- October 30, 2021
Mistakes to Avoid when Selling on eBay
As with any business, mistakes can cost you more than money. Make enough of them and they can cost you your business. When selling on eBay, consider the following pitfalls and take steps to avoid them.
List your items as accurately, and as honestly, as possible. Nothing turns a potentially successful sale into negative feedback as quickly as a misleading or inaccurate listing. Are you afraid to mention the wrinkle on your widget because it could dampen interest and net you a smaller final bid? Well, unless you want a slew of angry e-mails and the hassle of refunding the buyer, describe the wrinkle and any warts as well.
Since then eBay has become a huge monster of a brand, so massively bulbous that it is virtually impossible to police effectively. It is now probably the largest marketplace in the world in terms of items bought and sought, and with all those goods and all that electronic money floating back and forth, there are no prizes for guessing that there are plenty of people who will try to defraud you in any way they can. Most people assume that the majority of fraudsters are sellers, essentially acquiring money for items that are then never sent. What is less known, however, is that there are also a significant number of buyers who are trying to defraud the sellers. Having clocked up several thousand transactions, mostly dealing in vinyl records, I’d like to think that I’ve fallen victim to many of the major buyer scams going at some stage. It is often difficult to protect yourself against these scams when you’re not aware of them, so using resources like this to take heed from experienced Ebayers is a very wise thing to do. In my opinion, there are three major scams that sellers need to be aware of:
1. The Cheque Scam
There is no doubt that if you sell large quantities of items on eBay then keeping abreast of which cheques have cleared and which haven’t is a right royal pain in the arse. The temptation for sellers is always to just leave positive feedback straight away, ship the item and then deposit the cheque. This is a mistake. You see, in the United Kingdom it takes up to five days for a cheque to clear, but First Class mail will get an item to the buyer within two days. Many fraudsters deliberately buy items and pay by cheque in the hope that that you’ll leave feedback before the cheque is cashed. They then just go ahead and cancel the cheque or ensure that it bounces like a big rubber ball. They then take receipt of an item without having paid for it. Sure, you can complain to eBay, but it’s a lot of hassle you could very well do without, and rarely will you get your payment from the buyer.
Just don’t accept cheques for payment. It will result in all sorts of complications, problems, and bank charges you can well do without.
2. The Damaged Goods Scam
There are several ways in which they do this but one of the most popular ways is by buying items from sellers that don’t have a returns policy, and then stating that the item arrived damaged. The seller then receives an email written in an angry or intimidating tone, stating that unless something is done about it immediately they will leave negative feedback. This induces brain swelling in most sellers, who promptly fall over themselves to give discounts or refunds in order to preserve that 99.9% feedback rating, without even asking for proof that the item was actually damaged in the first place. Make sure you have a clear and concise returns policy included on your listing. Don’t be bullied by irate buyers and don’t be tempted to just refund payment without checking proof that the item is damaged. Finally, keep proof of posting certificates so you can claim for the damaged item from the post office or courier service.
3. The Lost Item Scam
This is where buyers ask for a refund on grounds that the item they purchased never arrived, even though it has. It is slightly different from the Damaged Goods Scam because at least with that scam you can ask for an item to be returned to check it is a genuine case. Unless you send every single item by registered mail or recorded courier service, which is expensive and deters buyers, you can’t actually track where an item is or prove that it was delivered. The problem with using any postal or courier service is that no matter how many balls up they make of it, the buyer will always hold you as the seller responsible. It’s an occupational hazard for eBay sellers that items will vanish into a black hole every now and then, but differentiating the genuine cases from those that are potential fraud can be difficult.
Beware bulk buyers from countries that require customs certificates as the customs in their country may well impound parcels to see if they incur import taxes. If this happens the buyer will say the item never arrived even though they know where the items are and know they will eventually be delivered. They will ask you to refund their money and you’ll never see the goods again. Also, don’t be so quick to leave feedback after a buyer has paid for an item. Fraudsters are much more liable to scam you if they know you have already left feedback, and have wasted the only opportunity you have to leave public comments about them. Always keep an eye on the feedback ratings of buyers too and don’t be afraid to insure expensive items, it doesn’t cost that much and is well worth a while.
The main thing to remember when selling on eBay is this: Every buyer wants to feel they got a great deal and that they were respected. Don’t make the mistake of not making them feel they were respected and appreciated. The biggest mistakes sellers make are the mistake of simply not taking time to care for their buyers or their item once it is listed. The item may be beautiful enough to attract its own buyers but its owner must be sensible enough to coach them into its sale. That is all there is to eBay. Simply be sensible, helpful, nice, courteous, and overall honest.