Menachem's Writings

Selling on an Auction Site
My first attempt to make a buck on eBay

People have been telling me for a while that you can make a lot of money on eBay; and I've met people who say they sell on eBay. I've been meaning to try it for a while, but as far as money making, I'm not sure where I fit in. My friend Alexei has been pushing me lately, so this week I said heck, let's give it a go!

I decided to sell a photograph. I entered a photograph a couple months back into a facebook picture of the year. It actually made it into the top 10 for the month and received some nice comments. It's on my website selling at a price of $180 for a signed, numbered (out of 36) print.

But getting onto eBay wasn't as easy as I expected -- I know, it never is. I wanted to put the photograph up for a week at a starting price of $90. I didn't set a reserve. While I was at it, I decided I wanted a different email with which to communicate with eBay to the one which I had originally specified when I signed up a couple of years ago (and did nothing, but I look like I've been around a while). You specify the change and they tell you they will send you a confirmation email. (On the other hand I also changed my name and address -- including country -- without needing any confirmation.) I waited for the confirmation, in the old and the new email boxes, but nothing arrived. I contacted their "be nice to the customers" chat line -- actually a good service. They answered that it could take a while, maybe a couple of hours to arrive as they (well not a human -- surely their servers?! -- this process must be automated). I waited and when nothing came I got back to Ms "be nice". She could see that I had been sent the confirmation message, but I had not yet answered -- well I knew that too. She asked me to change the mail address once again, which I did, and still got no response. She said it'll be come sometime today! "Nick off the chat line and please wait!" Then I realised that they send it to you on your "eBay internal" mail. That's strange confirmation system. Doesn't check my mail is correct, and doesn't require me to confirm externally.

It took me longer to get the thing up than I thought. It wasn't as intuitive as I thought it was going to be. After it was finally up I saw that they had categorised my "item" as located in the U.S. I specified that I would be shipping from Israel. Now that's interesting -- if you buy my item, located in New York, and you are New York, I will send it to me in Israel to then mail it to you in New York (maybe Bentley is involved here!).

I saw a "feature" that allows you edit your posting. So I tried to edit it, but nothing seemed to happen. Then I noticed an email (in my email email! not the internal job) stating, "Your item didn't sell this time around. Why not relist it? We'll refund your insertion fees if your item sells". Well that's pity! I thought I still have 6 days and 21 hours to go. Back to Ms "be nice". Yes, you deleted it. I deleted it!? I tried to edit it! It didn't ask me for deletion confirmation! Whoever heard of system that deletes your listing when you want to edit it, without asking you. And of course I had to pay to relist! (and if I sell, Ms "be nice" said, I'll get a refund.)

Now maybe I am naïve, but I thought (and this is how it once was) that eBay only charges you if you sell. Well, no more! They charge a couple of bucks to list, a bit more if you want more than one picture of your thing (maybe that's reasonable; only 15 cents extra for a side view), extra if you want a picture on the search list, etc, etc and of course if you sell they have a sliding scale (starting at over 8%) for the first I think hundred bucks and then sliding downwards. And most payments are made via PayPal, which is "an eBay company". They do OK. No need to worry about them.

Anyway, I realised later that I messed up the "List your item for selection (3-5 words). Well it's actually 55 characters! But they don't tell you that, well not indirectly. I need directly, like an oncoming bullroarer! [you know, the thing that accompanies a didgeridoo that if you don't see it coming will knock you for six]. So it's not easy to find me. I also searched around other photographs -- except a few, the prices look pretty low. I'll be surprised if I get $90, but life is full of surprises.

By the way, here is the link to my sale on eBay -- but I'm not sure if or for how long that link is active. And the view counter goes up even if it's me that's checking it -- now that's dumb!

Please feel free to and don't forget to stop by my site to look at my latest (and classic) photographs.


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