Beware eBay Buyers: eBay Blocking Negative Feedback for Sellers!!!

One of the things that I had presumed to trust in using eBay has been an honest evaluation of transactions by buyers and sellers. I realize that on either end of the transaction this may not always be the case. Using the feedback mechanism as a tool of retribution by both buyers and sellers has been a form of abuse over the years. But, in the past, a prudent purchaser through due diligence could frequently sort through the maze of charges and counter-charges and come to a frequently accurate conclusion of where the truth may lie.

Today, I encountered a situation that totally astonished and frustrated me. eBay blocked my multiple attempts to leave negative feedback.

On 9 September 2009, I purchased an item on eBay and, as usual I received an invoice for that purchase. Nine days later, around the time I was expecting delivery through media mail, I received a notice of “shipment”. That’s right. Nine days after purchase … with  no explanation of delay …, my item was shipped. Five days later, yesterday, 23 September 2009, I received the item.

I don’t consider myself an unreasonable person. As a matter of fact, I encountered a similar problem about a week before. Another seller took about a week to ship an item. But, at least, this seller sent a message at the time of shipment stating that the shipment had been “returned” as undeliverable and was being reshipped. I accepted these excuses or reasons and chose not to leave a neutral or negative feedback even though shipping information didn’t support his contention.

I don’t know who thinks that taking nine days to process an order and arrange shipping is reasonable but I don’t. Period. That’s my standard and no amount of communication with a delinquent seller is going to resolve that sentiment.

But, eBay won’t allow you to leave a “negative” or even “neutral” evaluation of the seller.

I went to the feedback discussion boards and quickly found an entry related to this problem. Following the chain of comments I found some lame reason or excuse that a person had to “wait seven days” before leaving negative feedback. Well, seven days from when?

After taking the time to enter your feedback; 1) rating the seller as either positive, neutral or negative, 2) entering a comment and 3) going through the star ratings, you then click on the button” submit feedback”. If you’ve entered a neutral or negative rating, you’re taken to a page where you have to check on of three comments; 1) that you’ve communicated with the seller to try to resolve the “conflict”, 2) that you’ve allowed enough time for the item to arrive or 3) that your comment is factual and you’ve avoided personal remarks.

Well, “Choice #1” was unnecessary and irrelevant as was “Choice #2”. I was unaware that the seller was taking nine days to ship until that in fact was the case and once the item was shipped it did arrive in a timely fashion. Choice #3 was the most appropriate. My comment, “The seller took nine days to ship.”,  and evaluation was correct and factual. I understand that thinking it’s totally reasonable for sellers to ship promptly is an opinion but it’s my opinion and that’s what the feedback is supposed to be about.

For some reason after repeatedly clicking on the “Continue and leave feedback” button, nothing happened. After going back through the “revise feedback” process, still a dead button. The little highlighted red arrow point to the evaluation line “positive, neutral or negative” glares at you like you’re committing some cardinal sin that is totally unacceptable to eBay. It won’t even allow you to change from “negative” to “neutral” … again a cardinal sin.

I understand that eBay is trying to protect its sellers from harrassment by unreasonable buyers, but where’s the protection for the buyers? Making buyers jump through unnecessary hoops to protect sellers is simply poor policy.

One of the comments was that this policy was designed to protect “high volume” sellers. Well, if high volume sellers are having acute or chronic problems with a high volume of disgruntled buyers, what protection is there for daily buyers on that seller’s site when complaints about the seller are being blocked or delayed for weeks and months?

This is simply a poor implementation of a poor and one sided policy, designed to protect shoddy and unscrupulous sellers from legitimate complaints. It makes the ratings provided by eBay, at best, suspect and more realistically worthless.

Whoever is responsible for implementing this decision should carefully consider the ramifications of their one sided policy. 70% of the American economy is based on consumer purchases. EBay’s business is 100% based on consumer purchases. If eBay can’t figure this out, all of their business is based on “BUYERS” …

No buyers = no sellers!!!

Blocking negative feedback will eventually come back to haunt the powers that be at eBay. Eventually, enough buyers will encounter a bad seller and try to leave negative feedback and realize that the ratings they are depending on for honesty are totally worthless.

And, they will stop using eBay. Then it will be “Goodbye, eBay”. No buyers … and no sellers.

Ohio’s Senator Sherrod Brown’s Connection to SEIU and ACORN

Sherrod Brown , the junior senator from Ohio, has an indirect family connection to ACORN.

According to the Wikipedia article cited about, as of 18 September 2009,

Brown’s daughter Emily works for the Service Employees International Union

Sherrod Brown has been an extremely liberal Democrat during his political career and now is frequently seen happily trailing on the heels of President Barack Obama much like a faithful puppy. No offense intended to puppies.

The Service Employees International Union is the union that had two of its major locals prominently displayed on the ACORN site. For some strange and unknown reason, back in the spring ACORN scrubbed its site of any reference to the SEIU where previously it had claimed two of its locals, 100 and 880, as prominent and major affiliates. The article, ACORN Covering Up SEIU Ties? reported on this affiliation and the change. If you take the time to read some of the rhetoric and goals of both the SEIU and the ACORN sites, you will see that it’s hard to distinguish between the two. I had actually looked at the ACORN site back in the early spring or winter and you would have thought, based on the ACORN site, that ACORN controlled the entire SEIU. Frankly, I’m not sure how distant that impression was or is from the actual truth.

Remember, ACORN and SEIU local 100, the one mentioned above, still share the same building and office space in New Orleans.

Senator Brown’s daughter works for the SEIU which has had extremely close affiliations with ACORN. Is this one of those cases where the ACORN doesn’t fall far from the tree?

Larry Swedroe of CBS MoneyWatch.com Slams Jim Cramer

This is a hoot!!!

Here we apparently have a participant of a major broadcast network’s financial site criticizing a participant in another major network’s financial cable channel and website.

Like … who the hell is Larry Swedroe?

“Wise Investing”???

Giving his narrow arguments in his article, Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Jim Cramer – CBS MoneyWatch.com, Mr. Swedroe pointed out some studies by TWO people, college professors, about individual investors that indicated they didn’t do that well. He also had a major gripe about Jim Cramer recommending at a luncheon that people should avoid index and mutual funds.

What I gathered from Mr. Swedroe’s warnings regarding Jim Cramer is that Mr Swedroe thinks individual investors are a dumb lot and are really stupid if they don’t allow people like him to manage their money for them.

Let’s see. Mr Swedroe works for the Buchingham Family of Financial Services, has written several books, and previously worked for Prudential Home Mortgage and CITIBANK … with more than 40 years of experience in “managing financial risks for major corporations and individuals”. It’s sounds like he is and/or has been a direct competitor of Jim  Cramer when Cramer was also a “money Manager” as someone mentioned in the comments.

I suppose Mr. Swedroe’s crystal ball is better than everyone else’s.

Like an awful lot of people, I listen to Jim Cramer and watch his show, on the average, several times a week. Sometimes, I agree with him … and, sometimes, I don’t. I think that, like those who generally do well who listen to Cramer, he isn’t my only source of information. Occasionally, I have gotten tips that have made money. I’ve found it’s usually extremely nice to be owning a stock when he recommends it on his show. Selling into the pop that usually occurs after his recommendation can turn a handsome profit. On at least one occasion, I’ve been one of those who bought a stock after hours on his recommendation and turned a very nice profit several days later.

I’ve also been on the receiving end of getting into a stock that he slammed and not being aware of his thumbs down until after my purchase. That was a costly lesson.

Some of the commentators of this article brought up the Jon Stewart episode where Cramer was shriveled into a contrite, castrated and castigated shell of himself on the Daily Show. I felt the pain and humiliation that Cramer was experiencing and couldn’t understand why Cramer didn’t just tell  Stewart to “shove it”. Since Jon Stewart is such an egocentric, self-aggrandizing prick, I kept thinking, “Who is he to criticize Jim  Cramer?”

Back to Mr. Swedroe …

So, we have a “money manager” working for a “financial services” company, working for a competing network and website, who has worked in the “mortgage industry” (Is this really something you’d want on you’re resume right now?), and who has worked for CITIBANK (another glowing item on his resume??) who is advising the public not to watch Jim Cramer of “Mad Money” on CNBC. Imagine that.

wow. (I left off the capitalization of the “w” on purpose. I’m underwhelmed.)

All I can say is that I’m one of those millions who have been watching Jim Cramer for a good while. Mr. Swedroe hasn’t convinced me with his weak arguments and tangential insults that I am guilty of being a moron for doing so. I learn things from watching Cramer and I am entertained. Jim Cramer isn’t my only source of information. To the contrary, I have found it can be costly at times NOT to watch Jim Cramer.

I’m not an NBC fan but CNBC dispenses a lot of useful information and the information is multifaceted, not monolithic. Frankly, CBS and anything associated with it has been sharply declining in credibility in my opinion since Walter Cronkite stopped doing the evening news.

Mr. Swedroe … go suck an egg.

Is Sonia Sotomayor a Poorly Veiled Misandrist?

One morning, a month or so prior to Ms. Sotomayor being confirmed as the newest Supreme Court justice, I was watching “Kiss Me , Kate” on TCM, and, while Kathryn Grayson was singing “I Hate Men”, ironically … or possibly appropriately … enough, Sonia Sotomayor came to mind.

Ms. Sotomayor’s repeated statements about Latina women having better judgement than “white” men was abruptly brought to mind. It seems apparent by her own repeated admission that she holds “white men” in lower esteem than she does herself and her beloved Latina womanhood. Many people have excused her “slip of the tongue” as simply that … a mis-statement or “slip of the tongue”. Well, was it a misstatement, a “slip of the tongue”? Or … was it a more profound admission of her true feelings … a bantering admission of her core beliefs … brought own by a  lapse in judgment or a sense of empowerment that no one would think anything of her admission, that there would be no consequences for her crass gender prejudices?

The most often repeated defenses of Ms. Sotomayor’s expressions is that, as above, she mispoke … or that she’s highly qualified for the Supreme Court because she completed college summa cum laud and graduated from a prestigious law school. Frankly, her apparent “good” grades really seem to be the only excuse that I’ve heard people express such as the journalist from Los Angeles who defended her on Mike Huckabee’s show a while back.

Somehow, Ms Sotomayor’s defenders would have one believe that a “superior” intellect is a sole qualifying trait. Quite frankly, World History is replete with repeated examples of individuals with supposed “superior” intellect … but also, quite frankly, of very dubious character. Aaron Burr was an extremely intelligent man, a vice president of the United States … who, by the way, wanted to make himself king or something of the lands of the Mississippi River. I think we would describe that as a grandiose personality. Benedict Arnold was an obviously intelligent person. But, that didn’t stop him from betraying his country. Napoleon Bonaparte was obviously intelligent, a brilliant military strategist, who wanted to conquer the world … who turned the French Revolution into the instrument of his aspirations to be Emperor of Europe. Ah, but she’s a woman. So were Catherine de Medici, Marie Antoinette, Salome and Lucretia Borgia.

Personally, I’d rather have a person of average intelligence who has a sense of tolerance and justice as well as a hefty dose of common sense. How many supposedly intelligent people have you met who seemed to lack a ounce of common sense, or who were so egocentric that they lacked any understanding or tolerance for others?

But she is a lawyer, she knows and understands the law. In all probability, no one knew Roman law better than Julius Caesar when he made himself dictator of Rome.  Did you know that Fidel Castro was a law student … who in turn … systematically destroyed the legal foundations of the country he was determined to establish himself in absolute control over … and ruthlessly destroyed anyone who got in his way?

So, What is a “misandrist”? Well, it a person, typically a woman, … who hates men … like Ms. Sotomayor’s “white” men that she so jovially derides … as in the “white” men, … men like the Founding Fathers who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Did she mean her Latina women have better judgment and wisdom than THOSE “white” men? Frankly, I’d like to see Ms. Sotomayor come up with one Latina woman to equal those men.

So. What’s my beef with some off-handed statement that Ms. Sotomayor made … reportedly more than once ..on various occasions?

Well, back in high school I took French. Having done well the first year, I decided to take a second year of French. It turns out that our first year French teacher had moved on and we had a new teacher to take her place. On the first day of class, our new teacher comes in and one of the first statements to come out of her mouth was, “I hate men.” Seriously.

This woman, it turns out was recently divorced and, unfortunately for the little boy, had one small child, a son. I shudder to think how he’s turned out, poor kid. This woman wasn’t a comedian and wasn’t kidding. In all honesty, I don’t remember a lot about the rest of the class that day … other than, by the end of that class, I was determined to get out of it. And I did. I wasn’t going to leave the outcome of my future in the hands of that self proclaimed “misandrist” … no way.

The woman obviously had issues and I didn’t make any trouble for her. I simply dropped the class and signed up for something else. I told my parents about the teacher’s statement and they both agreed with my decision. I only hope for the sake of her child and her own well being, as well as that of my classmates, that this woman moved on and got over her bitterness and hatred. But, I honestly have my doubts.

So, Sonia Sotomayor’s presumed offhand, but repeated, statements about Latina women having better judgment that “white” men really struck a chord. Was it a joke, a generalization, or a inappropriate but profound expression of her core beliefs?

Frankly, it bothers me that our legislators have simply brushed aside people’s concerns about this woman’s inherent character and have placed her in the nearly unique position of an associate Supreme Court justice. I find it hard to believe that, out of the millions of lawyers that practice in this country, she was the best choice. What does that say about the legal profession?

I suppose when buying votes is your goal, pandering to the Hispanic community by Barack Obama shouldn’t be unexpected.

What is AFLAC Milking?

Has anyone other than me noticed something rather peculiar about AFLAC’s latest commercial, the one with all of the talking barnyard animals?

I’m referring to the bovine character with the milking machine attached beneath its hinterland. One is supposed to presume that a cow(female cattle) is being milked while jovially joining in on the commercial commentary.

Except …

First of all, it’s a Polled Hereford, a breed of “beef” cattle not known for its milk production. That’s right. Rather than use a breed noted for it’s milk production such as a Guernsey or Holstein, they used a breed of “beef” cattle.

Second, is that a cow (female cattle) … or is it a steer (castrated male) or bull (no definition should be needed)?

My family’s first venture into raising cattle was a mixed herd which included both Holsteins and a Guernsey. To that initial small herd, my father added registered Black Angus cattle including an Angus bull. If you don’t already know it, there’s a definite difference in the appearance of beef “cows” from “beef” bulls and steers. It’s a very noticeable difference in appearance. Also, the Angus and Hereford as beef cattle breeds are very similar in appearance.

That Hereford in the AFLAC commercial, whether by some perverse design or gross ignorance, is either a bull or a steer.

Generally, I enjoy AFLAC commercials but, come on guys, this is a little over the top …milking a bull or steer. The Amos family in Columbus, Georgia who started AFLAC ought to know better and keep up with what their advertising department is doing.

Let’s face it folks, what message does it send you about an insurance company that doesn’t know the difference between a cow’s udder and a bull’s penis?

Enjoy your glass of milk today.

Bob Beckel’s Take on Barack Obama’s Silence Regarding Iran

Sometimes I almost feel sorry for Bob Beckel … almost. I do admire his courage for being the lone liberal on Hannity’s “Great American Panel” on Fox News.

Tonight, he’s in the position of defending Obama’s silence regarding the popular uprising in Iran  related to that country’s recent election. Beckel stated that he felt Obama was advised to remain quiet to prevent the current regime from having an excuse to crack down harder on the protesters. He stated that he felt Obama making a statement in favor of the protesters would give the regime an excuse to blame the current uprisings on the United States and it would, as a consequence, deal more harshly with the protesters.

Who else thinks that the current paranoid government of Iran actually needs an excuse to blame the current uprising on the United States or any other western power? It has never appeared to me that the current despotic government of Iran has needed any excuse to blame the United States for any and everything that they couldn’t deal with intelligently.

According to a recent report, as many as 28 million people in Iran may have voted against Ahmadenejad as opposed to the less than 7 million who were reported to have voted for him. Those are fairly impressive numbers … more than 4 to 1 against the current Iranian leader. It’s highly unlikely that 28 million Iranians have all of a sudden become pro American. After more than 30 years of oppression by their despotic government, it’s much more likely that the 28 million are simply voting against their current rulers and simply prefer anything or anyone rather than who’s in power now.

So, the question really is, “Is President Obama protecting the protesters from greater oppression and harm; or, is he simply dropping the ball by not providing them with moral support and encouragement that they may desperately need?” What’s wrong with the leader of America simply stating that America favors free and open elections where evey qualified person’s vote counts … in any country? Has he forgotten that this very premise is the reason the United States of America was founded, the reason for the American Revolution, the desire for the American colonists to have representation and not feel disenfranchised by their government? Apparently, voicing the founding principle of this country sticks in President Obama’s craw. Fear of the reaction of a two bit dictator in Iran quells him into silence.

Apparently, hundreds of Iranians may have already lost their lives in the ongoing protests with thousands more injured and jailed. Does the Iranian government really need an excuse to crack down further on the protesters? Those Iranian protesters have infinitely more courage than our president.

The deafening silence of the current administration does send a message … both to Americans and Iranians. If the election in Iran was so corrupt that millions of Iranians feel the election was stolen from them, the United States government led by the Obama administration will do nothing, not even by simply providing a verbal message of support for free and honest elections in that country.

So, Bob Beckel finds himself in the position of somehow having to defend the Obama administration for remaining silent to “protect” the protesters.

Where would we be today if Ronald Reagan had not said, “Mr. Gorbechev, tear down this wall.”? Would the Berliners have had the courage to eventually confront their communist oppressors and bring the end to the division of Germany and the eventual destruction of the “Iron Curtain” that imprisoned Eastern Europe for most of my lifetime? It’s entirely possible that they and other eastern Europeans might have reached the same point today without the encouragement of President Reagan. But, it’s also a definite fact that every action that President Reagan took was aimed at that goal … to assist the Eastern Europeans in obtaining their freedom … and his speeches and actions didn’t hinder the process.

Well, as far as foreign policy and diplomacy are concerned, Barack Obama isn’t even in the same ballpark with Ronald Reagan. He doesn’t even hold a candle to the bungling JFK. At least Kennedy had the courage of his convictions even if he bungled repeatedly due to his naivety.

The current situation in Iran and the lack of response from Obama brings into question exactly what Barack Obama’s convictions are; or, if he, in fact, has any.This man makes the timid Jimmy Carter look like Atilla the Hunand that’s pretty amazing.

Barbara Boxer’s Outburst Against Gen. Michael Walsh

It is, indeed, strange times we live in now  … when someone gets publicly harangued for being courteous and polite. But, hey, this is the “change” people voted for, right?

For responding correctly, politely and courteously to Senator Boxer with a, “Yes, Ma’am”, as anyone raised in a cultured family and trained in the military would have done, General Walsh was viciously rebuked and his manners were ridiculed by a woman who, frankly, revealed her lack of courtesy and etiquette as well as some apparent psychological deficiencies.

In her egocentric,paranoid and irrational passion to be addressed by her elected title, “Senator”, she exhibited a complete disregard for basic courtesy and an intrinsic lack of knowledge of what she purports to demand from others regarding herself.

Was Senator Boxer one of those who insisted on referring to President Bush as Mr. Bush?

Could it be possible that her own irrational sensitivity  to her  “hard earned title” is due to her own deliberate insults and intentionally demeaning conduct toward others?

More than 30 years ago I earned my M.D. degree and the right to be referred to as “Doctor”. Since that time many have referred to me by that title either out of respect or courtesy. Still, growing up in the South where good manners are still considered a sign of good breeding and proper instruction in etiquette, I accept the answer to a “yes” or “no” question as “Yes, sir” or No, sir” as being polite and correct. I’m also referred to as “Mister”, occasionally even by people who know I’m a physician. If they’ve intended an insult, they didn’t and don’t get the satisfaction of a reaction. Occasionally, I’ve simply been referred to as “Doc” which I considered a jovial title used to express friendship and affection.

I’ve noticed a number of nonphysicain “doctors” can sometimes get very anal about their title. Apparently, they’re eminently irritated that many people don’t consider nonphysicians as “doctors” and consider the title of “doctor” as reserved for physicians. Maybe that’s a Southern thing.

Anyway, outside of a professional setting, it’s no big deal to be referred to as “Mister” … and simple courteous conversation is always appreciated. I’m secure in the personal knowledge of my achievements and capabilities and don’t need to be addressed by a title to groom and pamper my ego.

Apparently, Senator Boxer’s ego is so fragile that she needs that constant reinforcement. And, that’s pathetic.

Senator Boxer’s outburst simply confirms to everyone the feelings of personal inadequacy that she must be tormented by everyday.