Monday, April 13, 2009

eBay Is On The LIST.

The wee ones' preschool does a fundraiser every year in conjunction with Cinco de Mayo. Because we're a small school with few parent volunteers, and the kids attending are preschoolers, many of which have special needs, our event is during school hours. We don't do the fancy galas that the other schools in our district do but rather have events during the day for the am and pm classes.

We invite parents in to see the events, which includes student performances and a dance troupe from the high school. During this, we have raffles and a silent auction.

The raffles have always gone over well -- including by people not connected to the school, which rocks. The silent auction garnered some negative feedback last year. Because some parents aren't able to attend at all and others have kids only in the am classes, many parents didn't feel it was fair because they wouldn't be there at the end of the auction. Although we offered last year to proxy bids for people if they told us their max bid, not many people took us up on this.

This year, we tried to get a little creative and move into the digital age. Some of us thought it would be great if we could list our silent auction items online for people to bid on -- no arguments of it not being fair because they weren't there and there's also the possibility of opening it to a wider audience for things like the three games of Cubs tickets we have.

In doing research for this, I found two companies doing online auctions that sounded like they might work. cMarket specializes in nonprofit fundraising with online auctions. They had all sorts of neat ways to do things, so I contacted them. Unfortunately, they're not for our school. They have a $595 auction setup fee, in addition to taking a pretty hefty portion of the auction's winning bid. I ruled them out pretty quickly.

eBay was the other possibility, as they have a nonprofit bit setup, as well. You have to vet your organization through Mission Fish and then it sounds like you can potentially list your item and get the listing fees back so long as the proceeds of the auction are for the nonprofit. Totally cool.

Of course (being the non-eBay person that I am), I had a ton of questions. I wanted to know things from: can we group our items together so people can find them easily to how long we can have the auction run since the presale brochure goes out well in advance of the fundraiser itself to how the fees truly work. I couldn't find any of these answers to my satisfaction online, so I sent off an email listing my seven questions very clearly to eBay.

I was promised a response within 48-72 hours. I was fine with that.

I waited 48 hours. Nothing. I waited 72. I was annoyed, but I wrote it off as bad customer service and a sign that I really shouldn't count on this working. And yes, we found an alternate solution that I think will work well -- at least for this year -- late last week.

A full week after I sent my email, I received a response from eBay. I was irritated that it wasn't even close to their 72 hour promise, but I was intrigued to see what it would have to say in the hopes that I could use it for next year or at least pass the info along to other PTOs in our district.

Below is the email verbatim.

Dear Michelle,

Thank you for writing eBay in regard to

We are committed to making your eBay experiences pleasant and
fulfilling.

Sincerely,
Sid P.

eBay Customer Support
_____________________________________________

Yeah. I have to say that I believe I will never be using eBay for anything. Ever. How exactly does that come even close to being helpful? Seriously?

And I had such high hopes for the potential of having an online auction. Nope, it's a raffle ($1 per ticket) for our regular items and classroom baskets and a super raffle ($5 per ticket) for our more unique items. Here's hoping that it works out well. We got some really great donations this year, but I know the economy is rotten.

Regardless, we will not be using eBay this year. Or next. Boo.

12 comments:

Gina April 13, 2009 at 1:33 PM  

ebay sucks! I hate bad service.

Frogs in my formula April 13, 2009 at 8:59 PM  

How lovely of them to send you an incomplete form letter. Jerks!

septembermom April 13, 2009 at 9:03 PM  

Big thumbs down for Ebay! Talk about a lame email response. Ebay, watch out! You don't want the blogger community going against you. Hope the auction goes well:)

Ryan Ashley Scott April 13, 2009 at 10:08 PM  

Wow, I'm impressed that all the words were spelled correctly in that letter. It seems whoever got your email was incapable of actually reading.

Hopefully it will all turn out well anyway.

Cookie April 13, 2009 at 11:01 PM  

ROFL! I hate ebay too. I used to be a regular seller there. Then I had a bad experience and then another. eBay was horrible at helping me but they were quick to charge fees. And their partnership with paypal took their service to sellers downhill.
Good Luck with your auction!

Jill April 13, 2009 at 11:52 PM  

I don't like Ebay at ALL!

Laura April 14, 2009 at 12:48 AM  

Hey I have seen plenty off blog auctions...where they list everything on the blog and have people email in bids and then update every hour or so and the last highest bid before said closing time wins...forget ebay they'll suck you dry.

Elftea April 14, 2009 at 7:49 AM  

I have used Ebay sometimes but I rather not have t go there.

Elftea April 14, 2009 at 7:49 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous April 14, 2009 at 10:56 AM  

Ha! Yeah, don't expect eBay to care about you unless you are listing hundreds of thousands of items at a time. But what was your alternate solution?!? Don't leave us hanging!!!

Angela April 14, 2009 at 12:16 PM  

That's just rotten. The customer service rep actually signed his name to that message? Grrr!!!

I have to say I generally have good experiences with Ebay, but I have never tried to use it for anything other than buying or selling a couple books, etc.

I would, however, like to place Bank of America into the running for Worst.Customer.Service.EVER. We have accounts with them where we're supposed to be able to call and reach a representative 24x7x365. After calling for over a week and getting a generic voicemail (which was always full), I finally called the general helpdesk number. And after being disconnected (after, of course, explaining the whole story once), I reached a lady who helpfully told me I would need to tell the whole story over again, as no notes were made on our account from the first call. I did, and the only advice she could offer was that I should contact our banker. **crickets...** Ah, yeah... I tried that already? Not so much. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Anyway, I'm sorry the ebay experience was poor but hopefully the alternative will work well for your project!

Michelle April 14, 2009 at 2:11 PM  

Gina - I'm with you. I have a choice, and I vote with my wallet frequently.

Frogs in my formula - My favorite name ever! And yeah, that form letter was pretty special....

septembermom - I hope so, too. We turned it into a super raffle where each ticket is $5 instead of $1 (for the "better" items we would have auctioned). I'm hoping it goes well. The economy s... iffy!

RAS - Well, they do have spellchecker. They just don't have intelligence checker :)

Cookie - Wow, I think I've really struck a nerve here! Not just with you but with everyone here!

Jill - I'm afraid to ask why!

Laura - Oh! That would have been a good idea. I don't know why I (of all people) didn't think of that. duh duh duh!

Elftea - It sounds like you are not alone!

Anonymous - Oops, I forgot that part. We are doing the super raffle as described above. That way the large percentage of our school with no internet also has a chance to participate. We'll see how it goes!

Angela - Sooooo did you switch away from BofA? Fingers crossed it all works now though!

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