Tales of Muhlesteins Far and Wide

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

How NOT to sell something on eBay

Well, it's come time to get rid of my laptop. Pretty much everyone wanting to get rid of anything technical either pawns it off on family/friends, or sells it on eBay. I don't know anyone personal who wants my laptop, so eBay it was. Last Wednesday night I took a picture, put up a description and started the wait.

Well, most of the same models of laptops as mine that had already completed the auction had sold for around $1350 to $1450. Some of these even had quite a few people bidding on them. My laptop was not only in very good condition (Only had it about 9 months), but it still has a warranty for another two years. I thought for sure, I would get top dollar for it. I set the starting bid and $999.99 with a Buy-it-now option for $1500.

To my surprise, I didn't get a lot of attention during the first few days. I thought, this is probably because there are quite a few of those laptops for sale and mine still has a while before it ends. I was more surprised when the last couple days rolled around and I still did not have any bids. Perhaps the item was ending at a time when it wasn't so good to sell things. It ended at 10:35 pm MST on Wednesday night. Hmn. That means 12:35 am on the East coast and 11:35 pm central. Perhaps a lot of people went to bed already.

Lesson 1: List the item when the most people are likely to see it end.

So finally, one person placed the $999.99 bid Wednesday afternoon. He was from California (West coast & earlier-Lesson 1). By this time I had 17 people watching the item. I figured during the last 10 minutes or so, it would take off because the savvy ebayer waits until the last to bid as to not drive up the price.

Lesson 2: A lot of the time, those placing a bid earlier don't expect to win the item, but they like to get rid of the buy-it-now option by placing a bid. That way they can keep watching it until the auction ends, and if the price stays right, they can bid again. They almost always believe their initial bid will be outbid.

Well, don't ask me why, but no-one else bid on the laptop. It ended and the original buyer received the item for $999.99. EEEK! This was not something I could afford to do.

Lesson 3: Start the bid at the minimum price you can take for the item or place a reserve on it. I never thought the laptop wouldn't sell so I didn't follow this rule. I was very perplexed as to why nobody else placed a bid.

Well, at this point I was bound by the eBay rules to sell the item so I dutifully emailed the buyer and asked his preferred method of shipping and how he'd like to pay for the item. After I turned off my computer and was about to head to bed, I remembered lesson 2. This guy perfectly fit the profile of the early bidder. I thought that perhaps he really didn't want the laptop anyway.

So I fired off another email and asked the buyer if he would prefer not to pay for the item. I was taking a long shot, but hey, there was no way I wanted to ship this off to someone who didn't really intend to buy it.

To my surprise, he emailed back and said I was right. And that I could go ahead and relist it!

Lesson 4: Take rule number 3 into consideration before listing your item!

Well, now I still have my unsold laptop. Before I list it again, I'm going to check into some of the things people have used to describe the other laptops selling. I'm also going to research a good time to sell.

All I have to say is I'm a Lucky Dude today!


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