Ebay tips

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I have been buying and selling on Ebay for quite a few years. These are some Ebay Tips.

My first rule is “Know thy market.”

Let us say you have a rare old “whatever” that you think is worth tons of money. So you decide to sell it on Ebay. So you sign up and you post your treasure at $ 200.00. After a week no one bids. “Hey I thought this was easy” “What gives” “This Ebay is caca!”

Buyers do not trust sellers who have never completed a transaction on Ebay so do what I did. Sign up for an account. Set up your Pay-Pal account. Buy and sell a few inexpensive items just so that you can build up some positive feedback. Aim for 10 points. This way you can set a reserve price (see below) if required.

Number one rule is, don’t be desperate. You can apply this to anything in life. Don’t be rushed. Ebay is open to the world so find out.

Is there a market for my old crap?

Investigate prices that a same or similar item  sold for, not the price that someone is asking. I’ve seen far too often, people asking for outlandish prices stating that “this sells for $$$$$ on Ebay”.

For what it’s worth

How do I know what it is worth?

Firstly, check the pricing of the item you wish to buy or sell outside of Ebay. There are many items that are listed on Ebay that you can buy new for less than what you find on Ebay. The shady, uninformed and unscrupulously also use Ebay.

Do a search for an item like the one you plan to sell. Check both for current sales and more importantly completed sales. A lot of times you may get more for an item by going the non auction route. People who use the buy it now option often sell items higher than people who auction the same one. You can do both. Have an auction with a buy it now price. I have won quite a few items using the buy it now option. If you know how much the item is worth, then you can judge if the buy it now is reasonable. Also you will have no competition from other bidders.

Set up a followed search so that you are alerted whenever a similar item goes on sale. Sometimes I may wait a month to compile enough data to know what I can get. It not how much you are willing to sell it for or “I paid $500.00 last year” It’s what they, the bidders, are willing to pay you. Don’t base your price on what others are asking. There are many information-challenged users on Ebay that post ridicules prices. Most auctions run 7 days or less. Wait to see the final sale price.

Special tips for Canadians selling or buying internationally.

I learned the hard way about Fed-ex & UPS. I ended up paying a premium that was more than the item’s cost when I bought a video card from a fellow in the US. These carriers charge what they call “brokerage fees” on duty-free goods. UPS will charge a flat rate of $44 and more. This is not a shipping charge. They have already received money from the shipper. FED-Ex has a variable fee. So let’s say you buy a Video card for $25 US and the seller charges you $ 8.00 US for shipping. Since computer cards are duty-free, that $ 25 card now costs you $ 83.00 CDN. This is no longer a deal.

You are best to use Canada Post or USPS and not have to worry about brokerage fees. Some sellers will not ship USPS. So you have the choice not to deal with them. Post Canada will occasionally charge you duties and GST and PST so be prepared. The tracking service offered by Post Canada is much better than it used to be.

These are my tips for sellers in Canada. Remember ,Canadians are generally tight with their money.

You need to attract US buyers. Do some homework. Try to keep the lid on shipping. Also very important when selling an item, you must enter a proper shipping service such as “Canada post small package USA air ” or your auction will not appear to US Ebayers. Get a proper scale. Decide on a suitable box before you post your item. Measure and weigh it. Check on the Canada Post site or what works in your Country and choose the proper service. Check on Ebay.com to be sure your items are listed there too. Every day I see people selling the same item but with shipping prices that vary considerably. If you are taking the time to post an item on Ebay then do what you need to do to sell it. Shipping prices are very important. Use bubble pack and smaller boxes. Before I forget, if you are in Canada use Ebay Canada or you will not be able to select the proper shipping services. Ebay now forces Canadians to post in Canadian currency so beware of this.Then again this can be a great advantage. I use xe.com to convert.  You probably will have to price your item higher to account for the exchange rates.

Although Ebay suggest that reserve prices are an obstacle to sales, you may have to use one to protect you from giving something away. I won an auction once for $0.55 that included 3 Canon FD lenses and a Brevis DOF adapter. It cost the guy $15.00 shipping. He didn’t have a reserve price and he was in Canada.

But I have a Reservation!

A reserve price is a minimum sale price that you set. It is hidden from the bidder’s view. All the bidder sees is that the reserve is not met. Let’s say you have a guitar that you have seen sold on Ebay for around $ 200.00. You have the same model in about the same shape. You start your auction at $ 1.00 to excite things. Buyers don’t know what you want. So the bidding begins. Now you don’t want to set the reserve too high. So set it let’s say $180.00. You will either make the $180.00 or more but you won’t have to give it away at $ 60.00. If the auction ends without anyone reaching the reserve, then it won’t sell. If the highest bid was near your reserve, you could gamble & re-list it with no reserve.

Timing is a big issue also is demand. Let’s say you have seen a particular item than sells at a rate of 2-3 per week. This is no guarantee that when you put it up for sale there will be anyone still interested. Sometimes I bid on items because the price is so low and that I don’t necessarily need. I ended up buying a very good Jay Turser, Strat clone for $ 40.00. It cost me more for the shipping. At times I have re-listed an item and sold it for more money than my highest bid the first time. Don’t be cheap.

If your purchase or sale involves a huge some of money, then ship via what ever service offers insurance with tracking and signature etc. maybe even record a video as you pack it to prevent buyers or carriers from making erroneous claims.

How ya going pay me pal ?

Don’t be stupid, use PayPal. I had a buyer pay me with a money-order that Post Canada says are cashable at any post office. Not true. You friendly neighborhood post office has no cash, maybe a couple of hundred dollars. Your friendly bank wants to sit on the money orders for 30 days and can still come back to you after releasing the money. So use PayPal but be advised that they too can back down after approving. Wait a day or two  before shipping after PayPal ok’s the payment.

Let’s be honest !

Don’t be dishonest. Charge your buyers actual shipping costs. There are hoards of sellers on Ebay that list items at super low prices only to try gouge you on shipping. If you buy something at $0.99 with a shipping charge of $100.00 and something goes wrong you may be only covered for $0.99.

I collect cardboard boxes and I have often made custom boxes cutting down larger box. Use a glue gun & plenty of packing tape. You can save you buyers a lot of money by shipping in a smaller box. Try to use professional packing like Styrofoam chips & bubble pack.

Selling a Guitar? Go to you friendly music store and ask if the have any used guitar shipping boxes to spare. They usually end up in the recycling bin. I have yet to be refused.

Get yourself a scale so that you can post the actual shipping costs to avoid surprises. If the item is too heavy, put it on a bathroom scale. I used to go to the post office with my parcels and get an exact quote. Then I sent my buyer an invoice with the exact costs. Now I use the Ebay service with a proper scale and rarely have to visit the post office. I don’t charge for boxes, trips to post office, this will come out of the money I make on the sale. There is a big difference between in costs for letter mail and parcels. I recently made this template using a bit of cardboard.

The slot is 27 cm by 2 cm the max for letter post. If the envelope fits through you can save your potential buyers a good deal of money.

DIY mail guide

I have since bought an actual template used by Canada Post.

Canada Post mail Template

Canada Post mail Template







Limit your market. You can limit your sales to buyers with 10 + positive feed back There are a lot of horror stories when dealing with people in countries that do not share our western moral values. Do not sell to them. If you insist on selling to these countries use a service that requires a signature.

Remember no money no candy. Do not ship before the payment is cleared. Insure expensive items and demand delivery receipt signatures.

Remember one man’s trash is another man’s gold (literally)

Observe, Observe, Observe, research, research, research

I once went through a box of CPU parts. I had quite a few old Intel 486 CPUs and some Pentium I processors. Checking these out one Ebay there was absolutely no interest at any price. I think I had a total of 25. Then I found out that people were buying these for gold retrieval. I actually sold these for $ 41.00. I could have easily have junked these. This of course doesn’t mean that all electronics are worth something.

You want to make money you have to do some work. You have to look at things from a realistic point of view not the view of a bean counting accountant.

How to price once you know the market value.

I have seen this happen very often on Ebay. Two or more sellers have the same item for sale. One person has started his auction at $ 1.00 and the other has started his sale at $200.00. Now history tells us the items sells between $180.00 and $250.00.

Mr. Low-price is getting bids, he has attracted interest. Mr. High-price gets no bids. After 6 six days Mr. Low-price has sold his item for $225.00 and Mr. High-price hasn’t had a bid. Mr. High-price is scratching his head. Let me tell you a little secret. THIS IS AN AUCTION!!! Buyers want to have some fun. If you are afraid to sell too low then you can set a reserve price. A reserve price is a hidden fixed min price that you set. Let’s say Mr. High-price had started his auction at $1.00 with a $ 200.00 reserve. He would have no doubt had some bids and probably have sold the item.

One of the positive sides of starting too high can prove advantage the buyer. I have won a few auctions by biding on these Mr. High-price’s auctions, wining without any competition.

It’s nice to get a deal, but with a hot item, an auction is like gambling and you’ll end up paying too much. Set a limit when you sell and most importantly set a limit when you buy. Do your homework. Before you commit to an auction, Google the product you want. I have seen many items that can be bought from a store for less than the Ebay price.

Keep up to date

What sells like hot cakes today maybe tomorrow’s turkey.

The easiest way to get started is to jump in and buy & sell and pay attention to what goes on. I have 20 odd followed searches set up & Ebay emails me daily when ever an item of interest goes on sale or when it is about to end. If I see an interesting item I will add it to my followed searches  and track it daily.

Wording your ad correctly

The difference in getting bids or not can be dependant on how you word your product description. Don’t try to be clever or unique. Check how everyone else is describing their similar items. Check completed sales. Choose the correct categories. When I am in the market to buy something I usually do not have the time to do lengthy searches. I set up searches using the most common key words. EBay will email me with the results. I once bid on an item and couldn’t understand why no one else was. There was a spelling mistake in the product description. The seller made a mistake in his description that cost him. Again this can work to a buyer’s advantage. Think creatively when you search. Check out Goofbid.

People misspell Rickenbacker all the time. I have seen “Feder” guitars for sale. Do a spellcheck on you posts.

Show me what ya got.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Buyers want to see what there are buying. Put as many pictures of your item as you can. Almost everyone has a digital camera or a friend or relative that has one. It doesn’t cost anything to take a picture. Take your time and DON’T post a picture that is out of focus. Remember the more preparation, the more you stand to win

There’s a sniper on the roof

Every wonder why you keep losing auctions in the last seconds? Well it could be a guy with a fast hand but most likely it’s someone using “Sniper software“.

Do a search for Ebay and Sniper. The best ones will cost you but there are some free packages around.

How it works is that you set the price that you are willing to pay and the software will bid down to the last seconds faster than anyone could react. You could also set a high bid that will do the same. I’ll try to a more in-depth article soon.

Shipping Charges

Although I have mentioned shipping above, I must add this as the market has changed. Both USPS and Canada Post have raised their prices. It some cases it is cheaper to ship to the USA than across Canada. I have bought camera lenses from the UK because the shipping was less expensive for the same lens from a seller in the USA. In many cases it is also less expensive to buy from Japan. China is another story. China Post subsidies their sellers. I wish that USPS and Canada Post would do the same. I have bought more items from China recently that from anywhere else. Most Chinese sellers will offer free shipping on smaller items. Ebay now has something called the Global Shipping Program. It offers US sellers some deal where they ship to Ebay and Ebay then ships internationally. Great idea?  NOT! The shipping prices have sky rocketed. I bought a heavy lens from France. It was delivered in a couple of days and at a better price than one that weighs less than half of one coming from the US.

Lens fron USA
Lens from USA

These are the same lenses. Therefore they weigh the same. Check the shipping charges not the prices. This is why I am buying more from anywhere first before I buy American. They also charge duties and taxes on items that Canada Post would allow in at no extra charge. Try to avoid sellers that subscribe to this service.

Now as added feature to lose more business, Ebay will charge Canadians PST and GST or HST on Ebay fees.