Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Over the last few weeks I've spent my Birthday money on a trove of monster treasures from that Giant of Colossus otherwise known as eBay. Along with Amazon, these two mega-sized merchants have got a Bombay Strangler-hold on the electronic shopping market. Consequently, merchants gravitate to the marketplaces that draw the most customers -- especially those who spend a lot of money. Call it by any other name, but I call it the beauty of Capitalism at work.

While there are other online auctioneers, eBay seems to me to be the most user friendly . . . or the most seductive, depending on your point of view. With the "Buy It Now" and "Make An Offer" options, eBay is hard to beat when you're shopping for monster merchandise both old and new.

Now, I'm not a "greenie", "tree-hugger", or militant environmentalist by any strectch of the imagination. What I am is a responsible person who calls "Foul Waste!" when I see it, and do my best to conserve energy and to recycle. You may be wondering, what's this all got to do with eBay? Well, it's not exactly eBay I'm talking about . . . it's the sellers.

Here's my beef: After receiving a multitude of packages in the mail from these recent orders I have made a couple of observations. One, although they would probably say that they're just being careful, I've come to the conclusion that eBay merchants are paranoid about package tampering. I say this because, being a mail-order merchant myself (full-time once, part-time now) I know that one can simply overdo the packaging, period. I've got nothing against securing packages from the ravages of the careless postal carrier and the roving eyes of the potential thief (sometimes even the postal carriers themselves), but when I've got to break out a pair of scissors, a knife, and a box cutter, and an arcane magical incantation, that's when I have to say, "Enough!". I've come pretty darn close a couple of times to hacking up my mag trying to delicately cut around the merchandise before I can even see what's inside. But you know, that's really not what peeves me as much as the second thing I've observed.

The second thing I've observed is the wasteful use of certain wrapping materials. Let it be known I am a strict advocate of recycling packing, right down to plain 'ol newspaper if that's your fancy. But what I have noticed is the dubious practice by many 'a merchant of the outright plundering of the U.S. Postal Service's free shipping envelopes and other gratis items. Mostly I see a Priority Mail envelope used as half-assed "backer board" for books and magazines. I've even seen the Small Flat Rate Box used for this, also. And don't give me that line about already paying for it with your tax dollars (considering that you have the moral scruples to pay them in the first place, that is).

Why is this a bad thing, you say? Well, how about it's damn wasteful for starters. And, if you're not going to use the USPS envelope or box to actually mail your items in, don't use it for packing filler just 'cause it's free, please. That's pretty cheesy and downright lazy in my book. The economy's not that bad where a mail order merchant has to grap an armload of "free" stuff at the Post Office to make up for the few cents it costs for stuffing the gaps in a mailer or box.

So, if you care to listen to it, the best advice I can give is this: Try lightening up on the shipping tape on the outside of the package so that you can afford some of the inexpensive materials for the inside.

You won't ever catch me advocating the use of windmills as a replacement power source, but I do see through green lenses once in a while -- especially when it's something as clear as this. 

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