FM classics: Adventures on EBay


FM Intro: While I’m on vacation, I will be lazily reposting old classic Frequent Miler posts.  Today’s post, originally published January 21, 2012, tells a story of how things can go wrong, and how problems can be resolved, when pursing points and miles…



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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