Update on eBay and 5k iMac

Apology

It has been 3 weeks since i last made a blog post. I’ve been spending all my time focusing on selling my CD collection to raise money to buy the 5k Retina Display 27″ iMac and also reading this 2″ thick tome Switching to The Mac.

I can announce success on both counts! I am typing this blog post on my new iMac, and i completed reading the book which i highly recommend to anyone switching from the Windows world to the Mac world.

In addition, my experience selling on eBay has been surprisingly positive. With only a few small glitches I’ve sold my most collectible and expensive CDs. I still have a few hundred plain old normal CDs left to sell, but everything is going very well and I have a number of very satisfied customers.

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Opinion/Review

I am extremely impressed with the iMac. Briefly, here are the high points:

  • The display is simply incredible. Bright. Sharp. Crisp. The blacks are the deepest darkest blacks i’ve seen on any monitor anywhere. In fact, this is easily the best computer monitor i have ever seen or used. For someone with bad vision, this is a HUGE deal. Seriously.
  • The Mac OS X operating system is very different from Windows and in almost every case, that is because it is better, more flexible and more capable, especially with regard to graphics and audio.
  • The hardware itself is in a universe of its own. The aluminum case the computer and display are in is solid and light. No plastic in sight other than the actual keys on the keyboard (which are set in an aluminum frame as is the trackpad). The Mac has superior audio output because of better audio components as well as the way the operating system handles audio. Mac’s cost more than Windows PCs, but it is my opinion that it is more than worth the cost for the far superior hardware.

I’m very pleased with the time and work it took to make this transition. I would do it again in a second.

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John’s eBay Adventures – aka – eBay Doesn’t Suck Anymore

I had a really bad experience with PayPal back around 1999 or 2000. I signed up for a PayPal account specifically so I could buy a vinyl Christmas album by The Ames Brothers (originally recorded in 1957, so kind of hard to find). That went well, and i’m glad i did it . . . right up until the moment a few weeks later when some people in Brazil stole over $100 from my bank account through PayPal. I had not ordered anything from them nor anyone else besides that one transaction to buy the record album. I got in touch with PayPal immediately and they refused to do anything whatsoever about it. In fact, they stonewalled like professionals. I then went to my bank and filed a fraud report and after a few weeks of investigating the charges, the bank (and not PayPal) refunded me the stolen funds. This left a very bitter taste in my mouth concerning PayPal, and i have not used my PayPal account since then until now. In case you are unaware, PayPal and eBay are the same company, though they are breaking up into two different companies in just a few months. PayPal was the money arm of eBay, so I accorded eBay the same hate i held for PayPal.

Jump ahead to 2015

Two things happened in 2015 to cause me to reconsider PayPal and give it another chance. I purchased a budgeting program called YNAB (You Need A Budget), and this program has a subreddit with an affiliate program:  you leave a special code on the subreddit and if anyone uses it you get a $6 deposit into your PayPal account. After making sure I could still log into my 15 year old PayPal account, i posted my code and 2 people used it to buy YNAB, netting me $12 in my PayPal account. Now what?

Well, part 2 is i came across a website that sells used CD’s, Murfie.com and i bought a used CD. A month went by and nothing bad happened to my PayPal account. Hmmmmm.

The Present

My 2009 Windows 7 PC has begun to show its age. Pixels are dying on the monitor, the processor and video card are old and not able to run some modern programs, and i have a hunch that further failures may be immanent. Six years is a pretty good run for a desktop computer but it is time to replace it. To complicate things, i want to get an iMac and move fully into the Apple world. Macs cost more than PC’s do. But that really doesn’t matter, because i don’t have any money to spend on a new computer.

Searching for a solution, i decided it may be time to sell some of my extensive CD and vinyl album collection. I made up spreadsheets and PDF files listing all of the CD’s and albums with their condition and began sending those out to companies which buy used CD’s and vinyl albums to sell to collectors. This is a growing market and I found three companies to get in touch with. All three were interested, but were only willing to pay about 20% of the actual sell-able value of my collection. That wasn’t enough to buy any kind of computer. Several people told me to sell my collection myself on eBay. I still was not a fan of eBay and harbored some residual distrust.

Just to see what would happen, i set up an account and listed about 10 of my gold audiophile CD’s. None of them sold. So, i started Googling “selling on eBay” and i learned a lot about what i was doing wrong. I’m going to pass that information along to you later in this post. So, I relisted those CD’s the next week and some of them sold. I read some more, and this time posted 20 of my CD’s. All of a sudden things started to sell, and i was getting pretty excited about this eBay thing!

Since then I have sold almost everything that I have listed. I do have a large collection of the Time-Life Rock ‘n’ Roll Era CD’s which contains 57 CD’s. Click on this to see the listing. A collection almost exactly like mine sold back in May for over $1,700.00 and i’m hoping to sell mine for around $1,000. It’s been up for a few weeks, but with no bidders yet. I’m willing to give it some time. Meanwhile, i’ve been selling individual CD’s and Boxed Sets of CD’s with great success and I am accumulating positive feedback and satisfied buyers. I’ve learned that this is a huge thing and very important.

So, what have i learned?

It’s not rocket science. The heart of selling things involves doing your homework and research before listing anything, and then treating your customers well.

First the Bad

  • eBay charges fees for almost everything.
  • There is a charge of $.30 to list each item, except that the first 20 listings each month are free and there is no charge on any item which sells, because then they really get you.
  • For any item which sells, eBay gets 10% of the total of the selling price plus any shipping charges.
  • PayPal also dips its fingers into the pie with a 3% (on average) fee for every transaction.

Now the good

  • The process of creating a listing, revising a listing, and shipping your item are so easy that i actually was both surprised and impressed.
  • There is an excellent iPhone and iPad app for managing and handling your listings including status updates, alerts, messages asking about a particular item and messaging to buyers.
  • The web site is incredibly complete with easy access to listings of all your items that are active, those which have been sold, those which have ended, etc.
  • The listings give complete information on whether an item has sold, if so, has the buyer paid, have you printed a shipping label, have you left buyer feedback, has the buyer left seller feedback.
  • You can share item listings on Facebook very easily.
  • In short, everything you need to know is right at your fingertips.

Here are the important things i’ve learned about listing items

  • Google everything you want to list before listing it. You need to find if there are a lot of them being sold and you need to know how much they are being sold for both New and Used.
  • My first mistake was trying to price things at what i thought they were worth based on my research. I learned that people do not want to bid on something that is being sold for what it is worth. They want a deal. So price your items below what they usually sell for.
  • I learned that when selling CD’s the most useful places to look at from my Google search are usually eBay posts and CD’s being sold new and used on Amazon.
  • A lot of people claim to be selling things that are new – factory sealed. I have no proof, but i strongly suspect that they are not really new. Some CD’s claiming to be new are selling for 10 to 20 times their original price and there haven’t been any new ones made in more than 20 years. I don’t believe that this many people have come upon new unopened collector types of CD’s. Use common sense and ignore those types of posts when you are trying to price something.
  • The magic of eBay is when you price your item low enough to get several people interested and they begin to bid against each other. I’ve seen my listing at $19 get into a bidding war and go up to over $40 in the last minutes before it closes.
  • Do not be disappointed if it looks like no one is bidding on your stuff. It is very normal that bidding doesn’t happen until the last hour something is up. People are afraid of running the price up.
  • List your items for seven days. The purpose of the listing period is to have the item up long enough for the search engines to find the listing and for people to discover it.
  • What you want to happen during that week is to see that people are ‘watching’ an item. The number of people watching shows up in the item listing so not only can you see it, but so can prospective buyers. The more people watching, the more likely someone will bid on it and even more likely that several people will bid, driving the price up.
  • You can schedule your listing start times and days. I’ve discovered that the best time for an item to close is on Sunday evening. Most people are home and able to bid against each other. Remember that you will have people on the east coast and the west coast bidding so i usually have my items close between 5 and 6 pm Pacific time on Sundays.
  • You can have items close on other days and i’ve done that, but if it’s on a week day, have it close after 6:30 Pacific time so people are home from work.
  • I do all my research and writing of listings and taking pictures of items during the week and then schedule the listing to go up on Sunday evening because they close exactly 7 days after they go up. You can list things for 5 days if you want to, but anything less than that doesn’t give people time to find it.
  • Lastly: it makes a huge difference if you can add personal remarks to the description of the item. I often will mention something about how and why i enjoy a particular disc or my favorite song on a disc. You want to be personal and not appear to buyers as if you are a business.
  • Invest time in preparing each listing. Just getting it up won’t help it sell. It needs to be informative and accurate and priced properly. I often spend 30 to 60 minutes for each item, taking the picture, doing research and writing the listing.

Here is what i’ve learned about interaction with buyers and potential buyers

  • Answer every inquiry you get promptly, thoroughly and honestly. If they ask if there are scratches and there are, then tell them so.
  • Honesty in your description, your selection of condition and your interactions to inquiries makes a huge difference. Buying from strangers is not easy and your honesty is important.
  • Going the extra mile to accommodate people will get you good feedback on eBay.
  • Feedback is critical! In the beginning, just one bad rating can swamp your business and no one will buy from you.
  • Take good pictures that fairly show the item you are selling. When the buyer can see the actual item it really helps ease fears.

Summary (tl;dr)

  • Do research on items like yours.
  • Price lower than you think you should.
  • Respond promptly to all inquiries and questions.
  • Never, ever exaggerate the condition of an item. Be scrupulously honest.
  • List things for 5 or 7 days and have them close in the evening.
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