20 Sept 2012

ebay seller tips - as requested!

A reader recently asked for some more specific tips for selling on eBay. Therefore, these tips assume basic knowledge but I will reinforce the more important of those points anyway.

1) Describing the Item
Be as accurate and detailed as possible. There is a form that you can fill in (e.g. if you are selling clothes, you can fill in the 'brand name', 'size', 'material', 'condition') and then a description box. Any flaws? Point them out.

2) Listing the Item
Try and list an item so that the auction ends on a Saturday or Sunday evening. These are the evenings where more people will be online compared to weekday evenings. I prefer to end mine on Sunday evenings personally, but either are usually fine.

If you are going to list an item for more than 99p (I always do - I always list at the bare minimum I am willing to part with my item for), wait for a free listing weekend. I have saved a lot this way and although it may seem mean/greedy/whatever for listing at a higher price (because you love that item but you never use it, and therefore, you're listing it at a high-ish price), remember, this is your auction. And even though no one might buy it the first weekend you list something, wait for the next free listing weekend and re-list it. It's all about the right place and the right time.

3) Postage and Packaging
If you have no idea about the cost, look on the Royal Mail website to get an idea. eBay have capped the maximum sellers can charge for postage in some categories so be wary of that. Remember to factor in a few pennies for packaging too (I usually add on 50p to the postage price for this).

If your item is over £46 (I think it is, but I usually use the figure of £40 to be safe), use a service that will reimburse you with the compensation if the item gets lost in the post. First and second class won't give you that compensation but special delivery will. Also, consider always using a trackable service. My items are always sent by recorded delivery or special delivery and the reasons for this will become clear later.

4) Communication

Credit: PSD Graphics

Let you buyers know when the item is dispatched. If they ask a question? Answer in a timely manner.

5) Returns Policy
Consider adding this into your description. Personally, I only accept returns if I've been inaccurate in my item description as I am a private seller, not a business. Therefore, I am as accurate as possible - I list all flaws and take plenty of pictures.

6) After Sending The Item

Did you overcharge on postage? If so, consider doing partial postage refunds. I always do this. I take into account postage + 50p for packaging, and then I figure out the difference between what they paid and my total cost. I would reimburse them this difference.

I always keep proof of postage and always track it a week later to see if items have
been delivered. 

7) Lost Item?
If the item is lost, you'll need to file a 'lost item claim' with the Royal Mail or the courier you used. You'll have to refund the buyer too. Fortunately, this has never happened to me but it can happen - especially with the Royal Mail being the unreliable mail carriers they are in the UK.

8) Unhappy buyer?
Is this partly your fault? Is there a fault you missed? We all make mistakes, and if so, accept the return. However, if you have clearly specified the fault or if there is nothing wrong with the item (apart from the fact they no longer want it), then stand firm. You were honest and did nothing wrong.

9) Paypal and eBay Disputes
Some buyers are quite cheeky. I sold an item once and the buyer then opened a Paypal dispute, saying that their card didn't authorise payment for the item. This was two weeks after they had received the item! All I needed to do was submit evidence that the item was received and Paypal would let me keep my money. Because I used recorded delivery and because I did not send a 'prohibited item', I was able to prove that it was received and so, Paypal sided with me.

This is also why you need to take detailed pictures and be honest in your listing.

Please also bear in mind that some buyers are quite sneaky. Because Paypal tends to side with the buyer most of the time, you need to do everything possible to protect yourself as a seller.

10) Consider Your Site Preferences

This is how mine is set - however, these settings are all down to personal preference.

Mine is set so that I only accept bids from UK buyers. I prefer not to post outside of the UK on eBay because using a trackable service can add to the already expensive postage abroad. You can do this from the 'Site Preferences' link and just go to 'Buyer Requirements'.

This is personal choice at the end of the day - allowing overseas buyers can mean that your items go for a bit more. For me, personally, I didn't see this as a risk worth taking because I have had problems with overseas buyers in the past. I hate to tarnish them all with the same brush through these settings but one bad experience was one too many for me.

So these are top 10 eBay tips. I've been selling for the past five/six years and have a lot of experience as a private seller selling stuff I don't need/want. Any other questions, feel free to ask. I hope this has proved useful :)


  1. Nice post, Angela, although the no international sells... Perhaps it could be advisable to check the buyer history before accepting their bid, or making clear you don't accept international buyers with less than a number (15, 20, or something) of positive votes, or something similar.

    There are some places, Spain being one of them, where you can't find any Filofax (and nearly any organiser for that matter) products on Ebay. It's a pain having to ask the seller of every auction you might like whether or not they ship internationally and how much it would cost.

    Fortunately, some sellers are happy to ship internationally. In fact, I've bought a few items during the last few days from Ebay sellers in the UK. Two of them were Filofax binders, actually, one Bond mini, and one Identity pocket. I love them both, and I'm still waiting for another mini, a Domino this time. :-)

    Ángel, aka NeonLicht, from Granada, Spain

    1. Thank you! I did that in the past but removing bids if they didn't satisfy the stated criteria became tedious as they will still be able to bid (you can't make that a custom setting unfortunately).

      I get what you mean about having to ask every single seller if they ship! I state this on my listings though just to save everyone time.

      Hope your inserts are with you soon too! x

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my question, I really appreciate it and this was great!

    1. No problem. Hope it was useful. Anymore questions, just ask :) x