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eBay Guide


Introduction

Mar 21, 2010

During the repair/upgrade of my old laptop I ended up with an extra LCD panel. There was no way I was every going to use the panel for anything so I decided to try to sell it.

I had never sold anything on eBay before so I thought I would try it out. I figured as long as I could cover shipping and get a few bucks it was a net gain. Also I figured I would try to sell some other random junk I had laying around as long as I was at it.













Items I Sold

Besides the LCD panel I thought as long as I was at it I might as well go through my DVD collection and pluck out a few movies that I never watch. In total I had the following I was going to sell:
  • The LCD panel with the data cable, inverter, and Dell cover/bezel.
  • A lot of 10 DVDs
  • A lot of 5 DVDs.
  • The 2 disc DVD collector set for an animated film










PayPal Account

If you are going to start selling on eBay your going to need a PayPal account. PayPal acts as an intermediary and allows anybody to send money to you. Its also a convenient way to pay the fees associated with selling items on eBay. The basic account you will start off with from PayPal is the personal account. Depending on how much money people send to you and how they send the money you will need to upgrade your account to a premier account.

The main difference between the accounts is the personal account has lower fees, something like $0.30 per transaction. The premier account is $0.30 per transaction plus a few percent of the total amount. The point at which PayPal forces you to upgrade from personal to premier is $750 sent to you or if more than two people use a credit card to pay you (this is the condition you will probably run into first).

The general idea is the personal account is the low fee "teaser" account that gets you to start using their service then after you are using the service regularly they up the fees.

eBay Listing Process

The listing process was pretty straight forward provided you already have an eBay account. Just click on the "sell items" button and there are few web pages you click through to enter in the details of the items, set a price, and set the shipping and payment details of the items.

If you have never bought anything off of eBay it might be a good idea to buy a few items before you start selling. If you are selling with a zero feedback score odds are people might skip your listing. I had a feedback score of 5 and had no problems selling my items (at least so far).

For the listings I filled in the USPS Priority Mail option with the equivalent of $5 shipping. It seems like lots of people use priority email so I thought I would follow the crowd. It turns $5 worth of Priority Mail was a little light on the shipping cost. What I thought was the small flat rate box was really the medium rate flat rate box. The difference between the two was another $5. The small flat rate box really isn't even big enough to ship a DVD. There is a flat rate envelop for Priority Mail that cost $5 which would be big enough to ship one DVDs

Also the listing fees were $0.00 for a basic auction but eBay has a fee for any extras you want on your listing. For example you get one picture free but any extra pictures cost $0.15 each. If you set a start bid above $.99  or a "buy it now" price you have to pay a fee. Also bold listing text or listing sub text cost around $0.50. I opted for just the basic listing for all my auctions except I had an extra picture and a min price for the LCD panel.


Bidding...

I set my auction to last seven days, which was the default time.  However nobody even bid on the items until the last three days. I think I would still probably use the seven day listing next time. I listed the items on Saturday which means with the seven day listing all the sales completed on the next Saturday. That gave me the weekend to box everything up so I could ship the items on Monday.

Final Sale Prices

The final prices of the items came in as follows:

 ItemTotal Bids
Final Price
 Listed Shipping
 LCD Panel
 8
 $20.50 $4.95
 10 DVD Lot
 9
 $20.00
 $4.90
 5 DVD Lot
 5
 $10.50 $4.90
 2 Disc Collector Set
 7 $28.00 $4.90
  
 
 Total  $79.00
 $19.65

So the grand total income from sales and shipping fees was $98.65. I was really surprised the collector set went for so much.

For three of the four auctions the PayPal payment showed up almost immediately. On the five DVD lot the person did not pay until I sent a reminder invoice three days later. There is a semi-automated process to flag a buyer as non-paying so you can re list an item. So far I have not had to use this feature.

Shipping


Shipping is where I screwed up. Like I mentioned above I was basically $5 short on each package for shipping cost so there was $20 gone off the top. When I shop on eBay I always complain about shipping cost but I can see where they come from. I think in the future I would still "under list" the shipping cost but maybe list them a little higher like $9 or so bucks.

Also from my research on eBay it sounds like all shipping disputes are heavily slanted in favorite of the buyer. I noticed that the packages I had purchased (at least the LCD panel) came with insurance. For my first attempt as an eBay seller I thought I would insure all the packages. At these prices that added an extra $1.75 per package.

To start off you are going to need some basic shipping containers. I was surprised to find out you can get free boxes either delivered to your home or you can just pick them up at the post office. I didn't plan ahead so I just stopped by our local post office and picked up a variety of boxes.

eBay and PayPal make its pretty easy to ship packages from home. Basically you click on the item's "print shipping label" and takes you to PayPal where you can finalize shipping options such as carrier, insurance, package size, etc... For USPS priority mail the easiest option is to use one of there flat rate boxes. There are a half a dozen standard sized boxes where the weight does not matter.


If you don't want to use the standard boxes flat rate boxes there is a manual option. To use that select the package/large envelope option on the shipping details page. If you go this route you will have to weigh and measure the package so you can enter in the details and let the form calculate the shipping cost. I took this route for the LCD panel, because I had the left over shipping materials. The old shipping box was also labeled priority mail but it was not a flat rate box. It was roughly the same size as the medium flat rate box and the shipping worked out to be equivalent to the flat rate.

You can schedule a home pick up of the packages via the web if you ship Priority Mail but since I go by the post office on the way to work my plan to just drop them off.



eBay, PayPal, Shipping Fees Summary


Here is the breakdown of all the final fees. I was surprised how much the fees and extra shipping cost added up to.

 ItemSale Price
S&H Fee
 Total Listing Fee
 Ebay Sale Fee
 PayPal Fee
 Shipping Net
 LCD Panel $20.50 $4.95 $25.45 $0.15 $1.79 $1.04 $11.89 $10.58
 10 DVD lot
 $20.00 $4.90 $24.90 $0.00 $1.75 $1.02 $11.95 $10.18
 5 DVD lot
 $10.50 $4.90 $15.40 $0.00 $0.92 $1.00* $11.95 $1.53
 2 Disc Set
 $28.00 $5.15 $33.15 $0.00 $2.45 $1.26 $11.95 $17.49
         
 Totals $79.00 $19.90 $98.90 $0.15 $6.91 $4.32 $47.74 $39.78
 Percentage (of total income)
 79.9%20.1%
 100.0% 0.1% 7.0% 4.4% 48.3% 40.2%
*Estimated, payment not received yet.

For some reason the buyer of the 2 disc set paid extra shipping ($5.15 instead of $4.90). I need to figure that out.

In the end my shipping blooper brought my net income from the sales down to roughly $40 on $100 bucks of sales or 40.2%. I if I would have listed my shipping cost properly and not insured the packages the number would have been $66 or 67.5%. Live and learn I guess.

Lessons Learned

I think the biggest take away is to up the shipping cost a bit on my listings. I think I will still probably keep the total shipping charges in the single dollar range but I definitely need to make up some of the difference.

Also at least now I have an idea of what the sizes of the priority mail flat rate boxes are and what they cost.

For DVDs I would recommend going with USPS media mail. Shipping four DVDs cost less than $3 bucks, plus the cost of a bubble wrap envelope. Plus you can drop it in the regular "blue boxes" that the Postal service has scattered all over. You will need a scale to measure the weight of the package before you print the label.

Also if you sell more than a few packages plan on running into assholes. My first dip-shit buyer experience came with my sixth sale. Don't take the bait of ripping into a buyer if they try to push your buttons. On eBay the odds are stacked in the buyer's favor and eBay can see all of the communications. With my difficult buyer I just ignored the comments and took lots of pictures of the items both before and after I packed the items. My thinking was that the pictures would provide some ammo if a dispute occurred.

Also don't ship items till payment clears. I had a person pay by e-check which took a week to process the first time through PayPal. After waiting a week the check didn't clear so I waited another half week for a re-submit of the check. Which also didn't clear. The general process you follow if somebody doesn't pay for an item is to open a non payment case via the drop down menu on the item on the "my eBay" page. You have to wait at least four days before you can take this action. Then after opening a ticket you have to wait four more days to give the buyer a chance to respond. After that you can close the ticket and relist the item. If you don't follow this process you will still owe eBay the final sale fee, plus the buyer can still give you negative feedback if the auction is left open, you resell the item, then weeks later they actually send the payment and demand the item be sent.


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