Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Amazon seller lists book at $23,698,655.93 -- *plus* shipping

This just in from CNN -- an amazon seller listed a book, "The Making of a Fly," for $23,698,655.93 -- plus shipping! (As a friend of mine said, "I don't know about you, but I would have offered free shipping).

The lofty price seems to be the result of a "robot price war," where two sellers both used auto-pricing tools to adjust the book's price. 

As the CNN piece explains: "[Michael] Eisen [the amazon shopper who discovered the anomaly] watched the robot price war from April 8 to 18 and calculated that two booksellers were automatically adjusting their prices against each other.  One equation kept setting the price of the first book at 1.27059 times the price of the second book, according to Eisen's analysis, which is posted in detail on his blog.

"The other equation automatically set its price at 0.9983 times the price of the other book. So the prices of the two books escalated in tandem into the millions, with the second book always selling for slightly less than the first. (Not that that matters much when you're selling a book about flies for millions of dollars).

"The incident highlights a little-known fact about e-commerce sites such as Amazon: Often, people don't create and update prices; computer algorithms do.  Individual booksellers on Amazon and other sites pay third-party companies for algorithm services that automatically update prices. Some of these computer programs purportedly work very well, getting sellers up to 60% more sales because they underbid the competition automatically and repeatedly. The advantages are clear: If you're managing dozens of sale items on Amazon or eBay, it's difficult if not impossible to keep up with all of them.

"If you have more than 100 items, then it's impossible for you to manually focus on the price," said Victor Rosenman, CEO of a company called Feedvisor, which sells algorithm services to people who use Amazon."

Now that a human being noticed the anomaly, the price is now a more earthly $106.23.

More Adventures in Couponing: How to Get Free Extra Coupon Inserts

I'm continuing my adventures in couponing and sharing the tips, successes (and failures as well) with readers as I go along.

Today's tip: how to get free coupon inserts. Many "extreme couponers" buy multiple copies of the Sunday paper just to get extra coupon inserts. (In my area, they are called "Red Plum" and "SmartSource"). On TLC's "Extreme Couponing" show, one couponer said she buys four copies of every Sunday paper.

But the other day I came across an easy, free source for more coupon inserts -- your local free weekly paper! In my area we have at least two free weeklies, and when I picked up a copy of one recently I realized it had a whole coupon insert inside!

So now I plan to "mine" that source regularly going forward. I may still buy an extra copy of the Sunday paper, but I am planning to buy different newspapers, so I will not only have more coupon inserts, but I'll have new and interesting articles to read as well.

(I'm kind of a newspaper and magazine junkie...I currently subscribe to both The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, but as a concession to my husband I gave up my sub to USA Today. It was painful and I am still going through withdrawals. However I plan to get my USA Today fix on my new iPad).

Share your coupon acquisition tips (or even failures!) here!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Estate Clearouts: The Garage Sale on Crack; A Hat Box Full of 100 Dollar Bills

Yard sales are great for low prices, sure. But the modern-day bounties being captured at a different animal known as the "estate clearout" make those already rock-bottom prices look like exorbitant.

These are when a company is hired to clear all the stuff out of a home in a short period of time, like a day. Often it's a foreclosure, or sometimes someone dies and the executor of the estate or oldest child lives too far away to deal with the stuff; they just want to get it out and sell the house.

Sometimes the people doing the clearout allow the public to come and grab bag and boxfulls of stuff for dirt cheap. At the last one I was at, I got bags jammed with books, including collectible and first editions, and other random weird stuff, such as the below:

Those are several vintage collectible newspapers, with headlines about Robert Kennedy's assassination and Nixon resigning; three human hair wigs (I warned you they were weird), and two vintage fashion magazines. (Those are models Elle McPherson and Kim Alexis, in case you were wondering).

I also got a set of solid brass cups and plates, the aforementioned books, moon landing collectibles, brand new hosiery, a genuine eelskin purse, and much more. I got three bagfuls jammed with stuff for about $10. Oh yes, and a whole bunch of brand-new Clinique and other high-end cosmetics.

There was also a set of Harvard classics, furniture, hats, dresses, kitchenalia, Christmas decorations, and so much more.

But the thing that really got me? While I was there poring over the books, I overheard one of the guys running the clear out say that someone found a hatbox full of a hundred dollar bills earlier in the morning. (it pays to keep your eyes and ears open at these things).

They also said to check the pockets of jackets and coats for money.. Money was apparently stashed everywhere. I felt like I was I'm some twentieth century version of the Wild West.

So how do you find these clear outs? They're certainly not as easy to find as yard sales. First, keep your eyes and ears out.

Second, google around for any companies listed in your area with "liquidation" or even "estate" in the title. Ask around within your own social and business network about anyone who works for banks doing foreclosures.

I stumbled into the first one of these, and now I am on their mailing list.

Happy hunting!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Trying out the BlogPress App for iPad2 - Review 1

I just got my new iPad in the mail the other day. So now I am trying out various apps..it's easy to get addicted.

I was looking for an easy, good Blogger app, and a couple of them caught my eye. The one with the best reviews overall was BlogPress, which I bought and am using now. It works with not just Blogger, but also WordPress and other common blog programs.

So far so good.. I am composing this post with ease. My only problem so far was, when you first open up the app after downloading it, it asks you if you want to download/integrate Picasa, Google's photo/imaging management program. And it also gives you the option to activate Picasa if you have not already.

So I did that, and it put me into a screen that showed my blogs and the albums associated with them. Fine. But once I got into that screen, I didn't see a way to get out of it.

I did finally get back to BlogPress to make a new post, and that was easy enough. I still don't get how it works with Picasa, but we'll see as we go along.

Finally, the only negative thing I read in the reviews was people were complaining about how the Picasa integration was showing their photos, but them also wrapping ads around them. But, I also saw a note from the developers that they had addressed this "stupid." So that was good enough for me. More on how I like BlogPress in subsequent posts. Happy blogging, all!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

eBay on How to Automatically Receive a 5-Star Shipping DSR Rating

I recently received my email copy of the eBay seller newsletter. After scrolling down a ways I uncovered this nugget -- a way to automatically get a 5-star shipping rating:

"Ship the same day the buyer pays.

As a rule of thumb, ship the item the same day your buyer pays. You'll automatically receive a 5-star shipping time detailed seller rating (DSR) as long as:

  • You specified 1-day handling.
  • You upload U.S. Postal Service, UPS, or FedEx supported tracking information by the end of the next business day Pacific Time after the buyer's payment clears.
  • Delivery Confirmation or tracking shows confirmed delivery 4 business days from when the payment clears—or within your estimated delivery time if it's less than 4 days (for example, overnight shipping)."

April 17 Price Changes for the U.S. Postal Service: 1 oz 1st Class letter not affected

From the folks at Endicia, a reminder re: the upcoming mailing / shipping USPS price changes (note the price of a 1 oz. first class letter, one of the most common types of mail will NOT change:

April Price Change

On April 17th 2011, the U.S. Postal Service will be changing prices for non-expedited mailing and package services as well as extra services. Here is an overview of what will be affected by this price change:
  • First-Class Mail letters greater than 1 oz. The price of a 1oz. First-Class Mail letter will remain unchanged at 44 cents
  • First-Class Mail postcards
  • First-Class Mail Large Envelopes/Flats
  • First-Class Mail Parcels
  • First-Class Mail International
  • Standard Mail
  • Library Mail
  • Media Mail
  • Package Services
  • Extra Services
Below is the change for First Class and Parcel Post:

First-Class Mail Pricing

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Postcards, letters, large envelopes (flats) and small packages can be sent using First-Class Mail®. This service is ideal for sending personal correspondence, handwritten or typewritten letters, and bills or statements of account. It may also be used for advertisements and lightweight merchandise. First-Class Mail prices are based on both the shape and weight of the item being mailed. For items weighing more than 13 ounces, use Priority Mail.
First-Class Mail Pricing - Letters & Postcards
Weight Not Over
Letters & Cards
(2010 price)
Letters & Cards
(2011 price)
Change% Change
1$0.44$0.44$ -0%
First-Class Mail Pricing - Large Envelopes
Weight Not Over
Large Envelopes
(2010 price)
Large Envelopes
(2011 price)
Change% Change
1$0.88$0.88$ -0%
First-Class Mail Pricing - Parcels
Weight Not Over
(2010 price)
(2011 price)
(2011 Commercial Base price)
Savings Over Retail
The following are descriptions for each classification of First-Class Mail:
  • First-Class Mail Cards – rectangular cardstock mailpiece not contained in an envelope.
  • First-Class Mail Letters – small rectangular mailpiece no thicker than 1/4 inch weighing 3.5 ounces or less.
  • First-Class Mail Large Envelopes – flat rectangular mailpiece no thicker than 3/4 inch.
  • First-Class Mail Packages – a box, thick envelope, or tube weighing up to 13 ounces.

Media Mail Pricing

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Mail books, sound recordings, recorded video tapes, printed music, and recorded computer-readable media (such as CDs, DVDs, and diskettes). Media Mail can not contain advertising except for incidental announcements of books. The maximum weight for Media Mail is 70 lbs and no more than 108 inches in combined length and girth.
Media Mail Pricing
Weight Not Over
Large Envelopes &
Parcels(2010 price)
Large Envelopes &
Parcels(2011 price)
Change% Change

Parcel Post Pricing

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Parcel Post pricing has been greatly simplified. Most of the price cells will not increase on April 17th, and some cells will actually decrease.
Use Parcel Post when sending small and large packages, thick envelopes and tubes containing gifts and merchandise, delivery to all US addresses-including PO Boxes and military addresses, Saturday and residential deliveries at no extra cost. Package can weigh up to 70 pounds and measure up to 130 inches in combined length and distance around the thickest part.
Parcel Post Pricing
Weight Not Over
Zone Average 2010Zone Average 2011Change% Change
For more, go to the Endicia page at http://www.endicia.com/pricechange/.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Learn to Coupon with Me Tip 1: Use Coupons on Smallest Size Product You Can Buy

I've been blogging about my entry into this "krazy couponing" world. While I am not yet one of the "krazy coupon ladies" that manage to get out of the store for totals like $6, I am saving more and more each time I go.

I'm sharing what I learn along the way. Today's tip? Use your coupons on the smallest size product you can. This lesson was shared on the "Extreme Couponing" show on TLC as well as in the "Krazy Coupon" ladies' book, Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey: Save Big Money & Make the Grocery Aisle your Catwalk! (Lakeland Fellranger)

Why? Because your savings-per-unit of volume will be greater that way. It may seem wise to "stock up" on a larger item with that coupon, but you'll be paying more per ounce (or milliliter, or pound, or what have you).

E.g., you have a $1 off Tasties cereal (made up name). You could use it on the $2 size box or on the $3 size box. If you use it on the $2 size box, you're saving 50%. If you use it on the $3 size box, you're only saving about 33%. Make sense?

The good news on my last shopping trip? I saved $100 using my coupons and my store card, and also a few clearance items.

The bad news? I still spent over $200. I guess I went a little ape on some quantities. Rookie mistake: remember those "Save $X on 3" or 4 or 5...mans you are paying more total! And usually, even if a promotion says "Save $X on 4," you can still get that per-unit discount if you only buy 1 of the item.

Another rookie mistake? Not looking more closely at what the *original* price was on the item on clearance. So I got a couple 50% off! items on clearance...but didn't realize one of them had an original price of $17! (Conditioner, of course..what else?).

That's it for today. More lessons in future posts! Meantime share your lessons here. :) And check out thekrazycouponlady.com and the couponmom.com (author of  another great book about couponing, Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey: Save Big Money & Make the Grocery Aisle your Catwalk! (Lakeland Fellranger))  sites for great couponing info.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Extreme Couponing: Lessons Learned, and Limits Reached?

OK, I am learning a lot as I delve into the wacky world of "Extreme Couponing." One is that I most definitely do not foresee myself special-ordering 1000 (as in one thousand) boxes of Total cereal from the grocery store so I can get a huge haul of free cereal when matched up with coupons, as uber-couponer "Nate" did on TLC's "Extreme Couponing" show.

Above: Nate points to just a small portion of his huge household stash. (From the TLC Extreme Couponing web site).

Now, a 3 or maybe even 6 months' stash? OK, that I might do.

But what I do plan to do, after watching the first two shows (and also reading the KrazyCouponLady's book) is to from now on get multiple copies of the Sunday paper. You see, just having one clipped coupon for an item ain't enough. You have to have *multiple* coupons for what you want, and you also have to wait until the store where you shop puts on its deepest discounted sale for that item. So it's stockpiling the coupons, and watching and keeping on top of the sales, and *then* pouncing.

Now I get the whole multiple-copies-of-the-paper thing. You basically plan it so you stockpile your products each time they go on that big sale, enough so your stockpile lasts until it goes on that big discounted sale again.

Now, I think folks like Nate take it a bit to the extreme. I mean, renting a trailer to pull their haul of groceries home? Spending many hours in the store, essentially consuming whole days? I don't want to get that far out there. But I hope to do it enough to make a dent in my monthly grocery budget. Let's see how it pans out!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Come on a "Krazy Coupon Lady" Couponing Journey with Me

I'm going to try to be one of the "Krazy Coupon Ladies." Want to join me?

There are a couple of great books to get you going, which  I'm going to recommend in a moment, but first I want to share my recent big-coupon-savings moment with you. It was at CVS, which has recently installed a coupon center kiosk right in the front of the store.

That's important because it eliminates the "I forgot to bring my coupons with me" problem..you simply go right up to the kiosk when you walk into the store, and see which coupons it spits out at you!

So I walk up to the kiosk, and it gives me a $15 Extrabucks reward...nice! Add that to the 20% off coupon I already had, and I wound up paying about $7 for over $30 in items.

The basic idea of extreme couponing is to save *ALL* the coupons that come in the Sunday paper (some people even buy multiple copies of the Sunday paper), and then use your coupons in conjuction with big sales when they come along. (This means keeping an eye out for when items go on those "great sales").

There's more to it than that, but that's the basic tenet put forth in both coupon book bibles, The Coupon Mom's Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half: The Strategic Shopping Method Proven to Slash Food and Drugstore Costs by Stephanie Nelson, and Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey by Joanie Demer and Heather Wheeler. (Links to buy both books on amazon are below..if you are going to buy them, I'd appreciate you buying them thru my amazon affiliate links, below -- and you will make *many* times your money back if you do if you simply put even some of the strategies in them into practice):

The Krazy Coupon Lady book, above, contains some info similar to the CouponMom, but with a sassier edge. It's a lot of fun, and their thing is to make it fun, not drudgery. And not to be ashamed but proud of getting those great savings. Their web site is at http://thekrazycouponlady.com/.

The CouponMom's book is also great, and like the Krazy Coupon ladies, she has a web site with los of great links to coupons and sale info, at http://www.couponmom.com/.

Want more couponing? Catch the TLC show, Extreme Couponing -- it's on tonight (if you're reading this today, April 6, 2011) at 8 and 9 pm ET, but checkTLC: http://tlc.discovery.com/tv-schedules/special.html?paid=2.13700.56445.41059.0 for your local listing.

And share your krazy coupon stories with me as we try this together. I'm off to CVS -- wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Make Money Selling Your Catalogs on eBay

Wouldn't it be nice to make money on stuff you already get for free on a regular basis?

You can, if you receive the types of catalogs that resell well on eBay.

The best examples of catalogs that both come my way a lot in the mail and also sell well on eBay are the Victoria's Secret catalogs. These must show up in my mailbox at least once a week, if not more. (I do, in fact, order items from their catalog pretty regularly, but not super frequently. The more you order, I notice, the more catalogs they'll send you).

The most valuable of these catalogs are generally the older ones, such as 1980s, but even 1990s and 2000s ones can do well. Sometimes it's just a specific fashion model people are looking for, so be sure you put some of the models' names in your listing, especially at least one in the title or subtitle.

And sometimes new catalogs grouped in a lot do well: a lot of 40 from 2010 - 2011 just sold for $19.99.

(Below is a sample of some of the VS catalogs that sold for the most on eBay recently):

You wouldn't believe how much some other types of catalogs sell well. For more info on other catalogs that can do extremely well, and how to get them, check out my ebook, Make Big Buck Selling catalogs on eBay, available at my bookstore below:


You may need to scroll down just a bit.

Happy selling!