Over the long holiday week-end, I had an issue with an order I had placed with a lapidary supply company. I decided to wait until this morning -- Monday -- to follow up on it. I sent a short email with the order details, and within 90 minutes I had a personal reply to resolve the problem. The item I ordered arrived in the mail less than an hour later! Whoo hoo!
And the price was less than anywhere on Amazon or eBay.
Having an urgent problem taken care of so easily put me in a good mood, so I went out to the studio and collected some rocks to take pictures of. Of course, there's a story behind the pictures.
A few nights ago, just before I logged out of BookLikes and shut the computer down, an ad appeared on my BL dashboard. I should have grabbed a screen shot, but I was tired and not thinking quite straight. Anyway, the ad caught my attention because it was for a rock -- yeah, a plain old rock -- offered for sale on Etsy. It looked very similar to some of my rocks, some of which I've sold on Etsy. But the price on this one was quite shocking. It was on sale for $50.99, knocked down from the regular price of $59.99!
Hello? Sixty dollars for a rock?
Now, there are some rocks that can actually be said to be worth that much. Either they are rare or beautiful or have the potential to be made into expensive jewelry. Maybe they're difficult to access or require a lot of labor to prepare for sale. None of those qualities really applied to this rock. The more I looked at the listing, the more the rock resembled one I had sold just a few weeks before, right down to the weight of 72 grams.
I have a lot of these rocks. At least one 5-gallon bucket full of them that I know of, and maybe two buckets. Or more. And I know I have several plastic shoe boxes full of them, too. So it wasn't difficult to grab five representative chunks for photos.
They are chalcedony -- kale SAID a knee -- a common form of quartz found all over the desert southwest and other places, too. The one in the upper left and the one at the far right are quite pink. The two in the middle are lighter pink and white. The one on the bottom left is all white. I collected all of them myself.
The big pink one weighed in at 188 grams.
Wow! Does that mean I could sell it for more than twice the $60 asking price from the other listing? Um, no, that's just plain obscene.
The white one is a particularly nicely formed "desert rose" shape, or actually more like a desert lily. Though it looks pinkish in the photo, the indoor light where I took the pictures distorts the color; the stone really is milky white.
And it weighed in at 89 grams.
There are other rocks for sale on Etsy at reasonable prices, but it bothers me that some sellers really seem to be out to rip people off. I know it goes on in every business, even in the book business, but it still bothers me.
Customer service isn't just about getting back to your customer when they have a question or a problem. It's also about treating them fairly from the start, and that means fair pricing.
I've been suckered in the past, and I'm guessing just about everyone has been suckered at some point over some item, whether it's a rock or a book or a collectible salt cellar or a classic car. That doesn't make it right. I can laugh now about some of the over-priced rocks I've bought and pin part of the blame on my own ignorance and blind desire to own a really neat rock. But I've always tried my very best to be fair and honest with the items I sell.
The place where I collect these stones is a 100 mile drive from my house. There are costs involved in driving there, and the labor of climbing up hills and down into dry washes and carrying heavy bags of rocks back to the car. It takes time to clean them of dirt and debris. Any selling venue has costs, too, whether listing on Etsy or another platform, or setting up in an art show. So it's justified that a seller puts some kind of price on the merchandise, to recover costs and make some profit.
But there's no reason to go hog wild and expect an obscene return on a minimal investment. I sure as hell won't do it.