BOOT CAMP 298 (28/10/03)
Online Auctions part 3 – Selling
Buying on ebay (www.ebay.co.uk)
candevelop into an expensive habit but you can fund your additiction
and make room for all of your new acquisitions by sellign off your
are relatively few things you can't sell, it's mostly commonsense and
firearms, drugs and counterfeit goods are obviously banned, so if you
are thinking of selling anything controversial go to the Selling pages
and check for a list of prohibited and restricted items.
When you click on the
Sell button you are presented with a sequence of web pages that break the
process down into stages where you select a category, write a short description,
decide a starting price, upload a photograph, enter postage costs and choose
between an international or UK based auction.
The first two stages are
the most important. If you are uncertain which category and sub-category best
describes your item search for similar auctions, note the category and how
successful they’ve been with bids and visitor numbers. If in doubt choose a
second category, though this will increase your listing fee. You can write your
description online but you will make a better job of it if you prepare it in
advance, on your word processor. You can then cut and paste the text into the
space provided. This also means you’ll have a permanent record, which might
prove useful as a template if you have something similar to sell.
Your auction title is
crucial, as this will direct potential buyers to your auction via ebay’s Search
engine. You only have 45 characters to play with so make sure you include the
key elements of the name, make, brand or a significant term that buyers will be
searching for. If space allows, include an eye-catching adjective or two, like
‘new’, ‘rare’ or ‘mint’.
Be absolutely honest
with the description. If it has any faults, flaws or problems you should mention
them otherwise the buyer might ask for a refund or leave you negative feedback.
Surprisingly broken or faulty goods actually sell quite well (see Tip of the
Week)! Equally, praise where it is due and don’t be afraid to talk up your
item’s merits and provenance but don’t go over the top.
Setting a starting price
can be difficult, refer to similar items for guidance but in general the lower
your opening price the more interest it will generate and the better the chance
of achieving a fair result. If you are worried by all means put on a reserve
(this costs extra) but this may put bidders off if it is too high.
A photograph is one of
the most effective selling tools. Digital cameras make the process quick and
simple; you can use a film camera and scan the print but this all takes time and
adds to the expense. The first photograph is free and each additional one costs
20 pence so it’s worth including two or three, to highlight special features or
a point of interest.
Weigh your item in its
packaging so you can include the price of postage in your auction listing. If
you don’t potential bidders may be put off, fearing that you will use it to
increase your profit. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of packaging materials;
a modest amount for your time and trouble is justified but don’t go mad.
You can calculate
shipping costs using The Royal Mail’s web site (www.royalmail.com), which has tariffs for
UK and overseas postage. Heavier items can be sent by courier, it may be cheaper
than you think. You can send packages weighing up to 25kg anywhere in the UK,
for next day delivery, for as little as £10.50 using an online service like
Parcel2go (www.parcel2go.co.uk). For very large or
heavy items stipulate that the buyer collects or arranges collection and
shipping. It’s worth ticking the ‘buyer ships worldwide’ box as this will put
your auction on ebay’s international sites and make it available to millions of
Auctions normally last 7
days’ you can make them shorter or longer, but either way timing is critical.
You’re likely to get a better price if the auction ends on a midweek evening or
weekend afternoon, when more potential bidders will be online. Make sure there
are no rival attractions at the time your auction ends, like a bank holiday, a
big football match or the climax of a soap-opera storyline.
Offering to take payment
by PayPal can be a worthwhile option; buyers can use their credit cards or bank
accounts to purchase the item and there’s no cost to them. The money is
transferred instantly to your PayPal account, from where it can be moved to your
bank, or used to make on-line purchases. The downside is PayPal charges you, the
seller around 3 percent of the final bid price to handle the transaction. If you
want to pass on the cost to the buyer it should be clearly stipulated in the
description but some sellers make a virtue of absorbing the
As soon as the auction
ends ebay will contact you and the buyer so you can exchange details. Despatch
the item as soon as payment has been received (allow up to 4 working days for
cheques to clear), and don’t forget to leave positive feedback if everything
Next week – RSS – a
better way to surf?
Ebay auctions are listed
in 22 main categories and scores of sub-categories, from Art and Antique to
The fee charged by ebay
for selling goods, based on the starting price; additional categories,
photographs and a reserve price costs extra
Comment left by a buyer
or seller after an auction has finished indicating one or the other party’s
displeasure with the outcome, as a warning to others
TIP OF THE
Don’t worry if the item
you are selling is broken or faulty, ebay is a great way to get clear your attic
or garage of old hi-fis, TVs, computers, cameras and camcorders, and maybe earn
yourself a few pounds in the process. Almost everything has a value to
someone! You can increase its exposure
to potential bidders by putting ‘Faulty’ into the title line and you should
clearly state in your description that the item is for ‘spares or repairs’ only,
‘sold as seen’ and with ‘no guarantees’. Describe the fault as accurately as
possible, and don’t forget to mention the external