Tag Archives: customer service

Customer Service in #MTGFINANCE: Part 2

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Written By:

Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns
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Welcome back, friends. I spent the last weekend moving into a new apartment, so I didn’t have a whole time to spend on Magic. Thankfully I’ve still got some decent ideas leftover from last week’s article, so we’re going to talk about customer service in this industry a bit more. I’m sure you all want to hear about Craig Berry and the whole Reserved List buyout, but Corbin has already covered that extensively in an interesting interview with the man himself. I’d really recommend checking that out.

Last week we went over a couple of the scenarios where things can go wrong in the process of buying or selling a Magic card, and the proper procedures for both the buyer and seller to resolve things as peacefully as possible without resorting to insults and witch hunts. I’d like to start this article on a brighter note, and provide sellers with some ideas that can be used to really brighten a buyers’ day and earn those coveted five-star reviews that we all want to secure. As such, this article will be a bit more “seller focused” because that’s where I have more experience.

Freebies

Maybe this is getting to be more common practice, but I don’t buy enough singles online to personally know whether or not that’s true. What I do know is I’ve really started to enjoy shipping small little tokens of appreciation with my orders, often in the form of literal Token cards. While I’m not about to become Santa Claus and start throwing in the Wurm tokens for Wurmcoil Engine, a single Plant token for their Nissa, Voice of Zendikar can go a long way.

LifelinkDeathtouch

Seriously, these things are $3 each.

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On a similar note, how many of you ship out the appropriate checklist card when you sell a double-faced card? While they only go on TCGplayer for pennies, you save someone from having to pay $.25 or $.50 at their LGS if you just throw in the appropriate checklist card. While someone purchasing an Archangel Avacyn is probably playing with opaque sleeves at a competitive event, there are a non-zero number of people who prefer to avoid the judge call entirely and just use checklist cards in their opaque sleeves while reserving the actual card in a clear sleeve in their deckbox for an easy flip back and forth.

awake spooke

My favorite card to ship with the matching checklist is definitely Startled Awake. Do you know who’s casting this card? I’ll give you a hint; they probably don’t play with opaque sleeves, if any sleeves at all. That person will be ecstatic that they don’t need to hunt down the checklist card. Now that we’re on the subject, I’m absolutely fine with holding Startled Awake at the $3 they’re at now.

startled

It’s not quite at the point where I’d actually feel comfortable listing it on TCGplayer, because that flat .50 fee per transaction makes selling cards under $5 less than appetizing to low level sellers. Remember that there approximately the same number of these in the market right now as there are Archangel Avacyn. This is a casual all-star with ridiculously low supply, which helps beat the test that Breaking // Entering fails to pass. Being a launch promo during Dragon’s Maze kind of kills all of the potential that one had. Anyway, where were we?

breaking

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Wrong Address

Oh, right. Customer service stuff.  Now here’s a situation that’s never happened to me and I’m very thankful that I haven’t had to deal with it. Every now and then, human error gets the best of us and two orders get shipped to the wrong addresses. The Modern player who ordered four Life from the Loams gets sent a foil Kaalia of the Vaast, and vice versa for the aspiring Commander player who just wants to bash with dragons and angels. Just great. So what do you do? Do you ask them both to ship the cards back to you? You could just ask them to ship to each other…..

WRONG.

Do not do this. Ever. Nope nope nope nope nope. Do not ever put yourself or the buyer at that kind of risk. You don’t want to be giving out other people’s addresses, and you don’t want buyer A screwing up the shipping process while they end up getting their card safe and sound, while buyer B is screwed over. You also shouldn’t be sending them money to cover the cost of the PayPal shipping label. Here’s what you need to do to make this right on both ends: It will cost you a decent chunk of money, but it’s your fault multiplied by two in the first place.

1. Print out a total of four shipping labels to start with. One of these is going to buyer A, and one is going to buyer B. The other two shipping labels are addressed to you as the seller.

2. Place the necessary shipping materials inside each of two bubble mailers. That includes one other bubble mailer, the necessary sleeves, toploaders, and/or a team bag. Whatever is needed to safely package the card and return it to you.

3. Ask each buyer to safely and securely package the order just as it came, and then reseal it in the bubble mailer they received, taping the pre-paid shipping label to the envelope. Those mailers go back to you as the seller, so that you can then re-ship the correct orders to the correct buyers.

None of this can be done without tracking, because this gives buyers an opportunity to lose or even steal cards without you being able to provide evidence of what happened. Cover yourself every step of the way, and take the loss like an adult.

Of course, the exact method listed above can easily cost you $10 in shipping materials alone. For this reason, it’s only really worth it for you to do if the cards shipped to each party are valuable enough to care about being tracked. In the case of smaller orders (think $4-5), it might just be easier and cheaper to just purchase a replacement copy of each buyer’s order, and ship it directly to them via PWE, then tell them to keep the misplaced order as compensation for the trouble.

Endgame

So what’s the end goal here? As a seller, I’ve technically given you a bunch of ways to lose money in the past two articles. Paying buyers for condition discrepancies, lost orders, and throwing in free cards? Who would want to do that? If you ignore the whole “hoping for repeat customers” reason, there’s still tangible benefits for having a high feedback rating on TCGplayer.

If you start selling a decent number of cards on TCGplayer, you might want to work your way up to “Gold Star Seller” status. I’ll let you read TCGplayer’s description of what that entails.

downloadstar

That middle statement is the really relevant part to us. When you’re looking to buy on TCGplayer, you can set a filter so that you’re only looking at “Gold Star Seller”s.

star

Alternatively, you can use positive feedback from eBay or TCGplayer as references when starting to sell via Facebook or Twitter. One of the downsides of trying to start out selling on social media is a need for checkable references for accountability. Being able to prove your reputation and connect it to a “tangible” online store that can receive feedback and be named in case of trouble can help get you started in the market of Facebook and Twitter, which is where I always recommend trying to pick up singles at less than TCGplayer low prices.

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Customer Service in #MTGFINANCE

Written By:

Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns
__________________________________________________

Let’s say for the sake of argument that you’re new to the whole financial side of Magic. You’ve traded a bit at your local store, you’ve overheard discussions about how X card is worth X price now, and you’ve bought cards on TCGplayer or SCG before. Now you want to become financially savvy, and make the most out of how to sell your cards at their peaks while buying cards at their lows. There’s a whole pile of articles out there to help you do that. One of the more recently published comprehensive guides to selling a card was written by our own Travis Allen, and is a great place to start.

Unfortunately, the card you sold doesn’t just magically disappear and transform into those crisp dollar bills we all know and love. It’s not like all of your cards are double-faced, where the other side holds real (your country here) currency. You have to ship the card to another human being (or store, but for the sake of this article we’re assuming that you will be selling to other people). A person that has hopes, dreams, and emotions. Just like you.

Instead of focusing on bulk today, I’m going to try and go over one of the oft-forgotten aspects of this whole #MTGFINANCE thing; customer service. We’re going to look at some common mishaps and situations that sometimes occur when a buyer purchases a card from a seller, and then talk about some solutions and practices that each party can remember to help approach a resolution. I’ve been on both sides of these situations, and can understand how frustrating it can be.

Situation 1: Cards Lost in the Mail

This is one of the more common things that will cause a buyer and seller to interact with each other when working through a platform like TCGplayer, eBay, or Pucatrade. These websites generally allow the seller 6-8 business days before the buyer can take action, to account for sometimes slow service by the USPS. Sometimes time passes, and the card still hasn’t shown up. So what do you do as a buyer? What do you do as a seller?

You might already be thinking that almost every situation where this has happened can be preemptively solved by shipping with tracking, and you’re not wrong. Shipping securely in a bubble mailer with a PayPal shipping label for $2.45 is a (relatively) cheap way to increase the probability that the package will reach its’ destination. Unfortunately, that’s not always economically viable for either party. If I buy an Overgrown Tomb from a local player at $4 and then ship it to someone over Facebook for $7, there’s literally zero point in me putting tracking on that card alone unless I pass those shipping costs onto the buyer. In that case, the buyer will gladly purchase the shockland from some other venue where he/she can avoid paying close to 30% more.

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My personal rule is that I provide free tracked shipping for any order totaling $25 or more. My margins are safe enough at that point to make it worth tracking, and it encourages the buyer to purchase more cards to hit that number. For orders totaling $24 and under, I ship in a PWE (Plain white envelope) with a stamp. There are a bunch of other articles out there on how to ship a Magic card safely and securely, so we won’t spend anymore time on that here.

As a Buyer

If you’re purchasing cards from TCGplayer or eBay, remember that the expectation is on the seller to get you those cards in that 6-8 business day window. If you order cards on a Saturday and they’re shipped out Monday morning, it’s not the fault of the buyer if those cards don’t arrive in time for your Friday Night Magic (unless you specifically agreed to and paid extra for expedited shipping, but TCGplayer doesn’t allow this). Give yourself that window of at least a week and a half for the cards to arrive, or be ready to pay the extra shipping cost.

Okay, so now it’s been 9 business days and your Grafdigger’s Cage that was shipped in a PWE still didn’t come in the mail. You’re not happy. I get that. However, it’s not exactly going to reflect well on you if you use the TCGplayer/eBay/Puca messaging system to immediately berate the buyer and demand a refund, or by leaving scathing feedback. Our USPS system is far from perfect, and sometimes stuff gets lost. This is the part where you politely message the seller, and let them know about the situation. Your card(s) didn’t show up, and you waited the appropriate amount of time. If the seller knows what they’re doing and takes the actions that I’ve detailed in the next few paragraphs, they’ll make it right with you because they don’t want to lose your trust (and your future dollars) as a seller.

As a Seller

We all dread this email (or Twitter/Facebook) message. Some variant of “My cards still haven’t shown up yet..” While the dollar value isn’t going to be too high if you’re using tracked for high-end orders, it’s still annoying to think that you might have put the wrong address on the PWE when mailing out those orders. So what do you do?

First of all, don’t accuse the buyer of stealing or lying. That’s not going to get you anywhere close to a positive feedback review, and it doesn’t help to resolve the situation. If you do feel like something is sketchy, I would absolutely send a report to the real customer service representatives at TCGplayer or eBay (although I highly doubt eBay will do anything to help the seller). At the very least, the platforms can keep track and see if the buyer forms a pattern of making the same claim to other sellers on a regular basis.

Feedback3

Secondly, don’t just immediately apologize and refund the order. This is a big mistake that I’ve heard happens a lot. Most players will still want that card instead of just their money back, because then they have to go through the process of finding another copy for the same price. If you do own another copy of that Grafdigger’s Cage, just ship it to the buyer. Double Triple check the address and name on the PWE, and take extra care to make sure that it’s being dropped off at the post office instead of just leaving it in your mailbox and risking it getting stolen.

Situation 2: Condition Disputes

This is the other common issue I’ve run into, as both a buyer and a seller (Not that I run into this often as a TCGplayer seller….). Different people are taught how to grade Magic cards differently, and those opinions can clash when one party receives a card that they believe is in a worse condition than what they ordered. Even some of the superstores like SCG, Channelfireball, and Cardkingdom have different grading scales; I’ve bought cards from SCG at “Moderately Played” and immediately sold them back to Cardkingdom where they were graded as “Slightly Played”.

As a Buyer

This might start to sound repetitive, but the first step is to contact the seller without exploding in a fit of rage. Sometimes there’s a mark on the card that was only visible in a certain light, and sometimes two cards from inventory get swapped on accident so someone gets MP and the other person gets NM. It happens, we’re all human. While not an absolute law, it’s a good rule of thumb to follow that an LP card (in place of NM) gets a 10% partial refund, MP gets 15-20%, and HP is 30-35%. It helps if you have pictures of the card that you received to help make your case, although TCGplayer doesn’t allow buyers and sellers to send images between each other so you’d have to provide email addresses or imgur links.

This is not an excuse to go around and complain to every seller you buy cards from, and think of yourself as a “super harsh grader”, which is something I’ve heard before from a buyer. There are some buyers out there who think they can get 10% off every single purchase just by claiming LP on the cards they buy, expecting a discount. This behavior is absolutely kept track of by TCGplayer and Pucatrade, and crying wolf will leave you helpless when you actually get sent a MP card when you wanted NM.

As a Seller

Grade your cards realistically before listing them. I’ve heard a lot of people say “Oh I’m a conservative grader like SCG” or “I grade dual lands differently because they’ve been around for 20 years, so this one is actually LP ‘for its age'”. No. None of that. @ZachSellsMagic summarized card grading in a single tweet that I’ve since taken and started using in my conversations with sellers who disagree with me when selling me cards. (Also, Zach is absolutely worth a follow on Twitter.)

grading

Look at the card from multiple angles of light to see if it has any markings that are invisible from only one perspective. Water damage, scratches, and grime are all more elusive forms of wear that go unnoticed without proper grading, and it’s always better to get that customer feedback that says they expected a worse for wear card rather than the dreaded email saying that their NM card was actually LP. Grade what the card actually is, instead of what you wish it was. This is especially true for foils, where a buyer of a NM foil is much more likely to be more critical.

End Step

I spent way more words than I expected to while writing this, but I think that’s fine. If this gets a positive response, I’ll write another one next week where I go over more niche and advanced scenarios involving customer service to ensure that even strangers come back to you for repeat business. I still believe that this is a hugely under-reported aspect of this #MTGFINANCE banner that’s all the rage right now, and some people are going to get in over their heads.

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This is your goal.
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My TCG store, CardGarden

On a closing note, remember that as a TCGplayer/Pucatrade/eBay salesperson, you are your own Public Relations person. SCG, CFB, CK, ABU… They all have a person specifically trained to deal with situations like the ones stated in the article. When you decide to become an independent seller, all of that burden goes to you and you only. Even if it looses you a few dollars on a transaction when you have to give back 10% to someone who you didn’t think deserved it, that customer service will make them more likely to come back to you again and again.

 

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