Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Friday, October 10, 2012
A Look Back at 18 Months
of Buying and
Selling on E-Bay
As you know, I'm taking a break from buying and selling toys on E-Bay. The summer seems to be a slow period, so this year I decided to sell of my inventory, and keep the money in my account. It was hard, since there always something I'd like to have purchased, then wrote about, but this time I kept to my plan!
For today's instalment, I thought I'd write about my experiences on E-bay for the last 18 months.
When you start out, you need to provide E-Bay with several e-Mail addresses, a bank account, and a credit card. The purpose of the bank account is for E-Bay to withdraw money should you not have enough in your PayPal account. For those who don't know PayPal is owned by E-Bay, but runs as a separate company. All of your payments received or sent for your purchases originate through PayPal. Paypal takes a percentage of every sold transaction on E-Bay from the seller.. What I don't like, but those are PayPal's policies is that they also charge a percentage for shipping. The purpose of the credit card is for billing, should you want to be billed through a credit card.
What I furthermore also like even less, is the fact that they always exchange my transactions (e.g. Canada Post) into American at their rate. They always seem to be higher than most money exchange sites on the Net. To elaborate, I use Canada Post to print out my shipping labels. I get a small discount, and Canada Post saves time and money, as I dont' have to see a Canada Post agent at the Post Office for this transaction. I fill out a shipping form and declare what's in the box, the value, the weight, and the country of the toy's manufacture). The form is printed out, but Canada Post now has a computer file of this transaction.
E-Bay is a huge business, and it wants to satisfy the buyer more than the seller. I've been a buyer and seller, and E-Bay has helped from these 2 positions. However, the bottom line is E-Bay's bottom line. Keep the buyer happy! My last sale was for a Canon camera that I didn't need anymore. I decided to list it and had 2 successive sales. However, on both occasions, the buyers didn't pay!. The first buyer wanted me top ship faster than the method posted. I sent him the information and invoice, and 3 e-mails. Nothing happened. I had to wait 4 days for the timeframe to allow myself to file a complaint, and then another 4 days for the buyer to reply. I cannot provide negative feedback to this "non-payer", and E-Bay forces the seller to acquiesce and "agree" to cancel the transaction. All I got back were the fees E-Bay had already taken before I ever got paid! I re-listed the camera again, and it didn't sell for 2 weeks. I then had another buyer, and the same non-payment happened. I had to go through the required 2 4 day periods, and the buyer never even bothered to write back. Again, I was forced to cancel the sale, and my fees that again e-Bay took before the payment went through were returned. I finally had a third buyer, and all went well.
In the beginning, I was an "ordinary seller. As such, I would have to pay for each listing on E-Bay, as ell as pay for each photo after the "free" first one. So I would upload up to 4 images and pay 15 cents x 3 photos for each listing. When I listed 10 items, that would then be the listing fee, (which I forgot), and the 10 listings x 45 cents (photos) for a cost of $ 4.50 U.S. Then when the items were sold, PayPal would take the fees that I mentioned before.
The above are single photos of items that I had sold when I first started on E-Bay.
I would have 4 different images for each listing.
My photos 6 months after I had started selling toys on E-Bay
I can't remember exactly when I came up with the idea to create a simple photo called a "composite". I wasn't sure if E-Bay would consider this 1 photo or several, but I had to try. I never heard from E-Bay, so I was able to save 45 cents on evert listing. I even write what is called a "guide" on E-Bay to advise sellers to do the same to save on their costs. However, I only saw a few sellers in toys ever bother to do the same as I did.
Starting this past July 2012, E-Bay decided to forego costs for photos, and everyone now gets to present up to 12 photos for free. Also, the photos can be enlarged. to allow the viewer to see more detail. I would like to think that my composite photos changed E-Bay's charging for photos, but I don't think so!
The Quality of Photos on E-Bay
I am a photographer and taught pro photography for almost 35 years. When I started on E-Bay, I would take high-quality photos, and of course still do. I would hope that taking good photos and describing every assest and fault of a toy would benefit me. I do have Top-Rated Seller Status and Power Seller Status. That has earned me a 20% discount on my fees to PayPal. I may not be a Power Seller for the near future, as I am not selling the quantity of toys that I did before my break from toy-selling.
E-Bay also changed the "rules" for sellers, making it harder on us. To get my 20% fee discount which I worked very hard to achieve, I now have to ship 1 day form when I receive payment, and I have to accept returns up to 14 days from the buyer's receipt of the item. I accepted the terms! I have no issue with shipping within 1 day of payment, but allowing a buyer 14 days to have an item and then return it is a destructive rule that hurts sellers. Imagine sellers who sell clothes on E-Bay, or unopened merchandise. I even read a seller's unhappiness about her selling clothing patterns for people to make their own dresses. Now a buyer will open the package, use the patterns, and then return the patterns for a refund. The seller will now have to discount the opened package (since it's not "new" anymore.
Coming back to the subject of quality photographs, I'm unsure if that actually matters to a good percentage of buyers. I've seen photos that were so underexposed that I could not make out the item. I've seen terrible colour-balance, overexposures, small-sized photos, single photos, and best of all , out-of-focus photos. Yet an item could have 15 bidders, while mine hasn't even one - go figure!
The Quality and Honesty of the Written Description
of listings on E-Bay
I always have been honest, and so selling describing what I was selling was easy. I like to write, and being honest, I will describe faults that perhaps 90% of other sellers wouldn't even see. I would hope that has helped me attain the Top-Rated Seller Status that I now have.
However, I have received items that were broken or cracked, or were poorly described. I've written to the seller, and have received a small refund. IN one case where I purchase a Shaeffer 1950's Snorkel pen and pencil set, the pen was slightly damaged. I write to the seller to ask for a small refund, and he said no, I had to initiate a complaint with E-Bay, and E-Bay agreed with me. I returned the item (at my cost for shipping), buit received my money back.
Most sellers on E-Bay are honest and honorable. However is the 1-3% that ruin it for everyone.
If you are unsure about an item with regard to anything, always ask a question! It's better to ask a question and get an answer, that to have to file a complaint later. Also, E-Bay, in my opinion, again thinks mostly about their profits. There are some sellers on e-Bay who have plenty of negative feedback, but they continue to sell. I also purchased a jacket once form China. It was 3 sizes too small, and I returned it. It somehow disappeared on the way, and I lost my money. SInce I had to pay the return shipping, I wasn't going to also pay even more for insurance. That decision was bad on my part, and I have never bought anything else from China after that. I had purchased 2 items from China previous to that, and in both cases, the transaction was 100%. I even had 1 seller from China replace an broken item for free, and never asked for the item to be returned.
Who Do I Sell To and Who Sells to Me?
I only sell to the USA and Canada. I can block people from a list of countries from bidding, and
also from writing to ask me questions. However, there are ways to bypass this. Occasionally, I will get someone form Europe or Australia, and I even had someone from Japan aks me if they could bid. I usually allow them to bid,but I have to adjust the "restricted country list" to allow them to bid. Before I do, I will inform them the cost of shipping, and I will mention that I would ask for tracking and insurance as well. Certain countries are notorious for having things disappear, and so many North American sellers just won' t sell outside of North America! There also also lots of American sellers who won't even sell to Canada! Having a market of 350,000,000 people is a great advantage. So having to actually do extra work and go to the local post office and fill out forms is too much extra work for them.
It's been a wonderful experience to be an E-Bay member,and sell and buy on E-Bay. Most of the people are great, and will help you out or tell you something is wrong with your listing. Because of that, I have returned the favour to many sellers. I always preface my note to a seller with an error on his/her listing with a "May I offer a suggestion".
After having left teaching, I wan't sure what I wanted to do. I spent about 4 months shooting exterior architecture (residential and commercial buildings) and interior (real estate) , but that hasn't panned out. I like also to do tabletop photography, but again, it's been more difficult to enter the market.
Buying and selling toys probably has not earned me much, if any profit at all. However, taking photos, and the n Photoshopping them has certainly improved my skills and speed. My camera work has also speeded up, with very good quality camera technique and lighting. I'll probably give photography another try in the marketplace. For now, I'm still writing my blog, I'm getting people to assist me by sending photos, and I'm enjoying my blog, and the people that I meet through it. So as long as I enjoy this, that's what I'll do for now. Those 18 months certainly have passed by very fast!
Thanks for dropping by,
and have a great morning, afternoon, or evening
wherever you may be.