Safely selling on eBay and Craigslist

Some of you who were in my family of customers from 6 to 7 years ago know that I use to offer assistance selling on eBay as a service of my business.  I don’t do this so much any more because I really like concentrating on computer services and helping you with all of your info-tainment devices.     I will still help a customer sell something either on a flat rate or percentage basis, but that is not the point of this e-mail.

I think you probably can handle a lot of these sales yourself.  I am hoping this message empowers you.

eBay:  is a very trustworthy and legitimate way to sell your goods and services.  They have a lot of safeguards built in now to protect both buyers and sellers.   Recently, they instituted a policy that benefits low volume sellers like you and I.  I believe the new terms are that if you sell less than 25 (could be 50) items per month — you do not pay a listing fee; you only pay them a percentage when an item sells.   I think this is very fair because then you are not behind the eight-ball if your item does sell.  Typically, listing fees were only two to four dollars, but eBay saw the need to be competitive.   I also think they felt pressure from Craigslist, which allows people to sell almost anything (except for real estate) for free.

Craigslist:  is really just an giant online classified ads system with specific websites set up by county, major city or general geographic region.  Craigslist gets a bad rap and sometimes is disparagingly called ScamsList.     Craigslist is just a marketplace for listing.   They provide no guarantees and do not facilitate the transaction as eBay does.  However, Craiglist is growing in popularity because of the ability to make local, cash transactions.  The Craigslist organization surely is NOT a scam.  If buyers and especially sellers would only read their rules and FAQ before doing business on their — most of the fraud could be avoided.

Here are some rules to go by with Craigslist:
– Turn off the e-mail option when placing an ad.   Do not allow your e-mail to be listed and do not choose the random e-mail address option, which only masks your true email, but still allows interested parties to contact you.   Specifically choose the HIDE e-mail address.   So how does a buyer contact you?   Simple,  PHONE ONLY.  Be sure to put your phone number in the ad.  Give your cell phone, not your home phone.  If you do not have a cell phone.  Make a free phone number for yourself on Google Voice.  Interested buyers can leave you a message there.

-Only do business in cash and in person.   Buyers looking to fleece you will say I need something shipped to such and such a place.  NO — sorry.  That doesn’t work.    Cash and in person, with rare exceptions (see below).  I can’t repeat that enough.

– I like to specify a location where the sale will take place  in the ad and I don’t deviate from that plan.   Most of the items I have sold are small electronics items.  I usually choose the center of a local shopping mall or a coffee shop, inside of course.

– For larger items, you can have the buyer come to your house or place of business.  Just make sure it is during daylight hours and there are other people home.  Three times I have sold TV’s using this method and it worked beautifully

– For high dollar value items, I understand that cash may not be appropriate.   Meet the buyer at their bank.  Never take a check or even a Cashier’s Check.  I hate to say it but Cashier’s Checks or Certified Checks are no longer the guarantee that they once were.     You may also choose to involve an Escrow service.  I do not have any recommendation on a particular one, but you may be able to get some legitimate ones from eBay’s Help section.  I think they typically charge 1 to 4%.

-Do not accept PayPal, wire transfer, or any type of check for a Craigslist transaction.  Nearly all of the time, you are going to be doing business in cash.  As I said, for larger items meet the buyer at their bank or use an escrow.  However for those high value items, eBay might be a better place to sell anyway because there are more built in protections and a mechanism to protest and seek remediation

-Craigslist does not mediate disputes between buyers and sellers