Posts filed under ‘eBay’

Is eBay Worth the Trouble? – Results From My Recent Listings


I received a couple of emails in response to yesterday’s post. Two readers wanted to know if I would list items on eBay again and whether or not it was really worth the trouble of selling there.

Honestly, I think it depends on what you want to get rid of and how much you think you’ll earn from the items you sell. I listed unwanted gift cards, movies, an old cell phone and a video game controller. (None of these were high ticket items.)

My goal was to earn a minimum of $10 off of each listing. As you can see in the table below I failed to achieve this in five of my thirteen listings; not very good odds.

Here are the results of my listings:

Listing Price + Shipping Fees + Shipping Profit
Disney Blu-Ray & DVD $37.86 $7.44 $30.42
Earbuds $8.50 $3.33 $5.17
Disney Blu-Ray & DVD $10.68 $3.77 $6.91
Earbuds $12.99 $3.91 $9.08
Disney Blu-Ray & DVD $16.50 $4.68 $11.82
Outdated & Cracked Cell Phone $29.50 $6.53 $22.97
$25 Gift Card $24.01 $5.33 $18.68
Disney Blu-Ray & DVD $16.74 $5.19 $11.55
$25 Gift Card $21.53 $5.08 $16.45
Play Yard Sheets $10.25 $5.56 $4.70
3 Children’s DVDs $12.55 $5.24 $7.32
Training Pants $51.00 $10.35 $40.65
Video Game Controller $106.00 $22.22 $83.78

Total Earned: $269.48

All of these items were extremely easy to list. For the most part I searched for the UPC, used the generic details provided by eBay and added a sentence or two about the quality of items for sale. I took two or three pictures on my iPhone and quickly uploaded them to the auction site. The worst part of that process was rotating the images, because everything I uploaded seemed to load into eBay sideways. The total time for listing was just a minute or two.

I split the listings into two separate weeks and set the duration of each sale to seven days. My goal was to end all sales by Saturday evening. I like ending on Saturday because it gives buyers an extra day to pay. (I can’t ship anything out on Sunday anyway.) On Sunday evening, after all the auctions were paid, I packaged everything up and dragged it off to the post office in one big trip.

For the most part this worked. A few buyers were slow to pony up their money, but luckily the items they purchased fit in the blue postal box at the end of our street.

Three of the thirteen items did not sell the first time I listed them. I lowered the price ever so slightly and a week later they all sold at higher prices then I originally expected. For the record eBay suggests starting listings at ninety-nine cents. They say low prices will spark interest from more buyers, which might be true, but I’ve also been burned by setting auctions too low in the past. There is always the possibility that an item will sell for next to nothing. I’d prefer a slightly lower ending price then risking a ninety-nine cent sale. Perhaps there is some happy medium to knowing just how low to start while still ensuring a decent profit.

For each auction eBay charged 10% of the sale price, plus 10% of shipping costs. A few times the cost of shipping, (including packaging supplies), was more than I expected. Oh and when selling on eBay you can’t forget about PayPal fees, which tacked on anywhere from sixty-eight cents to an additional five dollars in the auctions listed above.

If a similar situation presented itself I would certainly use eBay again. I earned $269.48, which isn’t an earth shattering amount of money, but it’s certainly better than $0.

Next time around I probably won’t sell anything that isn’t valued at over $20. I also wouldn’t offer free shipping, because those auctions resulted in the smallest amount of profit.

How about you? Have you ever sold stuff on eBay and what was your experience like?

Photo Credit

February 25, 2015 at 8:20 PM Leave a comment

eBay Auction: Gift Card Stripped of It’s Value Before I Received It


I rarely buy anything on eBay. Unless I’m looking for a vintage toy I prefer to shop elsewhere. I bought a couple of playskool puzzles for my son’s birthday and a 1960s Lite-Brite for Christmas. Unfortunately, I overpaid for both.

I earned eBay bucks for each purchase and my big cash back total was a whopping $5.  I didn’t need anything, but decided to poke around on the site for a couple of minutes, just in case something caught my eye. I ultimately convinced myself to purchase a discounted gift card. I figured I could buy a $10 gift card for less than half price. The eBay bucks would knock $5 off the price and it would probably be discounted by at least a couple of dollars. Of course I couldn’t find any $10 auctions I liked so I upped the ante and settled on a $25 auction. With one minute to spare I placed my bid, won, paid immediately and waited for my gift card to arrive in the mail.

I used to buy discounted gift cards quite frequently. Back in the day there was a site that would allow you to swap cards. Let’s say you had a Crate and Barrel gift card and wanted a Babies-R-Us gift card instead. You could create a wish list of the cars you wanted and another list containing the cards you had available. Thirty seconds later the system would match you up with someone wanting to trade. I swapped fifteen or twenty gift cards this way and bought others at deeply discounted prices. That site went out of business, (total bummer), so I stopped buying discounted gift cards as often. Every once in awhile I come across a good deal, but otherwise it’s a whole lot of hassle to save five or ten percent. The fact is you never know if the person will actually ship the card to you. Even if it does arrive the description is not always accurate. I’ve received two or three that were actually merchandise credit cards not true gift cards, which cannot always be used interchangeably.

If I hadn’t wanted to burn the $5 worth of eBay credit I would not have poked around eBay and I would not have bid on an auction. I will admit that eBay bucks suckered me into buying something I didn’t really need.

Nevertheless when the card came I did not check the balance. I was busy that afternoon. I looked through the mail while I was making dinner, stuck the card in my wallet and didn’t think about it until I was at the store today returning a couple of items. When I presented it to the cashier she told me it had no money left on it.

Ugh. I bought a gift card with no value. I immediately contacted the customer service number on the back of the card and asked for a history of transactions. I was told the entire amount was used prior to the time I bid on the auction and certainly prior to the time I received it. I contacted the seller immediately. She apologized and refunded the money, but why would a seller send a gift card without any money on it?

Here is what I think happened. I bid on the auction at the last minute without looking clearly at the photos.  It seems there were two attached.  The first contained a picture of the front of the card. The second contained a picture of the back of it. I can honestly say I never noticed the photo of the back of the card. I would have taken note of it because it clearly displayed the gift card numbers.

My guess is that someone was trolling eBay, came across the listing, wrote down the numbers from the card and used it before the auction ever ended.

The lesson here: NEVER, EVER, EVER buy a gift card from eBay if the numbers are listed or photographed. If you are a seller NEVER, EVER, EVER sell a gift card with the numbers are listed or photographed. There are a lot of crooks and scammers in the world so don’t post valuable information like this out on the internet.

Luckily the seller felt bad about the situation and refunded my purchase. I’m not sure what would have happened if she hadn’t been so nice about it.

My lesson has been learned. 1) Do not buy things you do not need just because you have a coupon or in this case expiring eBay bucks. 2) Do not bid on an auction without looking at all aspects of it including descriptions and photograph.s 3) Do not buy a gift card if the numbers are made available on the internet.

February 6, 2014 at 11:12 PM Leave a comment

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.

June 22, 2013 at 11:21 PM 1 comment

My Rule for Selling on eBay

I’ve received quite a few emails since I wrote the post Tallies from 2012: How Much Money Did My Blog Earn? A reader asked me what I sold on eBay and if I have any rules for selling. The answers to both of those questions are pretty simple.

While I sold a variety of items in online auctions I made the most revenue selling electronics. I sold a variety of items including speakers, iPhone accessories, routers, weather stations and unwanted video games and consoles. In most cases my husband updated an item and I sold the previous model we owned.

I only have one true rule for selling on eBay. I must make a minimum of $10. Before listing an auction I run calculations to factor in PayPal and eBay fees as well as all shipping costs. If my profit is less than $10 then I won’t list the item. Instead I’ll typically ask family members if they have any need for it or give it away.

I’ve seen people list all sorts of things and sell them for just a dollar or two. By the time they pay for postage they must make less than 10 or 15 cents in profit. While this may add up over time it is not something I’m willing to do.

I don’t want to waste time taking pictures, listing items, waiting to get paid, printing shipping labels and dragging items to the post office or UPS. If I don’t make a decent profit on selling something I’d much rather give it away.

I also find that the cheaper the auction the more difficult it is to get winning bidders to pay. You would think it would work the other way around, but strangely enough my most expensive items are often paid for the minute the auction ends. For smaller auctions it can take quite a few days to receive payment and on more than one occasion I had to file a dispute when the winning bidder failed to pay.

How about you? Do you sell items on eBay and if so do you have any rules for selling? Do you have a minimum profit threshold or are you willing to list anything on eBay?

February 17, 2013 at 9:43 PM 2 comments

The High Price of Collectibles and Limited Time Offerings

A few days ago I found myself shopping for interactive story buddies, (otherwise known as talking stuffed animals), at Hallmark. My son absolutely loves books and I thought he might enjoy snuggling with a cuddly toy that sings, barks and makes other fun noises when you read out loud.

Before heading out to the store I searched online for the cheapest prices. I found Jingle, (the holiday inspired Hallmark dog), on sale for $8.73, but by the time I reached the checkout page it was completely sold out. Those silly stuffed animals retail for $34.95 so $8.73 would’ve been an incredible price!


I figured there had to be some for sale on eBay. I checked out the auctions but found most were selling for roughly $35. Some were slightly more and some slightly less, but by the time you added in shipping most were in the $30 to $40 ballpark.

I had no intention of buying my fourteen month old son a $35 stuffed animal. In fact if I hadn’t seen the cheap price at Hallmark I probably wouldn’t have had the bright idea to buy this toy in the first place.

I decided to call the Hallmark store closest to my home to inquire about prices. It turns out that our local store was selling them at 50% off. $17.95 was still more than I really wanted to spend, but I couldn’t seem to get the idea out of my head so I buckled my son into the backseat of the car and drove off in search of it. (Important lesson: Try a brick-and-mortar store before shelling out money on eBay. eBay prices aren’t always the cheapest.)

All of the Christmas items were marked down 75%. Recordable storybooks were on sale for $4.95 and the second and third books in the “Jingle” series were $2.49 each. I bought a couple of recordable storybooks, (my son received one from my parents for Easter and absolutely loves it), and the two Jingle books along with the Jingle stuffed animal.

When I got back into the car I logged onto eBay and searched for the two books I just purchased. I was astounded to find them selling for $13 to $17 a piece. The retail price of each book was only $9.95 and I’d just paid $2.49 each for them.

That’s when I discovered the value of limited time offerings. This year Hallmark designed the 2012 Jingle toy and compatible books. They won’t sell the same toy again next year. They may sell a newer version next year, but odds are it won’t be compatible with the older model. If you don’t buy the books now you may not have the opportunity to do so in the future.

This once a year offering causes people to log on to eBay in high numbers. Let’s say your wife bought you two of the three 2012 superhero ornaments. If you feel your collection won’t be complete until you find Captain America then you’ll log on to eBay and spend three to four times the original retail price in order to complete your collection.  Lucky for you someone in the secondary market probably has what you want. Unfortunately the item you want may come with a very hefty price tag.

Apparently many people already know this. Google for items to sell on eBay and you’ll come across all sorts of information about making money from selling Hallmark ornaments. This also explains why I once saw a woman buy twenty identical Barbie ornaments from a Hallmark store the day after Christmas. Perhaps they were some sort of a special holiday collection. Apparently star trek, star wars and barbie ornaments all sell for big bucks.

This is just one of the many reasons I’m not a collector. I don’t want to pay three to four times the retail price for an ornament that sits on my Christmas tree for a few days a year. Of course, if my son falls in love with this little Jingle toy and something awful happens, (it breaks, gets lost, etc.), I’m sure I’ll head back to eBay and shell out big bucks for another one.

January 15, 2013 at 8:00 PM Leave a comment

Successful eBay Sales and How to Convince a Spouse to Clean and Declutter

My husband finally decided to dig through the pile of computer equipment and hardware that is stacking up in the basement. While he still has a ways to go, (you should see how many cords are haphazardly falling in and around the storage solution downstairs), he did manage to dig out a couple of items we no longer need.

Six eBay sales later we earned roughly $250. eBay and PayPal captured nearly $30 in fees, but I’m still happy that we cleaned up some clutter and made a little cash in the process. We have at least two other items for sale that will hopefully net us another $50.

I found the bidding for my auction’s pretty interesting this time around. Before listing I placed watches on similar items just to see how much my auctions might earn. If the range was above $10 I listed the item. Item’s less than $10 will probably be shipped off to good will. Between the hassle of getting buyers to pay, dropping items off at the post office and fees from PayPal and eBay anything less than $10 doesn’t seem worth it.

This time around I measured and weighed items precisely so buyers could pay the exact price for shipping. I also offered multiple shipping services like UPS and USPS, though not one single buyer chose the higher UPS option.

I listed two identical items for sale which may have been a mistake. The first auction went for quite a bit, but the second auction sold for 20% less. I think a lot of people were watching the first auction because it received quite a few bids. Perhaps they were also watching the second auction, but didn’t have enough time to bid after the first auction ended. Next time around I need to end the auctions on different days or at least provide more time between their endings. In the big scheme of things I do think the combination of prices was just about average. The first auction sold for more than comparables, while the second sold for less. The average of the two was right in line with other auctions I watched.

I feel good about finding a second home for most of this stuff. We used much of this equipment when I was working from home, but now that I’m staying home with my son I don’t need much more than a simple laptop.

Now the question is how do I get my husband to finish the job of cleaning up the unwanted equipment in the basement? I don’t want to use the money as an incentive, because I know he’ll just buy more stuff that will ultimately end up next to the piles we already have downstairs, but I’m afraid if I don’t find a way for him to continue cleaning those other items will remain there indefinitely. Any ideas?

August 29, 2012 at 10:00 AM 4 comments

Oh eBay!

Why on earth would anyone bid on an auction when they don’t intend to pay? I was so excited to sell an unused Wii console and now I’m trapped in the nightmare of eBay’s processes for a bidder who refuses to cough up the cash.

I don’t even understand the bidder’s feedback. Negative feedback as a seller, but okay feedback as a buyer allowed her to bid?

Feedback is feedback and if you aren’t honest on one side of the equation why would anyone think you’d be honest on the other?

It’s all very disappointing.


May 20, 2012 at 4:21 PM 3 comments

Selling One Thing to Buy Another

I celebrated my first mother’s day this weekend. My husband, son and I went out for a long walk around the lake, attempted to make handprints and planted a beautiful tree in our front yard. Just spending time with the family was the greatest gift, but it turns out my little man had a gift all his own to give me. While playing on the couch between my husband and I my six month old son pulled himself into a standing position.

I looked at my husband and my husband looked at me. We were both in disbelief and plopped him back down into sitting position to see if he could do it again. Sure enough he raised himself onto his feet three times in a row!

He started the earliest form of a crawl a week or so ago, but I had no idea how quickly he would go from just rolling back and forth to making his way from one side of the room to the other. He’s unbelievably active right now and if I place him on the floor he’s off to the races in no time.

So it’s time to start baby-proofing the house. That means putting up baby gates, bumpers on tables and covering all of the electrical sockets. I actually got down on the floor of our living room and sun room so I can see the world from his perspective.

As I was pulling on drawers to the TV cabinet I found a bunch of stuff to sell including unused game consoles. I bundled them back into their original packaging and sold them on eBay. Unfortunately, the buyers won’t pay up and now I have to go through the awful process of trying to collect my money. Such a pain.

The good news is that the game consoles will pay for the double wide baby gate I purchased to prevent my little tike from leaving the living room. I’m hoping to baby proof the room well enough that I can leave him in there rather than placing him in the playpen. He’s a big kid. In the 95th percentile already and that little space seems so tiny for him.

May 15, 2012 at 10:22 PM 12 comments

Nesting Urges and Layoffs Provide the Incentive to Search for Dough

Since I’m now more than half way through my pregnancy I feel the sudden urge to rearrange the house and remove all visible clutter from our home. We moved all of the items out of the soon-to-be nursery last weekend so my husband could paint and as I looked at the piles of stuff gathering in the little room we use as a closet I started to feel a little bit edgy.

I’ve always had a bit of OCD when it comes to keeping things neat and tidy. When I was a kid I used to put everything in it’s place before I went out to play, (crazy I know), and in college I always straightened my room before writing my term papers.

I know that this nutty little habit of mine will probably change as I bring a child into the world who will drop toys and clutter where ever he or she goes, but since that time is still a few months away I have plenty of time to rearrange and purge the stuff we already own.

Since I found out I’ll soon be laid off I decided it was best to search through the clutter for any items around the house for items that I can profit from. I dug through my dresser drawers and found a few pairs of maternity pants and a bathing suit that I bought but never wore.

To be honest I had completely forgotten about them. I put the pants in the bottom drawer of my dresser and intended to wear them as the weather turned warmer, but as my belly grows larger I’ve found it uncomfortable to wear paneled pants that cover my stomach. I’d much prefer things that can be worn just below my belly, because they stay in place and don’t ride up and down as often.

I also found a maternity bathing suit in my dresser that I barely remembered buying. Shortly after I purchased it I found a much more roomy and comfortable two piece that I purchased for less from Target.

I was able to get merchandise credit for the pants, which is perfectly fine because I bought them at Ross where I can buy everything and anything from kitchen supplies to children’s toys. I got an even better deal at Macy’s where I was able to get a full refund on my credit card.

In digging through other areas of the house I came across a few fitness and movie DVDs I can sell on eBay or trade in to I also sent a few books to book buying websites where I’ll earn either store credit or cash through PayPal.

I found a few unwanted clothing items that still have the tags on them. I intended to give them away a few months ago, but then considered trying to sell them on eBay. I put them in the back of the closet and completely forgot to list them. I’m not sure that I’ll actually earn anything but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try to sell them. If they don’t sell I’ll simply donate them, which was my original intention anyway.

It feels good to declutter the house and get back a little money in the process. Between the returns, book buying sites, and eBay I’ll probably bring in $150 to $200 in cash and store credit. It’s not a ton of money, but it feels good to regain a little dough while my nesting urges kick in.

July 2, 2011 at 9:30 PM 2 comments

How To Get My Money Back for All of Those Things I Should Not Have Purchased

Over the years my husband and I have purchased many items we’ve barely used and quite a few that have never seen the light of day.

First there are the infamous electronics. We owned an Apple TV and a Popcorn Hour that were used for less than a month. There’s a Wii Fit collecting dust underneath the table that holds our television and a Playstation that’s just as dusty right beside it. We owned DVDs at one point that we watched only once or twice and video games that are still in their shrink wrapped paper.

There was also that $400 pile of men’s dress clothes we purchased for a job that my husband never accepted and bags of shirts and pants that I shipped to Goodwill after wearing them on one and only one occasion.

We certainly didn’t set out to waste the money. We had every intention of watching DVDs, exercising with the Wii and wearing the clothes we purchased. It’s just that for some reason or another we ultimately realized the Apple TV didn’t work quite the way we hoped, exercising to the same video games became boring, and those clothes that looked so amazing in the mirror at the store, didn’t look quite the same way once we got home.

After cleaning out the closets and decluttering our home I’ve come to a couple of solid conclusions. First, if I buy clothes I must jump around in them while I’m still in the dressing room. A lot of the clothes I donated just weren’t comfortable. They were too small in one place or too large in another. Now, before I purchase anything new I really need it to feel just right.

If I can prevent yourself from purchasing unwanted and unncessary items in the first place, I’ve won the battle. If I can’t stop myself from buying something I move on to step two.

If I decide an item is worth purchasing I stow the receipt in a special binder and try the item on at least one more time at home. If I decide I still want it, I place the item in the front of the closet so I’ll be forced to look at it each time I open the door. If I don’t wear it within a week or two I gather the receipt and take it back to the store. I hate to waste time returning unwanted stuff, but I’d rather take the time to get back my money while I can.

A lot of stores have short return policies these days, so I make certain that I mark a date on my electronic calendar so I won’t forget to go back to the store.

Unfortunately, electronics aren’t quite as easy to deal with, but I have come up with a quasi-solution for them too. I know that I won’t be able to return the item once the box has been opened, but I still store the box anyway. I have a couple of plastic tubs in the basement that I reserve for this very purpose.

If my husband decides he doesn’t want some piece of equipment he recently purchased, (which usually happens because it doesn’t work quite the way he expected), then I immediately take pictures of the item, including the box and list it on eBay.

Now this sucks, because we will never recoup the cost of the original item, but if we list the item right away we can be certain to get the highest price for it. There’s no sense in waiting months or years to sell an item that is outdated. A new model will sell for close to it’s manufacturer’s listed price while an old model will sell for only pennies on the dollar.

Of course, in an ideal world we would never buy items that we don’t use, but let’s face it life doesn’t always work out that way. While we are much more careful these days and think long and hard before buying something, it is inevitable that we will end up with something that we no longer desire.

When that time comes I now have a plan for dealing with our unwanted stuff and I can now reclaim a good portion of the money that would have otherwise been wasted.

February 24, 2011 at 1:50 PM 3 comments

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