Ebay - Glory Days Gone?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by kchronister, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    So I've been a long-time Ebay buyer (and occasional seller). Over the past 6 months, I've noticed that I find less and less worth buying. Perhaps the "market" is simply reaching effciency, but I now find that I can usually buy the same item at retail for the same or less than on Ebay - and often with cheaper shipping.

    Obviously, that applies to things available at retail, but I'm also finding less and less on Ebay that isn't available at retail. It used to be a great place to find retired models, old locos, vintage stuff and oddball items. Less and less so, I find. More and more it's mega-feedback "retailers" there selling the same new stuff as all the LHS's and mail order guys have. The occasional used/vintage item is invariably priced through the ceiling for what it is, and even a lot of the "vintage" stuff IS available at retail (classic Lionel, which I collect, for instance, is often cheaper at retail 'dealers' than on Ebay).

    The one thing I still find it useful for is finding old, interesting rolling stock. Athearn blue box stuff, Branchline, etc. But considering how often even those are hitting $20-$50 (plus shipping), it's lost a lot of the swap meet/flea market appeal for me.

    Am I just dreaming here? Or does anyone else see this? Certainly I know that if I go get prices from the various discounters and then go to Ebay and search for the same item, the starting bid is usually about the same as the full retail price, the shipping is usually higher, and I have less recourse if there's a problem. Given that, why wouldn't I just buy it new, from a dealer, paying however I want, and having a place to ship it back if it's messed up?

    Just a random thought. Curious to hear other perspectives...

  2. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    You just now figured that out? :D E-Bay has been that way for years!
  3. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    The same holds true for many of these "swap meets". Frequently they swap your hard-earned money for junk. I've seen dealers selling locos there for just about list price and well above what you can find the same one for elsewhere. If it's used, figure that it's not gunna run very well or very long, if at all, and they still expect top dollar. I have absolutly no attraction for anything on eBay, and just slighly more for swap meets. I love auctions, but just shake my head when bidding goes beyond a bargin and sometimes goes above what you can buy the same thing for at a store, and as you say, there you have some recourse.

    Nope, I never bought anything on eBay, and can't say that I even go there to look.
  4. Marxed

    Marxed Member

    i've just got into it this year, so far it's been nice for me... marx trains last forever, all you have to do is occasionally lube and clean them... i've also got some really good deals on there, but it still prefer buying them inperson so i can inspect and see them run before handing over money
  5. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Tyson -

    It's not that there hasn't been that situation going on for years, on that I agree. What I've missed in the last six months (maybe a year and it just took me a while to notice) is that the "businesses" on Ebay offering not-that-great deals seem to have run off the individuals/smalltime folks.

    Up to not-that-long-ago you had the standard review of folks offering stuff 'buy it now' where the boy it now price was about the same as any discount/mail-order house. (Frankly, I think a lot of the action on ebay IS the discount/mail-order guys just operating under an 'Ebay' identity). But you also had folks legitimately selling off things they didn't need, gifts they didn't want, etc. Those seem to have largely faded away and it's just the big guys with the standard prices.
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Most likely, the stuff you are looking for from individuals will show up right after Christmas on E-bay, if it shows up at all.
  7. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    I agree to a large degree, but there are still some good bargins out there. You just have to dig a little deeper, do your homework and pay attention to what is being offered. Usually, if I find something on ebay that is interesting, I'll visit a number of OLHSs (no LHSs :( :( ) and compare prices. As everyone pretty much knows, just because it's up for auction doesnn't mean it's cheaper. Once I find out the lowest retail prices I'll put in a bid for a few dollars less than that (with shipping included). If I get it fine. If not, then some poor sucker just wasted a bunch of money. :rolleyes: People get caught up in bidding wars (formerly guilty) and lose sight of what is happening. Ebay has pretty much gone from being a flea market to being a huge mall, but that doesn't mean that there aren't still some good deals to be had. ;)
  8. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

  9. Peter T Davis

    Peter T Davis Guy Behind the Curtains

    In a way, Ebay is a victim of its own success. They couldn't become the largest marketplace in the world by catering to mom and pop. I was a "power seller" but stopped buying and selling on Ebay sometime around 2002 because I felt it was becoming the internet equivilent of Wal-Mart.
  10. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    At first I got some good deals on e bay but,the bidding has gone crazy as did the buy it now price..As noted a lot of the bids and buy it now prices has exceeded what I can buy them on line for from my two favorite on line dealers...So,no more e bay for me till things calm down.
  11. Jodam

    Jodam Member

    There are still plenty of bargans in Nscale s/h, it only requires a little research to find what the new price is. Then a decision on how much you're prepared to pay for the item.
    It may be a lot different to you folk States side, but there is not much available in OZ 90% of my ebay purchases are from the US & not a dud deal in them.
    And not once did i get caught in a bidding frenzy & exceed my limit for an item even when this caused conflict with my wife lol.

    Cheers Damien.
  12. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    The only items I've bought on ebay were brass locos, and if you are patient you can eventually get what you want for a reasonable price. Some rare items, like a NYC L2a, I had to wait for three years to get for a price I was willing to pay. I've only ever looked for brass as any Atlas, Athearn etc is available, for the most part, locally and the price difference isn't worth the trouble of ebay, in my mind. I do see the prices commonly available items sometimes get and just smirk, realizing the truth of the old saying there is a sucker born every minute.

  13. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Damien, does that mean you are ready for me to ship you another boatload of N scale stuff?? :D
    Ive only got a couple hundred cars left, 1/2 dozen Engines, some track and some detail parts remain.
    I'll start listing on ebay again in a couple weeks so email me your needs before then and we'll see what we can do :)
  14. Jac's Lines

    Jac's Lines Member

    I think too that ebay's policies on fees and selling sometimes turn off sellers who want to casually sell items. I've sold maybe a dozen items in the past two months, this being the first time I've ever used ebay as a seller. Ebay doesn't charge a buyer's premium, so all posting costs get eaten by the seller (a listing fee, a percentage of the final sale, and a percentage of the final total if you choose to use paypal) -- which means the seller either absorbs as much as $5 on a relatively inexpensive item, or folds the cost into "handling charges" (and has to deal with buyers who complain about even a well advertised and fair shipping/handling fee). I don't begrudge ebay's profit margin, but at the same time for a small timer who just wants to get rid of some extra stuff, the economics don't make much sense.

    I also think that a couple of bad buyers can really mess up a casual seller's experience. Of the dozen items I've sold, two have gone badly -- one buyer didn't follow clear payment instructions (wanted to use paypal when I specifically listed no paypal) and the other buyer sat on payment for more than a month. In the latter case, since ebay charges seller fees regardless of whether the transaction was completed or not, I had to petition for the transaction to be negated; faced with the possibility of an account suspension, the buyer eventually paid up -- in the meantime, I had two 14X14X14 boxes sitting in my bedroom for 5 weeks waiting for resolution. I could tell from the get go that this guy was a deadbeat (lots of "transaction completed" and neutral feedback), but couldn't do anything except let the train wreck roll. Based on these two experiences, but in a small number of transactions to begin with, I'm not sure I'd sell on ebay again. Just my $.02
  15. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    We have a new store a short distance away that will take most anything you have to sell and list it on eBay for you. No muss, no fuss. They do the entire transaction including shipping and they split with you 50/50, and they pay all the charges out of their half. If I ever decide to put something on eBay, that's the way I'm going to do it. I don't even want to learn how to sell or buy there, let someone else to that.

    If I want to go into business buying and selling stuff, I'll open a store, but I surely won't do it on eBay. I have an inherent distrust of (a) not getting paid for stuff I sell and (b) not getting the stuff I bought and paid for. I know that probably only constitues less than 1% of their transactions, but if I get involved, that percentage would increase appreciably.:eek::eek::eek::eek:
  16. ross31r

    ross31r Member

    well for me e-bay is a brilliant resource because in my area there are NO decent model shops that sell any american stock other than the basic bachmann stuff so i tend to buy quite a bit off ebay - especially now i found somewhere that sells Funaro & Camerlango stock - my credit card took a bit of a battering over the last three weeks or so!

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