Archive for the 'eBay' Category

Make money with shipping insurance on eBay

Many sellers on eBay fail to realize the profit potential from shipping insurance.  For the uninitiated, shipping insurance is a fee paid by the buyer for protection against lost or damaged packages.  At the time of this posting, the USPS’s insurance rates for small-value items such as video games range from around 3.6% (for a $60 game) to upwards of 8.5% (for games costing $20 or less).  I, personally, have never dealt with a lost package either as a buyer or seller, and judging from others’ experiences, I would guess conservatively that less than 0.5% packages (or 1 out of every 200) are lost.  That’s a pretty big disparity between the rates for insurance and lost packages, so why not capitalize on it?

Sellers who offer USPS insurance are giving up a precious opportunity to make some extra profit, and because they are forbidden to charge more than the USPS’s rate, they actually lose money due to Paypal fees (only a few cents, but still…).  Don’t be like those guys.  Instead, offer private insurance at a slightly lower cost.  You can use whatever fee structure you want – a tiered rate, a base price plus a percentage (e.g., $1+1%), etc.  Just make sure to outline all of your terms and conditions so that customers know exactly what they’re getting when they buy insurance from you.  If you can offer complete coverage for lost or damaged items along with lower prices and less (possibly zero) paperwork, you’ll make insurance a very attractive option for buyers.

WARNING:  By offering private insurance, you assume the risk for any lost or damaged items.  Therefore, there is a small chance that you will lose money, especially if you only sell a few items.  For example, if you sell 10 items, assuming that 0.5% of packages get lost, there is a 4.9% chance that at least one of your packages will be lost.  If you mainly sell small-ticket items, chances are that you could stomach the loss if an item goes MIA, so the risk would be worth the expected reward.  On the other hand, if the items you sell are usually worth hundreds of dollars and any loss could cripple you, private insurance might not be the best option for you.


How to grade the condition of your video game discs

When selling online, one of the keys to getting top dollar for your disc-based video games is being able to describe their condition accurately.  Overstate the condition and you’ll likely earn a bad reputation as a seller.  Understate the condition and buyers won’t pay as much.  The term “condition” actually refers to two separate things – completeness and disc quality.  We’ll start with completeness.

In general, a game is considered to be “complete” if it includes the game disc, instruction manual, original case (not a regular DVD case), and cover artwork.  For games that come in a jewel case, the cover artwork is usually referred to as the case insert(s).  If the standard retail version also includes something extra, such as a soundtrack CD or bonus DVD, then the extra item must be included for completeness.  In the case of multiple retail configurations, the leanest configuration (i.e., the one with the fewest things included) is used as the standard for completeness.  Generally speaking, however, the exclusion of certain documentation items (such as precaution manuals, advertisements, and registration cards) does not affect the completeness of a game.

In regard to disc quality, it seems as though everyone uses their own grading scale, and words such as “new” or “mint” have different definitions to different people.  I feel strongly that a more universal scale should be adopted in order to reduce confusion and ensure that buyers know exactly what they’re getting no matter where they shop.  I propose the following scale, which I have used for a long time and found to be very helpful whether I’m buying or selling:

New:  Brand new and factory sealed.  The disc has not been touched or inspected.

Like new:  The packaging has been opened, and the disc may have been inspected, tested, and/or played once or twice, but it looks no different than when it was first opened.

Mint:  The game has been used, but there are no readily visible scratches on the disc.  There may be one or two very small, very light scratches that can be seen only upon close inspection, but otherwise the disc looks perfect.  (For most games, this is the minimum acceptable condition for collectors.)

Excellent:  The disc has a few minor scratches, but they appear to be located within a small region.  In other words, the scratches aren’t all over the disc.

Good:  The disc has many scratches all over, but none that are real deep.

Fair:  There are deep scratches, scuffs, and/or minor cracks in the disc, but the game is still playable.

Poor:  The game is unplayable due to scuffs and scratches on the disc, but it could become playable after being resurfaced.

Beyond repair:  The game is unplayable and cannot be made playable again.

There are also a few special conditions worth noting.

Resurfaced:  The disc has been resurfaced with a low-end resurfacing machine (e.g., SkipDR) and has circular buffing marks all around it.  It may have been unplayable at one time but is playable now.

Professionally resurfaced:  This disc has been professionally resurfaced and may have some light buffing marks.

Former rental:  The disc was formerly used as a rental copy and may have permanent rental stickers on the top (label side).  It is usually implied that the disc is in fair condition.

Get cash back when you shop online with Big Crumbs!

When I first heard about Big Crumbs, I thought it was just another one of those referral programs where you have to jump through all sorts of hoops in order to claim meager cash rebates.  After I read the fine print, though, I realized it was something different, something better.  All you have to do is navigate to your favorite online retailer through their site and shop as usual, and you’ll get credited with cash back that you can collect every month.  There’s no spam, no credit card required, no surveys or offers to complete, and no minimum payout.  Just join, shop, and save – it’s that easy!

Do you ever buy anything off eBay?  With Big Crumbs, you can get cash back on all of your eBay purchases (and Half purchases as well).  Buying video games or electronics?  Best Buy, Circuit City, Toys R Us, Target, Walmart, and even GameStop (through Barnes & Noble’s website) all offer around 3% back on your purchases.  How about a new computer?  Get cash back when you shop at Apple, Dell, Newegg, and others.  Other game-related sites include CompUSA, KB Toys, Blockbuster, Gamefly, PopCap Games, and Yahoo! Games, and some non-gaming sites include Gap, Old Navy, Office Max, Priceline, and Travelocity.

If you have friends or family who shop online, you can earn money on their purchases as well by referring them.  You typically get about 11% of whatever they earn, so for every $9 they get, you’ll get an extra $1.  It’s a win-win proposition for all parties involved, so I strongly encourage everyone to join.  If you feel like checking Big Crumbs out, you can click either the image at the top of this post or the link in the right-hand column of the blog.