Be Careful If You Sell Through Amazon Marketplace

amazon

About a year ago, I got fed up with eBay. I was selling items on there pretty regularly, but it seemed like 20% of my winning bidders wouldn’t pay for the item once the auction ended, or if they did it took DAYS for them to send payment. I discovered Amazon Marketplace, and while it wasn’t exactly perfect, it was much better than dealing with deadbeats. Or so I thought.

Last week, I sold a $200 item that was brand new, sealed in the factory packaging. The buyer was clear across the country, so even though Amazon reimburses you $4.99 for the shipping charges, that didn’t really help since it cost me $12 to ship it there. No biggie, that’s just the cost of doing business.

The package was delivered, and about an hour later, I received an e-mail from the buyer tell me he wanted to return it because it was “defective”. Only his description sounded more like user error, and yet he wasn’t willing to listen to reason. He wanted to immediately send the item back and get refunded. Only now, we’re dealing with a package that’s been opened, and there’s the cost of returning the package to me.

When I tried talking to him about resolving the “problem”, he became indignant and basically told me to either refund his money or he’d file an A-Z claim with Amazon. And that’s exactly what he did. I figured that Amazon would read the e-mails between the two of us and mediate the situation. But instead, they said that sellers are bound by the same return policies that Amazon uses, which basically means that anyone can return anything for any reason, and you’re basically screwed. There is absolutely NO seller protection, which is BS.

Now I’m waiting for him to send me back the item I sold him, which I’ll only be able to resell for 50% of my original selling price since it’s now been opened and used. Fun!

So back to eBay I go.. [sigh]

Talk About A Day Of Highs And Lows With Comcast

Comcast

So a few weeks ago, I received a letter in the mail from Comcast telling me that they needed to upgrade my modem in order to take advantage of the new high speeds being offered in my area. The process involved filling out a form on their website, and then waiting for the new modem to arrive by mail.

I received the modem a couple of days later, and to my surprise, it was a modem and WiFi router in one! Apparently if you pay the $8/month charge for a modem rental, you can ask for one of these modem/router combo deals, and they’ll give it to you free of charge. That would have been good to know a few months ago when I dropped $80 on a new Netgear router!?

In any event, I read through the setup instructions, and got to work. Basically, you plug everything in, wait for the Online light to stop blinking, and then “activate” the modem through their webpage. The whole process is unnecessarily complicated, and it took well over 30 minutes. When I was done, I went out to return my old modem to a local Comcast center.

When I got home, I did a Speed Test and couldn’t believe the results – 120Mbps download / 11.69Mbps upload. Nice!

Of course, a few hours later, I ran into a rather strange problem.. My Outlook couldn’t connect to the Comcast mail server. At first I assumed it was just a hiccup on their end, but when I checked my iPhone a little later, I saw that e-mails were coming through just fine. So I did a quick Google search for the error message:

Task ‘mail.comcast.net – Receiving’ reported error (0x800408FC) : ‘The server name you entered can not be found on the network (it might be down temporarily). Please verify that you are online and that the server name is correct.’

And it brought me to a Comcast support forum (surprise, surprise), where I learned that Outlook 2003 and earlier are known to have problems with IPv6, which was apparently added when the new modem/router got setup.

The easiest solution is to disable IPv6. In my case, I had to go:
Start>Control Panel>Network and Sharing center>Manage Network Connections>Right click on adapter and select Properties>Uncheck IPv6>OK

Depending on what version of Windows you use, you may have a slightly different path to disable it, but Google it if you’re lost. It was an easy fix, but it would have been nice if Comcast had given people a heads-up when issuing the new modem.

I imagine I can’t be the only person running an old version of Outlook. After all, if it’s not broke, why fix it?

Improve Engagement On Twitter With Twitter Cards

Twitter Cards

If you’re an active Twitter user (and if you’re not, you need to get on there ASAP), you’ve probably noticed that certain companies updates include a “summary view” which includes a thumbnail and an excerpt from the post. Considering how restrictive 140 characters can be, this is a huge advantage.

In the beginning, Twitter Cards were restricted to large corporations and the likes, but these days anyone can get approved to display a Twitter card, as long as their site is passing along the correct Meta Data. If you want, you can add code to your theme to grab the required information and add it to your page, but wouldn’t it be great if a WordPress plugin could do all the heavy lifting?

After evaluating a number of different Twitter Card plugins, I finally settled on JM Twitter Cards. Why? Because it works great, it’s actively being updated (the last update was 2 days ago, and it’s fully compatible with WP 3.9), and it’s simple to use. Simply download the plugin, activate it, enter some details, and you’re done.

After that, you simply clear your cache, pull up a recent post from your blog, and plug it into Twitter’s card validator. With luck, it should validate correctly, at which point you click the button to apply for Twitter Card access. In my case, I received an approval within an hour!

The anatomy of Twitter Cards

Until now, I’ve been uploading photos and including them in my Tweets. While it got attention, it cut down on the number of characters I had to work with. Now that I’m using a summary card that includes a large image, I get the best of both worlds!

Hope this helps!

Clean Up WordPress Spam With WPCommentCleaner

WPCommentCleaner

So today I got an e-mail from a company I host some sites with, telling me that “Your account has been abusing CPU resources for an extended period of time. As a result all of your sites have been cached in order to ensure continued performance stability of the server.”

The company in question hosts some of my REALLY low traffic sites (sites that maybe get 100 visitors a month if I’m lucky), as I just needed a place to host these sites without cluttering up my high-dollar servers. So I wasn’t sure what could be going on. Thankfully, they sent over some logs to show the unusual CPU usage, and I saw that a WordPress portfolio site I host for a family friend was the culprit, and most of the traffic was to a particular page.

So naturally, I went to the page to see what was going on. And when I got there, I saw that the page had 8000+ comments. WTF?!

Luckily, I was able to dig up the admin credentials, and logged into the dashboard to take a look. What I saw really blew my mind: 850+ comments in moderation and 25,000+ approved comments! Turns out, when they had setup this site, they never installed any sort of spam comment plugin, let alone Akismet!!

I went ahead and installed my spam plugin of choice, along with Akismet. After that, I had to get rid of all this spam. While I could have gone in through phpMyAdmin and emptied out the comments table (since 100% of the comments were spam), I instead tried out a plugin that was recommended in the WordPress support forums, WPCommentCleaner.

The plugin lets you wipe out with a single click of a button, and you’re able to choose between unapproved comments, spam comments, and approved comments. This is helpful if you have 5000 spam comments that you want to get rid of, but you have 500 legitimate approved comments that you don’t want to mess with. Again, if you know how to manipulate SQL, you can do this through phpMyAdmin, but it’s so much easier using a plugin for it.

That’s what I decided to do, and it couldn’t be easier. Since I hadn’t used it before, I used WP-DB-Backup to backup the database first (which took FOREVER given the amount of comments in the system), but better safe than sorry. And after that, with three simple clicks, I had gotten rid of all the spam.

So if you’re stuck in spam hell, download this plugin and make your life a little easier.

After Nearly 10 Years, I’m Leaving GoDaddy..

Goodbye-GoDaddy

For almost 10 years, I’ve used GoDaddy for domain registration. The first domain I ever purchased was actually through Network Solutions, but I soon learned that I was paying WAY too much over there, and made the switch to GD. Now over the years, I had read horror stories about them, but I never had any issues with them. I registered around 100 domains with them, and paid the hefty renewal fees every year.

This past year, GoDaddy hiked up their rates a bit, and even with coupons, the best deal that I could find would cost around $8.50/domain. That wasn’t so bad. But when I went to renew a domain back in January, the best price I could find with them was a little over $10. And then yesterday I went to renew another domain that was expiring, and NONE of the promo codes were working, leaving me with the decision of renewing this domain for $12.50, or transferring it to somewhere else.

I chose the latter. After doing some research, I decided to transfer my domain to NameSilo. They charge $8.39 for a domain, and if you use the code SAVEMEABUCK, you can save a dollar off of your order. What I like about NameSilo is that I don’t have to hunt around for coupons each time one of my domains come up for renewal, as their regular price is just $8.39. And their reputation seems to be rock solid, unlike some other registrars out there.

Now, I won’t like, the process of transferring your domain from GoDaddy to NameSilo isn’t exactly clear, so I’ve laid out the steps if you want to do this:

  1. Created an account on namesilo.com.
  2. Logged into your GoDaddy account and launch the Domain Manager on the domain you want to transfer.
  3. Under DOMAIN SETTINGS, manage the LOCK setting and unlock the domain so it can be transferred. (I think GoDaddy has them locked by default)
  4. Scroll down to the AUTHORIZATION CODE section at the bottom and have it email you the authorization code. (You use this code to initiate the transfer on NameSilo)
  5. Once you receive the authorization code, log into NameSilo and select the TRANSFER tab.
  6. Put your domain name in the transfer a single domain and click search.
  7. Put in the authorization code that GoDaddy emailed you and click Transfer these domains.
  8. At this point, you have to pay for the domain transfer using the code SAVEMEABUCK, bringing the price down to $7.39.
  9. You will receive an email from GoDaddy about the transfer, and you need to click the approve link in the email.
  10. It will log you into your GoDaddy account, where you can either approve or deny the transfer. Approve it if you want to allow the transfer to go through.
  11. You then should get an email from NameSilo and you go to your account there and accept the transfer and it is done.

The whole process took around an hour from start to finish. Once you do one, you’ll find the process much easier the next time around.. But since GoDaddy doesn’t have the most user-friendly interface, it’s a little confusing the first time around. Hopefully these directions will help you out.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below, and I’ll help you out the best that I can.

Adios GoDaddy!

13 Signs That You’re An Affiliate Marketer (Infographic)

The guys over at The Mail whipped up a cool infographic showing 13 signs that you’re an affiliate marketer. How many of these signs apply to you?

13 Signs That You’re An Affiliate Marketer

Choose Your Business E-Mail Address Carefully

E-mail

This afternoon, I opened up Outlook and saw literally THOUSANDS of e-mails with the same subject line: Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender

There were over 2600 e-mails like this, and more were coming in every minute. I immediately called my server admin to find out what the heck was going on!

He did some digging, and found that some spammer in Brazil was spoofing e-mails using our e-mail address, and apparently his mailing list had LOTS of bad e-mail addresses. Now I’ve seen things like this happen in the past on a much smaller scale, but never anything like this. And the problem was that since these e-mails weren’t coming through our mail server, we were powerless to do anything about it.

The big problem was that it was crippling my inbox, and I couldn’t get anything done. Since this was an older e-mail address that’s rarely used anymore, I decided to simply delete the account and create a new e-mail address on the same domain.

The previous e-mail address was info@mydomain.com, whereas my new e-mail address is myfirstname@mydomain.com. Spammers may still send out e-mails using variances like info@mydomain, webmaster@@mydomain, sales@@mydomain, etc, but at least I won’t be getting all the bounce backs anymore!

I have hundreds of business cards with the old e-mail address on them, but that’s life..

So the takeaway from this is to be mindful when creating e-mail addresses for your business. Don’t choose typical e-mail address that start with info, webmaster, sales, or something like that, as once your domain gets on a spammer’s radar, it’s game over!