Friday, March 1, 2013

International Sales vs Isolationism

Wow, serious sounding topic - but no, flippant as ever and relevant to doll makers/sellers!

Let's pretend I still get time to make dolls, one of the great things about the internet and venues like Esty and Ebay was that I no longer just sold those dolls face to face to people who had ventured out to a local Craft Fair. I could sell internationally and reach doll lovers the world over. Yay! Of course that throws up minor niggles like negotiating the baffling pricing and small print of international shipping, making buyers aware of the fact that THEY (not me) are liable to pay any Import Duty their country demands, and tracking parcels that have left these shores. Sometimes it's a headache, but on the whole I get a big kick out of knowing that there are people who own my dolls in the USA, Canada, Mexico City, Russia, Japan and all across Europe. It's all good then?

Well, last summer I decided to sell one of the dolls I collect (yes, I end up giving all the money I get from making dolls to other people/companies who make dolls!), a Sybarite fashion doll, on Ebay. Ebay and Paypal (both owned by the same company) have quite strict rules on refunds and if as a seller I post out an item that didn't have tracking information and insurance, well, if it doesn't arrive I just lost everything as the buyer gets an automatic refund and I get a black mark against my name. So when selling dolls as costly as Sybs, you don't want to take any chances!

Ebay now allows the seller to restrict the countries they will send to. This is very handy because from the UK there is no option for sending parcels to Italy with tracking and insurance. Therefore, reluctantly, I put Italy on my restricted list. Ebay then don't allow any user resident in that country to bid or contact me about my listing. That sounds great but a lot of Italian people love Sybarites and a lot of them found my doll on Flickr and began a ruthless hate campaign that really upset me. In the end the winner bought the doll on behalf of her sister in Italy and shipped the doll off at her/their own risk. She got the doll and all was well. Eventually the trolls got fed up and went back to being thoroughly unpleasant to whomever they normally aggress. I guess the moral of that story is to be inventive if you really want something and the seller can't send it to you because of ebay/paypal restrictions... oh, and sending sellers hateful messages won't make them keen to sell to you!

Today I get a message from a friend in the US telling me the outfit for my other nude Syb is available in a US Ebay shop. I follow the link but the seller will not send outside the USA and has put restrictions on her listings so not only can I not bid, I can't even ask her if I could buy and have it shipped to my friend. I guess it is someone doing the same as me with the poor Italians but this seller has stated that they will NOT SHIP OUTSIDE THE USA. This is a theme that comes up a lot with US based sellers on Ebay and Etsy alike. You send them a polite message saying you are quite happy to foot the shipping cost and pay all the duties and taxes, and get a terse reply that they are an American seller and only sell in the US! Isolationism or what?

I guess that wouldn't annoy me so much if this shop was selling US made/bought goods but Sybarites/Superfrock are a British company! That outfit was bought over the internet from here in the UK and shipped to the States, the buyer, being in the US, didn't have to pay the 20% VAT tax the rest of us in Europe have to foot and most probably got the parcel past the relaxed US customs system without paying Import Duties too. Then they have the nerve to say they won't sell to anyone outside the US!

Yes, I know, there are many really lovely American artists and sellers on Etsy in particular, who when sent a polite request from overseas, go to great lengths to ship out to foreign buyers. There are lovely outward looking people right across the States who see the Internet as a way of taking their business global, but lately I have had an increasing number of encounters with those who think the US of A is a big enough market and the rest of us can stick our money where the sun don't shine - Charming!!!


Abi said...

Well shoot, that sucks. I feel a bit pissed the Italian biotch got her stuff after reading that.
And, if you want me to get the stuff from over here, and send to you, let me know!

e.f. bartlam said...

Give us names...we'll take care of these clowns for you.

Unless they're like...really far away.

I guess we could buy their stuff and then not pay for it. We'll burn 'em down. Just say the word.


Yve said...

Hee hee, thanks for the slightly psychotic support there E.F, glad to know you've got my back ;o) As you may have guessed I was having major "spit my dummy out" tantrum that morning! Needless to say my friend in the States bought the outfit and it's winging it's way back to old blighty as we speak :o)

Thanks Abi old chum... I imagine you on the ranch being a thousand miles from the first Post Office though ;o)

Aimee Jeffries said...

I always enjoy your posts :) Though I've only dabbled in ebay, and haven't gotten around to filling my etsy shop yet, all of the doll artists in the USA admit 90% of their sales are international. Figuring out the ins and outs of shipping is definitely a nail biting experience for me I just can't imagine excluding the rest of the world. I did have Italy on my blocked list because of all the stories I read about shipping nightmares and packages getting lost so often.

Yve said...

Thanks Aimee :o) I hear Russia is now one to avoid as well sadly. I have shipped there a few times with no problem but read an official post by UPS earlier warning people that there are now huge risks associated with sending packages addressed to private individuals in Russia because their Customs department. Quite scary, I will try and find a link.

Yve said...

Here you go: