Specializing in Corvettes and Classics

Articles - Week ending November 27th, 2010

Is Your eBay Expert An eBay Idiot?


Why many of the “Sell it for you” services are a waste of time when listing your car.


There are a lot of sellers on eBay that are trying to be auto brokers, in other words these self proclaimed experts say they can sell your car for you, charging you a commission and claiming their expertise will bring you far more money than if you sold the car yourself, and too often this isn’t the case. In many cases the opposite is actually true. Just as these services either knowingly or unknowingly make their customers miss out on thousands of dollars because of their poor eBay techniques many times a savvy buyer can take advantage of the seller using services like this and practically steal a car. I know because I’ve done it.


If a seller is employing a service or self titled auto broker to list their car on eBay that seller is very inexperienced or scared, otherwise they’d simply list the car themselves, so they trust one of these ‘We list it for you’ places and more often than not they don’t sell the car, or if they do they don’t get top dollar. Why is that? It’s simple; those sellers make a lot of common mistakes and the inexperienced car owner doesn’t know any better.


Here’s my top list of common errors these brokers or ‘Sell it for you’ services make:


·       The starting bid is too high. Auctions are a funny thing. I started on eBay about 8 years ago selling Laker tickets. I finally got my season seats and couldn’t attend every home game so I put spare tickets up for sale online. During the championship runs with Shaq and Kobe my tickets would fetch north of $300 per pair every time regardless of the opponent, but that was when my starting bid was $10.00. Once it was obvious I’d get $300+ every time I listed a few with starting bids of $200 and guess what? Not one bid. Nada. Zip. What the hell? I finally learned its just human nature to bid and hope for a great deal, and activity creates excitement, excitement creates bids. Start the bidding low and let ‘er rip, if you need protection slap a reserve on the auction. The same goes for your car. A lot of these services will start the bidding on a car that should sell for $20,000 at $15,000 and after 7 days there are no bids, then they try and get you to drop the price. On top of that savvy eBay veterans like me and a lot of my friends pounce on these auctions, salivating every time we see a car listed with a high starting bid. We call you directly and say, “Well, you started it at $15k and it didn’t even get a single bid, so it’s obviously not worth what you thought right? Tell you what; I’ll give you $14,000 right now ok?” Too often this works because remember you’re dealing with a very inexperienced seller who’s already frustrated their listing ended with a no sale.

·       ‘Sell It For You’ folks don’t really sell more than they simply list your car. Many of these listings put up by a broker just contain the seller’s contact information and won’t answer questions about the car for you. I know because more than once I’ve clicked the ‘Ask Seller a Question’ link only to receive a brief response giving me the owner’s name and phone number. So what the hell are you paying them a commission for? They list your car, many times doing a poor job of it and that’s it?

·       Not enough pictures. One broker providing these so called services places a whopping 3 to 5 pictures on their listings. Three pictures will sell Grandma’s teapot, but not her 1965 Nova. I’ve sold 5 cars on eBay in the last 2 years. Each one sold and each one had a lot of pictures. I sold a 1978 Corvette Indy Pace car and posted 65 pictures total, using HTML to post pictures over and above eBay’s 24 photo limit. In the end I’d consider 24 pictures the absolute minimum needed to sell a car on eBay.

·       Pasted descriptions. How many times have you seen an auction description that is some promotional crap pasted from some website that tells you nothing about the actual car you’re bidding on? For instance one of my favorite cars is the 1968 Oldsmobile Toronado and I check the listings on those with regularity just out of personal interest and more often than not I see a listing like this:

1968 Toronado -
Toronados received bolder front end styling with split grilles for 1968. Tail lights were moved to the bumper in the rear and the 425 engine was replaced with the 455. For even more power, buyers could opt for a Force-Air induction system that included high-output cam and dual exhaust.

Who the hell cares? None of this tells me squat about the actual car up for sale. The truth is many of these sellers are either lazy, have no idea how to actually sell something, or they’re bad writers.

·       Setting price. Sometimes you see a car with one of these services way overpriced. It happens all the time because the seller heard that one of these sold at Barrett-Jackson last year for $50,000 so his must be worth that, so the broker lists the car at $50,000. The sign of a good auto broker is a broker than can bring you down to earth and explain why your car isn’t the same and why your car is worth much less. You may have a 1967 Camaro, but the one at Barrett-Jackson was an RS-SS model and it was restored to 1+ condition. 


So you want to sell your car, you don’t have the time, maybe you don’t have a computer and you need a service to do it for you? Just check their feedback right? Wrong! More often than not the feedback from buyers will be exceptional, because more often than not through the incompetence of the broker the buyers they have managed to sell to get a great deal. Of course the buyers leave great feedback, they leave it because they snagged the car well below market price and they’re going to re-sell it for a profit. There’s no feedback from the seller that trusted this service to sell their car.


In short follow the tips above if you sell your car on eBay yourself and insist any so-called expert doing it for you follows them as well. I’d personally also insist they charge no commissions unless your car sells, maybe the standard listing fees but that’s it. If they really know what they’re doing that requirement shouldn’t be a huge issue. In summary:


1.   Start the bidding low. I start all my cars at $200 to get lots of interest and activity and the reserve (if I use one) protects me anyway.

2.   Use a service that will actually answer simple questions about the car for you. After all, they’re making money too right?

3.   Insist on a minimum of 24 pictures and make sure they know how to add more beyond the eBay limits if they have to.

4.   Have them write up and original description about your car, not every car there ever was just like it.

5.   Set a reasonable price. One good practice is to view completed auctions and see what cars are really selling for. If you want to list your 1967 Dodge Dart at $10,000 and there isn’t a single completed listing that actually hit that price you’re probably a bit on the high side. Check the NADA guide, see what like cars are listed for at Auto Trader’s web page and see what they’ve sold for (or not sold for) on eBay.


In the end a service might be a good call, but in the end I also think you’re better of doing it yourself.





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