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Many of us already are readying our tax returns and praying Uncle Sam doesn't march us to the bank to empty our account to pay more. If you're like me, just to be on the safe side, I'm gathering merchandise from around my home to try to make a few bucks.

While I've used the behemoth selling site eBay in the past, the fees sometime outweigh any proceeds and/or time spent trying to sell items; when I came across a Woman's Day magazine article that offers alternatives, I figured my readers could use a selling boost. A couple of tidbits:

1) Be absolutely certain you understand the fee schedule and, as important, trust the person (as much as you can depend on a complete stranger who lives on the other side of the country) to whom you're selling. Read the buyer's feedback ratings carefully; stay away from those whose ratings aren't way up there. Frankly, I'm leery about selling or buying from someone outside the United States, too.

2) Set up a Paypal account (www.paypal.com). Even though you pay a small fee for each transaction, if you're defrauded or anything else untoward occurs, Paypal turns into Jack the Giant Killer.

3) It's always better to set a lower price and sell that purple and orange triangular vase from your third marriage. (Just think about that potentially empty guest closet )

4) Take a good clear photo of each item on an appropriate background. For example, if you own a dressmaker's dummy, let "her" wear the clothing you're offering for sale. Don't stop there, though; in the product description, fully explain the outfit/item, down to the very tiniest of flaws. Buyers truly appreciate honesty. Selling jewelry? Wear a piece so online shoppers can tell how the pieces actually appear in person. Use a black, navy or royal blue scrap of velvet as background and the articles appear even richer. Again, don't neglect to mention any flaws. I actually bought a vintage rhinestone pin with one small stone missing to wear for the holidays. Frankly, I couldn't see the defect from the photo, but the seller pointed it out in her honest description. I'll buy from her again for this reason alone.

Long-time readers know I very rarely recommend a service unless I'm completely in awe of the repair/improvement and the folks accomplishing it. As I head off into surgery-land for a month's "vacation," I want to leave you with two true Consumer Watch kudos: Chattanooga Cabinets and son and father handymen extraordinaire, Justin and Ronnie Pressnell. Chattanooga Cabinets owner and artisan Tom Sucher's policy of customer satisfaction is second-to-none. Mr. Sucher resurfaced all of my kitchen cabinets and doors in 2015. Over the past two years, I've called him back for a legitimate issue with the paint (certainly not the service), and with nothing but a smile, he and his talented staff totally repeated the entire process — twice! (My friends to whom I've recommended the company are happy, too, and I'll continue representing him to any and all who wish professionalism, thoroughness, vision and a really nice guy to befriend. (Contact Tom at 423-668-8565.)

About the Pressnells: I contracted a bathroom job last year with a company (and I use that term loosely), based upon only one referral (a no-no) but mainly because its supposed mission, a heartstrings-puller, exists to hire veterans. Very long story short, the owner came out with his estimate, bringing Justin, the young man who would provide the work, primarily tiling. I wrote a rather large check for payment to a granite company, which was separate from the estimate; several days later, Justin called to report he had quit. The owner had collected double the granite cost to jingle an additional $400 in his own pocket, and Justin told this loser he wouldn't work for a dishonest person.

As my husband and I already were quite impressed with Justin from the time he had spent with us, we asked him to take on the job himself. I can't begin to list all of the adjectives that apply to this young man (anyone below 35 is "young" to me) — scrupulously honest, dedicated, professional, knowledgeable, etc. If any problem arose, he called his father, Ronnie, who's been in the contracting business for more than three decades.

Not only was my shower perfect upon completion, but both Pressnells have returned for other tasks, each met with great satisfaction. Other folks who've hired each or both have expressed (even in writing) how delighted they are with Justin (423-598-0261) and Ronnie (423-635-0080).

Ellen Phillips columns will resume in the Times Free Press in March. Contact Ellen Phillips at consumerwatch@timesfreepress.com.

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