Collecting Shots
Seller Tricks
Fake Shots
Hee Hee Hee

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 potential benefits of using eBay by making their items almost invisible to anyone who might be interested in buying whatever it is they have to offer.

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 the list below to make sure you didn't accidentally commit any of the 12 seller sins.
#1. Buy It Now.
As a collector, stumbling across Buy-it-Now auctions ("bins") is like 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.  

Most 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 time".   DUH.

#2. Ending listings early (to work a back-door deal).
Scenario: stupidseller 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 he decides to list it on eBay with a $0.99 starting bid.  By Monday, 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!!!!".

stupidseller 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 $250 looks rather attractive, especially since he only paid $2 for the glass.  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.

There's 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.

#3. No listing description.
Sellers are increasingly using mobile devices rather than PCs to list on eBay.  While the ability to list using a smartphone increases accessibility 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 regarding condition.

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.

#4. No listing photo.
This 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 me.

#5. 3-day Auctions.
Another one that makes me scratch my head.  I think this type of auction 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 times a day.  While a few dedicated collectors are plugged in continuously (mostly those who have been locked in the basement by their spouse for their own protection), most are not.  3-day auctions do not allow sufficient exposure time to ensure that anyone wishing to bid will have the opportunity to find your listing. 

#6. Placeholder auctions.
Occasionally 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.

Placeholder auctions 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. 

#7. Listing under the wrong category.
The potential damage wrought by listing a pre-pro shot glass under category Yard, Garden & Outdoor Living > Lawnmowers, for example, changes according to whether eBay is skimming money off the front or back end of an auction.  

Currently, 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 misplaced auction could then be forever lost amid the flotsam and jetsam, 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 collectors.

#8. Gold-plated shipping.
This is personal peeve: sellers charging $8 or more to ship a glass when actual cost is $4 or less.  One can fully understand a seller's desire to make a little extra cash through exorbitant shipping and handling charges, especially since eBay now taxes these 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 effect also.

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.

#9. Reserves.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fear of the unknown, but auctions with reserves scare off bidders like no other feature.

Again, 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 is that all the bidders from the previous auction are now seriously ticked off at the seller and the auction may well close without a bid.

#10. Me-too Auctions.
Here's 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 is listed by a different seller hoping to ride the coat-tails of the first.  

Seller two was watching auction one and, when it closed at such a high price declared to his long-suffering 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 auction two.

#11. Ending listings early (due to lack of interest).
It's 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 due to end and return the pretty little glass to the attic for another 20 years.

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 the clock, up to several hundred dollars in the last 2 seconds.

#12. 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.

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