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BS: eBay Strategy

01 Apr 05 - 12:52 PM (#1449185)
Subject: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Joe Offer

Dang, Dang, and Double Dang.
I was bidding on a one-volume reprint of English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians. It was at $51 last night, and I decided to wait until just before the auction ended this morning. Five minutes before the auction ended, I had it for $62. Then, a minute before the auction ended, somebody bid above my maximum $75 bid. I took it up to $100, but was still outbid. Four seconds before the end of the auction, I chickened out.

I was so close.

Anybody have strategy advice for me?
How about some sympathy, too?

01 Apr 05 - 12:53 PM (#1449190)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Little Hawk

Yes, Joe, I have the perfect solution. I will PM you later with the details. After lunch.

01 Apr 05 - 12:59 PM (#1449207)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: jacqui.c

Looks like someone put in a top bid that was way above the level you were prepared to go to. In that case there would be nothing you could do as whatever bid you put in would be automatically topped by the other bidder.

Better luck next time.

01 Apr 05 - 01:07 PM (#1449220)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Joe Offer

Yeah, but they didn't enter that bid until about four minutes before the auction. I was on top at four minutes before, and this guy hadn't bid on the book at all before that.

01 Apr 05 - 01:12 PM (#1449226)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: jacqui.c

That's how they do it - why waste energy going in early? That would only bump up the price.

01 Apr 05 - 01:16 PM (#1449233)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Amos

For anything of value those last three minutes are the crux of the affair.


01 Apr 05 - 01:31 PM (#1449247)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Stilly River Sage

Do they send out email alerts to the bidding parties in the last few minutes, hoping to cause a flurry of activity? I remember reading something about how they have that practice built in, and it has caused problems.

Back when Amazon had some decent books in their auction and the people who listed them had a clue as to how to actually list their books, I was topped several times before realizing I had to hover nearby and not bid until the end, and hope that no one else was paying attention. Then they started the practice of sending a post to everyone else if someone posted a bid in the last 10 minutes AND they extended the bidding for another 10 minutes. It's patently unfair to the bidders to keep extending things to try to raise the price if there was initially a set time. If you're not paying attention, you lose. That's what I figured out. Then they changed the rules.


01 Apr 05 - 01:37 PM (#1449252)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Deckman

Joe ... STOP READING BOOKS!! Cheers, Bob

01 Apr 05 - 02:39 PM (#1449316)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: wlisk

There is a website service called Auction Sniper that will place your eBay bid in the last 30 seconds of an auction. They charge a fee for their service of course.

01 Apr 05 - 02:47 PM (#1449324)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Clinton Hammond

eBay offers a service that does that... and if you are out-bid, gives you the chance to beat the winning bid, after it's done, if you wish to...

Advice Joe? Ya... Read the eBay FAQs and such...

01 Apr 05 - 08:19 PM (#1449648)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: The Fooles Troupe

The best strategy is to not tell others publicly what it is.... ;-)

01 Apr 05 - 08:21 PM (#1449651)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Little Hawk

Yeah. That's what I figure too... ;-)

01 Apr 05 - 08:31 PM (#1449662)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: harpgirl

Oh boy! I'm really looking forward to having that book!

Oh , wait...that was you, Joe?

Tough titties, bro......

outwitted by hg

01 Apr 05 - 08:31 PM (#1449664)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: PoppaGator

Don't "STOP READING BOOKS" ~ Bob's got it all wrong.


A decent public library will let you put books on hold, including requests for interlibrary loans, which means you can access virtually any book that exists, as long as it's in some library, somewhere ~ including university and other institutional libraries ~ and allowed to be checked out (which is, admittedly, a potential limitation for truly rare volumes).

01 Apr 05 - 09:35 PM (#1449696)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: GUEST,Jaze

The same thing happened to me once. I was ready to reach into the damn computer and strangle someone! Lost out in the last 30 seconds. Another one will come along, and probably at a better price! Take heart.

01 Apr 05 - 10:02 PM (#1449708)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Bobert


Don't ever bid on anything you want until that last minute...

Then snipe... but figure there are other snipers so figure ar least 25% higher than what is showing with 1 minute left to go... The add 25%, place yer bid with about 20 seconds left...

That's snipin' at its best...


02 Apr 05 - 01:36 AM (#1449786)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Terry K

Except in a case where the seller ends the auction early - which happened to me recently on a Taylor 612CE - not on a "Buy it Now" basis either.

The explanation given was that he had ended it early in order to sell to a preferred buyer, who had the current high bid. Which sounds to me like he felt it wasn't going to reach his unofficial reserve price so he got his mate to bid on it.

cheers, Terry

02 Apr 05 - 01:47 AM (#1449789)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Liz the Squeak

A lot of folks do that 'preferred buyer' thing. A friend who currently makes his living on eBay says this is the way sellers find out just how much people are prepared to pay. Keep watching, it may come up for a slightly higher price in a few weeks.


02 Apr 05 - 02:38 AM (#1449803)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: GUEST,Jon

Well I've never bid on an auction item but I would just work out the maximum amount I am prepared to pay for the item. enter that, let ebay do the work and have done with it. I don't really care if I found myself outbid by £1 - that is still £1 more than I felt the item worth to me. Also I don't want to get caught up in madness at the end - I could end up bidding far more than I wanted to just for the sake of winning.

The only item I have bought from ebay was a brand new 80W solar panel which I hope will receive next week. I took that as a "buy it now" as the price (around £250) seemed reasonable. Perhaps I could have got one cheaper entering an auction but I had watched a few before going for this one. I have seen cases where "buy it now" items have ended up less than similar/equivilant items in the open auction. The auction item may look cheaper until the last hour but then if you get 2 people who want it, common sense sometimes seems to go out of the window.

02 Apr 05 - 06:54 AM (#1449891)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: The Fooles Troupe

'Common Sense' - 'Bidding at Auctions': 2 terms that go together about as well as the 2 terms 'Military' 'Intelligence'.

Remember, something is only worth what someone ELSE will pay hard cash for.

02 Apr 05 - 07:02 AM (#1449894)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker

there are too many dick head auction winners on ebay
with far more money than sense that ruin the pricing of bargains
for everybody else..

.. that is of course if they follow through their stupidity
and actually pay for the items they win at over-inflated prices..

though i daresay my opinion might be different if i was a seller..

02 Apr 05 - 07:15 AM (#1449899)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: The Fooles Troupe

The number of times I have seen - not only on Ebay - clapped out junk go for more than the new price of an equivalent new item....

02 Apr 05 - 07:27 AM (#1449904)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Bobert

Well, yeah.... What folks have said is correct in that ebay = buyer-beware! Lots of the stuff is junk and some of it bromgs more money than it's worth... But that's where a little commone sense + knowledge should enter in...

I've bought a lot of stuff on ebay and for the most part been satisfied. And I've sold stuff on ebay and have a 100% positive feedback record... Feedback is very important and I wouldn't purchase from someone with bad feedback...


02 Apr 05 - 07:44 AM (#1449912)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: GUEST,punkfolkrockers

.and as for those fools who leave ridiculously over high
proxy bids anything up to a week or more before auctions end..

.. actually i sometimes delight in playing a rather immature game
of chicken..

..bidding in increments just too see how high i can push the price up for them..

so far i've not come a cropper and ended up winning anything that way..

best one was when i left some twat to pay over £600 for a guitar
which i found another one available and bought for £65 only a few weeks later..

what goes through their minds..

" duh.. I know.. if i proxy bid £1000,000 for everything..
I'll never lose any auctions..
and surely no one else would be stupid enough to push the price too high for me....!!!!!???

02 Apr 05 - 02:30 PM (#1450226)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: GUEST,leeneia

A friend told me to go through e-snipe,and that's what I did for my first purchase. I was quite pleased with the results, and the first use of e-snipe was free.

The cost of e-snipe seemed very reasonable.

02 Apr 05 - 06:23 PM (#1450383)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Dita

Having had the same thing happen to me a couple of times when I first started ebaying, especially on collectable song books, I now place the maximum I want to pay, and I get it or I don't.

Either way I'm happy, and I don't get that pain in the pit of my stomach anymore.

I see that some people despise my strategy, but it works for me.

I don't want to upset you Joe, but in looking at the auction, two things strike me.

You bid $ exact. Try spliting the bid by going a few cents over your top price, so that you outbid someone who bids the same price, if your second bidder.

It looks like that's how you were outbid. The book went for $100.77. At that price the incriments would be in whole $, so that looks to me like it was his top bid, he was willing to go $100.00 and bid the odd cents. If he had bid $100.00 dead it would have been yours.

Better luck next time. Sometimes seeing a book go for a good price brings other copies to the auction.

Cheers, John

02 Apr 05 - 06:27 PM (#1450387)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Dita

Try spliting the bid by going a few cents over your top price, so that you outbid someone who bids the same price, if your second bidder.

That should read "if you're second bidder"


02 Apr 05 - 06:49 PM (#1450416)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Little Hawk

Yeah, I outbid someone once by a penny. :-) I bid $111.01 on something.

Also, remember that you will almost certainly get another chance to buy the same item on a later occasion.

02 Apr 05 - 07:30 PM (#1450471)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: GUEST,Frug

Joe would certainly suggest you use the sniping package on ebay I haven't lost one yet and am now a veteran of 90 odd transactions

02 Apr 05 - 08:15 PM (#1450507)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker


i dont know you..

so with much respect..

please for your and everybody elses sake..

be more strategic and organize to time
your slightly more than minimum bid

for the last 30 secs of items you really want

.. sorry sellers..

but thats the best way all round for maximum benefit of ebay buyers community

02 Apr 05 - 08:23 PM (#1450515)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: GUEST,working class bargain boy

you old hippys have got fuck all sense
and too much trust fund inheritance investment capital

fuck the lot of you

03 Apr 05 - 06:05 AM (#1450692)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: JohnInKansas

One of my associates has mentioned having a "program" that he has used several times to place "final seconds" bids, but I don't know that he ever mentioned a name for it. It's possible he was just using e-snipes, as mentioned by several above, although I had the impression it was on his own machine since he asked some questions about how to synchronise his clock. I don't see him frequently, (and we have to seek privacy to discuss ebay if his SO is in the vicinity) but I'll try to remember to ask next time he's about.

He has also mentioned a couple of cases where someone contacted him, after he won the bid, to try to make a better offer. Apparently this sort of thing does happen. I think I've heard that seller's - and probably buyer's - email addys are available at ebay, so it might be worth corresponding with the guy who beat you out. He might give you a "first offer" option for when he decides he didn't really want it(?).

I believe there was one incident where he actually did sell a commmemorative military campaign medalion to some guy who explained he "really really wanted it because he was wounded in that campaign," but for most items your "plaintive pleas" would probably have to include references to grandma, trains, rain, prison, and an unfaithful lover .. (or was that another subject?).


05 Apr 05 - 02:13 PM (#1452838)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Richard Bridge

I can't fine e-snipe in the ebay FAQ. CH and others, where is it? Maybe it's only available in the USA not on

05 Apr 05 - 02:38 PM (#1452863)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: harpgirl

f u working class bargain boy. my buying power comes from thirty two years of working as a social worker...

05 Apr 05 - 04:36 PM (#1452978)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: GUEST,leeneia

Well said, harpgirl!

30 Apr 05 - 02:16 AM (#1474796)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: JohnInKansas

Having promised to query a friend - I must report that he remains a friend despite being completely unable to impart any intelligible information under most stringent interrogation. He appears not to comprehend that there's a difference between a program one installs on a personal machine and a web service one signs up to. But he has one or the other and there's a button he can hit and it does something.

An article in the current PC Magazine may offer something of interest. The general article is on the subject of "How to buy stuff cheap;" but it does include a brief section on:

Auctions and Classifieds.

Brief descriptions of eBay, Yahoo, craigslist, and Tribe-net auction sites are included, and the "Tips: Auctions and Classifieds" may be of some interest.

The real stuff, though, is at:

Auto-Bidding with Snipers

The popular(?) eSnipe is not included in the review, but that is no real reflection on them.

This publisher generally keeps posted pages up for quite a while, but they seem to move them around, so links don't necessarily last to long. With that in mind, the pertinent info is:


Sniping tools—software that automatically places bids right before an auction closes—can help even out the playing field. You can set your maximum bid, avoid the bidding wars that can break out if you bid too early, and even participate in several auctions for the same item; the software will cancel the other bids once you've won one.

Sniping tools come in Web-based (so you don't even need your PC running) and desktop versions. Here are a few we recommend.

Auction Sniper (Web-based, ; 1 percent of purchase price for winning bids) has a clean, easy-to-use site. The service lets you bid in groups and includes a discussion forum with advice for newbies and lists of handy eBay tips.

Final Bid (desktop, ; $39.99 direct) offers group bids and advanced auction-search features. It also synchronizes with eBay's clock, so your bid is filed in the last few seconds of an auction.

HarvEX/TurboSniper (desktop, ; $19.90 direct) lets you conduct bulk searches, group bids, and export data into Microsoft Excel. Its server component lets you snipe while off-line. (Web-based, ; 5 snipes a week, free; unlimited, $5 per month) is a good idea for occasional eBay users. The service is free, but you don't get some of the advanced features, like group bids, that are available from the other players here.

PhantomBidder (Web-based, ; $6 for 10 bids, $10 for 20, $9-$12 per month unlimited) is another popular Web-based sniper that offers bid groups and competitive pricing. It also has SSL-encrypted log-on for added security, and supports eBay Motors and "mature audience" auctions.


For those who might be interested, the full article begins at:

Get the Best Deals on Technology

I particularly liked their description of one "close out merchandise" site who's entire warranty is "If you buy something you don't like you can sell it on eBay."


30 Apr 05 - 11:16 PM (#1475427)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy

Joe - there should be a "strategy page" for bibliophiles on the MC- so we don't bid against each other.

I bought it (paid four times its worth) bids start at 200US.

01 May 05 - 05:22 AM (#1475534)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: GUEST,Jon

I had a look at HarvEx mentioned by John and was surprised by its capabilities. After a little thought, I decided that the only way some of that would be feasable would be to have more direct access to ebay than the normal Web interface.

I did some searching and found that there is and APIs and SDKs are available. While I could find plenty in the documentation that would help a seller or a prosepective buyer, I couldn't find a method for making a bid. Further searching the ebay site shows there isn't one (without special arrangements with ebay).

One article I found is here.

Some points to note are that sniping tools have to find thier own workarounds to place a bid and thus are subject to being affected by changes at ebay. esnipe failed for a brief period last year and other services have broken down. Also that ebay seem undecided about sniping and they could end up blocking it (or operating thier own sniping service):

"Possibly due to the controversial nature of sniping (eBayers seem to either love it or hate it), eBay has taken a hands-off approach so far".

Personally I fall into the hate it camp and hope it is blocked...

02 May 05 - 05:01 AM (#1476302)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: GUEST,Fullerton

I've got the 1970's edition!

Do I hear $200.77?

02 May 05 - 05:30 AM (#1476311)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: The Curator

I buy a lot on ebay, I use SNIP PL they are based in Poland and cost only pence for each snipe. They come in at 6 seconds before end of auction. If you really want something, bide your time it will always come up again.I agree the prices some stuff goes for is madness, but always read the sellers feedback and see if the highest bidder has won something else from the seller in the past, because often a seller has a second account to bid the item up themselves, I have caught this on a few times. Foolish for giving themselves feedback if they won their own item through a high self bid.Then you see it listed again a week later.E bay will look into it if you report it. That's why you see many accounts suspended and auctions ended early.

03 May 05 - 02:45 AM (#1476819)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: sixtieschick

Sniping 101:

1. You have to do it in the last 10 seconds of an auction so that no one else has a chance to place a bid after they've seen yours. (I've gone down to 3 seconds, but that's hairy.)

2. Have two windows open to the item. You will use one to keep refreshing until you get to the last 10 seconds, and the other for placing your bid. You should have your maximum bid already to the second level ("confirm bid") so that you will actually place the bid with one click.

3. Keep refreshing on the other page until you see there are only about 20 seconds left. Count to 10, then place your bid.

This is the ONLY way I've found to get the stuff I want, and without others bidding the price up first. You have to be prepared for the prospect that someone may have outbid you, but there's no way to find that out until it's all over but the shoutin'.

Good luck!

03 May 05 - 08:25 AM (#1476917)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Dave Bryant

I make up my mind what the real maximum price I would be willing to pay, well in advance. It's usually worth checking on what you might have to pay for the item elswhere. I usually choose a value of £1 (or in your case $1) over a multiple of 10 - ie 51 rather than 50. I then place a (maximum) bid no earlier than 2 mins before bidding ends.

If someone does outbid me I can then console myself by the fact that it went for more than I would have paid.

I recently aquired a very useable Toshiba Laptop PC for Linda for only £52 by this method.

10 Dec 06 - 11:39 PM (#1905973)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Stilly River Sage

I've learned a lot in the year and a half that I've been an eBay member, and much of what is in this thread still holds true.

I've listed quite a few things in the last couple of weeks, moving blithely along doing my own thing.

Tonight I decided to do some computer cleanup since it had been three or four weeks since I ran Spybot and AdAware, etc.

AdAware usually comes up with somewhere from 8 to 14 "Critical" elements I need to address. Tonight it came up with 735 of them! They were all variations on a place called "esomniture." A search on that came up with a company called Omniture, and a little wading around in Google came up with the information that eBay is using this site, and if people post inquiries about it in eBay discussion forums they quickly delete the discussion.

Anyone else experience this? Any thoughts? If I turn off cookies I'm sure my eBay work will grind to a halt.


10 Dec 06 - 11:58 PM (#1905981)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Little Hawk

There's no harm in proxy just make sure to place a limit on your proxy bid that isn't higher than what you're really willing to pay for the item. If it goes over that, don't sweat it. Another chance to get the same thing will soon come.

But if you're silly enough to place a ridiculously high proxy bid just so you are guaranteed to $1,000 on a $300 dollar item...and then someone like the jerk above, "punkfolkrocker", pushes it to $800....

Well, then it's your own damn fault if you win the $300 item for $810 isn't it?

Are people really that stupid? Well, yeah, I bet a few of them are... ;-)

I've been saved a lot of money by people who overbid me on Ebay items, and I have to thank them, because I'm doing just fine without all that stuff I didn't win (mostly forgotten by now), and I can certainly use the money.

19 May 13 - 05:40 PM (#3516878)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Stilly River Sage

I thought I'd bring this back up to the top. Many years have passed since it started and eBay has changed a great deal. They make it easier to relist things again and again without penalty, now that they realize that sometimes it takes a while for the right audience to come along, and they shouldn't penalize the seller for relisting.

I'm getting ready to put up a bunch of stuff as I clear out the area where my sales items have built up (lots of family estate stuff over the years, but now it's a real hodge-podge of stuff.) I want to list this small stuff so I can get back to having the "detailed seller ratings" box up and showing a good sales record before I list a large item. When your buyers post feedback they answer about your auction accuracy, your communication, speed in shipping, shipping price (no one likes to pay for shipping). It goes into that ratings box that people look at, especially if they're buying something expensive. I neglected selling for a while and the number of ratings feeding into that valuable little box expired.

I have a friend in New York City who is in financial straits yet sitting on a gold-mine of NYC collectibles but he's kind of afraid of eBay. Anyone else wanting to get started on eBay? Having a strategy and good customer service attitude is how it works.


19 May 13 - 07:55 PM (#3516905)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Bat Goddess

I'm definitely interested in tips and strategy, Stilly. I've been "researching" for too long (actually, I've rather had my hands full lately) and need to just dive in. Got plenty to sell and ephemera is certainly inexpensive to ship.

But I think I first need to establish a dedicated selling email address with gmail and get a PayPal account...


19 May 13 - 08:43 PM (#3516920)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: GUEST,.gargoyle

A strategy used by Goodwill Industries (they hire the handicapped) for their E-Bay postings is to photograph items in a nice setting (i.e. ring on a black-gloved-hand with a blue background)

AND THEN group "collections" of complimentary items. They set a minimum bid ($25 USD) but you are buying five items.

Sometimes, it is only the one item in the set that has value. But, you must buy them all.

There is some astounding, market-value, pricing, going on with Goodwill and E-Bay. They have brought in some experienced "masters of e-merchandising" and items are placed at close to 50% of retail value.

Voluntary, expert in their field, appraisers help assess the starting bid.

Sincerely, Gargoyle

The sorting centers employe hundreds and hundreds in each location across the nation...I suggest a visit. It is humbling. There are lots of jobs for the trash-pickers of the world.

Most of Goodwill - E-bay is "dead people's stuff"....(why did mom keep this Sh-t) IKEA and Zales and Guitar Center are easier and don't require cleaning.

19 May 13 - 10:33 PM (#3516944)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Stilly River Sage

Gargoyle, you're right. There is a lot of estate stuff going through eBay. I've sold a lot from my parents and elderly aunts there. Things I don't collect but that other people do. I have a friend who volunteers at a hugely successful thrift store in Arizona - it is open only 3 hours a day, six days a week. They sell for cash and checks only. There are eBay folks in the back room listing a lot of items that come in. It is in the heart of a well-to-do retirement community.

Linn, it might be easiest to talk about it on the phone one of these days. Do you have a fast enough connection to do a Google hangout? Do you have a Gmail account? Everything else hangs on that as far as using Google+ (where the hangouts are found). To start on eBay, choose a small specialty and work from there. Put money in your PayPal account and buy a few things to have a bit of a feedback score when you start selling. There are any number of ways to make it start working for you pretty quickly.


20 May 13 - 09:13 AM (#3517101)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Bat Goddess

I don't have a Gmail account and know nothing about hangouts. We can talk on the phone probably more easily -- and I have a flat rate account. Message me at Facebook and I'll give you our number or collect yours.

I've been saving your tips (and also those from Tom's ex-wife who's been eBaying a lot).

Right now, all I need is time...


20 May 13 - 10:08 AM (#3517114)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: YorkshireYankee

I too am looking for tips on selling -- particularly pricing. Have tried listing a couple of things and had zero bids.

One was a really nice suede jacket. Thought the minimum price I'd put was a bargain; it would have bothered me if it sold for just a few pounds. Is the secret to put a really low minimum bid and just hope it won't go for a ridiculously low amount?

20 May 13 - 12:29 PM (#3517205)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Stilly River Sage

Here's a way to figure out a good starting price.

1) Amazon would love it if you start everything at .99 and let the marketplace set the final value, and if you have a popular item, that can work well. However

2) if you have an item that sells, but maybe only a few a month, then you need to figure out what a good starting point is or you'll give it away for .99 cents. Let's choose an example from a couple of years ago, when I sold an estate item, a case with the complete antique hearing aid, the instruction book, and the advertising flyer that someone probably had before they went shopping.

There isn't a huge market for these, I suspect the collectors are people who sell hearing aids and have a collection of the early models just for the novelty or museum value. This isn't a "start at .99" kind of item, you need your audience to discover you, and you need to list your opening price at the lowest you'll accept. And use a "buy it now" price at what you reasonably hope to get for it. If someone bids on the opening price then the "sell it now" price goes away and someone can't come in and buy it for that while the auction is proceeding.

A simple search in the bar on "Antique hearing aid" shows active listings. If you think this is the best description to get the results you want (i.e., if you just list "hearing aid" without "antique" or "vintage" you'll get thousands of unhelpful hits) then search. There are 14 showing up today.

Do you see at the top of the column of photos there are links for "Sold listings" and "Completed listings"? I hit "completed listings first, because I want to see what people are trying to sell and what they're asking for them. In today's completed listings there are 101 items listed (including some like I sold - the "Acuosticon"). It's a mix of sold (green) and unsold (red).

You see several things here - that people are selling devices and are also selling the ads. I had both together, meaning I had more value in my item because I had the ephemera that went with it. You want to market the completeness of the item you're selling, so describe and photograph what comes with the thing you're selling.

You see that a lot of these sold with one bid, so there was someone willing to pay that much, and they may have waited till the last minute to bid, so they didn't telegraph their interest to others. I see one that had five bids, that started at $65 but four bidders pushed it up to $114.50. That means the seller started with a reasonable low bid and bidders felt it was still worth more and were willing to bid it up. That's the balance you want to achieve.

Sometimes what you learn from the completed sales list is what not to do. Many of them didn't sell because the seller put up fuzzy photos with no information about the item, etc. It won't sell or it will go very low.

Now click on the "sold listings." This is the information you use to set your opening price. See if representatives of the item you're selling are in that list, and decide if your item is commonplace (so start with a bit lower opening price) or rare (start a bit higher, as you see fit. If you start too high you can lower the price, but even at eBay items can become "shopworn" so you don't want to relist lower more than once.) If your offering is in better shape than what you see on that page, price it accordingly. If your item is not as good, start lower, and you can often make up for an incomplete item with great photos of what you have. Don't automatically lower the price if it doesn't sell the first or second time. Sometimes you have to wait for the right audience to come along.

Here is one kind of like what I sold. Scroll down on this page to see the original listing. This link won't stick around long, but for a little while you should be able to see it. This listing isn't great, no description to speak of (I gave the year, the manufacture info, what I could find in a Google search) but the photo catalogs the items in the sale. My hearing aid photos were much like this, the items on a good background cloth (I had a blue sheet). I make sure that nothing of my home or workspace shows in the photo, just the item and the background fabric or paper. I don't ever photograph my own hand holding it. Nothing personal, nothing distracting in the photo. Despite the general shots of a tangle of old wires, I took time with the photos and where I could I staged some of the parts so people could see the artistry that went into the design. I've just put up this photo that I hosted from my photobucket account. Now you can put up a lot of photos at eBay, but for a long time I set up my auctions in frontpage and hosted from photobucket and pasted the code into the html part of the setup page.

I ended up selling my item for about $65 - to someone in Australia.

Finally, shipping can make or break your sale. Find the best container for shipping, pack it carefully to be sure it works, then check the prices at UPS and USPS before you sell. Or whatever your shippers are. eBay will calculate the shipping for those viewing the auction. I would suggest that you NOT add in stuff- your time, the cost of tape, box, etc. Anything like that is just a cost of doing business, but if you add it to the sale you're less competitive with others. And buyers will hold it against you in the feedback. When they complete the purchase are asked to leave feedback, where they vote on how well you described it, how communicative you were, how fast you shipped, and how much you charged. If you offer a slow cheap way and a moderate fast way, then they can choose and they'll feel better about the transaction. I still see some of the old-school eBayers offering low item prices and gouging on shipping.

I hope this helps!


21 May 13 - 11:59 AM (#3517633)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: YorkshireYankee


What a comprehensive, well-explained answer! It must have taken you quite a bit of time to write all that (and put in the links); thank you SO much for putting in all that time and effort to answer my question. It's very helpful and I really appreciate it!

22 May 13 - 11:38 AM (#3518011)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Stilly River Sage

eBay can be a lot of fun, it is a good way to earn extra money, but it is a place where you can get off on the wrong foot. There are several Mudcat members who are big eBay sellers.

I had the good luck of watching a PBS program by Marsha Collier, who has written a lot about eBay. She has such a frank, straightforward way of teaching about it that I was able to take her information and run with it. I think I have that recorded here somewhere, I don't know if that video is around. It is several years old, but the basics are still true, though eBay has a lot more features now.


22 May 13 - 12:22 PM (#3518036)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

SRS, do you put a minimum on your offerings?

(Know nothing, wondering about getting in on the act)

22 May 13 - 12:32 PM (#3518042)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Stilly River Sage

A reserve price? No, I tried that a couple of times, it just trips up people. It was a way to have your cake and eat it too, start a low auction price but not really have a lot starting auction price because the item wouldn't sell if it didn't hit that reserve. People want to know what the real price is, not play a stupid guessing game. I think that was something that had more use when eBay charged higher rates for the buy-it-now listings. eBay has gotten smarter over the years.

If the item needs a high price, post it as sell-it-now at that price. You may need to relist a couple of times, but if you're patient, these things do tend to sell, if the price you're asking is fair market.


22 May 13 - 07:53 PM (#3518226)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Most of the watch sellers use a reserve. Some additionally post a buy-it-now price.

Many stamp dealers post their better items with a reserve.

Maybe this depends on what you have for sale. I have a mixed bag, so may have to vary, if I decide to go ahead.

22 May 13 - 09:36 PM (#3518259)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Stilly River Sage

Yes, I think you're right. If there are items where grading occurs, where there are really defined levels of quality, like in coins, currency, your stamps, then I can see why a reserve price. Those are almost the same as currency in some ways in the world of collectors. I'm guessing there are guides to watches that similarly rate them - are there also professional appraisers who vouch for a watch value?

A friend tried selling antique dolls with a reserve price, but they are too variable, it's difficult to convince online buyers of that value. The only thing I sold with a reserve price was a very rare antique perfume bottle. So rare no one had a photo of it that I could find online or in print, but the ads for it (from 1940) show the image. The reserve price was met in the first day. I also let a group of perfume bottle collectors, who helped me identify the year, know that I was listing it. There was a real tizzy in the last few seconds of bidding. :) Got a very nice price for it. I leave the image up in case anyone else goes looking for that bottle.


23 May 13 - 03:09 PM (#3518500)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Photographs seem to be a difficult group.

Watches have many collectors, so prices pretty well established.

23 May 13 - 05:14 PM (#3518552)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Bill D

So.. we are often bidding against automated programs and sophisticated tricks? Sounds like what the stock market has become.

I have a lot of stuff I ought to sell, but I quail at the idea of the learning curve to do a decent job.

I will read the ideas above and see what I can do after my crafts show June 1-2

23 May 13 - 11:42 PM (#3518658)
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
From: Stilly River Sage

Are you buying or selling? I still do my own bidding, no "sniping," I just make sure I catch the end of the auction and bid in the last 30 seconds.