Wednesday, 14 November 2007

eBay a go go...

That's the latest batch of sales through eBay dealt with. Here's the mountain of goodies on my office rug shortly before hauling them down to Berneray Post Office:


The use of eBay is good for several reasons:

  • less "stuff" going into landfill sites, or being stuck unused on shelves

  • less "stuff" being made (as more "stuff" is reused) is environmentally good

  • it provides business for post office branches

  • ...and also Royal Mail deliveries

  • the seller gets a bit of cash

  • ...and the buyer doesn't have to pay full market value for new goods

There are losers as well. Shops that sell new items will have their sales impacted, as will the producers of these items. I guess that makes eBay an online shopping system that is in some ways anti-consumerist (or pro-recyclist?).

I've been eBaying for 7 years now, during which time I've sold 239 items and bought 10. For speed I usually sell items in batches, doing 20 to 30 sales at a time. This also brings in lumps of cash (one batch a few years ago paid for my flight to California). It's fiddly at first, and working out the postage costs per item is a bit time consuming. However, the advent of Paypal has made payment collection much easier, being pretty much instant and not requiring messing around with cheques.

For many items, this is the best time of year to sell (in the run-up to Christmas, as people look for cheaper presents). The best time to buy is probably in the month after Christmas, when unwanted or quickly-used presents (e.g. DVDs watched once) are sold in quantity and it becomes a buyers market. So, with less than 6 weeks to Christmas Day, this is the optimum time to have a clearout of DVDs, computer games and other postable stuff you don't use anymore that people get as presents, and make a few pennies.  


  1. I prefer the eBay property of to eBay. Any sort of website that allows someone to sit at home and make money without ever leaving their PJs... I can't approve of this. Maybe I just have a bad taste of eBay as it seems like whenever I try to purchase something on eBay 20 seconds before the auction is up someone comes in and outbids me. - Nick

  2. Hello John,'I guess that makes eBay an online shopping system that is in some ways anti-consumerist (or pro-recyclist?).'A more negative spin would be to suggest that a significant loser to eBay is the charity shop sector, and that that makes eBay potentially pro-selfishness and anti-charity. (Not to suggest that you, or any specific eBay users (among whom are several family members), are thus, just offering an alternative generalisation.)Not sure why this has driven me to break cover after long-term lurking on your blog, but there you are!Iain

  3. Iain - ebay could be more of an opportunity than a threat to charities? It's quite easy to set up a shop on ebay; noticed that on the UK ebay alone, a search on shop names gives 70 with the word "charity" in the title, so quite a few are doing it. In addition, charity shops I guess often have a lot of stock that does not sell (there's one I give my stuff to that have noticed has the same items in there year on year - some items very specialist collectables that could gain a lot of dosh for them if sold online). eBay offers them an outlet for getting rid of this and thus increasing income.

  4. John,yes, my hope is that charities are using eBay in just that way - the vinyl in particular strikes me as buried treasure, and I also hope that's where the music magazines I take in disappear to - that they're at a central point with some guy who looks rather like me, sitting at a computer surrounded by piles of jiffy bags and towers of old magazines.