eBay for Buyers and Sellers: A Few Tips.
This humungous, international marketplace is certainly on many minds!!
My own experience on eBay for 8 years.
I have used eBay extensively, in a modest way, if that's not an oxymoron, over the last 8 years. Ever since I foolishly returned to the UK, in fact.
Part of my becoming involved with this vast, world-wide auction site was sheer boredom as I found quickly there is practically nothing to do in these blighted isles that doesn't involve spending large amounts of chump-change (it's my day for oxymoron's). It's sort of like Philadelphia, Boston or New York: the weather's too rotten to enjoy the parks, river and seaside so one wanders around, ending in numerous Starbucks, spending a widow's ransom on their - albeit excellent - coffee.
May I quickly explain the first sentence of this epistle? When I returned to Britain I was "young" in nearly every way that counts: a blooming skin, fairly slim, an eye for the ladies and still with the ability to do something about it. And I had a woman friend (the "ex.").
In the few short intervening years and, coincidently perhaps, during my time with eBay, all this has changed. The skin began to sprout warts and other miscellany; I gained several stones (pounds cuzzies - a stone is 14 pounds), I became turned-off by British women who all seem to smoke and drink excessively, refuse to look you in the eye (I hate that!), and are all looking for a football player or a toy boy. (or a combination therein). Guys: don't ever live in a matriarchal society like this! It's all for them!!
Well, to make a short story long, the ex. and I began a site on eBay called "SSB" (that's not the real name, sorry; the ex. can be homicidal!). We began going to auctions, boot sales (flea-markets, Gringuitos) and buying collectables to resell on eBay.
Back then (2003) eBay was great fun and still reasonably honest (no more for me, as you will see). We did quite well and actually sold thousands of items over a five-year period. We then went our separate ways: I moved and continued with my own site, called "jumpincholla," I have nothing to hide and have a 100% positive feedback. Come back here...look on eBay later!!
With the ex., I had specialized in miniatures, various ceramic and pottery items and things which caught our fancy (did very well with mounted butterflies!...no, not moths, we weren't fly-by-night types).
Back then, there was nothing like roaming through the boot sales until our eyes fell on a nugget of value among all the market rubbish. The same with auctions: we would buy boxes of miscellany for a few pounds (£) just to get the odd valuable piece occasionally within. (I still have a letter by or to a US president and 5 small Toltec heads which turned out to be genuine!).
Right. There's your background, now to eBay, the largest online site in the world for buying and selling that made our humble adventures possible.
I'm not going to get into the structure and history of the company, you can find all that on Wikipedia and elsewhere. These are my own experiences and observations as an active buyer and seller; no doubt many of you can add more.
Selling on eBay. First off. If you think you are going to make a lot of money on eBay, you won't - at least, most of you. And to do that today you will have to get a reasonably exclusive line of NEW merchandise. Which, for me, takes all the fun out of the eBay experience.
But having secured your line of cell-phones, printer-ink, multicoloured diapers, or whatever and spent a chunk of capital on stocking, you have to sell them.
To do this, you have to photograph them (very well or even professionally in the case of brand new merchandise...a picture is really worth a thousand words on eBay). The you need to write decent copy describing them (my job which I loved) and using the fairly complicated eBay template format to list them.
As most know, you will be given a choice of how long you want the listing to run; the starting price (from .99p, up); whether to include a buy-it-now price or a reserve price. And a lot of other detail which will vary from product to product (design of the ad., background, postal advice, etc., etc).
Then you check it all and push the button to expose your item to the world. You can then sit back and watch the bids or offers come in until the final seconds (when most serious buyers bid).
Then you download the moolah from Paypal (the eBay bank) into your bank and it's all great, right?
Just a minute. Now you have to contact the buyer on line and send the eBay invoice whereupon he will pay for the item plus any postage. Then (and the worst part of it all for me), you have to securely and safely pack the item for the post or the courier. If you are selling a lot of medium to large sized and fragile items, this is a lot of work and worry until they arrive. Sometimes items arrive damaged (or the recipient says they were!) and you have to refund their money and throw away your damaged goods at a total loss to you. No problem if it cost a few pennies plus postage, but if it's a valuable ceramic or appliance? It can run to hundreds of ££££'s.
So here comes my first piece of advice. Whatever you sell: new or used, pick something that's easy to pack, robust, and preferably of low cost per item (to you). That way you minimise your potential loss and your ongoing labour.
Buying on eBay in 2011 is a risky business. In a normal auction, you get a chance to inspect the item and get an idea of the condition and any defects which will affect your bid. Unless you are bidding on high ticket items (cars, boats, etc.) you generally won't be able to do this. And although you can return an item within a set period (eBay statutes and the law of the land), you will have to repack, repost and probably argue with the seller who is worried about his "feedback." Then you may have to get Paypal or eBay to resolve any dispute that arrises.
Feedback is one of the stellar qualities of eBay (was). As it allows positive or negative feedback to be posted on every transaction. When an eBayer gets to many "red negatives" he is rightly viewed with suspicion by online clients and the bids suffer accordingly. I added "was," because I see now many experienced sellers (such as car backyarders...note!) seem to be hiding their feedback, especially the negative. How, I have no idea.
The criminal scum have found eBay, of course. Those selling counterfeit merchandise now abound in the thousands! In fact I read that of the zillions of trainers and other brand merchandise selling today, more than half is bogus! They will happily refund your money, of course, just to shut you up (in most cases), but you will be out your time and probably the postage as well.
A word about motor vehicles. This represents a huge slice of eBay's income. I advise anyone buying a used car on eBay to check the car's history, see it's HP clear, etc, and see it is not a Cat repair. (UK). The nicest of people seem to become varlets when they are selling their car and tell a lot of fibs. You have the right to inspect the car and to question the sellers online. After all, there is a reason "Harry," or Smoky," the beloved family Fiat is being cut off from the family font of love. Do all you can to find out these things. I have bought and sold a dozen cars through eBay and been mostly lucky, because I have loaded the odds as far as possible in my favour. It amazes me the number of people who bid and win a car on eBay; show up, pay cash, drive off - without even test driving the car! Such apathy is amazing and these people deserve what they often get.
All-in-all eBay is an incredible institution. It still tries to oversee things so its clients: buyers and sellers, are protected. But with millions of transactions being finalized daily there is still a huge percentage of malfeasance and outright fraud. Perhaps shadowing society in general, where the catchword in 2011 is survival, eBay has become too cold and calculating and obsessed with profits to the overall detriment of the fun and excitement of yore.
Selling fees have risen considerably of late, and here is so much more I could say and may have to do another article, this one is already too long.
I still use eBay now and again, as you will see on my small site (our old site has nearly 4,000 transactions). But I no longer smile and yell "Yeah!" in glee when I win something or make a decent sale....eBay and me...I guess we're both getting too old and warty.