Letters from Readers
By Ina Steiner
Your column is great, keep up the good work! I was very interested to read about ePier's new feature allowing sellers to show their telephone numbers. I am an eBay Gold Power Seller and for the last six months my number has been shown on all of my listings - but I can count on one hand the number of calls I have received. Customers who shop on my website do call, just not the eBay customers.
Interesting! I got clarification from eBay, because I was not aware that this was allowed:
"To date we have been using the links policy as a guideline. A phone number may be listed if it aids in the description of a specific item."
So, use this with caution. If someone decides to complain about your auction listing because it contains a phone number, it's conceivable an eBay rep could pull your auctions. I think some categories in particular have "eBay police" who snitch on their competitors.
I've been an Ebay user for over 6 years, and I wanted to give you some feedback on your survey of final bid prices, sell thru rates, etc. I think it was a mistake for you to only survey the collectibles category. You really should have included the entire antiques category too. There are many items in Ebay Antiques that are selling for huge amounts of money, much more than in the past, and it would have made a significant impact on your final bid price survey. Also, remember that at one time (when I joined Ebay eons ago) ALL antiques and collectibles were listed in the same category, all mixed up, with no sub categories at all.
The main reason that sell through rates and final bid prices in the collectible subcategories have dropped is that they are glutted with postings of the same things listed over and over again. Also, the sell through rate has been adversely affected by the huge amount of absolute junk that many people list on Ebay nowadays.
And it doesnt help when some power seller uses the offline posting services to list large amounts of similar items all at the same exact time in the same sub category.
The other problem that I think has also had an adverse effect on both sell thru rates and final bid prices is Ebay's limitations on researching closed auctions. Not too long ago you could sit and look at ALL completed auctions in ANY subcategory, and be able to see what everything listed in that subcategory sold for during the past 30 days. Now they've limited it to 2 weeks, and you have to do a search for something in particular to even be able to do that.
In my humble opinion, Ebay has too many marketing people and lawyers nowadays. I liked it much more in the old days. Today it's just a big impersonal corporation that acts like they don't give a hoot what their users think.
I hope my rantings haven't been too long and boring and that this stirs some debate or reflections for someone.
I was reading today the article “And the Survey Says" referencing the eBay sell-through and prices for collectibles declining by Pat DuChene, Antique Trader Associate Editor. I found it very interesting. I have found the article hits home with myself as well. I've had to rearrange my thinking when puting up an item for bid.
One thing that was not mentioned in the article which I think is important is the US Postal Service raising postal rates. A lot of people have shied away from bidding, especially on an item going for 2-3 dollars when they know the cost of postage is going to be in the 4-7 dollar range depending upon the distance the package must travel. Before the recent raise, you could mail a 2-lb priority package anywhere in the country for $3.20. Under the new rates, a 1-lb package is $3.80 within the first zone and the final cost is now connected to the distance between two points, that of the seller and the bidder. Sure, if someone wants an item bad enough, they'll pay the price, but, in the long run, most people WILL NOT.
Thank you for listening to my comments. And, I have just signed up for your newsletters.
In the last issue, a reader wrote, "I am a dealer with a wholesale company for the express purpose of buying "stuff" at wholesale to auction on ebay and I found out that this wholesale company was also selling this "stuff" on ebay under a fictitious name at way below what I could sell it for, what would you do?"
Some excellent responses can be found at: http://www.auctionbytes.com/forum/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4813
And here is a letter for Chuck Conley who writes articles for AuctionBytes about Toy Train collecting.
Thanks for a great article on old trains. My father-in-law recently passed away and I was helping my mother-in-law pack up her basement, when we came upon a box of old lionel trains. My mother-in-law thought she had hit the "mother lode." They are indeed old but pretty poor condition. I know a train (hobby) shop in Berlin, Maryland that will probably help me out.
It's ironic, but a few years ago I was helping a fellow co-worker move, when I noticed a large stack of boxes in his basement. He told me it was his grandfather’s trains. Out of curiosity I looked in a couple of the boxes. They were the most beautiful trains I have ever seen. Some of the individual boxes were marked "Made by Chicago Brass Works," and packed in the old "horse hair" packing, if you know what I mean. We filled an entire pick-up truck, 2 high, and moved them to his new home in southern Maryland. He put the in the basement, under the steps, and to this day they are probably still there. He is a pack-rat and probably will never part with them. It's a shame he never appreciated them, for they are true works of art. Thanks again for the info.
Thanks for your kind words. Email like yours makes writing these articles very enjoyable. Good luck with your trains.
Although I am not familiar with Chicago Brass Works, if these are large scale, or nearly hand-made trains, in original boxes, your co-worker friend's trains could be quite valuable. If he (or she) would like more information about them, and other sources are not productive, you might try calling the Train Collector's Association in Strasburg, PA. They have a good research department and may be able to give you or your friend more information.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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