Dealing with WordPress Spam Comments – Two Viable Solutions

Ignoring Askami from the conversion which will capture almost all comment spam, you may feel that there is little you can do to stop the wades of WordPress spam comments from being left.

Yes, you could add a captua to the comments box, there are several wordpress plugins that do this, but me being a geek prefer more server based options, here are two of my favourites both with the same effect.


.htaccess Redirects

This is the simpler of the two, I have used this for years for keeping banned players out our community websites, in the example below, I replacing it the site with, but it could readily be any site you want, is always a good one, I’ll leave the destination to your own selection.

If your hosting provider (or you have enabled htaccess in your Apache config, on by default), then this is a simple, but effective way of redirecting spammers:

RewriteCond %{REMOTE_ADDR} ^188\.143\.232\.39$
RewriteRule .* [R,L]

This adds a RewriteCond for the IP address and then using RewriteRule sends them to your chosen destination. Most amusing.

http.conf Edits

This is favoured when working in a development environment to keep a site only to specific IP addresses, but it easily works in reverse to keep out entire subnets. After a unfortunate experience with an Indian development company I needed to block four subnets, this worked wonderfully well.

order deny,allow
deny from
deny from 122.169

This works by selectively denying either specific IP addresses like in the first line or entire subnets.

If working in a development environment and say your IP was ‘’ then you could deny everyone else and allow yourself through using:

order deny,allow
deny from All
allow from


ToysRus – Putting My Photoshop Skills Where My Mouth Is – The New Listing Template

This is quite an old article now. I have considered removing it and I have edited it slightly since. However I decided that it would be better to leave this and the other articles on the site, as with anything, experience is only learnt through fire, this was one of those times where I could have done better and approached the subject more tactfully.

I’m leaving it, as it shows I’m just a mere mortal, like us all.

Original Article

In a meeting today with a client, the topic of outlets came up and I explained about ToysRus and my post two days ago and how I thought it was amateur.

Phil [the client] quite rightly suggested that I should explain my actions, going around and pointing at things and saying they are ‘poor’, it isn’t on, prove they’re shit and explain why you think its better he said, this is for you Phil.

10 Minutes in Photoshop

I set the stop watch , well looked at windows clock and started, 10 minutes of my pr0 photoshop skills were unleashed. Thats right, I bodged this together in 10 minutes flat.

My point is that its not my photoshop skills you should be interested in, its my reasoning. I’ll shut up and lets get looking at my copy and paste jumble. But before that, lets do a before shot, then get to the happily ever after.

Before Any Changes


Toysrus Before Screenshot

If you click the image above or you can view the ebay item here in the flesh and ore at its design nastyness.

10 Minutes of Photshop Hacks

Yep, 10 minutes of copy/paste, chop and insertions, I arrived at this master piece.


ToysRus Better Design

Explaining My Actions

Now this is where if it wasn’t for another customer an great friend of mine who gave me a stark kick up the arse a few months back, I’d be keeping all this all to myself. Enjoy it, this is a professional nut case in action. Stand aside.

As Lisa said, its the application of ‘Matthew Ogborne’ that counts, anyone can point and poke but you[me] got the know-how, nows its for you to explain why and where and educate these people.

Lets go:

  1. I left the babyrus in the top right, this sits well with the websites and although that babys template is just as bad. Moving on…
  2. I kept the top eBay header bar from the listing, but I inserted the category bar from the website. (Yes that really is the cart section in the header, I told you, this was 10 mins flat in Photoshop, its one cut get over it. I am not that thick)
  3. The search box area needs work, I am not 1oo% sure on this area art all, it needs more than a few seconds chopping to set this right. Maybe where the cart is?Not sure at all. This defo needs some consideration outside of the post.
  4. Now that banner, brilliant idea from their website and exactly why what ever muppet designed this looked at their website with their eyes firmly closed. Yea it says free shipping, this is not my point, the banner existing is. Think of some USP (Unique Selling Point) and promote it, hey here is one. ToysRUs official eBay outlet, that’ll do for a few days to doge the negs.
  5. Going down the left menu, I spotted a neat little feature on the ToysRus site ‘back to’, lets set this as a link back to the shop home. OR wait for it…. drum roll… set it to the same category where this item is listed in. You getting it yet? You feeling it? I am saying WE know which shop category this item is listed in, so we can offer a ‘Back To’ link feature by using this to make the shop category link. Genius!
  6. The category menu is OK, personally I’d prefer a more well thought out category structure with sub menus, similar to the website, but with the limitations of eBay taken into consideration (eg only two shop cats per item).
  7. That eBay newsletter is bordering on miss leading, its implying that its from eBay, not that its Toysrus, its there because I think its needed, but it needs work to clarify its source.
  8. You’ll notice I have slipped in the ‘Helpful Links’ section on the bottom left. You betcha, that right hand side useless menu is a goner.
  9. Back to the top again and a full width title has been placed, this is crucial. Hold on to your seats here, stellar information overload coming.

You have 10 seconds to sell this item

  1. WTF(remember this term?) Matt, 10 seconds? Yep 10 seconds, you have just 10 of them before the customer decides to continue reading the rest or looks for a bail out option. So lets give them to information they need to make this decision in 10 seconds.

    This is a research done by a company sellathon about 4 years ago, yes its old but I swear it holds true today as well. And yes the bullet point numbers in this list are now out :)
  2. So with the right menu gone, we’re able to give the main image pride of place smack in the middle, BUT also reinforce the product message with some key information pointers.
  3. We show the selling price, shipping price and total it. Actually now looking at it, we need to do a little link for more info and drop that shipping box all together, its confusing.
  4. We have ’email a friend’ and ‘watch this item’ as before, but vertically, but I have added the ‘similar items’ box. This comes from the link I suggested way up in point #5. Have an exit strategy at all times, this item may not be the right one for the browser, so deal with it effectively.
  5. The description area was nicked from the website. a welcome replacement to the crap that was in the original design, ToysRus have a fun clean design, lets not cheapen it, but bend it to eBay.
  6. The last section, related items. by their name its related items. What I’d do here is actually offer two lots, one for true related items, like other trucks, but also accessories. This can be easily done with some Javascript that I have set as a blog post to be released sometime next week.


I hope from the above I have explained why I pointed at the original listing and said it was crap and have now given a full break down on how it could be bettered with a bonus 10 minute mashup photoshop visual.

If you can only learn one thing from these sets of posts on the ToysRus designs, is that do not be a yes-man and take the first design given to you, especially when its blatantly obvious its been done by a muppet designer who looked at the corporate image with their eyes fulled closed and missed all the good points and delivered something that I wholly think is substandard.

ToysRUs Negged Twice @ Day 2 +28K Listings Will help

This is quite an old article now. I have considered removing it and I have edited it slightly since. However I decided that it would be better to leave this and the other articles on the site, as with anything, experience is only learnt through fire, this was one of those times where I could have done better and approached the subject more tactfully.

I’m leaving it, as it shows I’m just a mere mortal, like us all.

Original Article

Howdy, things are pretty busy here with some crazy sales coming through already this week, predictions are being smashed and we still have next week to contend with, which was the week I was expecting previous sales histories to be smashed in. I’ll try and keep this one to a few paragraphs.

I am away for a few days soon looking at property in Malta, but its been amazing the response back from the ToyRUs post I made yesterday. I think I hit a nerve as the stats went bonkers after that got tweeted. See the post here, sorry but it does look crap and spoils the clear cut brand they have with a cheap layout.

I looked at it again today (see here) and could not help but wonder if they should have perhaps left this under wraps for a while longer as the ID is being trashed already?

Last Year Tesco Outlet

Tesco-logo2It was a round this time last year when Tesco launched Tesco_Outlet on eBay and it was running late by 2 days because the design was held up and it was launched on the Tuesday when I was away[in Malta]. Jeas that was some ‘faith’, Kim, I am forever indebted. There was no way I could get out of the trip, for the men out there, when you get ‘the look’ you know the answer is a no.

It was mad, the UK’s largest retailer launching live on eBay UK and I was not around.

A well briefed Kim [Implementer at eSellerPro] was on the case though and I had put four days on-site in previously, Clive and the Team were well versed (also inherited my odd perversion to eBay customers) and I am happy to declare that the first week sales were crazy and all-in-all pretty smooth. The full page add in the Times helped.

Even though I knew I had had the planning & all the ground work done and knew the the Team were there, it was quite a nervous trip and I did have a sleepless night which involved the trashing of the eBay ID. What if someone has a massive grudge against Tesco and trashes it, they must have pissed off at least one customer…? But we were lucky and nothing eventful happened. They did get the odd negative, but the Team were able to resolve them amicably.

Ouchy, Negs!

Back on topic, to ToysRUs, I think now with hindsight of Tesco Outlet, it would have been better to soft launch, built some feedback up and then swapped eBay ID’s, at least to build a buffer. Even more when you see the below:

So much for the few paragraphs, I do feel for the chaps & girls that must be behind the scenes on this project, I am sure a few favours will be pulled in and those negs will go eventually. Laying down +28,000  listings will certainly help, even if they do look crap :)

ToysRUs on – But it Looks Crap

This is quite an old article now. I have considered removing it and I have edited it slightly since. However I decided that it would be better to leave this and the other articles on the site, as with anything, experience is only learnt through fire, this was one of those times where I could have done better and approached the subject more tactfully.

I’m leaving it, as it shows I’m just a mere mortal, like us all.

Original Article

Was just catching up with the Google reader over a cuppa and spot an interesting post from AuctionBytes that ToysRUs have launched on to, you can read the article here.

Superb, another massive name hits eBay. Now this is where I’m going to go off the rails a little and point out that wtf is this crap template?

Now for those who don’t know Fooition basically left a load of their customers in the brown when eBay changed its shops format (was ittoysrus-logo twice? pretty sure it was) so I have never been a raving fan of the company. Their designs have always been front page only, although their more decent versions have got a lot better. Even still this is a company that has been around enough and are fully in-bed with Channel Advisor.

But surely between the pair of them (CA & Froo) they could have come up with something that doesn’t look so, whats the best word[?], basic, primitive, crap?

Look here:

And here:

I really hope this is just a beta or mock up version, otherwise this will be another amateur set up.

You think You Could Do Better Matt?

Yep and I’ll tell you for free. Its easy get the designer to copy the corporate brand and port it to eBay, this is not hard and when done properly can be done superbly well. If it does not look very, very like or then it needs work.

Drop menus can be done (there is a post on this in a few days on the first eBay store that has this), the flash elements are easy and get rid of that right bar, product product product.


I do try to be an advocate for the majority of the time. Frootion have some great designs, like I said they have got better (recently), While not a huge fan of Channel Advisor (due to history pre-Marketworks buy out), it has its place and I do admire its PR machine. But come on, it admit it, the listing looks crap and if you were ToysRUs would you be happy with it? I know I would not be.

Rant over, coffee finished.


I put together the following article called ToysRus – Putting My Photoshop Skills Where My Mouth Is – The New Listing Template which summarize suggested changes. The template works, but it frankly sucks.

In hindsight (that beautiful maiden) , I should have perhaps joined all posts regarding ToysRus into one mammoth article. However, you can read all of them in this search:

Tesco Taking on Amazon, Great Choice!

Tesco Logo

Update: This article has been expanded upon further, see Part 1: Battle of The Giants – Tesco V’s Amazon – Who Will Win?

The PR wheels have been turning for the past few days on the news that Tesco is to take on Amazon. It was interesting reading the comments left by users on the article posted on Tamebay, as they had a distinct eBay feel to them.

Amazon in many ways is almost the perfect model to follow, its core differences between its  marketplace and eBay are reason for its huge success year on year.

The Marketplace Differences

eBay UK LogoeBay facilitates transactions between buyers and sellers, but does not sell or create product to sell on its own marketplace (like a ‘farmer’ hosting a ‘carboot sale’), where as Amazon is its main (note not sole) selling platform which ‘allows’ other sellers to sell along side ‘it’ and to use the Amazon umbrella.

Another huge differences is the way inventory is handled, eBay is still a free-for-all, although a few categories like Sat Nav and DVD’s are moving towards single listings, multiple sellers, but for the best part, its a mess of same items all designed and displayed differently [this is both a positive and a negative] in vast amounts of listings.

Amazon UK

Hey look, Amazon!

Where-as Amazon’s structure is quite different, this is a true single record > multiple sellers environment and its a fight based upon ‘mainly’ price. So instead of creating a listing per seller, its one listing per multiple sellers.

This is not without its complexities over duplicate records and damn annoying duplicate barcodes especially in the media categories (sold a book when it was supposed to be some fancy dress item, grrrr) but generally the system works, if its to work then Tesco need a backend system that can cope with the creation of new records, a way of verifying them on multiple criteria and allow edits to them to maximum inventory creation potential.

Seller Thrashings

Another fundamental difference between the marketplaces is that you can generally talk around eBay and cover up miss-haps. If you piss-off Amazon, then you are screwed. Its their marketplace and if you let their customers down, then you better have a damn good contact list to start bailing on, its extremely rare for sellers to get back on. I know of only perhaps just three in almost 10 years.

OoO Wait, What About

play.comIts worth noting here that no-where I have seen has anyone mentioned, not I think this has a potential in itself. Again for those new to the different platforms, offer something called PlayTrade and PlayTrade Pro, which allow sellers to sell on their platform along side their existing stock.

Now the biggest limiter (by their own design I hasten to add) is that have chosen to the stance that ‘if its not in our database you cannot sell it’, which in many ways keeps things cleaner, but also seriously stunts their growth when compared directly to Amazon.

Yes you can ask Play to create new records, but the data better be squeaky clean and its not a fast process by any means as from I know if its checked manually [poor Chris B!].

Processing the Sales Data

The other no-brainer for Tesco is that they can pull an Amazon style on the data they pull. Again for those who don’t know this, remember you are selling on Amazon’s platform, they sell there too, its their platform. So when they spot a sweet spot, like footwear, don’t be supprised if they do a or an with this data. If I was Tesco, I’d be gunning for this data, data that says what sells, when, how and who for, its utter insane when you think that Amazon have been doing this for years and haven’t even started to monetize their data to sub sites.

On a side note, checkout and they are super slick and not a patch on what Amazon have released in the Amazon Webstore platform for merchants.

Integrate, Integrate, Integrate!

Now if Tesco is going to open its doors to other sellers, then it better have some ‘common’ tools at its disposal to enable sellers to port data (coff, just like did) from existing marketplaces (Amazon) and enable its use on their own site.

A few common sense things, like keeping condition codes the same as thats used on Amazon (coff and file formats would be a good start. One thing that Amazon lacks on in direct comparison to eBay is that its API isn’t that great. eBay’s API has to be one of, if not the the best documented & thorough API there is.

Working with 3rd party tools like eSellerPro , Channel Advisor, AManPro etc is going to be key to the marketplaces success, I really do not see such a channel taking off if no-one can list data there quickly, especially the businesses that already have great data sat there waiting to be deployed.

Fulfillment By Tesco?

Infact I don’t even want to contemplate this right now, but thinking about it for a few movements, if Tesco are smart enough to take a swipe at Amazon, why not go for the jugular and take some FBT (Fulfillment By Tesco) as well? Buy up a third party like ProFS, bingo instant fulfillment network to take on Amazon’s. See crazy stuff! My head hurts on the sheer potential they have here.

Tesco Affiliates, Amazon Style

Another topic that I have seen absolutely no-one mention and that is affiliates. For those who have never heard of this concept, its simple, you transfer a customer that converts, you get a commission (its what I have been hiding away doing for the past few months on a larger scale).

My point is, Amazon have BOAT LOADS OF AFFILIATES and the crazy thing about their affiliate program is that they offer 24hr cookie where the rest of the industry is around 30 days, but Amazon converts like crazy, times this by thousands and an astore product that is simple to use for community sites and can be deployed in minutes.

Its like an army of sales staff working for you, its crazy.

Note to self, need to find out the figures quoted for Amazon affiliates, I am sure they account/contribute for a massive amount of the total sales revenue of Amazon.

So Matt Your Point Is…

Tesco would be insane to try and copy eBay, by-god thats a dirty marketplace when you compare it to Amazon. I have no idea how this is going to pan out, a new site or a bolt on module to their existing Tesco Direct site at (which again for those did not know it has a proportion of an amalgamation of supplier feeds branded as Tesco, well and some Tesco owned items too I suspect).

If its going to work, they’re[Tesco] are going to have to push their brand name to the limits of what can be pushed. That Amazon logo instills a sense of comfort & trust that just isn’t found elsewhere on the Internet and is going to be extremely hard to get anywhere near to it, regardless of their starting base.

They’re not going to need luck, they’re going to need some damn gifted management heads, every single corporate based tool at their disposal and some fairy dust for good measure.

Exciting times ahead for all of us, be sure of that.

Book Review: I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell – Not for the ‘Faint of Heart’

I Hope They Serve Beer in HellThis is no understatement:
Oh my word, this book has to be the #1 on the craziest of books I have ever read.

Lately I have read some brilliantly inspirational books from the leaders in almost every business field. But this… Its something else.

“Utterly Insane Experiences” would be an understatement. There is absolutely no way someone could have made any of the contents up, they’re soo crazy.

While on Holiday in a stunning cottage in  Wadebridge a few weeks back when I red this book; I was literally beaten by my partner at 4am for screaming with laughter two nights on the trot as I sped my way through it.

The back cover opener, does not even give you the glimpse of the insanity that the book contains.

Tucker Max drinks to excess at inappropriate times, disregards social norms, indulges every whim, takes no responsibility for his actions, rebels against any authority, mocks idiots and posers, sleeps with more women than is safe or reasonable and generally just acts like an asshole.

I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell contains everything the modern-day bounder that is Tucker Max has written since he started sharing his depraved reality with an audience of millions.

After reading this book, I sadly feel that no night that I have ever been on or will ever go on will ever compare to anything Tucker Max has done. I did buy the DVD, but besides the midget eye-up scene, it was nothing on actually reading the book.

I’ve lent this book out today to a friend that is off to the states, I have given her a stark warning, “take a sock and chew it, you are going to wet yourself with laughter, cringing and complete disbelief on that plane” she looked at me oddly. Read it, you’ll find out why.

Part 6 : SuperDryStore Listings – Lets Start to Make You a eBay Listing Template

Welcome to part 6, if you’ve missed the previous parts, see here to catch up and from the last post regarding SuperDryStore, read this article ‘11 Reasons Why People Don’t Buy From YOU & How to SMASH Them‘ before continuing.

The Listing Template

We’ve now got as far as the listing template and from Part 5, I indicated that we need to rearrange the information that is being presented to the buyers to make their lives easier on the most critical decision that they face when viewing an item online:

Is this item the right item for me?

You must remember that its your business role to convey the project or service information in a manner that the customer can instantly answer this fundamental question. If they are unable to do this then you are failing.

Quick Layout Update

From Part 5 I suggested a format as follows, although I have added the images section to the top left, silly me ;-):

Images Postage
Item Description Returns
Sizing Payment
Related Items

Let Me Explain My Reasoning for this Layout

Remember that customers are thinking this primary question:

Is this item the right item for me?

And that its our job as a business to answer it effectively (a set of exit strategies is something for another day).

I’m not a fan of tabbed sections in templates, yes they save space, but I read somewhere and logic also dictates that the % of those who actually click on them is minute and if its no important information, then why include it clearly in the first place?

Image Layout

Now I did hint that I was going to share some code with you and I am going to share the entire template with you as a complete project at the end of this section, but for now we’re going to use HTML snippets.

Now using a little bit of javascript, we can make a simple thumbs gallery and as a bonus I am going to include the keywords you need to make this work in a eSellerPro account. You could make this work in a Channel Advisor account, but last time I checked they did not support conditional keywords like IF or IFNOT, so you’d have to do this manually or set to a number of given images (yes they have a keyword for a gallery, but conditional formatting is far superior).

Enough virtual ink, lets get to the preview and I have uploaded a version so that you can play with it for real here:

SuperDryStore Images Example

SuperDryStore Images Example

If you’ve had a play with the real example here, then you’ll see that this works in almost all browsers and if you’ve checked the code its extremely simple.

I have also set the image width to be 500 pixels wide, yes if I was doing this where time was not a constraint (I’m writing this on a Sunday and have real-life commitments in 40 mins) . I may juggle around with the image sizes over numerous products to work out the best size for this type of layout when factoring in descriptions, sizing tables and other information.

The same for the thumbs, they’re at 90 pixels, 120pix might have been better 500/4 = 125 -5 each side as a buffer, I hate crowed images), but for the purpose of example is to show how and what it looks when done. Saying that, I’ll start to tweak this image layout as we move on, so blah :P


As promised, here is the HTML for this section, my only note is that I have left the tags {{Image 1}} etc in the places where the image URL’s need to be entered.

Your Title
Your Title Your Title Your Title Your Title

The Description

The Description isn’t that bad, it just needs rewording and adding to, so it looks like a human wrote it, here is a before and after:



New Superdry Haversack Bag – new with tags.

Superdry retro vintage Tires Haversack canvas bag with vintage faded Superdry Tires and Tubes logo print, single inner compartment, buckle fastening and adjustable shoulder strap.

Colour: Mid Grey with yellow, white and blue logo.

The RRP on this item is £29.99.

This item is brand new, in perfect condition.


This is a Brand New Authentic SuperDry canvas haversack bag. This bag has a really good quality feel to it as you would expect from any SuperDry article, its vintage ‘faded’ and has Superdry Tires and Tubes logo printed on the front.

With a single large compartment of around 17″ wide, by 12″ deep and 4″ thick, you’ll fit in most books and small articles and have room to spare. The main compartment is buckle fastening and has an adjustable strap of N length.

This is just one of an entire range of haversack bags that we offer, you can see out entire range here.

Now I have to admit, I have cheated. On Saturday[Bristol, Cabot Circus] I saw these in store, a key point that has been missed is the ‘really good quality feel’ part, there are several of these bags in range that get their own waist height stand. Its crucial to remember that your buyer cannot do that, so it its YOUR job to do it for them and an inform them of the best features and if needed, the worse features.

Its also blatantly obvious knowing that there is a range of these, an exit strategy is absolutely needed, as the browser may have entered this product, but decided the item was too dark etc.. and we need to give the browser a set of exit options. It may have been worth including something like ‘You could easily for most netbooks in this bag’ as for me I am looking at netbooks and do not want to carry an obvious netbook styled bag (although the ‘eBay’ branded messenger bag I use is a give-way’).

Where I have added “you can see out entire range here.” the ‘here’ part would link to the eBay shop category or shop search page.

An explicit note to SEO junkies: “Using ‘here’, ‘there’ etc to you is a slaughter of keyword linkage, I would like to remind you that this is eBay. By using ‘Here’ as the link keyword commands a higher click through rate that a more descriptive link. Can’t remember the study I read on this now, but from what i can remember it was a clear 2% increase between the two call-to-actions. But listen to nothing I say, A-B test it, work on facts.

We could have gone for a bullet pointed based system for descriptions, as we are looking at just one bag and not the rest of the inventory base, its difficult to make any recommendations on data structure. Although if SuperDryStore were intending to use the same data for Amazon or other marketplaces, this would be a strong contender to data layout.


Time is against me again, so to summarise the above, we now have an image gallery that we can work from and that you can work from for any of your projects; And we have a description that actually details the key features in a human readable format and I have indicated that an at least one exit strategy must be used as part of the description. I have noted to cover exit strategies another time in lot more detail.

Part 7 will include the sizing table, postage, returns and payment, Part 8 is going to give you some code I found recently and adapted for the auto-insertion of related items on multiple criteria. Part 9 will probably join everything together.

Possibly The Worst Customer Service Experienced Ever?



What is to follow is exactly how you should not deal with your customers and probably not how you should deal with being a customer either.

Let’s Set the Scenario.

I finally decide that I need a new mobile phone, I had already decided that I did not want an iPhone, but a Android based phone. So I go through the classic buying phases, research(involves lots of Google and asking friends), home in on a brand or few handsets (happened to be HTC), research some more, then flop the wallet out and buy.

Now literally 10 minutes before I stopped haunting the four or so major phone sites, I got an email from Which? saying that HTC had just released two new HTC Desire phones, the HTC Desire HD and the HTC Desire Z. Now the Z has a flip out keyboard like that old Nokia lump, nice, but I was dazzled by the 8Mp camera, 4.3 Screen and HD recording. I have two young children and my previous phone coupled as the family camera and thus these attributes stamped SOLD on my head immediately.

Here is the promo video for the phone, I personally love this style of storyboarding:

Soo now I have the big phat SOLD sign dangling from my head, its down to network, price and data usage. After scouring the net I finally settle on a 24 month contract from T-Mobile called ‘T-Mobile £30 Mobile Internet’ which had a decent amount of minutes (900), some texts (500) and for me crucially 1Gb of net transfer.

While I don’t actually anticipate that I would clear an entire Gig in a month, I would not put it past me and yes I know most places I got have wifi, but still I wanted 1Gb of transfer.

Anyway, I settle on a company called, I do my usual checks (ok I suffer from web paranoia), whois check on the domain, phone a store, use their live chat (which is now gone, you’ll find out why soon) and verify their other two stores on Google maps. OK I am comfortable.

Now a secondary clincher was this, noting that its still on thier website almost two months later:

We are an HTC ultimate partner and are receiving stock weekly during November and will supply Desire HD on a first ordered first delivered basis. Order Now and receive a Free 8GB memory card.

Bingo, this phone was not to be released for another week or so, they’re a premium partner, I’ll be one of the first. O-Happy-Days, or soo I thought.

Then Things Started to Go Wrong

I contacted them using their live chat, which was offline, but left a message and shortly afterwards I receive a reply that the phones have not been delivered yet, but would be notified when they had more information.

Now knowing this is a new phone and they’re reliant upon the manufacturer (HTC) to deliver, I wasn’t really concerned, hey they are[?], as they still quote:

We are an HTC ultimate partner

Another week passes, so I email, no response, I email again the next day, no response and again the next day, yep you guessed it no response.

So I phone. After five minutes of waiting, ‘Sarah’ answers the phone and to be honest I felt sorry for the girl, I am not the best customer as I ask bloody awkward questions and can be very blunt when rattled by poor customer service. The up shot from the call that the Manager (who would not talk to me) would be emailing ‘The Customers’ the next day.

From her tone, you could tell that she had obviously been beaten up several other times that morning and feeling sorry for her for verbal onslaught I had just given her (that sounds bad, I am always polite honest!), so left it to wait and see what happens in the email.

So I get the email, another week. Another week passes, another email, another week. WTF (remember what this means?) I thought these were:

We are an HTC ultimate partner

Ok, now I’m getting narked, after no reply for two days since I replied to their email saying it was not in stock for an indeterminate amount of time (yep its their standard address webshop@) I decide to ring.

At 6.37 , I get the message to email (no chance) or use the live support.

Now interestingly, I noticed two weeks prior to that, that the live chat was removed from their website. I am sure this probably to do with the number of customers that have been chasing their HTC Desire orders because they quote:

We are an HTC ultimate partner

I ring again and again and again, this is going no where. I ring the stores, no answer. I flip.

You WILL Answer me

Up until now I have been quite relaxed, but now, when I flip, I get noticed and I get results no matter the cost in time. Trust me, you really do not want me as an angry, paranoid, scared customer, you’ll find out why next.

Enter iMacros

I use iMacros for everything, I have plans to document this amazing tool at some stage, but for now, understand the following:

Anything you do in a web browser can be scripted

So with that in mind and the new knowledge that I iMacro almost everything, I put this to good use.

Here is my first proper published YouTube Video:

I think you’ll understand from my tone in the video how pissed I was at the time, I look at it now a day later and laugh at it. I amaze myself at times.

Yep thats right, I set it to send 1000 times.

Now if this had not yielded results, I would have driven to the stores, or used companies house to find the directors and knocked on their doors at 8:30 on a Saturday morning (after ringing them before of course, they might be miles away). Do you get a sniff of the idea of the psychopathic eBay buyers that are out there yet?

Enter Awful Customer Service Part 2

Now I am only guessing here, but they have an auto responder script that looks for the word ‘cancel’ and sends the following back.

MobilePhonesDirect Auto Responder

MobilePhonesDirect Auto Responder

Your reading that right, this company has such a fundamental customer services issue, it needs to respond with lies.

You’ll see from the snap-shot of my email box this was an auto responder and it was sent numerous times, to the point that I got this too:

MobilePhonesDirect Recall Request

MobilePhonesDirect Recall Request

Ok, this is getting somewhere (remembering that I had minimised the browser that is still set to loop 1000 times), so I reply with:


I strongly doubt that this order has been despatched, as if it had been it would not be in its current status, nor if it had left the building you would not be readily able to stop the order.

Sick to death of no replies, cancel it as the mail suggests.

Kind regards,

Matthew Ogborne

More Insulting Customer Service

I face-palmed when I read this, they’re blatantly lying:

Mobilephonesdirect Insulting Customer Services

Mobilephonesdirect Insulting Customer Services

YAY Humans at Mobilephonesdirect

I’ve hit the jackpot, Mobilephonesdirect have humans working for them. There is a cheer from the ‘Matt Ogborne’ camp. Ore at its beauty:

MobilePhonesDirect Have Real Staff!

MobilePhonesDirect Have Real Staff!

Now, after composing myself, because at this point I have gone from one end of frustration, to practical answers and now to potential resolution.  I think about this whole experience for a few moments.

MobilePhonesDirect said and still say that they are:

We are an HTC ultimate partner and are receiving stock weekly during November and will supply Desire HD on a first ordered first delivered basis. Order Now and receive a Free 8GB memory card.

But now they ‘magically’ offering me a the phone. Do I really want to deal with this company? What if it breaks? What if I have a service issue? Why the bloody hell was it not delivered to me before, this order had been outstanding since the 5th October?

I really do not like (as your customers similarly do not like either):

  1. To not be informed regularly on their order, especially if its a pre-order item
  2. To be address by name, explicitly not as ‘The Customers’
  3. To be insulted by still failing to deliver the item though still showing it for sale
  4. To be lied to
  5. To be automatically lied to.
  6. To be bullshitted by customer support staff.

So The Reply Was?

Polite, but clear, I’ll let you relish in a well formed reply:

Hi Phil,

I appreciate the response and you must also appreciate the nightmare that I have had trying to contact you over the past few weeks.

Being referred to as ‘The Customers’, not being answered to when calling, unhelpful when I do and no answers to previous email is not good for customer service.

I am really tempted to say I would like the phone, but unfortunately I am gravely concerned at what the outcome may be if I ever had an issue with the phone, contract or yourselves in the future, as spamming contact forms is hardly an appropriate method of provoking communication (the same as your awful auto response emails) and are amazed that you actually have these (even if just one) in stock and not fulfilled my order, sadly I regret I have to decline the offer.

Shortly afterwards, I get three emails and the order has been despatched, returned and refunded.

What awful customer service experience that was. I only hope that your customer services are nothing like these muppets.

Warning, Your Customers Are Empowered

I only used iMacros to spam a contact form, but you must be extremely aware that like never before your customers are empowered with some deadly tools at their disposal, its called social marketing. If just one customer is pissed with your service and they are smart, they will cause untold damage.

I’ll leave it here,  make your own decision on the company in this article, a customer should never have to result to the extremes that I had to go to to provoke a response & I only hope you learn how not to deal with customers from this article.

I have had the most insane business service offering ever, but I cannot tell you what is!

Forest of TreesOpening Comment: I’ve been in torment for the past few weeks whether I should release this post or not, but hey, lets let it rip.

I cannot believe what I have come up with, I am soooo eager to deploy this in the real world, but its something I just cannot freely speak of, in short it frightens me.

I’ve lost endless nights sleep over this and have been brain storming relentlessly for its deployment, its now at a level that its awaiting its sole real-life exposure.

I’ve literally filled an entire notepad, I’ve cried with laughter and cringed with fright at it. This service really is not for the faint hearted and quite frankly I am scared of offering it to anyone, its remifications are frankly ‘severe’ and this is an understatement to those on the receiving end.

Testing is key to any service and I been training members of my team to see what the outcome could be for some time now. I’m supprised how efficent it can be made with the right management. Its not resource light either, to do this is literally going to take hundreds, if not thousands of man hours, but for any service to be successful, it needs key performance targets and oh-boy does it have those, with the absolute pinnacle at the end of it.

I’ve told no-one, I have only hinted in the above at the sheer scale of what this ‘service’ is to entail, its not for the faint of heart, it breaks all known rules, quite frankly I have scared myself.

This has to be a one off service. If you have serious business ‘issues’ and have a minimum of £10,000 to hand over with a bonus of £5000 on completion, don’t even bother asking me. Its a lot of things, its unique for sure, it will make the ‘right’ business tens if not hundrends of thousands of pounds, it will make you cry with laughter, it will plainly make you cry.

I’m saying no more, I had to share this, if only am extremely sketchy outline. £10K on the desk now and £5K in mediation account and I’ll spill it all, I guarantee you, you will cry at me in complete disbelief.

Random Post: I Wanted Coffee, I’ve Been Marketed & Visually Abused

Totally random post is about to follow. You have been warned.

When was the last time you actually took a few moments to take in transactions going on around you? Lets take my very simple trip to Mc Donald’s for my Friday coffee shot this morning.

I jump in the car and immediately I am told I need fuel, besides the swear word about my partner not filling it up, I realise I have not even started my journey and I am being told that I need to make a purchase, this does not bow well for the rest of it.

$%&~| brilliant, I might as well get my wallet out and sprinkle the entire car with cash, yep you guessed it the car now says ‘Arrange Service’. I decided to futilely ignore all spending warnings on the lump of tin and proceed to get my much needed intake of caffeine.

After counting 4 bill boards, 2 scaffolding companies and I could not keep track of on-car advertising, I finally made it past the petrol station, to spy two sets of transactions in immediate progress, the first ‘the queue’ in the shop, the second someone sticking their card into the pump. Personally I sometimes relish in the faceless transactions of petrol pumps, they’re so well scripted, the entire Indian population could learn from them.

I’m ignoring the pub to my right, its not open yet (shame), Sainsbury’s and the car lot to my left. Finally the golden arches of the Big M and my eyes instantly hit the white  Mc Donald’s lettering across the place. I am almost there, I can taste it.

Ace, one car in front, I pull up at the drive through window and see the woman in front ordered a 2.99 meal, I order my ‘Large Black Coffee’ and turn the bend. WTF She’s just paid with a card, for a £2.99 meal. Damn, parting with cash is too easy.

Handing over my £1.49 for the pot of black gold, I arrive at the next window to be greeted by a smile and a pot of gold, the chap recognises me and says ‘no holder, no milk, no stir’er, have a great day’. Jeas is it not bad enough that I have just been rough-lessly slammed through the Mc Daddy’s of ALL TIME franchising, but the chap to recognise me and go that one stage further? I make my getaway fast.

Bugger, I distinctly remember someone saying ‘milk’ as I walked down the steps, so stop in the ‘back shop’. I don’t know who does the marketing for these places, but typically its not done well, I can’t see in the shop for all the posters and clutter, if this was someone website, I’d shoot them.

Immediately as I enter I am forced to eye-swing the tinned items, now it hits me. WTF Why don;t they put their high value items right here, at eye level. Matt stop it, I’m getting my milk and running. I eagerly smile and hand over the 60p of convenience for 1 pint of milk and run.

Four ‘For Sale Signs’, more car advertising and I’m home, I feel safe, at least until my ad-block fails in Chrome. Epic, all I wanted was coffee.

Part 5 : SuperDryStore More Wastefulness – Learn How to Think Like a Professional Seller

Hmmm… didn’t think that they were going to be this bad and take so long to point out the areas where improvements are needed so everyone could learn from them, but hey we’re on part 5 now! Lets crack on.

Item Specifics, Get as Many as You Can!

ebay-item-specifics-barIn part 4 I had indicated to look at the category where you are listing in three views, these were:

  1. As a signed-in user
  2. As a signed out user
  3. As a user with no history, eg use a proxy like

This is really important as eBay frequently run A-B testing on most pages, which means that the page you’re looking at can differ numerous times for different users (pretty sure my old selling ID is in the control group so I miss most things).

Now looking at the original listing here we can see that for the first three options for shipping, we’re going to score 2/3, once for Free P&P, once for ‘Completed Listings’ (as its sold an item) and the biggest, silliest mistake is….

There is no Express Shipping Option!

WHAT!!??? I don’t want to get into the argument over free shipping currently, but for this example lets assume you’re ‘loading’ the shipping price into the buying price, that means you could offer an upgraded, expedited shipping option for a much more attractive figure.

Couriers, Royal Mail Tracked and even special delivery is not excessively expensive and remember there was a shipping price already loaded into the item price, say £2.00, this makes the expedited options £2.00 cheaper or if you’re cheeky, £2.00 more for the same service level.

In fact while you are at it, add another too, you can have up to three domestic shipping methods and three international ones (come to that in a moment) and it costs nothing to add these extra options and you only gain from offering them.

So if this is you, Add MORE Shipping Options!

The next set of attributes are regarding ‘Condition’, now this is where I am going to stray in to the grey area, I say grey, as I am going to argue with this:

eBay Duplicate Listing Policy
Sell genuinely unique items with fundamental differences in their characteristics (e.g. memory size of USB sticks). Differences must be reflected in the listing title, price, photo and item description.

Now an items condition is a ‘fundamental difference in the items characteristics’ in my book.

What am I suggesting? I’m suggesting you list you items twice, once as a new and as used and then if pulled on it, argue that condition is a fundamental difference. I cannot see any customer phoning up (although I do not put it past the eBay buying numpties) saying that their item is not used, but in perfect brand new condition do you? Think about it…

33% chance turned into 66% chance of being shown in the results, with a heavily spiked advantage with double listings?

Go on admit it, thats god damn sexy and no-one has mentioned that chestnut to you before eh?

*Coff* If you do it, change the titles *Coff* Wow did I get some strange looks yesterday when I suggested this to a client.

Moving on to the ‘Sellers’ options in the menu, well SuperDryStore got their 100% hit here with both options being available to them (note back to part 3, this shop should be called SuperDry eBay Outlet in my book).

And finally I am going to stop with ‘Buying Formats’, they’re scoring 50% here as they only have BIN listings, its exactly why you should be running auctions along side the fixed price listings to gain maximum exposure for your goods (although go bloody careful on fees, measure,measure, measure!!!!!).

Item Specific Keeners

Yep, for those keeners out there, yes this category does support custom items specifics and yes there is quite a few of them too. Bag style, material, brand blah blah, but lets face it, these chaps are using Auctiva, its pants (yes I did look at it).

If you’re using the likes of eSellerPro, set them up as combo boxes in item specifics, if you’re using Channel Advisor, good luck their system of item specifics is *****ed up. But they[SuperDryStore] have brand and style filled out, so lets score them 2/12 for item specifics and 1/10 for using Auctiva.

Finally The Listing!

Before I start nit picking, lets get to the good point, it actually looks like their eBay shop, so a customer going from one to the other is not going to be altered and isn’t going to freak out because they are very different. This in itself is a massive advantage.

The listing is also broken up in to specific sections, I’ll comment on centre aligned text in a minute, but for now, any eBay buying muppet can work out wtf (remember what this stands for?) is going on and we have four images.

Nit Picking The Listing

In no order of importance, lets hit the rocks.

Listing Template Width

The listing template width is too small, yes its contained in a iframe, even better, get that width at 960 pixels wide, not 855 pixels that it is now. That gives us 11% extra real estate width-wise.

Why 960 pixels? Simple says that 96% of all browsers are at 1024×768 or bigger, 960 fits in wonderful well into a 1024 wide screen still leaves edges either side for styling.

Header Confusion

As indicated in part 3 there is what I feel confusion going on and a the second largest unique selling point (besides brand) is not being pushed, “Where does it say eBay Outlet?”.

If you have a similar header, ensure that you brand logo has pride of place and is aligned to the left, not right in the Superdry listings, then add a clear unique selling point below it, again refer to part 3 on this.

The page links are ‘OK’, but the pages themselves are not particularly good. I would actually be suggesting that you answer these answers in the listing.

I’m skipping the title, in part 4 we already decided it was extremely poor and a better version was given.


10/10 for including more than one image here. But… you can get image editing done for 30p (or less) an image or even two seconds in photoshop would make these look better, the key bind is Ctrl+Alt+Shift+L, lets see the difference:

Before & After Editing in 2 Seconds

Now if you were going to this properly (as all I did was change the tones to deal with the darkened image, plus I am pants in PS), then you could end up with an image that looks as clean as the one to the right, noting that this image probably looked worse than both the images above combined, but was edited by a professional, thus looks ‘professional’.

While on the topic of images, I am not a fan where the buyer has to leave the page to view a image gallery, where possible everything should be done on the page itself. There are several ways of doing this, but for now, consider buyer leaving the page = bad.

I have left myself a note on this as I have some HTML I can share with you that makes a simple image gallery and works with almost all browsers.

Scrub the Rest of the Sections, lets Start from Scratch

There are a million different ways of displaying descriptions to buyers, but lets keep to a single layout remembering that it is our job to give the buyers clear information in a format they can ready quickly before they scat away to do something else.

So keeping it simple, lets for a 50/50 format, 50% item details, 50% peripheral information. I’ve made a little table below to show this:

Item Description Postage
Sizing Returns
Related Items

Before we go further, I suggest we review one of my earlier posts entitled ‘11 Reasons Why People Don’t Buy From YOU & How to SMASH Them‘. We need to keep all these things & more in mind when designing the layout of a listing. As I said before, its OUR job to give clear and concise information FOR scatty buyers.

Part 6 Soon!

While you’re reading that, I can get on with drinking coffee. Yep this is ending here, looks like we may even make it to part 10 soon.

Click here to view the final part 6 of this series.

Part 4 : SuperDryStore The Wasteful eBay Listings

SuperDryFollowing on from the three earlier posts regarding the SuperDryStore on eBay, we have a lot to learn from their eBay listings. Lets dig in and get dirty.

I’ve picked the first item I’ve come to which is a bag, you can view this item below:

Interestingly this item has picked up 26 sales, keep this in mind as we go through the points that follow and ask yourself the question:

“How many more could have sold?”


Following the category breadcrumb trail along the top, we are taken to the Mens Bag category

A very important step here is to realise that eBay serve different pages to different people, its always worth using another machine or a third party proxy like, even logging out can cause the pages to alter. So now knowing this, you should have three tabs open in your browser(s), one signed in, one signed out and another via proxy.

SuperDryStore Mens Bag Item SpecificsThe reason why we do this is extremely important, as by checking the category where the item is listed we can quickly pick up any commonly used item specifics or in this case the absolute important of the following factors:

  • Offering expedited delivery
  • Offering a free delivery option
  • Specifying the condtion
  • The absolute important of the listing title due to the ‘absolute lack’ of product based item specifics in this category.

I’ll come on to the item specifics in part 5, however lets get on to their largest fundamental eBay listing flaw…

The eBay Listing Title, Your #1 Asset

Let me spell this out in the simplest of terms possible.

The eBay listing Title is THE MOST Important Asset on eBay

Screw feedback, Screw categorisation, Screw a crappy looking listing, Screw everything.

Without a quality listing title you are knacker’ing up any chance of buyers finding you. Sorting out every other issue is secondary to the listing title. Something like 80% of all eBay purchases are made by search. Its not just important to have good titles, its categorically important to your business survival that you have ‘brilliant’ tittles.

So with this in-mind don’t do what these ladies are doing, out of a extremely limited title character count of just 55, the first cardinal rule is use everyone of them and  they’re not even using all the characters even when stuff it with mindless junk

The Current Title: New Superdry Large Haversack Bag MW140/0531

This comes in at 43 chars, so we have 12 left or some 22% wasted real-estate being lost. When you take into account the removal of the mindless junk (more on mindless junk in a moment), we’re left with ‘New Superdry Large Haversack Bag’ which is only 33 characters.

Thats 40% of theirs and imagine if it was yours, the most important marketing attribute on eBay, pissed up the wall.

So you think you can do a better job Matt?

You bet my-left-nut-I-can and I bet you could too.

Lets quickly brain storm this bag:

  • Man Bag
  • Large
  • Haversack
  • Canvas
  • Messenger
  • Shoulder
  • New
  • Grey
  • Vintage
  • Faded
  • Worn
  • Strap
  • Adjustable

Oh brill, we have an excellent assortment of keywords here, lets string some together so that the title is kewyord-rich and helpful to the customer too:

  1. Large New Vintage Superdry Messenger/Haversack Man Bag
  2. Superdry New Shoulder Man Bag Worn Fade Vintage Grey

Actually we could be here for ages, I actually quite like #1 and I’m sticking with it, it comes in at a cool 55 char count. “Happy and Days”. Lets ore at it:

Large New Vintage Superdry Messenger/Haversack Man Bag

It sure kicks ‘New Superdry Large Haversack Bag MW140/0531’ butt any-day.

Side Note: I am a Man Bag pro, I was even on BBC Radio Wales for them. I kid you not, see here.

Mindless Junk

Now lets try and understand why they’re stuff mindless junk like ‘MW140/0531’ into the listing titles.

In short, its probably an aid to their despatch process or a legacy carry-over from their early listing days. I suspect its caused by a combination of them not having a proper inventory management tool for their back end, needing this information in the titles to identify stock at the time of despatch and a crap tool like Auctiva.

You do not need to make the same mistake, even in eBay’s selling manager you can add stock numbers to goods (yea and via the SYI form), this is a separate value for your items so you can identify products by a name you recognise the SKU (Stock Keeping Unit).

In all honestly, I’ve not looked Auctiva in about 5 years, it was always crap, I doubt much has changed, although the cash injection from might help. On my mental list to investigate sometime before 2014.

Subtitle, WTF?

No idea who wrote this listing subtitle, but I suspect subtitles are freebies from eBay and are being randomly filled out with not-very-well-thought-out-crap. Oh like this:

RRP £29.99 – Buy from the official Superdry eBay Store

Now the key point here is that the contents of the 55 characters of the ‘subtitle’ do not impact search results, so you need to use these to nail the customer to open your deliciously tasty listing and reconfirm the title and your USP’s (Unique Selling Point).

Again, lets pause for a moment and brain storm some options for the subtitle:

  • eBay Outlet
  • Official Superdry Store
  • RRP £29.99
  • Save 50% off RRP
  • Free Delivery
  • Feedback, +89,000

See this is the kind of thing you should be doing not only for every title, but every sub title too! I’m going to go with the following, you can think of your own super sexy subtitle:

Save 50% | Free UK Delivery | Official Superdry Outlet

Why did I use the pipes? Simple Seal | The | Deal

Quick Summary

All this and we’ve not even got past the subtitle yet! Lets quickly summarise the above into some bullet points:

  • Check the eBay category you’re going to be listing into for item specifics (covered in part 5)
  • Do not waste your #1 eBay marketing Tool, the title
  • If you get free subtitles or use them, use the the simple rule Seal | The | Deal

Time has run out for me today, if you only pick up one thing from today’s session, get the titles right!!!

Click here to view part 5 of this series.