Firm but polite way to responnd to a price quibblers on ebay.
September 14, 2020 11:01 AM   Subscribe

Here's something that's happened to me a couple of times. I'm selling an item for £60 and I receive a £45 offer. That's too low, but it's been up for a while with no interest, so I counter-offer £55 instead. I refuse their subsequent offers of £50 and £52. Then I get a message saying they'd like to pay the earlier £55 offer. This irritates me. What's a good way to politely but firmly say that that offer is no longer available? And am I a Scrooge for doing so?

I know that I can disable "or nearest offer" on ebay, but 1) If an item doesn't shift ebay re-enables offers automatically and 2) I don't mind a good-faith offer on a higher-priced item that's been up for a while. But I'm tired of buyers trying to shave off a couple of quid every time I sell something. Am I being a grouch?

My thinking in these situations is that I offered a decent price, below my listed one, that they've admitted they were willing to pay. But they chose to use their remaining offers to quibble over a few quid instead and I'm not that desperate for the sale.

"That offer's no longer available", seems a bit officious to my ears. But this seems a situation where more detail is going to be either rude, or giving the appearance of room for further negotiation.

Does anyone have a nice canned response for these situations? Or maybe no reply at all is the best option. Insights welcome.
posted by Lorc to Shopping (28 answers total)
You are being a grouch. Haggling is normal on eBay. This situation worked out for you. Accept the offer, ship the item, and let it go.
posted by Kitchen Witch at 11:05 AM on September 14 [68 favorites]

I've sold on eBay in the past but not for a couple of years. What I'd probably do is just ignore any offers after your initial offer of £55 was rejected, or keep offering £55 if that's the absolute lowest you're willing to go.
posted by jabes at 11:07 AM on September 14 [5 favorites]

Just delete any offers that come in through messages, which is opening the door to problems anyway.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:07 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]

I don't think you're a Scrooge (I HATE it when I sell something on Craigslist and someone quibbles -- I already price it as low as I think is reasonable -- ugh so petty!!!!) but I do think that if you offered 55, you might want to just let them pay 55. It's less trouble than trying to find another 55 buyer.

(You can frame it to yourself that their 50, 52 offers were just to feel out how low you'd go. 55 was your lowest, they found that out, they're paying it. Their bargaining psychology isn't your concern.)

If you really are so irritated that you'd rather forego the sale than let them have it for 55, then "the price is now 60" is a classic for a reason.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:08 AM on September 14 [8 favorites]

Either you made a good-faith offer at 55 or you didn't. There's not really any way to take it back that isn't petty. You could absolutely just stop responding at that point, but I don't think you can negotiate them higher with positive results.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:09 AM on September 14 [26 favorites]

I don't know the details of eBay, but the two options that might help
1. set a time limit on your offer - must respond within x days or hours or offer expired
2. state that this is your final offer. they may come back on make one more lower offer but it you repeat that it was your final offer it should speed up the process of them agreeing to accept it
posted by metahawk at 11:18 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]

As a seller I hate quibbling and haggling, because those few dollars mean something to me and it doesn't always seem like they mean much to the people buying.

As a buyer I always try to haggle, because those few dollars mean something to me.

I don't know what your financial situation is or what you're selling, but if the amounts are not especially meaningful to you then I think you might as well assume they are meaningful to the buyer. At least part of the time you'll be right.
posted by trig at 11:18 AM on September 14 [7 favorites]

My thinking in these situations is that I offered a decent price, below my listed one, that they've admitted they were willing to pay. But they chose to use their remaining offers to quibble over a few quid instead and I'm not that desperate for the sale.

So, this is COMPLETELY a cultural thing. It's not, like, scientifically and objectively rude to haggle. In fact in some places it's so expected that failing to do it 1. is weird and 2. will always get you tremendously ripped off.

If you want to exchange this item for £55, then accept the offer. If you don't, then don't. But don't project a bunch of stuff onto the asker that you really cannot know if they were actually intending.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:23 AM on September 14 [37 favorites]

Also, unless I'm misunderstanding (I'm not familiar with eBay etiquette specifically), isn't it a standard expected thing in bargaining that if your offer is rejected you can give in and submit to the other party's last offer? Is that not what's happening in the scenario you describe? It seems to me that people are operating according to generally understood norms and expectations, and you might not like it but it's kind of out of place to punish them for it.

"What about 50?"
"Okay fine, 55."

Maybe it's more annoying when the process is drawn out online instead of occurring over seconds in person, but that looks like a pretty standard exchange to me.
posted by trig at 11:27 AM on September 14 [45 favorites]

In the case you described, take the £55. But in the future, if you want to limit the haggling - and I think it's reasonable, as this is a matter of both money and time - say up front what your conditions are: "I will accept £55, but I cannot not go any lower and will not respond to/will reject any lower offers."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:29 AM on September 14 [13 favorites]

You counter offered 55. They countered 50, and then 52. After you rejected both, they agreed to the 55 you offered. I'm failing to see any reason for you to be angry. Do you expect them to now offer the original list price? Take the 55 you proposed and make the sale.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:40 AM on September 14 [30 favorites]

Refusing the ofter of 55 is effectively pointless, other than for pique (not nothing! but own it!), unless you think it's someone you'll deal with in the future. In that case, it would be a signal to *that person*, or a small enough effective community where reputation as a seller matters, that they shouldn't try to shave a little more money off of you in future transactions.

Take it but agreed that your counteroffer should come with a "final price" disclaimer in the future when that's the case.
posted by supercres at 11:43 AM on September 14

I'm not familiar with selling on eBay but can you put £60 firm" originally, indicating you are not willing to haggle, or "£55 Firm" indicating that that is as low as you're willing to go?
posted by BoscosMom at 11:45 AM on September 14

The firm but polite way to do this is just mention that 55 is your lowest price, and you needn’t respond to any lower counter offers. It’s an online marketplace, you don’t have to give individual responses to repetitive offers. You also don’t have to make it personal, or really do anything. Some people really wanna save a couple bucks, it’s kind of the whole point of eBay.
posted by skewed at 11:54 AM on September 14 [7 favorites]

I'm selling an item for £60 and I receive a £45 offer. That's too low, but it's been up for a while with no interest, so I counter-offer £55 instead. I refuse their subsequent offers of £50 and £52. Then I get a message saying they'd like to pay the earlier £55 offer.

This . . . is what haggling is. People make progressively lower/higher counteroffers until they meet in somewhere in the middle.

My thinking in these situations is that I offered a decent price, below my listed one, that they've admitted they were willing to pay.

Right, see, but you didn't know that that's the price they were willing to pay until you refused their lower counteroffers. And they didn't know that was your lowest acceptable price until you refused their offers - until then as far as they knew 55 was just Round 2 of haggling.

So, yeah, getting grumpy about it does seem a bit like getting grumpy about not knowing information before you could have possibly gotten that information.

Nthing that clearly stating that 55 is your lowest acceptable price in your first communication with them is the way to go, and perfectly acceptable eBay etiquette.
posted by soundguy99 at 12:01 PM on September 14 [11 favorites]

I've also been forced into the same best-offer game because of eBay's automatic enabling of the feature. Personally, I never counter offer. The waiting and these kind of nickel and dime back and forths are a kind of low-level anxiety I don't need. I just decline, with no comment, any offer lower than I'm willing to accept. Sometimes the same person will come back with another fresh offer, other times it sells to someone else in the end. It hasn't prevented me from selling at my predetermined lowest price.
posted by Lorin at 12:08 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]

So you listed an item for £60, you turned on the "or best offer" feature on eBay to allow prospective customers to haggle, a bit of haggling happened and the customer eventually gave in and agreed to a price that you suggested, and now you want to retract that price because you're upset the customer tried to haggle slightly more than you were hoping for? This seems unduly spiteful to me.

I don't like haggling either, but that's why I turn off the "or best offer" feature on my listings. "Quibbling over a few quid" is pretty much what the feature is for.

Psychologically, I think eBay buyers who bid this way enjoy feeling like they're getting a good deal—like they were able to use their negotiating skills to "win" a deal. They're not trying to annoy or needle you. If you don't like this format of selling (I don't), just turn it off, and use either the fixed-price format or the auction format.

Note that eBay allows a bidder to make up to 5 offers on an item. This maximum may be useful as a point of reference for how many offers is reasonable.

I would sell the item for £55 and be friendly/conciliatory about it so that the buyer leaves with a positive feeling about the transaction and is more likely to leave positive feedback. If you really don't want to do that, I think you can just ghost and not respond; there's no polite way to say that you're withdrawing your previous offer out of spite.
posted by Syllepsis at 12:27 PM on September 14 [11 favorites]

If I get an offer on eBay, and want to counter offer, I’ll counter with the best offer I can, and then send a note with the offer explaining that it’s the lowest I can go, and that I hope they find the price fair. I do it because it genuinely is the best price I can give for the item, and I too do not like quibbling offers online. You could try that, or price up your item so that you have somewhere to go in bargaining. My best advice is if the offer/ haggling dance annoys you, give one good faith offer, and ignore subsequent offers.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 12:38 PM on September 14

+1 just refuse/don't reply and maybe they'll make a better offer. I avoid dealing with messages on Ebay as much as possible because I feel the same way as you do. My time has value, I'm deciding not to spend it on low-stakes Ebay haggling. My items still all sell for reasonable prices.
posted by momus_window at 1:07 PM on September 14

I think that not honoring that offer would be a faux pas. I was on the other side of a haggle in India once and did this to a merchant selling camelskin wallets; we were haggling back and forth something like this:

"Would you take 100 rupees for that?"
"No, no less than 500."
"What about 200?"

And I didn't honor the offer.

In my mind, I was trying to figure out what the real price was before I made a decision to buy the thing. But it was a real faux pas on my part, because I made an offer to the merchant and didn't honor it. I wasted his time.

If the shoe were on the other foot in your situation, it would be like if he offered $54, you agreed to it, and then he refused to buy the item.
posted by billjings at 1:13 PM on September 14 [11 favorites]

I don't sell on ebay, but I occasionally sell on Craigslist. My listings always include the phrase "price is firm" and I simply ignore offers below my price.
posted by adamrice at 1:51 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]

I think it is in your own best interest to just shrug and sell it for $55. A lot of people think that negotiations mean trying to meet in the middle. So like, if you said $55 in response to their valuation of $45, you are actually willing to do $50 or $52 (52 being the ~middle of 45 and 60). Obviously, this is not what you intended or wanted. I would try not to be personal about it, and just have your own mental price that you refuse to go below. But if you are willing to sell it for $55, give it to the first person willing to pay that regardless of if they tried to offer less first.

If it makes you feel better, you can say something passive aggressive like, "Glad you realized its value! Hope you enjoy it!" or something snarky like that. :)
posted by amaire at 2:09 PM on September 14

If this is happening a lot to you on eBay, you might consider pricing your item a little higher than your target price, and under "Accept Offers" you can change the value from the default 50% of your price to whatever you want it to be. It will at least stop the lowball offers and let the hagglers haggle a bit. Otherwise you'd probably be happier turning the Best Offer function off entirely.
posted by sencha at 2:19 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]

It would be alright to be exhausted by the process (and our current times) and say that the £55 price is no longer available. You can stop haggling at any time, you don't need to keep engaging with offers -- but be honest with yourself if you're not serious about making a sale.
posted by k3ninho at 3:03 PM on September 14

"I can drop the price to £55, firm." Yes, you are being a bit of a grouch. Sorry.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:10 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]

I know that eBay has evolved considerably, but its roots are as an online auction site where bidders seek to pay the lowest possible cost for an item while sellers seek to get the highest possible cost for something, and often neither side knew what the other's bottom line was. Haggling doesn't seem unreasonable to me. (Also seconding that this is cultural).
posted by Preserver at 6:27 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]

People haggling are wasting your time and disrespecting you if you come from a culture where strangers are not entitled to your time. I can understand you preferring not to sell things if the transaction requires you to have far more social interaction that you can support. It's just not worth it to you to be selling things if you have to have the frustrating interactions. You have to keep going back and going back to see what they are doing and you are just not interested. And if you are selling things on e-Bay because you want a particular sort of transaction dealing with hagglers can be like dealing with a whiny employee who complains about every assignment you give them, or a lover who keeps pushing for oral.

Try not responding to any counter offers with anything unless you accept their very first offer. If you don't make any counter offers you don't have to jockey for position. So you look at the first counter offer and either take it, or ignore it. After that is is just spam.

Yes, you can get deals though haggling. But if haggling leaves you annoyed or anxious or uncomfortable it's not a game you have to play. If you're not desperate enough for the money you don't have to deal with hagglers.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:05 AM on September 15

But if haggling leaves you annoyed or anxious or uncomfortable it's not a game you have to play.

And if this is true, then OP needs to turn off the "best offer" feature altogether.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:20 AM on September 15 [6 favorites]

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