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>> Paper Money Shipping and eBay

This is a bit of a rant, centered around one of my personal pet peeves. Take it as you will, but I do wholeheartedly consider this issue from the angle of buyer and seller, so please take that into account. After all, at some point in the future I do plan on becoming a seller myself!

Though the vast majority of sellers on eBay do offer reasonable shipping fees (some sellers knowingly taking a bit of a loss on that front), in the last few years I've personally had to pass up on some purchases I would have otherwise made, had it not been for shipping fees. In my case, specifically, I will use the example of purchases being shipped from the US to Canada, as this is my most frequent shipping scenario. Of course, sellers are free to charge what they want, but there seem to be more and more instances, in my case, where a truly unreasonable shipping charge is put forth.

Being the ardent collector I am, this does cause me some frustration. In the last week, I've passed up on about 5-6 fantastic banknotes because of shipping. The two latest examples include a $60 USD banknote (Buy It Now) with a $32.50 shipping charge, and a $42 USD banknote (Buy It Now) with a $41.50 USD shipping charge. Its almost a bit of an insult to see postings like this. So, in some cases I contact the sellers, and for the most part they are very reasonable.

I recently bought a beautiful, though beat up, old Finnish banknote from the late 1800's. The shipping, from Finland, was originally $15 USD. When the auction ended my winning bid was just over the $7 USD mark, and the seller shipped the note for $5 USD, and I am thrilled with the purchase and the sellers willingness to be reasonable. On the flip side, I've also contacted sellers that are charging $20+ USD for shipping for banknotes under $40 USD, asking them for regular shipping (envelope + $1 USD stamp) while mentioning that I have 1100+ feedbacks as a buyer, all positive, and that I live just across the border from the US. Quite a few sellers refuse to budge.

As I've mentioned before, they are free to do so. But they I ask: why even offer shipping to Canada at all? With the exception of very expensive banknotes, it makes no sense and, to be honest, is a bit offensive.

So, I don't mean to sound vengeful, and I do not intend to be as such. I write this as heed to the sellers that practice shipping policies along these lines: there is some consolation, in the fact that I've also recently seen some pretty nice banknotes, some scarce, some in unusually good condition, sell for far far below their usual eBay sales values. Why? Because the seller has eliminated competitive bidding from anyone outside the United States. Just now I watched two $40 USD banknotes sell for under $10 with free shipping within the US simply because international shipping was $20+.

So, I'll sum up this messy rant. Sellers, for everyone's sake, please plan your international shipping accordingly, and be prepared to take minor risks for buyers that present an excellent purchase record. If you do not wish to trouble yourself with international shipping fees, and you are not willing to spend a dollar here and there to facilitate more sales, I suggest you simply not offer international shipping in lieu of exorbitant and inflated fees. Unreasonable shipping can backfire, and it does -- it can completely eliminate competitive bidding, so keep that in mind.

What do you guys think?

More Information About Proteus By Proteus on 2017-01-12

>> RealBanknotes.com: 2016 Review and Future Plans

Well my friends, its been another exciting year at RealBanknotes.com. It is very rewarding watching the site grow, watching our membership expand, and providing paper money collectors with more tools and information via our website -- and yes, it is ours, as it is designed to be a community project, and not just a solo effort. And if it wasn't completely obvious in the past, I am a huge "data geek" and so I keep track of several statistics on the site, and track its growth and progress. As such, every new member, and every new gallery image is just an extra little bit of good news for me, and it seems I've had quite a bit of that in 2016. The following are just a few statistics from 2016, for anyone who cares:

  • catalogue values for the 2016 catalogues for Modern and General issues were entered
  • 1368 new banknotes were added to the site in 2016
  • the gallery garnered nearly 2.5 million views last year
  • 4685 new gallery images were added to the website
  • 22646 eBay sales histories were manually entered, for future use (upcoming feature)
  • we welcomed 261 new members in 2016, with the vast majority joining us after the new version of the website was released
  • added a FaceBook page with regular updates that complement the site

All-in-all, 2016 was the best year yet as the website continues to grow year after year, each year being better than the previous. With the November 2016 update to the website, a lot of changes came about. The site is now mobile friendly, and several tools have been added to everyones account. Among them is the ability to create collections, with the option to add lots of information on the banknotes within a collection, the ability to create multiple collections, a new internal messaging system, and a new article submission system.

As per usual, the plans and ideas for the site definitely surpass the number of hours that I can commit to adding new features and, as usual, features will be added a few at a time, and when time permits. Unfortunately the site is a hobby, and so work still is ahead on the overall priority list. However, we've got something fantastic here (if I may say so myself) and its something that will continue to get better and better. The following are my goals for 2017:

  • add catalogue values for 2017 Standard and Modern catalogues to the site, including new listings
  • bring our membership up to 1000 members; invite your fellow collectors when you can!
  • begin a thorough clean up of the gallery and banknote listings, including corrections of errors
  • add 25,000 eBay sales histories to the database in an effort to progress on a future valuation tool
  • publish at least one article a month on the site
  • improve the banknote search on the website

These goals alone are a massive undertaking, with the maintenance of social media accounts and a massive amount of data entry. There are, however, secondary (bonus) goals for the future, and we'll see how many I can accomplish in 2017.

Amongst them:

  • create and publish newsletters to all of our membership
  • code a script that allows members to recommend awesome eBay deals to others
  • create a contests script that will reward winners with points and/or banknotes
  • create a script that will turn entire banknote collections into PDF books
  • theme support for the website, so that members can choose the way they view the site
  • ... and a lot more.

If you are interested in helping out the website, there are several ways to do so. Keep in mind that all help is much appreciated, and your assistance helps me free up more time to code and make the website more usable and more user-friendly. Here is what I ask of you:

  • if you're not a member, please become one
  • if you know collectors that are not familiar with RealBanknotes.com, please direct them to the site
  • if you have some knowledge that you could share with other banknote collectors about paper money and this hobby, please write and submit an article to the site; don't worry about your English, spelling, or grammar; I realize most of our membership is from non-English speaking countries; I personally edit and correct each article, but all credit will go to you; you will help me meet my news publishing goal, and you will also earn points on the site
  • click on the "eBay" logo at the top of each page before you shop, or use the "Buy Banknotes" link in the navigation if you are shopping for a specific banknote; by doing this you are generating some revenue that pays for the caffeine that fuels my energy and thus my coding capability; THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME (so thank you for those who do this)

Well, I think that's enough rambling about this and that. Cheers to you all, I wish you a fantastic 2017, happy collecting and I hope to see you all on the site and on the forums.

More Information About Proteus By Proteus on 2017-01-01