Why making money on Ebay is just a dream

The above statement needs some clarifications: it’s true if you are a normal, naïve human being, trying to make some money because you were fooled by the ‘cash in the attic’ kind of ‘reality show’, not if you know how to cheat people on Ebay. Because there is a way to make money on Ebay, it’s called ‘running a scam’.

After my son was born, about 4 years ago, I decided to give it a try to Ebay selling, mostly because I had lots of items I knew I was not going to use again, due to him being our only child.
I was not a seasoned seller and I learned a trick or two just by necessity.
What I have found out pretty fast- the hard way- was that you have to verify the shipping cost before listing something.
This is my lame experience with one particular item: I bought it for $120 and sold it for $28. Not bad would you say, right? But hold on, there are a few fees to be paid:
– Ebay listing fee (percentage of the starting bid, paid regardless if you sell or not)
– Ebay final fee (percentage of the selling fee)
– PayPal fee
And if you are stupid and don’t check the shipping fee, you get burned as I did.
I wrongly estimated the shipping cost as being $12, when the actual one was $22.
After that mistake and all the fees, I made a net $12.
Now imagine how much money you make from something listed for $0.99.

Unless you are a Power Seller- more about this later- or you have expensive items, it’s not worth the time.
I did it because I was on maternity leave and I had time to burn. Plus, I was walking to the postal office very often and it helped me lose the extra pounds gained during pregnancy.

I was a buyer as well, and my experience was different. Some sellers were really greedy and charged a lot for shipping. For example, one time the shipping cost asked by the seller was $7.00 and the actual one was $0.60. It was something small that fit into a regular letter. I got pretty mad honestly speaking. I understand asking a dollar or two extra to cover your time going there, or the cost of the fuel, but over $6 seems to be excessive.

Fast forward to these days: lots of changes in the site’s rules, and as per John Donahoe, the company’s new chief executive, eBay is trying to be harder on sellers in order to make the experience of buyers better.
As I have mentioned above, there are sellers and sellers. Some of them, the rare decent ones, are going to suffer because of these changes, while the crooks will prevail as they normally do.
As a seller I found that by the time you are done paying seller fees (listing and final sale fees) and PayPal fees you are making less money than selling the item on a place such as craigslist.org or Amazon marketplace.

I have mentioned the ‘Power Sellers’, right? Ebay has become the heaven for ‘Power Sellers’ and as a consequence, the whole experience feels geared to them. The process for posting an item to sell is so lengthy now that it would only be worth doing if you do it often enough to use templates or some other system. Furthermore, Power Sellers seek out only items they believe will sell, so you’re starting to see lots of lowest-common denominator items available rather than unexpected items that an individual might decide to sell were it not so complex to post now.
Ebay has become ‘Extreme Shopping’ — only the fittest survive, and it is dominated by fraud. Years ago it was fun, but now the charm has gone away. The gray-market guys do flood the listings, and the listings aren’t organic anymore so you can’t really tell what the thing you’re getting is really like. Ebay’s policies and procedures lead off into the no-accountability zone, especially for trying to get refunds on items a buyer just bails on. Feeback must work both ways – there are some horrible buyers whose MO is keeping your item and demanding half their money back for some inventive complaint, using their impending feedback as extortion.
Ebay wanted to make it a better experience for buyers and it opened the can of worms.

These days I visit Ebay only as a buyer when looking for items I can’t find otherwise on the net. But definitely it’s not my first option, more like the last one.


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