EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 259 - March 21, 2010 - ISSN 1528-6703     6 of 8

First Item Sold Online: Dual Channel Oscilloscope Kicks off eBay Career

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Do you remember the first item you ever sold online? Let us know by sending an email to and we may publish your story. Today we hear from Steve of BedfordTradingPost who sold a dual channel oscilloscope on eBay.

Hi Ina, I wish you continued success with AuctionBytes. Although my wife & I are on eBay every day, you seem to have information faster and in more depth than we glean ourselves.

Our first sale was on electronic test equipment. From a previously life, I was offering my dual channel oscilloscope to my current employer for what it cost me as a demonstrator. They kept thinking it would not do this or that, so I went to the internet to get more information. This way they would not have to rely my knowledge.

In the process I ran across people selling them on eBay for twice the price that I was asking, so I decided to withdraw my offer to sell and listed it on eBay. It was a pretty easy listing since I had all the documents, advertising and original box. I ended up selling it for 4 times what I had paid to a fellow in Quebec.

Bang! I was not only successful with my first sale, I was also an International seller, so when my second item had a buyer with an address of California but a ship-to of Malaysia, I did not blink an eye. You might guess it, my second sale was an unpaid item. At least I did not ship it, so I listed it again and sold it for about $10 more than the first time.

After over 4,000 sales I can count the true "hiccups" on one hand and really only think of one buyer who actually took advantage of us. We had two items broken by the mail, one customer did not agree with our rating system, and currently have a customer that might give us our first negative because they forgot to change their confirmed address in PayPal, delivery was confirmed, but the item is lost.

PayPal will support us with any claim on that but eBay and the negative might be a harder issue to correct. We believe they did not get it and want to be fair so we refunded the purchase price, just not the postage. There will be some who think we are too easy on them, but this is the second time since 2002 it has occurred and we like to consider it being self-insured. We also like to give our customers a warm and personable experience, since the internet and mail order can be somewhat cold.

We used to require insurance, but eventually understood what others told us, that it was really for OUR benefit more than theirs. If we ran the numbers, we would have paid thousands for insurance and lost less than $50 in actual costs. When we had a brick n mortar store we lost a lot higher percentage to "shrinkage". We now make insurance optional.

Bottom line is that even though eBay makes it challenging some times to hug them, they are still the best avenue we have to make sales, including our own website. We turn away consignment business on a regular basis for lack of time and now teach eBay classes, so we can easily say the good far outweighs the not-so-good.

Keep the news and analysis coming,

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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