How to eBay, for new sellers! (part 1)

So, you decided to sell stuff on eBay? Here are a few things you MUST know before you start. Take your time and read this, hopefully this will save you time and help you keep your money.

eBay main payment processing service provider is PayPal.

And that’s it… you have no other option. These two companies are one and the same, because eBay purchased PayPal a while ago, but also these 2 companies are “separate” from the customers perspective. Very important you get this, because this means EACH will take a cut out of your transaction. For every 10$ you earn after tax and everything else you can maybe keep 7.5$ (or less).

They said they will change PayPal, but for the moment you have to use PayPal.

eBay “free listing” policy is not free.

To insert your add and list your items on eBay is not free, no matter what they say. eBay will take about 12% of your money, once you sell your product. Free add insertion is just a pointless word play, so they brainwash you in thinking you are getting something for free, when in fact you are not. I remember the days when you actually paid to insert your product and I think that kept a lot of people away from eBay, because sometimes you did not sell your stuff and you still paid. Hence eBay kept the feature but just made it zero (and they will recoup on the other side after you make a sale).

I am not 100% sure, but this can not be 100% correct for other ebay sides (I mean other then .com) and maybe some other countries (e.g. .com.au) still charge an insertion fee no matter if you sell or not.

To promote or not to promote your items on eBay?

Promoted listings is something you may want to use for high value items and also for singular (or low) quantities. Please note that promoted listing applies to the product in it’s entire quantity. Meaning you sell a red ball with 10$ and you have 5 pcs. Once the product sells, and let’s say someone will purchase all 5 red balls, YOU will pay the promoted listing for each item, not for the add itself, but for the quantity. If you item price is low, be aware that the promoted listing feature will take a big cut out of profit.

Also you need to know that promotion campaigns are mostly for US, so if you target customer is not US based, then … better stay away from using promoted listings. Selling for a different target market, say Germany, will require you to switch domains to ebay.de and sell there. Otherwise you can’t promote from ebay.com in another market.

eBay monitors all your communication with all your buyers

No exception. There is literally someone who scans your communication, after their AI software screens it. And that someone who works for eBay can help you as a seller to get rid of buyers who are trying to get stuff for free, but in the same time they can punish you. NEVER, EVER try to send e-mail addresses to your potential buyers outside of a sale that does require this kind of action. Because if you eBay can block your account with no way to appeal. NEVER, EVER hint to a potential buyer that you may want to take the sale offline and send them links to another website where they can buy it maybe cheaper (still from you), because you are instantly doomed. All the messages that have links or e-mail are 100% reviewed by a person and you will get the bucket if they think something fishy is going on and your account will be terminated.

eBay selling overview screen is misleading

When you enter your seller overview you are presented with a summary number showing: active products, sold products, unsold products and total sold $ value. This $ value includes tax the buyer paid, so it’s not what you get to “keep”, but rather is what eBay collected via your sales.

Because your buyers are world wide, eBay “collects tax” (and passes it on to PayPal or pays it directly to the tax authority) according to what the buyer country law is. So, this summary reflects everything (including tax). Note I said “collects tax”, when in fact PayPal adds the tax on top of the sale price, but for the argument of this subsection, eBay will display the total amount including this tax.

eBay customer service

It’s not bad actually. They do respond if you have queries or issues with a sale or with something in your account or maybe with a cancellation. BUT if you want eBay customer service help you with some NEUTRAL or NEGATIVE feedback¬†(that you did not deserve), then you are in for it… They will almost never remove feedback, unless you prove with serious evidence that you did all your best and you delivered and you did what you said you do in the add and it may take weeks.

For example: if you receive NEUTRAL feedback, some of us sellers don’t like that and say you reach out to eBay customer service, explaining that the buyer actually did not collect his item and you had to cancel the order, but 21 days later (or about) the buyers comes and drops a NEUTRAL feedback saying something along the line: “neither good or bad interaction, because the order was cancelled”. Then automatically you reach out to eBay and give all evidence and ask them to remove the NEUTRAL feedback and… nothing. Literally you are ignored and nothing happens. The best way to deal with these kinds of NEUTRAL feedback is to respond to the feedback as clear and polite as you can, with something like this: “Customer did not collect the item, order was cancelled and fully refunded. Ty”.

You will have limited number of characters you can write so you can shorten some common words. This way other buyers will look and understand what happens. IF YOU DON’T respond, it’s just like you received a NEGATIVE feedback.

Always respond to NEUTRAL feedback.

I will not cover NEGATIVE feedback in this article, maybe if you have any experience with that let me know.

Never miss the deadlines

Never, ever miss a shipping deadline. I know it sounds like… “what are you talking about!?”… but trust me, never miss a deadline for shipping. This is like a credit rating and you account will get earmarked for the future and how eBay handles your account.

Feedback

eBay recommends you provide feedback immediately, but they also say “feedback is voluntary”.

My advice is NEVER, EVER leave feedback before the buyer does. Because if you do, then you have no chance to help yourself if the buyer decides to claim their money (and keep the product) via PayPal.

NEVER LEAVE FEEDBACK BEFORE THE BUYER DOES!!!!

If you leave feedback before your buyers, you may have a surprise when they leave feedback or when they claim the money back. In my experience 98% of buyers leave those standard feedbacks like: “Great seller! Easy transaction! Thank you! A++++” or “Friendly and great service! Delivered quickly! Highly recommended!“, so you don’t need to worry about this so much. As long as you deliver what you are selling, then all good.

But there are those scammers that will ask PayPal for their money back even after they received their product and never give you any feedback.

Instead of feedback make a note to yourself and just write DELIVERED next to each transaction. When you see “Positive feedback received” then post your feedback.

DO NOT ABUSE FEEDBACK. If buyer leave negative feedback make sure it’s not your fault and handle negative feedback with eBay, but if the buyer just give you negative feedback without any reason then at least you have an option there, by having a “report buyer” option.

Be aware of the end of “month” fee!

You may start feeling all jolly and hunky-dory, when things are picking up and sales are getting a consistent number daily and you see a steady increase in revenue. You may be tempted, like many of us, to take it ALL. But don’t forget to check the account activity page especially the fees section, just so you don’t get a heart attack when the invoice comes.

Visit this section: Home > My eBay > My Account > Seller Account > Account Activity, as if you are calling home to check on family. Maybe daily or every other day, but don’t wait till the end of month… or you will be in for a big surprise.

These fees feel so “small”, just like in the $ store… until you get to the checkout and you realize, this was no $ store, but more like 10’s or 100’s of $ store… so, be aware you need to pay eBay, it’s fair share.

Jumping around eBay domains names

Some of us did not originally register on eBay.com and at one point in time you changed to .com website (various reasons here). Please note that most of the communication features will always be handled by your first eBay domain name and you will be bounced around domain names, sometimes without noticing.

For example: when you receive a question from a buyer and you want to answer that question… then eBay will send you to your originally registered website (say .com.au) and you can answer there. Also sometimes eBay redirects you to the buyers domain name (e.g. eBay.de or eBay.co.uk or whatever…) and you get prompted to login again. This can be very frustration, trust me… if you sell to 10’s of clients at the same time and they all ask questions, then you will be bounced all over the place. It ain’t funny at all.

So, I made a browser extension and I will launch soon. The extension I made simply allows you to set your main eBay domains (for example: .com) and anything other then that will be marked with a red border around your browser window. This way you know you left your main domain name and if the language is not English then at least you know you are not US anymore, but maybe UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia, or who knows where else.

Error, error and UI inconsistency

You just got to love this… but eBay is full of errors and the UI is a mess. You will be bound to receive weird error messages that will tell you nothing about what the problem is… in fact they will confuse you even more.

So here are the most common ones I get:

  • login issues, where they just run into a problem… what problem, who knows.
  • login issue, where the sms code, authentication code, code link, app authentication does not work… this is mostly when you login for the first time during your eBay day and you will have to retry, by simply trying to login other ways… and it will eventually work, but it’s frustrating.
  • the user interface (the look of eBay) is different depending on the section you are in. You will notice this many times over throughout your eBay day, because the menus look different, the layout looks different, fonts are different and it’s very confusing and frustrating.
  • Their help files point to all the wrong sections. Some help sections were deleted and/or moved to another section, but there is no link… all this on the official website.
  • Time out… it happens that you get a timeout event while you posting and add… it’s rare but you get it. That’s why it’s important to write all the add content outside of eBay in a document and just copy paste it in.
  • Cancelled orders are still shown as sold and the buyer is still asked for feedback…. and this can mess you up. I got most of my NEUTRAL feedback from these types of transactions.

Sellers are not protected

They say that stuff falls under seller protection act, but not on eBay… most of the time people on the other end (on eBay side) are swamped with issues submitted by the customers and they can’t really help you. Most of the time their replies are pointing to generic pages and sometimes with broken links.

So, say you want to modify a feedback you left for a buyer… you can’t do it.

Say you want to report a buyer, because he/she actually opened a case against you on PayPal and he got to keep the product and the money…. you can’t do it.

Negative feedback for buyers… you can’t change it.

You are your only protection on eBay so make a script and follow it by the letter. Cover yourself on all the angles. Learn to identify SCAM buyers, learn patterns on repeat buyers who did not give you any feedback, but keep wanting more stuff, learn from those hasty communication messages where the buyer spams you with requests for him to be updated on shipment and delivery,…. learn to protect yourself.

Bottom line

When you sell on eBay, you will use PayPal and you effectively enter a game of slapping. It will be like you are slapped from all directions randomly and you don’t even know who did it.

Make sure your eBay account is up to date: personal details in order, no late fee payments, clean and professional communication with buyers, good invoice policy, keep your deadlines (shipping, feedback). In PayPal make sure your details are real, your account is validated, you have a bank account and credit card up to date.

Selling on eBay can be rewarding and if you are willing to keep only 75% of what you sell, then it’s a great way to sell stuff online.

This part 1 covered mostly eBay, in part 2 I will cover PayPal in relationship with selling on eBay.

You got something to say about this? Let me know in the comments section below.

Final note

Buyer changes his/her mind after using your product for 2 weeks and ask to send the product back… eBay will implore you to help the buyer as a sign of good faith… you must always and politely decline. Unless, you obviously have a return policy that is saying like “X days satisfaction guaranteed or your money back”, then you have to honor that policy.

For example my policy is: “All sales are final, no refund and no exchange. Please ask all questions before you buy.”… What do you think? Do I get requests to return the product because the customer changed his/her mind? Heck YES and eBay support the buyers… even if my policy clearly is saying I don’t accept returns or exchanges…. It just blows my gaskets when I get those messages.

Now read the PayPal article.

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