I’ve sold a few items on eBay. Most went well. Selling my MacBook has been a nightmare.

  • On the first auction, it was won by an international bidder, even though I stated that I only ship to US addresses. (I don’t want to deal with customs.)
  • On the second auction, it was won by a sham buyer with zero feedback. These people sign up for a new account, bid up the price, and have no intention of completing the transaction. They discard the new account after driving up the price. Maybe they do it for fun; maybe they do it to drive up the price of a similar item they are selling.

So I’ve compiled some best practices and other notes. These apply to low-volume sellers who sell an occasional expensive item.

  • Set your seller preferences by:
    • Click on My eBay » Summary
    • Click on the Account tab
    • Click on Site Preferences
    • You may have to click “Show All” to expand all the sections.
  • Under Payments From Buyers, pay attention to these settings:
    • ENABLE: Use checkout
    • ENABLE: Offer PayPal on my listings
    • ENABLE: Display “PayPal Preferred” on my listings (I’ll explain why in a minute.)
    • DISABLE: Offer the Global Shipping Program
  • Scroll down to Shipping Preferences and click Edit next to “Exclude shipping locations from your listings”
    • Exclude them all. (It will still sell to the continental 48.)
  • Scroll down to “Buyer Requirements” and click Edit
    • BLOCK: Buyers without a PayPal account (This is why you enabled ‘Paypall Preferred.’ This cuts down on sham buyers. They usually don’t set up sham PayPal accounts.)
    • BLOCK: Buyers with Unpaid Item strikes. (If they didn’t pay someone before, they might not pay you.)
    • BLOCK: Buyers in locations to which I don’t ship
    • BLOCK: Buyers with policy violation reports
    • BLOCK: Buyers with a negative feedback score
    • SET: Apply above settings to active and future listings
    • SET: Don’t allow blocked buyers to contact me

By blocking international sales and blocking non-Paypal bidders, you might lose an occasional bidder, but you cut way down on scams and hassle.

When you post your listing:

  • Be sure to state that you do NOT ship internationally and you will cancel international bids.
  • Be sure to state that you will not sell to buyers with zero feedback who signed up after your auction started. (You can’t cancel bids, and you will sell to them if they pay. This is just bluster.)
  • Be sure to SPECIFY your shipping price/terms. It will default to something that won’t cover your costs!
  • Be sure you will be available in 5 or 7 days in the hour or two prior to the end of the auction. You’ll get a bunch of questions at the last minute. Answering them may help your sale price.
  • Put in a low starting price and hope for the best. You want to get bidding started early, so many people will be watching.
  • If you are selling a fixed-price item, be VERY careful not to accidentally enable “or best offer”. This happened to me by accident.

When the item sells:

  • Use eBay’s feature to send an invoice. Check the shipping price/terms on the invoice before sending.

If the buyer does not complete payment:

  • Wait 4 days.
  • Block the buyer (by user ID) from future sales.
  • Go to My eBay » Selling
  • Scroll as needed to locate your item (if you have more than one item for sale)
  • Press the “More Actions” drop-down and select “Resolve a Problem”
  • Choose “I sold an item and haven’t received my payment yet.”
  • It will show you “Review case details and submit” and you want to submit it.
  • It will offer the unpaid item assistant. Walk through the wizard.
    • Set it for 4 day time-out
    • Enable all email notifications
    • Do NOT “Automatically relist the item when case is closed”
  • On your Sold items page, you’ll see “eBay note: An unpaid item case is open for this transaction.”
  • Wait 4 days
  • Click » My eBay » Selling » Go To Resolution Center
    • Scroll down to locate your unpaid item. Status will be “Unpaid item case open – awaiting payment. You can close this case now”
      • (If it still says, “Unpaid item case open – awaiting payment”, you have to wait until 4 days of 24 hours have passed.)
    • Click the drop-down arrow underneath “Take Action”
    • Choose “Receive fee credit”
  • (I’ll come back and update this list after I make further progress…)


Update: 2015.12.03

There’s a message on MyEbay saying: You can sell up to 100 items or up to $5,000.00 per month, whichever comes first.

I sold some low-priced items with buy-it-now. I listed them as buy-it-now.

  • Suddenly, PayPal is telling me I can’t have my money unless I upgrade to a Premier or Business account. They have my money, and they aren’t giving it to me. I wish I’d been told this in advance. I upgraded to Premier. Then they told me they’d be taking 3% of all transfers to me, making it look like I’d lost the ability to get funds from family/friends at no cost. I had my wife send me $1 to check, and I did NOT get surcharged, so I see no down-side to Premier yet.
  • Note: Despite listing the item as Paypal-only, the buyer used a credit card via Paypal. You can’t block this, and it was the buyer’s use of a credit card that drove Paypal to demand that I upgrade. If you don’t want to run into the credit-card problem, you cannot accept Paypal - you must demand some other method of payment, and nobody is going to buy your product. I hate Paypal.
  • Selling low-priced items with buy-it-now had no eBay fee. Since they went into a bubble-padded envelope under 2 ounces, the total cost was about 50 cents for the envelope, plus $2.04 for shipping. I tried to print my mailing label and purchase postage via eBay and the page never returned. Google searching says this is a common problem. I was able to buy postage and print the shipping label via Paypal using Safari but not with Chrome. It went well, and I got a few cents discount on the postage. (The $2.04 cost included the discount.) Since the postage is pre-printed, the 13 oz limit, at which you have to present the mailing to a postal service clerk in person would not have applied.
  • As an example:
    • Listed 2 small items at $12.89 buy-it-now (shipping included)
    • Accidentally included “or best offer” feature
    • Offered $8 per item
    • Counter-offered $10 per item and sold at that
    • Bought 25 4x8 padded envelopes for $4 (cheap per piece, but I didn’t need 25)
    • Shipping at $2.04
    • Cost of printing a page (the shipping label + postage)
    • Cost of clear packing tape to “laminate” the 3.5x6 label to the envelope
    • eBay fee = $0
    • PayPal fee = $0.88 (30 cents + 2.9%)
    • Paypal mailing label dimensions = 4”x6.25”. Fits (barely) on a 5x8 padded envelope.
    • Sold 2 more items at about $10 each, for a total of about $40 for all 4 items sold.
    • Billed 6.88 in January by eBay.
    • It looks to me like about $5-6 per item in selling/shipping cost for an item that ships in a small padded envelope.