The Careful Editor

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A used pink bathrob. A rare mint snowglobe… March 31, 2010

Filed under: selling — raffydarko @ 8:26 am
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A Smurf TV tray. I bought on eBay.

Everything relevant about eBay has already been sung by Al Yankovic. But his wonderful song is about buying (crap), not selling. I’ve been a seller (and a bargainer too) since 2003. I love selling the stuff I don’t use anymore since I dislike clutter and like to have some money on my PayPal account, but it’s not that easy. Here are some thoughts on my experience.

Selling fees – Of course, this is one of the cons of eBay. eBay takes a fee for every ad (with some exceptions for items sold at second try), then a percentage of the final price – and PayPal gets a percentage too. It’s a bummer, but PP is still the easiest payment method. Be aware: PP’s laws usually protects the buyer, not the seller. Having a controversy with PP as a seller can be a lost cause (not my experience, luckily, but you’ll find many horrific stories on line).

Saleability – Some items are easy to sell, others not so much (though of course sheer luck always counts). I usually put up for sale clothes and shoes and only some are sold, sometimes after several tries. Despite the low starting prices, despite the good quality (and photographs) of the items and despite their brands. (I blame it a little on Italians actually: maybe they are more cautious than foreign ebayers? They ask for

more photographs or info and then don’t bid – even if the starting price is as low as € 0,99! When I offer international shipping, I sell things more easily.) Things go smoother when I try to sell DVDs or videogames, of course (CDs are out of fashion unfortunately). Rare pieces can be a safe bet and get many bids. They don’t have to be vintage in order to be rare – once I sold a DVD of a movie which was only a few years old but, as I found out, had been distributed in few copies. (Which shows how useful is to do some research on eBay as well as other sites before putting things on sale.) Electronics can be easy to sell too, but market value goes down soon. Books are unpredictable: sometimes virtually unknown titles and authors are sold immediately, and big names aren’t. If you’re lucky you’ll find a connoisseur!

Absent-minded buyers – Buyers can make things hard too. I had one who gave me an incomplete address, the package was returned after a while and the buyer wanted her money back. Now I always check the address on Google, if it’s complete, a GoogleMaps indication always comes up. Some pay by postal order and write my name or address wrong. Another buyer paid me the item but not the shipping. And the item was priced € 1 – how could he not think it was enough totally? After some time he wrote to me asking if I could find a similar item for him… on eBay. Was his search button broken?

Addiction – Yep! Selling can be an addiction too. It’s like betting and betting – “this time I will sell it”. Be generous: sometimes your unsold stuff belongs to the Red Cross bin – or maybe some friend might use it.

In conclusion, I think selling on eBay can be rewarding after all but it takes some perseverance. Selling at low prices can be frustrating, but if one sells some items regularly there is a margin of gain. And if you want to sell stuff easily, buy quality stuff first and maintain it in good condition – which smart consumers should always do anyway.