Sunday, October 10, 2010

LGBTQ Support

Tomorrow is national coming out day.  And I think that deserves some comment. 

Until very recently, I believed that my faith mandated opposition to alternative sexual orientations.  I have since been convinced that this interpretation is not in line with the broader truths I find in scripture and the traditions of the Christian faith, and I am in support of loving and accepting members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer communities.  At the same time, I know that this newer interpretation of my Christian faith is something not shared by many fellow Christians.  Though I wish all Christians joined me in a new understanding regarding the appropriate Christian response to alternative sexual orientations, I know this is unlikely.

Though I wouldn't mind getting into a discussion about why I changed my mind, and why I now think that acceptance, love and compassion are the appropriate Christian responses to LGBTQ lifestyles, I think something needs to be said about why Christians disagree with the LGBTQ lifestyle.  All too often, Christians who are opposed to the LGBTQ lifestyle are painted with the same brush as bigots like Fred Jones.  Oddly enough, characterizing these Christians as bigots is often done out of ignorance and intolerance.

All too often, Christians who are opposed to LGBTQ lifestyles are torn about their position.  Opposition to these lifestyles is usually due to an interpretation of scripture, coupled with a commitment to obeying the authority of those scriptures.  In short, they have good, and dare I say, honorable reasons for their opposition.  The Bible does in fact state in a handful of places that homosexual orientations are not acceptable.  Christians who are committed to the authority of scripture are required to respond to these verses, and often conclude that these verses mandate that their opposition to LGBTQ orientations.  These Christians aren't bigots, they aren't judgemental, they aren't hateful and angry homophobes.  They are simply trying to have integrity in their belief that scripture is authoritative.  And, even though such opposition is regularly and emphatically frowned upon by the greater culture, many Christians remain opposed because they are committed to submitting to the authority of scripture.  Rather than demonizing them for being intolerant, judgmental and bigoted, I honestly think that such Christians deserve credit for trying to maintain integrity in their beliefs concerning the Bible, even though I think these beliefs are mistaken.

I disagree with their interpretation of scripture.  I could spend a lot more time talking about why I am no longer opposed to the LGBTQ lifestyle—why I still accept the authority of scripture, but no longer accept that scripture mandates my opposition to LGBTQ communities—but that's my point here.  My point here is not why Christians should accept the LGBTQ lifestyle, my point rather is that many Christians who are opposed to the LGBTQ lifestyles are trying to do what they think is the right thing.  As much as I wish they were more tolerant and understanding, I similarly wish that their interpretation was more widely understood and tolerated.  I wish we could see these people not as judgmental bigots, but as people trying to the right thing even when that means doing something deeply unpopular.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Selling on eBay

So, I recently sold some items on eBay, and I'm trying now to close my eBay account because the entire eBay experience is excruciatingly bad.  I'm not trying to be dramatic, I'm just disappointed that eBay doesn't get it, and I want to warn others before they make the mistake of trying to sell something on eBay.  Here's what you can expect when trying to sell something on eBay.

1.  You pay too much to post your auction.  This I actually get.  eBay has to make money some how, and this seems like a good way to do it.  But seriously... charging me for posting pictures of the items merely discourages me from taking detailed pictures of the items I'm going to sell.  Meaning a frustrating experience for me, and less information for the buyer.  Good job.  [Strike 1]

2.  You can't change the auction once it's posted.  I posted an auction, and realized afterward that I typed in the wrong name.  Can I change that?  No.  Ok, I get it, that way I can't bait and switch right?  But can I put a message anywhere on the thing alerting the people who are going to bid on it that there's a mistake?  Nope.  I have to tell eBay that there's a mistake, they will look at it and make the change.  But they need two weeks to do that.  Which makes sense, seeing as the longest you're allowed to have an auction go is ten days.  Seriously.  [Strike 2]

3.  You have to pay money because someone bought your item.  Not only do you have to pay to post the auction, you then have to pay eBay simply because the item sold.  And this payment is a percentage of the sale price.  Which means eBay penalizes you for selling things on eBay.  [Strike 3]  Hmm... I'm starting to get frustrated. 

4.  You can't control shipping prices.  Even though it cost me $6.00 to ship the items I was selling, I wasn't allowed to charge more than $4 for shipping because that was what other people were charging.  Uh... [Strike 4]

5.  You have to pay money to get your money.  Seriously.  If someone pays you via paypal, then you actually have to pay a fee for paypal to give you that money.  I'm not kidding.  If you want money in your paypal account transferred to your bank account, you get charged.  What kind of business fines you for getting what you've paid for?  Look at it like this:  I'm the seller.  And the person who buys from me is my customer.  As a seller, I'm technically eBay's customer.  Which means I'm paying them to auction my goods.  The product I am buying from eBay, is the price I'm getting for the item that I'm selling.  I pay eBay for the privilege of selling on their site, and if it works, I get fined if I want eBay to release that money to me.  Imagine, you pay $3 for a cheeseburger at McDonald's.  They make it and stick it on the counter and then tell you it'll be another dollar if you want them to release the cheeseburger to you.  Apparently that makes sense to eBay.  [Strike 5]

[It was getting so stupid that I actually started taking screen shots to prove I'm not making this stuff up.]


6.  Sellers can't leave negative feedback.  Because in eBay land, everyone is good, no one screws up, and no one out there is trying to shaft anyone.  I sold a game on eBay for $45.  The person who bought it sent me an email asking when I would ship it.  I told the person once the money was paid, I would ship the item.  They never paid.  I then had to wait a week, file a complaint with eBay, wait for eBay to try to fix it, and then after another week, I had to go in and close the complaint.  Which means eBay did nothing.  Thanks.  So, I try to warn other sellers that this buyer is trying to win auctions and have goods shipped without paying for them.

But surprise surprise, bad people don't exist, therefore it's actually impossible to leave negative feedback.  Seriously.  What's the point of feedback, if the only feedback that can be left is good feedback?  Who dreamed up this gem?  So, no warnings about poor customers.  Which means, you really should go on eBay and try to buy items and get someone to ship them to you without paying for them. Because apparently eBay will do nothing about it.  Sure, you screw someone over, but... eh.  eBay doesn't really care, because it literally does not believe that someone would do this.  Strike 6.

7.  Apparently, it's impossible to close your eBay account.  Frustrated with the experience I decided to pay my invoice to eBay and delete my account.  So I paid, and tried to delete my account.  But because I just made a payment on eBay, I have to wait 30 days to delete my account.  Ridiculous, but whatever.   So I wait thirty days.  Then, I get another invoice.  For zero dollars.   [Strike 7] 

 eBay actually bills me zero dollars.  I try to close my account, but I can't because I have an unpaid invoice.  [Strike 8]  So, it's dumb but whatever.  I'll pay eBay zero dollars.  So I pay them the zero dollar invoice [Strike 9] and try to close my account.  But I can't, because I just made a payment on eBay. [Strike 10]

So I have to wait another 30 days.  LOL.  [Strike 11]

 8.  There is no customer support.  Well, this is all so silly that I hit the "Contact Us" button.  Nope.  It goes to a search box where I can troll through their FAQs.  By "Contact Us" eBay really means, "Give up, we don't care."    [Strike 12]

So, I troll through the FAQ's and there's no answer to the whole zero dollar invoice thing.  So, I finally get to a screen where I can ask questions via chat.  SWEET!  I hit the button, and... I get a window telling me that I'm going to have to wait 30 minutes before someone can chat with me online.  [This is borderline comical now]

So, bye eBay.  I guess I'm not going to close my account, because apparently it's impossible. [Strike 14]  But hopefully, this post will keep one or two people from ever trying to open an account on eBay, or (God-forbid) try to sell something there.  Maybe they'll get this fixed, but I doubt it.  If you try to delete your account because you don't like the way eBay is structured, check out what they call a possible solution.

A.K.A. You don't like what we're doing?  Who cares. [Strike 15]