Disaster struck on the second day of my attempt to use Staples to Drop Ship an item to an eBay customer – I still don’t know if the concept will work or if Staples will block it for some reason, sadly I never had the opportunity to find out. Disaster struck just an hour before the end of my eBay auction, I decided to check on the status of the Tablet, just a day before it was available and ready to ship – today..
the news I was fearing the most: ITEM IS OUT OF STOCK.
How can I sell this item to my eBay customer if it isn’t available for me to buy? Panic mode set it. With less than an hour to go before the end of the Auction I attempted to see if any local Staples stores might have the Tablet in stock, there is an option to ‘Reserve’ the Tablet. I managed to find one available in Greenpoint, an annoying 45 minute journey from my house, but what to do?
Unfortunately the status of the Tablet changed after I attempted to Reserve. It went from in stock to out of stock, a phone call informed me that they had one, but it was a damaged model and their inventory was off.. I called up every other store in Brooklyn and in Manhattan, no joy. The closest was in Huntington Long Island, and 2hrs without a Car each way… I thought it time to throw in the towel and cancel the auction, however, eBay has some nasty rules for that:
1. You can only cancel 12hrs or more before the end of the Auction, otherwise your only recourse is to complete the sale.
2. If you cancel an auction you have to pay the final seller fee – AKA 10% of the current highest bid – $46.50! You get one courtesy free cancellation per year, so I could have done that, if there wasn’t only an hour to go on the auction.
So I feel that I am in a pretty bad spot at this stage, and to be fair I would rather complete the auction somehow so to keep my perfect eBay reputation, and not disappoint the buyer, so I start looking further. Staples has a quirk with their search feature where it doesn’t accurately list stock by Zip. I searched for 20 Miles from my Zip – and got Zip, but when I tried to make my Zip Jersey City, NJ instead of Brooklyn, NY I struck gold. Only 6.6 miles from home in Hoboken there was a store with 3 Tablets in stock. I reserved one online and left for New Jersey with 45 minutes left on the auction.
Buy making the purchase in store I changed all the profit lines, losing the online shopping bonus, but still doing OK.
Stress levels were high as I scurried across town on public transport, but when I got to the store not only did they have my Tablet, but all of the Coupons applied correctly instore – I was a little worried they might kick up a fuss about applying $180 of discounts to a Tablet that was already discounted by $150 but it went through without any fuss. And as an added bonus NJ has a lower sales tax of only 3% so I saved another $16 on the price (mitigated by the extra $4.50 in RT PATH Train Fare from WTC-NJ, and the 4 years this took off my life).
However, I was taking a gamble in buying, in that I wanted to not own the Tablet, I wanted the seller to pay me first, then I would be buy risk free and ship to them. Right now by deciding to buy in store I had made the following decisions:
1. I would hold the product until seller paid – risking another flake out like my previous sale, but really, could lightening strike twice?
2. Shipping would now be a cost for me, killing my profit, for this reason I opted to apply both $40 Ink coupons to drag down my cost basis as low as possible and ensure I didn’t incur a loss on the sale.
3. I would honor the sale, and protect my eBay reputation…but wait… today, when looking at eBay I receive negative feedback, with the word ‘Not!’ I can’t understand what is happened here, but somehow, the buyer has decided to leave me feedback that is negative without even seeing the product – the nightmare continues..