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Ebay Annoyances – they’ve banned cash…

…or have they?

Yet again I come to list an item and I’m thwarted by the options I choose.

I recently wrote about ebay’s new ‘policy number‘ options when listing an item, and I thought that was the end of that particular rant, but no.

I was in the process of listing a bulky item that the buyer would need to collect, for that reason I wanted to check I had ‘Pay by Cash’ as an option. I hadn’t, so I edited my ‘payment policy’ and selected the relevant option. When I proceeded to list my item ebay said no.

ebay_payment_policy

“Please provide the correct information… this payment policy contains the payment method ["receive payment on collection"] so we can’t use it with your listing.”

I was somewhat baffled. 1) I had specified in the delivery options that the buyer was to collect, therefore it seemed to fair to allow for payment on collection. 2) The option to receive payment on collection was there for me to select, so why not allow it?

ebay_cash_on_collection

In the end I resorted to choosing the payment option “Other/See item description” instead, as I had mentioned in my listing that cash on collection was fine. Still annoying though.

 
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Posted by on 28 March, 2014 in Ebay

 

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Ebay Annoyances – policy numbers and ‘outside selling’

I stumbled across a few new annoyances when I tried to list an item on ebay today.

It was all going well until I came to specify postage for the item.

Ebay had kindly looked at all of my previous sales and produced a list of ‘Postage policies’ with a non-helpful number referring to each different set of options I had chosen. This annoyed me because I’m quite happy choosing my postage options on a item-by-item basis.

ebay_postage_policy

I either had to pick each policy in turn and click ‘show details’, and decipher those details to determine if those settings were what I wanted for that item, pick Postage policy at random and edit it to suit the item, or Create [a] postage policy. I chose the latter, but the additional steps were an annoyance.

Further down the page (I choose the Advancing listing format by the way), the Returns section has also been given Policies, but because I stick to the same Returns settings (no returns on auctions, and the legal minimum for Buy It Now items) there was thankfully only one Returns policy number to choose.

ebay_returns_policy

Then the final headache (on this occasion), I proceeded to list the item and I was told:

You can’t submit your listing due to the following problems
It appears that your listing may violate eBay’s policies that regulate how an item can be promoted.

Sellers may not offer item for sale outside of the eBay auction format. Such practice circumvents the eBay fee structure…

It went on to list some examples.

ebay_listing_violation

I’m well aware that selling outside of eBay is a big no-no. If eBay’s system had read what I had written more carefully and not assumed that I was a naughty seller, then it would have realised that I was just trying to be helpful to potential buyers. The offending part was this:

There is no ‘Buy.It.Now’ price, this is an Auction only listing, so please don’t ask unless you want to make.me.an.offer.

If you have any questions then please get.in.touch and I will do my best to help.

Ebay didn’t like either of those sentences. The first one is because I get annoyed when people send me a message from an Auction-style listing simply asking me if there is a ‘Buy It Now’ price (when there clearly isn’t). It was not my intention to ‘circumvent eBay’s fee structure’ – I would list the item with a Buy It Now price if someone makes me a sensible offer.

Perhaps if eBay didn’t offer free listings (like it does with me when I list items as an Auction) then they wouldn’t be so fussy about people selling outside of eBay. Sadly they want every transaction to go through their hands (both their hands: eBay and PayPal) which is good from their business stand point, but another nail in the coffin of the individual ebay seller, human being, that is trying to offer a personal and friendly service. Sure some sellers recognise they can avoid paying fees by selling outside of eBay’s system (this is recognised and expected in the vehicle sale’s section) but personally I don’t encourage buyer’s to do this – if someone lives local to me and wants to collect the item and pay cash then I’m not going to say no (they have to realise they step outside of eBay and PayPal’s protection when they do this), but eBay also keep tabs on the number of times sellers end an item listing early (a common sign they are selling items outside of eBay) and perhaps should then have a fee structure that recognises this.

The second sentence is just me being polite – there are plenty of sellers that aren’t helpful, maybe because they don’t have the time for 101 little questions. If a seller sounds more helpful in their listing then that gives me more encouragement to buy from them – I want to give my buyers that same encouragement.

I got around the final headache by substituting some i’s for !’s *grins*. An alternative option I did consider was to create a customised graphic containing the text and including that at the end of my listing instead.

P.S. I went to a carboot at the weekend and bought a kettle for £1 (yes it works)… suck it eBay!

 
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Posted by on 19 March, 2014 in Ebay

 

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Taking Offense

offence

I usually think that there is a choice involved when it comes to being offended about something. Probably because I don’t like the idea of someone being able to intentionally rattle me. But when I am offended by something I realise then that being offended is the initial reaction and the choice I have only lies in what I do with that reaction. You see, the reaction is an automatic response, and generally, once we are of a certain age, or past a certain stage in our life, reactions are hard to change.

For me, the feeling of offense stays within, and as I mull over my response that feeling subsides. My response rarely seems to have the opportunity to be vocal, I’m not a vocal person, and instead my response finds its outlet through written words. These words may never find their way to the offender – with written words generally being typed instead of forming from pen on paper, there is no paper to scrunch up, just a digital file to close, “Do you want to save changes to Untitled?”

My initial reason for writing this post was due to being offended by “a poem” on deviantART (“The world’s largest online art community”). I’m not a fan of the written word on that platform, I feel like the website is best suited to visual art in the form of pictures (I also don’t like people using the site as a photo/picture-sharing site, when the pictures aren’t really art… but then who am I to define “art” to all? But I digress!

The poem caught my attention because it had been DD’d – which means it was awarded the status of Daily Deviation – and therefore there was a little preview of it at the bottom of each DeviantART page (along with the other DD’s of the day). Within that preview was the clear title (which was strong in itself) and a couple of clear words that I deem to be offensive. My initial reaction was that “this piece of work should have been tagged as containing mature content”, and I was confused why it had been awarded a DD without such a tag. I thought it was a shame such words were so prominent. I did read the poem and it just sounded like an angry teenager having a rant – some people supported the tone. Personally I don’t think airing such rants is a positive act and should be avoided by an act of self-restraint. I have read and written about before of the power of positive thinking and the power of positive words [link].

Anyway, my second decision was to report the Deviation, not to have it removed (again, who am I to request such an act), but to let moderators know that myself (and surely other people) think the piece should be tagged as containing mature content so that people have a choice to see it or not. Adding the mature content tag to work on DeviantART ensures that by default, work and their “previews” have their content hidden so that younger people, and people that don’t want to see certain work of a ‘mature nature’ don’t have it on their screens. By creating an account on the site and confirming your age you can easily change your viewing preferences and if you so wish, have naughty words and boobies on your screen if that’s your thing! Personally I like to have to choose to view such content on case-by-case basis – just in case I’m at work or have my mother looking over my shoulder!

deviantart_maturity_setting

My offense on this occasion took another step because when I clicked to report the item, the process informed me that moderators had already looked at the piece and decided such a request was “Invalid”, and the detailed, general explanation basically said that because such language isn’t regulated anywhere else, deviantART didn’t feel the need to either, and the case was effectively closed, with no further discussion:

Mature content warnings for profanity, vulgarity, and otherwise coarse or offensive language is always considered to be optional, as strong language is not otherwise regulated anywhere else within the deviantART community. Staff will not forcibly assign a mature content tag to a deviation due to strong language, so this report has been closed with no action.

I think strong language should be tagged online being mature in content (and deviantART moderators should choose to take a stand on this and add the tag if Deviants have decided not to), just like strong language would affect the viewing rating of a film or a game. If I find what I consider to be mature content online that is easily accessible I often think how I would feel if younger members of my family were to stumble across such things. Pictures with mature content seem to be more actively dealt with by moderators of the site and while written words aren’t usually so ‘in your face’ as a picture is, on this occasion the words were quite prominent on the site.

Of course I could have raised my concern with the ‘Deviant’/author of the poem, but from the language used and the nature of their other work, it was clear to me that they didn’t care (they said as much in their description). I sensed that particular user was reveling in the attention they get (there are sadly a lot of teenage attention-seekers on DeviantART). I would have only encouraged more of the same, I am sure. So I have aired my words here instead :D

Sorry if this post was somewhat vague without a link to the poem in question, but it seems somewhat counterproductive to share with you that which I deemed to be offensive!

 
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Posted by on 11 March, 2014 in Internet, Psychology

 

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Second Life Destinations… Hacked?

sl_destinations_hacked

I just logged in to Second Life and fired up the Destination Guide, to see the above in the “What’s Hot Now” section.

I guess someone found a loophole in the system :D

It annoys me when I get spammed Landmarks to random places that someone is trying to promote, but this was quite funny… I do hope they fix it soon.

 
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Posted by on 9 March, 2014 in Second_Life

 

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Ebay Spam

ebay_spamAn example snippet of junk mail I received after I purchased and item from a company via ebay.

I think I’m on a role with these Ebay Annoyances! This one is when you buy something from a company via ebay, and that company then takes it upon themselves to add your e-mail address to their mailing list, and start sending you marketing e-mails (aka junk mail, aka spam).

The problem is, while companies are not supposed to add random people to their e-mailing lists without their permission, it’s actually ‘ok’ for them to add you if you’ve purchased something from them. To be fair, it’s usually easy enough to unsubscribe (there should be an unsubscribe link at the end of each email*).

*only click on a link, or reply to an email to unsubscribe if you are certain you are a legitimate company’s mailing list. If they’re not legitimate then you risk confirming your email address is active and thus receiving more junk in the future.

Here are details from ico.org.uk (The UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.):

Electronic mail marketing

The most important thing to remember is that you can only carry out unsolicited electronic marketing if the person you’re targeting has given you their permission.

However, there is an exception to this rule. Known as the ‘soft opt-in’ it applies if the following conditions are met;

    where you’ve obtained a person’s details in the course of a sale or negotiations for a sale of a product or service;
    where the messages are only marketing similar products or services; and
    where the person is given a simple opportunity to refuse marketing when their details are collected, and if they don’t opt out at this point, are given a simple way to do so in future messages.

When you send an electronic marketing message, you must tell the recipient who you are and provide a valid contact address.

I can appreciate that there is no “Wouldn’t you like to join our mailing list?” option when buying from companies via ebay, like there might be when buying directly through the company’s website, and even if there was, I suspect most people opt out if they saw it. But sometimes, because I made my purchase via ebay, I’m not totally aware of which company I bought from, so it’s not always apparent why I suddenly start receiving junk from them.

And it always is junk (just like Google adverts, I don’t appreciate being shown thing that I “might like”. While I’m aware of the subtle effects of marketing campaigns on the subconscious – who doesn’t think of a particular brand of something when I say “toothpaste” or “price comparison website” or “cracked windscreen” – I generally buy what I need to buy, rather than browse through randomly mailed marketing material to see what looks nice. Sadly, marketing campaigns do generally work (or else why would companies bother with them?)

I think it’s bad enough that ebay fill every blank part of their own website with random advertising, without allowing their sellers to send more junk our way. Or do they allow it?

There are two points in their Seller Policy, under the heading “Email that breaches eBay policies”:

Spam (Unsolicited Commercial Email) – eBay’s spam policy applies only to unsolicited commercial messages sent by eBay members.

Offers to Buy or Sell Outside eBay – eBay prohibits email offers to buy or sell listed items outside the eBay online marketplace.

The first clause goes on to explain that it’s not ok to send spam through ebay’s messaging system (which isn’t the problem here), but the second point explains that ebay sellers are not allowed to encourage buyers to make purchases outside of ebay. In the case of my illustration above, links from the advertised products did land me in their ebay store, rather than encouraging me to buy direct.

I do question why sellers even need to know a buyer’s e-mail address. This can be passed on in a number of ways*, but I suspect in this case it’s because payment is made via PayPal – while this system keeps your credit card details safe, it passes on your e-mail address with each transaction. Is this necessary for e-bay purchases when ebay themselves prefer every communication to go through their messaging system (which helps them to deal with disputes)?

*Another way you can reveal your e-mail address to a seller is by replying to a message from them through your e-mail account, instead of using the Reply button in the ebay message.

 
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Posted by on 21 February, 2014 in Ebay, Internet

 

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S.H.I.E.L.D. and its links with Nazi Germany

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series has been airing on TV in the UK recently. One can’t help notice the S.H.I.E.L.D. emblem splashed everywhere throughout each episode, like a teenager endorsing his favourite brand of sport’s attire. I find it all quite tacky, that and the seriousness vs. the gimmickiness/humour of the show is inconsistent. It has hints of Warehouse 13 (which I think went more down the humour route, but kept it consistent) and even Men in Black.

warehouse13_vs_shieldGeekesses: Warehouse 13 vs. Marvel’s A.O.S.

marvel_warehouse_carsCars: Artie’s vs. “Lola” (which is a hover-car)… also think of the car in Men in Black

Ok, enough of the show/film comparisons, as per the title I wanted to make comparisons with Nazi Germany. The S.H.I.E.L.D. motif/emblem/logo/bird thingy, as with Marvel’s Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson, clearly has routes in Germany’s coat of arms:

black_widow_shieldBlack Widow and (another) S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (I bagsy the one on the left)

Sometimes the motif uses the more traditional design (left), other times a more angular design (right)

shield_german_armsS.H.I.E.L.D. emblem vs. German Coat of Arms

Now you’ll have to excuse me for referring to Nazi Germany, when the Coat of Arms is used in modern day Germany’s (I mean no offense to anyone), but the TV series makes other references to Nazi Germany (rather than modern day Germany), although from what I can tell, rarely, if ever does it specifically acknowledge its links. The plot lines of the first two episodes for example revolved around technologies dating back to the 1940s and while I’m not aware that Hitler made any visits to Peru and its pyramids (where one of the episodes was set), Hitler did have interests in such places – the Nazi’s certainly liked their art. The third episode was about an abducted scientist, although not a German rocket scientist I see similarities here again.

While the following lacks any citations on Wikipedia I think this helps make things clear:

S.H.I.E.L.D. was created by Nicholas Joseph Fury after the end of World War II, but Fury abandoned the idea and left the draft that he created for the agency locked away, feeling the U.S. government wouldn’t approve the formation of such an agency. At some unspecified point around this time, however, a United Nations-based international group dusted off the idea without Fury’s knowledge… - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.H.I.E.L.D.#Fictional_history

That’s the fiction (my emphasis), but here is one possible factual account from Gary Hyland in his book Blue Fires (which I have read):

Many theories have been mooted to explain the Roswell incident, most of which involve flying saucers and little green men from Mars. What has never been considered, though, is the odd coincidence that the high-speed, high-flying spherical object which crashed on Roswell bears an uncanny resemblance to some of the extraordinarily futuristic aircraft which were blueprinted in top-secert [sic] conditions by Nazi scientists during the Second World War. Many of these blueprints – and the scientists responsible for them – mysteriously ‘disappeared’ into Allied hands post-1945 as a result of plans like the American ‘Operation Paperclip’, which initially strove merely to find out about V-1 flying bombs and V-2 rockets. BLUE FIRE tells an extraordinary story of cover-ups and conspiracies, and it gives a fascinating alternative version of world history since 1945.

Marvel also subtly incorporate links to Nazi Germany in other shows, namely HYDRA:

HYDRA [a fictional terrorist organization in Marvel Comics] is a criminal organization dedicated to the achievement of world domination through terrorist and subversive activities on various fronts, resulting in a fascist New World Order. Its extent of operations is worldwide; always attempting to elude the ongoing counter-espionage operations by S.H.I.E.L.D. HYDRA is funded by Baron Strucker’s personal fortune, based on his recovered hoard of Nazi plunder from World War II, and funds established by the original leaders of the Japanese secret society that became HYDRA. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HYDRA

Since HYDRA is essentially the baddy, and S.H.I.E.L.D. the goody, having links to Nazi Germany in both seems to imply that both sides are equally bad. I wonder if that’s the key message here.

I should add as a disclaimer that I only have a casual awareness of Marvel comics, so I am not an expert on the franchise, I’m certainly in no way a fan of the comics – I’m not into comics as such.

Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.H.I.E.L.D.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvel_Comics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Widow_%28Natalia_Romanova%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_plunder

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Seal_of_the_United_States

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_Germany

 
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Posted by on 17 February, 2014 in History, TV

 

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The Pen or the Keyboard

technology

This is in reply to this blog post: http://wilfnelson.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/the-pen-or-the-keyboard

Keyboard = convenience. I can type away until I run out of words for a particular topic and then within a few clicks have what I have written shared with the world through my blog. If I was writing a book, that document could be sent to a publisher (or I could even self-publish via Amazon) and there would be no need for someone to decipher my scribblings and type them up.

There is something beautiful (and commendable) about putting pen to paper though. It seems more natural, and some authors still choose this method (or perhaps this is only more common among established writers who choose this medium). I liken it to photographers or music producers that might use a format other than digital.

Putting pen to paper also seems to produce differences in what is written, or in the structure of paragraphs. When it comes to traditional photography, music or film recording using analogue equipement, the art of ‘editing’ is different. I recently watched the film about Doctor Who: An adventure in time and space. In the 1960s when the TV series began producers were limited to only a handful of takes due, I suppose, to a variety of constraints. In the modern digital age, those constraints are greatly reduced (at the expense of cost I suspect, but the benefit of improved quality). When we write with pen on paper it’s not so easy to edit our work, juggle words and sentences around – this is not necessarily a bad thing, I suspect the final piece would generally feel more ‘raw’ and I agree, the flow is different (for both the writer and the reader). But once I have written something with pen on paper, there it usually stays, and for this reason, I’m usually reluctant to start writing on paper in the first place – once I have written something I lack the patience to type it up, or re-work it.

Another note. I find it easier to refer to books, or even web-based sources while I write, rather than type. Again, there is something more natural about flicking through actual pages, and while I can type with one hand (no sniggering at the back!) it feels awkward, perhaps because of the positioning of a keyboard and books on a desk.

I have seen people put pen to paper, or even use a traditional typewriter, and scan and share their work through their blog that way – there is some beauty in that, perhaps because it is uncommon. Although one can’t easily search within a post that is shared in this way.

The picture is one I created for use with a previous blog topic ‘Technology and how it affects us’ which I wrote back in April, 2012 – you may find it interesting: https://bmhonline.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/technology-and-how-it-affects-us

 
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Posted by on 16 February, 2014 in Art, Blogging, Films, Music, Technology

 

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