Selling on eBay is a hassle. Type in “eBay sucks” on Google and 953,000 results will pop up. In early 2008, eBay changed their feedback policy to prohibit sellers from leaving negative feedback for buyers. Since the overhaul, eBay has become a free-for-all where there is little to no recourse for deadbeat buyers. It’s like the Wild West, except I can’t challenge the deadbeat to a duel in Town Square at dawn. If an eBay user wins an item and doesn’t want to pay for it, no problem. They can request to cancel an order or simply ghost the seller. Sellers have to wait 2 days before filing an unpaid item claim in order to get their fees reimbursed when a buyer does not pay. Ebay offers an automatic unpaid item assistant, but the earliest that kicks in is 4 days after the auction end. More often than not, I’m left with my
dick in my hand item, no cash, and precious time wasted.
As someone who buys and resells sneakers and other items as a hobby, this policy is infuriating. Desirable kicks are most profitable in the hours after they sell out. Once I’ve secured a pair of shoes, I’ll list them immediately. If I don’t list them as “Buy it Now” with immediate payment required, I’ve been noticing to an increasing extent that I don’t get paid at all. What generally happens with auctions on eBay is buyers will bid up an item, secure the item for themselves, and then wait to see if they can find a better deal elsewhere before paying. Knowing they have at least 2 days before any recourse (when an unpaid item claim is filed, they get a strike on their account- but these strikes don’t mean much as it takes 3-4 strikes to be suspended), buyers will often request to cancel the transaction, avoiding the unpaid strike completely.
If a buyer ghosts the seller, it takes a couple of days for the unpaid item claim to go through. With sneakers in particular, this severely cuts into profits for the seller. In my personal experience, I generally see profits drop anywhere from 20-100% if I’m ghosted by a deadbeat buyer and wait for the unpaid claim to go through before relisting. I’ll never make the same amount as I would have on that initial sale. Thankfully there are other options out there on the sneaker market.
StockX and Goat are quickly becoming the go-to sneaker resale outlets for sneakerheads like myself. Buyers and sellers are held equally accountable, particularly on StockX where immediate payment is required and sellers have 2 business days to ship the kicks out. Both Goat and StockX have authentication centers where the shoes are shipped to for verification before they are sent out to the buyer. When you buy from these guys, you know you’re getting the real deal- something that eBay doesn’t promise.
I’d ditch eBay completely for StockX/Goat if I could, but there’s a few things holding me back. Ebay is way more popular than the sneaker resale sites. StockX and Goat are in their infancy compared to the online auction giant, and the exposure just isn’t there. The other problem selling sneakers on StockX or Goat is that you need to have the sneakers in hand before listing them, which generally takes at least 4 days if you’re ordering them online to resell. On eBay you can list an item and ship it out a few days later, giving you time to secure the profits before you have the shoes. If your sneakers sell on StockX and you can’t ship ‘em out within 2 days, you’re SOL and have to pay a $25 penalty. So unfortunately sneaker resellers like myself can’t rely solely on StockX or Goat, and have to deal with eBay’s shitty policies for now.
I’ve had multiple mini conversations with eBay on Twitter voicing my displeasure with their policies, but in those cases I’m just venting frustrations, knowing nothing will be done to correct them. For a multi-billion dollar company, you’d think they would have figured this shit out by now and have the most efficient online buying and selling process on the interwebs. They don’t, but there’s an easy fix.
On their site they say bidding on an item is legally binding. It really isn’t, but they could make it financially binding (similar to StockX). All PayPal accounts are backed by bank accounts and credit cards. If you win an auction, your PayPal account should automatically be charged for the cost of the item plus shipping. To avoid errors, an additional step should be added to the bidding process. When you bid on an item, eBay should show you the total amount the item could cost you (your max bid plus shipping), and require a check box to confirm that you want to process the bid. Buyers will know that their bid is financially binding, and be liable for the charges should they win.
Yes there will be fewer bids, and potentially lower auction outcomes, but in the end I don’t believe this will affect eBay’s bottom line. The amount of money saved by increasing efficiency will far outweigh the losses in commissions. Sellers will be happy getting paid. Buyers will be happy paying less. Customer service calls will drop dramatically. It’s a win-win…win.
But what if a buyer makes a mistake while placing a bid? Currently, there are limitations on bid retractions, but not many. I’m cool with eBay’s current bid retraction policy. They pretty much allow you to retract a bid for pretty much any reason. It’s understandable that sometimes people bid on multiple items, or enter the wrong bid amount, so cancelling a bid shouldn’t be a difficult process. It’s OK to give buyers an out before purchasing an item. It’s not OK to give them a free pass if they bid on an item, win it, and refuse to pay.
Non-paying bidder claims that go through to completion without payment should result in an automatic negative feedback. Ebay claims they removed sellers’ ability to leave negative feedback to prevent retaliatory feedback (this was a big problem back in the day). I’m OK with removing the ability to leave negative feedback when a buyer actually pays for an item, but they should know their feedback score is going to take a dip if they don’t pay up. It’s really that simple. I don’t understand why eBay didn’t go with this method in the first place.
Ebay has to do something about the current system, or they’re going to lose customers in droves to other sites. They’ve monopolized the online auction industry, but will lose out to competitors like StockX and Goat if they expand to other tangible goods (instead of just shoes). It’s as simple as making buyers financially liable. The deadbeats might not like it, but the marketplace will be better as a whole overall.