Friday Wrap #48 – The struggle is real

Some weeks are easy, some are not so easy. Maybe it’s the winter weather that finally hit, or a let down after the Christmas Holidays, but the procrastination bug has hit. I am not alone.

I have been trying to use some of the tools I know to help get myself back on track. Ordered lists, prioritized lists, setting an artificial deadline, etc. Normally, one of those will work. Not today though. My usual vices of caffeine and sugar have not either. It’s quite cold outside – normally a brisk walk up street will help. Nope.

One thing that has kind of energized or distracted me has been selling off some of my model trains. An odd pivot I know, but let’s run with this. Readers likely know I collect model trains. I am certainly not in the Rod Stewart pantheon of model railroaders, but the hobby is a good outlet for me. Recently I decided to change what I focused on. This has necessitated some buying and selling. The goal is to – in the end – not have this hobby refocus cost financially. A net-zero approach if you will. To buy new things, I have to sell old things. That’s where the trouble began.

I listed a few higher valued items on eBay, along with some old camera gear that I did not use any more. eBay has changed a lot since I last sold anything on it. BOY has it changed. The company now handles HST for Canadian sellers who sell to Canadians. Great, that’s one less headache to deal with. eBay can handle shipping – which was fine except I like to take care of that myself. And eBay will charge a commission on what you sell. I completely understood that because the company does not do auction posts for altruistic reasons, it needs to make money too. However, it’s how the company charges that commission which prompted me to hurl a Lewis Black-like rant at the company.

Say you sold an item for $100 to a buyer in the same province as you. That’s $113.00 with tax, and then the shipping (which I will talk more about that after.) Assume the shipping is $30. The buyer should send you $143 total to cover the bill, and eBay should charge a commission on the item you sold, which was $100. Wrong. Instead of charging on the $100 for the item, it charges commission based on the $143 total. eBay makes money off of the shipping, and off of the tax that the Federal/Provincial governments see. A 13% “Final Value Fee” on $143 is a lot higher than on the item you sold, which was $100. eBay’s commission on that $100 item should be $13; instead it’s $18.59. Unless you pad the shipping price, which you are also not allowed to do, you will see $81.41 on your $100 item instead of $87. 

If it was a small item I was selling, this is negligible. However, model trains and camera equipment are not trinkets or $5 items. I refunded a person who had just opted to buy a camera lens for $600 on an auction. I have since switched to Facebook Marketplace, which is also a nonsense pain in the ass. I am trying to use social media less, but this requires the opposite.

The other side of selling has been shipping. I think I finally found a cheaper expensive way than just the expensive way – flat rate boxes. Annoyingly, inexpensive shipping does not exist. Canada Post has flat rate boxes, and USPS does as well if I need to run across the border to ship something. Still these are expensive. Having messed up the first couple of train sales by grossly undercharging for shipping, flat rate boxes are uncomplicated for me.

Look, I get Canada is a big, vast country. And I get that sending a box of plastic models from Morrisburg to Vancouver is not high on the priority list for many. Do you need to charge an arm, a leg, and a first born to get it across the country?

Even with my small business discount, it’s expensive. Note – small business discount does not work on flat rate boxes. I’d hate to see how mail order businesses or companies with an online presence are selling things these days. Good thing I don’t change what I model or sell things online too often. It’s way too much work.

This experience has started me down a rabbit hole though – if I am having this much “fun” trying to sell old things to buy new things because my interested have changed – what about when I am gone. I think once I have achieved my hobby goal for changing things, I am going to start downsizing some of the stuff that is just sitting in boxes collecting dust. If I am not using it, my family doesn’t need to deal with it later on.

Three things…

Something to watch – I’ve started watching some videos from The Minimalists. This is a good sampling of what they’ve been talking about for reducing the clutter things.

Something to read – Peter MacLeod wrote this piece on the idea of creating an endowment fund for the CBC and other media as a way of setting the CBC free. I like the idea in principle as I have long viewed the need for CBC to be downsized (Two national radio networks, really?) and converted to the PBS/NPR model for funding. It might as well be done for CBC radio since it imports a lot of Amercian podcasts to fill time already. Nope, 40 million Canadians means there isn’t enough people to fill the airways. Read MacLeod’s piece here –

Something to listen to – This relates to an upcoming newspaper column. I’ve fast-forwarded the clip to skip the minute-long movie story preamble that was a signature of 1990s music videos.

Last word – I was recently asked why I wasn’t encouraging someone to take the high road. It’s something I’ve always wondered – why is it the people who are wronged are encouraged to always take the high road. Is it the Jesus thing of turning the other cheek? Stay tuned.