I’ve been selling stuff on Ebay for more than 10 years now — and I still occasionally get caught and lose money.
As always, I was excited to take advantage of Ebay’s periodic free listing offer. And I was thrilled when one of my items actually sold. It was a brand new Nerf Super Soaker–priced at 25.99 and an additional 14.99 for shipping. (Nerf’s Super Soakers are very large and relatively heavy, so are expensive to package and ship). Even though the listing, itself, was free, Ebay’s final value fee for the sale was $3.69–based on a 9 percent rate.
After giving the buyer about a week to pay for the auction, I sent them a gentle reminder to pay. When I still hadn’t heard back from the buyer another week later, I sent a second payment reminder–to which I also received no response, and no payment. So I filed a non-paying bidder notice with Ebay.
Taking it for granted that I understood the process, I sat back and let the things proceed on their own. I thought that Ebay would automatically refund my final value fee and instigate the non-paying bidder strike against the buyer (danhulu7) if they couldn’t get him to pay. Unfortunately, I was mistaken.
I failed to read a message from Ebay saying “Don’t forget to close your unpaid item case.” Had I read the message, I would have known that I would still have to pay Ebay’s final value fee for the auction, even if the buyer never paid, if I didn’t take one additional step. And, Ebay woudn’t give the buyer an unpaid bidder strike. I assumed the message said that if I had received payment from the buyer, I should close the case so that Ebay would stop whatever action they were taking. My confusion was in the wording of Ebay’s message–that I should CLOSE the case. To me, closing a case means stopping it. This was my misunderstanding–and ultimately, my mistake.
The Bottom Line
When you’re selling on Ebay, Amazon, or any online site, it’s important to stay appraised of the site’s changing rules and policies. Because these online sites often adjust their policies as time goes on — sometimes significantly. Not understanding the site’s rules won’t exempt you from following them.
Secondly, always read messages, emails, and other communication from the website where you’re listing your items. NEVER ASSUME you know what a communication says simply by reading the subject line–because the wrong assumption can cost you.
Ultimately, the $3.69 final value fee isn’t going to kill me. But it’s a bitter pill considering how hard I try to avoid unnecessary fees. Especially considering the original listing was FREE, and I expected to come out ahead–or at least break even and not owe money if my item didn’t sell.
My mistake with this listing is one I plan on never repeating. And now knowing the danger, it’s one you’ll never make.