I had a pleasant surprise this week. A cheque for a hundred and sixty odd quid dropped through my letter box for items I’d sold on eBay.
When I say “I’d sold” I mean that in the loosest possible terms, what I actually mean is I gathered up a load of unwanted possessions sitting gathering dust in drawers and sent them off to Stuff U Sell who are running eBay’s Assisted Selling pilot programme in the UK.
Naturally as you’d expect I have a few observations to make about the whole program, but overall it’s a fantastic program.
So the good points first… I sent off a couple of old (as in obsolete) smart phones, a model railway loco and a Windows 7 Netbook that was so underpowered (as cheap Netbooks usually are) that it struggled to boot itself and run MS Office.
I’d like to emphasise that this was ‘stuff’ I’d had laying around the house for years, I should really have sold it myself on eBay but just couldn’t be bothered. However, given the incentive of someone else doing the listings, handling the non-paying bidders or potential returns and the convenience of just filling a box and waiting for the courier to turn up was all that was needed for me to get my act together. Off the box went a couple of months ago and hey presto, today the cheque arrived.
And that brings me to one of the downsides of the pilot program. Payment is by cheque at the end of the batch at this stage, although this is likely to change to BACS direct into the consumer’s bank account as each item sells. Ideally this would be a PayPal payment as with a positive balance in my account I’d be that much more likely to re-spend the money on eBay. It’s a pilot program though and the complexities of arranging PayPal payments where the consumers don’t end up paying PayPal fees is a bit much for a trial.
Commissions / Fees
Back to the positives though, the commissions and expenses charged. There’s a 30% commission charge and NO expenses to pay. Stuff U Sell cover the eBay and PayPal Fees (which would cost you ~10% Final Value, 3.4% PayPal plus eBay listing fees, courier/postage costs, packaging costs etc). There’s also no charge for storing your goods, insuring them, photographing them, researching the item and getting them listed which all takes time and costs money. You don’t even have to pay the courier fee to send your items off as that’s also taken care of so all things considered a 30% commission fee starts looking like amazingly good value.
Speed of sale
The whole process took around 12 weeks and I’m told that this is about average. This was longer than I thought, but when I looked at the work that had gone into the sale, it made more sense. I’m so glad I didn’t list the mobile phones myself. I consider myself above average when it comes to using eBay — certainly more knowledgeable than the average consumer — but seeing 3 sales end with “Payment not received” plus a return makes me glad that it wasn’t me dealing with the eBay buyers.
The number of failed sales did make the process somewhat longer than I’d expected, but that’s sometimes par for the course when selling on eBay. And of course final payment has to wait for the buyer’s returns period to end. Another consideration is balancing the length of time it takes to get a successful sale against the price achieved.
David Brackin of Stuff U Sell elaborated on this explaining: “We’ve spent nearly 15 years figuring out how to get higher prices on eBay, and a big part of this is how long you leave it in the market for the right buyer to come along. We all know that a firesale – starting an auction at 99p – is one way to get something cleared quickly, but too often that leaves sellers with just a few pounds.
Our strategy is just the opposite to that – we take a little longer and price things fully to encourage buyers to pay more. We’re paying for storage during this time, but we reckon that’s more than made up for by the increased commission we get from the higher prices: don’t forget we only get paid when the seller does. And I reckon that if the main complaint is about how long it takes rather than the prices, then we’re erring on the right side of caution.
Of course we’d like to make things better. This is a pilot at this stage, but we’re looking at a number of ways to speed things up – including giving more pricing control to the seller – they can currently set their start price but we’d like also to allow them to set how fast their items are discounted. We’re also looking at putting in place “instant sale” options and allowing micro payments as individual items sell rather than a single batch payment.”
I’m pretty happy with the prices my goods sold for. They were more than reasonable, especially for the HTC Magic which is so old as to be practically useless:
Windows 7 Intel Atom 1.67GHz Laptop Netbook £73.95
Bacchman 00 Gauge Loco £59.99
HTC Magic Android Mobile £10.00
Samsung S4 Mini £89.95
Total sale price: £233.89
Total after commission: £163.71
Would I use the service again?
Yes, In fact I’m already putting another box of items together ready to send off. They’ve even introduced a Collect Plus drop-off service so that you don’t have to wait in for a courier. It’s totally effortless from the consumer’s point of view and if you’ve got anything of value that’s been laying around your house then all they’re doing (apart from gathering dust) is probably devaluing. I should have sold the mobile phones years ago when they were worth some real money.
You get weekly updates from Stuff U Sell on the status of your items so you know exactly what’s sold and what price it achieved, or if it’s been relisted and is still awaiting a buyer.
If you’d like to try eBay’s Assisted Selling Program for yourself, you can sign up at sellforme.stuffusell.co.uk