E-Bay: Its the best of times, its the worst of times
A review by trailhound written on Apr 23, 2011Full review
E-Bay is a tremendous resource for anyone who wants to buy or sell products on-line. It’s one of the top 10 internet sites in the U.S. and the opportunities for finding what you want or for disposing of what you no longer need are endless.
However, E-Bay has some downfalls too. The site is imposing more requirements all the time and just recently significantly increased fees for sellers. If you are not a savvy shopper it can be easy to be snookered by unethical sellers. At the same time the site has become slanted against ‘’mom and pop’’ on-line sellers in favor of mega-sellers.
Buying on E-Bay
E-Bay has a really good search engine which makes finding whatever you want quite easy. You can also drill-down through menu options and many listing show up in Google searches.
Lists of items can be sorted in a variety of ways, such as price, if it’s a new listing, if Free Shipping is offered, or how soon the listing ends. Items can be priced as Auction style, Buy It Now, or Best Offer. Buy It Now pricing greatly outnumber Auction-priced listings anymore.
To buy something you need to be a registered E-Bay user and need a Paypal account to transfer funds. If you buy something immediately you can pay right away from your Paypal account. If you place an auction bid you won’t know if you won until the auction listing ends (usually 7 days). You can place bids right up until the last few seconds of a listing.
After a successful purchase and payment the seller should follow through on the shipping terms they had listed. When you receive the item you will have an opportunity to rate the seller on several categories such as: accuracy of description, shipping time, and shipping costs (more on this later).
Selling on E-Bay
I’ve been selling on E-Bay for about 4 months and have a lot of fun and made a few bucks on the side. It does take quite a bit of time to get going, but if you are willing to invest the time, you can be successful. To sell on E-Bay you need a membership account and a Paypal account. A computer, a digital camera and area to store all the paperwork, supplies, and items you’ll be selling are all needed too.
It’s fairly easy to list items for sale. However, you need to do some homework up front so you’ll know how much to charge, how much shipping costs are, if you will sell internationally, and if you will accept returns. Good photographs are also needed, as well as a willingness to describe the item in detail (especially any flaws).
I highly recommend doing an ‘’Advanced Search’’ on E-Bay’s database before listing an item so you can see selling history for any specific product. The fun part is when multiple members place bids on something you’re selling and the price goes way higher than you ever imaged. Once the item is paid for you can print shipping labels through Paypal which has the buyer’s name and address already listed.
On the downside some items simply will not sell for whatever reason. Also, there is a problem with people bidding on an item then never paying for it. There’s a process to deal with that, but it’s time consuming and a pain.
E-Bay charges hefty selling fees on sales. Currently it’s about 9% on both the sale price and the shipping costs. Yes – they swipe a percentage of how much it costs to ship too!
That means it’s hard to cover your shipping costs because many buyers don’t realize how high shipping costs really are, and that sellers are being charged a fee on top of the actual costs.
Paypal also charges fees to process the payment and print shipping labels, and there are other fees for inserting the listing and adding additional photographs. Another big pitfall is the feedback system (called DSR). While most buyers are great about leaving accurate feedback, some will leave false feedback which can seriously impact a seller’s status on the site. And E-Bay is largely unsympathetic.
By the same token a seller can leave Feedback for the Buyer, but the only option is positive Feedback. If the Buyer tried to scam you, you cannot warn others about it.
Accepting returns is also another danger zone for sellers. A buyer has up to 45 days to return a product or request a refund. If the seller balks E-Bay can just debit your Paypal account and reimburse the buyer, even if it’s unwarranted. Also, failing to put delivery confirmation on a package is risky since the buyer can claim they never received the item (and get a full refund).
Despite the drawbacks, I recommend E-Bay for both buyers and sellers. You can find tons of both practical and cool things to buy and/or sell, and most transactions go through without a hitch. I’ve even gotten into going to estate sales to acquire hard-to-find vintage items that I can sell on E-Bay for a nice profit. You just need to know how much the item is worth up front.
The fees are rules are stacked against sellers on E-Bay in my opinion. But if you are determined and don’t mind doing the legwork, you can have fun using E-Bay and maybe even make some money at it. I sold some interesting items along the way, such as an old lunchbox, vintage small appliances, lots of books, dolls, music, decor items, religious artifacts, and even a pair of eyeglasses from the 1950s.
Who knows what people will buy! I’ll rate the site as 3 stars and hope that Shopping.com’s parent company starts to ease up on the sellers and be happy with the profits they are already raking in.
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