Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ebay/Paypal: Advice for safer selling

What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away...  

Tom Waits

Over the years, both Ebay and Paypal have modified their terms of service and policies for buying and selling. If you have not read them lately, read them now, or read about them.  You might be surprised at what you find. My experience, already chronicled in some detail, has driven me away from both of these companies.  It s*cks to be a seller.

Paypal is convenient, but checks are safe and sound for sales transactions. And who needs the fees? Not worth it, especially for sellers.

Ebay is tougher. I've found alternatives, but for some items -- rare items or items for a specialized audience, for example --  Ebay is really the best selling option.

If you do sell on Ebay...
Here are some hints...
  1. Don't buy or sell for a dollar amount you can't afford to lose.
  2. Don't sell to anyone with a spotty record, or with no record. While you can't control much about who buys from you, Ebay lets you block buyers who are the most aggregious offenders -- folks with multiple unpaid items or policy violations -- but only the absolute worst are blocked (see the selling :
    • Have received 2 unpaid item strike(s) within 1 month(s)
    • Have a primary shipping address in countries that  you won't ship to
    • Have 4 policy violation report(s) within 1 month(s)
    • Have a feedback score equal to or lower than -1
  3. If  a questionable buyer buys your item, don't sell to them! You  can refund their money with an explanation of your choice -- tell the truth, or you can make up a bogus reason not to sell (item broke, whoops!), whatever. But you'll have to contact Ebay to refund their commission to you. 
  4. One way to reduce the chance of getting a sale disputed is to offer a return policy. To me this is too risky for valuable items.
  5. Mail with tracking and signature required.

My recommendation for selling: Use alternatives...
  • Consignment shops. While I used to blanch at the commission, in retrospect it seems like a real bargain. Consignments shops get scammed, and they assume risk. The overhead for trial periods, shipping, answering questions, photographing, listing, is not trivial. Let THEM do the work, and be glad to give them a cut.
  • -- I've sold things here. You get fewer nibbles, but eventually I've found a buyer for everything I've posted there.
  • I've had friends use this successfully
  • Facebook groups. Look for tack sales groups in your area -- there are 3-4 around where I live and they work!
  • Craigslist. I admit I don't use Craigslist to sell, but many do. Anyone had luck with Craigslist?
  • GMO/local horse group classifieds. I've sold many items via my local GMO's newsletter.

Sources consulted


  1. I personally love buying stuff from Bivver. Had quite a few sales there, after ebay limited my selling privileges being a top
    rated seller ... go figure . Anyways check it out

  2. Thanks for posting this. As a first time tack seller I am really nervous. I need the money from this sale to purchase another saddle, so the thought of losing it all to a buyer on Ebay scares me. I have listed it every where I can find online including Eventing Nation (it is a cross country saddle) and I am keeping my fingers crossed! Thanks again for the information!!

  3. The ugly reality of eBay Inc.:
    eBay's crooked auctions marketplace ...
    eBay Motors: Auction Fraud Galore …
    eBay's clunky, unscrupulous "PreyPal" ...
    The ongoing joke of eBay Inc. ...
    Fun quotes from the eBay executive suite ...

    Shill bidding fraud by professional sellers on eBay nominal-start auctions is demonstrably endemic; many of the bidders who bid early and often on such auctions are most likely these sellers' shills, and eBay Inc. is demonstrably the greatest knowing and calculated facilitator of such fraud on consumers that the world is ever likely to know, and doubtless there will be a trickle down effect of like criminal activity to all other eBay operations ...

    The only thing that surprises me about this criminal enterprise is that it has not yet summoned up the gall to convert its auctions wholly to the “private listing” format, or the bidder IDs to “Bidder 1”, “Bidder 2”, “Bidder 3”, …, as they initially were going to do when Johnny Ho first introduced the additional layer of anonymity for (shill) bidders in 2008 …

    And what does the "smart money" on Wall Street think about eBay Inc? Well, in August 2007, when Bain’s Johnny Ho was already effectively in control of eBay, the share prices of both eBay and Amazon were ~$40; today, eBay is ~$52; Amazon is ~$401 ... Now, seriously, what more can be said, other than ...

    eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking ...


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