Saturday, June 26, 2010

I'm going away on a train

Not literally. It's something I say.

There's a wonderful 1950 movie called So Young, So Bad, about girl juvenile delinquents. A very very young Rita Moreno (she's billed as Rosita Moreno) plays a shy, sensitive girl who got left holding the bag for some crime (a robbery? Can't remember) committed by her creepo boyfriend. She's too emotionally delicate, cannot endure the rough life in the reformatory, and constantly says that the creepo boyfriend is surely going to come and break her out. I mean, he's so-o-o grateful that he got away and so-o-o sorry she got caught, and he lo-o-oves her with A Love That's True, so he'd never leave her in this awful place!

As the movie nears its end, young Rosita is driven over the edge of insanity. Clearly Creepo isn't coming but she dissociates and babbles: "I'm going away! I'm going away on a train! He's coming for me and we're going away! We're going away on a train!"

I've used it as an expression of Mental Breakdown, ever since.

A month ago ebay quintupled its fees to list a book for sale in stores. From 3 cents to 20 cents each. Making it nearly impossible to leave listings on for months until their buyer appears.

Only we got a break. We paid less. We got this break for being a Top-Rated Seller with outstandingly good ratings from buyers.

Today, we lost that rating, based on getting a 3rd poor mark for "Communication".

These marks are simple "click-the stars to rate." Anonymously. There is no way for us to know what we did or to whom we did it.

A week ago, a buyer wrote us a very frustrated email saying: "This is my THIRD attempt to get you to answer my question! I will leave appropriate ratings for this!"

Only we had never received the two previous emails. Everybody says that, but the messages, swear-on-the-Bible, never came. I checked every place a note or message could be left. I told her that, and she was nicely mollified, said "I understand, these things happen." I'm pretty sure the bad communication rating didn't come from her.

But that means that a lost message might have happened to someone else. Someone who did not try again. Who just decided we didn't give a rat's...

Or maybe not. Maybe it was something else. We aren't allowed to know, and can't dispute the particulars. It will -- or, it would -- cost us literally hundreds of dollars in higher fees and there is no appeal. Yes, I will contact them to dispute it, but if we get a break, it will be strictly because they took our word. That's because the system creates no details or evidence whatsoever.

I, The Buyer, can do this to a seller because they said something rude, or because they said, "I'm really sorry but we can't send you a diamond watch with your book for a dollar" or because they gave me a kind caring answer and perfect satisfaction, but closed the email with "Have a nice day!" and the phrase annoyed me. Or for no reason at all, OR by clicking the wrong star by freakin mistake.

Anonymous ratings are clicked by the buyer with the following instructions: "These are anonymous so don't be afraid to rate honestly!"

There's no reason to give anyone, ever, complete unfettered freedom to give unfair, unwarranted or erroneous ratings that will never be questioned. Sellers can only leave them positive feedback now.

There's also no reason why ebay can't require the buyer to give reason or details to them, to the ebay Powers ... and then simply keep the identifying info from us, so we can at least ask ebay to look at it again.

But there's no information, no appeal, and we can be accused without any method of defense. And it can cost us reams of money.

It will not cost us all that extra money, because we're dumping listings. Each would cost us if we let it renew. Those 20 centses would be a mountain of dimes in no time.

Instead, we'll have to constantly add and delete active listings. It will become time intensive. Meanwhile, we live here to act as my parents' assisted living, and recent health issues -- fortunately things that allow at least partial recovery -- are causing them to need a lot of our help these days. We were just on the brink of configuring our work, writing, and family activities into some kind of manageable routine, but that, because of losing our seller status, has now gone up in smoke.

The display on my camera is burning out.

Out-of-town guests are coming.

Just for today, I will not drink.

I'm online so much anyway that it won't really change my online presence, except that I will not be fine-tuning blog posts. Blogging is a great escape, swell way to vent, and general line to the world, so I really can't see giving it up. I may post a little less but it actually may not be noticeable. What's more likely to be noticeable is that I'll post off the top of my head. I'll sound more scattered, less thoughtful, and somewhat weirder. Thought I'd issue my disclaimer now.

Though I may be so strange already that that won't be perceptible either.


Catherine said...

May I go with you?

Ronnie said...

You have my permission to be as weird as you need to be.

Dann said...

Hey! I like weird!

Mostly because I enjoy the company!


ronnie said...

Hang in there, Ruth - we're rooting for you!

Christy said...

So sorry, Ruth. I think the eBay rating thing is awful. When people don't have to back their word up with facts they can (and do) say anything. Heaven forbid people work together, understand things happen, and cut each other some slack. Or, at the very least, give the seller a chance to make things right.

Mike said...

I've ebayed a few things over the years -- especially over the eight months I was unemployed -- and the site can be buggy and difficult. I would think they would have to iron out the bugs before they start holding you accountable, but of course "thought" has little to do with it.

I don't think they planned to become big and then stop caring. I think it just happens. What a shame. Do all revolutions have to end this way???

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Yall are cool. We can all go together.

A lot has been said already about the way MBAs getting their hands on something wrecks it. This is a prime example. I think the problem is that ebay was a business where everybody won - the site, the sellers, the buyers. But there is honestly a business mindset that says to make (say) 500 million dollars is failure, if you could make 500,000,001.

Not that making the extra buck is innately bad. But the idea that it's genuinely bad, wrong, not to is turning commerce into hell. And then the mindset becomes "If someone is not losing, then someone is not winning" and that leads to "Who can you take more from?"

I'm pretty sure that someone will have thoughts about that statement...


southernyankee said...

Well, shi, um shoot, at least your cuss level is low!