Selling Products Online – Amazon Seller Central or eBay Auctions?

As an eBayer since November of 1999, I had the chance to watch eBay grow from a very basic auction site with hardly anything for sale and even less buyers to a full-grown e-commerce super site. Not only do they still offer standard auction style sales, but now you can open your very own eBay Store and populate it with as many items as you see fit.

And then there’s Amazon Seller Central. For years now, Amazon has opened its doors to sellers wishing to unload their new and used products to anyone wishing to buy. I have recently started using Amazon for this very purpose, so today I’ll explore the basics of both.

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eBay and PayPal Resolution Center Problems

I needed to vent this after having some personal experience with eBay and PayPal and their item/payment dispute process through the resolution center. First of all, I’ll say that despite the issues and complaints I’ve had, I’m still glad they have these services in place. Reason being; it’s great to have help when you need it most.

However, unlike in the past, eBay and PayPal transactions are heavily buyer-focused and rarely favor the seller except in certain cases. While I’m here, I’ll also be grouping in eBay’s feedback system into the mix because it also shows a bias toward buyers. Now, this doesn’t mean that the seller never has any ground to stand on—it just means that the buyer has more leeway in the overall outcome of cases.

My current experience

I sold an old iPhone 3G to a buyer in the Ukraine. The auction, ending on August 14th, went off without a hitch, the buyer paid for the item plus shipping charges the next day and I, as a responsible seller, shipped the item within an hour of receiving payment. I sell a lot of stuff on eBay using through two eBay accounts, therefore I’m always at the post office dropping packages off.

The item went out in a Small Flate Rate Box which according to USPS, takes anywhere from 6 to 10 business days. The item shipped out on August 15th, therefore making the estimated delivery date fall between August 23rd and August 27th (not counting weekends).

Despite these facts, the buyer had sent me six emails asking the same question, and I quote: “Dear seller! Have you sent the goods?!” The first two emails were sent on August 15th, the next three were sent on August 16th and the one was sent on August 19th. Each time, I responded with a YES as well as some detailed information about how the buyer could track his/her purchase through their eBay account along with the estimated shipping information outlined by USPS. The buyer replied once through all this simply saying, “Thanks!”

So I figured either this person has been scammed before or doesn’t really understand how eBay works. To clarify, I use every aspect of the MyeBay account meaning if you bought something from me, you are notified instantly with an invoice, your order status is always visible in your account, a tracking number is inputted instantly since I ship directly through eBay and feedback is left based on the performance of your payment. I find that this is the simplest way to do business on eBay.

However, on August 21st, the buyer opened an item dispute case through PayPal contesting that the item has not been received.

Resolution Center

My complaint is very simple. How can a bidder open a case stating that the item hasn’t been received before the start of the estimated delivery period?! Also, why doesn’t PayPal see that tracking information has been clearly entered into eBay while also seeing that a shipping label was bought and paid for through PayPal? When eBay and PayPal merged, it was supposed be mainly to help integrate the two systems to allow for more transparency between the dual transactions (auction functions and payment functions), but it appears that no matter how integrated these systems are, the buyer retains the upper hand almost every time!

While this resolution center is helpful in certain situations, I don’t see how allowing buyers to open cases without meeting specific criteria should be allowed. Granted, normally I would complain about this, but it’s the other side of this story that really irks me. It’s the fact that when a case is open, PayPal immediately withdrawals the total amount of money received from the won auction which may or may not put your account in the red. It did in my case because I don’t keep money in my PayPal account.

Another side-effect is that these cases are always tied to your account for record purposes and I don’t like black marks on my account.

My two cents

I’ve already vented my frustrations with the resolution center, but another gripe I have is with the feedback system. Another feature they removed was the ability for a seller to leave negative feedback. The seller is now only allowed to leave positive or neutral feedback. The reason for this is clear: most sellers would wait until they received feedback from their buyer and then based on that comment, leave one in return. This opened the door for retaliation. So if a buyer left a negative comment because the seller was slow at shipping, the seller could then leave a negative comment back for revenge.

This doesn’t jive well with the whole point of the feedback system because sellers should be leaving feedback based on how fast a buyer paid for an item and nothing else! The buyer is then left to create feedback based on the overall auction experience. eBay could have solved the retaliation by forcing sellers to leave feedback first. This way, before a seller could get their comment, they would have to rate the buyer based on payment speed.

Anyway, I’ll keep this posted updated with any changes, but as of today, the dispute remains open even though the tracking number shows the item moving through the system.

UPDATED: September 8th, 2011

After waiting out the lengthily official “review” process by PayPal, the case has been closed and wouldn’t you know it…the payment was reversed! That’s right, I have now lost the $211 paid by the buyer for my iPhone and since I shipped the iPhone to the customer, I no longer have it either. Well done PayPal! You decided to favor an eBay member only 4 months old who jumps the gun on shipping times and stealing money from a customer that has been loyal to you for many years—not to mention that I’ve been selling on eBay for 12 years.

What’s truly sad about all this is that there’s no recourse. The buyer now has his money back and he will certainly, if not already still receive the item. What’s going to prompt him to repay me for the phone? Absolutely nothing. All I can do now is move forward. However, this time I won’t be taking it so lightly. I’m looking for ways around using PayPal and in short time, I’ll likely be moving my sales over to Amazon.

For all of those out there who take a proactive approach to weeding out potential deadbeat buyers, here’s another username you can add to your blocked list:

4irik12 Review

Pronounced kwi-bids as in half of the word ‘quick’, provides an interesting take on the auction format. I wrote a really short auction summary about this site already alongside a comparison to eBay, but after watching (and participating with) the site for the last couple of days, I decided to dive right in and write up a review.

There are many people out there asking if this site and others like it are scams. While it’s easy to think like that considering you can get products at huge discounts (sometimes as high as 97% off), you really need to look under the surface to find that this is completely legitimate! You may be asking yourself how a company can afford to give away products as such discounted rates and that is where the magic comes in!

UPDATE: One of my visitors came to me and said he wrote an eBook about Quibids and that it contained all sorts of tips and tricks on how to win items from Quibids, so I asked him to send me a copy. I’m probably the biggest skeptic I know, so I just had to see and I must say that it was actually a really good read! Of course there are no sure ways to beat the Quibids system, but there are some logical steps you can take to increase your chances. See below for a review on this eBook.

Is a scam?

The answer is NO. The game is played with mathematics, timing and a little bit of luck. You as the bidder can bid on anything you want and as much as you want, but be careful…each bid only adds $0.01 to the item and costs you $0.60. Confused yet?! I’ll go over all this is a bit.

Ok, since Quibids is a penny auction, it’s obvious that the bids only increase by 1 cent or in some cases, 2, 10 and 20 cents. The exciting part of this format is that the final values stay relatively low and you can sometimes walk out of there with a $700 item for about $20. Don’t be fooled though–this statement is very similar to saying you can walk into a Vegas casino and take $3500 off a roulette table by betting only $100. It’s doable, but the odds are against you.

How does work?

They sell you bids and then allow you to use those bids to bid on real products. These products are always very popular items such as Apple iPads, MacBooks, home theatre systems, Blu-ray movies, etc. This is so people are more likely to bid. Here’s how the site breaks down:

  • You buy bids for $0.60 each.
  • Each bid adds $0.01 to the auction price.
  • You compete with other bidders.
  • Each auction has a time limit.
  • Any bids placed within the last 15 seconds brings the timer back to 15 seconds.
  • As certain values are reached, this resettable timer is reduced to 10 seconds.
  • If you are the high bidder when the timer reaches zero, you win.

After you win an item, you pay your bid amount plus shipping. Don’t forget to take into account the amount you spent on bids in the first place! One advantage that Quibids has over other similar sites is that if you lose, they let you take the total amount of how many bids you placed to put in as a credit toward buying the item at full price. But they get you here too because the “retail price” is sometimes higher than an actual price you might find at retailers or online shops such as

How is this profitable?

In case you haven’t seen the business-end of things yet, here you go. Quibids is in the business of selling bids. For just about every bid, they make $0.60. I say “just about” because they do offer free bids, cheap vouchers to get extra bid packs and referral bonuses. But for the sake of this example, we’ll stick with $0.60 per bid.

If you saw an Apple iPad sell for $217.80, Quibids just made $13,068. This is how they can afford to lose money on
the sale. After the auction, they simply order you an iPad at retail price which depending on the model can be as low as $499 and ship it to you.

Of course, not every iPad sells for that much. I think the lowest one I saw was $17. Still not bad though, considering Quibids made about $1020 on that sale. The huge savings are passed on to you courtesy of the hundred other bidders that wanted that item as well.

My two cents

I’ve been on the site for about 3 days now and I’ve placed a few bids, but so far I haven’t won anything. I even chased a Blu-ray movie and got beat out because I couldn’t watch the auction. That leads me to my first comment. To play this game, you have to constantly watch. Of course you could use their Bid-O-Matic feature that will place bids on your behalf after you designate how many bids you want to use and what your maximum is, but you still have to be vigilant.

If you want to save your money, your best bet is to watch and watch and watch. Jumping in at the right time seems to be the only true way to win. When is the right time? That’s a tough question because it is easy to sit there and hope everyone else either gives up or goes to sleep. I even expected that people would be working and therefore unable to watch the end of the auction. This is not practical because this site is accessible all over the world, so no matter what day of the week it is or what time of day, there are always thousands of people on the site looking for good deals.

Plus, there’s no restrictions on who can jump in an auction or when. It might be you and one other bidder down to the wire and then all of a sudden, a new guy jumps in with fresh bid counts and maybe even more money than you. My advice if you’re planning on using Quibids is to bid on and win a few of the smaller items first so you can get familiar with the whole process. Once you feel comfortable enough, try something bigger, but always keep this in mind: no matter what anyone ever tells you, there is no “system” to beating this site and getting a good deal. You have to have a little luck and sometimes a lot of money.

Quibids Winners Guide

Anyone who follows my site knows that I never “sell” you anything. I’m here simply to voice an opinion and hopefully help someone along the way. With that said, you can rest assured that if I ever post a link on this site to a product it’s because I either own it myself or I have used it enough to make a comment on it. In this case, I was given a copy of this Quibids buying guide that is supposed to help you win at Quibids auctions. Naturally, I felt like this was just another spammy eBook that contain common sense knowledge and “strategies” that don’t work. I was wrong!

While there are certainly no ways to beat the Quibids system and ensure never-ending victories, there are a few things you can look out for and in time, you can theoretically increase your chances of winning. The eBook is 10 pages in length and doesn’t contain one picture. I mention that because without pictures, you get 10 full pages of actual text that will help you at Quibids. It was written by Mike Tjosvold and he sells the eBook from his Facebook page for $10.99 and that will end up being pennies compared to what you will save on Quibids.

For more information, view the Facebook page for the Ultimate Winning Guide for Quibids. If you decide to buy it, remember these two things: 1. On the PayPal checkout page, tell Mike that referred you and 2. There’s a money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with it.

It looks like the guy who wrote that guide just simply disappeared! Sorry…it actually was pretty useful.

My last piece of advice is that if you’re shooting for a big dollar item, plan to buy it at the retail price because you’ll hate yourself in the morning if you spent $200 trying to get a $500 iPad and didn’t end up paying the price difference!