Saturday, February 11, 2006

How To Sell On EBay

[Revised December 4, 2008.]

I've gotten a lot of hits lately on my EBay FAQ, and there seems to be interest in an FAQ for new sellers. Feel free to use the comments to offer feedback.

Q: How should I set my starting price?

Browse similar auctions. Use the "Completed Listings Only" search function to compare bidding patterns. Generally speaking, a lower starting price will attract more bidders. And you don't have to worry about people thinking your item must be flawed if your minimum is too low; many sellers use low minimums and rely on the market to establish a fair price. It's common because it usually works.

Q: When is the best time to start my auction?

Weekends, between 8:00 PM and midnight Eastern Time.

Q: Should I use "Buy It Now"?

Maybe. This is a neat feature that can benefit everyone involved. What you have to realize, however, is you're setting two different prices for your item; so now, in addition to competing with other sellers, you're also competing with yourself. A "Buy It Now" price of $69.99 might be reasonable compared to what similar items are selling for; but if your minimum bid is only $14.99, I guarantee you'll attract a cheapskate who isn't willing to pay the market value but hopes he can win your item for only $14.99. He'll place a bid, which causes the "Buy It Now" option to disappear for everyone else, and then he'll drop out of the bidding before it reaches a reasonable price.

Remember that bidding is free, so people have nothing to lose placing dozens of unreasonably low bids. If they get outbid, they simply shrug and move on; and if they win, they get your item for a steal. You need to set your "Buy It Now" price low enough to attract serious buyers; but if you're going to pay that fee, you can't set your opening bid so low that it attracts penny-pinchers.

Q: Should I set a reserve price?

No. If you have a minimum selling price, that should be your starting price. Using a reserve simply tells bidders that you're not being forthright, and many bidders will ignore your auction altogether. You also risk attracting bidders who will bid repeatedly until they discover your reserve limit; and once they do, they'll realize they didn't really want to pay that much and they'll retract their bids or refuse to pay. Regardless of what anyone tells you, there is absolutely no reason to use a reserve, ever. It's like Priority Mail, which costs more than First Class but often takes longer to deliver. It's a special service that is, at best, equal to the standard service; but as long as folks keep paying for it, eBay will continue to offer it. Don't use it.

Q: Should I offer free shipping?

You'd think this would matter to bidders, but it doesn't. Check similar items in your category. You don't want to be the only seller not offering free shipping; but if you think people will bid more on your item because you've promised free shipping, they won't. You're better off stating a reasonable shipping charge and setting a lower opening price.

Q: How much should I charge for shipping?

Figure out your cost. Remember that "shipping & handling" includes more than postage. Depending on what you're selling, you may have to buy boxes, padded envelopes, packing peanuts, bubble wrap, packing tape, etc. You should also consider the time you'll spend driving to the post office. If you're sending a package outside the country or via registered mail, you'll have to fill out forms. You should also know that it's standard practice to absorb the various fees charged by both eBay and PayPal into your shipping charge.

Make sure you clearly state your shipping charge in your auction. I can't stress this enough. Bidders don't understand how much it costs to sell and ship items via eBay; many of them think "shipping" should include only the cost of postage. This is a frequent area of contention between bidder and sellers, and the only way to avoid trouble is to clearly state your charges up front, before anyone bids.

Q: Should I purchase additional listing features like a second category, bold, gallery, etc.?

This depends entirely on what you're selling, but the bottom line is that you need substance to back up the gimmick. If your item is unique in a popular category, it's worth a few dollars to grab people's attention. But if your auction is just like everyone else's, bidders will know and you'll be wasting your money.

The blue-chip promotions like featuring your item on eBay's home page are strictly for auctions that will benefit from a high profile. If you're selling a piece of toast shaped like the Virgin Mary, it's probably worth your money. If you're selling an antique coffee grinder, it's probably not.

Q: Is the 10-day auction a waste of money?

Yes.

Q: Should I ship internationally?

You might attract more bidders and a higher selling price. You'll definitely have to pay more for postage and fill out US Customs Declarations. [Since 9/11, shipping to Canada requires a Customs Declaration.] Again, this question depends on what you're selling. If you choose to offer international shipping, I recommend specifying a separate, higher shipping price for international bidders.

Q: Should I post a photo of my item?

Yes. A photograph is probably the best way to increase your selling price. People like to see what they're buying. EBay allows you to post one photo per auction, free, and you should always do it. Whether or not you need additional photos depends on what you're selling. If there's a practical reason, like showing both sides of a collectible coin, then you should.

Q: Should I offer a return policy?

No. EBay works best when treated like a yard sale. If you clearly describe the item's condition and post a photograph, there should be no reason for a return. Having a return policy will just act like an open door for abusers to walk through. All such doors that can be closed, should.

Q: Should I accept personal checks?

No. After shipping charges, bounced checks are the second most common source of problems on eBay. There's absolutely no reason to accept personal checks. If your bidder needs to pay with his checking account, he can send an eCheck via PayPal. If your bidder needs to pay via mail, he can send a cashier's check or money order. Don't expose yourself to unnecessary hassle by accepting personal checks.

Q: Should I use PayPal?

Yes.

You've probably heard that PayPal is controversial. In a nutshell, the story is that PayPal makes a habit of "freezing" funds when a transaction is disputed or if PayPal thinks it's suspicious. Some of those people never got their money back. Let me be clear: I think PayPal does this on purpose, and I think it's blatantly unethical. I think some of the PayPal executives should probably go to jail.

However, the good news is that it's relatively easy to avoid being victimized by PayPal. You just have to remember one simple rule: PayPal is not a bank. PayPal is a payment processing service — and if you remember that, and if you follow my simple instructions, you'll be safe.

There are two ways you can link PayPal to your checking account. The first is automatic; as soon as you provide the routing information, PayPal can transfer funds into your checking account. However, PayPal cannot withdraw from that account unless you choose to "verify" it, which is the second option. This is a simple process: PayPal will make two small, secret deposits, something like 37¢ and 63¢, and you'll be asked to confirm the amounts. This proves that you own the account. PayPal is now authorized to withdraw money from that account (but only with your permission).

It's important to remember that you don't have to verify your checking account. If you choose not to, you can still deposit up to $400 per month from PayPal into that account. If you receive $560 from eBay sales in February, you'll have to wait until March to deposit the remaining $160. If you expect to make less than $400 per month, this doesn't affect you.

That's the safest option, to leave your account unverified. However, you shouldn't worry if you need to verify it. PayPal knows its legal limits. It can freeze funds left in its trust without exposing itself to serious legal repercussions, but making unauthorized withdrawals from federally-insured banks is another story. I wouldn't worry about this happening.

Now, here's the key: Don't leave money sitting in your PayPal account. When your customers pay, immediately transfer that money from PayPal into your checking account. These transfers are free and you can do it as often as you like. I recommend doing a transfer at least once every day while you're receiving payments. Each transfer takes about two days to clear — and once the money arrives in your checking account, you're protected by federal banking regulations. It's that simple.

You should use PayPal because it's convenient. It's convenient for you; but more importantly, it's convenient for bidders. People who shop online want to use credit cards. They expect to be able to finish their transactions online. Even if they tell you they would rather mail a check, they won't. They'll procrastinate, or they'll forget, or they'll change their minds. Trust me when I tell you: If you accept payment via mail, you will get deadbeat bidders. Accepting PayPal is the single most effective strategy for preventing that from happening.

Q: Should I email the bidder to confirm when I've shipped his item?

Yes. It's a small courtesy that bidders appreciate. Most sellers are poor at communication, and you can impress your customers by being an exception. Let your bidder know that you've received his payment and shipped his item, and give an idea when he can expect to receive it. Remember that the only thing customers like better than good surprises are no surprises.

Q: Should I buy shipping insurance?

If you're selling small items, offer it at extra cost. Most bidders won't buy it. If you're selling expensive items, however, you should always promise to use shipping insurance and build the cost into your shipping & handling charge. You'll probably never need it, because the Postal Service is safe and they're even safer with insured packages — but if you're shipping a $1,500 item between two strangers on opposite sides of the country, you should make sure everyone is protected. Use shipping insurance.

When you ship via First Class, modern post offices will automatically print a receipt showing the package's weight and destination zip code. If you're paranoid, you can request a 95¢ proof of mailing, which is a postmarked receipt noting the recipient's full address along with your return address.

Q: When should I leave feedback?

The transaction isn't complete until the bidder has received his item and expressed satisfaction. Some sellers choose to leave feedback as soon as they receive payment. That's noble, but I think it's unwise. There are a hundred things that could still go wrong, and I've seen some of them happen. Even if what happens isn't your fault, the bidder will be more likely to leave negative feedback if he knows you can't retaliate.

Q: Should I leave negative feedback for deadbeat bidders?

Yes. They deserve it — but more importantly, other sellers deserve to know. The guy who just stiffed you might have stiffed three other sellers last month; but because they didn't report him, you didn't know and you couldn't protect yourself. You can set your auctions to reject bidders with a certain number of negative feedbacks; and once a bidder receives three strikes, eBay suspends his account.

Some sellers refuse to leave negative feedback because they're scared of receiving retaliatory feedback. I've received retaliatory feedback and it's easily addressed: Respond briefly and professionally, and everyone will clearly see the retaliation for what it is. There might be bidders who will avoid your auctions when they see that negative, but I suspect those would be people more likely to cause trouble themselves. Honest bidders will recognize your professionalism in handling a deadbeat. It makes you look better, not worse.

Appendix
[Updated June 12, 2006.]

I've kept an eye on the referrer logs to watch how people are finding this page. I've seen a couple of questions appear frequently; and although they're not specifically related to a Selling FAQ, they are worth answering for everyone's benefit.

Q: What happens if I don't pay on eBay?

That depends. In the worst case scenario, you will get negative feedback from the seller and a Non-Paying Bidder warning from eBay. These warnings operate on a three-strikes rule: If you refuse to pay for three auctions, your account will be suspended.

You should pay. When you placed your bid, you agreed to a contract. The seller paid to list his item, and he waited a week to find a buyer. Maybe you changed your mind, or maybe you bid by mistake, but you should take responsibility. Your actions did affect another person, and you should accept the consequences.

Having said that: You might have a valid reason for not paying. If the seller is trying to raise the price after the auction has ended, he's violating eBay policy. You can report him to eBay, and his account may be suspended. If you think you're being scammed, don't pay. It's better to get negative feedback and a warning letter from eBay than to lose several hundred dollars.

Q: Can the seller sue me if I don't pay?

Yes. He probably won't, but he could. If the auction involved a large sum of money, or if the seller lives in your jurisdiction, then you should consider this possibility. But it's rare. No seller is going to fly across the country to sue over a $7 compact disc.

Note
[Updated December 4, 2008.]

EBay has modified several policies since I wrote this article. You can review the current rules by clicking here, but the bottom line is that eBay is now trying to focus on so-called PowerSellers (high-volume merchants who use eBay as their storefront) instead of regular people. PowerSellers can streamline their sales and use fewer resources, which makes them more profitable for eBay. And so, while eBay once tried to encourage people to sell on its site, now its focus is on encouraging people to buy. The rationale is that if the buyers come here, the sellers will follow.

Most of the advice above still holds true, but I should point out a couple changes. Most importantly, sellers are now required to offer PayPal or a comparable payment method. EBay no longer permits sellers to require payment by mail. This was significant because US Postal money orders were always the safest payment method. If you paid with a postal money order and a seller scammed you, he had committed mail fraud; and US Postal Inspectors take mail fraud seriously. So why did eBay change? (Apart from the fact that eBay owns PayPal...) Because that was the direction the tide was turning. As I noted several years ago, most buyers want to be able to complete the entire transaction online. That's the way Amazon and other websites work, and eBay wants to stay in the mainstream.

That led to the second major change: Sellers cannot leave negative feedback for buyers. This was a controversial move, but I don't think it's catastrophic. The most common reason for leaving buyers negative feedback was that they won your auctions but didn't pay. Deadbeat bidders were common when people paid by mail; they would win an auction and then change their mind on the way to the post office. Now that everybody is using PayPal, it's less of a problem.

Both of these policies make sense from eBay's perspective. Buyers can be discouraged by the prospect of unwarranted negative feedback, so eBay simply eliminated that problem. It's all about encouraging buyers to visit the site. The result is a loophole, where one malicious buyer can threaten to leave negative feedback for a regular seller without possibility of retaliation. I don't think this is a significant problem; the truth is, there are easier and more profitable ways for dishonest people to scam eBay nowadays. But you should be aware of it.

One final note. Amazon has become a central player in this market. If you're selling books, CDs, DVDs, etc., then check the item's page on Amazon and browse the "Used & New" third-party listings. Your buyers will be looking at these. For many of these items, Amazon is now the place to sell. Unless you're selling something rare or collectible, you can often get a higher price for less effort. But the market works in reverse: Instead of bidders competing to pay the highest price, Amazon sellers compete to advertise the lowest price. If you list a DVD for $15.99, you will often find that within just a few hours, someone else has lowered their price to $15.98. It's like The Price Is Right: Your listing can quickly become obsolete by just a penny.

54 Comments:

At March 21, 2006 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really like your comments. Thanks.

As to shipping tips, some are also available on http://www.shippal.com/en/tips.htm.

Cheers,
John Thomasson

 
At April 16, 2006 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks this helped alot!

 
At April 21, 2006 7:08 AM, Blogger Mike Tee said...

Great stuff. Thanks for the write-up!

 
At May 17, 2006 12:12 AM, Blogger cribcage said...

J.D. Roth has posted 13 tips that are worth reading. For the most part, his advice and mine echo each other; but reading good advice twice never hurt anybody.

 
At May 23, 2006 11:26 AM, Anonymous Meg said...

PayPal also offers buyer and seller protections, in addition to those your credit card company provides.

 
At June 02, 2006 1:14 AM, Anonymous Erno Hannink said...

Just to let you know. I have used your article to create a new (Dutch) article. It is here http://www.enthousiasmeren.nl/archives/2006/05/31/succesvol-geld-verdienen-via-ebay/

 
At September 10, 2006 2:00 AM, Blogger wishful said...

This was the best help for starting to sell I have read.
You have gone the extra mile!
Thanks so much :-)

 
At December 08, 2006 2:46 PM, Blogger Jharel said...

Thanks a lot for this article. I've bought stuff but never sold anything before so this really helps.

 
At December 24, 2006 10:21 AM, Blogger lux-fiat said...

I agree with most of your suggestions. 2 areas where we differ: First, I sold over 30,000 cd's on eBay over several years, and in all that time, I received 2 NSF checks, and only 1 was never repaid. Second, your advice about insurance fees may have been overtaken by events, specifically changes in eBay policy regarding mandatory insurance.

 
At March 07, 2007 3:16 PM, Blogger miscblogger said...

I really like your tips. Though I don't really agree with your "Best Time" tip. Saturday night is a horrible time to end an auction. Everybody is usually out partying. For me, I like to list Sunday or Monday night around the times that you suggested. Monday has really been the best date for me. I also wrote a blog post about 'How to Sell on eBay.' Check it out sometime!

Allan
The Information Bank

 
At March 21, 2007 10:16 PM, Blogger pleasedconsumer said...

Hi,

I found you blog as I was searching for the information about auctions. Your blog is a wonderful resource for the auction related information. I have also found another site that has valuable information about “old-fashioned” auctions and internet auctions
Auction reviews and opinions

Regards,

 
At April 02, 2007 9:38 PM, Blogger jinjerly said...

I enjoyed your words of wisdom; however, though I've only sold 150 items on eBay, my experience differs a little from yours. First, the USPS is run very badly. They lost three separate items I sold and, because the items were not insurable, (a gift card and items for which I had no receipt), I was just s.o.l. Once, the USPS broke a well-packaged item. Last summer, it the USPS over 6 weeks to deliver an item that was postmarked one state over! I'd also like to add my two cents about accepting checks. In the early days, I had problems with Paypal, so I wrote checks; as a buyer, I really appreciated the sellers who offered that option, especially since money orders and cashier checks can be quite expensive. As a seller, I find Paypal to cost too much, especially since most of my items are small and under $15. I've never had a problem with a check clearing, though most of my buyers have used Paypal.

 
At April 30, 2007 2:36 AM, Blogger Moniker said...

Holding a bidder hostage by not leaving feedback until they have received the item and left you positive feedback? The bidder's obligation is to bid and make prompt payment for the item, not to like the seller's service. Try relying on good service rather than unethical strong arm tactics.

Other than that, some good tips.

 
At April 30, 2007 5:21 AM, Blogger Christina & Benjamin said...

Great info, really helped a lot. Thanks for taking the time to wisely sum it up!

 
At May 01, 2007 12:17 AM, Blogger Carol said...

Maybe it's just me but my biggest problem selling on ebay is filling out the sell form. If I try to go back and change anything it wipes out everything I have already filled out and a myriad of other details that make it extremely difficult to list anything. It is so frustrating I gave up selling because of how difficult it is to just get an item on to sell. I would like to see that issue addressed.

 
At June 02, 2007 4:58 PM, Blogger laurence240291 said...

Hi, great info! Anyone got any info on the best number of days to list an auction? Surely 10 days gives me more time to gather watchers and more interest??? Please can someone help!!!lol My email is laurenceallmark@tiscali.co.uk
Thanks!

 
At June 18, 2007 2:22 PM, Blogger Kort said...

Concise and informative. I appreciate you writting this. I have learned much of this through trial and error, I wish I had seen it straight away.

 
At July 11, 2007 5:52 PM, Blogger julia said...

Hi Carol,

About the difficulty of making changes to an auction while you're listing it..what I do is just list it, and if I need to make changes either as I am listing it or later, I can go back and revise it afterward. Also I find the IE browser is easier to do that with than firefox.

Happy Listing!
Julia Wilkinson, author, eBay Price Guide, www.yardsalers.net

 
At July 12, 2007 3:33 AM, Blogger Imanuel said...

This lesson is useful. Anyone who want to sell anything on eBay must read this posting. Thank you. Making Money Selling on eBay

 
At August 13, 2007 12:54 PM, Blogger Irish Ed said...

Very useful information especially for a first time e-BaY user.
Thank you, thank you.

 
At September 03, 2007 1:26 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

Thanks for the great tips for selling on eBay. I have to say, the comment about waiting to leave feedback until the customer has given you feedback first is VERY IMPORTANT.

I was very naive, and used to leave feedback first all the time. Then I got a bad buyer who didn't read my terms of sale. I clearly stat that if a buyer has a problem with the sale, they should contact me first before leaving feedback so that we can work out the problem. This man's item broke in shipment, for which I would have given him his money back, but instead of talking with me he just left blistering feedback, ruining my perfect record. The shocking thing was, this was around the time there was a horrible death in my family, and I'd even sent him a letter with the package explaining my situation, etc. To know that he read that personal note and then still decided to write such cruel words hurt deeply.

When I checked his own record, I saw that he had a habit of leaving negative feedback. Now I'm more careful. Most people are very nice on eBay, but you have to safeguard yourself, as a seller, for those people that just don't care.

 
At October 09, 2007 4:18 PM, Blogger Lorel said...

I've been thinking about selling stuff on ebay and even though I have done lots of research, I didn't trust the process until Now.

I will definately go through with it.

Thanks....
Lorel

 
At October 10, 2007 1:29 PM, Blogger Everett Martin said...

In regards to leaving feedback, it would be nice if feedback was kept private until both people had entered it. Then there could be no retaliation. If there were inaccuracies or lies in either set of feedback, the wronged party could deal with it then. This, in my mind, is especially true when I want to leave neutral feedback (as a buyer) because I had to follow up too many times, or because the shipping took 6 weeks, but I'm afraid of retaliatory negative feedback from the seller.

 
At November 11, 2007 3:40 PM, Blogger wendell said...

very helpful in deed i like you thought , made me think, iam just now starting to sell on ebay , thanks again for the info

 
At November 12, 2007 11:16 AM, Blogger Mike said...

Really like your eBay FAQ. I especially took note of your paypal advice on moving money over to checking daily as I had my paypal acct frozen and ended up losing $80.
Wish I had read this 3 months ago.

 
At November 24, 2007 6:24 PM, Blogger fywayd said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At November 24, 2007 6:33 PM, Blogger fywayd said...

This was very interesting.
Thanks for sharing.

Olivier
http://fywayd.com

 
At December 05, 2007 7:32 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Today I was thinking of trying to sell my first item on eBay, but really didn't have a clue. Your posting gave me the confidence to proceed. Thanks.

 
At December 28, 2007 3:48 PM, Blogger hobbihorse said...

As a long time seller on eBay, since 1997 I couldn't agree more with most of the advice given here. I do have a couple of comments to throw in however. I read an earlier comment regarding personal checks and must disagree! You should take them! It does take a longer time, but you are saving $$'s by eliminating paypal fees which can get huge (over 4% of total) and let us not forget that fee is off the total, which includes shipping costs, many times eats away at any little extra profit you may have had in shipping cost. Bubble wrap, boxes, printer ink, tape, foam peanuts cost you $$$!! Not to mention the gas to the post office. To have paypal eat up customer shipping cost paid as well seems totally unfair! It would be technically possible to charge only the price of the item and leave the shipping cost alone! They know it, but I doubt you will ever see that! Its simply to profitable for them. A personal check is much less hassle to the buyer, eliminating the need to purchase a money order and a quick hard copy of money spent and easily traceable. I have never had a bounced check given to me ever! When the customer writes a personal check they expect the normal check clearing time before shipping and usually are in no hurry to recieve goods. You can save big dollars by avoiding paypal in this regard if you are willing to wait for your money. My second comment involves ebay picture fees. Charging 15 cents extra over 1 picture is outrageous! When I first started in '97 you could post as many pictures as you liked, and as big as you liked! Not so now! The charge seems small but there is HUGE PROFIT AT 15 CENTS EXTRA PER PICTURE TO EBAY. Unfair especially since the more views you give potiential buyers, the more comfortable they will be at bidding, and this can avoid much hassle later. For ebay to charge 15 cents extra per picture frankly is a rip-off! An altermative is to use Auctiva which charges nothing for up to 24 pictures per item post and the pictures can be as big as you like with no extra charge. What do they get out of all this? They try to sell their shipping insurnace to your customer when you post "required" in you listing. It is cheaper to customer than the USPS insurance and you get cash back from sales of shipping insurnace. I have used it and it works out great, plus it is ebay approved. Well that's about it for now....hobbihorse

 
At January 28, 2008 8:42 PM, Blogger Smack Of Ham said...

Nice job - this is a good primer for people just starting out with eBay and a fine resource.

I wanted to comment on a couple of points you made. Regarding a return policy, I think it's important to provide one. Your point about giving buyers a loophole to return an item is valid but in my experience, literally 99% of eBay buyers are honest and if an accurate description was posted, your problems with returns should be minimal. The benefits of increased confidence in your auctions due to a formal return policy should lead to more bids and higher prices.

Your point about photos is understated - use a service that allows multiple pictures without an extra charge. Pictures make a listing and no one should pay for using more than one picture.

And, as far as accepting personal checks, I advertise that I require Money Orders if PayPal is not used (saves PayPal fees) but if someone wants to send a personal check, I'll take it if the amount is small. I've never had a problem.

Another great resource for eBay information in addition to this Blog is BidFinders - they offer eBay news and an eBay blog as well as some cool searches.

Regards!

 
At February 10, 2008 1:08 AM, Blogger Walter said...

Never auctioned anything online and I am going to start soon with a few small items. I am intrigued by the "use it again" idea or "recycling" of items that still have useable value--too many things of value are being tossed out. My motive is profit and "do what's good for the planet." Thanks so much for all the comments, really great!!

Sincerely,

Walt Clayton

 
At February 12, 2008 1:56 PM, Blogger hobbihorse said...

Having been an ebay seller since 97 I feel I can comment on some of the advice given here. I totally disagree with the "holding hostage business" on buyer feedback. I used to leave feedback for any buyer who paid regardless. Strong Arm Tactics HuH?? Yes the other way. Once the buyer knows you cannot leave negative feedback for them thy hold the seller hostage! I have had buyers buy my auction items specifically to get a part they needed off the item I was selling. Then turnaround and tell me the one I sent them was missing that part or the one I sent them was broken, damaged or did not work!! Its the old swaperoo game! Then renegotiate for a full or partial refund! You are now virtually powerless to do anything except have paypal freeze your account and hold you hostage in a dispute. trust me they almost always side with the buyer just like credit card companies do on chargebacks. You now have no negotiating power whatsoever! You left him positive feedback remember!!! While some of the new ebay polices regarding feedback I embrace..especially the one about deadbeat bidders unable to retaliate the seller with neg feedback,I cannot count the number of times I wanted to leave a deadbeat bidder neg. feedback and alert other sellers but held my tongue for fear of retaliation and settled for just getting my FVF back. I totally disagree with the fact that a seller cannot leave negative feedback for any buyer who pays for his item. Thats just plain wrong! Trust me there are many unscrupulous buyers who see ebay as a way to "upgrade" their collection at your expense. Yes you can mark an item with invisible ink...works well with solid pieces... not so good with items that contain many tiny parts or even motors, electronics, etc. you cannot mark everything...further you could ruin the appearance of an item...e.g. sensitive paint, fragil parts, etc. Well I have laid out my case, I would like to hear what others think.

 
At March 20, 2008 11:30 AM, Blogger rogabert said...

Well, I've been thinking about trying to sell on Ebay, having bought several items without any hassle, and mostly good experience. But I've been sitting here this morning at the computer researching how to sell on Ebay, and I gotta say: after reading comments such as those from "hobbihorse", "Sarah", "Carol", and "jinjerly" here, and other bad experiences of sellers from other sites, I think I will bypass with the apparently huge hassle of trying to sell on Ebay!! Sounds like too much aggravation to me!

 
At April 18, 2008 1:19 AM, Blogger gub said...

April 2008 Update: I just read in the ebay rules the other day that the Buy It Now option no longer disappears until 50% of the BIN price has been met.

I also read in the ebay guidelines that the Shipping & Handling charge is to include actual shipping expenses and a "reasonable" handling charge. Well, who's to say what that is. I've been guessing at my S&H charges lately and getting burned. It pays to take the time upfront, but then again I never would have been able to list so many auctions so quickly had I not just chosen a price. However, I have a bone to pick with the ebay folks--it's entirely unreasonable to say S&H cannot include our fees. If we don't include our ebay fees in that charge it's like we're getting "taxed on tax" because Paypal will charge a percentage of the shipping rate as well.

One final note, regarding multiple pictures... I highly recommend Auctiva or Photobucket for free image hosting. It takes a little HTML knowhow, but that's easily done with some online tutorials. One note: Auctiva only hosts 25 images. I did all the work and found out the hard way. I had to re-upload into Photobucket. But the trade off was I found out they have a new slideshow feature and I created a "sexy" photo slideshow that made my buyers very happy. And their bids reflected it.

 
At April 18, 2008 1:22 AM, Blogger gub said...

***CORRECTION TO ABOVE POST***

I read in the ebay rules the other day that the "Buy It Now" option does not disappear until 50% of the BIN price has been met.

 
At April 20, 2008 7:11 PM, Blogger Ted said...

Just stumbled onto your blog... gotta say yes yes yes to anyone reading your blog... you're right on the money as far as ebay is concerned... Thanks you're a breath of fresh air when it comes to talking about ebay do's and don't 's ... I'll be sure to stop back now and than to read you posts... :)

 
At May 20, 2008 4:56 PM, Blogger sellonebay said...

Wow, great informative site and good questions asked!!!

 
At June 02, 2008 11:32 PM, Blogger Paula Ind Sls Rep-YourAVON.com/PZamary said...

These ideas are fabulous and I wish I had found a site like this when I started selling!

Regarding the comments about a seller holding a bidder hostage by not leaving feedback until your buyer has left feedback... I had received a negative feedback saying that my product was not as described. When I contacted the buyer to see what was wrong. He said that those comments had been meant for someone else, but he had accidentally left the comments on my account. He apologized and left a followup feedback, but it didn't take that negative rating off of my feedback. It was the only negative I ever received, and it was very upsetting. After that, I was very tempted to not leave feedback for sellers until they had paid, but I felt like that was poor business practice, and honestly, in my mind, by leaving my feedback upon payment, I knew that my customers were free to leave their HONEST opinion without fear of retaliation. I wanted my business to be run ethically and I recognized that those sorts of things are the exception and not the rule.

Also, about accepting checks - my ads always stated that I didn't accept checks, but many people mailed them anyhow. I went ahead and just cashed them at that point, but I never had any problems.


I would recommend that anyone who is purchasing check the sellers feedback, but realize that just because someone has negative feedback, it doesn't mean that they are a bad seller. I always look at the comparison of how many good comments there are versus the bad feedback. A seller could have 45 negative feedbacks (which sounds like alot), but if they have 900 positives, that means 95%of their customers were pleased (I wouldn't buy from anyone with a lower percentage!) Also read some of the negative comments. A lot of times you will find that customers are complaining about the same things. If the complaints are slow shipping and you aren't in a hurry, the negative feedback isn't really a big deal. If you see multiple comments about an item not being as described (or something similiar), I would steer clear.

One last piece of advise if you are going to buy... READ THE ENTIRE DESCRIPTION!!! There was a time that I was selling little plastic Precious Moments Valentines figurines that I had bought from a discount store for 33cents apiece. They were an inch or two tall and were plastic. I had bought 20 or 30 of them, listed them at 99 cents each and went to bed. By morning (about two weeks before Valentine's Day), every single one of them had a bid of over $20... People thought they were the glass figurines. I stated the measurement (and the fact that they were plastic clearly in my description). This information was not in small print at the bottom of my page or jumbled in with an insane amount of other information. Always read the entire ad!!!

I love Ebay and have bought and sold with them for many years. Of course there are some bad bidders/sellers on Ebay, but there are people like that everywhere. My positive experiences far outweighed anything else.

Someone posted an idea about feedbacks not being published until both have been left and I have to say, I think that is a perfect solution to the 'holding hostage' thing.

Paula
www.YourAVON.com/PZamary

 
At June 15, 2008 6:02 AM, Blogger UsaBoy91 said...

Morning!
Hey i want to ask you ..is there anyway i can sell a game account without using PayPal ? because to activate my paypal card i must go at bank and put money on card and i dont want to put money on my card....

so is anyway to sell it without going to bank and pay for this ;D?

 
At October 08, 2008 3:48 AM, Blogger Adoreyoo said...

Thank you for writing this. I will take many of these comments into consideration in my hopefully bright future eBay career!

 
At December 08, 2008 6:22 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Feedback- it is the responsiblity of the buyer to initiate feedback. That has ALWAYS been the case. The seller is not holding anyone hostage by doing that.

I've never had a problem accepting personal checks. I wait 7-10 days and tell buyers in my auction they will have to wait if they want to send a check. The problem with accepting PayPal is the additional fees it adds to an auction. Between eBay fees and PayPal fees they now take something like 15 percent of your auction profits. That's just highway robbery. It's exactly why they're often referred to as FeeBay. I had enough feedback when the "Paypal required" policy took effect so I don't have to offer it and often don't.

I think eBay made a major mistake by trying to make their auction site more about high volume sellers (businesses) as opposed to it's majority base which will always be individual sellers.

Having a reserve price on high dollar items is not unreasonable. It allows you to set your starting price low to get the bidding started but prevents your item from selling for less than it might be worth. Starting an auction at the lowest price you'll take often keeps bidding from even starting and you might just as well make it a buy-it-now only auction.

 
At January 03, 2009 11:50 AM, Blogger KJG1009 said...

I've found some excellent comments and feedback on this site and thank all of you for takint the time to do this. I'm disappointed to learn that eBay is targeting high-volume "sellers" as it has been the "little" people who got eBay started and gave it so much success. But, I saw that coming a few years ago and was disappointed. However, business is business as they say. I think each person wanting to sell on eBay needs to take his/her own experiences into account. What works for him/her might not work for someone else; however, these tips and suggestions are very worthwhile. Thank you all for taking the time to post. Good luck...and with anything else, persistence is key but knowing when to give up is priceless. :-)

 
At January 08, 2009 11:51 PM, Blogger DanThoms said...

Very good. Here are a few more tips.

http://danthoms.blogspot.com/2008/11/ebay-selling-tips-1-what-is-my-item.html
http://danthoms.blogspot.com/2009/01/ebay-selling-tips-2-title.html

 
At December 16, 2009 6:53 PM, Blogger NYC Soccer Collective said...

What is the best time of year to sell items?

 
At December 16, 2009 6:54 PM, Blogger NYC Soccer Collective said...

What is the best time of year to sell items? Is there a hot time (holidays)? Or a low sell time (after the holidays)?

 
At February 12, 2010 4:30 AM, Blogger rainbowsalads said...

if you sell a cd on ebay for £5 you only take aprox 60 -65 percent of the sale funds,

post: insertion fee, final value fee ,paypal fees and second class post ( with envelopes and the energy you used to actually get to the post office etc etc..

you'll be lucky to get 60 percent= £3
if your very lucky and efficient from that £5 sale.

If you sell a cd at £3 you looking at 50 percent taken from you, if your lucky(1.50).

so you need to sell high because the fees are not designed to be kind.They are all so clever at legally thieving the public. its a disgusting reality.

If you sell £3000 worth of cds and ebay/paypal/post office (who are now in allegiance) takes approx 65 percent(when selling at £5 a piece) you get £1950 = wow that's allot of money; and it is a massive amount of money. seems awesome!

The approx service cost and tax of those cd sales would be around £1050 ( for the £3000 worth of sales, this is visually displaced across paypal, ebay and the post office. so is hard to calculate.

lets not forget that originally at £10 a piece your cd's would have cost you approx £6000. so you lose about £4000.

what i have said here is approximate but to say the system is fair is a bit blankety blank

 
At February 17, 2010 7:16 AM, Blogger D Taylor said...

Thanks for the tips, timeless and different to the usual stuff, check out mine @ http://auction-tips.net/

 
At April 13, 2010 10:14 PM, Blogger jrsportscards32 said...

I would like to thank you for giving curious minds about ebay, truthful knowledge. I started an ebay account in June, 2009 in hopes that i would make some extra money! And I did! I started out slow, but when i got the hang of it, i got the hang of it. I became a powerseller within 4 mos. For people looking to get rich quick, ebay may not be for them. For people who are willing to put forth a little effort, they could make a good living off ebay. I have my own secrets and facts on doing well with ebay, who knows, you may just see my how to on ebay soon. thanks again, and wish more members would help the curious. the more active members on ebay, the better chance i have on making money...
thank you
jrsportscards32

 
At June 07, 2010 2:57 AM, Blogger Marius Catalin said...

Success on ebay selling now mainly depends on the means you are using. i have read mainly all of your posts and i also found some tips on ebay selling on this site and it helped me alot. it may help you too. have a nice day!

 
At May 18, 2011 7:02 PM, Blogger Snodger said...

Fantastic information.
The best I've seen on this topic.
Thanks a trillion!

 
At June 07, 2013 1:44 PM, Blogger Nelson Lau said...

Learn how to sell on eBay We will give you excellent tips and tools that you need to sell on eBay Get an overview of what to sell on eBay and be trained to avoid any potential dropship on eBay problems with these tips

 
At January 27, 2014 5:52 PM, Blogger Bob Kirchner said...

Thank you so much on your posting. I have been selling for a while now and realized that my shipping has been a little too high. My auctions start low enough I believe at .99, but my shipping standards needed changes thanks for the advice. I hope have many more bidders now!

 
At October 20, 2014 12:52 AM, Blogger Murtaz Jadoon said...

Great to visit Informative blog,
sell your stuff

 
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