Newest Review: ... it looks neat and simplistic. You can set reminders for items you are watching, read your messages from the internal eBay mail system... more
Heaven for buyers, Hell for Sellers
Member Name: AverageJoseph
Advantages: Almost everything for sale
Disadvantages: Sellers have minimal rights
Just about everyone is familiar with the massive marketplace eBay and so they should be because it is full of items new and used, cheap and expensive, rare and common. Its often worth browsing when trying to determine the worth of an item before purchase, for your own sale or to compare against official businesses/franchises. Experience a little thrill by bidding in auctions that go down to the wire with bidders around the world, or play it safe and 'buy it now' (you can also send offers). Applying to become a buyer is simple at first, adding your address and personal details but becomes a bit of an annoyance when you realise you (often) need to set up a PayPal account as well (which is owned by eBay, a shrewd way to get at your money twice, acting as an online bank account). Site navigation is pretty easy, numerous drop down menus contain major categories for a simple shortcut or if you are after something more specific, just type in all the details you'd like into the search engine. Of course, not everything is available to buy or sell, such as weapons or drugs, legal or otherwise. As a buyer, everything is out in the open, the items destination, type and estimated delivery, winning bid, Post & Packaging cost etc. Afterwards, when (or indeed 'if') you receive your item(s) you leave feedback, positive, neutral or negative and a personal comment.
However, as a seller, things aren't so wonderful.. at least not for people trying to get a little bit of cash, selling a handfull of items. There are guides to selling but amongst all the small print, little details are left out. eBay makes its money by taking a 10% cut from all your final auctions as well as a few pennies by listing items with a starting price (otherwise items starting at 99p are free). Even with recorded deliveries, packages can get lost or damaged in the post and you never know if a buyer will have get in a strop about delivery times, item specifics or even price. A good example of both ends of the negative spectrum, highlighting eBay's favouritism to the buyers, happened to me on my last selling experience:
A) I sold a small gameboy advance game, for around £10, 2nd class shipping. 2 weeks pass and the buyer claims that they have not received the item, after sending numerous questions about when it was shipped, what method etc even though all the details were in the item description. I ask to wait a little longer, buyer says no, demands a refund, opens a 'case' for eBay to decide whether to act and voila - I've lost my item and money spent on delivery.
B) I sold a popular Xbox 360 game for around £30. The buyer won the item, but did not pay. After 2 weeks of nothing, after a message sent requesting payment, I am notified that the buyer's bid was an accident by their son who had accessed their eBay account. Needless to say I knew eBay couldn't do anything about this, so the item was re-listed and sold for a cheaper price - there was also a bidder who deliberately bid high to find out the highest bid price, then retracted their offer - a trick that is against the site rules.
These problems are exacerbated by the fact that sellers cannot leave negative or neutral feedback, as buyers can, only positive. Of course, these discrepancies don't always occur, but even without these problems, eBay & PayPal's fees and charges eventually decimate your total earnings and you would perhaps be better off selling items locally. Its because of this that becoming a seller is best reserved for people who can afford to make a business out of it, buying local, cheap goods in bulk, doing this for a living. I would definitely recommend eBay for anyone looking for specific goods or a bargain as it is the best preowned sellers market, with photos and detailed descriptions (beware though, buyers & sellers can still lie or 'fudge' the truth).
Summary: Buy but don't Sell