Selling On eBay – Is It Worth?
Every day people make millions of transactions and sales. Over the years, a lot of selling platforms emerged. One of them is eBay. But is it still worth selling on eBay? We share our experience with eBay over the last few years.
First, we’d like to mention that there are a lot of struggles and drawbacks to using eBay nowadays. The situation was way different a decade ago, but now basically everything is under monetization in eBay. That means you cannot sell individual products which consist of smaller value because you may lose all your sales price.
No prior information about upfront fees, for example, listing your goods. You can see a free listing notice, but at the end of the month, you receive invoices that tell you to pay all the hidden fees that the seller was unaware of when placing an item.
If the buyer does not pay eBay the fees when the item is sold, and the buyer already paid a lower price, there is nothing you can do to cover those expenses. Typically when you have a company, the consumer pays VAT and the cost of an item.
And if you place VAT beforehand (as it should be), you may never sell profitably because none one will buy your goods.
You will cover PayPal fees. Imagine you pay considerable fees to eBay, but it is not enough. You lose money again to PayPal, and there is no compensation for those fees as always.
You cannot even close your eBay account even though you owe nothing to the company at that time. Some unknown fees must be paid upfront before closing the account. The worst part is that these fees are applied despite the fact you did not sell anything and that eBay publicly ‘offers’ free listing on the first 1000 products. As you can see below, it is a lie. Of course, if you choose to close the account, you will not be refunded for the fee you paid upfront.
Communication and disputes
It is impossible to contact eBay if you are outside UK or USA. Chat does not work (only bot chat which answers nonsenses).
Experience sellers’ answers do not help because they do not have access and eBay admin rights, which means they can only provide information available on eBay.
From this point, if you try to raise any legal complaint or dispute, it is impossible to do that in a usual way. That means eBay can breach GDPR, consumer rights or contract rights anytime they want. They never answer emails if you contact eBay regarding fees, and they keep sending invoices to pay the same amount, which is unfair business practice.
If you want to start litigation with eBay, you need qualified international lawyers. If you are in the European Union, the litigation venue maybe Germany. Still, it is unclear because it is not easy to assess which jurisdiction is applied. In user agreement, eBay states that ‘You agree that, except to the extent inconsistent with or preempted by federal law, the laws of the State of Utah, without regard to principles of conflict of laws, will govern this User Agreement and any claim or dispute that has arisen or may arise between you and eBay, except as otherwise stated in this User Agreement. Further, eBay explains that the general disputes would be held in arbitration, except for exceptions. That means your dispute can be held in the federal court of the State of Utah or vice versa.
Imagine you run a business in European Union, and you have an unsolved dispute with eBay. That means you need to hire lawyers in the United States to solve your simple matter. And if eBay unfairly deducts additional fees (free listing fees), there is nothing you can do because litigation fees would be huge compared to what eBay owes to you. It is very unpractical.
To summarise, eBay wins all the time if they charge smaller fees because practically, you have no rights but only obligations when making any contract or agreement with eBay.
EBay likely breaches GDPR in European Union because, as stated above, you cannot close your eBay account at will, and you need to pay upfront fees that are non-refundable after the closure. If that happens, you can appeal to your local State Data Protection Inspectorate. But the outcome of this kind of dispute would be unknown and time-consuming.
The good side of eBay
The good news is that you can sell on eBay on a large scale. The advertising and exposure to the customers are also great. That means you must order a paid plan that would benefit your business. If you sell many more expensive goods, you can make a profit. But you may need to work out everything beforehand with all the extra fees and expenses. Also, you need to keep in mind whether something goes wrong; you need to have extra money for the litigation with eBay if the dispute is more considerable, i. e., exceeds 10 000 USD.
Summarizing our experience with eBay, we would not recommend it for small business owners. As an alternative, we may suggest Amazon due to better integration from a technical point of view. But considering the fees, user agreements and policies, it may not be much different from eBay unless you are operating on larger scales.