The eBay Conundrum


Obviously the furor over the Games Workshop 2011 Customer Shaft-a-thon continues, many punters have declared their continuing use or potential increased use of international tat bazaar eBay. I have sold a number of armies and models through this hub as it is a convenient way to reach a large potential market. Paying eBay 10% of the final sale fee is a sting in the tail but then putting an ad in the local paper wouldn’t be cheap and would reach fewer people.

In general the second-hand market for toy soldiers isn’t fantastic. You can host a full army at way less than 50% of the RRP and it will receive no bids at all, frustrating for the seller and then you end up trying to sell individual units and depending on the whims of the punters you can end up with the postage costing you more than what you are getting for the model itself. Such are the fortunes of an eBay seller, you are now also open to abuse from disgruntled buyers. If you charge £2.50 for postage and it comes in at £2 I have seen people leave negative feedback (not on my account, I have heard this from others) that they were over-charged for postage, even if they got a brand new model sealed in its box for under half the retail price…

My biggest problem with eBay however are some of the other buyers. The reason that I use eBay is to try to get things for cheaper than if I walked into a store to get them, that is the convenience. I am willing to wait a little longer to get something (or not really as I buy from a lot of online retailers who offer a discount these days) that is cheaper than if I was to walk into a store to get it. Now, admittedly sometimes I am impatient and will grab something from the local store because I want it fast but other things I am happy to pick up at a leisurely pace. Now, I know the whole principal behind auctions is that people will bid what they are willing to pay, however some people seem willing to pay the same price for something off eBay as they would from going to the store to pay for it… to be this seems counter-intuitive.

From a personal stand-point I am (very) slowly collecting Warmachine models here and there to round out what I have and make a proper force. I wouldn’t say that I am actively collecting, more picking up items here and there when I can afford to. There was a pack of models, still in blister but opened and missing one of the cards, this isn’t too much of an issue to me as I have the Mk2 deck at home so I can replace cards. I put in a bid that was what the same item went for a few weeks ago with 2 days left to go (I know, I should wait until 20 secs and then make my bid), however, I was outbid almost instantly by someone (who eventually won the auction) at a price that was (when you factored in the P&P) pretty much the RRP for the item, and bear in mind that this was incomplete.

Now, OK, I’m not bitter about this, I lost and that’s the nature of an auction site, some dude got what he wanted and the seller actually got a good price for his item. However, I see this an awful lot across all items relating to miniatures, sure a lot of what I have sold has not come close to RRP but some items even when they are just built (seems more likely with Warmachine stuff from what I can see) seem to go for close to the RRP. Some GW miniatures that are labelled as RARE despite still being available on the GW website go for more than the current RRP! It’s crazy, do these people have more money than sense or do they just not care? It is bewildering to me that someone would pay more for a used item on eBay than they could get it for brand new from an official web store or other retailer.

By way of example I wanted the Queen Khalida model to go for the new Tomb Kings release in case I started them up again. I was watching them on eBay and they consistently went for £9 or more, you can still get the model from GW for less than this… I don’t know if these people are dumb or what?

eBay is a great way to search for a bargain, however, the fact that some out there seem to be happy to pay even more than the already over-inflated GW price beggars belief… no wonder I reckon that the latest round of price rises will not dissuade a large portion of the customer base to investigate other, better options for their gaming devotion.

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7 thoughts on “The eBay Conundrum”

  1. It amkes me wonder if Companies that have had there ToE changed will use ebay as a way to get around the sales to oversea’s buyer’s.

    Nothing to stop them creating a new account to sell things through if they want to. How will GW know?

  2. If you were outbid within seconds of placing your own bid, there’s a chance the other person used proxy bidding. That’s where they enter a maximum amount rather than a single bid, and if they get outbid at any point ebay automatically adjusts the bidding until they’re the highest bidder, or the price reaches their maximum bid amount.

    Re: charging $2.50 for ‘postage’ when it only costs $2.00 (or Pounds 😉 if I encounter situations like that I don’t really care. If I paid $5 and saw cost of postage was $2 that might be an issue, but then that’s why it’s called Postage & Handling. You’re not just paying for Postage, you’re paying for the bubble wrap, the box, and the time the Seller is taking to properly box up your item so it doesn’t get damaged in transit.

    Of course there was also that pamphlet which was a huge hit several years back that touted the only way to really make money on ebay was by charging an obscene rate for postage, far higher than the actual cost.

  3. I have to say, I think the whole postage this is abused by all parties. Some sellers have very high postage (This used to be a way to get a chaper listing and pay eBay less) and some buyers moan and always want less postage and complain if it costs less.

    The simple thing is and what I always do, is take the price of P&P as part of the total cost. If you bid £8 and it’s £2 for P&P you are paying £10. THAT is what you are paying. If the product arrives and it says £1 postage why should you moan? It was clearly stated what you were paying? Unless the seller has up-to-date scales and prices it’s very hard to judge P&P.

    Now from the other side if you paid £5 postage and £25 for a product and it arrived with £1 2nd class postage I think you might be able to knock them down a star or two for postage rateing but you still knew the cost and the seller did pull a bit of a fast one.

    Negative feedback? Dunno about that? Maybe a PM/email to the seller first? But I have heard of people putting Negative feedback for items that arrived very slowly or damaged and NO effort was made to contact the seller, which is just terrible!

    On the whole GW and price thing, I think I have mentioned to you before my shock that so many time people pay over the odds for GW stuff that is clearly listed on their site with FREE P&P.

    Latest: I have been watching many, many Death Cult Assasins for my Grey Knights, they go on eBay for £9 + P&P when they are only £8.20 on GW’s site? LOTR stuff is the same.

    The only deals to be had are when items are listed to finnish during working hours during the week. After work or weekends forget it! Thats the time to sell 🙂

    Best deal, hmmm. £40 Dragon for £6 posted! Aution finnished at 5.30am. Who dose that?

    Good post 🙂

  4. I’ve had pretty good results on the shipping situation as a seller by offering a fair/slightly high shipping cost up front, but offering a refund of any shipping overpaid.

    So, if I charge $10, but it ended up costing only $7, I send the buyer back the extra $3. To attract bidders, I absorb the cost if I underestimated. So if it actually cost $13, the extra $3 comes out of my pocket.

    When I first started, I wasn’t too good at the estimates, but I’ve gotten better to where I’m now usually within a $1 or so.

    I usually sell individual units over an army… it’s a bit more work, but usually pays much better.

  5. Wow!!! I go camping for a week and I miss all of the action. GW price rises, petitions against it all, buying stuff else.

  6. I went the other way as a seller; I ship for free but roll a low shipping estimate into the starting price point. Maybe that’s evil sneaky, but I figured that would short circuit shipping cost complaints, and the total price is easier to see and bid on that way.

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