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Which cash-back shopping site should you use? FatWallet vs BigCrumbs
Dec 12th, 2007 by estreet

FatWallet.com and BigCrumbs.com both pay you back a portion of their affiliate commission when you click through their links to make an online purchase. Most online retailers pay 1% to 10% affiliate commissions to websites that send buyers to them. FatWallet pioneered the model of paying part of their commission back to buyers.

How do the cash back amounts compare between BigCrumbs (CrumbSaver) and FatWallet? Here’s a few.

  1. SharperImage.com
    • BigCrumbs 4%
    • Fatwallet 8%
  2. BestBuy.com
    • BigCrumbs 1.5%
    • FatWallet Not Offered
  3. Dell.com
    • BigCrumbs 0.5%
    • FatWallet 3.0%
  4. BarnesandNoble.com
    • BigCrumbs 2.5%
    • FatWallet 4.2%
  5. Borders.com
    • BigCrumbs 3%
    • FatWallet 2%
  6. Target.com
    • BigCrumbs 1.5 – 5%
    • FatWallet 4.4 – 6%


Summary:

  • Highest payout – Generally FatWallet is better compared to BC’s CrumbSaver
  • Number of Retailers Offered – BigCrumbs 205, FatWallet 519
  • Works with eBay – BigCrumbs
  • Cash for Referring others – Big Crumbs
  • Gives to Charity – FatWallet
  • Trustworthiness – Tie, both are excellent.
  • Payments – BigCrumbs uses PayPal, FatWallet pays with Checks

I recommend using FatWallet when buying from most retailers. Use BigCrumbs for buying from eBay or other sites not offered by FatWallet. This recommendation especially holds true if you are a BigCrumbs CrumbEarner since you get a lower percentage on your own purchases.

Sharper Image on FatWallet.com
Sharper Image on FatWallet.com

Sharper Image on BigCrumbs.com
Sharper Image on BigCrumbs.com

Footnote: I determined the number of retailers each site offered by copying the web page source code from each of their main “browse retailers” pages, looking at their HTML structure and finding the retailer instances.

How to find the number of watchers on an eBay item – works for US and UK
Dec 10th, 2007 by estreet

The eBay Pulse page shows you the most watched items. But here’s how you find the actual number of watchers on those items. Until now, only the eBay seller had access to the number of watchers on an item.

This link shows you the most watched items in the collectibles category on eBay.com: http://esellerstreet.com/search.php5?catID=1. Either a category or a keyword must be entered to get results. It’s an eBay API restriction.

most watched eBay collectibles

You will also see the most popular keywords in the category. For example, popular keywords in the collectibles category are Harley Davidson, Precious Moments, baseball cards, …

You can also search by price and number of bids. I like seeing the number of bids on an item to gain insight on what’s hot.

Use this link to find the Pulsers in the Everything Else category. http://esellerstreet.com/search.php5?catID=99

Looking for the number of watchers on a particular seller’s items? You need to enter keywords from their listings. It’s another eBay requirement that you can’t search by sellerID. But don’t worry, I’m working on it.

Another eBay Pulse manipulator – Kekoa64 challenged by seller jjfjq
Dec 7th, 2007 by estreet

This listing has gathered over 50,000 watchers in 8 days. Kekoa64 has a challenger: eBay seller jjfjq (Josh Kulp) has a few tricks up his sleeves. Perhaps he’s been reading The Puls8r’s paper.

I’VE CRACKED THE CODE! MAKE $1,400 PER WEEK! – ORIGINAL

Josh Kulp Watchers

So how are jjfjq’s sales?

He sold $3,352 in eBooks on eBay from Nov 3-Dec 2, 2007. That’s $100 per day not subtracting the eBay final value fees. His listing claims you can make $1400 per week or $200 per day so supposedly he sells an equal amount off-eBay. His feedback is very good so I guess the buyers are happy with his product.

Josh Kulp has been working at it for a long time and I do think he is knowledgeable. http://www.associateprograms.com/articles/58/1/Soaring-profits-for-Josh-Kulp

Is this a scam? Probably not.
Can an average person make $1,400 a week? Probably not.

Perhaps Kekoa64 or jjfjq is The Puls8r?!?

Update 12/19: Hah! Caught them.

QuickBooks Simple Start 2008 v Microsoft Office Accounting – Both Free, but which one?
Dec 6th, 2007 by estreet

I find accounting tedious so I frequently look out my window at the wonder of winter in Chicagoland.
Christmas weather in Chicagoland

Quickbooks released a free version called Simple Start 2008. I wanted accounting software for my 1 employee S Corporation that would retrieve/import my Paypal and Bank transactions automatically. Well, the short story is: it’s not possible to automatically download transactions without out extra work and extra cost.

QuickBooks Pro vs QuickBooks Simple Start 2008

Long story on automated downloads: I installed Simple Start 2008 but it would not download transactions. You have to buy QuickBooks Pro for automated downloads so I called Intuit, the maker of QuickBooks.

I asked, “Can I download transactions from Paypal and JP Morgan Chase Bank?” Answered “Yes”.
And “Do you have a refund policy?” Answered “Yes, 60 days”.
Great, “I would like to purchase it please.” They, “That will be $179.99.”
But wait, “Your website says it is $169.99!” They, “To get that price you would have to re-download the software. For $10 more, I can give you a code to unlock your already installed software.”
Me, “Click.” They just lost a customer.

The free version of Microsoft Office Accounting 2008 allows you to import online transactions for free. They advertise that they are perfect for eBay sellers and are integrated with Paypal. Now I was ready to import my JP Morgan Chase transactions into my newly installed MS Accounting. The Chase bank site offers an online interface but they charge $10 per month to enable it. No way. I hate paying bank fees. I instead download my transactions in an Excel spreadsheet.

Importing the transactions into MS Accounting is not easy. You import the data and then match each item to an account. Soon a problem arises. When you enter a transaction, the default date is today’s date. I didn’t notice this at first so a lot of transactions show today’s date. I want to delete these transactions or edit the date. But both are impossible, you must “void” the transaction. I didn’t believe it a first but a few forums confirmed that you have to void errors.

This is a deal breaker. No one wants to look at a bunch of voided transactions. MS should know the difference between a data entry mistake and an accounting transaction that needs to be voided.
MS Office Accounting 2008

Back to QuickBooks. I manually enter transactions and finally get to the accounting. Simple Start 2008 features are pretty good. You can edit or delete any errored transaction.

SS 2008 made it easy to keep track of transfers between Paypal and Chase. It’s clear now that it’s not really possible to automatically import transactions from a bank and PayPal without manual intervention. Paypal records the funds transfer date as the date it was initiated while a bank records the date that is is completed. This must be manually adjusted.

Bottom line: Go with QuickBooks Simple Start 2008! It’s free!

The whole point of accounting is to control your money. Go with free software as long as you can. SS 2008 has a painful learning curve but don’t waste a day evaluating MS Office Accounting. You can get help from local QuickBooks instructors or ask for help on forums. Paying an Accountant to do your books without understanding what they are doing is risky and costly. Once again, there are no shortcuts for us small business owners.

Bargainland leaves eBay – Junk seller or Matchmaker?
Dec 3rd, 2007 by estreet

Bargainland is a big liquidation seller on eBay that had questionable feedback from buyers. They sell damaged and overstock products on eBay. Their no returns policy, “Caveat Emptor” (Buyer Beware), was fair warning to buyers.
Bargainland eBay feedback

But if you look at the glass half full, over 90% of the buyers liked their new junk from Bargainland. That’s quite an achievement.

As Advertised AAAAAA +++++++ RECOMMEND AAAAA++++++Great Ebay SpiritAAA++++++++++

Quite a bit of the negative feedback is from buyers heart-sick and despondent over not receiving their hard-won junk.

Won OCT 2, 2007 today is Nov. 22, still no item!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I bought and paid for this item and bargainland never sent it. I have nothing.
DID NOT GET MERCHANDISE I PAID FOR

How big were they on eBay?

I ran the eBay sales stats on Bargainland for Aug 27 -Sept 26, 2007.

Bargainland sales stats
Their sales were $302K per month, ~10K items sold at an average price of $30. My calculations show they paid eBay fees in the neighborhood of $20,300 per month. Their fees are less than 10% of their sales which is an extremely low percentage. My fees formula is: (($.20 insertion fee + .35 gallery fee) + ($1.48 final value fee)) x 10,000 items

They are a big seller but not even close to being the biggest seller on eBay. Losing $20K in monthly fees wouldn’t make eBay blink.

What junk was sold?

Their category breakdown shows they sell a huge variety of items, many of them clothing items. This is a red flag because clothing is difficult to prepare, photograph, describe and package. The operating expense for clothing sales is high.
bargainland categories

They sold some high priced items too.

Honda EU3000 Generator NR $1,401.00
Spruce & Maple Antique Cello with Certificate NR $1,081.99
Sony Viao PCG6J21 13.5 IN LCD Laptop Notebook NR $810.00
Sonicwall Pro 4060 UTM Firewall VPN NR $760.00
JVC HD70G886 70 IN Micro Display HDTV NR $750.00
Huge Lot 8 Pallets of Designer Furniture NR $719.33
Sony Bravia KDL40S2010 40 IN LCD HDTV NR $577.89

Ina Steiner reports that they are leaving eBay for their own auction site http://www.bargainland.net/.
bidtopia

They successfully match unwanted junk with wanters of junk. What would happen to this stuff if Bargainland did not distribute them to the basements and garages of American bargain seekers? Landfills? Warehouses? Crematoriums?

Best of luck to Bargainland and keep on truckin!

Outstanding paper on how sellers manipulate eBay pulse to gain watchers – Kekoa64 update
Dec 1st, 2007 by estreet

Recall my post on Kekoa64, the eBay seller of e-books on making $100 per hour. I could not figure out how they got 65K watchers on a Buy-It-Now.

This is one of the best, and most well-written papers, on eBay I have ever come across. http://www.oktshun.com/ebooks/Making_the_Pulse_Pages.pdf It’s about how eBay sellers get watchers and manipulate the eBay pulse page.

There are diagrams of tactics and strategies worthy of an MBA course. I don’t recommend duping buyers with these techniques (unless you are a narcissistic, self-centered thug that could rob their mother and sleep well at night). Kudos to mystery person, The Puls8r, for enlightening us – whoever they are.

Here’s a couple of very interesting discussions on kekoa64 FBI scam alert and shartey’s blog.

Jeff Paul’s Shortcuts to Internet Millions – separating people from their money
Dec 1st, 2007 by estreet

Update – Saturday, May 9, 2009.
The only place to get deals AND AVOID THE SCAM on Jeff Paul’s products is on eBay. You will find people who paid full price for the items and are now selling the complete set of materials for $4.79 -$17.99. Click here to see the Jeff Paul eBay items. (This is my site – it’s safe and scam-free.)

—————

Jeff Paul’s infomercial titled, “Shortcuts to Internet Millions”, was on CNBC this morning. If I act now, this service priced at just $39.95 will earn me up to $1,000,000. No computer knowledge required.

This reminds me of a secretary I used to work with who purchased 6 websites through a similar system for $2000. No lie, it’s true.

OK, so I used my “computer knowledge” to google Jeff Paul. “Scam” is a targeted Google adword for the search on Jeff Paul. This means that people searching for Jeff Paul in google are highly likely to click on the keyword “Scam”. The advertisers are trying to capitalize on Jeff Paul’s name by inferring that he is a scam but their service is not. This is an ugly business all around.

Jeff Paul googled

I know some internet millionaires. They spend years and years creating a valuable service and until it finally pays off. It’s just like any other business or endeavour. No shortcuts to be found.

However, if you would like to get Jeff Paul books and software, then buy it on eBay. You can find titles such as, “How To Make Money in your Underwear”, “Start a Mail Order Cash Flow Business Manual”, and “How to Make a Surgeon’s Income” for less than $20.

Jeff Paul book on eBay

You can also see other people’s experiences with Jeff Paul products at the Rip-Off Report.

While we’re on the subject of dipping into people’s savings, iSoldIt founder, Elise Wetzel, was highlighted in Kellogg’s 2005 magazine as an entrepreneurial success. We both went to Kellogg Graduate School of Business and I was very jealous that her business had a huge presence at the 2005 eBay Live and they were spending a ton of cash. I was watching every penny I spent.

Being an eBay market researcher, I researched the sales for their franchise stores and I saw monthly sales of $3K in the Southern states and up to $45K in California. I asked the people at the iSoldIt booth about the low sales and they did not have an answer – but their hype continued until 2006. They told their franchisees that they would set them up in a successful business overnight. Hah! The franchisee’s money instead went to iSoldIt management salaries. See the real eBay franchise story from amitheonlyone.org

Have a nice weekend and keep your hard-earned money safe!

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