Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Is eBay worth it anymore?

A few years ago, I made a KILLING selling no-value Starbucks cards on eBay. People are crazy, and will buy just about anything. My roommate, ex-boyfriend and I all worked at Starbucks, so we had a huge assortment of different cards, and apparently, people collect these things like Beanie Babies. I easily made $800 in a couple weeks, including one card that, all by itself, sold for more than $60. My mother had a successful eBay business for several years as well, so I’ve always been inclined to feel like it’s a great place to sell stuff I no longer want, and to pick up things for a good deal. Now, as small businesses have started taking the place of the individual seller, and eBay prepares to change seller fees, protection, and feedback options, I’m beginning to rethink it.

As I prepare to move, I’ve been doing a lot of decluttering. I’ve taken at least three loads of stuff to the thrift store—clothing, cheap art, bags, odds and ends. But there were a few items that I wasn’t quite ready to let go of for free (I’ve not bothered to get receipts for these donations, as I know that I’m taking the standard deduction anyway, so it’s not worth my time to catalog everything). These items, mostly pieces I bought planning to use them as costumes, still have price tags on them, so I figured I might be able to do all right on eBay.

I listed the following during the Superbowl: two salwar kameez outfits (Indian tunic and pants), a kameez (tunic), a sari, two handmade wrap skirts, an old prom dress which I love but will never wear again (even though, yes, I can still fit into it!), a brand new Gamecube controller, and a Metroid Prime Wii game. Everything but the tunic sold—one of the wrap skirts and the Wii game both went for more than $30 but everything else was piddling. Most items had a standard flat rate box priority shipping fee of $8.95; the video game components had different shipping options but included delivery confirmation.

Total sales (including shipping fees paid to me): $144.56
Total shipping costs: $63.21
Total eBay fees (listing and final value fees): $7.76
Total Paypal fees (for receiving buyer payments): 5.42
Total net income: 68.17

That’s sort of depressing, especially considering I spent $45 on the Wii game alone in December, and £30 (about $45 at the time) on each of the wrap skirts. I might even find that a few of the items garnered me less than $1 profit, but I’m not going to dig too deeply in case I don’t like what I find. It won’t make a difference, because, as of right now, I no longer feel like eBay is worth the time and effort, so next time I have things to get rid of, I’ll simply be dropping them off at the local thrift store.


  1. i agree. ive sold some stuff on ebay like really awesome books and what not and i end up making $2 or something to that degree. it's just soo frustrating because these are stuff i paid good money for and i don't get any money back. since my sad ebay selling experience, ive resorted to dropping off stuff at the goodwill...

  2. Books definitely aren't worth it on eBay. I recommend (owned by eBay),, and for getting rid of unwanted books. It's hard to make any money off selling used books, but I've had good luck with the first two services--and shipping books for free with Paperbackswap earns credit to get books in return!

    Those three are something I will continue to use, but my days of letting others determine the worth of my items via auction is, I'm afraid, over.

  3. Yea ebay has gotten really expensive for sellers. I just paid $34.74 in seller fees for like 8 items, boo

  4. Yes, the fees on eBay certainly have gone higher. Many novice sellers don't realize ALL the fees that are associate with selling on eBay, such as Pay Pal fees. Here's a fantastic example of a real-world eBay selling example:


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