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Why I Don’t Participate When eBay Offers Free Auction Listings to Sellers

July 15, 2012

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For the past week eBay has been running a promotion for sellers through which up to 50,000 items can be listed in auction format with no insertion fees.

Although I subscribe to the eBay Announcements RSS feed and also check the AuctionBytes NewsFlash posts for such alerts on semi-regular basis, more often than not I am alerted to the fact that one of these promotions is going on by seeing an increase in activity in the daily emails I receive from eBay related to my saved searches.

Anytime I see a whole whack of Tkaczuk items not involving the name Walt suddenly come up for auction (I collect Daniel, whose items are rarely posted), I realize pretty quickly that there must be some sort of special being offered by eBay.

This time around the deal does not apply to store subscribers like myself, but occasionally the offer is extended to sellers with their own eBay stores as well.  When that happens the influx of items is even more pronounced.

Although I am not eligible for this edition of the special from eBay, it got me thinking about the times that I do qualify for the offer and why, generally speaking, I almost always abstain from participating.

On the surface that statement may seem counterintuitive on the surface.  After all, the listings are free, so you would think that I’d want to get in on the action where there’s essentially no risk involved; if the item doesn’t sell I’m not out of pocket a single cent.

Here’s the way I look at it when it comes to why I don’t participate though: I would much rather be a buyer during this influx of items than another one of the plethora of sellers whose items could get lost in the shuffle of the sudden onslaught of listings.

Sure, the lack of insertion fees is tempting when it would usually cost me 25 cents per item for a 7 day auction.  But below that surface of appeal the reality is that the likelihood of the eBay marketplace being flooded with money from collectors in an equal proportion to the flood of items suddenly made available in the same window is almost certain not to be the case.

I know for a fact that my collecting budget doesn’t change by a single penny when there are suddenly many more items available.  Why then, would I want to add my own items to an increased mix of items all vying for the same limited pool of dollars?

Let’s say there are 500 Steve Yzerman cards listed at any given time without one of these listing promotions running and a hypothetical $1,000 of collectors’ money to be spent on Yzerman cards.

Is it at all realistic to expect that there will suddenly be $2,000 available when 1,000 Yzerman cards appear as a result of one of these promotions?

Not likely. 

In fact, I believe it’s much more likely that the dollars to be spent will remain much closer to that hypothetical $1,000 than anywhere remotely close the $2,000 neighbourhood.

With that likelihood being the case, it is definitely a buyer’s market as soon as these promotions begin since a similar amount of dollars is competing for a wider array of items.

Cards that may have generated a number of bids suddenly generate less.  Cards that may have generated a higher bid value suddenly sell at prices lower than they may have or could.

I speak of the above from my many years of experience selling on eBay where I have learned those lessons the hard way, watching my items end at prices far below what identical items had ended at just weeks before. 

So my advice to fellow sellers is to not always fall for the hype.  The elimination of a 25 cent listing fee hardly makes up for the potential of dollars worth of revenue being lost.

So instead of jumping on the selling bandwagon during these promotions, I continue to choose to take advantage of what I’ve identified above and use the duration of the promotion to buy cards that I need for my collecting projects, often at prices lower than what I might have during a normal item posting period.


What are your thoughts on my theory about eBay insertion fee promotions?  Do you agree or disagree with my approach?  Are your experiences similar to my own or do you find these promotions to be a perfect time to sell?

Get in touch and let me know.  You can post a comment or you can reach me by email, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Until Wednesday, all the best in your collecting pursuits!


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