Trust – on eBay

Well, there can be very very little trust when you are buying and selling on eBay and, dear reader, you may have thought of it – and were afraid of getting your fingers burned.

Well. One the whole, you may be perfectly right. But if you don’t procrastinate, and are street-wise, eBay can be a good vehicle for buying and selling.

I use it to buy “men’s toys” – you know, the latest MP3 gizmo, a new flashgun,
battery for my cellphone – whatever.
I use it to sell all the stuff I do not need. There is a lot of stuff that it junk to me, but could well be useful to someone else.

For example, I had an old camera manual which I was about to throw away – and put it on e-bay at 99p. It sold for over a fiver. And the bidder always pays extra for the postage.

The first of two real secrets of buying and selling on eBay is

The “feedback” system.
It is simple to use but if you have an inability to be able to read between the lines, it can be less helpful than it seems.

When I sell something, or buy something, when the transaction has been completed – satisfactorily or not – we both leave feedback for the other.

If I am buying, he will say whether I was a quick payer or not. I will say about him whether he delivered quickly and whether the goods were as described. And vice versa.

When one sees a name on eBay of a buyer or seller, one sees their feedback score, as a number, in brackets. i.e. Ampers (15).

One has to leave the feedback whilst ticking one or three radio buttons. “positive”, “neutral” or “negative”

Before carrying on any transactions one reads the feedback, looking in particular for negative or neutral feedback.

If the person has traded with hundreds or thousands of people, you will expect up to 1% in negative and neutral feedback combined. I mean, there are always those who are unhappy about something in this life.

Check what the negative people say. Often it is because the other person is a slow or bad communicator. But they have sent the money or goods and if goods, they have been as described.

If you have problems with the order, you know that it will be resolved, eventually, but you might have to send a few e-mails first because the seller is so busy – how do you think he got such a high score.

I read between the lines and allow myself to have a gut feeling one way or another – I have learned in the past to trust my instincts.

The second of two real secrets of buying and selling on eBay is

PayPal started out as a separate company allowing ordinary people to accept payment from other ordinary people by credit card without having to apply for merchant status.

Merchant status is cheaper per transaction but can take up to a year of trading before you can get it as, besides continuity, they want to check that you are a good trader and you are selling a huge amount of goods or services.

PayPal, however, doesn’t care. They do need to check you out though and the way they do it is to ask for your home address and telephone number. They will then phone you when you say it is convenient. It is an automatic voice that gives you a four digit number to feed into PayPal’s website.

They may also post you a letter by snail mail with a six digit number that you have to feed in to another PayPal web page.

In addition to this, you have to lodge your bank account details with them and make out a variable direct debit. Remember this is part of the world’s fastest growing company in the history of the world and they will not want to jeopardise their success with naughty or inefficient goings on. They will then make two payments into your account, totalling under a pound each and you then have to enter both those amounts into a third webpage on their site.
Congratulations. You are now a premier account holder with Paypal – who are now a wholly owned subsidiary of the fastest growing company in the history of the world; eBay!

Now you can pay for your items you have won by a press of a button. And, what is more important, other Paypal account holders can do the same. Non PayPal account holders can still pay you, but they have to go to the PayPal website and do it there.

A lot of “gear” is from China or Hong Kong. Two things to watch out for here. First you will almost certainly have to pay import tax and VAT to the courier or postman before you can get your parcel.

The second thing is, watch the post and carriage price. The far East, and America, put a high price on the carriage – far above the real cost. Sometimes 300% or 400%. Don’t worry about this, just take the carriage and bid price together and never go over the worth – to you – of the item’s total combined price. The reason for this is they can put the true bid price as the value of the goods, and you pay less import tax and VAT when you receive the item.

Also, they pay less to eBay in fees which are based on the bid price.

I have bought camera batteries from Hong Kong, a cellphone battery from Singapore and a Lowepro camera case from China. All three transactions have been perfectly fine.

If you have an attic full of “stuff” that you would like to clear out, by all means, dump a lot in the dustbin.

Stuff too heavy to post easily may be tempting to through away. But if you mark your bid, collection only – you may get bids for some of the larger stuff! But remember, only from those within easy driving distance of your home.

You will need a digital camera, and a computer.

The computer goes without saying – and of course you have to be on the Internet!

But the camera? This is used to photograph what you are selling. Don’t use photographs of items you have seen on the net. Bidders want to see the photograph of your item. Not one that is brand new. Crop the item tight as possible. For example, if your beautiful daughter is modelling your haversack – buyers really are only interested in the haversack, crop it and send that up. You can always send the full photograph to me! I always try to send a minimum of three photographs of what I am selling. Bidders seem to bid more if I do.

So, the things to remember here are.

  1. Learn to read feedback “between the lines”
    (Don’t worry by up to 1% negative feedback unduly.)
  2. Open a PayPal account. Treat it as another bank account.
    (Fiddley to open but worth its weight in gold.)
  3. Confirm your address and your credit card with PayPal.
    (Even more fiddley but you’ll get paid quicker.)
  4. When buying, pay as soon as possible after the auction end.
    (You will get yet another positive feedback under your belt.)
  5. When selling, post goods within 24 hours of receiving payment.
    (Auctions ending on Saturdays excepted.)
  6. Don’t have an auction ending if you are going to be away.
    (Unless you are buying and have access to the Internet.)


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