I Hate Ebay

I have finally come to the point where I do not see myself using Ebay again any time soon. I am most dissatisfied with what Ebay has become.

Some people are very good with Ebay. My wife is one of them. She used to get some very sweet deals on Ebay. She could scan the auctions, find what she likes, and come in at the last second to take the auction. When I have wanted things, she has in the past directed me to look for them on Ebay.

I’m not very good with Ebay though. I’m not that great with finding the best prices anywhere. Prior to meeting my wife, I would pay more for some items just for the convenience of buying them all at the same store and getting home to my computer faster. In the past, I have gotten in trouble on Ebay.

About two years ago, I decided that I wanted a Pocket PC. You may know from previous blog entries that I’m now on my second, but I had to start somewhere. I did a search on Ebay and found an ipaq listed for about $40. Sounds good, right? Well, I apparently misread the item description. The person said that he had access to a web site that puts you in a matrix after you buy some ebooks, and when you reach the top of the matrix in one to four months you can buy in HP (now Compaq) ipaq Pocket PC for $40. I somehow was under the impression that I would be paying him to handle the transaction. I’m not sure where I got the impression. I used my wife’s tactics and won the auction, sparing all the people that I cut off the agony of what followed that morning. I logged in to Pay Pal, paid the person the $50 that I won the auction for, and watched my email. I received a URL. What? Well, it turns out that I had read the auction wrong, and what I actually paid this low life for was a URL to enter this matrix. I tried everything I could, browbeating, threatening, appealing to his sense of morality, but nothing worked. Finally I told him that I fell for his scam, and I am a man of honor, and I would honor my transaction, however, I was going to contact Ebay to see if they felt that was a legitimate auction. Now, Ebay does not make it easy to get in contact with them. You have to search through seeming Gigabytes of FAQ in order to find a form to contact customer service. I did. I received a Paypal refund with an email from this person that he “would not be dealing in this type of service any more”. No kidding.

That’s my Ebay scam story. Now on to my complaining. OK, reasons I hate Ebay are:

1) It is very difficult to contact Ebay, or at least it was the last time I tried. OK, I know there are a lot of morons out there, and a lot of other people who can dream up all manner of stupid questions, and Ebay would go broke if they had to pay someone to answer the same stupid question over and over and over again when it’s already in the FAQ. But why should the rest of us have to suffer when we have a legitimate question or concern that is NOT covered by the FAQ? Therefore, I hate Ebay for this reason.

2) Item filtering. Try to do a search on laptops, for instance. How many power cable and accessories do you have to wade through just to find what you want? You have to seach through so much extraneous information you might as well use Yahoo.

3) Ebay is becoming a haven for con artists and scams. I hear all kinds of horror stories about auctions where the seller will only accept a service called “Bidpay”. As far as I can tell, Bidpay exists for no other reason than to allow people to rip other people off. I haven’t used it, and I won’t use it, partly because I don’t use Ebay anymore, but also because of the perception generated by the accounts I’ve read.

4) This is actually a part of 3, but still, people are using the term NOT to add their item to YOUR seach. I was trying to do a search for a particular cell phone model, and instead I got other models, listed as “NOT” my model. That’s brilliant! I search for one item, and get their item which is NOT my item. I quit.

5) High shipping costs. The costs people are starting to charge for shipping are getting ridiculous. The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil, and people who love money too much are taking over Ebay. Even my wife is not using Ebay as much any more because it’s getting cheaper to just pay full price for items than to pay someone $20 to ship a $1 shirt.

Therefore, I hate Ebay and do not plan to use it any longer. If my wife really wants me to save money on Ebay, I will give her what I want and she can try it. I’m done. To the folks at Ebay, what was once a great idea has been perveted by the unscrupulous, and I would love to tell you this but you have made it nearly impossible for me to contact you.

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“Getting Things Done”, David Allen

In today’s world, we always seem to be strapped for time. As the days go by, we have less and less time. I currently have a ten month old and another baby due in the next two months, so I’m looking at less time than I ever imagined.

In 1996, I came across the Franklin Planner while I was involved in a multi-level marketing organization that shall remain nameless (they have lawyers and know how to use them), but you can probably imagine which one. I guess it doesn’t matter which one. In any case, my upline introduced me to the Franklin Planner and I was thrilled with the system. It is based on a top down approach: you define your governing values, use those to choose your long term goals, break those up into intermediate goals and again into daily tasks, and each day you spend 15 minutes or so planning your daily tasks in accordance with your governing values. It sounds good, but I was never able to get it to work properly. I believe part of it is that, at 22 when I discovered the system, my true governing values had to do with drinking beer and the rest were influenced by said multi-level marketing concept ie, “Go Diamond!” or “Pay Cash for Lexus and retire at 24!”

I finally gave up buying the Planner refills each year and settled on a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). My wife had a Casio Cassiopia PV-400 Plus, and I tried to adapt the Franklin system to it. Being a computer geek, however, the K-mart PDA just didn’t do enough for me. Notes had limited character spaces, and I was beginning to figure out how powerful Microsoft Outlook could be and how Palm and Pocket PC could interface with it. I got a Palm Zire for Christmas (the original 2 MB model) and was able to do more, but I still wanted my appointments and tasks to show up together. I also heard that a Pocket PC operated more like Windows and had more memory. A coworker offered to sell me his Pocket PC for $120, and I took it.

My first Pocket PC was an ipaq 3765, and served me faithfully for 2 years. I later bought my friend’s Dell Axim x30, which is a good model.

All this time, I tried hard to adapt the Franklin Covey system to Outlook for interface with a Pocket PC in order to keep track of my life. It just didn’t seem to be happening easily. Even if I did sit down and plan and prioritize an entire day, I would end up getting done half or less of all that I had planned and prioritized. Needless to say, I started and ceased using the Franklin system many times.

Months ago, I borrowed a productivity book from my in-laws because the title sounded interesting. I brought the book in to work and promptly forgot about it. One of the forums I check regularly is at http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com. I kept reading posts about something called “GTD”, as in “How do you implement GTD?” or “How I implement GTD with Pocket Informant”. I finally made the connection that GTD was a system written about in a book by David Allen called “Getting Things Done- The Art of Stress Free Productivity”. I opened up my cubical compartment and discovered that is the exact same book I borrowed from my in-laws and forgot about.

And so I began to read it.

I’ll post more on it as I go along. I’m fascinated by the system. It is true that in our age of “Knowledge Workers”, it is hard to prioritize an entire day when you’re constantly being hit with shifting priorities and emails and emergencies. This system is built for dealing with that.

I’m about 3/4 through with the book now, and I’m learning how to implement it using MS Outlook and Pocket Informant on my Dell Axim. I’ll share my thoughts and tips and tricks as I go.

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Test Post

I haven’t posted to my blog by email yet, so this is my attempt. If this works, I’ll be able to blog more often while I’m on the run.

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