Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ten years on Ebay: Lessons Learned

While checking my profile on Ebay I realized that I’ve recently hit the 10 year mark. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. Even after all this time it’s still has a major online presence and a leader in their category. Personally we(as a family) have bought and sold a variety of items through Ebay through the the years. It has included items such as cars, computers, toys, cell phones, videos, books, car parts and many more items I can remember. Most of the time it’s a good experience but it’s had it’s share of potholes. It thought I’d share what I’ve learned over the years.


Nothing in life is free as the saying goes. The fees are mainly upon the seller and buyers only pay for the item and shipping. There are insertion fees, photo fees, schedule fees, final value fees and so on. The bottom line is that Ebay is a business and needs to a way to support itself so I don’t have a problem with that. Most of the time it’s only a small fraction of your sale but it’s good to be aware of them and to be able to pay for them. Ebay will shut you off if you don’t pay(trust me on this one) so don’t ignore them if you want to be active on Ebay.

One way to avoid fees is is not to list items that don’t sell well online. Before listing that collectible you swear is worth a lot of money search for it on Ebay first and see what they are going for. Is it a rare item or are there pages of the item? Another thing to look for is to see how much the selling for and if they are selling at all. Some items may be better off donating to a charity or selling at a yard sale.


Paypal is the service used to make transactions on Ebay. It is used on the vast majority (if not all) Ebay transactions. You can set it up with your credit or bank card(or account). I find it a safe and easy way to handle transactions on Ebay. I certainly wouldn’t want to give out my credit card or bank account information to complete strangers. Paypal also gives you more options should a transaction hit a problem. Once your setup with them they are the only ones who see your personal information(bank account, credit card and so on). It also makes for quicker transactions as I used to remember sending checks and money orders and waiting weeks for my items before discovering Paypal.


This is one of things that help keep buyers and sellers honest(Not always but it helps). Everyone is rated by feedback. You can give anyone a Positive, Negative or Neutral feedback with a quick sentence or two. I have my own personal philosophy of not giving Negative or Neutral feedback as it’s just as easy to get it in return in retaliation. As a buyer though you can give a more detailed rating for the seller should you have a problem.  The few times I’ve had some problems I follow the Ebay guidelines to solve them.

Buyer Beware

Before making any purchase be sure of what your getting into. I’ve seen ads that go from looking that a third grader wrote too literary masterpieces as long as a 1000 word essay. I prefer the ones somewhere in between. Look at pictures and read descriptions carefully. Don’t be afraid ask questions also. If your unsure of something and seller doesn’t respond to you in reasonable time steer away from it. If it’s an item like a car or real estate visit them in person or hire some who can. This can be a difficult if the item is across the country. Many scams have occurred this way. The one car I bought on Ebay was local so I was able to inspect in person. Before making a big ticket purchase be sure to check their feedback and go over the item description with a fine tooth comb.

Peanuts aren’t free

So you have some stuff hanging around you want to sell. So you sell it on Ebay and now it you have to ship it. For most items you’ll have to box up and ship. maybe at first you have an extra box lying around with some peanuts in it. If you don’t you’ll soon find out how expensive those little foam peanuts actually cost. Trust me you’ll be surprised. The same thing goes for cardboard boxes and other packing material. Let’s not forget actual shipping costs also. This may not be serious stuff if you only sell something once in awhile but should you try to make it a hobby or side business this will be an issue. Many times if I’m unsure what to charge for shipping I’ll do some research on Ebay to see what other people are charging for shipping and I try to match that the best I can.


Positive Experience

You may get the impression that it’s a headache to use Ebay. For the most part we’ve had a positive experience and if you do some research and know what your getting into it can be fun and rewarding. It may seem intimidating at first but after awhile it’s no big deal. You can make some extra cash selling items or locating hard to find stuff. Good luck!

If you’ve had a positive or negative experience on Ebay please leave a comment below!

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