Official Blog of the Tophatter Auction House
Seller Town Hall June 15: Minutes
6/14 Outage: It was related to an issue with Amazon web services. If you were affected, Staff will be working today to automatically reschedule you into today’s auctions. (Updated from Forum: Users will be rescheduled into the same auction on 6/15, ie - if you were in the Night Owl Bazaar last night, you will be in tonight’s auction). Note: as of 6/18 - all lots should have been rescheduled.
Focusing on Trust and Safety: Staff is working behind the scenes to increase these. Transactions are being more closely monitored, as is Feedback. Feedback has been about 95% positive, 2% neutral, and the other 3% is negative. The 3% negative feedback is still higher than we’d like it to be, but we’re always working on that.
Community Auctions: If you go to the Community Auctions tab, you will see a button on the top left called “Host Your Own.” That button will direct you to a page where you can set up your own auction. This is a great way to sell more items because you are in control of the auction. If you get 10 RSVPs for your auction, you will show up on the Community Auctions tab. With 30 attendees to your auction, it will appear in the “Change Auctions” drop down. The goal is to get 30 or more attendees!
A lot of effort has gone into getting new people to come to the site, and we want you to put that effort in as well. When you create your auction, there is a link you can click with tips for promoting your auction. It’s also very helpful to add additional Sellers to your auction and ask them to promote the auction too. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. He can guide you on how to promote your auction on Facebook pages.
Also try partnering with other sellers in the TH community. This not only adds variety to the auctions, but it also helps make promoting and bringing people in easier! Staff will be working on some guidelines and a framework for inviting other Sellers to auctions so that your auction can be more successful. When setting up an auction, try adding a few super items that will grab people’s attention and get them interested in your auction that way. The reason that 30 has been ID’ed as a key number of attendees is that people are more likely to stick around for a fun and exciting auction, and that happens with larger crowds.
Also note that your stats don’t count when setting up a Community auction. You get 10 items out of the gate, and with each 2 RSVPs, you get an additional 2 items. But, if you want to list a LOT of items, it is better to also have a LOT of Sellers.
Meetups: We would love to start having some local Meetups where you can meet other Tophatters in real life! It’s a fun way to incorporate the site into your real life activities. If you are interested in hosting one in your area, please email email@example.com. We’re currently setting up this program.
1. Since Sellers know how to schedule items into the wrong categories to get their items into Auctions, can there be more Staff to review the reports on items? Answer: There are guidelines for auctions that are stated on the Add to Standby page, and TH relies on the Community to help enforce these guidelines. There is a stepped-up effort on Staff to look into these reports; some members of Chat Staff can review reports, and there are more Staff members working on it than in the past as well. More Staff are being assigned the ability to work on these items in order to prevent items from slipping through, to the best of TH’s abilities.
2. What will happen with the items that were advanced out of Standby last night before the outage occurred? Answer: Email help so they can reschedule the item. The outage lasted until about 2am. Staff will contact you about rescheduling, so please get in touch with Staff if you haven’t heard anything. TH is working on more redundancy for in the future to help prevent this.
3. With the new Daily Bazaar fees, what does this mean for Sellers who sell smaller items that sell for lower prices? Answer: Earlier this week, TH announced a $1.70 flat fee starting Monday 6/18. There will be no commission fee with this change. If you are prescheduled into a selling slot, you will have to agree to pay the fee. The fee is only charged if the item goes on the auction block. There are 2 reasons for the change: 1) So people can schedule into the auction and 2) to reward people who sell higher-price point items. In order to have auctions for people at all price points, there are now second Supplies auctions (Crafts, Jewelry, etc) during the day as well. But, there also needs to be a place for people selling at a higher price point. If the fee doesn’t work, it can be changed. The point is to have a place on Tophatter for all price points. Right now, it’s not the best venue for the more expensive things, so TH is trying to improve the platform for those items. If you have any concerns, please post them on the community forum (tophatter.community.com)
4. Can we get an email when Feedback has been left for us? Answer: If you are a Seller, you can see all feedback that has been left for the items you’ve sold. We will look into sending emails to Sellers once Feedback has been posted.
5. Will there ONLY be prescheduling for the Daily Bazaar? Answer: There will be 2 ways to get into the auction: 1) Scheduled slot or 2) Standby - prescheduled or regular. Fees are only charged if the item goes on the auction block.
6. Can Staff please prescreen Artisan items to prevent non-handmade items from getting into the auctions? Answer: When you are reporting items, there is a space to leave a comment about WHY you are reporting it. If you have documentation or proof that it’s not what the Seller says it is, then you can put it there, including any links. Staff reviews all items that are reported, and the more evidence you can provide, the better. We also ask that you think about Staff’s position in this: Staff doesn’t want people to be misled by the items in auction, but they also want to be fair and want people to think about it as if it were your item and how you’d want it handled. TH is open to Handmade item only auctions, but also knows that it’s a trickier area to deal with when it comes to reporting.
7. Why do we leave Buyer feedback if no one sees it? Answer: Staff sees it. It’s used so Staff can see if there is a dishonest buyer who needs to be dealt with & could also affect their ability to bid on items in the future.
8. Is there any chance that the Flea Market auction will come back? Answer: There aren’t any plans for it right now. As things go forward, it may become an option again.
9. Auctioneers, hosts, and staff are selling, promoting and buying things. Isn’t this a conflict of interest? Answer: Hosts are Volunteers from the community who help set the tone and help the site grow. They have to abide by the same rules as everyone else in the auctions and receive no special treatment. Staff works for Tophatter and cannot sell or bid in auctions. Hosts are allowed to buy and sell.
10. Can we get a text alert when Standby opens? Answer: Can get information on when Standby reopens by clicking on “Add to Standby” but will look into that. We are also working on the App.
11. Can you please restructure all auctions so that they start early in the morning and run all day? Answer: We already have an all day auction schedule and are growing every week. We want to get to the point where the auctions continuously run, but there just aren’t enough Buyers on the site yet. If we did that now, the sales prices of items would drop, so we are trying to grow the site as we grow the ability to bring in new Buyers. That’s why there is an emphasis on sharing scheduled items on social networks - Facebook, Pinterest, etc. For example, the Pinterest promo on Wednesday of this week. Any user who pinned an item on Pinterest and then won it qualified for a $5 credit from Tophatter, and this brought many new Buyers to the site who saw the pins and repins.
12. What is the policy regarding misrepresented items? Answer: If you received a misrepresented item and you have proof of the items being fake, please file a dispute with PayPal so you can get a refund. Email the evidence to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your documentation. Also be sure to leave negative feedback so Staff knows about it too & it’s attached to the user’s account.
13. A lot of items on the site start at around $1 and sell for about $10, and other auctions have a $20 start. What about the items that fall into the gap? Answer: A $10-$15 start point makes sense and we will look into it. The minimum start rules are to keep people with higher starting bids from getting overlooked by people bidding for items in Standby that start at $1.
14. How do you get to preschedule? Answer: We’re keeping the number of prescheduled lots low and moving towards more Standby slots. As a new Seller, you need to sell more than 3 items in order to get the ability to sell more than 1 item at a time. You can also use Prescheduled Standby or regular Standby.
15. Is there a way to edit feedback? Answer: Yes. Go to your “Feeback Left for Sellers” section and click Actions - Edit Feedback.
16. Why can’t I see all feedback left for a Seller? Answer: Sellers are given the option to highlight 5 selected feedback of their choice. We don’t show negative feedback as there is no way to expunge of a particular feedback completely, which wouldn’t be fair to the seller. Once a full dispute process is in place (right now, sellers are only allowed to dispute so that the feedback does not impact the 10% maximum scheduling ability threshold), this is something we can revisit.
17. Could you make it possible for Sellers to not pay the fee for echeck items until the check has cleared? Answer: Tophatter now knows when a Buyer has paid with an echeck and, within the next month, will also know when echecks have cleared PayPal. When that happens, Sellers won’t be charged fees until the echeck clears. We will look into a solution regarding fees and echecks. You can also disable the ability to accept echecks in PayPal and can find more information about it in the Help Center here.
18. Is there any chance that Standby could open on a separate page when we click View All Standby? Answer: There is a new view in the auction where you can click on an item, and, from that item, scroll through all items in the auction and in Standby. You can do that using the mouse or the left and right arrows. We are always trying to make it less confusing and better for the users. There will be more announcements of changes coming soon.
Thanks! And please reach out to us if you have questions!