Monday, November 5, 2007

Buying Beads

I do beading and I buy beads online from a few sources, but I'm sure that I've never bought beads from Mr. Bead before. But Mr. Bead sent me an email and it's a good thing because his email is very informative. I learned more than I ever knew, or wanted to know, about buying beads. I'm going to share only part of this very important email newsletter with you. Go to Mr. Bead and sign up today for the rest of the story.

Top Ten Tips when Buying Beads Online

1. Keep cool. Don't get caught up in the excitement - know your limits. It's easy to get into a bidding war and end up paying more than an item is worth. When an auction closes at five times the original asking price, dealers feel embarrassed.

2. Make sure that the item you are bidding for is what you want. Always be sure you know the size, especially if a picture is enlarged. Don’t assume it is a certain size, then when it arrives in the mail the 'necklace' is suddenly a bracelet for a cat! And don’t buy a strand of beads if you assume you would receive a ready-made necklace.

3. Use your head. Don’t be naive reading descriptions - never take words at face value. Like “This fabulous bead is so hard to describe, the picture speaks for itself!”. “Exquisite” beads are everywhere, and every other item is “unique.” Enter the word “unique” in the search box and its overuse reduces it to meaninglessness. Misinformation is another problem. More sellers misrepresent out of ignorance than by deceit, but it helps to know something yourself and not just trust without question.
"Antique" is identified as by U.S. customs laws as being at least 100 years old. Beads from the 1960s are not antique. Occasionally, a little research brings a bargain. You might spot a rare old African tribal necklace being sold as a trinket from Thailand, though more likely you would be fooled the other way round.

4. Search the Web. Look for similar items and determine what a fair price is. Sometimes dealers will have the same items on their web sites for less than you'd pay if you were competing with other bidders, or the other way round. Look at the sellers other auctions. Keep track of many like items before placing your bid, compare over different auction sites.

5. Check what other buyers have said about the seller and examine any negative feedback. If there are unhappy customers, or if the seller presents a nasty defense, be wary.

6. Bid just before the auction ends, if possible. Buyers like to outbid each other in the final moments. This is referred to as “sniping,” although is perfectly legitimate. It's very frustrating to have someone “steal” the item out from under you in the last seconds. Unless you have the time to monitor the close of every auction in which you have a bid, this will happen sometimes. A sniper program like “esnipe” at http://wwwesnipe.com enable you to outbid someone at the last minute. However, don’t feel guilty about sniping, it's not really stealing, the item doesn’t being to your competing bidders.

7. Can you make a return? You should be able to receive a refund on items that don't live up to their promise or match their description. However, don’t expect to be refunded shipping or a handling fee to cover the seller’s expenses. Some dealers don't accept returns, but they have to realize you're buying from a small picture only. If you buy a computer or a car on the web, you probably have a good idea of what you're looking at - not necessarily so with beads. Buying online is like a catalog sale, and catalog vendors always offer a no questions return policy. A good dealer knows that pleased customers will bring extra sales that will more than cover the cost of returns.

8. Good auction etiquette. There are some things you can do to make things easier for the vendors and foster a good relationship. When you win an auction, the dealer will e-mail you the item number(s), always ensure this is quoted with your mailing address and payment. Sellers hate spending hours doing detective work or guessing which beads goes to whom. Don’t just rely on Paypal to inform this for you. Some dealers with many auctions take a few days to contact all their buyers. Unreasonable e-mails demanding a total just slows down the process. And some sellers offer a checkout like MarketWorks that automatically adds all your wins including combined shipping - saving you a lot of time.

9. Pay well. Always pay as quickly as possible. If you have not dealt with the seller before, you may have to wait for your check to clear. And if you are using snail-mail to pay international purchases, allow at least 14-days just for your payment to arrive. US sellers in many states have to collect sales tax for their resale license. They don't get a commission on this and have to pay penalties for mistakes in collecting these taxes – so don’t try to evade. Same with VAT in Europe.

10. Watch Shipping Costs. Some sellers will try to rip you off with shipping, especially from China, so check before you bid. However, be aware that international airmail is expensive, so expect to pay reasonable shipping & handling fee. Under US$10 for a small order is OK, over $20 is scandalous. If you order a lot from abroad, airmail doesn’t come cheap - beads are heavy! Allow a reasonable time for your item to arrive before you complain. Ten days from within your own country, or twenty-days from abroad.

Ten Reasons for Buying Beads at all!

1. Beady eyes keep a happy mind – it’s a great hobby. Cheaper than drugs and more fun than psychiatric care!

2. Buying beads is not immoral, illegal or fattening. It calms the nerves, gratifies the soul and makes us feel good.

3. To make money or investment.

4. A bead keeps without refrigeration. You don't have to cook it to enjoy it, and it never needs feeding, changing, or walking.

5. Buying beads keeps our economy going. It is our patriotic duty to support bead stores.

6. Beads are a proven aphrodisiac.

7. Beads don't argue or get crabby. Like women and wine: beads get better with age.

8. Bags and tubes of beads tightly packed make an excellent insulation for the home.

9. At any moment the employees of a bead factory might go on strike and limit the availability.

10. We are participating in a contest. The one with the most beads wins.


The most useful thing I learned from the above is that "sniping isn't really stealing, so if I do it I shouldn't feel guilty." Ok, I'll feel better next time I visit Ebay. I learned to beware of ordering from China. And who knew that beads were an aphrodisiac? I need to show this to Randy - I bet he'll stop complaining about how much I'm spending on all those beads!

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