$200 item as first eBay sale a bad idea?
May 2, 2006 9:31 PM   Subscribe

Is it a bad idea to make a $200+ item my first sale on eBay?

I have two, new Lego MindStorms products, in their original boxes and unopened. First is an original Lego MindStorms Robotics Invention System, the second is the Vision Command Camera.

A little while ago I decided to sell them on eBay, (the main kit seems to be going for around $200) so I set up an account and so on, then I was thinking. I wouldn't bid what these things are going to cost from a seller like me with no feedback. So I tried selling something else first to try and get a little feedback but it didn't sell.

Here's what I'm wondering. Will I get more for it if I:

a) Just put the thing up anyway with no positive (or negative) feedback on my account, thereby possibly scaring away buyers

b) Use one of those places that takes a fee to sell things on eBay for you (note that I am totally up to the task of selling it myself, I just don't know if these people's good rating will boost my sale price more than their fee)

If your answer is A) then is there any way for me to reassure buyers about the whole thing? Would a little blurb on the item page saying "Howdy, I'm new. Don't worry about me having no customer ratings, you can trust me." Gimmie some advice here.
posted by shanevsevil to Computers & Internet (18 answers total)
I really think that if I was making a purchase of that value on Ebay, I would look for a good history of sales.

Saying `Trust me' is probably a bad thing to do, people are wary enough of internet scams, even though purchasing through Ebay is fairly well protected.

If you can stand to spend some time selling things, maybe any unwanted CDs you have, or anything else, and being careful to ensure quick delivery and lots of communication, you should do well.

When I started my ebay account I sold some music Cds, a couple of PC games, and some guitar equipment I was never going to use again. I also bought a few things I was after, and made sure to pay quickly and leave feedback. I'm never going to be a major force on Ebay but I've got a good list of positive reviews.

The last thing you want to do is have a really poor auction and get a terrible price for it because people don't want to bid too much.
posted by tomble at 9:52 PM on May 2, 2006

Have any friends with good feedback on ebay? Maybe they could put it up for you.
posted by null terminated at 10:05 PM on May 2, 2006

Response by poster: Tomble: Well, having just moved/had a garage sale, I really don't have much that is eBay worthy. Would purchases alone be good enough? I have 5 positive feedbacks as a buyer.

Null: 'Fraid not
posted by shanevsevil at 10:12 PM on May 2, 2006

Having 5 positive feedback as a buyer will assuage most people's fears. I wouldn't worry about it. I just sold a laptop for [insert large number here; larger than $200]. I had 6 positive feedback from sellers, and I had never sold anything myself. I got what I was hoping to get for it.
posted by evariste at 10:17 PM on May 2, 2006

Best answer: (a).

...is there any way for me to reassure buyers about the whole thing?

Yeah. Post a photograph — but more importantly, take a few minutes to write an original, substantial Item Description. Make your auction look like you actually spent a few minutes putting it together. People are less inclined to feel suspicious if they think you've invested some effort. (Most scammers either leave the description nearly blank or steal someone's fancy HTML.)

You don't have to blatantly explain, "I'm new. Trust me." In fact, don't. Just make it look like you're on the level. Remember that people aren't looking to be suspicious, or they wouldn't have found your item in the first place: They're looking to buy some Legos.

If you want further advice: self-link. Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 10:44 PM on May 2, 2006

I'm not a big ebayer but I wouldn't buy something from someone with no feedback.

I would imagine the money lost from people not wanting to buy from a newb would be less then the fee charged by an ebay consignment place.
posted by delmoi at 10:47 PM on May 2, 2006

Response by poster: I've just worked it out and I think the amount I'd be charged by the drop off place would be about 60 dollars. We're talking 25 percent. Sure I'd loose that much?
posted by shanevsevil at 11:15 PM on May 2, 2006

I just recently sold an item on ebay that was 200+. It was my first time, and a collectible.

I had several bids. People will e-mail you, just make sure you give prompt replies.

Good luck!
posted by ryecatcher at 11:28 PM on May 2, 2006

cribcage, that article you wrote up is awesome. Any potential ebay sellers would do well to read it.
posted by knave at 11:49 PM on May 2, 2006

I an eBay newbie, started with 0 feedback. Put up a few items for sale, but all of them, sadly, had 0 bids. It could be attributed to various factors - item demand and 0 feedback score probably amongst them.

The most common advise that I'd gotten from the eBayers, is to buy some stuff first and improve my feedback score. At the very least, having a good feedback score will help to eliminate one barrier to making a sale on eBay.
posted by arrowhead at 3:12 AM on May 3, 2006

1. Good description with photos
2. Get a PayPal account (Don't believe all the horror stories)
3. Give prompt replies to questions. In fact have a friend use the ebay system to ask a question and include it and your reply in the auction.
4. Promise A but give A+ service.
posted by Gungho at 4:04 AM on May 3, 2006

Hmmn, Cribcages advice is not all good. He advises against taking checks because they could be bad, then says it is better to take cashier's checks or money orders... Unfortunately there is as good a chance that they will be bad too. A personal check should clear your bank in 3 days. If you offer to accept them with a 7 to 10 day waiting period you should be OK.

He also advises against setting a reserve. True in some cases, but If you have a hot item and you've invested some money in it I think a reasonable reserve is OK. His advice about bargain bidding against a reserve is true, except in the case of a hot item.

How to tell if you should set a reserve vs. setting a higher starting bid? One clue is to look at similar items, and if there are dozens for sale at the same time, well you could wait a week...
posted by Gungho at 4:13 AM on May 3, 2006

buy five or so things all under $5. Aak (and give) feedback. You could do all of this today. Some feedback is important. You still could rip people off...but at least we see you bought stuff/got feedback.
posted by filmgeek at 4:58 AM on May 3, 2006

My first (and only) ebay sale was the TiVo I won. Others with better ratings who were selling the same item at the same time got considerably more than I did, maybe $100 more. So it might be worth the premium you'd pay a middle man.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:44 AM on May 3, 2006

Oh, I should add, I hadn't bought anything at the time, either, so I had no rating, either as a buyer or a seller. I do imagine that scared off some folks.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:45 AM on May 3, 2006

Neither a) nor b). Selling an item at a 3-digit price without feedback (even with ample photos and a competent, detailed description) will still turn away bidders who are wary of being burned. Turning your item over to an Ebay service will ensure that you lose a good deal of the profit margin.

Filmgeek has the best suggestion -- purchase several relatively cheap items and rack up some quick feedback on those. Most Ebayers begin as buyers in order to gain the trust of the community through feedback before trying to sell something. Would definitely suggest you try this in order to unload an item of such relatively high value.

You can purchase some pretty cheap items that can be electronically "delivered" (like ebooks and such) so that you can accumulate feedback without needing to wait for items to be shipped to you. Here is a list of 2 or 3 penny ebook auctions from a trusted seller that can serve your purpose.
posted by superfem at 8:29 AM on May 3, 2006

He advises against taking checks because they could be bad, then says it is better to take cashier's checks or money orders... Unfortunately there is as good a chance that they will be bad too.

That simply isn't true. Money orders and cashier's checks are paid in full, in advance. They don't bounce.

If you have a hot item and you've invested some money in it I think a reasonable reserve is OK.

Well, I explained why I think reserves are unwise. I don't know why having a "hot item" would make any difference, why it would then make sense to spend money purchasing a reserve instead of just setting your starting price accordingly.
posted by cribcage at 9:59 AM on May 3, 2006

That simply isn't true. Money orders and cashier's checks are paid in full, in advance. They don't bounce.

But you still have to trust the bank or company issuing the money order. You sometimes hear reports of money orders from company X not being honored and people being hassled by their banks. Some people (in the US) will only take money orders from the US Postal Service because they've been burned.

Still, I agree that the risk is way smaller than personal checks, but it's not necessarily risk-free.
posted by sevenless at 11:38 AM on May 3, 2006

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