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Fresh Threads: School hall hiring, bad reviews, eBay costs

  1. Jas Sensi

    Jas Sensi Moderator Free Member

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    Hi UKBFers,

    Welcome to Fresh Threads, our weekly roundup of the most popular threads, comments and advice from the forums.

    Here are my top picks from the past week.

    1. Hiring school hall for classes but lost money


    I was hiring a school hall to run classes, and the school used a company called SLS to hire out their facilities and take payments from hirers like myself. In mid-March when schools were closed I had just paid for the upcoming month and the company wasn't replying to any messages. 

    Then a few weeks ago we were told it had gone into administration. I asked the school if they can give us a few free weeks to make up for the lost payments, but they said that the financial loss is mine to bear, not the school's.

    Am I right in thinking that SLS was the school's chosen representative, so the school should be liable for this?

    Socio South West: It's very likely that SLS didn't pay the school for the bookings either so you have both lost out. All part of the risk of being in business – dust yourself off and move on.

    Paul Norman: It is entirely about the contract. There are all kinds of debates to be had about who should bear the loss here. Frankly, there is no right answer to that one. But someone has to. And that is why we have contracts.

    PugwashEQ: It depends on what the contract says and who you were invoiced by. If you were invoiced and got a receipt from SLS and you had a contract with them then that's clear-cut. If you were being invoiced by the school you may be able to argue that de facto there was a contract between you and the school.

    UKSBD: Depending on the contract, the school could still come after you for the payment they have not received from you (very unlikely).

    2. Going to court over a bad review?


    Is it possible for a company to take a customer to court over a negative review?

    MBE2017: Not if it is their opinion – anyone is allowed an opinion. For lying or trying to harm your business, possibly depending on the evidence. Hard to prove usually.

    Paul Norman: If the review is libellous, you might, with a large enough budget, get somewhere. But I would crack on. People leave bad reviews. Hopefully, other people will leave good ones.

    fisicx: The review is their opinion of your service. Note that even if you win a court case, the review site isn’t obliged to remove the review.

    Alison Moore: Best to reply professionally and politely to the bad review and move on. Lots of people will judge your bad reviews by your reply to them, and not necessarily the review itself.

    3. Is eBay now simply too expensive?


    I'm struggling with eBay sales. They're simply too expensive and on low margin items. They're charging more in fees than I make on a few items. Some things I sell steadily are sold by multiple sellers, and we're all pretty much the same price - which is around 20% above the buying price. 

    Now the eBay fees are around 12% in total, and it's getting to the stage where any problems that involve extra money can wipe out the transaction. 

    Alison Moore: We've noticed that eBay has become increasingly expensive. I think they're pricing themselves out of the market, they used to be the 'go-to' site for literally anything, but recently there have been huge ranges no longer available. 

    MBE2017: The trick on eBay has always been about how well you buy. Their business model encourages a race to the bottom regarding selling prices. I used to double the buying price minimum years ago – I preferred a 2.4 multiple markup. 

    MarkOnline: Price points and margins are getting squeezed, the percentages (selling fees etc) are about the same as they were when we started 8 years ago (14%). I wouldn’t like to start again there.

    Mr D: Price is the one thing you set. If you want to set it cheap then can do so. It's not eBay trying to make prices cheap. It’s sellers.

    4. Do I need a 3D printer?

    Leonore Johnson

    I’m planning to expand my business soon, and my financial adviser told me to buy a 3D printer from this shop offering a reasonable price. But since I’m not that knowledgeable with such equipment, I want to know if that would be an ideal purchase first.

    Chris Ashdown: The machine is a relatively high end 3D Printer, quite a good investment for some manufacturing companies. To operate it properly you will need to learn "Fusion 360" or similar software to make the designs for it to print.

    ADW: Unless you have specific knowledge on 3D printing and a targeted audience to make a return, I would not bother speaking to your financial advisor again. Would be a lot easier to lose money on a purchase like that unless you had a specific business plan to justify it.

    Mark T Jones: Invest in a proper financial advisor.

    Alison Moore: It depends on what you want to 3D print and who you're going to sell the makes to. We have a 3D printer and I have to say, I'm very impressed with it. However, we've done lots of mods to it, to get it to function the way we like.

    That's all for this week – have a great run into the weekend!