Election 2016 for Dummies: Free Trade

When politicians throw around the phrase, “free-trade”, do you understand what it means?  Most Americans mistake the phrase “free-trade” for phrases we commonly associate with positive American values. Does, “Free-Trade” mean equal opportunity for Americans and an open market?  The answer is yes and no.

Yes, if your name is Xi Jinping, and you are the ruler of China.  No, if you are an American who is unemployed, underemployed, self employed and (or) involved with selling, buying, or trading which is pretty much every resident of the United States.  When you buy a pound of fish at the market, you are making your purchase under the Free Trade Agreement.  When you buy toilet paper, you are making your purchase under The Free Trade Agreement.  When you sell your jacket on Ebay, you are in the thick of the impact of The Free Trade Agreement.  How come no one bought your jacket?  It’s a perfectly good jacket, it’s in style, free from stains and you priced it to sell.  Here’s why…

First off, lets make it clear that there are three phrases which are used interchangeably.  They are all names for the same policy.

1) The Trans-Pacific Partnership
2) US-CHINA trade
3) FREE TRADE AGREEMENT

Why should  this affect you or your vote in election 2016?  Donald Trump is against free trade.  Hillary Clinton helped to enact it.  It affects you personally, regardless if you pay taxes or are exempt from paying taxes.  It is a major topic that affects every single American from age 1 month to 100 years.

You work hard for your money 40 hours a week.  At the end of each week and average of 33% of your hard earned money is take out of your paycheck in the form of taxes.  The purpose of tax collection is to provide our government with the financial means to do things like repair and maintain the roads, bridges, lighting fixtures and guardrails you encounter to and from work.

Another portion of your money is supposed to be placed in trust and given back to you in the form of health insurance, dental care, and retirement income aka social security.  When you pay taxes that money you worked so hard for is NOT set aside for you, your retirement or any other purpose it was intended to be collected i.e safe bridges, safe roads, to pay the labor union workers who repair the bridges, roads and maintain the lawn between the median.

Unfortunately, this is not how your hard earned money is being spent.

Over $85 Trillion of YOUR personal money is being sent directly to Xi Jinping, the ruler of China. On top of YOUR personal money being sent to Xi Jinping, the ruler of China, he has negotiated special interest deals:

1) “Free shipping from China”. American shoppers don’t seem to understand that shipping is NOT free. How much money in gas does it take to fill an airplane? A Tanker? A big rig? A car? How much is the annual salary of a postal employee? A customs agent?
The American government is paying Xi Jinping, the ruler of China $85 trillion which came out of yours, mine and our paychecks to provide free services and services that are so discounted that it’s priced below what it actually costs to provide.
a) American business based in China and Chinese manufacturers are able to ship a product to my next door neighbor for $2.80 while it will cost you, me and us $12.95 to ship the same product to our family located one town away from us. This is why on shopping sites like eBay, American family based businesses are not being shown to you in search results. Many of those families are now on food stamps and welfare along with the Walmart employee our general public loves to degrade for not fitting the media defined definition of success. Most of those families are headed by college educated who are permanently unemployed because their position was eliminated as a result of The Trans-Pacific Partnership AKA US-CHINA trade.
b) It is no secret to American politicians and special interests groups that Xi Jinping is using the billions of free United States Dollars that’s being handed to him on the backs of the once middle-class, now poverty-class, to spend $32 billion on new infrastructure and infrastructure improvements in China. Here in America, since our government no longer has that $32 billion, we drive over an unmaintained bridges in and throw money in a toll booth that is in place for the purpose of employing Americans to work the toll booths, fix the gaping potholes that punch your stomach when you drove over it, to fix the bridges that have not been maintained in 15+ years and have a 50-50 chance at failing and collapsing while you and your family are on your way to grandma’s house.
c) Xi Jinping, the ruler of China, is using the money The United States, Inc. is giving him for “free-trade” to employ hackers to hack things like VA hospital data banks to steal my fingerprints, social security number, financial information, and employment history from the United States office of Personnel Management, to employ hackers to steal proprietary information and technology like that of Devens’, Massachusetts-based AMSC turbine software or Jobs’ Apple operating systems, and to gain access to OUR POWER GRIDS, and to manipulate our economy by devaluing the true value of the Yuan along with the countless documented criminal behavior as seen in news reports over the last 10+ years.

In the United States we do not have employment opportunities in the manufacturing industry.  Everything in the world in made in China including most “American made” products.  In a balanced free trade agreement, there would be equal opportunity for Americans to work in the manufacturing industry, unfortunately, due to our current “free trade agreement” this will never happen.  The US government has paid China billions of dollars for free business set ups, free manufacturing plants, free manufacturing equipment, and free warehousing.  The warehouses given to China are located in both countries. China also moves their products for free to America via cargo ship and cargo plane on the back of your weekly paycheck.   I know of no American business who has been given this same opportunity.  Had the opportunity been given to us, we would have jobs, safe products that are not filled with toxins, and a true free trade with financial opportunities flourishing around us.

There is also the manipulation of the Yuan, which is the Chinese currency.  China is the worlds leading exporter (a pound of fish) of goods and products.  China does not buy a pound of fish from America because America does not produce a pound of fish.  When a country is selling more stuff to the world than it is buying (a trade surplus) the price of its currency is supposed to go up.  The Chinese currency is actually stronger than the American dollar.  American law makers are fully aware of this but because so many American politicians and CEO’s have business interests (example: Apple computers are built in Chinese manufacturing plants at a cheaper SHORT TERM cost than it would be in America.)  located in China.    Therefore, factories in other countries close, people in other countries lose their jobs and the wealth of nations shifts to the currency-manipulating country.

Currently China is claiming that 1 Dollar is equal to 15 cents.   The truth is 1 dollar is more like $2.05.  This means that YOUR paycheck is $400.  A Chinese equivalent to your paycheck would actually be $820.00 – this is why politicians, corporations and special interest groups are pushing “free trade”, because they are doubling and tripling their dollars while main street America is less than 1 days pay away from homelessness.  The American public is being scammed.  Hillary Clinton(D) is one of the responsible parties.  Donald Trump(R)  and Bernie Sanders(D) are attempting to get rid of this agreement so that Americans may live in financial prosperity once again.

 

 

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Devin Wenig Admits eBay is Stealing from it’s Sellers

Two very important facts the reader of this article needs to know before you press play and hear Devin Wenig’s admission during an interview with CNBC’s Jon Fortt.

As of 2016, although it’s been widely known by main street America since the bottom of the financial market crash in 2009 that the American governments statistics on unemployment and poverty rates are highly inaccurate (Inaccuracies in the Census), it’s finally quietly been revealed that less than 50% of the American population actually participates with American Census surveys. Basically the American government is quietly admitting that their numbers are severely inaccurate, with the highest inaccuracies occurring between the years of 2010 and 2016.  Why am I writing about skewed unemployment and poverty rates in an article about eBay?

eBay doesn’t provide information on the number of full-time American sellers they have on their site but in 2006 ACNielsen, on behalf of eBay, found that approximately 1.3 million sellers around the world use eBay as their primary or secondary source of income. In 2015 there is an estimated 6.7 to 9.7 million families around the world who use eBay as their primary or secondary source of income..

 The Admission:  Wenig admits that eBay sellers do not get what they pay for:  “listings aren’t getting seen on eBay because of the sheer number of listings and its lack of structured data”.

It’s a bold statement and one that the FTC needs to look into.   It is a known fact that Americans are suffering.  American families are being devastated financially while eBay CEO’s boast billion dollar salaries and Chinese based manufacturers who skip the middle men and undersell out from under, directly to the public are being given top priority.   eBay, with the help of Cassini Search Placement, and now Artificial Intelligence (AI),  will only always produce Chinese products  to the eyes of consumers while admitting to suppressing American based products and small American businesses.

In 2016 the average monthly rent or mortgage cost for the average American is just less than $1500/month and the cost of basic survival is $3500/month.   Many American based sellers have experienced a drop in monthly salary from an average range of $10,000.00 -$2000.00 to a range of $1000.00 if you are lucky, to as low as $100.00 monthly.  Utter devastation.

eBays small American business owners have joined Walmart employee’s in line for welfare, food stamps and low-income housing.  China on the other hand, is spending 33 million on new infrastructure and has experienced a record-setting boom in sales of luxury goods and vacation packages.

Myself as an eBay business owner, I once grossed an average of $6000 to $10,000 per month and was able to provide a full-time job to one employee, as well as ensured continued employment for my suppliers, most of which were local, and all were located in my state of residence.  Unfortunately in 2016 my average gross eBay income is $600.00/month.  I am permanently unemployed, on food stamps, and at 50 years of age, supplement my income with a $8/hr part time job.   The money I am currently earning is entirely spent on the cost of living.  No clothes, no entertainment, no ice cream treats.  Rent, utilities and $25 a week for food.   Try and eat healthy with a budget of $25.  As opposed to preparing for my golden years and retirement I will be living hand to mouth and working for the rest of my life, through my elderly years and until my death.

My once full-time helper is also permanently unemployed and has moved back home with her parents where she is now a burden to her elderly parents, living on a fixed income.  My suppliers can no longer depend on my income to pay their employees, and have eliminated most of their full time positions thus confirming that when one small business makes or loses progress, an entire community makes or loses progress

Seeing that eBay culture has always been a mirror of what’s happening in mainstream American culture, multiply my personal experience and my local communities experience by 9.7 million and here Mr. Devin Wenig, is all the data you need.

In light of Mr. Devin Wenig’s admission, I have filed a sent the admission along with my complaint to the Federal Trade Commission:

Devin Wenig admits in an interview that items are not being seen because the search engine is not able to show all of the items it has listed on the site. He says he is building the worlds largest catalog (with products that don’t belong to him) but offers no solution in the interim. The current search program called “Cassini” filters products out of search results based on a number of of criteria, one of which being a vendors sell through rate. Since our products are not being seen, it places a fair amount of vendors at a devastating disadvantage.

What’s even more striking is that a vendor with a 100% feedback rating and “Top Rated Seller” status is supposedly being given higher placement above vendors with lower ratings, yet we continue to see Chinese based manufacturers with subpar feedback ratings and NO “Top Rated Seller” status at the top of best match search results which is the default setting.

To further complicate things for certain vendors, eBay has contractual agreements with Chinese manufacturers that assistance with and often free warehousing space within the United States. This same agreement is not being made available to American vendors or any other vendor who is not based in China. It is especially a disadvantage for American vendors because if a shopper intends to filter out Chinese based manufacturers via searching by geographic location, and they choose the option of shopping only in America, the real American vendors’ products are again being suppressed and the Chinese products being stored state side are the only products being shown to shoppers.   The precedent of, “most popular” has already been set by the featured Chinese items because they had already been favored prior to being shipped to America.

The Sherman Act states it is against the law to prevent free and unfettered competition but this is exactly what eBay is doing. The rules of trade outlaws every contract eBay has offered to Chinese manufacturers but haven’t offered Americans (or any other country)  in a definite conspiracy in restraint of trade.

The catalog;  Mr. Wenig states he is building the worlds largest Catalog.  This requires vendors to provide a manufacturers MPN and UPC codes, however, the majority of American vendors do not have access to such codes because our products are vintage, used, and (or) rare and do not have such codes. Those of us who sell such products are being advised by eBay to write “does not apply” in the space the MPC & UPC codes are to be entered on the “Sell Your Item Now” form, thus ensuring our products will be excluded from the catalog and search results.  

Mr. Wenig states, “listings aren’t getting seen on eBay because of the sheer number of listings and its lack of structured data”  yet his attempts at designing a more “functional” search filter continues to exclude the very vendors who made eBay popular which are the vendors who sell collectables, rare, vintage and used products.

A vast majority of American based eBay sellers are a part of the permanently unemployed population, are temporarily unemployed, under employed or have started an at home based business when eBay made it a viable option back in the late 1990s’.  Most have depended on their incomes generated by the sales from their eBay products for their very survival.  That source of survival is being illegally pilfered out from under us in a bid for Chinese dollars.

There is no question that eBay is a for profit business, however, when compared to the profit potential eBay has by allowing vendors who aren’t based in China to have their products seen because by standard of practice, those products sell for a higher dollar amount and generate more final value fee’s..

My experience with catawiki.com

Money!  Money!  Money!!  Did somebody say money?

I knew that might get your attention.  It got mine too!  As a full time home based eBayer of 12 years, I was immediately hypnotized by the prospect of an alternative to eBay, especially in seeing the flurry of bidding activity on Catawiki.

SCAM ALERT!!!

There is a lot you need to know about Catawiki before you think about getting involved, especially if you do not live in Europe.   I caution you on a number of different levels no matter what country you are joining them from:

1.  If you consider how American based eBay sellers (and most European, Australian and Canadian ebayers) responded to the idea of China being invited to sell their products on eBay U.S., EU, AU and CA, you will understand how many of the Dutch auctioneers of Catawiki may view you.  If you are not in the Netherlands, you are NOT favored.  Many Netherlanders don’t understand that the American media, it’s financial fraternity and their political actions is not a true representation of most American citizens, they assume we are all equally self entitled and brash.

2.  A seller on Catawiki has no control of their product listing once it is  uploaded to the site.  You can not delete or edit your product description. You will have to contact the Auctioneer to make any changes.  I know many eBayers will preload their listing apps or schedule auctions days and weeks in advance.  You can’t do that on Catawiki.  Only upload what you can afford to pay for, out of pocket for shipping costs and a very lengthy turnover time.  If you list too much too fast you will get in over your head.  I found this out the hard way when 32 of my auctions were listed over a period of 3 weeks.  32 auctions x an average of $28 per shipment = 896 USD out of pocket.  I don’t know too many Micro businesses (ebay sellers) who can afford this, especially when the profit turnover can take anywhere between 4 weeks to 6 months and your inventory is in limbo.  That’s significant and can bankrupt you.

This also means if you are the type of business person who works by the, “more eggs/more baskets” philosophy, if it’s a one of a kind or single item, you will need to remove it from every other site once it’s uploaded to Catawiki because if it sells on ebay before it even goes to auction on Catawiki, you are S.O.L.  The auctioneer will most likely let the auction run anyway knowing full well the product is not available.  Catawiki in turn will dock 50% of the final value of said product and claim it as a fine for misbehavior regardless of whether or not it was your fault.  If this happens, you can try to e-mail your auctioneer to stop the sale or to cut the listing but in my experience, the auctioneer will have little regard for your wishes, wants or needs.  I’m tempted to believe there must be a commission agreement somewhere in the mix to encourage such behavior.

The example I will use is Sigrid Markus.  I e-mailed her on several occasion with the request to return my auctions to me for deletion.  Several e-mails were sent for her to stop listing my items for auction.  All of my requests were ignored with the exception of one response, “Do I really need to pull your auctions?”…. um… YES!  I’ve asked you well over a dozen times already!  I’m in over my head and you are destroying me!

3.  You may not communicate with bidders or potential bidders.  Some may think this is a good thing, but if you have an issue as the one I pointed out above, your winning bidders will not be very pleased.  This leaves you open to feedback negativity.

Communication options do not become available until after the winner of your auction has paid, otherwise,  the only communication you will have is with your auctioneer and I highly suggest you keep communications with the auctioneers to a bare minimum. When someone has that much control over your product, it also means they are in control of your success or failure.  The last thing you want to do is step on their toes, even mistakenly.

4.  Be sure you fully understand the rules, especially the post/after auction rules!  You may think you understand them because they are written very brief and seem very simple, but those simple 1 and 2 sentence rules in no way represent the depths of the actual policies.

For example, depending on how quickly your product description has been reviewed, approved, auctioned, sold, and paid for, it will take a minimum of four additional weeks from the time you’ve uploaded your product to the site before you will actually see a payday.

If your buyer, who is allowed three weeks and even longer in many instances, waits until four weeks after the sale, this moves your first possible payday to eights weeks.

Payday can very easily extend trice if there is an issue with delivery or upon delivery.   Your payment date will be pushed back again another two to three additional weeks.  In some instances you may never actually get paid at all and you will also have lost your product.

Catawiki has a habit of throwing curve calls by quoting rules that you never saw, signed or agreed to.  Here is my example; Approximately 2 months after I requested the closure of my account due to the fact that the auctioneer, Sigrid Markus, was clearly not acting in my best interest,  I received an e-mail notice that I was going to be “fined” for unbecoming behavior of my assigned auctioneer!   Due to the fact that she continued running auctions despite my repeated requests to stop, and the lack of ability to communicate with potential buyers and bidders, they buyers were duped into believing these items had been sold to them when in fact, we were underhandedly manipulated by the likes of one Sigrid Markus.

The Catawiki finance department gave me warning via e-mail that they would be withdrawing X amount of Euro from my bank account without my authorization to cover Ms Markus’s shopping spree.

5.  Only list what you can afford to lose.

Catawiki receives payment from their buyers and places those funds in an interest bearing Escrow account.  Funds will not be released to you until the buyer of your product has indicated that the transaction has been completed to their satisfaction.    If your buyer indicates dissatisfaction of any kind, your payment remains in escrow until Catawiki deems it payable.

There are no written terms associated with how long Catawiki can hold your funds.  If they decide not to pay you, you’ve lost the item, you’ve lost the out of pocket expense of shipping the item, and Catawiki is not motivated to disburse funds for which they are collecting interest on.

I repeat:  If you make an error.  If a buyer has a complaint.  If your product is delivered to the wrong address…..  if you piss off an auctioneer…. you can plan on waiting an extended and undetermined amount of time for your payment to be dispersed to you.  You may never get paid at all as your money sits in escrow collecting interest for Rene Schoenmakers, and if you think he’s going to let go, forget it!  He’s in the business of making money.  You’re loss.

6.  Just because someone claims to be an expert, it does not mean they truly are.  Catawiki’s best selling point is their auctions are curated.  While this may be the case, it will not be unusual to learn that you actually have more knowledge than your expert auctioneer.    The example I will use again is Sigrid Markus, Fashion Auctioneer.  Imagine my astonishment when she contacted me with a price comparison for a no longer obtainable gold and pearl necklace by sending me a link to a BRASS and CLOTH/velvet BRACELET from Fall/Winter 2014.  That’s a big mistake and a very costly one, not just for Catawiki but for YOU as a vendor.

There are other things that most people involved with fashion know, for example, The correct spelling of fashion brand St John is not Saint John.  Balmain & Zara are two of the most celebrated fashion houses in the fine fashion world and should not be excluded from any presentation, and  Escada is NOT an unknown brand.    I’ve heard of fudging a resume to land a coveted job but these are pretty significant mistakes and after having been employed by Catawiki’s fashion department since 2011, it’s just appalling that she still doesn’t know these very simple and basic fashion facts.

7.  Catawiki does not offer a customer service line.  Communications with auctioneers and customer service is limited only to e-mail.  Response time is slow, and Catawiki only responds during certain hours a day.  Often there will be no response at all.  It is extremely frustrating.

As I think back, with millions upon millions of collectors in this world, Catawiki is an unsaturated market for a reason.

8.  The Catawiki website says, “Our auctioneers assess all lots submitted as soon as possible. Our goal is to review your lots within a week. However, for themed auctions or highly popular auctions, the assessment may take a little longer. The moment your lot is accepted, you will receive an automated message.”

Well I can tell you right now, the above quote which I pasted from the website is not true.   At least it wasn’t for me.  After the first week had passed, and seeing my products had not been reviewed,  I wondered if maybe my items were being included in a themed auction.  My product is fashion so it was definitely a possibility and it would certainly explain by my auctions were not being included in the Thursday night Fashion listings for several weeks.

After two weeks of watching fashion auctions running without the inclusion of my products,    I assumed the delay was a simple case of “Slow to get started blues”.

After the third set of fashion auctions started without my fashions included, I started to wonder if maybe the auctioneer wasn’t seeing my submissions or maybe there was a glitch in the e-mail form.  I found myself making excuses to explain why she was not responding.   I decided maybe I should contact customer support but there is no customer phone number (red flag).  Since there is no customer service number and the auctioneer in control of the fashion category was not responding to me (another red flag),  I chose Facebook.   I was met with an enthusiastic response and the representative who messaged me assured me Sigrid Markus would be contacted expediently to find out what the hold up was.  In the interim, an e-mail appeared in my box from Ms. Markus explaining to me that she was, “very busy” and,  “did not have time to translate my product listings”, at which point, I mentioned perhaps she did not see that I already translated the auctions for her… which brings us to another red flag – never ever piss off an Auctioneer at Catawiki.  Read this paragraph again if you need to because this what I am describing is what got me into hot water.  I pissed off the auctioneer.  I made her senior officers aware that she wasn’t doing her job.   However innocent of a mistake it was, she would certainly let me know exactly what she thought of me going over her head.

Always remember, an auctioneer is in complete control and is very empowered.   Your survival on Catawiki depends solely on your relationship with your auctioneer.  If you do not play well with the auctioneer, the auctioneer can and will  make your life hell.

Sigrid Markus (fashion auctioneer), not only listed dozens of products knowing that I was not able to keep up with the out of pocket cost of shipping and in all of my pleas and protests she refused.   She also knowingly approved a duplicate listing and sent it to auction.  She admitted to Catawiki administration that she had acted inappropriately but as a result,  funds from all 32 of my auction listings remain in escrow, including the out of pocket shipping costs I incurred as a seller.  She single underhandedly sabotaged my potential to be a great part of the Catawiki family.

Did you know the United states does not have a regulative policy with the Netherlands?  With Leading Edge Capitol and Lorrie Norrington posing as, advisers you may stand half a chance by contacting the FTC but your chances are very slim.

SCAM ALERT!!!

If you are an eBayer looking for a new home or if you are an American looking to explore Catawiki, be afraid.  Be very afraid!!