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Advice on buying/selling stuff on Ebay


Gruuve

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At the prompting of another thread, I thought it might be useful to post some advice about dealing with Ebay.

 

Whether you are buying or selling, patience is key. If you are a patient buyer, you'll get exactly what you want at price that is at least close to what you want. If you are a patient seller, you will generally be able to sell just about anything as long as you ask a realistic price for it.

 

FOR SELLERS:

Reputation is everything on Ebay, and it's evidenced by your feedback score. If you have lots of positive feedback, buyers will trust you and will bid on your items. If you are new and have no feedback, or you have more than a smidge of negative feedback, buyers won't trust you, and won't bid on your items. In fact, a substantial percent of the new sellers with 0 feedback are rip-off artists trying to make a few bucks. Most of the new sellers are honest, but you can't tell who is and who isn't by reading the auction. And don't think if you interchange a few emails or even talk to them on the phone, they are honest. I was ripped off once by this really nice lady who claimed to be selling something for a charity that was a donation from a mfg...I grilled her on the phone, and she had all the answers, then she took my money and laughed all the way to the bank! (I used a Mastercard to pay, so I did get my money back, btw.)

 

If you are a veteran seller and have entirely positive feedback, then you obviously already know what you are doing. If you are a new seller with little or no feedback, then there are dues to pay. You have to get buyers to trust you. It's a bit of a catch-22...you can't get positive feedback until you've sold something, but you can't sell something until you get positive feedback. Two thoughts come to mind.

 

First, offer in your auction to take payment through www.escrow.com. Essentially, the buyer pays escrow.com, the seller ships the item, and then escrow.com releases the money to the seller after the buyer receives the item. They of course charge a fee for this, so offer to pay the fee. Just the fact that you offer this will tell many folks that you are honest. Stick with only Escrow.com, as they are somehow affiliated with Ebay, and are legitimate. New online escrow services pop up everyday, and many of those are also scams...they are a perfect setup to steal money or merchandise. Stick with the one that's reputable and recommended by Ebay. After you've built some positive feedback, you won't need to do this anymore.

 

The other thought is this: you can get positive feedback from buying as well as selling. If you want to build a feedback score, buy lots of small things (strings, picks, whatever) to accumulate some positive feedback. Some buyers (like me) will actually scrutinize your feedback score to see how much of it came from buyers versus sellers...some folks won't, they'll just look at the number.

 

In general, MAKE SURE that you are honest and show integrity in your dealings with buyers. If you misrepresent something, it will come back to haunt you in terms of negative feedback. List every flaw so that there can be no question about it. In fact, the longer your description, the better. Include multiple pics (not stock pics!), if it's a bass include a sound clip if you possibly can. Include pics of the flaws if applicable. You will do much better by telling everything there is to tell, than by trying to hide something or just leaving out important details. I come from a techical background, so when folks are willing to provide details, it builds my perception of their credibility. If they won't provide details, then I figure they might be trying to hide something, and I'll wait for the next auction.

 

After you've built positive feedback, keep doing the right things (integrity in your dealings) that will allow you to keep positive feedback.

 

FOR BUYERS:

Again, the seller's positive feedback is everything. You should note however that you will have lots of bidding competition when the seller has lots of positive feedback, and it's a hot item at a good price. I always send the seller a question before I bid or buy something, just to see if they answer it and how they answer it. If they don't answer it, I don't bid...I figure if they don't care enough to answer a simple question then they don't deserve my money.

 

So, two thoughts come to mind. Generally, folks avoid newer sellers with little or no feedback (or sellers with negative feedback). Sometimes these folks will be selling something that you really want. In fact, some of the jewels that can be found at a great price with no competition from other bidders comes from these newbies. However, you have to make sure they are legitimate and not a rip-off artist.

 

So, send them a question and tell them that you are hesitant only because they are a new seller with no feedback (don't accuse them of being a rip-off artist in your email, of course!). Ask them if they will take www.escrow.com for payment, and offer to pick up the fee. Also, tell them that you'll leave positive feedback if they take escrow.com and the item is as represented when you receive it. If they are a rip-off artist, you likely won't ever get a response. If they respond and say "no", then save the auction in your watch list and wait. If the item doesn't sell, you can always email them after the auction and offer again to buy it using escrow.com. If it didn't sell, they might be a little more open to the idea. If not, move on to the next auction.

 

Don't leave feedback for the seller until you've gotten the item and determined if it is in the condition that was listed. If it is, leave positive feedback and email the seller telling him/her so and asking for them to leave you positive feedback as well if they haven't already. If something's not right, then don't immediately leave negative feedback...that feedback is your leverage, so use it to your advantage. Email the seller and tell them what's wrong or not to your expectation. If it's really bad, ask to undo the deal. If it's a flaw you can live with but wish that you had known ahead of time, use that to negotiate for some minor refund. For instance, say the action is a mile high and you don't know how to fix it...find out how much a tech charges and ask the seller to refund you that amount. Tell them that after you get the refund, you'll gladly leave them positive feedback. Most folks are honest and many will agree to a small refund. Of course, you have a responsibility to ask enough questions before you bid to determine whether it's the item or in the condition that you want. Don't expect sellers to give you a refund for something just because you are disappointed by something that you didn't ask detailed questions about...that's not exactly fair to the seller. I would tell someone "no" in that circumstance even if they left me negative feedback. I would also note "exhortion" in their feedback!

 

Remember that everything is negotiable. Before you've won an auction (or even after), if the shipping price seems a little high, ask them nicely if they can save you any money on the shipping. 50% of the time, they'll knock $10-20 off merely because you asked. You can also barter in other ways..."would you consider keeping the 30watt practice amp that I really don't need and just ship the bass for free?" You really don't know until you ask, so don't hesitate to ask. You'd be surprised how much you get when you simply ask.

 

As a buyer, know what you are looking for and know when you've found it. Do searches on already completed auctions to get an idea of fair market price. Things that are listed too high are good candidates to watch until the auction ends. You can then email the seller with what you think is a reasonable offer. Sometimes the seller will say "OK". Again, you don't know until you ask.

 

Also, here's something I love as a buyer and hate as a seller. Check out www.auctionsniper.com. (If you register, please list sisk-o or davesisk at ipass dot net [do the obvious with the email addy] as the referer so I'll get some free snipes!) This site will enter your max bid in the last 5 seconds of the auction. This will help keep the price from getting run up by bidding competition. By the time someone who's willing to pay more than you notices you've outbid him/her, it's too late. Also, like buying or selling stocks, this forces you to decide what you're willing to pay for it ahead of time...it will keep you out of a bidding war where you end up paying twice what you logically intended.

 

Hope this helps everyone!

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Well done Dave. Thank you for the advise. The best advise I can offer is what you began the thread with, PATIENCE.

"Some people are like "slinkies". They're not really good for anything;

but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a

flight of stairs."

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Not to over-simplify this, but:

 

BUYER

- Evaluate feedback

- Ask questions before you bid

- Read listing and calculate total cost

- Do not get caught up in bid-lust (i.e., have patience)

- Pay with a credit card through PayPal

 

SELLER

- Evaluate bidder feedback

- Lock-out bidders with negative feedback (see preferences)

- In your listing, instruct bidders with zero feedback to contact you first

- If a bidder with zero feedback bids without contacting you, cancel their bid

- Be clear in your listing, including shipping costs

- Communicate clearly, answer questions promptly

- Send tracking info and follow-up emails after sales

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Nice Donut...you've got me beat by 3 orders of magnitude!

 

I should mention that I think it's very important to promptly answer questions when you're selling something on Ebay. Answer promptly, completely, and preferably using acceptable grammar so folks will understand your answer. :freak:

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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One thing that ticks me off when I sell is people who wait 3-5 days to pay for an item. Just like buying online, I think you should pay the moment you bought the item, a day at the most is a good period of time.
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I'm in the process of selling 3 basses on eBay and I've definitely run into issues with people already. One guy is trying to strongarm me with terms since I've only done one eBay deal ever, and as a result I have only 1 feedback. So sellers, beware of the belligerent buyer who thinks that having feedback is a license to act like a jerk on eBay.

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"My concern is, and I have to, uh, check with my accountant, that this might bump me into a higher, uh, tax..."

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Originally posted by Nicklab:

I'm in the process of selling 3 basses on eBay and I've definitely run into issues with people already. One guy is trying to strongarm me with terms since I've only done one eBay deal ever, and as a result I have only 1 feedback. So sellers, beware of the belligerent buyer who thinks that having feedback is a license to act like a jerk on eBay.

If the buyer's being belligerent, cancel his bids if there are any. If he's already belligerent, you probably don't want this person able to leave you feedback!

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Another thought that has worked well for me. For sellers, put a Buy-It-Now price on everything. Ask just a little more than you think is a fair price. Many folks are too impatient to wait for the auction to end, especially if it's something they've been seeking for a while. If they are comfortable with the BIN price, they'll BIN.

 

Note that the BIN price disappears on the first bid if you don't use a reserve price. So, I generally use a reserve price. In fact, if you have no idea how much something is actually worth, set the reserve price high...if the reserve isn't hit by the auction end, you can always send 2nd chance offers to the highest bidders.

 

As a buyer, look for items without a reserve price. Most folks won't tell you what the reserve price is if you ask (I won't). However, you can send them a note telling them what your budget is and asking them if the reserve price is less than or equal to your budget (so you know whether to even consider bidding on it). Most folks will actually answer that question for you!

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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I don't sell but I do buy some. Mostly junk for my bikes and hobby cars and yes, PATIENCE!! is key.

 

Recently I won a good thing cheap (really, really cheap) and the seller emailed that it had been stolen and begged for no negative feedback. I gave him 7 days to produce the item and when he didn't I left negative. I thought that was pretty patient - for me anyway.

"He is to music what Stevie Wonder is to photography." getz76

 

I have nothing nice to say so . . .

 

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