Friday, May 27, 2011

Ebay: 5 Unwritten Rules of Engagement

I love Ebay. I really do. I have used it for a number of years and financed a variety of holidays and home projects with the money raised from carefully selected items we place for sale. I maintain that it is all in a good photo, brief details and cheap as possible postage.

Right now, I have a target: I want to raise about $400 to spend on some outdoor screens to go outside the kitchen window. Only way I am going to be able to afford them is to sell some shit. And that is where the good buyers of Ebay come in. Just like when I am in a buying mood and buy someone else's unwanted crap and help them out. I do love Ebay.

However... there are some pitfalls. A few persistent niggles I have about the process. Namely, the buyer who doesn't pay any attention to what I've listed and just thinks they'll contact me, regardless of the information all being in there.

These are the types who will ignore the queue signs in the bank and start their own line, pretending they can't see the half dozen people all lining up in the designated spot and who are all now staring bemusedly at the one VIP who's rummaging importantly in their handbag and queuing in the wrong spot for the teller.

They are also the ones who skip over the finer details of any conversation: "I'll have the pumpkin soup." "I'm sorry, we've run out of both soups of the day, sir, is there something else you'd like from the menu instead?" "Ummm... do you have any of the pea and ham left?" Urgh.

So, this is an ode to them. I figure, if you can't beat it out of them, you may as well try reverse psychology. It can't hurt any more.

Ebay: The 5 (Unofficial) Rules of Engagement:

The first rule of Ebay is to check if the listing has a Buy Now price. Contact the seller. Ask them if they have a Buy Now price. Chances are, you'll be told in the most thinly-disguised frustrated of ways that, no, they don't have a Buy Now price because if they did, it would be listed. But try it. You just never know, you might come across a buyer who is willing for you to snatch away an item that already has bids and watchers on it. It's worth a shot (obviously, because every second buyer seems to try it these days).

The second rule of Ebay is to look for the dimensions of the item. If you see the dimensions clearly shown in the listing already, ignore them. Contact the seller. Ask them for the measurements. Bonus points if you can find a listing that not only has the dimensions in the body of the listing, but also as an answered question made visible at the bottom - where another buyer has beaten you to the punch and asked this completely pointless question already. This is not as rare as it sounds. So go hunting!

The third rule of Ebay is to win an auction for something within easy driving distance of your home. Contact the seller. Tell them you wish to pick up the item and wait for them to respond with their address and contact details. Then, advise them that it's too far now that you've looked it up on the map. And that postage is not an option because you make it a rule never to pay for postage and deal on a pick-up only basis so you no longer require the item*. Bonus points if you can actually hear a popping sound (that may or may not be a head exploding) from the direction of their suburb as they compose a reply to you along the lines of "It's an extra two streets from the suburb you thought it was, are you KIDDING ME???"

The fourth rule of Ebay is... Contact the seller. Just contact them. Ask as irrelevant a question about their item as you can think of. Top marks for asking something that is obvious, ie. if the item in the photo is orange, ask if it is orange; if the item in the photo is a plank of wood, ask if it is a plank. Of wood. You get the picture.

The fifth and most important rule of Ebay is to list an item for sale with the best unintended misspell you can get away with. I give you still my most favourite ever Ebay auction title, the one Steve likes to call

"I hear he also does balloon animals".....:

Got a doozy of an Ebay story to share?
Do you use Ebay? And more importantly, are you good at it? If so, why can't YOU bid on/win my items? It would surely save us both some grey hairs.

* Yes... This ACTUALLY happened to me.

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