Absolution: Taking from the French to feed the Samoans

When shopping on eBay, there’s little more infuriating than finding something with a great price, only to see that the jacked-up shipping fees make it more expensive than other listings. eBay’s got that pretty well worked out with a new-ish sort feature that combines both prices and lists them accordingly. Sometimes, however, jacked-up shipping fees are called for.


Every so often I toss a good number of eBay auctions up. I keep my shipping fees at about the norm. Since I’m selling items in batches and can use those automated mail machines, it’s not too inconvenient for me to toss the items in a bag, hit the touch screen until various labels print, and dump everything in the mailbox.


However, when shipping internationally, things are a lot different. Those automated mail machines tell you to pack it up and head to the long line. And by the way, you need to fill out some forms too.


I never previously sold items overseas, not really wanting to bother with the line, forms, and wait. However, there was this one time that someone didn’t pay attention to my very clearly stated preference for not shipping overseas. The winner asked how much shipping was, and I told her $30.


This was for a pair of jeans that I’d send to anyone in the US for a measly $4. My time and efforts are worth something, and I placed it at $30 for that item. It seems fair to me.


This last batch of items were my seldom-used running devices. Monitors for the heart. Monitors for speed. Monitors for time. On and on and on.


Ahem, yes. I fully acknowledge that ‘monitors for time’ is just a fancy way of saying ‘watch’. With my background in writing all things business-related, leave it to me to make it sound fancy.


Anyway, while tossing these auctions online, I of course checked that I was a-okay with sending internationally and set exorbitant shipping fees.


One sucker actually made a $40 purchase from me and paid FIFTY DOLLARS to ship it to France.


I originally felt a little badly about this, but I imagined that he was one of those French swimmers who talked a bunch of trash about how they were going to win the gold in that relay, only to find themselves with silver-medal positioning.


But then I remembered how it really was only one of those guys who was being a pompous ass, and I felt a little badly for charging one of the other three swimmers FIFTY DOLLARS shipping for a ‘monitor for time’.


I decided that I needed to toss a little good into the world, so I signed up for an account with Kiva.


For those unfamiliar with Kiva, it’s a site that puts investors together with foreign business owners, allowing funds to be loaned with no interest. The loans have an amazingly high repayment rate, and you choose who receives your funds.


With my fifty dollars from the French person who was probably very nice and not at all a gloating jerkbag swimmer, I am now supporting Rosamira from Peru and Vaiana from Samoa in their business efforts.


Rosamira is a bar owner looking to expand her business. She will repay her loan in six months.


Vaiana runs a plantation and needs to purchase pesticides and jugs to carry water.


The concept of this site amazes me. The connections, the small amounts dealt with, and the idea of those small amounts actually making a difference in these people’s lives — wow.


Check out Kiva, and see where you might help.

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