Adventures on EBay

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As I reported in earlier posts, on December 9th I bought several items from Sears and received over 20 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar.  I then sold those items on EBay for a small loss.  In the end I was out a total of $391.43, but I gained over 49,600 Ultimate Rewards points.  My cost per point came to .79 cents each.  I consider anything less than the Fair Trading Price of 1.31 cents to be a win, and anything less than 1 cent per point to be a big win.  For details about these exploits see the following posts:

That wasn’t the whole story though.  Along the way I made mistakes, I made a friend, and I ended up with an extra Barnes & Noble Nook.  Read on.

The Auctions

I listed my items on EBay with free USPS Priority Mail shipping (e.g. I would pay for shipping) and I timed the auctions to end early enough before Christmas to ensure that anyone ordering a Christmas present would receive it in time.  In general, this strategy worked well, with one hiccup.  All of the items sold for a decent price.  With one item, the buyer immediately contacted me to say they didn’t really want the item.  I could have forced the issue, but instead I relisted it and it sold again, but without a problem the second time.

The Mix-up

The real fun occurred the Wednesday before Christmas.  I received a message from one of the buyers who said that she had ordered a Nook Color, but had received a Canon T3i DSLR camera instead!  She was very unhappy because the Nook was intended to be a Christmas present for her mom! 

Oh man.  I had accidentally swapped the Nook and the camera!  A look at the shipment tracking of the other package showed that it had not yet been delivered, but it was close.  I contacted the camera buyer to see if they too needed it by Christmas, but never heard back.

The Solutions

For the Nook buyer, I found a Sears within a few miles from her house.  Using extra Sears gift cards I had, I ordered a second Nook (through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, of course) and scheduled it for her to pickup at her local Sears.  She was so happy with this solution that she offered to overnight the camera to my other buyer!  I offered to pay her for this, of course, but she refused payment.  I couldn’t believe how generous she was!

So, now most of the problems were solved except that a Nook Color was still headed toward the camera buyer.  I had never heard back from him so I didn’t know if he would be willing to mail it back to me.  Instead, I found a USPS package recall form.  I filled it out and brought it to my local post office.  They were supposed to fax it to the delivery post office and call them as well.  I was told that a package recall had a pretty slim chance of success so I didn’t expect much, but when I checked the tracking info the next day, it showed that the package was set to “return to sender”!  Awesome!  All problems were solved!

It turned out that I had some money left on a Barnes and Noble e-gift card.  So, to thank the Nook Color buyer, I sent her the card.  I hope she or her mom got good value from it!  And, if you’re out there reading this, please once again accept my huge thanks for your help!

The Original Nook

Apparently items marked “return to sender” are not considered rush items by the post office.  It took nearly a month for me to get the package back!  I do have it, though, and that’s what counts.  Thanks USPS!

So, what should I do with the Nook?  I could sell it and make a decent profit as before.  With only one item to sell it is much less likely that I’ll mix it up and send it the wrong way.  But, no.  I have a better idea.  I’m going to give away the Nook!  I have an idea for a contest that I think will be a lot of fun.  So, if you have your eyes on a Nook Color, check back soon!


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About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Great story… you really handled that mix up well and generously, and very generous of you to give away that nook!

    Also glad the miles worked out well. After my run-in with Sears and the AA mall I have stayed away but seems UR mall is more reliable

  2. Using your own money to cure the problem with the Nook shipment, and doing it in such a way that the buyer was able to have it in time for Christmas, was above and beyond the call of duty!

    I’ll enter that Nook contest when you announce it. My 10-year-old is in love with the Nook.

  3. I had similar problems on ebay. I bought athletic gear from a popular yoga shop to earn points and decided to resell on Ebay. Everything was okay until I was getting confused b/c I had many of the same item. I sent one woman the wrong tank top, another one 2 items. Everyone was nice enough to understand my error and honestly returned the items to me. I am so glad there are honest ebayers out there.

  4. You are one crazy guy!! But you are inspiring me to try some of these strategies. Very nice how you handled that nook situation.

  5. Too bad many retailers dont have the same customer service attitude as you. I’m still fighting with Sears to get credit for items they charged me for on an UR mall bonus purchase 12/9. They tried to convince me they get to keep the tax paid on the sale as well even.

  6. Sounds like it all worked out. Too bad USPS doesn’t take it’s job more seriously. A month? What were they doing, sending it to a different rural post office every day on its way back to you?

  7. Big hat tip to that Ebay customer – very cool story. Hope the extra stress of dealing and coordinating all of that right before Christmas wasn’t draining….

    Very cool promotion with the nook – I am sure you are thinking of a good one with a prize that nice, ought to make for some fun reading!

  8. Great story indeeed. I personally get a kick out of doing such things although I know I could do better things with my time. On Cyber Monday, I bought an iPhone and Apple TV through UR Mall Apple Store link and ended up with 10 points per dollar spent. I didn’t like the Apple TV enough so I returned it and got a Roku instead. I found that after 2 statements, Chase hasn’t deducted the UR points I got for buying the Apple TV. Anybody with similar experiences? I don’t need to say where I’m going with this 😉

  9. I REALLY like your desire and drive in trying to take advantage of this, but I’m curious as to how much time you put into this.

    Can you tell us how much total time you spent between buying all the stuff on Dec 9th, receiving, unpacking, taking pics, listing on eBay, sending it out to buyers, dealing with returns, etc?

    It seems to me that based on your Fair Trading Price of 1.31cpp, you “earned” $259 from this scheme. So if you spent 10 hours total on this, you would have made ~$26 per hour on this.

    And one last question, was the cost of the second Nook included in your $391 of expenses? If not, then really you lost another ~$175 (or whatever you paid for the Nook), bringing your “earnings” from $259 down to maybe $84. Which if you spent 10 hours on this project, would be a return of ~$8 an hour.

    I admit I’m fascinated raeding your blog as I certainly love your drive to find these great deals, it just seems like a bit too much work for far too small of a return for my tastes.

    • gregorygrady: I appreciate your reading the blog even if don’t want to do the crazy things I do! If you’re wondering whether the work involved is worth it for you, then it probably isn’t. For me, this is a hobby. I don’t think of the time I spend as work. I enjoy playing this points and miles game! So, even if I ended up with paying 1.31 cents per point after a lot of time spent, I would be perfectly OK with that. I will try to answer your questions, though. I didn’t track my time, so the best I can do is estimate:

      Shopping online: 2 hours
      Listing items on EBay (including learning how to use EBay to sell stuff): 2 hours
      Packing and Shipping stuff: 1 hour
      Dealing with the pre-xmas snafu: 3 hours
      Total estimated time: 8 hours

      So, your 10 hour estimate actually looks pretty close! I tried to err on the high side though, so it might have been as little as 5 hours or even less.

      I did not include the cost of the second Nook in my results. I could have re-sold the original Nook and received similar returns from that transaction, so it seems easier to calculate as if it didn’t happen. If you do want to include the 2nd Nook into your calculations you need to factor in the fact that I got over 16 points per $ from buying it (10X for the gift card, 6X for UR Mall at the time) as well as the value of the Nook itself. The fact that I decided to give it away doesn’t change the fact that it has value.

  10. Got it, I can understand that this is a hobby for you which is why you don’t count this as working time. If I counted my FT reading time as working time, I’d probably come out way behind with a lot of wasting time, but I too consider it a hobby. And yes, I guess I should have also taken into acct the UR pts you earned for the second Nook as well as the fact that you could have resold it into account.

    Anyways, I enjoy reading your blog, so keep up the good work. For some reason, I am drawn to it and I read it first before the other blogs when I see there is a new post. I like your drive and thinking, and over the next few years you will certainly be stumbling onto more and more ways to get far more “value/dollars” out of your time spent, and possibly you will even stumble onto close to a PPM or two. I just hope you will realize some of these loopholes should be kept to yourself and not blogged to the whole world, as doing so very well may kill it for not only yourself, but also others that may have stumbled onto a great deal.

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