Mark Clutterbrook, from Fareham, was left fuming after he was caught out by a loophole on online auction site eBay.
The 41-year-old sold two bikes on the site, but when the buyer wanted to return them after changing his mind, eBay awarded the buyer both the bikes and the money.
With millions of people selling items on eBay every day, here’s nine tips to help you get the best price for your goods.
1) Research the value of your item
eBay allows you to get a great sense for the going rate for an item by checking the final bids in similar previous listings.
To find completed listings hit the Advanced button in the top right corner of the search area. Enter the search term, scroll down and tick Complete Listings. Then click Search.
2) Timing can be everything
When Apple announced it was halting production of the iPod classic, retro tech lovers panicked and took to eBay. The item, which sold for £229 brand new, started fetching three times that amount on eBay. Moments like these are the time to pull the trigger on the item you’ve been storing in a shoebox for months. Likewise, if you have a never-worn, designer winter coat to sell, don’t list it in July. Wait until the leaves start to turn…
3) Timing really is everything…
Likewise there are times when eBay is busier than others. For example, if your auction ends at 3am on a Wednesday night, you’re unlikely to draw much last-minute buzz, which is when users place a flurry of bids. Sunday evenings tend to be eBay’s peak time. Perhaps everyone is indulging in a little retail therapy to make them feel better about work on Monday?
4) Offer more delivery options
Are you only offering second class post for your item or can you promise next-day, recorded delivery once payment has cleared? The difference can be a much higher end sale price for your item. eBay shipping times can be tough to predict for buyers, so bidders may avoid your item if they need it in time for a birthday or holiday.
Buyers will also feel assured by the recorded delivery option, which gives them a shipping number. This may translate into more bids and more money nestling in your account at the end of the auction. This also helps you after the sale as it ensures most disputes can be resolved amicably. It’s hard to claim item wasn’t received if you have confirmation it was signed for.
5) Offer free delivery for a sales boost
If it’s a high value item, think about offering free delivery to entice buyers too. You may qualify for eBay’s Fast & Free logo to appear on your listing. The firm estimates an 11 per cent increase in sales for those listings so the gains could outweigh your costs.
6) Be detailed and don’t skirt the flaws
Most guides to eBay selling will advise you to avoid eBay’s default item description. That’s great advice. Be as detailed as possible when describing your item in the listing. If it is well used, then don’t be shy of explaining the flaws. Does the screen have slight scratches? Explain where. Is there a slight tear of the cover and annotations in the textbook you’re selling? Point them out. Even take photos of them. If you’re descriptive, you’re removing the unknown elements and potential buyers will feel more confident bidding.
7) Take pictures - but make them good!
eBay tipsters will always tell you to take photos and don’t use the stock options. After all, buyers want to see what they’re actually getting, rather than the pristine press shot. However, unless you do it right, using your own photos can do as much harm as good.
The item you’re selling may be in mint condition, but if you’ve taken and uploaded out-of-focus, pixelated shots it reflects poorly on you as a seller and on the item itself.
Make sure your item is well lit with no flash rebounding onto surfaces, and if you’re not confident about getting good shots, have someone help you. Don’t believe us? Ask yourself whether you’d buy this ring based on this photo uploaded to eBay?
8) Answer buyers’ questions
Hopefully your item will prove popular, but lots of interest usually results in lots of questions from interested parties. Those questions will be delivered to your eBay inbox and your registered email account. Make sure you’re prompt and answer them. The answers will appear at the foot of the listing so others can see too. The questions from potential bidders should also encourage you to think about whether that information should have been in the listing in the first place. That’ll help you when writing descriptions for future auctions.
9) Be bold - ditch that reserve price
We get it - there’s a price you’re prepared to sell the item for and nothing lower. That’s fair enough. However, you could be missing out a big profit by using a reserve price as buyers tend to avoid such listings. If you’re adamant, then use a Buy It Now price instead. You could also use the Best Offer tool, which allows you to set a price you’re willing to accept. So you can set the Buy It Now slightly higher and use eBay’s Best Offer tool as your real asking price.