Why I don’t sell on eBay anymore

I first started using eBay five years ago, and I started selling about a year later, privately at least.

Then, in 2005 I started selling used books, LPs and other items on a professional basis, even qualifying as a Verkaufsagent (seller’s agent).

Slowly, however, I came to the decision that I was spending too much time on this part of my business and was not making enough profit to sustain it. The risks associated with selling on-line did not really help much, either.

The first step was at the end of 2006, when I noticed a drop in the prices that people were bidding for my items. Furniture, that had cost thousands of Euros should have been going for several hundred in my opinion – but getting into three figures became increasingly difficult.

Then different courts in Germany came to different decisions about the duties of the seller on what information you have to provide in the article description and how. The risk was not getting it wrong, the risk was that someone else might claim you were doing it wrong and take you to court over it. Depending on which area you live in and how much the judge understands the principle of eBay and selling on-line appeared to mean that the case could go for or against you.

This combined with the ever smaller profit margin, compared to the problem of finding enough storage space for all the items I was selling, compelled me to the decision to stop selling on eBay at the end of 2007.

The latest news this week only made me glad that I had – as eBay wants to stop sellers giving negative comments to buyers. [English|German]

This appears to me to be unfair on the sellers, after all, just as their may be bogus sellers out there, there are bogus buyers as well.

I personally gave almost no negative comment in all the time I was selling on eBay, and I never received one either. I was once disappointed to receive a neutral comment from someone who claimed that I hadn’t packaged something properly. The truth was that I had, in my opinion. And anyway, I had insured the parcel so if they had contacted me after it arrived then I would have gladly refunded them and claimed on the insurance at the post office. But instead they just left the neutral comment and never contacted me again.

I did give a negative comment once. A buyer bought an item in an auction and then didn’t pay for it. They didn’t respond to my e-mails either, so after sending them a final notice I did give them a negative comment. After all, I still had to pay eBay for the auction, even if they did refund me the commission. Within the next few weeks the buyer received two more negative comments and their account was locked by eBay.

This is a really silly situation, since if they seriously bought the item and then didn’t want it, the consumer protection laws in Germany would have allowed them to return it within the set period.  Indeed, I had buyers exercise this option before I had even sent the goods, which was no problem because we both saved on postage costs and eBay refunded the commission.

But buyers that bid for fun, or bid on several items and them only pay for one without having the courtesy to tell the other sellers that they don’t want the item after all deserve the negative comment in my opinion.  That way, sellers can use filters to stop them bidding if they want to.  At least, they know what to expect.

Under the new system that eBay want to introduce, they won’t be able to do this and only eBay will know how often a buyer has not paid up – other sellers will be left in the dark.

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