STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

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STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby Samwise » Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:40 pm

UPDATE: HERE ARE SOME OF OUR RULES OF THUMB FOR TRADING!

- always, always, always ask if the thing you are buying is the item pictured. Get it in writing, that way if what turns up isn't the item pictured you've got grounds for complaint.

- don't be afraid to use the contact seller button - ask as many questions as you need before the auction ends, will save a lot of hassle once it finishes. Responses to your questions will be a fantastic guide to how good the seller will be with you if you win...

- do your research. If you have found an item that you want, use a search engine to find out more about similar items.

- check out feedback. It's not perfect but it's generally a good guide to how the transaction will go. Some sellers are unlucky and their ratings are affected by people who can never be satisified bidding on their stuff. This happens more now that sellers don't get to leave negative feedback. Fortunately such antaganostic bidders often expose themselves in their feedback. There may also be some downsides to be seen amongst the positives, especially if there are a few ratings "Withdrawn by mutual consent.".

- even if you're paying via PayPal, pay using a credit card. You get much better consumer protection with that than almost anything else.

- if in doubt, ask the community. If you are after an electronic component, ask for advice. Someone on a forum may have some spare, may know of a good supplier, or may know of an equivalent device that does the same job. You may also be able to find out about dubious selling techniques from sellers already known to the community. One of our forum members was cautious enough to have the sense to decline a "Second Chance" offer for an "almost identical item".

- if still in doubt, walk away. eBay / PayPal buyer protection isn't that great so don't assume that you can chance it and eBay / PayPal will sort it all out, if it all goes wrong.

- keep things polite and to the point when communicating with the seller. Never let your emotions drive you to write things that you'll later regret or cause eBay to ban you rather than deal with the seller appropriately. A cool head will win the day.

- read as much of eBay's own advice for buyers as you can. Understanding their rules will give you an idea of what it is you're getting into.

- unless you really know it's rare and/or you're an eBay newbie, watch a few auctions for the type of item you want to buy. Get a feel for the going rate and quality of the items that come up. Dont forget the 'complete listing' option on advanced search on eBay to help get an idea on what previous items have gone for. Some members have found it useful to create a spreadsheet to document a recent history of multiple auctions for particular items of interest, along with what end price they've reached. This governs how much they might be prepared to pay for an item. Decide how much it is worth to YOU before you bid, and do not exceed that amount. Do not bid higher than the price an item is available for elsewhere, obviously. Often, whatever you're looking at will come along again.

- check the sellers buying history some sellers buy stuff *very* cheaply and then very quickly list the item for sale again with a high starting bid or BIN price to try to turn a quick profit. Whilst not necessarily wrong, this type of seller might be thought of as a "box shifter", and may not really care about or understand what it is they're selling. Some may even not be entirely honest - a story behind why a particular item is being listed for sale may unravel if you look at the seller's buying history and discover that they may have bought the same item on eBay a fortnight previously.

- don't rush to buy things. Some members early in their trading career bought some stuff that wasn't the best value for money. Most items are not excessively rare, so if something doesn't look right, or is getting too expensive, let it go and wait for another similar item to arrive.

- avoid private sales or auctions on eBay. There is no good reason for the withholding of information by a seller - unless you're looking for something in a plain brown wrapper of course. The use of private sales as a cloak for shill bidding is compounded by eBay's decision to hide information which should arguably be available to auction participants.

- consider avoiding eBay. Unless the item you are bidding on is very rare or you must have it immediately, there are often better trading websites or suppliers. Use a search engine to see if the item you are after is available elsewhere. Alternatives include machine-specific forums like this one, (WoS, ZX80/ZX81, QL, Atari-Forum, 8bitchip or perhaps Amibay, The Icon Bar, cjemicros, Computer History Museum Shop, or the comp.sys.acorn newsgroups first. Post wanted ads on such forums before you try eBay. Chances are someone else has one that they're willing to off-load. Books are often cheaper on Amazon and old Acorn kit can sometimes be found at RISC OS shows for peanuts. Don't use eBay, abebooks, or Amazon as a guide to value, however. Prices can fluctuate wildly. You can make a judgement when copies are generally available, but for really hard to find books you get some third-party dealers just posting ridiculous prices.

- keep an eye on how much stuff you're collecting. There's never enough time! The more kit you get, the more time you end up maintaining it which is fine, if that's what you enjoy - but it also means you have less time available to actually play with it! If you have a lot of stuff tucked away in storage that you haven't touched in years, you might want to consider digging it out before adding to the pile.

- keep an eye on postage. Free postage is good for one item but if you get several items from the same seller you may get a postage discount. Items that don't have free postage can have vastly different costs. BBC postage varies from around £8 to £20. This should be taken into account for your maximum bid (unless you can collect it). For some cheaper items you can find postage costs more than the item, monitors tend to be an example of that. Sometimes postage is a guess by the seller, and if it works out cheaper you might get some money back. It's worth checking with the seller if you really want item but postage seems high.

--

Hullo,

From recent discussions, I think there's a real benefit if we collate a list of advice for anyone who wants to buy or sell on eBay from an Acorn / retro computing point of view. So, if you have any suggestions on what you look for / best practices when buying or selling (please make clear) on eBay, I'd appreciate it if you could reply to this topic. When the topic dies down, I'll collate all the suggestions into a single useful post, which can remain as a sticky in this forum.

If an eBay item looks too good to be true. How would you investigate it?

We'll leave the topic open so people can add further advice in the future.

Cheers,

Sam.

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby paulv » Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:59 pm

Wherever I mention ebay, you can substitute it for your very own favourite auction/pre-owned site :D

First rule I'd have to say is always, always, always ask if the thing you are buying is the item pictured. Get it in writing, that way if what turns up isn't the item pictured you've got grounds.

Many times I've seen images from my own site, Chris Whyteheads site and other Acorn related sites used as the image of the item for sale. I've done quite a bit to combat that on my site without resorting to watermarking the images but nothing other than watermarking them is fool proof and that detracts from the image so I prefer not to do it.

I've contacted ebay in the past, filed copyright infringement reports as directed and they have *never* responded/acted/taken down the offending item.

In fact extending this rule a bit, ask as many questions as you need to satisfy your gut feelings. Asking questions before the auction ends stops a lot of hassle after the auction ends.

Responses to your questions will be a fantastic guide to how good the seller will be with you if you win...

Second rule is check out feedback - It's not perfect but it's generally a good guide to how the transaction will go.

Third rule is even if your paying via PayPal, pay using a credit card - You get much better consumer protection with that than almost anything else.

Fourth rule if in doubt ask the community - I've never done this myself but I've been lucky not to fall foul of dubious selling techniques from already known to the community sellers. I was lucky to have the sense to decline a "Second Chance" offer for an "almost identical item" once. It just didn't feel right to me...

http://stardot.org.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=2457&p=33772&hilit=second+chance#p33772

Should've checked to avoid the item in the first place!

Fifth rule keep things polite and to the point when communicating with the seller. Never let your emotions drive you to write things that you'll later regret or cause ebay to ban you rather than deal with the seller appropriately. A cool head will win the day.

Finally, read as much of ebay's own advice for buyers as you can. Understanding their rules will give you an idea of what it is you're getting into.

EDIT:

Rule six, unless you really know it's rare and/or you're an ebay newbie, watch a few auctions for the type of item you want to buy. Get a feel for the going rate, quality of the items that come up, see if any sellers appear to be buying items and then selling them on for a quick profit.

Rule seven, check the sellers buying history some sellers buy stuff *very* cheaply and then very quickly list the item for sale again with a high starting bid or BIN price to try to turn a quick profit. Whilst not illegal in any way, this type of seller is what I tend to think of as a "box shifter", it's not often they really care about what they're selling. With old computing kit there are roughly four types of sellers.

1. Family selling off computers due to a recent death.
2. Hobbyists getting rid of surplus kit.
3. Specialist refurbisher. Pretty sure most of these people are members of *. and the community in general and are well known.
4. Box shifters. In it for the profit. I can think of at least two sellers like this off the top of my head...

Paul

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby nOmArch » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:35 am

paulv wrote:
Fourth rule if in doubt ask the community - I've never done this myself but I've been lucky not to fall foul of dubious selling techniques from already known to the community sellers. I was lucky to have the sense to decline a "Second Chance" offer for an "almost identical item" once. It just didn't feel right to me...

http://stardot.org.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=2457&p=33772&hilit=second+chance#p33772

Should've checked to avoid the item in the first place!


Yeah happens rather a lot with that guy.
Alex

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby tautology » Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:33 am

paulv wrote:Rule six, unless you really know it's rare and/or you're an ebay newbie, watch a few auctions for the type of item you want to buy. Get a feel for the going rate, quality of the items that come up, see if any sellers appear to be buying items and then selling them on for a quick profit.


I can agree with this one; being a recent purchaser, the first thing I did was create a spreadsheet where I've document multiple auctions for items and how much they went for. This governs how much I'm prepared to pay for lots of things.

paulv wrote:Rule seven, check the sellers buying history some sellers buy stuff *very* cheaply and then very quickly list the item for sale again with a high starting bid or BIN price to try to turn a quick profit. Whilst not illegal in any way, this type of seller is what I tend to think of as a "box shifter", it's not often they really care about what they're selling. With old computing kit there are roughly four types of sellers.

1. Family selling off computers due to a recent death.
2. Hobbyists getting rid of surplus kit.
3. Specialist refurbisher. Pretty sure most of these people are members of *. and the community in general and are well known.
4. Box shifters. In it for the profit. I can think of at least two sellers like this off the top of my head...

Also, people lie: I've seen a few auctions where an item is listed as "having been in my attic for years" or "was my dead husband's", then you look at their buying history and discover that they bought it 2 weeks ago from a seller with the same sob-story.

Rule 8, don't rush to buy things. I made this mistake at the start and bought some stuff that wasn't the best value for money. Most items are not excessively rare, so if something doesn't look right, or is getting too expensive, let it go and wait for another similar item to arrive.

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby Advance » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:34 pm

OK, I've just finished posting on my original Not as expected thread and have popped over here to add to the list while I remember.

Avoid private sales or auctions on ebay. There is no good reason for the withholding of information by a seller - unless you're looking for something in a plain brown wrapper of course.

The use of private sales as a cloak for shill bidding is now documented on the original thread and it compounds ebay's ludicrous decisions to hide information which patently should be available to auction participants.

Hugh

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby RobC » Wed Sep 05, 2012 8:14 pm

My top tip is to avoid eBay if at all possible! Unless the item you are bidding on is very rare or you must have it immediately, there are often better options.

I'd always try to use forums like this one, Amibay, The Icon Bar or the comp.sys.acorn newsgroups first. Books are often cheaper on Amazon and old Acorn kit can sometimes be found at RISC OS shows for peanuts. (Contrary to the impression you might get online, I find RISC OS shows to be very friendly affairs.)

The other piece of advice I was given when I got back into Beebs was to avoid collecting too much. I wish I'd paid more attention to this - there's never enough time and the more kit I get, the more time I seem to spend maintaining it and the less time I spend playing with it!

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby paulv » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:40 pm

RobC wrote:the more time I seem to spend maintaining it and the less time I spend playing with it!


Does not compute! For me maintaining the machines is part of the play time even if sometimes I have to give up and send it to Mark for his very expert eye to take a look.

Paul

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby thecellartroll » Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:39 pm

When you look at an auction, decide how much it is worth to YOU. That is your maximum bid. Don't exceed that, not even by a penny, no matter what happens. The item isn't going to magically become worth more to YOU than it was when you first decided just because the last Euromillions winner decided that he really wanted his hamster to have an Acorn Electron in its cage. Its pretty likely that whatever you're looking at will come along again.

If you really want something, bung a wanted ad on here and similar forums before you enter the ebay madness. Chances are someone else has one that they're willing to off-load.

If you are buying from ebay, don't be afraid to use the contact seller button. Even for a private sale, you are their customer and entitled to ask questions. The way that they deal with you through that exchange will give you some idea about their attitude if their description turns out to be ballsacks. As a regular ebay seller I am always happy when people ask questions - it usually means that they're making the effort to find out if what I'm selling is actually what they're looking for. Saves hassle in the long run.

Actually read the feedback. Some sellers are unlucky and get morons bidding on their stuff. This happens more now that sellers don't get to leave negative feedback. It could be that their rating has been dropped due to the buyer being an idiot. Fortunately idiots often expose themselves in their idiotic feedback! Also there may be some downsides to be seen amongst the positives, especially if there are a few ratings "Withdrawn by mutual consent."

If in doubt, walk away. Ebay buyer protection isn't that great so don't assume that you can chance it and Ebay will square you up if it all goes wrong.

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby 1024MAK » Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:47 am

More things to think about:
  • eBay is NOT a shop - so don't treat it as a shop...
  • You may want to use a search engine to see if the item you are after is available elsewhere. If you have found an item that you want on eBay, use the details in a search engine to find out more about similar items.
  • There are other trading web sites, see if any of these also has what you want.
  • There are other suppliers, some items on eBay cost more than the same item through a normal supplier...
  • If you are after an electronic component, ask for advice. Someone on a forum may have some spare, may know of a good supplier, or may know of an equivalent device that does the same job.
  • And if it's not Acorn, visit and maybe join a forum for your retro machine (WoS, ZX80/ZX81, QL, Atari-Forum, 8bitchip plus no doubt many more etc).
Mark
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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby paulv » Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:34 am

1024MAK wrote:There are other suppliers, some items on eBay cost more than the same item through a normal supplier...


I've seen this happen several times on things I've bid for. My usual approach where the item is available elsewhere is to set my maximum bid to the value of the item available elsewhere. That way, I may get a bargain if no-one bids against me too much and if it goes over my maximum bid, I then approach the retailer that is also selling that item and buy it from there, knowing that it sold for more on ebay therefore, I get a bargain when compared to the person that outbid me :D

Either way, to me, I get a bargain :D It amazes me how many times I actually lose on those auctions (every time) when the same item is available for less elsewhere. People clearly do not do their research...

Paul

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby Elminster » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:31 pm

Especially with books it is worth looking around on places like Amazon, abebooks etc.

Often books can go for £15-20 on eBay but I have picked them up for a couple of pound on other sites.

Also keep an eye on postage. Free postage is good for one item but if you get several items from say sellor you won't get any postage discount. Items that don't have free postage can have vastly different costs. BBC postage varies from around £8 to £20. This should be taken into account for you maximum bid (unless you can collect it). For some cheaper items you can find postage costs more than the item, monitors tend to be an example of that.

Edit: sometimes postage is a guess by the sellor, and if it works out cheaper you might get some money back. Worth checking with sellor if you really want item but postage seems high.

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby paulj » Sun Sep 09, 2012 2:05 pm

Elminster wrote:Especially with books it is worth looking around on places like Amazon, abebooks etc. Often books can go for £15-20 on eBay but I have picked them up for a couple of pound on other sites.
I echo that advice, but don't use ebay, abebooks, or amazon as a guide to value. Prices can fluctuate wildly on abebooks and amazon, You can make a judgement when copies are generally available, but for really hard to find books you get some dealers on abebooks and amazon just posting ridiculous prices.

Best Regards,
Paul

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby Elminster » Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:32 pm

paulj wrote: don't use ebay, abebooks, or amazon as a guide to value. Prices can fluctuate wildly on abebooks and amazon, You can make a judgement when copies are generally available, but for really hard to find books you get some dealers on abebooks and amazon just posting ridiculous prices.


Agreed. On both Amazon and Abe you can often see the same book for £2-5 and £10-20. Some of the bookshops dont have, or people dont bother to put, pictures up so only have description of condition to go on (although people on ebay do sometime use stock photos anyway). And nothing stopping the person doing a buy now for £xx on ebay going on the others either. I usually Google the book title and author name. There are at least a dozen reputable online second handbook stores covering books in general and/or BBC specifically.

Oh and I forgot to put on my post above. Dont forget the 'complete listing' option on advanced search on ebay to help get an idea on what previous items have gone for.

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby Samwise » Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:18 pm

Hey, guys.

Can we have recommendations for the "other" sites to check for second-hand books etc. I suspect most people know about abebooks, Amazon and eBay but I imagine the list gets smaller afer that. If we can include of some other places to try that would also be good, I think ...

Sam.

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby Elminster » Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:39 pm

I wandered around a dozen sites or so. But I can only vouch as having used ebay, Amazon and abebooks. Always managed to get the book I want for a reasonable price on one of them.

Not bought from but should be safe for cjemicros and Computer History Museum Shop also.

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby RobC » Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:13 pm

Elminster wrote:Not bought from but should be safe for cjemicros and Computer History Museum Shop also.


I've bought from CJE Micros and have never had any problems. Prices can be high but the service is always excellent.

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby MatthewThompson » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:44 am

Seconded regards to CJE Micros, some prices can be high, but the service is excellent and they have always been very helpful when I have spoken to them over the phone. And delivery times always quick.

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby nOmArch » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:54 am

Yep CJE's prices can be a bit top heavy but Chris is a very friendly and helpful guy and everything I have ever bought from them has always been in excellent condition and worked perfectly.
Alex

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby MatthewThompson » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:17 pm

There are also some bargains to had there as well, quite a few old RISC OS games under a tenner, and some of the old ones do turn up there now and then, I got Top Banana for £8.00 !

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby Advance » Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:00 pm

Does Mrs. Top Banana know?
H.

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby TopBanana » Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:41 am

lol Hugh

She often sells me and I have to work the debt off and hitch-hike home.

When I return I find she's got rid of all my older computers and tidied up my office :( :shock:

:lol:

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby Advance » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:59 am

Oh dear, that sounds so depressingly familiar.
H.

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby 1024MAK » Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:24 pm

TopBanana wrote:lol Hugh

She often sells me and I have to work the debt off and hitch-hike home.

When I return I find she's got rid of all my older computers and tidied up my office :( :shock:

:lol:

Does she renew your capacitors so that you don't smoke?
And give you a good clean? And check that you can read discs?
Or does the buyer get upset because you are not as described, not properly cleaned and look a bit old and used?

Is that why you end up back home? :mrgreen:
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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby TopBanana » Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:48 am

1024MAK wrote:Does she renew your capacitors so that you don't smoke?
And give you a good clean? And check that you can read discs?
Or does the buyer get upset because you are not as described, not properly cleaned and look a bit old and used?

Is that why you end up back home? :mrgreen:


lol Mark

No, I'm always well scrubbed and presentable, non smoking, full working order and as described, but in reality I'm just past it and not up to the job anymore, so the purchaser gets fed up and I get replaced by a younger model :lol:

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby CMcDougall » Wed Nov 05, 2014 11:16 pm

just read this on another forum, so thought would share:
------------------------------------------------------
I won an auction on Ebay from a UK seller who unknowingly opted the item to be included in the Global Shipping Program. Apparently this is a by default so you need to change your settings. I paid for the item and the shipping fees via Paypal with my Visa prepaid card. I checked my Visa card statement and two payments had been taken -

One for the seller - which i expected and the other for a 'Pitney Bowes'. Who the fook is Pitney Bowes i thought. Pitney Bowes Ltd is a shipping company which work on behalf of Ebay for items in the Global Shipping Program. This is why i have another payment - which i didn't agree too. I agreed to the seller receiving the full amount in shipping.

I then got a message from the seller to see whether my address was correct as Paypal/Ebay or both had given a UK address in Derbyshire. I said no my address is blah blah in Ireland. The seller was then fretting whether they would be protected if she/he sent the item via the post office to my home address. She/he then said they had to send the parcel to this UK address as she/he wouldn't be covered - she/he checked Ebay.

But this is how it works - The Global Shipping Program is running in all English speaking countries at the moment. And it works on items being sold to buyers from another country to yourself. The seller ships my item to a UK address in Derbyshire which is a Pitney Bowes shipping depot and they then send my item onto me Pitney Bowes Ltd will actually open my parcel before they send it one to me also - why??

What is the fooking point? I have ended up paying for the item to be shipped to another UK address and then pay again for shipping from that UK address to my address. What's wrong with the bloody post office!!!!! They offer track and trace too!!!

My other objection is if something goes missing who is responsible? The seller or Pitney Bowes Ltd?
If my item is broken in transit who is responsible? The seller or Pitney Bowes?

Why change what already works??
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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby jonb » Thu Nov 06, 2014 6:37 am

I think ebay did this because sellers are often reluctant to go to all the hassle of international shipping.

Also, they probably charge hidden fees, or take a cut of the international part of the shipping. I think it sucks, personally.

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby CanonMan » Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:00 am

As soon as I heard about the new Global Shipping Program, I opted out straight away. It's hard enough trying to sell things on eBay as it is, without a whole new layer of complexity being added!

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Re: STH members eBay advice - buying & selling!

Postby retroclinic » Thu Nov 06, 2014 11:00 pm

The GSP (and yes, I can't believe me of all people are saying this) is actually fine. I'm opted in on my private selling account and it's worked just fine for me as both a buyer and a seller.

However, the actual shipping cost seems to be generated by a bunch of mice running round a maze bumping into random digits. I've been charged $50 for a small item that should cost $15 by USPS, then another item that was 15 kilos in a box 110x40x30 cost me $35. When I opt to sell stuff, I can't set the global postage rate, only the local one to the shipping centre, so how do they work out what to charge the buyer? That's the bit I've not figured out yet, but all in all, it does work.

It's also nice not to have to pay the import duty when it arrives, paying it at the time of purchase means it's done and dusted, and there's no extra forking out later with PF taking their cut.

Mark.
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