How To Negotiate Prices on eBay
Before I started writing this post I Googled for tips on negotiating prices on eBay only to find that haggling is not permitted. According to eBay, bidders are not supposed to offer lower bids unless the seller has specifically created an auction with a Best Offer option.
I’m actually quite surprised by this fact. Let’s say a seller lists her auction for only a dollar or two more than you would be willing to pay. If the seller doesn’t re-list the items after the auction ends she may pull them from eBay all together. She may decide it’s better to donate the items or to try to sell them at a yard sale or consignment shop. In this case eBay loses out on the fees it would have collected from a successful sale.
I didn’t know this was a rule, (yes I know I’m supposed to know the eBay agreement by heart before buying or selling there), but I can tell you that I have successfully negotiated prices on eBay. In fact, I’ve successfully haggled a number of times and each and every time the sellers seemed happy to have my business.
Here’s an example. Recently I decided to purchase three vintage games for my son. The items were each listed separately, so I first reached out to the seller to ask about combined shipping. Although it was noted that shipping could be combined, it did not list specific prices, so I asked the seller if she could weigh all three items and get back to me with a price. The price for each item separately was $9.00, but for all three it would only cost me only $10.50.
I was actually interested in a number of different auctions from other sellers, but knowing that I would pay such a small amount, ($1.50 be exact), in added shipping costs definitely swayed me to buy from only one vendor.
Next I stalked the auction. Vintage items are hit or miss. If someone is looking for your specific game or toy you might be in luck, if not then your items will most likely remain unsold.
I wanted the items, but I wasn’t dying to have them. My son is actually not old enough to play with some of them yet, so I didn’t feel a driving need to make a purchase right away. The auction continued for five days and on the fourth day I sent the seller a note asking if she would be willing to sell the items for less than their listed prices. At that point the products had absolutely no bids on them.
Prior to reaching out I watched comparable auctions and decided on a price that seemed more reasonable to me. I asked the seller if she would be willing to knock a couple of dollars off of the price of each item if I agreed to purchase all three.
I was willing to accept ‘no’ as an answer. If she said no I would have moved on to other items and probably not thought twice about missing out on buying the items she listed for sale.
An hour or so later I received a happy response from the seller confirming the prices I requested. I saved 40% off of each item and saved $20 in shipping fees simply by asking about combined shipping rates. I’ve had similar experiences buying other items on eBay.
Of course this won’t work with popular items or items that have many bidders, but in this case and a few others I have successfully negotiated prices on eBay.
In two of the cases I watched auctions and noticed that the sellers kept re-listing the same items. I believed the sellers wanted to get rid of their stuff, but the auction prices were just a little too high for me.
In these two cases the sellers were thrilled that I reached out to them directly. They wanted to sell their items and were happy to reduce the price for me.
If you ever plan to reach out to a seller directly be respectful and make certain that you offer a fair price for the item you desire. In my case a few short emails helped me trim a few dollars off of my purchases and made the sellers quite happy.
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