• magisterrex Retro Games

    I've been gaming since the days of Pong and still own a working Atari 2600. I tend to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games. Sometimes I digress. Decades after earning it, I'm finally putting the skills I learned while completing my history degree from the University of Victoria to good use. Or so I think. If you're into classic old school gaming, this blog is for you!

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The Best Classic Board Games – Full House (1979)

Yet another Parker Brothers board game that springs to mind when someone mentions “classic gaming” is the 1979 classic, Full House.  This is one of those games that command high prices on eBay and other sites due to the twin facts that it had a relatively low distribution when it was first released, and that it’s a lot of fun.

Box front of the 1979 Parker Brothers game, Full House.

The theme of the game revolves around running a hotel, but not seriously like in Milton Bradley’s classic Hotels board game.  No, these hotels end up with a variety of bizarre guests, such as a the Owl & the Pussycat, Count Dracula, Donkey Kong, the Queen, the Tortoise & the Hare, Frankenstein’s Monster, Santa & Rudolph, and 41 other wacky characters.   The players, as hotel owners, draw three Guest Cards, and attempt to put them up for a stay in their hotel.  Some guests won’t stay because the room they want is already filled (Single, Double, Suite, or Floor), while some won’t stay because the hotel is beneath their standards (players start with Economy-class hotels, but gain opportunities through the game to improve their hotels to Medium, High-Price, or Luxury).

Box contents for the 1979 Parker Brothers game, Full House.

Players start with $7,500 and the aforementioned Economy-class hotel with two floors available to fill. Each floor is divided into four rooms: one single, one double, and two suites.  Some guests desire an entire floor – which brings in the big bucks – so one strategy might be to leave a floor open for business.  On the other hand, a guest in the hotel is worth cold hard cash, so filling to capacity is also a valid strategy.  As they about the game board, players land on squares that permit them to checkout their guests, landing on other player’s hotel squares, or get a Telegram with a random – good or bad – event to throw a curveball into the game.  Such Telegrams can be terrible news, such as Robbery (lose ¼ of your money – ouch!) or FIRE! (downgrade your hotel by one grade), or wonderful news, such as a VETO card (used to prevent the negative effects from other Telegram cards) or WINDFALL (player receives 10x the going Suite rate!).  No matter what happens during the game, the first player to reach $500K is the winner.

Some guests from the 1979 game, Full House.

Full House is a super game to play with just two or up to four players, ages eight and up.  If you enjoy a board game with lots of silly fun, Full House is the game for you.  Highly recommended!

Hey buddy, could you spare me $770.10?

On September 29th, I reported on a seller who lost $770.10 on eBay.  Here is a link to the original blog post: How would you like to lose $770.10 on eBay?

Tell me again how much you lost?

Tell me again how much you lost?

The story came to the attention of Jim Griffith (Griff), the Seller Advocate at eBay, and he asked for the details.  I passed on his contact information to the young seller, who promptly forwarded all the information to Griff.  It certainly looked as though eBay was going to make this story have a happy ending, albeit a very belated one.

Alas, over a week has passed and Griff has not bothered to respond to our young seller.  Not a simple, “received it, thanks” or a “wow, that buyer should have at least bought you dinner before doing that to you,” or even a “so sad, too bad” email.  Nothing. Nada. Zip.

I find your lack of WIN, disturbing.

I find your lack of WIN, disturbing.

I know, it’s only been a week.  But buyers who get shafted get their money back within minutes of complaining of a potential ripoff.  A newbie seller like the one who lost $770.10 should not be treated any differently.  This should be a feel good story, not another, “well, you know how risky eBay is” story.

Come on, Griff.  Tell John Donahoe to pull out his wallet.  After all, it’s only walking around money to him!

I pluck the idea out of the air, like this!

I pluck the idea out of the air, like this!

Just in time for Christmas: eBay’s Top Rated Seller Filter

By now, most eBay sellers have heard about the new Top Rated Seller program, and if they haven’t – geez where ya’ been, under a rock?

This little badge is what the hoopla is all about!

This little badge is what the hoopla is all about!

Essentially eBay is seeking to improve the buyer experience on their site by showcasing sellers that meet certain criteria that they feel are all integral factors to determining if a seller is “top-rated” or “if you’re not top-rated, then you know what you are.”  How they implement this “improvement” is to add a new search filter which limits a buyer’s search to only those items available from sellers with the TRS designation.  (With an acronym like that, gamers have got to be wondering if someone in the seller experience team is an oldschool Tandy Color Computer user.  I keep expecting to read about the TRS-80.)   For example, a search for “Sony PlayStation 3 System” yields 1251 hits using the standard search.  Clicking on the TRS filter brings only 300 hits.  That’s a pretty vast difference.  It’s more noticable with items that have less sellers selling them.  For instance, “Six Million Dollar Man Action Figure” gets 59 hits on a standard search, but only 7 hits with the TRS filter activated.  Uh oh.

Of course, there are few Top Rated Sellers in comparison to everyone else, which means that the buyer’s search will be severely limited.  In fact it’s quite possible that should they choose to activate the TRS filter, buyers will not find “IT” on eBay at all.  The real kicker is that unless you close your browser and/or delete your cookies, that pesky filter sticks around for the rest of your searching experience.  That’s right: Hello TRS, bye-bye everybody else.

Hey, where did everybody go?

Hey, where did everybody go?

I know that John Donahoe likes disruptive management, and wants eBay to reinvent itself continuously, but, honestly, did anyone actually think this one through?  It hasn’t been that long since Griff was “crying” over the amount of listings shown in the Stores in Search (SiS) program.  Remember that?  When sellers everywhere were reporting sudden increases in sales because their exposure had increased.  Obviously buyers were able to find what they wanted.  Well, maybe not the stupid ones, which leads us to what eBay did next: remove SiS and throttle back search results.  What a brilliant idea that was.  The outcry was tremendous, and many people left the eBay venue for other platforms.  Amazon would not be the force it is today (and Bonanzle wouldn’t even exist) had eBay not pulled this stupendous gaffe out of their hat.  Had they not messed with their search engine, I’ve no doubt at all that eBay would be the overwhelmingly dominate force in the Internet sales market, rather than just a major player.

You’d think that after such a debacle the power-that-be in San Jose would have learned their lesson.  No one likes to see a drop in their net worth like the entire corporate team saw in the wake of the SiS removal.  But, Mr. Donahoe doesn’t like lessons from the past.  He’s a visionary, and visionaries look only to the future.  So away with all this gloomy Guss talk of SiS, plummeting shares, and seller exoduses.  Bring on the dancing girls singing about how it’s really all the fault of bad sellers.   La-la-la, I can’t hear you!

At eBay, we see, hear, and speak no evil - sellers excluded.

At eBay, we see, hear, and speak no evil - sellers excluded.

So here we go again.  Someone comes up with a half-baked idea in San Jose, and thousands of sellers pay the price for it until someone gathers up enough hard data to show that maybe that wasn’t such a good plan after all.  This is getting old, people.   How many times does one company need to repeat the same mistake before it finds itself looking ahead at its competitors, rather than seeing them in the rearview mirror?

The way I see it, this new initiative will have one of three results:

  1. Buyers will not find what they’re looking for and will find it on another site. eBay will quietly remove the filter and explain away the loss of revenue as the fault of anything but the filter.
  2. Buyers will still buy, but only from top rated sellers. Other sellers will have to look elsewhere to sell their wares. Eventually someone in eBay will notice the decline of available inventory online, and, again, the filter will quietly be removed. See #1 for the reason eBay will give for its sudden removal.
  3. Buyers will ignore the filter altogether, and this will end up being another eBay tempest in a teacup.  With all things eBay, you never know.

What’s a busy holiday season without a fundamental eBay policy shift, right?   I don’t know why, but this video just seemed appropriate – enjoy!

How would you like to lose $770.10 on eBay?

Last year a good buyer who visited my eBay store regularly (and shall remain nameless here!) contacted me with a problem.  It seems that he decided to try his hand at selling off some of his unwanted electronics on eBay.  So he put up his  seldom-used $1200 theater projector up that was just taking up space.  He got $770.10 for it, which he decided wasn’t such a bad return and it was his own fault for buying something he didn’t use.  The buyer paid immediately, and it turned out that they bought this type of electronics quite a bit – and resold them.

Easy as reading a book!

Easy as reading a book!

In hindsight, that was RED FLAG #1 for this poor newbie seller.  The projector was delivered quickly to the New York-based buyer, and all should have been well.  Except the emails began.  “This item is scratched – it doesn’t look new.”  Which seemed odd considering that the projector was new, working, and complete in its box.

That was RED FLAG #2.  As anyone who’s ever been defrauded could predict, the buyer then filed a PayPal complaint claiming the item was Significantly Not As Described (SNAD).  The poor seller explained what he had, linked the pictures showing a clean, new projector, and mentioned that the buyer was also a seller of these items, and had purchased more than one of them for resale.  A reasonable person might conclude that this buyer was full of something other than honesty, and was making a play for his money and a new unit to sell to someone else.

But we all know that sometimes the world isn’t reasonable.  In the end, PayPal gave the buyer back his money, and the seller never received his projector back, either.  Yes, that’s right, he lost both the $770.10 AND the $1200 projector.

No merchandise - and no money!

No merchandise - and no money!

So why bring up this story a year later?

I read with alarm a blog post that was pointed out by eBay’s own blogger and voice on twitter, Richard Brewer-Hay.  Now I like what and how Richard writes.  I really do.  I think normally he provides a fairly well-balanced perspective on all things eBay, which is a very difficult thing to do when you are part of the corporation you are blogging about – but he does it with style.  So this has nothing to do with his opinion on his blog or twitter account.

But he linked us to another blog, which gushed about how eBay gave the author his money back on a transaction wherein he felt that the CD set he bought was SNAD.  He didn’t have to give the goods back.  He didn’t have to provide proof.  He just had to express his disappointment with the transaction, and eBay pulled the rug out from under the seller.

This frightens me more than any other potential eBay selling pitfall. Now I’m not saying that the buyer’s story was right or wrong; he may very well have been wronged by his eBay seller.  But to give him his money, and the product, based on him filing a complaint form is ludicrous.  Who ended up with the dirty end of the stick on that transaction?  You can be rest assured that it wasn’t eBay.

So what does this have to do with my poor buyer who was screwed out of $770.10?  Everything.  Anyone selling on eBay today better realize just what can happen.  If they sell higher ticket items, they better have some sort of insurance for this situation.  Because it’s going to happen again.  Scammers like the one who bilked my poor buyer out of his projector are going to strike again, and policies like the one that rewarded the CD Set and the money will only encourage them.  Look for the red flags – and be cautious!

If it's waving and it's red, be cautious!

If it's waving and it's red, be cautious!

Incidentally, if any eBay or PayPal employee reads this blog entry and wants to do the right thing by returning the $770.10 to my buyer, email me and I’ll give you the transaction details.  He won’t ever buy on eBay again, never mind sell.  And you know that he’s spread this information out far and wide among all his peers and contacts.  What a great story it would be if eBay made him whole again, even after all this time had passed.

Make it so, Captain Donahoe.

Hey, buddy, could you spare $700?

Hey, buddy, could you spare $770.10?

For another view of the process:  Confirmed: New eBay Resolution Process Tilts Hard Towards Buyers