If you read the first part of the series on Selling Your Old Things on Craigslist, then you will want to read today’s post, Hometown Series: Selling Your Old Things on eBay.
Even though I haven’t sold items on eBay as long as I have on Craigslist, I have become a bit of a fan of eBay in spite of its fees. You catch a much wider audience of buyers than you normally wouldn’t get on Craigslist. I have sold items in used to brand new condition as well. Keep in mind that the selling strategy on eBay is much different than on Craigslist. With Craigslist, you want to initially price your item slightly higher so that you don’t dip below your lowest selling price to complete the sale. With eBay, you have to start low and hope that your item sells at your targeted sale price or hope that it exceeds your targeted sale price. There’s more risk involved when selling on eBay, so do some research on your item to decide which site works best for your situation. When you’re ready to list on eBay, I have listed some pointers that I use as a novice eBay seller. Of course, if you would like to skip down and read our horrific eBay selling story, scroll down below.
Here are a few things to know about selling on eBay:
1. eBay has seller’s fees. Thus, you have to account for a small loss on your total profits from your sale. Also, eBay has insertion fees; however, if you are selling less than 50 items per month, you won’t have to pay for an insertion fee.
2. Photographs are important. eBay allows up to 12 photos uploaded to your listing for free. Take several good quality pictures of your item from these vantage points:
– An overview photo
– Side angle
– Top view
– Back view
– Any close ups of scratches, dents, etc.
3. Select the appropriate selling category, and be specific about your product description. Research how other sellers have listed the same item and use the same selling category. Also, when writing your product description, be honest on the use of the product. Don’t say it’s like new when it’s 10 years old. Buyers do their homework too, and they can check on the date of a product. Also, eBay offers additional options, such as adding a subtitle for $0.50 or adding a gallery plus photo pack for $0.35. If your product brand name and color is listed in the title, and you upload the appropriate amount of photos, you won’t need to have these add-ons before listing your eBay auction.
4. Optional: Consider using an all sales final statement at the end of your product description. For example, you can write something like this: “All sales final. Please ask any questions before auction ends,” or “No returns accepted.” It helps to have it in writing, so there are no potential misunderstandings after the sale. Read about our personal horror story with selling on eBay further down below.
5. Prepackage your box with the appropriate packaging materials. Then you can get an estimate of shipping costs.
6. Get a general idea of shipping costs for your item. Once you complete step 5., then you can go online to usps.com or ups.com (or whichever shipping method you prefer and stated in your online bid) and import size dimensions of the box and general weight of the box to get an idea of the shipping cost. Use a long distance zip code far from your location. You don’t want to spend more on shipping than what you were expecting. Another option is to offer free shipping. Then whatever profit you make from the sale, a portion of that would go into the shipping cost. You’ll have to decide which method works best for you.
7. Send invoice to your buyer once the auction is over. Once the buyer receives the invoice notice, the buyer should have a a reasonable amount of time to pay for the auctioned item. I’ve had a few buyers who have taken longer than the allotted time stated in my auction, so it might mean that you need to send another notice reminder at a later date.
8. Get a tracking number on your package when shipping the item. This lets you and your buyer know when and where the package is in transit/delivered.
9. Ratings are important. The more who buyers leave you feedback, the more future buyers will want to buy from you. Hopefully, your buyer will leave a feedback comment, and then you can return the favor and leave a positive feedback comment.
10. Set up a PayPal account in conjunction with your eBay account. If you haven’t set up a PayPal account with your eBay account, proceed to link the two accounts. This way the buyer can promptly pay after you have sent the invoice.
Our Personal eBay Selling Horror Story
I have one horror story about selling on eBay. Many years ago, Prof and I sold my old Dell laptop without the hard drive and specifically stated that in the auction description. Once the auction was over, we received payment and sent the laptop to the buyer. He received the package, then this is where the horror story began. The buyer started sending curt and threatening emails claiming that we had falsely advertised the listing, and he asked for a full refund. At the time, we didn’t write down that all sales were final, so we felt that the honorable thing to do was to give him his refund. We asked that he mail back the laptop to us. However, the email conversation turned from mean to downright threatening and hostile, demanding that he did not have to return the laptop while still asking for a full refund.
We just wanted this nightmare to be over, so after discussions with PayPal and eBay reps, everyone agreed that the buyer would send the product back as we refunded him the amount.
When I shipped the laptop, I packed it in the original box, and other additional foam contents to ensure the laptop would be received safely and securely to the buyer. However, when the mailperson delivered the laptop to my door, the box was already damaged on the outside and sounded like one seriously noisy maraca when he handed it to me. I opened the box, and saw that he sent different and very broken laptop. The buyer pulled a bait and switch!
(Photo Above: The photo is from a different source, but it conveys what the buyer did to the laptop and how he sent it back to us.)
Thankfully, I still had the original receipt from Dell with the SKU numbers on the laptop and adapter. The numbers did not match. PayPal finally gave us our money back, which was a huge surprise to us. And we had a busted laptop that we trashed in the dumpster. (If you’ve seen the movie Office Space, I would have imagined myself to have been “Michael Bolton’s” character and just beat the laptop like he did to the fax machine.) On an interesting note, we did a Google search and found that the buyer conducted several bait-n-switch scams to other unsuspecting sellers. All thanks to a dedicated seller who created a website solely to discredit the crooked buyer. The buyer’s account was eventually deactivated, but who knows if the shady buyer started a brand new account.
Because of this buyer’s tactics, I have always put down all sales final and specified that interested buyers should ask questions before making a bid on the product. Buyers have been great about asking questions before the auction ends, and I have been quick to respond. Just be apprised of any email correspondence so that you answer in a timely manner before the auction is over.
Finally, I learned that I should have taken more photos of my product, even if I wasn’t planning on sharing those photos during the auction. I didn’t take a photo of the SKU number on the laptop and adapter, which would have helped during our eBay selling ordeal. Now if I sell an item with a SKU number, I take a photo of it and keep it for my records.
My Positive eBay Selling Story
Not all transactions go bad. Our horror story was just that, one horror story. I’ve have plenty of other positive experiences on eBay since the computer laptop fiasco. Of recent, I sold a discontinued baby item, which I had no idea became a high commodity due to stopped production of the product. After checking on eBay, I found that this was a product in demand. Thank goodness I still kept the box and had barely used the item with our little ones. It was in excellent condition. At the end of the auction, I received the original amount that I paid for the product a few years ago.
Pros to Selling on eBay:
– You can get a wider buying audience through eBay.
– Depending on the interest level of buyers, you may be able to gain a higher profit selling on eBay than you would on Craigslist and definitely higher than at a garage sale.
Cons to Selling on eBay:
– You may have a buyer who doesn’t make pay at all or on time.
– Packaging and shipping an item isn’t the most convenient way to spend your day running errands.
– You don’t know what the final price of the item will be until the end of the auction.
– You have to pay eBay seller’s fees for the auctioned item.
Have you sold items on eBay before? What are some of your experiences? Are there other tips you recommend when selling items on eBay? I am sure there are countless of resources out there about how to sell and/or buy on eBay. If you know of any good sources, please share those as well.
If you like my blog, I would also appreciate a little high-five on Hometown Betty’s Facebook page. Also, remember to come back on Monday for my third Hometown Series installment of Selling Your Old Things at a Yard Sale/Garage Sale.
From my hometown to yours,