|People generally go to
the trouble of creating eBay listings because they have something they
wish to sell and they're looking to get the best
possible price for it. They recognize
that eBay has a very large audience of potential buyers,
which makes it worth using the site even though eBay takes a
significant cut of the final auction price. It
seems amazing then, that some sellers negate all of the
benefits of using eBay by making their items almost
anyone who might be interested in buying whatever it is they have to
This page focuses on sure-fire ways of minimizing
possible returns on an investment when listing items for sale on eBay,
a collection of 12 tried-and-true "Stupid Seller Tricks."
One can learn much from other people's mistakes. If you're
creating a listing because a spouse has threatened bodily damage unless
you pare down your treasured collection of beer cans or beanie babies,
make sure you implement all of the entries below and
you'll never have to part with a single item (be assured that your
collecting colleagues will send flowers and come and visit you in
hospital after the inevitable pummelling).
However, if Granny left you a curio cabinet full of mint pre-pro
glasses from San Francisco and now you have duplicates that you wish to
make a little extra collecting dollars on, then check off each item on
list below to make sure you didn't accidentally commit any of the 12
||Buy It Now.
a collector, stumbling across Buy-it-Now auctions ("bins") is
finding $20 bills lying in the street. A seller has to know the value
of a collectible almost down to the dollar in order to use bins
successfully, which means they have to be collectors themselves.
sellers are not, and I really have to scratch my head at the thought
process that made them decide to use a bin option when listing: "hmmmm,
let me see, this looks old and valuable but I really have NO idea what
it's worth, so.... let's just sell it for $9.99.
Researching values is such a pain and I just don't have the
||Ending listings early
(to work a back-door deal).
listed a curious shot glass with thin walls and a faded gold rim on
Sunday. It has a colored label on the bottom that looks like
plastic. He found it in a Goodwill store the day before and
although it doesn't look like much it does look kinda old so
decides to list it on eBay with a $0.99 starting bid. By
someone called goldhayner
has bid on it, but no-one else. But there's also a
message in his eBay inbox from luglover
that reads (in all caps) "I'M
A SERIOUS COLLECTOR!!! LETS MAKE A DEAL!!! I CAN PAYPAL YOU
$250 NOW IF YOULL END THE LISTING!!!!".
thinks about this for a while, suspecting some kind of trick, but, by
the end of the day, his listing is still sitting at $0.99 and
looks rather attractive, especially since he only paid $2 for the
So he ends up selling a $1,300 glass for a fifth of its true
value, although he did get to keep eBay's cut of the selling price.
only one reason that eBayers try and make back-door deals like this,
and that's to get a valuable glass on the cheap. DUH.
||No listing description.
are increasingly using mobile devices rather than PCs to list on eBay.
While the ability to list using a smartphone increases
to eBay, a phone keyboard is difficult to use (perhaps this only
applies to those of a "certain" age) and discourages sellers
from creating listing descriptions that go beyond a simple statement
The problem with this scenario is that it
relies on the listing title to reach potential bidders, and titles are
limited to a handful of words. Listing descriptions minimally
need to spell out every word on the glass. Ideally, the glass
should have been well researched even before taking a listing photo,
and everything known about it or the company that issued it should be
included in the description. If there is no description, then relatives
of the old company who search eBay for items with their family name
never have a chance of finding the glass and bidding on it. If the city
and state are not mentioned, than potentially you've excluded another
extremely motivated groups of bidders.
The more complete the
description, the better the chance of selling at a premium price.
||No listing photo.
does not happen very often, fortunately, but collectors have to take a
huge leap of faith when bidding in auctions that do not contain a
listing photo, or a photo that is so blurry as to be worthless to
anyone trying to assess condition.
Personally, I'll only bid in
auctions with no photos if I know the seller well and I'm reasonably
confident that the glass is as described. eBay does now provide a
money-back satisfaction guarantee, but who wants the potential hassle
of having to return an item that turns out to be junk? Not
one that makes me scratch my head. I think this type of
listing was invented by eBay to appeal to those with Attention Deficit
Disorder or borderline Alzheimer's.
Using a 3-day auction
assumes that everyone who might possibly be interested in participating in
an auction is searching eBay every day, and possibly several
a day. While a few dedicated collectors are plugged in
continuously (mostly those who have been locked
basement by their spouse for their own protection), most are not.
3-day auctions do not allow sufficient exposure time to
that anyone wishing to bid will have the opportunity to find your
one will run across listings that have no photo and the listing page
states simply "details to follow". Presumably these listings are
generated to guarantee a specific end time for reasons apparent only to the person who listed it.
exclude collectors who search new listings by category and those that
rely on eBay emails to find items of interest. Excluding even one
person from an auction pretty much guarantees a lower sales price and,
if the placeholder is not fleshed out within a reasonable period of
time, causes a seller to commit Sin #5 above also.
||Listing under the wrong category.
The potential damage wrought by listing a pre-pro shot glass under
Garden & Outdoor Living > Lawnmowers,
for example, changes according to whether eBay is
skimming money off the front or back end of an
seller listing fees are minimal or non-existent, so the site is
inundated with worthless junk that really should have been sent to a
land fill (or should never made in the first place). A
auction could then be forever lost amid the flotsam and
especially if consideration has not been given to the listing
description (see trick #3 above). List shotglasses under Collectibles > Barware
> Shotglasses or Collectibles
> Brewerania, Beer > Pre-Prohibition
and your listing finds a much better chance of being located by pre-pro
is personal peeve: sellers charging $8 or more to ship a glass when
actual cost is $4 or less. One can fully understand a
desire to make a little extra cash through exorbitant shipping and
handling charges, especially since eBay now taxes
charges in addition to skimming the final bid price. But high
shipping charges actively discourage bids, and bids that do come
in are typically low-balled. This is partly due to conscious acts of defiance but there's a tangible psychological
Thus, if two identical glasses list on the same
day, one with a $19.99 opening bid and free shipping, the other a $9.99
opening bid and a $7.85 shipping/handling charge, the former is much
more likely to attract bidders and sell.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fear of the unknown, but
auctions with reserves scare off bidders like no other feature.
one can understand that a seller who has, say, $30 invested in a glass
does not want to let it go for $15, but it's far better to guarantee
this by starting the auction running with a high opening bid.
Some sellers use an impossible reserve to a estimate
a glass' worth, with the high bid on the first auction becoming the
opening bid price on a relist. The trouble with this strategy
that all the bidders from the previous auction are now seriously ticked
off at the seller and the auction may well close without a
the scenario. A rare and desirable glass lists on eBay and is
then bid up to stratospheric levels during a bidding war involving
multiple collectors. Within a day or so, an identical glass
listed by a different seller hoping to ride the coat-tails of the
Seller two was watching auction one and,
when it closed at such a high price declared to his
spouse "Hey, I've got a
glass just like that, I'm going to list it on
eBay!" As in, a "me too" auction.
Sadly, auction two
closes at a final bid price well below that of auction one, mainly
because a) prices on auction one were driven by the heat of a bidding
war and b) the winner of auction one is unlikely to be participating in
||Ending listings early
(due to lack of interest).
easy to understand why sellers do this - they create a 7-day listing
and then watch in despair as it sits and sits and sits for days with no
bidder. So they pull the listing shortly before it's
end and return the pretty little glass to the attic for another 20
Sadly, the seller has failed to recognize that most
serious collectors use sniping software and it's not usual for the
bidding to go from no interest at $9.99 with 9 seconds left on
clock, up to several hundred dollars in the last 2 seconds.
||Multiple glass auctions.
Creating eBay listings is a time-consuming and tedious process, so
sellers who have a large number of items to sell may decide to make
life a little easier by selling in groups of two or more.
For some reason, many collectors are reluctant to bid on multiples,
even if the glasses in the group are all different and desirable.
A multiple glass auction may well receive no bids, or close
at a price that falls far short of the sum of the individual worth of
the glasses. I'm not sure why multiple glass auctions
are so offputting, but if you want to get the best price for a group of
glasses, list them individually.