Lessons Learned the Hard Way

I have often  heard it said that the difference between a fool and a wise man is that a wise man learns from his mistakes. While that is true as far as it goes I think a truly wise man learns from other people’s mistakes. With that in mind let me tell you about two of the mistakes I made very early on in our online selling experience so that others may avoid doing something like it.

Our first official sale on one of our Etsy.com sites was an old Fischer Price record player.

Ria and Teeny listening to a record

At the time I had our sites set up to list shipping costs to the U.S., Canada and Mexico. As it happened that first sale was to someone in Canada. I quickly learned that my assumption that shipping to Canada or Mexico wouldn’t be too much more than shipping within the U.S. was very wrong. As it turns out shipping to Canada from the U.S. is about three times more expensive. In my belated research I discovered that it can actually cost more to ship something within Canada than to ship that same item from Canada to the U.S. Go figure. Make no assumptions; do your research first and be thorough.

The next thing I discovered was that our Paypal account was not set up to receive payments. Getting that straightened out turned into a huge hassle and took more than a month. I will not go into the details as it would take too long to explain and the details wouldn’t help much since  our situation is somewhat unique. Suffice it to say, again; make no assumptions; do your research first and be thorough.

By the time we finally got everything working right the customer had been waiting over a month (and been very understanding of our ignorance). And, because of my screw-up with the shipping costs, we were actually going to lose money on the deal. Taking these things into account as well as the fact that the customer had given birth to her first child during this time (learned through our correspondence with her) we decided to make the record player a gift to her in honor of the new baby, take the loss and chalk it up to lessons learned,  good will and PR.

So at present we have decided that shipping outside the U.S. is more than we can handle. If things go well we may reconsider that at some future date; after much more research, with no assumptions. I’m sure there are other assumptions we have made. Our only hope is to discover them before we get bitten again.


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