The increasingly elusive ebay bargain

I had a moment that is getting rarer the other day – real excitement on opening a ebay purchase to realise it was so much better than I thought and the gamble on an auction with blurry badly lit photo had paid off and I’d got a real bargain.

From a buyers point of view these quality bargins are getting harder to find. Everyone pretty much had access to a good camera on their phone and is more canny with pricing and when they list items – and that isn’t something I think is an issue – I also sell on Ebay and know that the aim is not to give things away for virtually free.

But one thing I don’t think has been a great development for ebay and one that I believe has had a bigger effect than individuals getting more canny with their listings, is Ebay’s relentless drive to ‘professionalise’ the way things are sold.

A site originally designed to let people sell thing they didn’t want / or need for a good price direct to other individuals now demands the seller acts almost as if they were a shop or company. Customer communication must be quick and constant and then there is the every growing issue of postage – one of the most stark examples being being ebay’s decision to fix the postage cost for certain items like books regardless of how heavy and therefor costly the item may be to send.

And it is postage that I think will be the nail in the coffin for the regular finding of an ebay bargin, and potentially my inclination to sell things via ebay. Ebay’s postage policies combined with the recent steep rise in Royal Mail postage means that for the buyer now what may seem a bargin on first glance can very quickly become close to shop prices or event quite pricy when postage is added in. For the seller it means knowing people will add the postage to what they are prepared to bid and your profit starts to drop, or you take a risk your action won’t reach the price you want and effectively subsidise the postage.

Combine this with the ‘ebay’ effect on charity shops, who can now price items quickly against the market demand for them, making the charity shop bargin a rare beast too.

I think there is something quite sad, if not surprising, that the website that seemed at the beginning to offer a more personal, community styled, even slightly green way to sell on your unwanted stuff’ is now rapidly on its way to being just another corporation driven by consumer research and customer experience.

And now for the gratuitous yarn shot…..

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