Why I Stopped Selling Cars on eBay

posted in: Online Around the Net | 4

While at Concorso Italiano Friday, August 14th, a couple of eBay account reps were walking around asking opinions of their motor auction service. eBay was a sponsor of the event so it made sense to be doing market research.

They’re walking my way… a little closer… I scootch conveniently into their path… hi how are you? We are from eBay Motors and are asking people about our auction service. Do you use it to sell cars and parts?

Where do I begin. It has lost all its luster for selling cars for me and I’ve really tried a range of different scenarios from reserve to no reserve to Buy it Now to having the vehicle inspected, etc. These are the reasons I’m not using it anymore.

1. The auctions only last 7 to 10 days.
This is hardly enough time for someone to make any real decisions assuming they saw the post when it was fresh. With so many yahoos bending the truth about their car, the only way to really know if it is worth the bid, is to go see. Trying to book a flight inside of two weeks gets costly. Trying to figure it out with pictures and phone calls gets frustrating. If you are lucky enough to be close, arranging the time and/or inspections can be a hassle.

Solution: Call someone in the associated car club to look at it for you. Independent inspections are good if you can get it done. As I told eBay, have longer auctions. The forums, Craiglist and Autotrader can run lifetime ads (Craiglist you have to relist it).

2. People bid up the auction with a dummy account to see your reserve.
After you’ve gone through weeks of preparation: cleaning and shooting the car, summarizing service history, doing the writeup and building the ad, the relief you start to feel as the auction comes to a close verges on overwhelming. You are finally going to sell your baby. Then, the good for nothing jackass toys with you emotions and sticks it to you with a dummy account. He has zero or one feedback and nobody actually buys the car. Worse yet, you paid the listing fee.

Solution: Lock out bidders with no or negative feedback. eBay now lets you list for free, you pay when it sells.

3. You have to be brutally honest or do you.
I had a heavily modified 1989 BMW 535i. I put it up on eBay at no reserve. The car was old with 180,000 miles but it was still loved and looked terrific. I sold it for $2,300. Two years later I happened to see my car listed on eBay by the guy who bought it from me. Cosmic forces in play for sure. The write up said he did all the modifications to the car, lied about other things plus had 220,000 miles on it now. His starting bid was $3000 and he got it.

Solution: Don’t have one. What line do you draw between your truth and the other guys slimy sales person spin. Receiving eBay negative feedback on such a big ticket item as a car is not good, especially for someone who likes to trade them. I have been working on my 100% positive feedback since 2000 and I wanted to build a trust worthy car trading reputation.

4. Deals often happen after the auction ends.
I’ve had several cars on eBay, from BMWs to a Toyota FJ-40 to an Infiniti G35 coupe. A lot of people called me as soon as the auction was over and wanted to make a deal. “Saw the car didn’t make reserve, what do you want for it?” eBay then becomes an expensive way to advertise. And if the deal is done outside of the auction, you don’t get the positive feedback to build your ID.

Solution: Use a the “Best Offer” option. I’ve never used it but it sounded like a plan.

5. People tie up the car after winning the bid trying to resell it.
I had one guy buy the car, pay the NON-refundable $1000 deposit but then drag the closing for almost six weeks. He was in constant communication but never came to get the car. My guess is that he was trying to flip it to some perspective client. I was so tired after the experience, I sat on the car for months before trying to sell it again.

I went on and on to these reps but since I hadn’t tried to sell a car since last year, I didn’t know they modified the listing fees. Now, the Insertion Fee is free for the first four cars within one year. The Successful Listing Fee (sold) is a flat $125 for cars with a $7 reserve. The fifth car, and those after, are charged $20 insertion and $100 success. To eBay’s credit they have made some good updates and attempted to address a lot of my concerns.

However, if they took anything away from our conversation, eBay has been more of a hassle than it’s worth and I’m burned out on it. I’m most likely not going back since the other sell sites I mentioned work well. As a side note, I am still a big fan of eBay Motors for selling parts and looking for cars. But when it comes time to sell my 1991 M5, I’ll probably give Bring a Trailer a whirl. People can call me if interested, arrange for a visit and I don’t have to put up with the intense anxiety of an auction to add to the anxiety I already have about selling the car.

4 Responses

  1. Alex Forester

    They always force you into PayPal too. It’s a good system, if you like a monopoly on banking. Anybody try to regulate their system?

  2. RxMx

    I’m done with eBay as well for cars. No hassle sales through Autotrader or Cars.com has proven to be a much better experience than dealing with bids and reserves. eBay is still a good auction house for obscure items but it falls short on mass market products.

  3. ohenryinatlanta

    i am suprised that a state AG has not looked into the ebay – paypal forced relationship. they will even delete your listing for mentioning another paymentoption in the description.

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