Ebay ology

Well I doubt there are many of us who havent had some experience of Ebay, whether it be to sell something, buy something or just to browse. It would probably be a good idea to give some history of it as a selling site, but Ill stab a guess and say that its probably around 14 years old. Started out as an auction site to sell our unwanted items and reap some monetary compensation.

So, this was the deal. You take a photograph of your item, write a description of it, load it onto your PC and Voila! in a few days, you would receive bids and sell it on. It was that easy. Well, there was a tad more to be done, even back in the day. There was the process of finding suitable packaging, wrapping it up safely, and transporting it to your chosen route of despatching. But that wasnt really too difficult, and was done with the excitement that you had actually sold something you didnt need and gained some financial reward from doing so. Oh, and then feedback. The act of exchanging remarks about the whole experience of the sale, a two way process involving yours and the buyers opinion on the sale and all that was involved. This was pretty much it. You would pay a small fee to ebay for the privilege of them having given your item exposure and, if you chose the Paypal method of payment, a small fee to them also for the payment process. This wasnt mandatory though, you could receive your payment by other methods such as cheque (remember them!?) bank transfer, even cash if you fancied risking getting it via the post. So, from a sellers point of view this was pretty much the process start to finish.

So, thats what you do. Well, thats what you did.

Ebays selling process is unrecognisable nowadays. I dont claim to know how, when and in what order the changes took place, but they surely did.

So, because the process was so easy back in the day, people stopped taking their better quality items to the charity shops etc, and held onto them with the thought of listing them on Ebay. So the whole question of donating items to a charitable cause sort of slowed right down, which was sure to have had an effect on the charities involved. Also, the other spectacular effect I feel Ebay has had on the market, is to drive down the price of collectible items. Sellers would list their item expecting it to fetch a good return, and the bidding would often be slow and low. They would end up selling their items for much less than their value and over time this phenomenen has spread. I have a little item which was valued at around £70 pre-Ebay (Millers antiques). Now it sells there for around £5. Ouch!! Im certain many people will have seen this for themselves.

And then we get to the actual changes that Ebay have made. Where to start, and how to say it without feeling traumatised eh? Nowadays, the process is much different. Listing the item is still quite easy (it would have to be, they need sellers), its what comes after that has changed 100 fold. Sellers have to be very very careful even listing though. If they list an item, and it happens, that they have ommited some details in the text, or put in an actual error (us human beings eh, what are we like!?) you can get someone jumping in on the listing, buying it, and then trying to force you to sell, even though you explain that there has been an error. Mobile phones are very typical. They sell in seconds!! Then you get weird emails asking you to send to a different address, and all sorts of weird and wonderful requests. There is a particular nationality of people who are very present on Ebay just waiting for this to happen, whom I wont even think about mentioning as we all know where that would lead. So, proceed with caution when listing. Dont even think about listing without reading through many times to check you havent left anything out or entered something wrong.

So, its listed. Then come the emails asking you to sell them for a Buy It Now price, especially if the starting price is low. They offer you something like 4 pence more than the bidding starting price??!! They dont seem to get that its an auction and that the starting price bears no reflection on the value of the item. If you refuse to sell at BIN, they will often bid on the item, and tread carefully here, because theyre annoyed that you didnt sell it at BIN to them, they will nitpick at every stage of the process. So, while its listed, it can be quite time-consuming answering emails, very often asking questions about the items, the answers of which are very clearly contained in the description. But, its what you have to do.

The item is sold. Great!! No, this is when the real trouble starts. Very often, buyers had no intention of paying and will not, no matter how many times you ask them. In order to save your sanity, you just have to list again, wait another 3,5,7 or 10 days and be patient. Okay, so they paid, look at all the lovely money youre going to get in exchange for all your hard work! Wait a minute, theres a massive chunk of it gone for the service of accepting Paypal! Whats happened? Paypal fees, thats what. Paypal and Ebay are one and the same and their policy, in many circumstances is, that you are obliged to offer Paypal as a method, in some cases, only Paypal can be offered??!!?? I already feel angry and didnt think this would happen until I got to the end of this blog! Time for a break to cool down, back soon.

OK, the steam has dissipated. So you send the item. The Royal Mail has jumped on the whole online selling boom and lowered their prices because theyre getting so much business. No, wait a minute that hasnt happend, they have actually increased their prices?? Yes up they have gone. And, if they lose your item, you have to practically take them to court to get a refund, it just doesnt happen. And even if they decide in your favour, you only get refunded the value of the item, and not the cost of the postage, which was the service you paid them for. There is a way around this, send it via tracked service. Wait a minute, your item only sold for £3, why would you want to pay £3 to post it? You wouldnt, just saying. Increasingly nowadays also, if you dont send it tracked, there is no proof that they had the item, and will tell you they havent received it, when theyre sat in their home looking at the safely delivered item, as they email you swearing it hasnt arrived. A lot of people get a lot of free stuff this way. Then they open a case saying item not received. Or sometimes they say it wasnt as described. But never fear, Ebay has got your back……………………..not! When this happens, they always believe the buyer. And in fact they will limit your account due to false claims that buyers have made.

But occasionally, a buyer wont outright scam you and will admit they have had the item, but will insist that there is something wrong with it. They tell Ebay and Ebay ask them for some kind of proof………………………not. They take your money back out of your Paypal account until the case is sorted. Lovely jubbly. So, at any given time, Ebay are holding thousand upon thousands of pounds, waiting for cases to be resolved. No wonder they dont rush and dont get onto the buyer to stop ignoring your emails. The interest they receive must be through the roof! A friend of mine sold a high-priced item to a buyer who insisted they hadnt received it, Ebay took the money back from my friend, without her permission, and the very same day, the buyer listed the item for sale at an even higher price and sold it. Even though she had obtained it for nothing, and my friend was in the loss of the item and the postage. Thank you Ebay

If your sale goes very smoothly, its feedback time. If you have been more than 10 mins late posting it, or you have charged 10 pence more than the postage charged, buckle up! They could have made you wait a few weeks for your payment (classic scenario, ‘I dont get paid til a week next Tues, Ill pay you then’??!!??) but if you dont break your neck posting it on time, youre for it. Also, postage costs again. Why would we want to post an item for the same price as it actually costs to send it? Packaging has to be bought and you will inevitably pay petrol, a taxi, or bus fare to the PO, why would YOU need to pay this? But, even though the postage is clearly displayed, buyers will often complain that they shouldnt have to pay like 5 pence more??? So this step, the feedback nightmare, involves huge amounts of treading on eggshells. For goodness sake, agree with anything and everything the buyer says or requests of you, cos they wont think twice about scrapping a perfect feedback score for the sake of 10 pence or 10 minutes. The objective is usually to get money knocked off their item, and they usually get it. But the good thing is, that if they leave you bad feedback, you can equal the score by doing the same………………….not! Buyers can leave negative feedback, but sellers arent given the option. Now where in anybody’s book is that a fair system? Sellers often have to lie about a transaction, because theyre unable to tell the truth????? This is probably one of the most unfair moves Ebay has made to date (that and the fees) in terms of providing a safe trading place. It is grossly unfair and one-sided, and allows the buyers to hold the sellers by the proverbials They get their own way time after time due to Ebay’s lack of willingness to provide a two-way feedback system. From a trading point of view, I have no idea how they are allowed to get away with this, but they most certainly do.

On the plus side, (theres a plus side? No not really) you have the money you sold the item for, well thats if Ebay havent took it from you when your buyer said the colour wasnt as described and was 0.0000000007 of a shade lighter than it looked on their monitor, which varies from PC to PC anyway. On that note, you rarely get your money back, it disappears into the stratosphere, and YOU go in the loss. Waaiiit a minute! whats this gigantic bill Ive had from Ebay? Their fees, ouch, ouch and ouch again. An astronomical 10% of the sale price. I cannot quite believe my eyes. All the hassle and time and effort I had put into this, and I have barely broken even. Wait a second, By the time I subtract the postage I paid, I did all this at a loss. Wow! Thats a big fat cup of reality. But wait a minute, Ebay have charged 10% of the postage that I paid out? Why would they feel justified in doing that? Thats is hardly anything to do with them, why should they profit from that? Because they can. And because theyre Ebay.

So, what is the difference at the moment in the Ebay selling world? Well the only thing you can actually profit from, is something that didnt cost you anything in the first place. BUT! theres even a risk with that. If you have been an honest seller for any amount of time with Ebay and gained good feedback which you actually deserved because you have good morals and excellent selling skills, be warned! Because the tiny amount of profit you could make from that sale, could still screw your feedback up good and proper. You could lose it in a heartbeat and Ebay will stand by and DO NOTHING. They can see your account, they can see how you have always provided a top quality service to your customers. They can also see just how much money they have earned from your very hard work, but NONE of that will count for anything, they will sell you up the river in a second. They will stand by and watch you burn.

So, to recap. Ebay, in my opinion are very very greedy. They have laid aside all their morals in the effort to get fat and its worked. The sellers who helped them get where they are mean nothing to them, they could not care less about them. Ebay is absolutely a buyers market. Where does this frustration come from I hear you ask? Obviously some very bad experiences. Some of which I have highlighted here.

The fuller story is that I have sold there for 10 years. I have managed to retain 100% feedback over that time. A few months ago, due Im guessing to the increase in dishonest buyers who know they can get away with it, I had a few nightmare buyers who lied about their experience. Ebay believed them, simple as that. I still have my 100% FB but, because buyers dont want to pay postage etc etc, these few, 2 or 3 I believe, over a few months, left less than a 5-star rating. Even though I communicated with them, I couldnt get them to get back to me. So there are unresolved cases, around 3 in total over 10 years. There is nothing I can do about that, I cant force them to respond, they probably arent even registered any more. Quite often, buyers will do this, register, buy a few items, they get them for free cos Ebay let them, they screw up your exemplary account, then close and re-register as someone else. Simple. And Ebay let them do it. If I had continued to try to get them to reply to me, I would probably have been accused of harrassing them, so there is absolutely nothing I can do. Ebay has limited my selling to 5 items per month, until I can be a very good girl, and do as Im told and improve my ‘below standard’ selling performance. Now, as it happens, I couldnt give the tiniest little jot what Ebay think of me as a seller, in fact I would be more concerned if they thought I was a good seller as that would probably really mean that Ive succumbed to their selling practices, which to me is nauseatingly unthinkable. But the bottom line is that this situation is practically irreversible The limit is to force me to concentrate on the few sales I can make in order to improve things?? I have made a few sales within the 5 that Im allowed, and after requesting that the buyers please (cap in hand) leave feedback, and please would you be so kind as to leave 5 stars in the ratings, Ebay’s policies, not mine ( how degrading), they have ignored my requests and, even though there would be completely nothing whatsoever wrong with the sale, they dont see it as important to carry out the necessary process and complete their half of the bargain. So when all is said and done, we are at the mercy of the buyers and Ebays bosses who have created these unsolvable situations.

They offered us a selling place but didnt mention the massive risks. Their latest advertisement promises buyers their money back if not fully satisfied, and my goodness they deliver on that, usually by shafting their sellers. I have put £17,000 worth of sales through Ebay and this is the treatment you get. I have made the decision not to sell there anymore. They wont care about that as they only want the big sellers, to the annoyance of us who put in a search and see page upon page of the same item. I have decided I will simply give my items to charity, and some of them will be donated but the rest I will list on an alternative site at a miniscule price, just to shift the business away from Ebay. Many people have had much much worse experiences than this I realise, but this is my story. They have put people out of business overnight when they felt it was a good move, and I feel for those people. But just the same, Ebay have forgotten those sellers who were there from the start and made them what they are today, at the expense of utter greed. What a shame

It seemed like a good idea at the start……………….

Oh well

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