Saturday, August 28, 2010

Taking a Beating: A Cautionary eBay Tale

Selling cards on eBay can be a tricky business. Part of the difficulty lies in knowing how much shipping to charge. As a seller myself, I have settled on $2.00 for a single card in a top loader and a padded envelope, a fair price, if we're reaching consensus on the issue. Having a digital scale in your home is also a good idea, for when the weights of items start to increase.

It's funny, then, that I was part of an eBay deal, as a buyer, in which the seller put himself in an upside-down predicament, if we are using the mortgage crisis lingo of the day.

Here's what I bought. Basically, a decent lot of well-loved cards featuring star pitchers who were at their best in the 1970s and early 1980s. Some of this lot was from the Three Manufacturers Era (with that Topps Archives Vida Blue rookies thrown in)...

...and the rest of the cards were from 1973 to 1980. The condition is not great, especially the San Diego Fingers card, but I'm not picky. (There were a few junk-ass Reuss cards from the late-'80s, but I ain't gonna waste your rods and cones on those.)

Here's where the folly emerges. The cards arrived in a tightly packaged box, no larger than a pack of cigarettes, covered in brown paper. This is the stamp the seller bought to ship the cards.

And this is the packing slip that accompanied the cards, and the reason why I bought this lot at all (other than to bolster my miniscule pre-1981 collection).

So, in effect, this seller paid $0.40 to send me that lot of cards (not to mention the eBay fees incurred from the sale, probably a few cents, with PayPal fees on top of that). I don't understand the thought process here, and I kind of actually feel bad for the guy. He has a feedback score greater than 2,000, so he's no novice at this. Each auction states that the first item ships for free, with subsequent items adding $1.00 to shipping. No, not all of his items start at $0.99, but many of them do. I understand the desire not to gouge buyers on shipping, but you have to look out for yourself, right? Wouldn't he have been better off merely throwing these cards away?

And by the way, how is Vida Blue not in the Hall of Fame? And shouldn't Mickey Lolich be considered as a possibility as well? Lolich has the third most strikeouts all-time for a lefty. He peaked at 25.5% in the BBWAA HOF voting, but fell to 5.2% in his final year of eligibility in 1999. And Blue has only garnered as high as 8.7%. Oh, well, such things are not mine to worry over.

6 comments:

Paul said...

I've gotten eBay packages where the seller probably just broke even after paying shipping, packaging & fees... but I've never had a seller take a loss like that.

madding said...

I've had sellers take obvious losses on stuff I've bought before. I'd feel bad, but then I think of the hundreds of auctions that have been sniped from me at the last second.

stusigpi said...

On the selling front. It costs me 1.39 plus .80 for delivery confirmation for a single card or maybe 2. That's why I use recycled packaging materials for my group break when I can.

Doc said...

When I sell, I'll put the shipping price a little high, and then I refund the difference to the buyer. If I under price the shipping, then I cover the difference.

That way shipping is exact. I put that disclaimer in my item listing, and people seem to like it.

GCA said...

I'm sure with that many feedbacks, the guy probably more than makes up for the 40¢ elsewhere in the other stuff he sells at the same time. Give him props for moving less desirable cards to someone who will appreciate them rather than casting them aside as trash...

Community Gum said...

If you use PayPal's shipping, delivery confirmation is $.19. And you save the gas to the post office if you have a scale. But yes, losing on shipping is bad news. I've made that mistake on larger items many times... -Andy