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eBay Primer Part 2: Selling On eBay
Posted by Gregg on August 9, 2001 at 06:18 PM CST:
All right, you've been buying masks on eBay for a little while and you've been a good bidder. You've garnered a respectable (15) feedback with comments such as "Fast pay! Super Bidder!" and "Must have learned bidding from Mask of Destiny!".

And as you were buying singles you needed you were still picking up the odd mask pack here and there, just for the fun of opening them! Who can blame you? As you put Mask # 72 in your box or whatever you store your masks in you realize you have 20 or so extra masks.

You could save them for later trading since you'll still want the mystery masks but you might be better off just selling them.

Now it's time to step to the other side of the counter and become an eBay seller! Signing up for selling is a bit more involved that it is for buying since eBay has to have a way to collect any fees generated by your auctions. That's right, you will pay a percentage to eBay of anything that sells but the exposure you get to literally millions of potential bidders more than makes up for it.

So first you will need to sign up for a seller's account. Converting your bidder account over will take a few minutes and you will need a credit card to pay your fees. To convert your account click on the "SELL" link at the top of the home page and the click on "New Sellers Start Here". From there follow the steps for verification of a seller account and you'll be ready to sell in no time.

So now you have your shiny new seller account and you are ready to try and unload those extra masks. Here are some basic tips to improve your chances of success and hopefully increase the number and amount of bids your items get!

1. Your auction title should contain keywords for bidder searches- The first step in attracting bidders to your auction is making it easy for them to find it using the search engine. Keywords that mask collectors will be searching under include: BIONICLE (duh), KANOHI, MASK, LEGO. Avoid using words like RARE and the dreaded LOOK! This may sound good to you in generating excitement but such come ons can actually drive timid bidders away. Try to get as much info about what you are selling up front in the auction title. A good example I saw recently was "LEGO BIONICLE Mask KANOHI MAHIKI Light Gray", It's a perfect example of a seller hitting ALL the keywords as well as getting the exact description of the item in a very limited space. This mask sold for $5.50, a pretty respectable price for a single mask, due in large part to the seller's very wise use of keywords to draw the highest number of interested bidders possible. You only get 80 characters so budgeting your space to the essential information is important!

2. Bidders like pictures- When you are browsing ads on eBay it's a lot like window shopping. You stroll through the ads and every once in a while you see something that stops you in your tracks and makes you take a closer look. Including pictures with your ads is easy and free. If you have a digital camera or even a flatbed scanner you can make. JPGs of your items and include them with your listing for free! eBay has free picture hosting of one picture for each auction. When listing your item you will see a place for this option and it is as easy as browsing and finding the .JPG file of your item. When your listing is done the picture automatically uploads to their server and appears under your item description.

3. Be very clear in your terms- After your item description you should put a detailed list of the terms of sale. Whether or not you will ship internationally, how much extra for shipping, forms of payment accepted etc..... This is the business end of your auction and you want it to be clear and concise up front. I would advise anyone to NOT accept personal checks. On small items like we are dealing with here the returned check fees can really be a blow. If you do decide to accept them make sure you state in the terms that no item ships until the check clears. Warning that a ten day wait is your policy is prudent and not at all out of line with most other sellers.

4. Be honest in your description- That little tiny scratch in the white HAU mask might not seem important to you but you owe it to your potential bidders to mention it. Better to have them know up front and maybe buy it for less than to have to refund their money or even worse, get a negative on your sparkling record.


Once again you've done it all right, your use of keywords drew tons of bidders, your pictures hooked them, the description was nominated for the Pulitzer prize for eBay ad writing and the terms were crystal clear. Your auctions close and now you have about 63 dollars out there just waiting to be collected. Now what?

The first thing you need to do after the auction closes is to send out an invoice to your winning bidder. eBay will send you and the winning bidder an automated message telling the final auction price and your bidder's e-mail address will be on this notice. You can also get the ball rolling right after the auction close if you want by getting the e-mail address from your auction page by clicking on the bidder's user ID. Once you confirm your ID and Password eBay will give you contact information so you can send out an invoice.

Here is a sample invoice, it's the one I use when I am contacting winning bidders in my auctions:


You were the high bidder for the YOUR ITEM NAME AND NUMBER HERE

Your total with shipping is TOTAL DUE HERE

Please send a MONEY ORDER in this amount to:


PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE RECEIPT OF THIS E-MAIL WITH YOUR SHIPPING INFO AND INTENDED METHOD OF PAYMENT WITHIN 3 DAYS. I will not leave you hanging, I'll let you know when your payment arrives and when your item is shipping out to you, please do me the courtesy of this one reply and your prompt payment.

Thanks for bidding!

Asking for a bidder to touch base with you is not out of line and it's a good way to tell how they are going to be after the sale. Even though you asked some bidders will not e-mail back, they will just send the payment. Most will though and good communication from them is a mark in their favor when it comes time to leave feedback.

On very rare occasions a week or so will go by with no contact and no payment. Don't panic, just send a politely worded letter to be sure that they did get your invoice. E-mail problems and even computer problems can hinder communication so don't fly off the handle.
If two weeks go by with no payment and no contact you do have recourse through eBay and if you follow procedures you can get your Final Value Fee (the percentage that eBay collects on your sale) refunded. Click on Services and then Selling and you should see a link to a Final Value Fee (FVF) credit form. You will need to fill out a Non Paying Bidder warning, which is an automated e-mail warning that eBay sends out to let the bidder know that he is in potential violation of the terms of service and needs to contact you immediately. After 7 more days you can file for the FVF. This also puts a strike on the bad bidder's record and after 3 of them they will get the dreaded NARU, Not a Register User. A fate worse than death for any true fan of eBay.

All that is worse case scenario, however. Over the course of over 100 sales I have only had to file for a FVF a couple of times. Most people bidding on eBay are folks just like you, they want cool stuff and they are serious about getting it.

A few days after your auctions end lovely envelopes with Money Orders should start trickling in. Time to open up the shipping department!

Make sure you pack items safely and securely. I usually use small boxes or padded mailers to send masks. With a little extra bubble wrap around each mask this works just fine. Postage on small items like this for first class mail is usually under a dollar. For larger items use sturdy boxes and plenty of packing material. It's a good idea to wrap boxed items like RAHI in plastic bag, just in case the outer box gets wet the item inside will be protected. For packing material you can also use plastic shopping bags, newspaper or plastic peanuts from your previous purchases. I never throw out good packing material!

Usually within a week or so the item will arrive to the bidder and they will usually let you know it arrived either by e-mail or by leaving you a positive feedback. Once the transaction is complete and both parties are satisfied you should leave feedback to each other to let others know the sale went off well.

And that's it! You are now a big shot eBay wheeler dealer! Have fun, treat others the way you want to be treated and you will have a great time.

Next Chapter will concern some tips and tricks like the time honored trick of sniping! We'll also look at some of the venues for buying and trading. The Road to MATA NUI is long and you will need many resources to complete your quest for the Masks.................

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