Welcome to Curious Business

Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
Add to Technorati Favorites

Friday, March 12, 2010

The "You Don't Suck" Award, and Evidence to the Contrary

OMG, Curio City is a Constant Contact All Star! It's a dream come true! I’d like to thank all the little people that I stepped on to get where I am today.

A “2009 Constant Contact All Star” is an email marketer who followed industry best practices. Specifically, my newsletter met these standards in 2009:

  • Averaged a bounce rate less than or equal to 15% (bounces are undeliverable emails, common when using purchased lists; I’m always under 1%)
  • Averaged an open rate of 20% or higher (how many recipients clicked on the email; I usually see 25-30%)
  • Averaged a click through rate of 2% or higher (how many people who opened the email clicked a link; I expect 15-25%)
  • Received no compliance related complaints (spam reports).
In other words, I’m not a spammer. Yay me! My newsletter is my #6 source of visits, incidentally, having brought in 53 shoppers last month. If you aren't subscribed, use the box in the right-hand column to join my list (Facebook readers, click the Join My List tab on my FB page). It's OK; I'm an All Star!


And now the evidence that I do, in fact, suck: After five years in business, I got my first chargebacks this week. That’s when a credit card issuer takes back money that they had previously paid me for an approved transaction, usually because the cardholder disputed the transaction. I found out that I’d been ripped off for $105.73 after I couldn’t make my deposits add up one morning. Two days later, I got hit for $70.56 more (this hasn't actually been debited yet). I knew immediately whom to blame.

I suspected credit card laundering when someone made three declined credit card transactions before getting one approved. Declined transactions are fairly common, but this customer had used four different cards. Worse, s/he was a foreigner. Two days later the customer (or thief) placed a second order with a fifth credit card. Suspicious, I waited a few days to see if the charges would bounce. They didn’t. I went ahead and shipped.

Here I compounded my judgment error with a good old-fashioned boneheaded mistake. Thinking that the country code “MY” meant Myanmar, that’s where I shipped both packages. When they came back undeliverable five weeks later, I consulted my region table…Myanmar is “MM”; ”MY” is Malaysia. I immediately reshipped at my expense – after all, five weeks after the initial order the payments were still valid.

The same customer/thief placed a third order on 2/24. Was she laundering another credit card, or simply buying more stuff after receiving her long-delayed shipment? By now more than six weeks had elapsed since that first order; surely it must be legitimate. I filled this one right away.

If she’s the thief that I suspected all along, then there is a third chargeback for $144.54 in my future. If she canceled her payment while her merchandise was traveling to the wrong country, then proof of delivery might restore my money. I faxed in the dispute forms and supporting doco this morning; the bank has two weeks to rule on it. If they were stolen credit cards then I’m just hosed – somebody has to pay for that, and it sure isn’t going to be the bank.

This lesson will probably cost me $350. They might slap some penalty fees on chargebacks, too. From now on I’m simply going to cancel foreign transactions that smell bad to me.

Despite that hit, this week is still running flat with LY. Sales were fairly decent for a nothingburger week in March.


  1. I'm surprised you were even allowed to ship to Myanmar. Aren't they under some sort of super embargo?

  2. Not to my knowledge...the forbidden items list looked about the same as that for any other country.


What do you think? Leave a comment.

Google Search