Friday, June 5, 2020

FRIDAY!! Neighborhood Updates and Some eBay Selling Tips...

Things are opening up here in the "Blue Sector" of Flyover Country, people are towing boats and campers, and it looks like we might be able to salvage the Summer.

In Local Neighborhood News, the young couple at the end of the cul-de-sac have split up, the slightly older couple in the house next to theirs have divorced, the house the really old couple lived and moved out of (the one where they took 4 dumpster loads of perfectly good furniture out of!) is now occupied by a young couple who work for the USFS, the house directly across the street from us has been sold ("Pending, Accepting Back-Up Offers" per Zillow), and a house just across the street from where our cul-de-sac starts is for sale.

And my eBay sales are roaring along. "Old Stuff" I'd picked up for just a few $$ has been selling for surprising amounts, and the newer things I'm disposing of have been going for more than I expected. Some of the stuff I'm "loosing money" on, but it's balanced out by some items that sold for well over what I was expecting.

Any eBay tips, drjim?

Yes, a few.

1 - Either submit your listing on Sunday morning, or schedule it to begin Sunday afternoon, California time. My experience, and it's been verified by others, is that auctions that end on a Sunday afternoon draw more last minute bidders than if the auction ends at 0300 on a Tuesday. And I've had items double and triple in amount during the last 15~20 minutes on a Sunday afternoon.

2 - Write honest, accurate, truthful descriptions of your items. Avoid "cutesy" terms like "MINTY!" and "RARE!!!!". Peppermint or Spearmint? "Rare" compared to what? I've seen items tagged as "Rare", and then found several of the same item further down in my search listings. Accurately describe (or try to) any known faults or issues with your item.  If the item doesn't work, say so, and sell it as "Parts Or Repair ONLY". Don't wish for the best and make up something like "It worked 30 years ago, so it should work now". If you write something like "I didn't know how to test/run/inspect this item" then your buyers will assume it doesn't work, and bid accordingly. It's like all the "Ran When Parked" memes you see on automotive sites, you ain't foolin' NOBODY! Include EXACTLY what's in your auction. If there's an item in the background, or you have it hooked up to other things to "demonstrate" that it works, clearly state those items are NOT included. Some people will squawk that you didn't include everything pictured unless you say it's NOT included. CLEARLY state your shipping and handling fees so there's no griping. Some items are expen$ive to ship, and some potential buyers will contact you to try and negotiate a lower cost.

3 - TAKE GOOD PICTURES! Include pictures of any manuals, original boxes, cables, cords, and accessories the item comes with. Since I mainly sell radio and electronic equipment, I take pictures of the front panel, the back panel, the top and bottom, and both sides of the case and cabinet. If there's a nick or a ding in the case or front panel that *I* can see, other people will see it, too, so I'll take a close-up of the flaw as best I can. I also pull the covers off so potential buyers can see how clean (or dirty) the insides of the radio are. This gives a good indication of well well the equipment was cared for, and stored. If I see rust or burnt parts inside the radio, I'll pass on it.  If you want top dollar, make sure your potential customers can CLEARLY see any flaws you pointed out in the listing. Use good lighting, and for God's sake, man make sure you pictures are IN FOCUS!

4 - Set your opening price to the MINIMUM amount you'll accept for the item. Yeah, I've done the opening bid of 99 cents and paid extra to have a reserve put on the item. It doesn't work any better than putting your minimum price as the opening bid, and you'll avoid the lookie-loos who put in a $1 bid just to see what the item sells for. And even though you list the item as an auction, you'll likely get a question or two asking "Buy It Now??". I just ignore them, or say "Sorry, auction ONLY".

5 - Be realistic in the value of the item. Just because you think it's worth $1000 doesn't mean that's what you'll get for offers. If you're at all serious about maximizing your eBay profits while minimizing your stack of junk in the basement or garage, you should be searching for similar items, and watching them to see what they go for. Sometimes it's disappointing to realize your prized Turbo-Encabulator has DROPPED significantly in value from what it was worth just a few years ago. For example, I have a nearly new (really!) high-end Sony SLV-R1000 VCR. It was Sony's top-of-the-line VCR, can record in "Super VHS", and can be used for an editing deck as it has a "Flying Erase Head", and all sorts of other "Prosumer" features. I paid about $900 for it Back In The Day, and I've barely used it. Maybe 6 tapes. Even has the original box, manual, set of bagged cables, the whole nine yards. A few years ago they were still going for $600~$700.

If I'm lucky, I might get $300, unless I happen to connect with a videophile who lusts for one with all the trimmings.

6 - Once you get a bid, and the item will sell, PACK IT UP. This saves irritating last minute hustling around to find a box, find some packing material, making sure you have packing tape for your tape gun, shipping labels, and other things that can delay you from shipping the item.

7 - Oh, yeah....packing and shipping your item. This can be highly variable depending on what you're shipping. For small, light items, you can wrap them in bubble wrap, box 'em, and ship 'em. That won't work for heavier and/or bulky items. Neither will throwing it in a box of packing peanuts and shipping it.

I'm going On The Record here to tell you do NOT use your friendly UPS store for packing your item! Every_Single_Large_Item I've received that was packed by a UPS store arrived damaged. I'm not saying they're 100% incompetent, but I have no other choice based on what I've seen. Pack it yourself, and you'll do a better job!

If you can find a place that specializes in shipping things like Personal Computers and other delicate things you'll probably be OK, but you'll pay dearly for it.

I bag the item in a trash bag, wrap it with at least one layer of heavy-duty bubble wrap, and add some additional padding over any easily broken protrusions, like the knobs on a radio. Then it gets boxed, with either more bubble wrap on the bottom of the box and down the sides so the whole thing fits snugly, -OR- a good layer of packing peanuts on the bottom, sides, and top. I prefer the bubble wrap because it's far less messy to pack, and your buyers will appreciate it, too.

For extremely valuable items, I'll line a box with cut styrofoam sheets, and make sure my bubble wrap "cocoon" for the item fits in the box snugly.

For really heavy stuff, I'll double box the item, but this starts getting expensive, as non flat-rate shippers also charge by the volume of the box. Double boxing an item can make it cost 30%~50% more to ship, so make sure you explain this to your customers.

When possible, I ship via USPS Priority Mail "Flat Rate" boxes. I have a stack of (FREE!) boxes and labels, and I can go in the Post Office, walk up to the self-service kiosk, and have my item shipped in 10 minutes if I don't have to wait for other people. I could do the "Stamps-R-Us" thing and print my own postage, enabling me to just drop the item in the shipping bin at the P.O., but I haven't.

I've had very good results with shipping small things this way, and it's fast, easy, and not too expensive.

I have set up an account with FedEx from years ago, and it makes it much faster to ship with them, even though they now know me at the local FedEx location. I greatly prefer FedEx for anything I can't safely cram into a USPS Flat Rate box. Their rates are reasonable, they're >99% "On Time", and they handle the packages with care. I've had ONE claim in 20 years with them, and they paid within 48 hours.

This gets me back to things that were packed by the UPS store. One item I bought was a heavy radio receiver. The seller dropped it off with them, and they packed and shipped it.

It was DESTROYED when I received it. They took a 65 pound, vacuum tube radio, and threw it in a box of peanuts, taped it up, and sent it off. The box looked like it was airdropped and the 'chute failed.

The seller filed a claim, I took it to a UPS center for verification, and they denied the claim! They said it was "Improperly Packed For Shipment". Well, DUH! Ya think? When the seller protested that it was packed by a UPS store, they shot back the canned message "Every store is an independent franchise, and we can't control what they do. Claim DENIED".

The seller was a lawyer. He sued the snot of of them and won. That's why I don't do UPS.

Anyway....there's more tips and tricks, but this post is running long, and I have items to inspect/test/verify and photograph.

And listings to write.....

Enjoy the weekend!


  1. I'll second all the recommendations, and add that brighter pictures sell better than dim, and SIMPLIFY your background.

    I double box all electronics or breakables. I've never had a shipping claim that wasn't fraud. I will overpack to avoid claims. It doesn't hurt to have pictures of the box while packing and when finished if the item is expensive.

    I even used a time stamped pic of me leaving the house on my security cam, with the box, to show that the buyer was claiming damage and didn't even have my box...

    I haven't done an auction in years, because for most of what I sell, Buy it Now brings higher prices than auctions, or the stuff is too weird to get many bids.

    I never talk up the item at all, preferring to list every known flaw. "vintage" or "vtg" in the title is a waste of characters, unless the item is also available new or reproduction.

    Almost all of my sales come from searches, not browsing. Make sure you use every character of the title and put some good keywords in the description.

    People shopping on their phones (a surprisingly high percentage according to ebay) don't look closely at photos, or at more than a couple. Put the good photos, and anything important, at the beginning with more detail as you go along.

    I also usually list where I got the item. If it was an estate sale or thrift store find, say so. If you test it, LIST what exactly you tested, and didn't test. Even if it's just 'tested to power on', that eliminates one worry that it will just be DOA.

    WRT fraud, I've had a couple of problems over the years, but not anything major that I couldn't resolve. Ebay will almost always automatically side with the buyer, even if the buyer is clearly lying. Keep fighting if your cause is just.

    Although my sales are currently flatlined, I've made a decent part time living from part time work with ebay.

    It's a great way to turn unwanted stuff (think hard about all those old collections that don't interest you anymore) into money for living or preps.


    One last thought. Stuff is worth what people are willing to pay for it. It's not worth what YOU paid for it, or what it was selling for last year. If you look at Sold listings and you can't accept that trinketX is only likely to bring $ instead of $$$, don't waste time listing it. Maybe the price will rebound later, and you can try then.

  2. Interesting. I've never sold anything on EBay but have bought the odd car part. I seem to do ok on Craigslist.

  3. Yep, that's 99% of how I do it. I'll double-box certain items, like a radio receiver/transmitter/power supply, but I've been getting rid of a lot of smaller items that don't need it.

    Certain items in the "Original Box" are sure to bring more money. Radio stuff in particular can go for 20%~40% more with the box it came in than an identical radio without the box.

    If you have the manual, I say include it with the item. Some sellers will strip the manual and any accessories to sell them separately. I just can't do that because it doesn't seem right.

    Yes, The Bay definitely sides with buyers. I've sold things, and got the dreaded "It Doesn't Work" complaint when I knew it did, and confirmed it after I got the item back. I refunded their money, got clipped by eBay for a preprinted return label they sent to the customer, and wound up with an item that worked that I didn't need, and no longer wanted.

    I've been lucky in that the two items I had returned didn't have any internal accessories that could be removed, and they showed no signs of the cases being opened.

    Too many "customers" want to treat small, "specialty" sellers like us as stores, and if they decide they just don't like the item, they lie about it and say it didn't work. Had several friends that happened to besides me.

  4. All your points about selling and shipping are valid. I used to sell small things on EBay, but haven't in recent years. These days I use Craig's List or FB marketplace so I don't have the shipping hassle.

  5. Thanks for the tips drjim!

  6. Geez....had a long reply that didn't publish....BLECH...

    I agree 99%. I'm doing a lot more small items, and I don't double box them. Anything big, like a transmitter/receiver/power supply will generally get double-boxed if it's over 10~12 pounds.

    Yeah, some people put a vanity prices on their items. A certain item *might* be worth $500 to the right person, but it would be in pristine condition, with manuals, and maybe the original box, which can carry a hefty premium. But then to look at the same item, banged up, rusty, missing knobs, and filthy, and see a $500 price on it cracks me up.

    Asking $500 for what's realistically a $100 (at most) item is just nuts.

  7. I made teh mistake of having a UPS store pack and ship an antique clock; a family heirloom, from Long Island to California. I would have packed it myself, but my aunt gave it to me the same day we were flying out. I didn't ave the time. Turns out, I didn't have the time when the clock got to my house either. The clock was rendered dumpster material by bad packing and shipping by Antifa. I fought with UPS for weeks. I got SOME money back for it, but not what it was worth. NEVER use the UPS store to pack your stuff!


Keep it civil, please....

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