Tuesday, September 26, 2006

when does it make sense to use ebay?

I recently read an interesting post at stopbuyingcrap questioning the value of buying items at ebay.

I admit strong sympathies with the discussion.

The overall feeling is that professional sellers have been gaming the system with very expensive shipping and handling fees. While I have seen such fees, I generally avoid such sellers.

Here are my thoughts:

1. out of stock, older and unusual items can often be found at ebay. I have several ongoing searches programmed to look for books published be certain publishing houses. I am alterted if they come up for sale. I then check abebooks.com to see how similar items are priced - this helps me set my limites (including s&h fees).
2. some collectibles - where there's an active market - might be sold efficiently here.
3. auto - I sold a car on ebay and had > 1200 viewers. This was alot more traffic than I had from craigs list or other advertisements.

In general:

  • I'm skeptical that the seller will get the best price on ebay.
  • I also think that the 10 day or less auction format can be very unfavourable for low volume products
  • The high fees are annoying
  • Regular sellers with buyers who include the seller in their favourite seller's list will do well - but this requires very active marketing - hard for occassional sellers like myself

I am considering several alternative auction sites, such as Heritage Auction Galleries. I haven't tried them yet, but I believe a specialize site - that focuses on a specific market segment may do better for collectibles and antiquities.

When buying used products, I most often look to abebooks.com. Craigs List has also been suprisingly helpful, but unreliable in terms of timing. Does anyone have other sites for buying and selling used items at good prices?

Have a wonderful day,


1 comment:

Uncle Foobar said...

You know,

i've found that certain "big ticket" bathroom items -- Razor blades and toothbrushes -- can be gotten for quite a discount on ebay.

And no, they're not "used" blades; Mach 3 blades for $1.25/blade (100 for $1/blade if you're hairy).

Crest toothbrushes, which are hard to find near me, went for $10 for 12.

This is all with shipping prices; the blades shipped for free and the toothbrushes were a reasonable fee.


p.s. i even did this: Arm and hammer toothpaste was on sale last week at Shaws for 2/$4. I decided to get a year's supply.

I went up on Ebay and checked prices; i stumbled upon a coupon-clipping service that sold me four "$3 off 2 tubes" coupons for $1 total AND mailed them to me quick enough so i could make the sale.