Skip to main content

I have read in at least a few places, including a book about ebay selling I own, that the auction terms section should be as short and to the point as possible and without sounding overly serious. I originally had a large paragraph in my listings but after reading these articles I edited it down to a much shorter one and a half lines. One article I read said 10 words is ideal, and 20 words is the absolute maximum you should have in your auction terms. Mine is still well over 20 words.

But yet, I noticed the majority of sellers have FAR more than just 20 words and actually most have a fairly large terms section with everything spelled out.

Which way is right or is in the middle the best?
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Hi in my experience, a few tips :-

1) if the item is visually attractive the listing should consist mainly of sharp, bright and colourful pictures. Auctiva's image facilities are well worth using. If you cannot take good photographs them ask a friend. A cheap camera (£50 to £100) is all that is needed as only a low resolution is required compared with capabilites of even the cheapest now available. Probably a lot cheaper second hand. Plenty of practise with lighting in particular is well worth the effort to achieve higher sale prices.

2) if the item is technical, clearly laid out statements of relevant information, even as bullet points.

3) terms and conditions should be as concise and friendly as possible and comprise no more than 5 to 10% of the visible text on an average listing.

3) stick to simple clear fonts with minimal use of colours as many do not display or mix well, remember the eyesight of your expected customer age group especially if they are 40+.

4) keep backgrounds simple once again don't put off buyers who are older with plenty of cash and time to browse.

5) use Auctiva's scrolling gallery at the bottom of your listing and make use of their shop front, no I am not getting paid by Auctiva, they are very useful tools.

I would suggest you always look at completed listings of similar items and analyse why they did or did not sell, there are many factors not just over inflated prices. A few examples are rainbow fonts, all capitals, no punctuation, poor spelling, pages of conditions, dark, blurred pictures and no return policy.

Many other factors are involved but think of attention to detail and consistency of format as a worthwhike investment in your time which in turn translates in a greater return in cash Smile
Hi, looks good but "Item/s sold as is." and no return policy is to me a dire warning maybe misjudged but I just move on when I see that especially as you are stating they are new.

The exception is if you are selling a broken item for spares or repair but not new items.

If you are intend stocking and selling a lot of this type of thing I would suggest a low tech version of the listing as well in a larger font because the casual buyer who just wants a tape or DVD-R to record their favourite sit-com will think techno-babble and move on.

IMO I would have made 2 listings of these so a buyer could buy either or both types and offer p&p discount to buy both.

I found the listing a little like hard work to read, maybe 3 small paragraphs, it is also important to use capitals for common acronyms like VCR and VHS and to be rigorous on things like PayPal with 2 capital P's, ok, nit picking but all ups the professional look and feel. Smile
My question is why is your shipping so high? 6 tapes don't weigh that much. If nothing else you could ship in a Priority Flat Rate box for 9.80. Do you have a scale?

Your terms look fine...easy to read and not alot of cluter. I agree with Choo however, lose the 'items sold as is'. Looking at this ad as a buyer, I would wonder 'ok, what does THAT mean'. Otherwise it's a nice listing Smile
Yes, I use a My Weigh Ultraship for up to 55 pounds. Vhs tapes are large, add a box that will hold them safely and add in all the shipping peanuts + the shipping includes (as terms say) insurance and delivery confirmation (required) + $3 handling.

Now, the handling fee I might drop. I've been adding it to cover cost of shipping peanuts (I bought a 50 gal bag for $10) and tape ($4) and (yes I will admit) cover (at least partially) Paypal/Ebay fees. I have read up on this, and some sellers add it, others don't. It is definitely not set in stone as to me adding it to future auctions or not.

As far as I know USPS (I'm not sure about other shippers) rounds to the next pound, 1 pound 1 ounce is 2 pounds. So I round up when inputting into the usps shipping calculator. This package weighs 3 pounds 13 ounces and is 12 x 12 x 8 inches.
Last edited by wesm
I've been adding it to cover cost of shipping peanuts (I bought a 50 gal bag for $10) and tape ($4) and (yes I will admit) cover (at least partially) Paypal/Ebay fees.

I do all this, ok, my DSR's are 3x4.9 and 4.7 for p&p but I pack well and post within 1 working day. I get praise for my packing and repeat buyers particularly global.

A bricks and mortar shop owner has to include overheads as part of the business so why not an online seller. All this greedbay garbage about offering free p&p is virtually a scam so you set the start price higher and hopefully sell it for more so they get higher insertion and FVF's, they must think we are all stupid.

But of course some buyers expect you to ship for nothing, also they will soon complain and neg if what they receive has not survived the post office's lunchtime 5-a-side footie match Smile

edited by me to correct my typing again Roll Eyes
I am thinking about shipping worldwide too. I just haven't got the grasp of what all is involved. I have read some opinions where people say it just isn't worth the hassle, and then if anything goes wrong, all the waiting and paperwork, customs, etc. Still others say you will get more bids and usually a higher ending price.

As to cheaper shipping I used Parcel Post to send a cd player to a customer in NY who used buy it now on May 22nd. I shipped the same day and he didn't receive it until over a month later. I will never use Parcel Post again for this reason. It's a horribly SLOW method.

He was thinking I scammed him. I sent the delivery confirmation # and after a week or so he said this: "The website has been static (stuck) showing tracking number 0307 3330 0002 1319 6650 as "accepted" in Milton, FL since May 22nd. I suspect a bogus tracking number, or a serious tracking problem at the United States Post Office. Please either RESOLVE this issue, or refund my money. Thank you"

I kindly replied that USPS tracking is unlike Ups or Fedex where they literally track from location to location. He didn't realize that. It is annoying that they call it tracking when it is not.

But he was extremely patient and in the end left a positive as did I.
Last edited by wesm
Hi Wes M, once you are comfortable with domestic sales and handling customers I think it is worth going international.

As a UK seller I had a large amount of of old items sourced only from the UK which were in demand by collectors worldwide.

For me it was well worthwhile as much sold abroad and the items that did not were due to outbidding by UK buyers.

I only quote domestic rates on listings and ask non-UK bidders to ask for a quote before bidding, many don't but that is up to them.

Also I would only accept payment by PayPal and ship by air only, surface mail is a lot cheaper but the time scales for non-delivery are too long compared with eBay and PayPal dispute time scales so not worth it.

I also will not ship to Asia due to problems with China in particular (see references to BIN bandits over the last year or so).

You also need to ensure items are wrapped better for long hauls, customs were never a problem for items up to about £300 from the UK. Make sure buyers understand they are liable for any import duties payable on receipt by a short terms & conditions note on your listings.

Ensure you have the relevant custom stickers as applicable from the USA otherwise significant delays may occur in foreign customs (weeks to months) and with high value items add insurance.

Clear printed labels with address text copy-pasted from eBay invoices or PapPal notifications after ensuring they match, if in any doubt query with the buyer before dispatch.

Packing materials should include stout boxes and packing peanuts, the use of paper shreddings may be ok domestically but is very heavy when airmail prices may increment in 20g or ounce increments.

And most importantly get your postage rates worked out accurately as airmail is expensive because once quoted to a buyer you should never up it once they have won or paid for the item.

It is only hassle if you you do not pay attention to the details. Smile
I have a new auction going. Let me know how it looks and anything that needs improving please mention.

hmm... I can already see some things I'd like to change. First, the gallery picture is way too far away. Also, I realize now I mention the handling fee but not how much it is, which I wanted to do this time around. A few other nit picking things too.

With all the time I spent preparing this auction, I figured it was near perfect. Now I'm finding all these things 'wrong'.
Last edited by wesm
Now I'm finding all these things 'wrong'
This is where the use of templates, profiles, and creating new listings from previous good ones improves productivity and consistency. Smile

Just a couple of points
1) can you say 'Ship to lower 48 states only' (I'm from the UK)
2) by money back do you include forward and return shipping costs regardless of the reason for return ?
1) Well, I'm not the first seller to ship only to the US. Seems there's more and more everyday actually. But like mentioned earlier, I do want to eventually ship internationally.

2) Well in the parenthesis I say "minus shipping". I realize I don't say what exactly that means. Some items I sell will have high shipping such as a cd player. Which could cost upwards of $30 one way. I was thinking I would at most pay return shipping if there was a problem. I don't know if I could cover the total shipping from me to them and back. That's a hard one. I mean, I can totally understand that they deserve their money back if something is wrong with the item. They shouldn't have to bear the cost of return shipping, at the least.
Well, I'm not the first seller to ship only to the US

1) Not sure what you mean by that, are the upper states not the USA ?

2) I would only pay the return shipping if I had made a serious mistake in the listing and the buyer would not be satisfied with a part refund. Any other reason including change of mind by the buyer they pay the return postage and I charge a handling fee, not being a charity Wink

Damaged in transit, well I all ways pack well then it becomes a claim on the postal service not me. Smile

You need to set up firm rules and stick to them.
Wes, it costs the same to ship priority to either California (the farthest 'zone' if you will) OR Hawaii. Or Puerto Rico (US Territory)or even an APO difference. It may take a little longer to get there but the cost is the same. If you're thinking of shipping internationally, you really should consider shipping to ALL the states.

I've shipped to all these places, but oddly enough, never to Alaska.

BTW, your listing is very nice, great pics Smile
Hi, I have had much success with the auction layout that I use. At least up until this "Best Match" garbage that ebay came up with began. Here is one of my auctions:

I think maybe you guys are way over thinking this stuff. Its been my experience that most people read whatever portions of your ad that they want to anyway. In my opinion, most people will look at your auction in this fashion:

1. The price
2. The shipping (mostly the cost)
3. Your feedback
4. Accepted payment methods
5. Return policy

All the rest is basically there to cover your butt should a problem arise anyway. People are in to much of a hurry to take the time to look at anything why not put everything you want to say there on your ad..It does not matter how much is there as long as they can easily find the stuff they pick and choose. Last but not least, they all want to be dazzled, even if they don't know it. So make it look good. When they see a nicely laid out auction, subconsciously they think that you spent a lot of time and effort on the it and that makes them think you really care about your auctions, which in return makes them feel comfortable about you and comfortable about buying from you. Just make sure that when they do go to picking and choosing what they are gonna read, that they can find it easily. Just my thoughts about it. Good luck to you!
Lots of photos are the best - I look for photos when I buy, and post them when i sell.

I do post a lot of "buyer beware" because I am selling items I acquired via auction.

I list as professionally as possible, and post images of the questionable areas. I am not an expert in most of what I sell, so I request my buyers ask me specific questions.

CYA is always a good policy, but also honesty is always the best policy.

Always list anything you see that is a negative or a defect! I don't sell anything I wouldn't want to buy myself. n fact that is the biggest fight my girlfriend and I have. I buy to sell, she buys to keep!

The difference, I will sell anything. I buy things i want because I hope there are others out there that want the same things I like.

If I was rich, you all would have nothng to bid on!!!!

Add Reply

Copyright © 1999-2018 All rights reserved.
Link copied to your clipboard.