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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How CafePress' Admin Bot Shops Charge You Blindly

   Please stop creating these admin shops and listing products that are not added by me, the account owner.  You are putting products out for sale in the marketplace that are not configured for the best use of my designs.  The latest sale that came from one was black lettering on black apparel.   

   Yes, I see a royalty from that sale, however, I did not approve of that design for that type of apparel, nor does this shop fall inside my payment setting for a premium shop.   In addition to paying my yearly fee, I also would be responsible for a fee attached to this sale because the default setting for that shop is to only pay royalties on items sold (10%).   You are essentially selling my designs and charging me a fee for something I did not approve as the designer.  I have had to close several of these admin shops or make them private in order to stop this from affecting my sales. 

   I have stuck with CafePress since 2009 even though nearly every other Print on Demand site offers the same benefits with no fees.   You’ve stripped us the same royalties for marketplace sales as shop sales, halved our royalties for 3rd party and fan portal sales.    I have been loyal to this site because of the benefit of the exposure and that scale is being tipped towards the negative ever more with these frustrations. 

   Please consider changing this practice as I am sure that while I am simply a small time designer and one voice among millions of designers who use CafePress, shopkeepers like me are how CafePress got its start and has grown.    While I don’t expect anything to come from this request, I must make it as it has been far too long for me to sit idly by and not voice my frustration.

Thank you,
 Not the most eloquent of messages, but one that needed to be sent for a long time.   Yes, it's almost passive aggressive in tone.  "If you don't stop being corporate bad guys, well, then, I'll just shake my fist and yell really loud with no ramifications."  Quite frankly, if I struck any kind of nerve and CafePress just decided to say, "So long, we're closing your account because of x" I would be kind of happy.   I have sort of let my shop languish because it just generates a minimal amount of monthly income that I am willing to accept for hardly any work, while I focus my attention to more robust, up to date, and shops that don't charge me a fee like TeePublic or Redbubble.

  In fact, it's been a long slow hospice for my CafePress shop since they changed the rules to only give designers a flat 10% royalty on sales from the marketplace, whereas previously it was whatever royalty you decided.  And actually, that should read "up to 10%" because they nail you for sales that come through fan portals and 3rd party sales like Amazon.  Shop sales prices can't compete with Marketplace prices and no one in their right mind will pay more for something just because the designer gets a higher cut.  

  The latest trend is for CafePress to add these Admin shops to your account and pre-populate a handful of categories with select items and select designs under the guise of "We're trying out things that you may want to be aware of".  Nothing you actually have any hand in when it happens.  They do it and unless you constantly bird dog your account, you don't find out that something is wrong until you get a weird royalty email stating that you made a sale on a no name item.  You check the sales report and see that it came from the Marketplace, featuring a design that you already offer in your regular store and already pay a monthly/yearly fee to operate.  Then, on top of only getting 10% of the royalty, because these admin shops are default settings, you pay a 10% fee on your royalty for every item sold up to $10 a month.  So, $60 in shop fees, plus up to $120 a year for these bot shops they set up on your behalf.  

  The argument here is kind of moot because I continue to do business with them, but that's only because the fees have been about 3% of my sales.  It's an easy revenue stream that doesn't require a lot of work other than to guard every penny by shutting down these stupid bot sites.  Still, I should stand up to this kind of behavior, closing my shop and walking away.   Unfortunately, there are millions of designers using CafePress, losing me would hurt only me every month, when I don't see a paltry line item on my PayPal account from CafePress.

UPDATE 2/8/16CafePress did respond in kind.... but I already knew this would be there response, if any.

Thank you for contacting CafePress. To Opt Out of marketplace listing, go to the shop management page and click on your shop settings. at the bottom you will see a check box marked Opt Out of the Marketplace. Your designs will then be removed from the marketplace.
If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know.

Please use this code in any further communication.
Best Regards,
Well, I did those steps and lo and behold, today, a new order for an item in that Admin shop, which has been marked as opting out of the Marketplace.  Look at the quality of their product with my design.  It doesn't fit the product.  This is what happens when their bot stores add my designs to their products...  This is horrible quality product that goes to the customer and has my name associated with it.  AND I GET CHARGED A FEE FOR THE SALE?!?!?!

I've removed all products from the Admin shop, but they'll be back.  In a few months time, there will be more crap in there that I will have to remove, again.

UPDATE 2/9/16:  Now, they're just trolling me.

Thank you for your response.  I am happy to assist you today.
I am sorry to hear of your frustrations.  At this time I would like to suggest closing your Admin shop.  In order to do so, go to "Shop", click "Admin_CP7374716".  This will bring you to your "Manage Your Shop" page.  

On the right hand side of the screen you can click "Close this Shop".  This will close this shop all together.  You then would not have to opt out of the marketplace.  

When opting out of the marketplace, it takes away the option of customers finding any of your items on our website at all, unless they have your shop HTML.

I hope this information is helpful.
 OK, so I have done these steps before.   Within days, the Admin bot shops reappear.  So, I asked a stupid question of them.
If I close this shop, will another one be added in the future?  (Included screenshot with email that shows only one shop now exists)  I have closed it and should not see any more of these Admin shops appear in my account.

Thank you
Of course, I fully expect there to be a new wonderfully awful bot shop in my account within a few days.   This is how they responded to my message...
Hello, I will be happy to assist you with this matter. I apologize that you are having issues with the admin shops. Unfortunately, another admin shop will produce its self. You can opt it out of the marketplace and mark it as private. This way the items can not be sold in the marketplace and will not be found on search engines. I also recommend removing any products from the admin shops as well. This will only need to be done once and no additional admin shops will be added in the future.  
To mark you shop as Private follow these steps:

  1. Log into your CaféPress account.
  2. Click on the Shop ID of the shop you wish to edit.
  3. Click “Edit Shop Profile”.
  4. Towards the bottom of this page will be your Preferences. Check the Private box and Market place Opt out.  Click on “Save Changes”.
Are you kidding me?  We're back to opting out.  Yet, clearly, the opting out still allowed items to be bought through the Marketplace.  


UPDATE: 2/22/16
  Yep, they're trolling.  The steps above outline how I am to mark the shop private and opt out of the marketplace... which I had done.   Then, yesterday, another shirt was sold out of that shop.  The products just happened to appear. 

  Well, one other option presents itself.  There is a 500 section or folder limit on shops.  If I add 500 blank sections, I can force them to stop adding them.

  Shouldn't be this hard.

UPDATE: 2/24/16
  So, apparently, Cafepress' rule about maximum number of sections allowed on your shop is a lie.   I tried to do an end run around the bot shops by adding 500 folders or sections, maxing out the allotted number.  The hope was that it would stop them from adding their own, which clearly are still selling products, even though I've removed that shop from the marketplace and opted out of search engine indexing.

 Well, today, there were 503 sections in the bot shop, which means that they refuse to be stopped.  I removed the products from the newly created sections.  However, these new sections are automatic and not done by some lackey in their offices.

UPDATE: 3/28/16

I sent a new message to CafePress because it has been over a month since I opted out of the marketplace with this bot shop and still orders get generated in sections that they add above and beyond their supposed 500 section limit.   I can't be bothered to go in every day and remove products from new sections.  This shouldn't be what a shopkeeper has to do.

It has been over a month since I opted out of the marketplace with this store.  And yet, orders keep getting placed from the Marketplace.  See Attached.   Also, your limit of 500 sections does not seem to apply to this admin bot shop as there are 522 sections in the shop itself.
So, what gives?  I get a lot of apologies and understanding of frustrations, yet no indication of anything to actually fix this issue other than I have to manually go into newly generated sections over the 500 limit and remove all products, but as you can see from the attached, unless I go in every day, continually and remove products, orders get placed.
Fix this.  Stop adding items, sections, orders, whatever!

UPDATE: 4/4/16

Now, this is a new one.  Logging in today, expecting to delete more products from the Admin shop, I found a new wrinkle in the mess.   Someone removed the exclusions from my Admin shop, opting it back into the marketplace and making it public.  They also removed all of the sections that were there.  Lastly, there was a strange product in my shopping cart.  Seriously, something is loco here.
Here was their response:

Thanks for your reply. I am sorry for the inconvenience that this has caused you. We do not reset any shops unless the owner advises us. The sections and products in your store we also did not get rid of. No, changes are made to your store from us. Looking into what's going on with the Admin shops, you can close them at anytime. 
If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know.
Your ticket code is [redacted]. Please use this code in any further communication.
Best Regards,
Their explanation of how they wouldn't have done such things is ridiculous as is their advice on how to handle this as even if I close that shop, in a week, another one will open.

Now, why would I undo all the work I've been doing to stop these sales from happening?   I emptied the cart, reapplied all the same exclusions, and changed my password.   Even still, there's some residual cookie thing going on because even though it shows empty, I still get a one item in my cart icon on each page.   You can see that all the sections are gone from the picture above, to here. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Gamer Tags

I am 40.
I am a father.
I am a son.
I am a nerd.
I am a gamer.
I am not a gamer.

Do I play COD or WoW or know what the difference is between a Hunter and a Promethean Knight is?  Can I perform a 360 no scope?  No.   But so what?  You don’t get to give me a tag of gamer or not.   That is not for you to decide.  Now, I would never call myself a soldier because I’ve never been in the armed forces or trained in the military.  That is an entirely different thing. The reason you don’t get to call me a gamer, or not a gamer, is because you aren’t the governing body of video games.  You are not a part of some hierarchy of video game admins that decide who or what defines me as a player of video games.  You are a gamer or you are not a gamer, by your own definition.

Let’s face it, video games have been around a lot longer than some of you who consider yourself to be MLG.  And, by using that term alone I sound like an old man, I know.  But I also know that video games are older than I am, which makes whatever you think of my gaming ability to be irrelevant.  You have no idea what being a gamer or not being a gamer is.   You’ve never stood in an arcade, with your quarter sitting on the rim of the bezel, waiting for your turn as some geek stands there, their eyes darting back and forth as they move left, right, down, and up to avoid pixelated enemies, knowing that there is no save point or continue.  One quarter.  One shot.  

Now, you may also wish to contend that the games of old, back in the days of the arcade, were simplistic.   All it took was memorization of some pattern or repetitive moments to be good.  Sure, go ahead and keep believing that.  I dare you to even try to keep up with someone like Billy Mitchell.  

Video games have come a long way.   From text adventures to monochromatic 2D sprites to isometric RPGs to millions of polygons per second rendering on the screen, we’ve seen games that have told stories of searching an underground kingdom to saving a princess in another castle to surviving the night in a haunted pizza restaurant and sometimes, it’s not even a game by traditional standards, but an unfolding tale of lost loves from car accidents or cancer.   We simulate everything from amusement parks to prisons to farms.  We blast aliens and fruit.  We build vehicles contraptions and even other video games.

Playing one specific type of game does not make someone a “gamer”.   It’s an understanding of many disciplines and it doesn’t mean you have to be any good.   You don’t have to compete in tournaments or carry your own custom controller and gear.  You can sit in a cafĂ© and play across a network connection with someone next door or across the world. 

And when someone else says they are a gamer or not a gamer.  If someone plays video games they can consider themselves whatever they want to be.   They can be old, young, male, female, Christian, Muslim, or Jewish.   The fact that they play, that they care, gives them the right to call themselves whatever they want.

This idea that you have to be a male with a Gamerscore over 20,000 to be a “gamer” is ridiculous.  Who cares?  I don’t have a Gamerscore.   My daughter plays video games.  She records videos.  She’s under the age of 10.   She can be a gamer if she so chooses to be called one.   This shaming and violently attacking others for playing games is a ridiculous practice that needs to stop, yesterday.  Are there problems in the world of gaming in way of gender exclusion and objectifying of a gender?  You betcha.   I remember the Nude Raider mod for Tomb Raider, Strip Poker on the Commodore 64.  Come on, we need to grow up.  We need to start acting like human beings.  

Gaming is an outlet for expression and creativity and we should embrace anyone that wants to be a part of that.  We should nurture the desire to figure out what makes games work.  We should engage in a community that doesn’t hate someone because they don’t know how to play a particular game, but helps them learn so they can enjoy the same thing we do.   When you tell someone that you play video games or that you like video games what is their reaction?  Do they roll their eyes or do they continue a conversation, invested in your attachment to the activity?  Maybe if they understood it like you do, had your passion, they would be more open to accept that you like to play video games and don’t brush it off as something juvenile or a waste of time.   With that in mind, why would ever try to dissuade someone from joining your ranks as a person who appreciates and partakes in the playing of video games?  We need more people in this club.  We need help from all walks of life.   We can’t make this idea exclusive to who we feel is deemed worthy to wear the tag of Gamer or whatever is an appropriate title. 

Not a gamer
Human Being

Friday, December 18, 2015

2015 Annual D-Bag of the Year Awards

Ten contenders.  Twelve months of Douchebaggery.  

In past years, I've devoted multiple posts to this topic.   I've slacked and I've phoned it in.   To be truthful, my blogging days are numbered.  But, I couldn't help but honor tradition, so I've narrowed the focus to just ten on the list.  And here they are:

10. EA – Selling You A Car, Then Requiring You To Buy The Engine After The FactI included EA on this list for one simple fact.  They have not learned a damn thing in the last few years.  After SimCity, and Sims 4, you would think they would not let another title be released with their name on it unless it delivered a better experience than previous installments and with the release of Star Wars Battlefront for next gen consoles and PC, they went ahead and did exactly that.  No single player campaign, no space battles, stripped down, reskinned play of Battlefield, and DLC for all the credits you can muster.  You pay $60 for a game, and then on top of that, another $50 for DLC pass.  That’s $110 for a game, not to mention it lacks all the things previous Battlefront titles had.  Well, the nerds have spoken and the price at GameStop was slashed by about $20.  Not sure if that’s GameStop realizing it’s a dying institution in the digital download age, or if the sales of the game were really that bad.  I kind of hope both apply, really.  In the meantime, I still play Battlefront II on PC with multi player through Steam and it was a steal!   All the stuff I want from a game that is over ten years old and is still great.

9.  Roger Goodell – CEO of Thuggery INC. aka The NFL
Goodell has made this list numerous times and why stop now?   This year he’s managed to try and look tough by instituting a four game suspension on Tom Brady for his role in deflategate, only to have it overturned in the courts?  Really? REALLY?  Come on, anyone who believes that this was Goodell being beaten in court by the Patriots needs to understand that Goodell and Kraft are bros.   Roger only appears to be tough on the Patriots, realizing that whatever he tries to lob at the club will look like he’s being tough but won’t stick long enough to do any damage.   After all, Brady started on opening day and the Patriots are currently 11-2.   On top of this, the ridiculous fining of players and the allowing of thuggery like Greg Hardy’s domestic abuse allegations that were somehow expunged from his record and he still plays manages to be another reason why I stopped watching football two years ago.   Goodell’s salary is another point of contention.  The NFL was a non-profit league that manages to pay its CEO $35 million this past year.   Goodell is a horrible commissioner that makes the league money.  That is why he’s allowed to be in charge.   The owners, for all their supposed hatred of the man, continue to make money off of his buffoonery.   Pure and simple, though, Goodell is a d-bag first team, all American.

8. VW – The Diesel Bug That Couldn’t
Funny thing about new vehicles; they have more features, more electronics, and more problems than the old ones.   The upside is that with all that innovation, they’re supposed to be more efficient and cleaner… but VW didn’t think anyone would notice that their ECU software was circumventing environmental regulations.  Hell, they touted it as a selling point, and got caught.  Stock went down, they tried to buy back the vehicles rather than fix them.    I guess, as a fair play follower, it’s nice to know they got caught with their lips on the tailpipe, but companies do bad all the time and they get caught, but does anyone, other than the consumer, every pay for it?  

7.  Death – Perennial Favorite and All Around D-Bag of Bones
Death, you had a busy year.  Between Paris x2, San Bernardino, and every other tragedy that claimed the lives of humans, you didn’t take time off to nip a few notable people from the ranks of the living.
Mario Cuomo, Beau Biden, Stuart Scott, Fred Dalton Thompson, Jackie Collins, Leonard Nimoy, John Nash, Yogi Bera, Christopher Lee, Donna Douglas, Rod Taylor, Taylor Negron, Anita Ekberg, Bob Simon, David Carr, Sam Simon, Bobbi Kristina Brown, Colleen McCullough, Terry Pratchet, Leslie A. Williams, James Best, Geoffrey Lewis, Percy Sledge, Mary Doyle Keefe, Ben E. King, BB King, James Horner, Nicholas Winton, Amanda Peterson, Jerry Weintraub, Omar Sharif, Alex Rocco, Roddy Piper, Frank Gifford, Julian Bond, Emma Didlake, Yvonne Craig, Marcy Borders, Amelia Boynton Robinson, Alison Parker, Adam Ward, Wes Craven, Dean Jones, Ben Kuroki, Jean Darling, Martin Miner, Paul Prudhomme, Maureen O'Hara, Melissa Mathison, David Canary, Cynthia Robinson, Scott Weiland, Robert Loggia, and Holly Woodlawn are just a small sampling and if any of those names are unfamiliar to you, I suggest you look them up.  

6.  Josh Duggar – Ashley Madison’s Poster Boy
I guess it’s hard for a parent to keep track of what their kid is doing when they have more than 15.  Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar should be the poster parents for Planned Parenthood.  Their views, their practices, aside, the breach of Ashley Madison’s website, releasing all of the douchebaggery onto the web just goes to show you that when you voice your throw a bunch of stones from your glass house, you probably will end up with a few broken windows from them being lobbed back.  Anti-gay activism, child molestation, and extramarital affairs all prove that Josh Duggar is a d-bag and serves him right to have a few windows knocked out.

5.  Kim Davis – County Clerk, minus the “o” and the “y
She gained infamy for denying same sex couples marriage licenses after the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court.  She went to jail for contempt of court in the matter and emerged with Mike Huckabee as a supporter.  In the fray, it came out that somehow, Davis had a meeting with Pope Francis during his US visit.  This was either a manufactured by Davis’ lawyer or in some way orchestrated as a chance encounter but the Vatican basically denied it happened the way Davis’ camp said it did.   It’s possible that the Pope didn’t know who he was meeting, but in any case, anyone who sits high and mighty, declaring herself judge of others, circumventing the law, while being a horrible role model for marriage, deserves to be on this list.

4.  Martin Shkreli – Hedge Fund Pharma CEO and Fraud Artist
He gained infamy for being the CEO of a biotech company that held the manufacturing license for Daraprim, a HIV drug, marking it up 5500%.  The pictures of this guy on the Internet, alone, would be enough to put him on this list.  His ‘bro’-ness is only matched by his douchebaggery by taking a drug that is used to treat AIDS and HIV and raising the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill in one fell swoop.  Why?  Because he could.  And as of November, the price has still not come down.  However, Martin, may be coming down with something if he is convicted of securities fraud and sent to prison.  Boy, wouldn’t that be karmic?  Raise the price of a drug to treat AIDS and then get it in prison.  Most likely, he won’t serve anytime or be put in some country club prison.  Shame.  He deserves it in the end… quite literally.

3.  Jared Fogle – Subway Guy Gone Wrong
I really tried to not jump on the bandwagon of hate when it came out that his foundation’s director was involved in electronically trading child pornography.  I said, “Hold up, we don’t know the real reason.  Let the investigation happen before the hate.”  Well, it did, and unfortunately, it was bad.  Very bad.   No one really thought about Fogle’s early venture into being an entrepreneur or of porn in the college dorms.   This detail came out of all the media surrounding the investigation.    It went dark.  Very dark.  Allegations came out that he paid finder’s fees to prostitutes to get him younger sex partners.   How did he keep this life secret from his family?  This guy had a wife and kids.  Very disturbing.  So far, 2029 seems to be the year Fogle will be released from prison and while he’s on this list for 2015, he’s on the registered sex offenders’ list for life.

2. Donald Trump – Billionaire Buffoon With Bountiful Bouffant On The Ballot
This guy is the Internet comment section come time life.   He’s not just an entry on Snopes, he’s basically his own hoax generator.  In past years, he went after Obama for his long form birth certificate.  Now, he’s running with the GOP and leading in the polls for the nomination.   He wants to build a wall, ban Muslims, and basically turn America into the alternate reality of Back To The Future Part II where Biff runs everything.  Look, I like that a non-politician has gained a following over career ones in the polls.  But, it’s not like we got Jon Stewart instead of Bill O’Reilly.  We didn’t even get Robin Williams’ Tom Dobbs from Man of the Year.    If you’re still wondering when the bottom is going to fall out, just remember, “Who benefits by Trump staying in it this long?”   There might be more to this than a supposed bid for the White House.   He proves the point of how horrible Americans can be by his hateful rhetoric.   In the end, he could never win the Presidency, but who will get the nomination?  Perhaps Trump is a puppet to boost some other candidate that will benefit from his sideshow.  I didn’t necessarily say Republican candidate, either.  Check his contributions.   Get your tinfoil and bring on the Michael Jackson popcorn images.


1.  Everyone – You Know Who You Are
OK, so I consolidated The Internet, Terrorists, The Media, and The Rest of the Politicians into a lump of douchebaggery.  Why?  Because it’s nitpicking the same thing from all of them. The Media reports something, construing the context, losing the full picture, and then the Internet shares it, via Everyone.   Politicians use it as their fear mongering in their campaigns, pointing to snippets of stories and stats to make you afraid and then you share it.  The Terrorists do something.   They do it to inspire others to join them, and their targets to fear the broad majority of their small ranks, labelling an entire group as the perpetrators.  Meanwhile, the fear mongering wins out, the lobbyists get their way, and you end up cutting ties with people because they are too dumb or jaded to investigate and see what’s really true and what’s pointed rhetoric.    Whether we call all Democrats baby killing, tree hugging, ISIS loving pansies;  the GOP warmongering, holy rolling, gun loving, redneck, big business loving
Bigots; African Americans thugs who should just listen to police and stop looting their city when someone gets killed; or all Muslims and refugees are terrorists; is pretty much the same thing.  We’re blaming an entire group for the action of a handful of people.   The biggest problem we have is extremism.  Whether it be Charlie Hedbo, the second Paris Attacks, the crisis in Syria, the Attacks in San Bernardino, the attack on Planned Parenthood, the attack in a church in South Carolina, Baltimore, Ferguson, Chicago, Texas, it doesn’t matter… We are all responsible for the perpetuation of hatred among the human race.  I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that the current jabber on the political and social circuits is driving the car, and we’re just steering it into a crowd. We have to start taking responsibility for fixing the message.  The truth is we are all humans.  We are all white, black, Latino, Asian. We are all Muslim, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Atheists.   We are all conservative, progressive, liberal, and pragmatic.   

And I will not say #AllLivesMatter because that goes without saying.   The fact that we have to single out one group to say, “We matter” doesn’t mean we discount the others.  It means that something has been wrong for far too long with the way we’ve been doing things that maybe we need to pay attention there.

If tomorrow, an alien race showed up saying, “We need you to send us someone to argue that you deserve to be saved from eradication by our superior firepower.”    If it were me as advocate, man I’d have a tough time saying we don’t.  As a human, I’d be hard pressed to say we weren’t horrible.    And some would say, that’s akin to not being patriotic.  And I would say, “Yeah, but if they aliens gave you a choice, guilt free, as to only eradicating some groups, would you consider it?”     The fact that you actually thought about it proves my point.  Should be a non-question.    We are the problem.  We are the d-bags of 2015.

Congratulations on a repeat win.


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