Official Blog of the Tophatter Auction House
Seller Town Hall: Aug 10 @ 8AM PT
Starting with last Friday’s introduction of Matilda, Tophatter’s first female auctioneer, this week we’ve introduced more new female auctioneers and we’re currently working on new auction environments as well! The Seller Newsletter for this week included portraits of each of the new auctioneers. In addition, we plan on asking community feedback regarding the new environments so that you can have a say in how Wendell expands his estate.
The Seller Lounge is now up and running! Visit the Lounge here to hang out with other Sellers and discuss seller-specific topics. There are some great features added to the room, including a steampunk watercooler, rocketing out of the chat rooms, and emoticons! It’s a great place to just hang out, and a great place to ask questions! For now, the rules of the room are no cursing, slurs, derogatory or racist remarks - and users can still be reported for inappropriate behavior. Please note, it is okay to promote your Community Auctions in the Lounge but please be wary of spamming, otherwise the lounge won’t be a fun place to hang out.
This week, we introduced the new Handmade Bazaar policy and had our first week of handmade-only auctions. We’re currently playing with the “right” number of lots per Seller in Standby - if there are too many, it could potentially become overwhelming. Things seem to be going well with 3 lots per Seller right now. Be sure to join the Handmade Bazaar Facebook Group for great tips and discussions.
There’s another Pinterest contest this week! Repin to Win! Please visit the blog for the contest details, but, in a nutshell, pin items from Tophatter to your Pinterest account & garner the most number of repins! Email your entries to email@example.com by 11:59pm PDT on August 14, and the pin with the most repins will be the big winner, announced on August 15! And, you’ll get to choose from a great selection of prizes!
1) Is it true that there’s going to be an increase in fees that includes Shipping Fees? Answer: No, this is not true. The Fee Schedule for September is available in the Help Center and does not include commission on shipping.
2) Can we have an electronics auctions soon? Answer: We can certainly discuss and give it a try. Other great options may be may be our new $100 Minimum Bid auction or the Geekery Auctions. (Side question regarding credits in the $100 Minimum Bid auction - we aren’t sure if there will be a credit yet).
3) When Standby reopens can there be a pause so Seller items on the block don’t lose out? Answer: We’re heard this brought up before. However, our apprehension is that the delay in the auction would not make the auction seamless. We encourage folks to nicely remind users that an item is on the block. We do feel that if a buyer is interested in the item, they’ll stay to bid on it. Most chatter is seller related & are sellers adding listings to standby.
4) If the buyer didn’t pay for an item and I canceled the order, can they leave feedback about me? Answer: No, they cannot. Feedback can only be left on transactions that have been paid for.
5) Can there be a mediation process before Buyers leave negative feedback? Answer: Buyers should feel comfortable about leaving feedback, especially if they have had a negative experience. We don’t want to force them through a resolution process beforehand. With that said, we do want to encourage communication, therefore if a Buyer opts to leave Negative Feedback, they will receive a pop-up message asking whether or not they’ve contacted the Seller yet.
6) Can we get a chance to add another lot to Standby once our first item has been advanced? Answer: Our concern with this request has to do with the number of items that are already in Standby; more items in standby could overwhelm the system.
7) What has happened to the Hosts? Answer: Many of them have been busy. We have about 24 of them now who are available intermittently. Hosts aren’t meant to be Chat Moderators; they are there to be exemplary members of the community & to help any users who may have questions. In terms of regulating chat etiquette, we depend on Community Reports & are also working to increase the number of support staff we have on hand so that staff members will be more available in the rooms. If you are interested in being a Host, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
8) Could there be a way for Buyers and Sellers to add comments to active orders? Answer: We can look into this. We are working on a messaging system for the site. For now, the best bet is to directly email your customer or seller.
9) Could you wait longer to send Feedback reminders? Some Buyers are getting them way too early. Answer: The emails are triggered to send out a week after the item is “marked as shipped” and 3 weeks after the item was won, whichever comes first. In addition, Sellers can also trigger a reminder for feedback if one hasn’t already been sent. We believe this provides enough leeway for items to ship & arrive. If anyone is concerned that this is still too soon, please email Megan at email@example.com.
10) Standby chatter is out of control, can you please address this? Answer: Do you mean mentioning to check out Standby? (Yes!) Please we ask that sellers & users not mention it over and over again. It can be a major turnoff to potential Buyers & it really brings down the positive atmosphere in the rooms. You can remind you can ask Chat Staff to come in and remind users who consistently do this.
11) Can we get an anime auction? Answer: We don’t know if there’s a large enough audience for it, but we can look into it. Otherwise, a great alternative would be Geekery. If it’s original art, you can try Art auctions too, and if they’re magazines or other items, you could also try Collectibles. Feel free to mention Tophatter auctions on anime sites/blogs, etc that you visit. Or email Staff about your idea (firstname.lastname@example.org) so they can contact potentially influential bloggers about starting the category.
12) Can Buyers be required to resolve their negative feedback before they can bid again, especially since Sellers have to resolve their negative feedback before they can list again? Answer: We are working on that. We are working on a feature where Buyers would have to explain transactions that were unpaid before they can bid again.
13) Why are there notifications in the chat box for when people advance items or set alerts? They seem to be more of an annoyance to me. Answer: We think they’re useful talking points and also act as additional marketing within the room. People may see the name scrolling through and decide to check out the listing or the seller. Or, they may see the name and remember looking at it and decide to set an alert for the item. It’s a nice way to see what actions other users are taking in the auction room that day.
14) If there is an issue that’s reported, there are chat logs available for Staff to review, right? Answer: Yes.
15) Can we please get rid of the non-seller chat bubbles? Answer: We currently don’t plan on removing the non-seller chat bubbles; some users prefer to read just the bubbles instead of the chat box and others prefer it the other way around. We like to provide options.
16) Comment: Please everyone chat in the rooms about the items up for sale while they are on the block. Answer: Yes, this is a great thing to do - encouraging each other creates a great bidding & buying atmosphere. In the end, Sellers will end up with more successful sales; and those Sellers who encourage their peers will also benefit because Buyers remember them as supportive members of the community.
17) How can we get help for our Community Auctions? Answer: We have a Staff member dedicated to these auctions, and you can always email email@example.com if you have any questions about running a community auction. Jackie, our staff member, also sends out great tips and information when you initially set up a Community Auction, so please refer to that as well. We advise you focus on bringing in new audiences & creating a great line-up of items with high demand. We also encourage you to use your social networks! If you’d like any additional ideas to help promote your auctions, feel free to email Katie (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Megan (email@example.com).
18) How many accounts can one person have on Tophatter? Answer: Users can have more than one (1) account. However, there are restrictions: Users cannot register new accounts or utilize existing accounts to avoid any buyer or seller restrictions. Users cannot register new accounts or utilize existing accounts to avoid suspensions due to violations of policy. Sellers can have multiple accounts only if the accounts do not sell the same items and are associated to a verified unique PayPal ID. If a seller is found selling the same items with multiple accounts, this would be considered avoiding specified seller scheduling guidelines. Any account in violation of the above restrictions will be subject to suspension or permanent removal from the Tophatter platform.
19) Does Staff spot check Chat Logs and contact repeat auction etiquette offenders? Answer: We can and do do this, but are limited by our time and resources. We do reach out to users and remind them of the etiquette rules and where they may need to make adjustments, as often as we can. We’d much rather provide a warning or suggestion and offer time for users to make a chance, rather than taking immediate action.
20) Any updates on us being able to add more information to our Seller Profiles? Answer: We don’t have specific details yet about when the new seller profiles will be ready. However, we do plan on having profiles that include more space for personal bio/seller information, the ability to specificy Refund Policies, select best-selling items, etc. Any suggestions regarding what you’d like to see on the Seller Profile are welcome in the Community Forum.
21) What can we do about Sellers who spam us about Community Auctions? Answer: First you should ask them to stop. If they don’t stop, please report them to firstname.lastname@example.org. If they are Spamming you via the Email Me feature they risk their auction’s eligibility for the front page. Please read more about when to use the Email Me feature here.
22) What can keep an auction from appearing on the front page of the site? Answer: First, here are some things that will help get them on the front page: inviting new users to the auction, using great marketing to get the word out, having a great description for your auction, using a great theme for your auction, bringing attendees, and selecting a great list of items with high demand. Things that may keep you from the front page: using the Email Me feature to spam people, promoting your auction in regular auction rooms (and that includes mentioning it after the auction has ended but people are still in the room).
23) Can we make Standby more fair by having a lot of lots in it and leaving the items there for the next time Standby opens and have it stay open longer? Answer: Standby is open until the all available slots are filled.
24) Can we block Buyers from bidding on our items? Answer: No, currently we don’t plan on offering that functionality. We are working hard remove any consistently non-paying bidders so that sellers won’t have to worry about this issue. We already have a very small percentage of non-payments, but we’d like it to be even smaller.
25) Have you thought about having a reserve for items up for auction? Answer: Currently we don’t plan on a reserve price. We feel that sellers should select a starting bid with which they are comfortable, in case the item goes for that amount.
26) What about suggesting favorite Sellers to new Buyers? Answer: We’ve discussed “rewarding” great sellers who provide excellent service with a star - to identify them within the community. We’d love to hear any feedback on this.
27) I tried to advance an item and got a message that I needed to contact customer support. Answer: There are certain restrictions in place to help prevent shilling, but if you believe this was in error we advise you contact email@example.com so that they can investigate this on a case-by-case basis.
28) New users can’t advance items from Standby? Answer: They can. The user in question may not have paid for their first win yet. All new buyers must pay for this first won item before being able to bid again. If you can’t advance items from standby, please email customer support at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can provide assistance.
29) Isn’t it a Tophatter policy that Sellers are required to enter their Tracking when items are being shipped? Answer: No, it’s not a requirement but we highly encourage it for Seller Protection purposes in addition to providing great customer service.
30) Is there a way to calculate international shipping? Answer: It’s hard to build an estimator, but we can look into it. There is a tool that you can use on the USPS website: Postal Calculator.