eBay Shenanigans.

I’m selling pens in eBay this Sunday but I won’t be listing any more tomorrow. In fact, I have no idea when I’ll do so again – if ever.

I’ve had two weeks of catastrophic sales. Pens that would normally fetch £70.00, for instance, have been going for half that or less. This week’s sales are shaping up to be just as bad. I can’t carry on like that and I don’t intend to try!

Earlier in the week I was contacted by another high volume UK seller of restored pens in eBay. He had suffered the same sudden fall-off in sales returns and had begun to investigate. He found that most of his pens didn’t appear in the default listing in the US and Canada, despite his having paid a fee to ensure that they do. Instead, they appeared down the bottom of the listing in the “Items From International Sellers” section, which appears below various adverts and which nobody looks at anyway. Not only that: though he always accepts returns those which had been bumped down off the default lists were all marked “Returns Not Accepted”. This replicates what I have found, too. We contacted other high volume sellers; all were in the same boat. Basically, our pens are selling poorly because few people are seeing them. A proportion of those that do see the pens are misinformed that we won’t take them back under any circumstances, a good way of ensuring that the pens don’t sell.

Trying to get eBay to understand a problem is a torture that I’m sure Satan has copied for the deepest pits of Hell. They actually use bots for their Live Chat Support! The human beings they employ to answer the phones or emails are little better. That may sound like a very unpleasant thing to say but I speak as I find. If the concept has any complexity it’s just not going to be understood, and the support people start from the premise that nothing can be wrong with their system and the customer is always wrong. After an hour’s wearying conversation today, the support person I was talking to finally conceded that the problem was beyond her competence and agreed to “escalate” (awful word!) it to the technical staff. I asked to be transferred to the technical staff but no. The gods of eBay do not condescend to talk to those who put food on their tables and toilet paper in their loos.

I’m developing a seething, boiling hatred of supranational monopolies. Selling my pens on a retail website under my own control is looking very attractive right now.

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About goodwriterspens
I restore fountain pens, and used to trade as redripple52 in eBay. I also have my own fountain pen sales website, www.goodwriterssales.com

11 Responses to eBay Shenanigans.

  1. shrikaanth says:

    It would be a real shame if you stopped selling on eBay. Iam sure you know that you will be sorely missed.

    You may already know this but for what it is worth- eBay recently announced that all listings will “automatically” show in eBay listings of other countries if you list international postage as a postage option in your listing. By inverse logic, perhaps gthat means if you do not show this option, your listing will not show up in ebay lists of other countries. If you have not tried that, do try and see what happens.

    eBay live chat- mostly they have been helpful. But the one time I got some ignoramus that had no clue of what i was sayig and never bothered to read anything that I wrote; I ended up ending the session. And guess what, I never got asked for feedback about the experience, whereas by default I have been tortured with requests for completion of those surverys every other time they “resolved” my problem.

    • I do include overseas postage in my listings, always have done. The timing of our problems suggests that this visibility problem arose as a consequence of the changes made for the new User Agreement Supplement, but they are unintended consequences. Whether eBay will put them right depends upon how much it hurts their own income.

      Regards,
      Deb

  2. Bob says:

    Hi Deb, I actually encourage you to sell on your retail platform. Though it might take some time for growth and higher sales, in the long term however, it’s not a bad idea.

    Though eBay bring higher exposure for sellers, the fees they charge are quite high. Not to mention they don’t provide much service in seller’s aspect.

    PS* You could try start by selling the pens on this site.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Bob. I have no other gripe with eBay. Having had a bricks and mortar shop, I view their charges as a very reasonable overhead. Ideally, I would continue with eBay as it gives something nothing else does – the ability to control your turnover.

      I’m looking at a variety of options at the moment. Whether it will work well or not remains to be seen but I like the idea of giving a retail site a whirl.

      Regards,
      Deb

  3. Malcy says:

    Thanks for the heads up. I was about to sell some pens on ebay. Historically many of my sales have been overseas, so this would make a big difference.

    I think that the idea of a stand alone site is a good one, it leaves you in control. It is easy to set up a retail web site using a content management system. WordPress can be set up in this way and Joomla is another good choice.

    • I’m glad if I’ve saved you from a loss, Malcy. We put a lot of effort into sourcing and preparing our pens and it’s really heart-breaking when they barely make as much as we paid for them unrestored.

      Thanks for the information. I’m going to take some time and try to work out what will be best for me.

      Regards,
      Deb

  4. Bob Radatz says:

    Hello Deb,
    I have purchased from you twice on e-bay and felt I came away with excellent quality at lower prices than I would have paid from a selling site. I have purchased many pens from Writetime and the Penpractice and am always willing to pay the requested price if it is a pen I want. I would appreciate it if you could somehow inform me if you do create a direct site, I am sure that many quality pens would be offered through it. I am sorry that your experience with e-bay has not been too good, I still have you listed among “my favorite sellers” and will keep checking to see if you ever list anything again.

    Thank you for the great pens,

    Bob Radatz

    • Hi Bob,

      I’m glad you liked the pens. EBay, at its best, is something of a lottery. I’ve had pens go below what one might reasonably expect but I’ve also had some very high prices that I would be at a loss to explain.

      I probably will list in eBay again when I am assured that the present mess has been cleaned up, but I’ve been putting all my eggs in one basket for too long. I’ve been investigating setup of an online shop and it looks likely that I will go ahead. If I do, it will be announced here.

      Writetime, I have always felt, maintains pretty good prices. Some of their Swans and Conway Stewarts are offered at prices no greater than they would fetch in eBay Good people.

      Regards,
      Deb

  5. Dave Ismay says:

    FPN could perhaps give better results if you know what you wish to charge .
    You would be selling to fans and it costs nothing!
    Cheers
    Dave
    PS What do you know about Phillips Oxford nibs I have started a topic on FPN but no responces as yet?

    • None of these discussion boards really lend themselves to quantity sales. I’ve been doing a turnover of at least 60 pens a month – that would swamp the boards!

      I see you’ve now had a couple of replies on Phillips. An interesting company. They must have had a fair-sized repair facility behind the scenes somewhere.

  6. Dave Ismay says:

    PPS there is also http://thefountainpencommunity.activeboard.com/
    A bunch of good people but not as busy as FPN

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