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Sharon's eBay Experience

     I've recently discovered eBay auctions and have been hooked since my first bid. In the beginning (around winter break this past year) I spent most of my time bidding and buying, but recently started cleaning out my closet and under the bed and parting with items that I've never used, or haven't used in years, and it's turned into great fun and an awesome way to make a few bucks.  Since I'd also sometimes bid on and won items that I didn't really need or want, I resold those, sometimes for a profit.  I like the fact that people can bid on the item they are interested in and basically set the price they want to pay.  I'm not a capitalist by nature, but I do need to eat, and right now I'm living the life of a poor college student trying not to build up too many loan debts before going out into the big bad world.

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My Selling Policies

Listing my items

    It's not fair to try and make a buck by being unfair and lying about the item you're trying to sell. My number one aim is to be honest about the condition of the item and to describe is as thoroughly and accurately as possible.  I don't have a digital camera so most of the time I don't include photos of my items, which is why I include a long description.   I also think that most photos don't do the item in question justice. However, I do look forward to the day when I can include pictures of the items I sell to make it easier on the buyer. I always start my bidding low, too.  I figure that people should have a chance to get an item for cheap.  This is a case of items being worth what people want to pay for them. I want everyone to be happy, not just me.

Reserve Price Auctions

    I don't believe in reserve price auctions. First of all, it costs more to list an item in a reserve auction than in a regular one. Secondly, I feel that people use a low starting bid as bait to draw people into their auctions, only to slam them with the fact that while the item might be going for $15 right now, the reserve is set at $90 and won't sell for anything less.  Why not just start the bid at $90 and be done with it?  I believe, as I stated above, in starting the bidding at a fairly low price. If the item is well-described and in demand, I can make some money on it. If not, then too bad, some lucky buyer just got a real deal.

My Return/Refund Policy

    I try very hard to describe each item as accurately as possible so that people have a solid idea of what exactly they are bidding on. I often include "as is" statements and claim no refunds.  However, if a person can make a good case that the item they bid on was not fairly reflected in my description, I will usually give a full refund.  Only in cases where I make it clear that I haven't tested an item or that I am not qualified to appraise an item will I not give refunds. I answer all e-mail questions as quickly and courteously as possible, too.  So far, so good.

Shipping Costs

    I admit that a lot of the time I guestimate on how much shipping is going to be, and then put in a set amount for the buyer to pay. I always check other items in the same category and try and pick what I feel to be the happy medium of costs. Then, when the payment arrives for an item, I trot on down to the Post Office and pick the shipping method that comes closest to the amount of money I asked for. So, if you send me $10 for shipping and I have a choice between regular mail at $3.50 or priority mail at $7, I'll pick the priority mail. I always purchase shipping insurance for every item I send out, regardless of whether or not the shipping price sent will cover it. The Postal Service and UPS sometimes crush or mangle packages and it's not fair for either me or the buyer to have to lose money because of it. I don't use a lot of cash on shipping materials unless necessary, but instead re-use boxes and packing peanuts or bubble wrap that items I've bought were packed in. I do this not only to lower costs but also to save the environment. I feel that I pack items well to ensure that they arrive in one piece.

Feedback

    Feedback is literally the most valuable tool that eBay put out for buyers. We sellers don't have to worry so much about our buyers since most of us demand payment before the item is shipped out, but buyers really put a lot of trust into people they don't know. It is absolutely vital that every potential bidder read the feedback of the seller very carefully.  A few negatives out of several hundred ratings isn't a big deal, but when someone has a large percentage of bad or neutral feedback, be very careful.  Send money orders or checks and hang on to your receipts, or demand escrow for items that go for a lot of money. Always communicate with the other person in an auction whether you are the buyer or the seller, and be nice.  Ask each person to leave feedback (preferrably positive) and that he or she contact you with any problems BEFORE leaving negative or neutral feedback.  Please always leave feedback for everyone you deal with, buyers or sellers.

The Point of it All

    The best thing to remember about eBay is to have fun.  Remember to read all descriptions carefully, check feedback, and really think about how much you want to pay for each item.  Keep in mind that buying from people you don't know is a risk, but that most folks are honest and nice and will act so if treated accordingly.  Try and know the difference between getting an item that was accurately described but not what you wanted and getting a real lemon.  Be fair, play nice, and bid bid bid!

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