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help me make ebay easy

Old 01-11-13, 03:09 PM
  #1  
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help me make ebay easy

I know there's a ton of information about maximizing your ROI on ebay, but my question might be unusual. How do I do this easily?

First off, I'm a big procrastinator. As some of you know, I was deplorable in some matters of shipping. Knowing myself, I've been careful about committing to mail stuff to people, because for some reason, I find it very hard to pack and ship things.

What tips can you offer to make this easy?

Taking the pictures isn't terribly hard but editing them and reshooting is annoying.

Writing the listing isn't that bad once I get started. But what do I have to remember to include, before it's too late?

I'm not looking to reduce my ebay fees or get maximum dollar for my stuff. I just want to make this process quick and easy. I'm pretty sure I do want to sell on ebay, not craigslist, because I'll get more money for it. Maybe I'm wrong, because I know ebay takes more trouble.

I have tons of bikes, bike components, and accessories that I want to get rid of. I don't even mind taking a loss on some of my stuff. I just want it out of here.

I'd hire a college student if I could, but I seem to have trouble doing that, too. If I did so, what kind of hourly rate should I offer? Or should it be a commission?
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Old 01-11-13, 03:19 PM
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Offer it as an unpaid internship to a marketing major.
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Old 01-11-13, 03:29 PM
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there are stores that you can take your stuff too that will sell it on ebay, but you would have to write the descriptions for them. You won't get as good a return either because people want to buy from someone who knows what they are selling and they can trust. Ebay store= no trust, they can't answer questions. There is no easy way to do this. I sold a lot over the course of several months when I was writing my thesis and working from home. I had tons of time to take photos (with a home made light box) and write detailed descriptions and embedding lots of large photos right into the description (do they still let you do that?). The PO was 6 or 7 blocks away at the same place as the liquor store, pharmacey, grocery store, coffee house and I could just make a quick 5 minute trip whenever packages were ready. I even made my cardboard boxes out of bigger pieces of flat cardboard. It was an absurdly time consuming process and if you work full time it is not a very nice way to utilize your free time. Not for me anyway. Now I sell on here and I ask reasonable prices and it usually sells. A lot of the stuff I sold on ebay was stuff I bought on ebay and I felt the need to get my money back, now I don't buy anything with the "I can sell it" attitude. I buy it to use it and when I am done with it I will give it away or sell it cheep to be rid of it. Ebay is too much work.
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Old 01-11-13, 03:31 PM
  #4  
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What's ebay?
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Old 01-11-13, 04:21 PM
  #5  
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here's my method:

1. take inventory of parts, creating a spreadsheet with the following:
- Component Type
- Brand
- Model
- Condition
- Pics (yes/no)
- Price

2. take pictures of everything. crop, edit, retouch. upload to flickr.

3. List items on Bikeforums and Paceline. I tend to sell more things and more quickly on Paceline, but vintage stuff does better here.

4. After 48 hours on BF and Paceline, I take the remaining items to eBay. I also discount the items at BF and Paceline, and bump the post. I also bump posts when something from that post has sold.

5. On eBay, I have several "templates" saved from previous auctions. eBay does this for you, and it's very helpful. I always list the item, some bullet points about it, and a separate paragraph on the condition. On items with prices over $20 I also try to include a description hyping the item. I search ebay for the item as well, to see how others are pricing and describing the same item. If their description and/or title is good, I'll copy some or all of it.

6. I usually list with Buy It Now and Free Shipping. I try to price my items to be cheaper than anyone else's for the same item. My logic is that I'll sacrifice a few dollars for a faster sale. If stuff doesn't sell, I relist it with a lower price.

7. Every night I take the items that sold during the day and put them on the kitchen table. Next morning, I take them to work and box & ship them at lunch. I keep all post office receipts in case something needs to be tracked. I always notify buyers when the item has shipped, and for anything worth over $20, include tracking.

8. Finally, I log all sales in the spreadsheet so I have a running tally of how much money I've made. I also log where the item sold (Bikeforums, ebay, etc.) as a way to see where my best sales happen.

My process is a bit meticulous, but maximizes profit and helps me keep track of everything. I don't have any advice on how to stay on top of shipping items - in my case, knowing that people are waiting for stuff nags me, so I don't forget.

Bottom line, if you want to make eBay easy, use templates. If you want to keep track of everything, use spreadsheets.
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Old 01-11-13, 04:46 PM
  #6  
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This Buying Bicycles On Ebay might be some help, Tom. I am trying to help the buyer with the article but you can figure out a bit of what to do. Just reverse think most of what I have included to help the buyer.

It is not really difficult to sell on Ebay, if there is someone who wants to buy. The best advice I can give is respond to email questions in a timely manner, use lots of pictures, and do your best to make sure your items are clean.

These days I use Buy It Now, coupled with Best Offer. Not the best way to have fun or get big bucks, but much safer and cheaper than auction listings.

Hope this is some help.
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Old 01-11-13, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
Buy an inexpensive postage scale and print your own labels. Not only is this cheaper, but no more waiting in lines at the post office.
+1, most essential.
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Old 01-11-13, 05:40 PM
  #8  
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If I may, Tom,
Briefly, how does this "print your own labels" thing work? You guys set up an account with the PO? Have your mail person pick it up?

BTW, I find taking and processing the photos the most cumbersome part. There's an inertia that sets in, sounding much like Tom's procrastination and reluctance.
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Old 01-11-13, 05:52 PM
  #9  
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I think the procrastination thing may be a bit of an issue. I think for smaller things, have a pile and stick to priority mail boxes and take advantage of the Paypall features that let you get paid and use that info for labels. The usps online postage and label print works well.

for bikes, frames and wheels practice and price shipping methods. Craigs list may be easire for big items.

I have always heard that you make more money by parting out a bike rather than selling it a a bike.

you might think about even setting up swap meet if the goal is not to maximize profit but to maximize usable space.
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Old 01-11-13, 06:09 PM
  #10  
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+1 to postage scales, printing your own shipping labels, and using templates.


Selling on Ebay is the same as running any kind of business and should be treated as such. If your not on top of customer service, responses, marketing, shipping, you'll fail. Like any business it's hardwork, but definitely worthwhile.

Additionally:
  • Set up a dedicated area for taking photos with consistant lighting. This will minimize the need for image correction.
  • Use Photoshop to batch process, resize, and name your images. Optimize for the web.
  • Plan on spending around 30 min. to an hour for each item you sell (this included photos, description, listing, montioring, and going to the post office).
  • Host your own photos and use FTP for batch uploads. Anything else is a huge time-waster
  • Sell bike stuff during bike season (roughly May-August) for top dollar.
  • Always end your auction on Sunday night around 10pm Central time
  • Be willing to sell internationally - easy to do with bike parts and the payoff is huge.
  • Hoard boxes and packing supplies
  • Buy 2" packing tape in bulk.
  • Cheap, clear plastic wrap has a million good uses when packaging items
  • Armour All, Dishwashing detergent, and Mother's Mag wheel polish are your friends
  • Be extremely wary of using the terms: NOS, Excellent condition, or like new. These are all subjective and you're setting yourself up for an "intem not as described" claim. I generally take a ton of pics an say "see pics for condition".
  • Visit the post office right when they open on a weekday to minimize waiting
  • Describe, photograph, and disclose any and all flaws (see above).
  • Know supply, demand, and pricing info for everything you sell.
  • Part out things to the nth degree.
  • For items with a high demand, start at .01. Don't worry, if you've done your research, you get the max number of eyes on you're item and top dollar.
  • Never Never never end an auction early - almost always an attemp by a lowballer or a scam.

Last edited by thinktubes; 01-11-13 at 07:02 PM.
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Old 01-11-13, 06:34 PM
  #11  
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1. Think first about the pictures. Take one that represents all you can show in one picture. Then take 2-3 more in case you want to display more or send them via email to people who want more. Practice taking them so you don't have to edit them. Then just display one photo. The lack of editing and only using one will save time and money when listing.

2. Write the description using a notepad or something super simple. Look at the photo and think of what questions you might ask if you saw it and were interested, or if you had it for trade here. Put that info in the ad.

3. Pack the item for shipping before it sells, and use a post-it note on the box or envelope to identify it.

4. If you can weigh it or figure out shipping, write it on the post it note.
9.99 to Stamps.com got me a killer scale with a USB link, super easy to use.
I also use USPS.com linked via both PayPal and eBay. It's pretty easy.

5. List the item, get as close as you can to the right postage, or use the eBay calculator (often wildly high and can drive off buyers).

6. I like to use .99 to start, but some items, I set a starting point. I avoid reserves unless it's a higher-dollar item.

7. When it sells, send an invoice that day and ship the same day you get paid (hey, it's already packed). Put a time limit on payment, or you can wait a long time. If no one pays, you can simply re-label it for the 2nd Chance offer or relist it.

I've had two bad sales:
1. a guy who sent the money to an email address not linked to PayPal. I asked him to cancel and resend the money to the right one, but he refused. No payment, no shipment. He flamed me in feedback, saying he paid immediately. He did, but not to me.
2. a guy who won an auction with Parcel Post shipping clearly listed. He took 4 days to pay, after I invoiced him 2x and sent one PM. Then, he wanted it Priority Mail ($10 more than Parcel Post). I went ahead and sent it Priority Mail and he flamed me in the feedback. Guy didn't deserve Campy.

I've had great experience otherwise, often selling to BF C&V blokes. One of my last ones, I recognized his UserID and shipped before I got paid. I knew he'd be good for it.

I'm currently sweating out a buy on a bike. I think it's coming by stagecoach pulled by snails.
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Old 01-11-13, 06:40 PM
  #12  
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Shipping: Box everything before you place the ad. Know exactly what shipping is going to cost you before hand. I measure weigh and get rates for all of my packages before I post my ads. Use flat rate envelopes if you can. Items that normaly would fit in a medium flat rate box, like a seat, can easily fit in $5 flat rate envelope. Use USPS Parcel Post for small items. Print you labels from home. I bought special paper to print peel n stick USPS labels. Everything is done click click click through ebay.

Pictures: I use a PC...windows has a built in photo editor aut correct feature. I click auto correct after my pics are uploaded. From there they go to photobucket. Photobucket has a cool feature that allows you to copy multiple image codes with one click.

Ads: I use TurboLister for more than 2 or 3 items. I write my ads during the week and them set it to list my ads at a pre-determined date and time.

Strategy: Ehh... Supposedly Saturday and Sundays from 6p-10p pst is the best time to have an auction end.
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Old 01-11-13, 06:44 PM
  #13  
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^^ All good tips. I start my auctions at US$0.99 Just an old habit. Thinktubes, what's your return poliicy? (and any reasons for such, thx)
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Old 01-11-13, 06:48 PM
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Agree about boxing an item for postage calculation, but I wait until it's sold before sealing. I can't count the number of times someone has asked for a part number or item detail that would require unsealing the box.
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Old 01-11-13, 06:48 PM
  #15  
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Sorry Tom, there is no shortcut...it just takes discipline. I add it to my calendar and treat it like work.

I don't edit my photos...I take a bunch and use the ok ones. I don't have the best photos on earth, but they get the job done. Writing is fast and easy for me...I emphasize the strengths and weaknesses, give a parts break down, explain my policies and that's it.
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Old 01-11-13, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Cache View Post
^^ All good tips. I start my auctions at US$0.99 Just an old habit. Thinktubes, what's your return poliicy? (and any reasons for such, thx)

No refunds.

I add the following disclamer to all listings:

"The item's description is based on the physical characteristics and subjective opinions of the seller. I have tried to describe this item to the best of my ability. Please ask questions prior to bidding. I will attempt to answer them quickly. I am not a subject matter expert but do offer all bidders an honest and accurate description based on the information and perspective that I have. Further, I trust and rely on thoughtful questions from perspective buyers, collectors, and experts. If you're unclear or uncomfortable about the description or subjective details of an auction item, please ask questions and bid with discretion. Please examine all photos provided. All items are offered " AS - IS " with " NO - RESERVE ". Payment is due within 3 days of the auction close."

Last edited by thinktubes; 01-11-13 at 07:00 PM.
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Old 01-11-13, 08:12 PM
  #17  
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There are some very good tips here! I'm learning a great deal, vicariously, Tom. I can only disagree with one item I've read so far.
"part out things to the nth degree." While I get the idea, this made me think of an auction currently running on ebay. A beautiful Campagnolo tool completely taken apart, selling bit by bit. All the parts are useless without the others. Or a seller who sells one brake lever in one auction, the other in a separate auction. Going too far. Anyway...

I can only add a philosophical point which has little to do with the nuts and bolts of Tom's question. It's a fine line between describing your item so well, almost too well, that you scare off potential buyers, but I really dislike auctions that have absolutely no verbal description of condition, or very little and is so subjective it is useless. I describe every flaw and finer point of things I'm selling. Along with the positives. When I get feedback that states "better than I expected", I'm happy.
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Old 01-11-13, 08:19 PM
  #18  
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I dunno, if you don't like packing/shipping, don't like photo editing and want your sales/fufillment to be quick/easy, and if you don't care about maximizing your return, I'd say try to sell as much on cl as possible. If you dislike packing/shipping parts, what happens when you need to ship a bike? You can pack a derailleur in 5 minutes, a complete bike can easily take an hour if you haven't done a ton of them and you want them to survive shipping undamaged. Sounds like going to ebay for you is just setting yourself up for trouble and misery.

That said, if you decide to go to ebay, and you want quick/easy and aren't concerned about maximizing your profits, you don't have to go out of your way to do a top-notch listing job. Plenty of bike stuff sells on ebay with just one or two blurry photos and almost zero description. As long as you're a notch or two above crappy and start everything at $0.99, your stuff will sell. I really do mean this, you've gotten lots of great ideas here on doing great listings, but great listings aren't quick/easy until you've done tons of them, and even then they're never that quick. If you just want stuff gone and don't want to do what it takes to try to make sure everything you list sells for as much as possible, do less and it'll still sell. That's part of the beauty of ebay.

You should probably pack the items after you shoot them but before you list them, that way you won't anger winning bidders with slow shipping. Good self-discipline against packing procrastination, you can't turn metal into cash until you pack it first. Use just a couple decent-enough photos, note any problems in the description, and mention the item is already packed and ready to go.

You can get all your shipping material for free from usps.com.

There was a very active ebay c&v seller in Cincy. He would buy complete bikes on ebay, jumping on underpriced Buy It Now bikes quick, then part them out on ebay. All the parts pix were shot on his dirty, messy workbench, never close-up, never more than a couple/few pix, never more than a couple of short sentences for descriptions. All the frames and wheels were shot on his back deck, bbq grill and hose in the shots, little detail, very short descriptions. He made everything as quick and easy for himself as he could. And he often got as much or more for his bits than I did, with my dozen close-up, post-processed pix and detailed descriptions. It made me kind of mad, I would never bid on anything presented that poorly, but plenty of folks did. I couldn't bring myself to adopt his low standards, but he did teach me that I was expending time and energy that didn't result in consistently higher prices.

Originally Posted by noglider View Post
How do I do this easily?...I'm a big procrastinator...I find it very hard to pack and ship things...Taking the pictures isn't terribly hard but editing them and reshooting is annoying.

I'm not looking to reduce my ebay fees or get maximum dollar for my stuff. I just want to make this process quick and easy. I'm pretty sure I do want to sell on ebay, not craigslist, because I'll get more money for it. Maybe I'm wrong, because I know ebay takes more trouble.

I have tons of bikes, bike components, and accessories that I want to get rid of. I don't even mind taking a loss on some of my stuff. I just want it out of here.
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Old 01-11-13, 09:02 PM
  #19  
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I agree with miamijim and konaaron snake.. My tip is to work in an industrial fashion. For ebay.fr we only get on free photo so I do the below.

Every wednesday or thursday night I like up 5 or so parts I no longer want in a well lit area and snap 6 photos of each item. 10 day listings ends on weekend)
Then on the pc resize them to 1024 with picasa, select all and rename to mafac123 and then upload to a file hosting site.

On ebay I use 'sell simular item', change the main photo and title.
In the description I write a bit about the item, include a velobase link if its rare, and put in the photos via html view.
<img src="host etc /mafac123 (1).jpg">
<img src="host etc /mafac123 (2).jpg">
<img src="host etc /mafac123 (3).jpg">
...
<img src="host etc /mafac123 (6).jpg">

and leave the same footer for every item about postage rates.

I start my listings at the low price I want to sell at, and often have a buy it now for a little bit more.

If it doesn't sell I'l relist it, the more items I have online, the better chance there is of a buy finding my other items.

This is my fastest method of listing, taking any longer wont get more money for my stronglight 49d's. I have stacks of boxes in the shed, and buy brown tape in bulk. Time is money

idea, if everyone on bike forums put 'bf181' in their ebay items title, we could find forums members items easily.
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Old 01-11-13, 09:03 PM
  #20  
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Another point.... If you print out your shipping labels and have the box ready to go, USPS will pick it up when the carrier is dropping off your mail. Even complete bikes ! i just sent one Parcel Post (request by buyer) and the mail carrier took it no problem. With FedEx, after I have it ready and labelled, I schedule for pickup also. I don't use my time or my gas to go wait in some line to ship things.

Shipping labels can be printed on plain printer paper. Be sure when you tape them on the box, thatnyou DO NOT tape over the bar code ! Glue sticks are bs. I had one package go missing due the glue giving up and the label came off ( i know becuse USPS sent the label back to me with a claim form !)

Joe
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Old 01-11-13, 09:21 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by rootboy View Post
If I may, Tom,
Briefly, how does this "print your own labels" thing work? You guys set up an account with the PO? Have your mail person pick it up?
You can print them out directly from USPS.com and either have your mail carrier pick it up, or schedule a pick up or just drop it off and skip the lines.

What I do, especially when I have multiple shipments and not all of them are Priority-worthy (pretty much the only thing you can buy off the USPS website), is to buy labels directly through paypal. It's quicker, cheaper, and you get to choose priority, first class, parcel post, whatever. It's worth bookmarking the link though because paypal makes it almost impossible to get to through simple navigating.
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Old 01-11-13, 10:41 PM
  #22  
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These days I generally bring the boxes with preprinted labels to the counter, have them scanned in my presence and get a receipt. I once had a $1,500 item that I dropped off and it never showed as scanned. Buyer never complained he didn't receive it, I assume he did, but I can't prove USPS ever had possession of the package. If your items are low value and it won't hurt you too bad if they go missing, might not matter so much, might have been a freak thing that would never happen to me again, but I make sure I watch them get scanned now.

I print labels on plain paper, then use USPS free int'l document sleeves to hold the shipping label. These are clear sleeves, slit overlapping from side-to-side in the front with peel-off self-adhesive in the back. Much quicker than trying to glue/tape plain paper yourself, much cheaper than printing on adhesive paper. I've used them on both domestic and int'l shipments for a couple of years now with no problems.

You can use good clear packing tape to tape a plain paper label to the box, 3 strips of tape will cover the label. I did this for 5 or 6 years on domestic packages before realizing I could just use the sleeves. I always taped over the entire label, including the bar code, so nothing could rip, no edges could peel up. Just make sure you stretch the tape and apply it straight so you don't have any wrinkles over the bar code. I've never had a scanning problem with taped labels, but the document sleeves are a lot easier and free.

Originally Posted by JPZ66 View Post
Another point.... If you print out your shipping labels and have the box ready to go, USPS will pick it up when the carrier is dropping off your mail. Even complete bikes ! i just sent one Parcel Post (request by buyer) and the mail carrier took it no problem. With FedEx, after I have it ready and labelled, I schedule for pickup also. I don't use my time or my gas to go wait in some line to ship things.

Shipping labels can be printed on plain printer paper. Be sure when you tape them on the box, thatnyou DO NOT tape over the bar code ! Glue sticks are bs. I had one package go missing due the glue giving up and the label came off ( i know becuse USPS sent the label back to me with a claim form !)

Joe
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Old 01-11-13, 10:49 PM
  #23  
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You can print labels directly through both ebay and paypal. I used to do it through paypal, then found it a little easier to do it through ebay. Either way the buyer's name/add/etc is pre-filled in the proper fields, so there's very little data entry necessary, close to zero chance messing up the buyer's address. I cut-and-paste a message to the buyer, ebay/paypal send them a shipping notice with the tracking number. Much faster and easier than the old days.

There's a recent wrinkle if you do int'l shipments, neither ebay/paypal allow buying Express Int'l postage online anymore, it's Priority only now. You can still get Express through usps.com. I only use Express for int'l shipments, it's usually only $4-$5 more than Priority, it's a few days faster overall, the tracking is more detailed and more reliable, and in many int'l destinations Express custom clearance is faster. I've had Priority Int'l shipments already delivered overseas while tracking still showed the package in foreign customs.

Originally Posted by whatwolf View Post
What I do, especially when I have multiple shipments and not all of them are Priority-worthy (pretty much the only thing you can buy off the USPS website), is to buy labels directly through paypal. It's quicker, cheaper, and you get to choose priority, first class, parcel post, whatever. It's worth bookmarking the link though because paypal makes it almost impossible to get to through simple navigating.
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Old 01-11-13, 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by pcb View Post
You can print labels directly through both ebay and paypal.
True. I was trying to say for shipping in general, not ebay sales specifically, you can do it through paypal.
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Old 01-12-13, 12:40 AM
  #25  
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For a lot of items i find it nice to use the mobile app to list things. I can take the pics, write the description and get it all done in one shot in one place.

There is an ebay pilot program available only to employees who opt into it right now where an ebay truck come to your house, picks up your stuff and does everything for you. They take a percentage. Stuff that doesnt sell you can donote or just get back. I have not tried it.
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