of those rare people who can be gorgeous and nice at the same time.  Like, she realizes the world doesn't owe her an ass kissing because she's stunning.

The Man and I arrived to the 5 o'clock event at exactly 5 o'clock. Which was exactly the moment that The Bride was making her way down the aisle. Oops. As is the way with The Man's family, though, it was just no big deal.

After the ceremony (which made me cry, dammit), we made our way to the reception area and a lovely waiter held a tray of champagne and water. No one took the water.

That was what I like to refer to as "the beginning of the end" for me.  We've all been to weddings where there was alcohol. Sometimes the alcohol is free flowing and sometimes it's guarded.  This wedding was of the former kind. Booze was available and it was everywhere.

Two champagnes before the cocktail hour, two rum and cokes during the cocktail hour, a few chardonnays with dinner and then it all goes blurry from there.  I remember seeing a guy at the bar that I recognized and it not occurring to me to place where I knew him from. I was just like "Oh, hey, that guy is here!" I still don't know where I knew him from.

Shortly after I lost my purse (The Man's mom was holding it for me), I found myself loudly arguing with The Man's brother about whether the 1st noble truth was bull crap or not (not).  I know I dragged The Man out on to the dance floor where I'm sure anyone sober enough to notice realized that I was in a foggy dancing haze... luckily I think pretty much everyone else had imbibed their share of the drink as well.

At some point I even trapped The Man's brother and forced him to listen to me cry about personal friendships gone wrong.  It was not my most shining moment.

Luckily, I don't think I embarrassed myself too much since I'm pretty sure The Man would have ushered me out if I had gotten too sloppy. Have I told you lately how much I love him?

After the wedding, The Man, who was not sloshed, drove us to Denny's in an attempt to sober me up a bit before we picked up the kids from my mom and dad's house. I vowed I would never drink again as I stuffed a Moons Over My Hammy into my mouth and downed three cups of the strongest coffee Denny's could provide. There is nothing like greasy food and 3 hour old coffee when you're drunk. Nothing. 

The wedding was Sunday which meant I woke up Monday with a hangover from hell and no one to blame but myself. Mondays always kind of suck, but a Monday that follows a drunken Sunday night is the worst. The kids were bright and cheery, there was work to be done and karate practice to attend and grocery stores to conquer. And I made it through. Somehow.

Never again, alcohol. You won't get me again. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Middle School sucked in the 80s...

In 1989 I turned 12 years old. I started out the year in 6th grade and spent the majority of the year learning what "cool" was.

Cool in 1989 was all about acid washed jeans, crispy gravity defying hair, Aussie 3 minute miracle (presumably to revitalize the crispy hair), and giant camcorders that recorded it all on full sized VHS tapes. I spent most of the year jamming out to Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation and Paula Abdul's Straight Up while crushing on a boy who hadn't discovered girls yet.

The Coreys were on their way out with Dream A Little Dream and Keanu Reeves was making his debut in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. We were on the verge of a new decade and things were changing.

Ah, nostalgia.

I remember, distinctly thinking that this was cool:

(Evidently you can watch the whole cheesy movie, Teen Witch, on YouTube, starting with this video. I can't tell you how excited I am about this.)

It was mostly a terrible year for me, the year that encompassed the end of 6th grade and the beginning of 7th. I rode the bus to my middle school and endured relentless teasing from older, more popular kids. I was chubby and had an unfortunate case of acne and my parents had not yet succumbed to the begging and pleading from me to buy my clothes at Benetton and The Gap.

I wanted a boyfriend and I envied my friends who were fortunate and cute enough to have already experienced the joy that was parent chauffeured dates to the movies and phone conversations until 10 pm with a cute boy.  I wrote angsty poetry and doodled smiley faces and hearts in my notebooks. I learned how to write notes to my BFF in code and fold them in the shape of an arrow.

It's this stage of life that my oldest child will be entering in the next few months.

I think things might be better for him.  I think maybe things are better for kids in general these days.  I hope so anyhow.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Still not a morning person

A few people have asked me how I'm doing with the Organization Project - specifically the Becoming a Morning Person aspect of it.

And the truth is that I suck at it.

I go back and forth about whether it's even a good idea. But that's probably mostly just me trying to convince myself that it's no big deal that it seems natural to me that I stay up until three or four in the morning and sleep till noon. And maybe if I didn't have kids to take care of it wouldn't be that big of a deal.

Honestly, it would be best if I could somehow stay up till three or four in the morning and still wake up by eight. I haven't figured out how to make that work yet, though.

The thing is that I'm most productive after ten at night.  The kids are in bed, the house gets quiet, and I really get my groove going. I get work done, I get things cleaned, I really get so much accomplished. So if I'm going to bed just when I start to feel most productive, I'm really not ever going to get anything done.

I did give it a good shot, and I haven't given up on it yet. But I've found that even when I force myself to get to sleep at a decent hour, where decent means before midnight, and I wake up at an early morning hour, where early means before eight, I can't seem to motivate myself to actually do anything productive the whole day.  And just when I start to feel motivated, it's time for bed again.

I have to assume that if I keep it up, eventually I'll become functional during the day. But in the meantime, I'm just walking through life in a hazy fog and getting nothing done.

So I haven't done well, because frankly I need to get things done. I'm hoping that there will be some sort of lull in my summer at some point where I can attempt to "reset" myself without worrying so much about whether I'm getting a lot done.  Sounds like a vacation might be in order. :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Spaz and her brood head to the mall

On Sunday The Man and I are attending a wedding. Since jeans and flip flops aren't proper wedding attire, I was forced to head out into the retail world and buy something more appropriate to wear.

Now, I've known about this wedding for months and could have gone shopping before school let out so I would have had the luxury of doing it without three kids in tow. But then what would I blog about?

So I packed up my three relatively clean kids and we pointed the minivan in the direction of the mall.

"What are we doing here?"
"I'm hungry."
"This is BORING."
"MOMMY! He HIT me!"
"She's annoying."
"How long are we going to be here?"
"I'm thirsty."
"Can we go to GameStop?"
"I hate GameStop!"

Should I continue?  Luckily, the dressing rooms at Macy's weren't overly crowded and I parked my three angels into a dressing room, closed the door, and went into the next one to try on everything I had picked out.   My karma must have been strong because I found something that not only fit, but looked decent.  Score!

So the kids were OMG SO HUNGRY I THINK WE MIGHT DIE RIGHT HERE IN MACY'S so we decided to head over to the food court.

On our way to the food court we were accosted by men selling things from kiosks.  Have you ever been to a fair where the guys running the games yell things out at you to get you to play their game?  That's what walking in the mall has been reduced to.  As we passed once kiosk that was selling some useless gadget or solution or something else, the high pressure sales guy that stood next to it shouted out "Ma'am?"

I love being called ma'am. It reminds me that my youth took one look at my troublesome brood and fled the building.

For some reason I briefly paused and said "Excuse me?" because I guess I thought he had a legitimate question to ask me.

"May I ask you a question?"

And then I realized I was about to be sucked into a sales pitch. So I said "Um, no, I'm not interested. C'mon kids!"

And I thought to myself... what kind of moron sees a frazzled woman with three children and tries to stop her for a sales pitch? When I'm walking through the mall with kids, the goal is to arrive at whatever destination we have set forth with all three children still in tact. Any distraction or detour has the potential to seriously derail this goal. Children are easily distracted by shiny things, fuzzy things, things that light up or fly or move. It is a full time job to keep an eye on them and Mr. Youneedmypieceofjunklikeyouneedaholeinyourhead thinks it would be a good idea to stop me and try to sell me his magic beans? Does he really think I have the time or energy to listen to his tried and tested speech that was handed down from upper corporate management? This isn't a leisurely shopping trip, buddy.

And so we moved on.

At the food court the children all wanted to eat different things so we had a fun time collecting whatever their little hearts desired and finding a table to sit at.  After lunch we decided to head over to the Apple store to get an iTunes gift card for one of Munchkin's friends.  Unfortunately to get to the Apple store we had to pass by Build-A-Bear.

What is it about Build-A-Bear that strikes a desire larger than any other in my daughter's heart? The mere mention of Build-A-Bear causes her to go into a full on grief stricken tangent describing how she has only ever been to Build-A-Bear once and she was 5 and it was so long ago and every one of her friends has lots of Build-A-Bears and why are we so mean to her??!

Well, Munchkin, it's because I think spending over $50 for a stuffed animal that you had to make yourself is a little ridiculous. I don't care if you held its little beating heart in your hand and made a wish on it.  Whoever came up with Build-A-Bear is a freaking genius.

About halfway to the Apple store, Bug said "Mommy? Where's your bag?"

And I looked down and realized I was not holding the outfit I had purchased for the wedding. Bug didn't have it, Munchkin didn't have it, and Goober didn't have it.

But it FIT!!!! Tragedy has stricken!!

So we turned back and I prayed it was still sitting at the table we ate our lunch at.  Bug ran ahead as he is smaller and less encumbered and can move quickly through mall crowds.

My karma held out and Bug returned with the bag in hand. Crisis averted. On our way back to the Apple store we passed Build-A-Bear again. Joy.

The Apple store was filled with teenagers wearing low rise jeans that appeared to be painted on, chunky belts, and they all had haircuts that were straight out of an anime cartoon. I don't go into the Apple store often, but this is the first time I realized there is no cash register area. There's no place to walk up to someone and say "Hey, I'd like to get a gift card. Can you help me?"

There's the "Genius Bar" that Bug warned me was not where I was supposed to go and if I did I would surely embarrass him by being such an out of place loser that I didn't know what to do at the Apple Store.  Other than that, I guess you're just supposed to find an iPad to play with and wait for a "Genius" (I challenge them to an IQ test...) to come by and assist you.

So we left.

And we walked by Build-A-Bear again.

On our way out of the mall I stopped by the Piercing Pagoda to ask if they could clean my necklace. Piercing Pagoda is owned by Zales and since we bought the necklace at Zales, they're supposed to polish it up for me whenever I demand it.  While standing outside their kiosk Munchkin decided that she had finally worked up the courage to get her ears pierced.

It's been a couple of years in the making, actually. She's wanted to get them done and then she changes her mind. Pain freaks her out.  But yesterday she felt ready. She picked out some cute little sterling silver stars and I signed the waiver that said I wouldn't sue them if they chopped her ear off.

And then she sat in the chair.

She was nervous... she was shaky... she wanted them to just get it over with, already...

And then they did.

She just said "Ouch" and her eyes got a little watery. And then she was happy.

And though a part of me thought how sad it was that I had just allowed someone to poke holes in my perfectly formed child and another part of me lamented that she is indeed growing up... I was mostly so proud of her.

And then Bug made fun of her for tearing up and she decked him.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Slapstick Violence and 5 Asses... sounds like my kind of movie.

What better way to start off the summer than by sending your kids to see a movie where the main characters get into all sorts of hyjinks to make sure their own summer is fun and adventure filled?

I can't think of any better way, can you?

So when I was offered seats to see a screener of Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer last night I jumped all over it like a little kid in a clown shaped bounce house.

Except then I realized I couldn't go. Darn prior engagements!

So I asked Miss Michelle, one of my favorite girl scout moms, to take Munchkin and three other little darlings to see the movie. It's a good thing that Miss Michelle's own daughter loves the Judy Moody books because I think that's what really sealed the deal.

So yesterday evening I shoved some popcorn money into Munchkin's pocket, kissed her goodbye, and sent her on her way.

A little after 9 I went to retrieve her and took reviews from all the girls.

"It was awesome!"


"It was awesomely cool!!"

Then they told me their favorite parts of the movie which are all clear spoilers so I'll just let you know that I hear someone gets sawed in half at some point.

And what's not to love about that?

Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer is rated PG for some slapstick violence, 3 hells, 5 asses, 6 craps, and 8 oh my gods. So keep that in mind if your kids have not branched beyond The Wiggles or The Wonderpets.*

Overall, even Miss Michelle said the movie was cute and it put four big giant smiles on four little girl faces. Therefore it gets the Domestic Spaz seal of approval.

* I freaking big puffy pink heart The Wonderpets, by the way, so this is in no way a sarcastic insult to them. What's Gonna Work? TEAMWORK! Ming Ming is the cutest thing put out by Nick Jr since they replaced Steve with Joe on Blue's Clues.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Why is it that the next eleven weeks will inevitably feel so much longer than any other eleven weeks of the year?

I've always liked to be alone. My sisters are 10 and 11 years older than I am and I grew up in a neighborhood that didn't really have many other kids in it to play with, so growing up I got pretty used to being by myself.

Other people I've spoken to that were only children or were otherwise forced to learn to play by themselves have lamented it and wished they had siblings to play with growing up.  But me? I never once wished I had grown up with a sibling sharing a room with me or fighting over what channel to watch or hogging the bathroom.

I've always loved my space.

Alone time is practically non-existent in my life right now. Four other people live in this house and I am the person who makes sure they eat and bathe. (The Man usually bathes on his own, actually... but you know what I mean.)

So that's why I'm a little melancholy as I type this.  Because yesterday was officially the first day of summer.

The absolute end of my little bit of alone time every day. The beginning of long days listening to my children complain that they are bored and then proceed to beat the crap out of each other. The end of structured days and the beginning of chaos.

Not that there aren't benefits, because there are. The summer always holds a promise of flexibility. The ability to jump in the car on any given day and go somewhere special. Trips to the beach, the library, afternoon movies, and maybe even a visit to see Bubby & Granddaddy in North Carolina.

In the summer we can stay up late on a Tuesday and eat popcorn for dinner while watching a silly movie. We can roll out of bed whenever we please and spend all day coloring pictures and building lego creations.

Not that I've ever spent all day coloring pictures or that I've ever built a lego creation.

But I could.

And maybe I will one day this summer. Maybe that would be just as good as alone time.

But probably not.