Topics in this issue:
1. eBay News: Your number’s up
2. Beware of the double proxy
3. Trade of the week: Everything’s a pound
4. Trader’s Tales: The Puppet’s Eye
5. Warning: Latest spoof emails
6. Tip of the week: Why everybody should have an ‘About me’ page
Welcome to the first edition of The eBay UK Bulletin. Issued weekly, this newsletter is designed specifically for eBay users, both buyers and sellers. Each week it will contain the latest gossip, hints and tips on selling and some of the crazy things that happen on eBay.If you can think of anybody who might like to receive future issues, please let them know and point them to www.ebaybulletin.co.uk.
1. EBAY NEWS: YOUR NUMBER’S UP
Did you know that eBay.co.uk is running out of numbers? There are so many items being listed that the length of each item number is about to change. From the end of May new items listed will have 11 digits instead of the current 10, and this could rise in the future up to a possible 19 digits, that’s a lot of auctions!
If you do use any business tools to keep track of your eBay activities, spreadsheets and so on, check that they can handle longer reference numbers. Check also that any software applications used for listing and managing data can handle numbers of up to 19 digits.
Each week I will sift out an item of eBay news and include it.
If you find something that might be of interest, please email the details.
2. BEWARE OF THE DOUBLE PROXY
A word of warning now for all buyers, whether buying to re-sell or for your own use: watch out if you use a double proxy when biding. The proxy bidding system is great, it will allow you to place your highest bid and then sit back and forget about the auction. If your current high bid is beaten, the system will bid again on your behalf up to your pre-determined maximum. This is great, no problem at all.
But a dangerous situation arises if, whilst still the high bidder, you decide to increase the amount of your proxy bid – you really do want to win the item. In this instance you will become both highest and second highest bidder, which can be seen by anybody from the bid history. In this situation a ishonest seller may well take the opportunity to “bid up the item”. By placing bids under another ID, they can exceed your first proxy bid and become the second highest bidder. They will then stop as they are unsure of your highest bid, however this has already cost you money, so be wary in the future.
The proxy bidding system can be a little tricky to understand fully. For a full explanation, check out the eBay proxy bidding help page
3. TRADE OF THE WEEK: EVERYTHING’S A POUND
Opportunity is everywhere and in this section I will outline some of the more unusual places to look and a few of the crazy things that people will buy.
This week I would like to bring you a great selling opportunity from that British High Street institution, Poundland – where everything is a pound. This store can stock some items that may not even be worth a pound, but from time to time, you might just be surprised. On a recent shopping trip, I popped in to see if anything held a potential margin and came out with 5 boxes of 24 Disney CD holders, that’s 120 CD cases at £1 each. They are quite cute with Pluto, Mickey and Minnie…well you get the idea. These are now listed with a “Buy It Now” price of 4.99 and are selling very well. So, next time you are out shopping, check it out, you never know – just give me a few weeks to shift these first!
If you have made a great trade or sold something a little out of the ordinary, please send in a few details, the more obscure the better.
4. TRADER’S TALES: THE PUPPET’S EYE
In this section each week I will relay some of the crazy things that happen to eBay traders; if you have a story that you just can’t keep to yourself, please send it in. This week, one from my own recent experiences, an episode which shows that you can never fully predict what a buyer might be thinking.
Whilst browsing through a local junk shop I picked up several old Pelham Puppets including a 1963 ‘Mother Dragon’ for £18. This poor puppet had been in the wars and did have a few battle scars, she had lost a tooth and one of her eyes had broken off, (to see this puppet in her full glory just follow this link)
The description went thus: “This is a fantastic Pelham Puppet from the 1963 Animal Range – The Mother Dragon. It does have some damage, it is missing a fang and an eye has come off (we still have the eye), the string from the lower jaw needs replacing. It is offered boxed, the box is NOT in good condition.”
These puppets are quite collectable and the dragon did attract some interest with 154 hits. Although I thought I had covered the description quite well, I was a little lost for words when an e-mail question arrived – “You say you still have the eye, but it is not in the picture. Is the (unattached) eye included in the sale?” I almost replied that we usually keep spare eyes from dragons, but resisted the temptation. The auction ended well and the dragon went to its new home in Preston, UK, for £41.36.
Lesson: always photograph spare dragon eyes.
5. WARNING: LATEST SPOOF EMAILS
The account hijackers are getting better with some more sophisticated spoofs doing the rounds, even the spelling is getting betr.
There are a couple of really good ones that you must be on the lookout for.
The first comes in the form of a question from a buyer, claiming to have paid for an item and demanding to know where it is. Curiosity may drive you to click the link to the item, where you will be asked to enter ID and password – DON’T do this or they will have control of your account. Real messages sent via eBay will appear in your ‘My Messages’ folder within your ‘My eBay’ page. Check there and you will soon see if there is a problem.
The second one to be on the lookout for comes arrives as an ‘eBay security notice’, although it is of course NOT from eBay. The tone of the email is a little worrying: ‘During our regular update and verification of the accounts we couldn’t verify your current information. Either your information has changed or it is incomplete.
If the account information is not updated to current information within 5 days then, your access to bid or buy on eBay will be suspended.’ Under this text is a ‘respond now’ button, which if clicked will ask for your ID and password.
As a general rule, there will never be anything wrong with your eBay or Paypal account, so don’t get taken in by these emails, just delete them and smile as you do so.
6. TIP OF THE WEEK: WHY EVERYBODY SHOULD HAVE AN ‘ABOUT ME’ PAGE
You don’t get very much for free in this life, and not very much at all from eBay, with one notable exception – the ‘About me’ page. Very few buyers or sellers use one and yet it can be a great aid to sales and provide useful information for all to see.
It is as an aid to sales where it is most powerful – an extra page hosted by eBay that can be controlled and managed by you. What a great place to put all of your trading terms and conditions, it would stop them cluttering up your auctions and can be achieved with just one hypertext link. An ‘About me’ page can show up to 100 active auctions on the one page, the default for the usual search results is only 25 auctions per page, so more clicks will be required to see your items for sale. There is an old saying that ‘people buy from people’, so use your ‘About me’ page to tell potential buyers about yourself, create a pleasant environment and your sales will improve.
Your ‘About me’ page can be fully customised to fit in with the rest of your eBay activities – to see how I have altered the appearance of my page.
Setting up a page couldn’t be easier, just visit the eBay help page and follow the instructions, it will take only a few minutes to create, but could become the centre of your eBay operation.
That’s it for this week. If you have any questions about eBay, from buying stock to leaving feedback, please just send them in. If you would like to see a particular issue covered or something explained, let me know and I will do my best to squeeze it in. I’ll leave you with the latest reason given for a mis-placed bid:
“I would like to retract my bid for the above item – I was searching for my son’s birthday presents and left the computer to change a nappy, I forgot about the computer for the afternoon and now when I checked eBay I found I have bid for your item. I know this is my fault and am really sorry.”
Best wishes and happy eBaying
Author of the bestselling The eBay Business Handbook