e-Bay is not for selling used cars at a low cost

Just like the title says, e-Bay is not for selling low-cost used cars. I would like to share my bad experience trying to use e-Bay for that purpose.

First I have tried to use e-Bay to sell a used car for about 4,000. At that time, e-Bay had a car auction format which only showed the car to buyers within 200 miles. For some strange reason, e-Bay has discontiuned that format. I have called customer support, and I could not find out how to limit the radius of my listing, other than thru tools available to large volume car sellers. Many of the problems listed in the remainder of this article will in some form be related to the lack of this great feature.

So, back to the 4,000 car. Even though it was listed to appear only within 200 miles of my residence, I had people contact me from half way, and all the way across the USA about me being able to ship the vehicle to them. Yes, the vehicle was a loaded and good looking sports car, but it was not so valuable and so rare as for someone to want to ship it all the way across USA. By the way, if someone contacts you from across the USA, here is my suggestion: don't bother. Nothing came from these people taking up my valuable time with questions about shipment, local regulations, and so forth.

It took several re-listings of the e-Bay 7-day car auction format, a great story, lots of details, and parallel listing on Craigslist to get the car sold in a few weeks.


Next was a $500 used car after an accident.

Guess what? I still had people asking me about whether the car can be shipped half-way across USA! At this time, e-Bay has discontinued the 200-mile radius format, and cars are shown nationally. Still, I WANT a feature to limit the listing of a car to just the local market. I want to meet a moron who would buy an after-accident car and have it paid for and shipped to them without ever looking at the car in person.

With this vehicle came more issues e-Bay's policies.

The car has been re-listed for several consequitive weeks. I did not expect the car to be a hot seller, but I did wait for just the right buyer who wanted just what was offered for sale.

In the process, I had two people buy the car thru e-Bay's "win auction" system. One was all the way across my state. Several days after the close of auction, I started to hear strange stories about his business being robbed, and that he had to loan money from his family just be able to "afford the car". What???. I knew something smelled stinky, so I just re-listed the vehicle without waiting for the end of story. The end of story is that the buyer never showed up.

The problem, however is that one someone reserves the auction, e-Bay thinks that the payment has been already made. So there's a $60 final value fee, which in a about a month or so is charged thru your fee payment setup. It took MY VALUABLE TIME to initiate a "payment not received" complaint, which the buyer never confirmed, and I had to wait 10 days for the resolution to be resolved in my favor. If I had waited for any longer (and / or without re-listing the vehicle in the mean while), it would be time the car was not listed, and if I waited for a month then I would be charged for the final value fee (which would probably be credited back, but that's more time and effort).

The second buyer who bought the car, half way across the USA, never showed up, either. But he also did not give me strange stories about his business being robbed. Actually, he said NOTHING whatsoever about payment. I don't know about others, but if I bought I vehicle that I was genuinly interested in, I would contact the seller right away about further details.

Only after I resorted to "threatening" him with negative feedback did he come out from silence and asked "well, what do I do to dismiss the auction win".

So, let's see what the second buyer did not do, as it can protect you, the seller, against some of these fake buyers:

  • He never provided payment
  • He had a feedback score of 1, after being a member for 6 months
  • He never had to put up anything, or make any effort, to win the auction (but the action of which has cost my valuable time to dismiss)


There are some options which you, the seller, can specify to protect yourself against fake buyers. They are:

  • Specify a "Full payment due" within a short time of auction close
  • Accept a deposit through PayPal, Required within a short time of auction close
  • To protect fake buyers from low-cost vehicles like mine of $500, you may even turn on "Require immediate payment with Buy It Now". In that case, buyers would then be steered towards bringing you cash instead of falsely reserving the vehicle online.
  • I highly recommend immediate re-listing of your vehicle if the buyer is not local and / or has not contacted you in 24 hours following auction close.
  • Limit your sell-to locations
  • And "Block buyers" with the all options available under that feature.


Now regarding the "Block buyers" feature, e-Bay is very lenient. You can only block:

  • Have a primary shipping address in countries that I don't ship to
    Have a feedback score equal to or lower than -1
    Have received 2 Unpaid Item strike(s) within 1 month(s)
    Have received 4 Policy violation report(s) within 1 month(s)
    Have bid on or bought my items in the last 10 days and have met my limit of 1 who have a feedback score of 0 or lower
    Don't have a PayPal account


If I had an ability, I would go further, and block anyone not local to me and anyone with a score less than 3.


Now, regarding that "Unpaid Item strike" thing. I was not able to figure out how to give either of my two buyers a strike of any kind for wasting my time. Let me know if you figured out how that works.


And last but not least, here is the end of the story: As it has taken me several consequtive weeks to attempt to sell the $500 car, I am now considered a "high volume seller", and e-Bay wants a $50 insertion fee, AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH 7 DAY LISTING, EVERY TIME IT IS LISTED!. Here is a quote from their policy page at http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/motorfees.html:

"When you've submitted 7 or more vehicle listings in a single calendar year, you're considered a high-volume seller. Once you become a high-volume seller, you're permanently a high-volume seller and high-volume selling fees apply." (emphasis added)

Then, $50 per listing (7 days) applies whether car is sold or not.

Therefore, e-Bay is not for selling low-cost used vehicles. As I have not sold a car within 6 listings (7 consequtive weeks), this will prevent me from selling THIS OR ANY OTHER CAR now that I have triggered that fee. Even if later that year I were to sell a vehicle for a few thousand dollars, if it takes me four weeks to sell that future car, I would need to put in $200 just in insertion fees, without a guarantee that the vehicle sells.

The final value fee of about $60 is waived for my car in this format, but it is no consolidation that I would quickly deflate the money remaining to me after the fee, in just a few weeks of the car not selling. And I have tried to only sell two cars! The situation must be much worse for someone trying to make more low-cost used cars sales thru e-Bay.

I did call customer service, and I only got the usual "we are sorry we are being stubborn morons, you can take your business elsewhere". That's exactly what I am going to do.

So, as the car is post-accident, I can try to sell it thru parts department of e-Bay, and thru Craigslist, which has its own set of weirdos and crappy policies, on which I will comment some time in the future.

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Page last modified 08-Mar-15 15:24:38 EDT
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