Advice for potential eBayers

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I have a lot of “stuff” hanging around taking up space, some of which I don’t use (mostly old IT odds and ends, plus some books and videos). Now, some of it turned out to have little or no value (at least commercially), but I have sold some of it on

The trouble is, in my bid to make this stuff attractive (in a market of people selling things for silly money), I didn’t set the postage charges high enough…

I hate it when I buy a £4.99 item and someone charges me £5 to ship it, only to find that they only spent a few pence on postage; so, in a bid to be fair, I weighed the items, looked up the correct prices on the Royal Mail website, and just passed on the Royal Mail costs to my buyers. The trouble is, on a couple of items earlier today, I forgot that the weight of the packaging would push it up into the next bracket (and then there’s the cost of buying a Jiffy bag…). In another (just about to be very expensive) deal which closes in a few minutes time, I only charged £6.95 for up to 2kg by Royal Mail Special Delivery but forgot that whilst that should cover the item, it wouldn’t be enough once I’d added the cables that were also part of the deal and the actual cost to me (as the next price band is up to 10kg) will be £19!

I’ll still make a profit but, when I sell goods for less than I would like (to attract bids), and then don’t add enough to cover my postage and packing costs, I feel a bit stupid. Still, at least it’s better than selling books/videos through Amazon, where they set the postage costs and the seller always seems to lose out.

On top of all this, eBay is not really very user friendly. Sure, it guides you through the process but it takes ages to list a new item and you’re never quite sure what communications the buyer has received from eBay so in a bid to keep my feedback high through excellent customer service, I often find myself contacting the buyer to tell them I’ve shipped it and to ask them to leave feedback if they are happy with the purchase.

I understand that an amazingly high number of people are actually in business selling via eBay. Good luck to them, but for anyone like me who’s just trying to flog their old gear, here’s some advice I’ve worked out over the last few transactions:

  • Use a 10 day auction and time it to cross two weekends to maximise your chances of getting some bids.
  • Make sure your postage and packing charges really will cover your costs.
  • Don’t forget that eBay and PayPal will each take their fees on the transaction.
  • See what other people are selling the same or similar items for (and how much interest they have had) and if you don’t want to let it go that cheaply (or there is no apparent interest), leave it a week or so before advertising at the price you think is fair.
  • Remember that even on second-hand goods, your income from the Internet is taxable (yes, I know, it sucks)!

Good luck!

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