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Thread: Your Experiences as a 'Seller' on EBay

  1. #1
    Beverly Hills, California
    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Beverly Hills, CA

    Your Experiences as a 'Seller' on EBay

    There's been a lot of discussion regarding buying experiences on EBay. But I've recently begun to sell photography items on EBay. I'm surprised at the number of problems to be encountered with the process as a seller.

    Perhaps I'm expecting too much. Problems I've encountered:

    Non-U.S. bidders on auction where "US only" explicitly stated.

    Zero feedback bidders on ads where "NO Zero Feedback Bidders" explicitly stated.

    Winning bidders who don't establish communication within 48 hrs after winning an item, against terms of the listing.

    Winning bidders who don't make themselves available to sign for their UPS packages in order to facilitate closing the deal.

    And last but not least, one non-paying winning bidder who phoned me and made personal threats of a stalking nature because the item went to someone else on a Second Chance basis due to his lack of communication with me after auction close.

    And all this in my first 5 sales! Am I doing something wrong? Or are your experiences as a seller similar. What communication timelines, payment timelines, etc do you consider acceptable?
    On average, how long does it take to completely close your deals?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ

    Your Experiences as a 'Seller' on EBay

    I must say (insert knock on wood three times) that I have not had any significant problems as a seller or buyer on eBay. All my transaction have closed in just a couple of days. I like Paypal because it gets the money to me faster and I can get the item out the door quickly. I ask for payment within 10 days. I also allow US buyers only, but my experience is that serious international buyers will contact me and ask is they can bid - that gives me the chance to check out their feedback and if everything looks good I will allow them to bid. I don't put restrictions on zero feedback buyers (I was there too once:-)).
    I only had one transaction where I needed the winner to remind three times to send the money - after that I implemented my 10 day payment policy.

  3. #3

    Your Experiences as a 'Seller' on EBay

    Simple solution to all of your problems Andre'. Use a third party sales agent (they are popping up all over the country) to sell you items, but be very explicit as to your terms and conditions.

    Sit back, cash the checks and stay out of the line of fire. Spend more time in the darkroom or out in the field.


  4. #4
    Jon Shiu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Elk, California

    Your Experiences as a 'Seller' on EBay

    In my experience you just had some bad luck to start off. 95-98% of my sales have been good experiences. Although, it might depend on what type of items you are selling.
    my black and white photos of the Mendocino Coast:

  5. #5

    Your Experiences as a 'Seller' on EBay

    Agree with all of the above.

    Well I've had 24 transactions. About 50/50 sales and purchases. Most in multiple hundreds and several in the two and a half thousand range. Never had the least problem untill lately. Lots of 0 feedback players who just do not understand how ebay works and because they have no feedback evidently are oblivious to getting a ding on their record. Still I have yet for a deal to go south other than one non paying bidder and the item sold on a quick relist for more money anyway.

    My policy is to always give a 'buy it now' option but one that requires immediate payment. I insist in large red letters that 0 feedbackers and those with negative feedback contact me prior to bidding and that they use paypal. I exclude bidders with more than 3% negative feedback but only tell em that after they contact me. As a seller I never give feedback untill the buyer gives theirs. If zero and negative bidders bid I contact THEM and inform them that they are vilolating my stated policies. Depending on their response I may or may not exclude them.

    Another thing I do is always give a story about the item. I tell em why I owned it and why I'm selling it. If I am the original owner I say so and show the reciepts. Can't prove it but I think this makes people feel safer and more ammenable to me as a seller. I know when I buy stuff it shure works on me.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    Your Experiences as a 'Seller' on EBay

    I still buy on eBay fairly regularly - a few times a year. But although I've sold a handful of items on eBay, I've pretty much given up on that. The problem is that I found it to be very time consuming to be a good seller. If you want to do right by your buyers, and in the process to maintain an excellent feedback rating, you need to spend time getting the descriptions - and these days the photos, too - right, answering questions from bidders, following up promptly at auction end, and, inevitably, dealing with the hassles when something goes wrong.

    As an example, once I sold a Toyo 2x3/6x9 roll holder on eBay. At the time, I didn't know as much as I do now about the quirks of Graflok compatibility, and it didn't even occur to me that the holder might not fit except on the most exotic cameras. Well, it turned out the buyer had a Graphic that it didn't fit. I spent time on the phone with the buyer figuring out what was going on, and eventually took the holder back. The buyer felt that I'd dealt with him fairly, and was kind enough to give me positive feedback. But between the extra time spent and the shipping expenses, eBay and PayPal fees, I really would have been better off just unloading it to a dealer. (In fact, it's still sitting in my closet. We're talking serious intertia here.)

    For really expensive items the time vs money equation is a bit more favorable, but the financial risk is also much greater if the transaction goes seriously wrong.

    I am curious about how the immortal dagor77 views this. I imagine a lot rides on just how long it takes him to churn out those delirious item descriptions, and on what other activities compete to fill his time. Looking at it from the outside, I can't help wondering how much time and energy he's had to invest to achieve his success as a seller.

  7. #7
    Doug Dolde

    Your Experiences as a 'Seller' on EBay

    My experience as a seller has been no problems at all. I am often surprised what items bring and even sometimes fetch more than the new price !

    As a buyer I have also had near perfect luck...but don't bid until the last 15 seconds ! Snipe sites are quite useful in accomplishing this feat.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    The "Live Free or Die" state

    Your Experiences as a 'Seller' on EBay

    I have only sold a few items and have never had a bad deal. I did have a bidder from Korea bid at the last minute, even though I said US buyers only. He sent a money order and everything worked out fine, so I still count it as a positive. I am going to put a few items up again, so lets see if my luck holds out.

    One thing I found was it helped me to put up multiple listings at onece, to help manage my time. I think this way my time investment per auction was cut by a third.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Your Experiences as a 'Seller' on EBay

    eBay still favors the seller (possession until payment) but less and less so. Buyers are getting bargains (they hope) and rightly assume more risk by sending payment before seeing the item.

    One of my biggest fears is to sell an expensive item and have the buyer return it with a few parts missing or replaced. People swap good parts for bad, then return the item for a refund. So now I don't offer refunds, which isn't really fair to all the good buyers.

    A couple of years ago I fell for a deal too good to be true set-up by a clever thief on eBay. While the police caught him on other charges, my complaint and prosecution led to his spending additional time in jail and making full restitution. But eBay was absolutely no help whatsoever. In fact, their limited correspondence to me - after six months - was along the lines of vaguely encouraging us via "helping resolve misundertandings" while the perp was cooling his butt in jail! So I wouldn't depend on eBay to do a thing.

    If you base your judgements solely on feedback, it is difficult to gauge the integrity of the eBayer. People are usually very reluctant to leave negative feedback for fear of getting a retalitory negative feedback. Usually it is only newbs who sling negatives and neutrals arounds. And I've gotten plenty of items that weren't up to their description, but I usually just never leave any feedback, because I figure the seller is trouble, and might do more than just leave a negative feedback - I just want to get away from them. So I take most feedback with a grain of salt.

    As a buyer, I often run into server overload problems and "unable to process" errors on eBay. As a seller, I wonder how often my auctions aren't available or aren't seen because of their difficulities? The last time I listed multiple expensive items, only some of them showed up on the new items listings - the rest took 24 hours to catch up. That means a lot less people saw the listings, because they are still sorted chronologically, and my new items were several pages "back." So now I use a clause that I am not responsible for eBay's technical errors and reserve the right to relist.

    Contacting eBay is joke. I've given up trying to get refunds for non-paying listings or outages - their terms are so hard to wait for or meet that it isn't worth the hassle. Sometimes everybody pays and everything goes perfectly. Othertimes I've had 2-3-4 auctions in a roll end up with non-payers. Some buyers claim the mail lost the package - if you've ever done an insurance claim with UPS or USPS, you already know how painful and slow the process is.

    Finally, I just read a clip in the local paper about the IRS looking at eBay transactions and doing some audits of larger sellers. How long before eBay opens their databases up to the Feds? I'm not worried about the taxes, but the hassle factor would scare me off.

    In other words, seller beware.

    I'm sure people like Dagor do it for fun and money, but I use eBay as a way to experiment with lots of nice gear I would never otherwise be able to see locally or afford new. I've also met some extremely nice and interesting folks all over the world (I have no problem selling internationally - it is pretty fun actually). I've made a profit when I break a collection up into smaller individual auctions, but just as often I've taken a loss - It would be really nice to trade directly with more people, and cut eBay out of the loop. I wish this forum had a "trading" area.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Your Experiences as a 'Seller' on EBay

    I'm an ebay BUYER, preparing to also be a SELLER. All the points above are well put. Almost makes me think twice before selling. As a buyer I try to contact the seller immediately and make arrangements. And so far every sale has been good.

    What bothers me most, as a buyer, is when sellers specify "lower 48 only". I live in Alaska. I understand excluding foreign buyers, because of payment or customs, etc, but Alaska is part of the US too. So I have to e-mail first, and wait for a reply. Sometimes if the bidding closes soon, I just don't bid. Yet I have always been given the "go ahead". As a seller, wouldn't it be better to say "US only, Alaska and Hawaii pay actual shipping"?

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