Buying And Selling Online: Some Tips From A Pro
August 5, 2013

Buying And Selling Online: Some Tips From A Pro

As I’ve mentioned in some other blog postings, I am a collector of some antiques and do a fair amount of buying and selling. I regularly peruse eBay more as a buyer, but sometime seller. Issues remain with eBay, and I’ve described the online auction house as a potential goldmine; but you need to go through a minefield to get to the good stuff.

eBay has, over the years, made it harder for the smaller seller, and that’s probably worthy of another debate. For now it comes down to safety. eBay is generally good because it does offer some protection for the buyer and seller. Most transactions require PayPal, which eBay owns, and this allows for average buyers to use a credit card to pay for an item and for sellers to accept the card.

Some will complain about fees, and while that is part of that other debate, I’d say it is the cost of doing business. Setting up at a collectibles show, flea market, antique arcade, etc. all costs money. Some sellers don’t think of this, but in many cases the costs to set up at a show or event are likely greater than sitting back and selling online.

As a buyer, if an item doesn’t show up, PayPal and eBay can help a buyer get his/her money back. As a seller, there is protection should a buyer try to do a chargeback. With that in mind let me explain how this works.

First things first. When I’m selling an item via a forum or classifieds site, I like to get a phone number and street address from an individual. The more expensive the item I’m selling, the more I want to know about my buyer. This is just common sense. I want to know I can track them down, especially if I’m accepting a check or money order.

The next thing is paying for shipping and insurance. As a buyer, I hate paying for insurance for anything. Why? Because I know if my item doesn’t show up I’ll call my credit card company and they generally have my back.

On the flip side, when I sell something, I want the buyer to pay for the insurance. Does this sound like I’m being a hypocrite? Actually I’d admit I play it both ways. As a seller I don’t want the other guy to call his credit card company and do a charge back. In the case of eBay and PayPal, they will offer protection against this sort of thing, but only so far. It does come down to whether the postal service or carrier lost the item. As the shipper/seller, you are always the responsible party. That is a fact to keep in mind when selling anything.

In other words, the seller can say, “not responsible for lost or damaged items” if you don’t pay for shipping, but let’s face it, that won’t hold up when the buyer call his/her credit card company.

The next thing to note in this is that I continue to emphasize credit card. As a buyer, I always want to pay with plastic. The laws and rules have changed in who pays the fees. The law was that the seller had to pay the fees, but that has changed. In Europe, it is worth noting that all sellers can pass on the fees. I, for one, use the fees as a negotiating tool with the price… “How about you pay for shipping and insurance and I’ll pay the fees.” I mean, I was going to have to pay for shipping and didn’t want to pay for insurance!

As a buyer, I want the protection that if something goes wrong I only have to pick up the phone and call the credit card company

However, as a seller I’ll take checks. I don’t like money orders as these can be faked and counterfeited. I don’t trust people who waste their time to get a money order, especially for big ticket items. Why don’t they have a checking account? It requires a lot more effort to counterfeit a check and banks can catch these more readily.

The best part of a check is that once it has cleared, and I do wait for it to clear, it becomes difficult for a buyer to try to pull a fast one.

On that note, I haven’t checked eBay for goodies in a few hours.

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer and has covered consumer electronics, technology, electronic entertainment and the fitness sports industry for more than 15 years. In that time his work has appeared in more than three dozen publications including Newsweek, PC Magazine and Wired. His work has also appeared on,,, and Peter is a regular writer for

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