A Few Simple Tips to Make eBaying Work Better

I talk a lot about eBay because I get the majority of my single cards from the popular auction website.

I wasn’t quite what one would consider a charter member of eBay, because they don’t allow hotmail addresses to be used as confirmed e-mail address – at least they didn’t when I first started bidding on items while in college in 1995. But as soon as I had a valid e-mail address, I was confirmed
and have been buying – and sometimes selling – “officially” since 1997.

I have several tips for those of you interested in buying and selling on eBay.

The site can be a fun and rewarding experience, but also can be frustrating. If sellers followed a few simple rules, most of the frustration would be alleviated.


For crying out loud. A seller is posting an auction for an individual card. He or she probably scans or takes a picture of the card. But as much care as goes in with posting an item for sale, the dunderheads forget the most simple and basic premise.

The player’s name – most of the time – is right there on the card. How difficult can it be?

The importance in this simple step is huge: Many collectors – me included – have several bookmarks of their favorite players. If you misspell the name, you can forget your card showing up in the search.

I have a saved search for George Brett cards. The search excludes numerous words that would knock out most other “Brett” cards from showing up, such as “Favre,” “Hull,” and “Boone.” However, if you’re selling a Brett Favre card and spell his name “Farve,” you have no one to blame but yourself if it doesn’t sell.


State the player’s last name (and first name if the player has a popular last name), year, card company and a key word that would describe the card if it’s a chase card.

For instance: “George Brett 1975 Topps Rookie RC,” or “Billy Butler 2011 Topps Bat Barrell Brown.”


Anyone with any eBay buying experience takes into consideration not only the bidding price, but the shipping price combined before determining whether or not to make a bid.

It doesn’t matter if the current bid is 99 cents on a card with a shipping price of $4. Someone’s going to have to want that card awfully bad to pay that much to ship one card.

It’s true that eBay’s seller costs have skyrocketed in recent years. But many sellers try to make the buyer pay most or all of those costs. That may hurt them in the long run, because a large number of cards may go unsold if nobody is willing to pay the exorbitant shipping costs.


This one irks me to no end.

I win an auction. I immediately send a PayPal payment. The seller ships out the card the next day. But he or she holds my feedback hostage until they receive feedback.

It doesn’t work that way, and eBay really should crack down on this self-centered practice.

If I pay immediately, I deserve positive feedback, whether I’m happy with the transaction or not. And if a seller provides crappy service, I should have the right to complain, and leave neutral or negative feedback, without fear of a retaliatory negative feedback.

Retaliatory negative feedback is against eBay policies, but it’s tough to get them to act on it.


I am currently working on the 2011 Topps Baseball Walmart Black subset.

I need about 11 cards to complete the set, and have my checklist at arm’s length at all times.

So imagine me clicking on an eBay auction for a 10-card lot of these rare gems, only to see a list of player names with no card number.  Just as dumb is the list that isn’t in numerical order.

If you’re selling lots of cards from the same set, it only makes common sense to list the cards in numeric order, from lowest to highest, along with the players’ names. That way, we buyers can quickly scan the list and see if the auction is worth a bid.


It should go without saying, but if you are trying to run a business, and many eBay sellers are doing just that, don’t try to fool someone into bidding on one thing while giving them another.

It’s not only stupid, but it’s illegal. Not only does eBay strictly forbid it, but it is a federal crime to commit fraud via the U.S. Postal Service.

Filed in: Featured, Parts Unknown

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2 Responses to "A Few Simple Tips to Make eBaying Work Better"

  1. Justin says:

    I think you are missing the point of using ebay to your advantage as a buyer in this article. I have been buying and selling on ebay since 1995. My current account (opened since the great divorce fiasco of 2001) has over 2000 feedbacks, almost all as a buyer because of ebay’s poor service for sellers. As a buyer you can use your warnings as an advantage, Specifically misspellings. A smart buyer uses seller stupidity to their advantage. Save searches based on misspelled names. Competition is what drives up an auctions prices, not anything else. How good would an auction be if you were the only guy in the room? It’s always easier to get a great deal on a Adrian Petersen rc vs an Adrian Peterson rc. I once picked up an Adrain Peterson auto rc for less than 35 dollars because of stupidity. This works for everything, a “Tops” card will usually be less than a “Topps” card. I guarantee you would love the price I paid for my .”Hank Aron” more than the one you picked up. Hope I dont regret pointing this out, I don’t want to ruin it for myself. :)

  2. The misspelling issue has been mitigated by eBay somewhat in recent years. I used to look for 1991 Topps Desert Shield baseball cards.

    I scored some serious deals in 2005 and 2006 because sellers couldn’t bear to look at their card and make sure whether it indeed was a genuine “Dessert Sheild” item or not. I don’t know what a “shy-uld” is, or what it has to do with a post-dinner treat, but it did lead to some cheap auction closings for me.

    However, eBay search now has a reasonably effective autocorrect feature for likely other words, based on misspellings in the search field. Searchers are now given several additional options, to include the misspellings or search based on the correct form.

    I just wish that the autocorrect feature would try to kick in at the point of the seller entering the information for the listing. “It appears that ‘sheild’ is not a word. Did you mean ‘shield’?”

    That would go a long way in proofing against one more doofus listing a “Mark McGuire” auction.

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