Free Monthly Ebay Listings Mean More Profit for Sellers — But It Could Cost You

by Nindo Mom on April 19, 2011

Ebay’s New Free Listings

I’ve been waiting for this day for several weeks now — the beginning of Ebay’s new Free Listings offer for sellers. Here’s the basics of Ebay’s new listing fees:

Qualifying Ebay sellers WITHOUT an Ebay Store: may now list up to 50 free auction-style listings per month. Sellers may also add the Buy It Now option on these auctions for free.

Qualifying Ebay sellers WITH an Ebay Store: will benefit from reduced Final Value Fees starting July 6. (Insertion fees for Store subscribers are unchanged, as low as 3¢.)

Final value fees still apply to items listed for free. This is Ebay’s commission on the sale. Final value fees apply to both the price the item sells for AND the shipping and handling for the item.

Why I Like Ebay’s Free Auction-Style Listings

I really hate needlessly losing money — and that’s how I feel about having to pay listing fees for an item that doesn’t sell. I think it’s fair to pay a final value fee to Ebay when it’s their platform that enabled my item to be sold. But to fork over money when no sale is made . . . when, that has a huge chilling effect on my desire to attempt the sale, at all. I start thinking I’m better of donating the item to charity — which generally nets a nice tax deduction.

Ebay’s Free Listing offers are great because they help take the fear out of selling — fear that you’ll list items that don’t sell and you’ll still be stuck with fees.

Free listings also provide a great opportunity to try selling a different sort of item than you’ve tried to sell before. Free listings let you get a read on the market for the item without having to risk losing money trying to sell it.

A Word of Caution about Selling on Ebay

Ebay changes their fees on a regular basis, and I don’t see any indication that this trend will change any time soon. From a business standpoint, it makes sense that Ebay would prefer to collect listing fees IN ADDITION to final value fees. So their free listings are simply an opportunity for them to get new sellers and encourage previous sellers to start listing again. And since Ebay still collects final value fees, they’re still making most of their money.

Free listings offers from Ebay can be seen as a kind of bait and switch racket — at least partially. If sellers get used to listing items for free — there’s a good chance that those sellers will continue listing items even after Ebay starts charging listing fees again.  And many sellers may not even notice for a while.

This isn’t to say that Ebay is any more — or less — “underhanded” than any other business. They’re simply trying to increase their profits. Ebay’s free listings offer is similar to when a grocery or department store lowers the price on certain items to bring customers into the store, and to  get them used to buying a certain product. When the store raises the price on the product again, many customers will continue purchasing the item out of habit.

How to Help Keep Unexpected Ebay Fees from Lightening Your Wallet

Be sure to read the listing preview screens before finalizing each listing — this way, you’ll see if there’s a listing fee for that item.

Also, be sure to read all Ebay announcements in the Message Center of your Ebay account so you’ll see when Ebay is changing their fee schedule again.

By following these precautions, you can avoid the unpleasant surprise of a change in fees throwing you for a loop.

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