As I’m sure most of you know and remember, after a few months of little interest on my local Craigslist (it’s a 46 year old rear wheel drive car in a place that will be snowing for the next 4 and a half months) I decided to list the car on eBay Motors to try to get it in front of more eyes, and hopefully in front of the eyes of old men in Florida who would buy it.
(Disclaimer: These are the thoughts and borderline ramblings of an individual who, while being a veteran of Craigslist car sales decided to use eBay Motors completely on a whim while doing no research. I’ve learned of a lot of things I should have done differently since then.)
Listing The Car
I found listing the car to be both easy and frustrating at the same time. It seems eBay has a field to enter pretty much all the information pertinent to potential buyers looking at your car. Year, mileage, VIN, options, even fuel type, which I found sort of humorous when I started thinking about a 1970 Grand Prix with a diesel engine. My first mistake was entering “00000000000" as the VIN, as I didn’t have anything in front of me with the VIN on it, thinking I would be able to edit that later. That’s not the case, so I suppose that’s lesson one. Look over the things you need to enter into the eBay ad, make note of anything you don’t remember off hand and get the answers, and then make your listing.
One thing that I consider an oversight on eBay’s part is not having a “Missing” option for the title. In the state of New Hampshire, where I live (free, and don’t die yet) a title is not required on vehicles more than 15 years old. EBay gives you the options of clear, salvage, rebuilt, rebuildable, & reconstructed, lemon law & buyback, and finally flood & water damage.
Another one that’s my fault is the fact that I didn’t pay attention to the fact that once you receive your first bid, you lose the ability to edit the main listing and instead your edits show at the bottom, which isn’t a big deal but I like my listings to be more concise, and also like the option to fix my mistakes, if any. I understand why eBay does this, but it still drove me a little batty.
I set a minimum bid of $5,000, with a reserve of $6,000. I paid a little more to have a reserve on the auction, and a little more for a Buy It Now, which was set at $8,000. I set it so a deposit of $1,000 was required within 24 hours, and full payment was due in 7 days. The 24 hours part will be important later.
This is another one of my mistakes in not doing research beforehand, but if you sell on eBay, you really want to set a minimum feedback score that potential buyers need to be at before bidding. I know that sounds like you’re limiting your potential buyer pool, but really the only people you’re weeding out are scammers. Bidders with a feedback score lower than your threshold (I’ve been recommended to use 20, but you do you) can still contact you and if you’re certain they’re really the Nigerian prince they claim to be you can make it so they can bid.
I listed the car on Wednesday, December 7th at 8 A.M. EST (eBay uses PST so it was like 5 A.M.). I think if I were to do this again I would make it so it was in the afternoon because the time of the day your auction starts is also when it ends, and people in California might not wanna wake up at 5 A.M. to bid if they don’t know about automatic bidding programs.
I received my first bid the following Tuesday from a person named 1983elcamino in the amount of $5,100, a long way from reserve. Over the next few days a friend of mine pushed the bid up here and there to get it closer to reserve. On December 13th, the day before the auction, I got a bid for $5,900 from 1983elcamino, and then one for $6,000. I had just happened to be looking at the listing on my phone when it was at $6,000, and then a few minutes later I got an email saying the bid had been canceled.
This was the second time a bid had been canceled over the course of my auction. The first time an account from Russia, that had joined Facebook two days before he bid on my auction, was deleted for not being an actual account, and therefore the bid was deleted by eBay. This is why you want to set the minimum feedback score.
This time, however, 1983elcamino had deleted his $6,000 bid because he “entered the wrong amount”. $5,900 and $6,000 being very similar numerically, his finger must have just slipped, and it just happened to take an hour to notice. Definitely wasn’t trying to figure out where my reserve was set. (This is sarcasm because it apparently wasn’t clear.)
The Winningish Bid
On the morning of the last day of the auction I woke up and immediately checked the auction, which had about two hours left. I was still at $5,900. I was hoping that 1983elcamino and one of the 25 or so people watching the auction would get into some last minute bid war with bid sniping software that would push it higher than $6,000 but in the end the last bid came about an hour before the end of the auction from alexevorkano-0. His eBay profile looks oddly familiar.
Why this one didn’t trip eBay’s spam/ scam account filter and the dude who didn’t even make reserve did is beyond me, but it’s obviously not a real account. The best part is that if you look at his join date, it’s the same date as when he bid on and won my auction.
After The Auction
I hunted around a little on eBay and couldn’t find any links that said “Hey guys my car got bought by a Ukrainian scam artist can you guys help me out?” So I decided to wait it out and see what happened. Obviously I wasn’t going to accept any money sent to my PayPal (where the deposit, and only the deposit, was to be sent), but being that I couldn’t find anything to file, I figured waiting couldn’t hurt. I write this 25 hours after the auction ended. I have yet to receive any money, or any sort of contact from the buyer, either on eBay or my email. Despite it being more than 24 hours since the auction ended, I have to wait until tomorrow to be able to file a non-paying bidder case. I will update this post with what happens with them once I get it resolved.
EBay did sent me a message saying that my item had sold, and to not ship the car until I received payment. They also told me I had to ship the car within a day of receiving my payment, using the eBay provided shipping label. I found that sort of interesting for two reasons. One being, I’d love to see the face on the UPS guy when he shows up to get my mail and it’s a 1970 Pontiac with a shipping label on the windshield, and two, I dunno how to make it more clear that I’m not gonna be the one shipping the thing. I know it’s just a form email but still, make it so the “Buyer responsible for shipping” thing pulls that out of the email.
I just wanted to recap a few of the takeaways, and give my final thoughts on the experience. The big takeways are that you always want to set a minimum buyer feedback score. I’d consider also setting it so it’s only open to buyers in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, but that’s up to you. Another is to make sure you have all the information you’re going to need on your item before you post it. It sounds obvious but I thought I could post my ad, get it out there, and then just add my VIN in after I stopped and looked at it on the way home.
In the end I don’t think I would use eBay again. At least not for cars. I’m sure it would go better if I relisted the car and used the takeaways I just discussed, but I’ve always used Craigslist and I just know it better. I know how to use it, and I know the scams people are gonna try to rope me into (still not really understanding the scam in winning my auction and not contacting me any way, shape, or form). If you know how to use eBay well, and you can make money at it, definitely keep investing time in it. I think that’s the biggest takeaway of all, find what you like and use it.