E-Bay Revisited: Policies and Fees for Storage Hunters to Consider

Because of the holy host of random goods that will turn up in your storage unit winningghostly ebay escapades, it is very important to have a firm grasp on what is even possible for you to post on EBay.  Also, to understand how much fees play a role in your projected sales with this world-dominating web market.

There are three categories of red-flag items in the eyes of EBay: Prohibited Items, Restricted Items, and Potentially Infringing Items.   Restricted Items are really out-of-the- blue items that you can occasionally get a posting pass for, like Native American artifacts.  Since this is real storage auction hunting and those things don’t usually turn up in storage units, we’ll focus on Prohibited Items and Potentially Infringing Items.

1. PROHIBITED ITEMS—"Duh," and “Doh!”

There is a very cut and dry list of things that EBay simply will not promote on your behalf as a seller.  Some are no brainers, things that you wouldn’t sell to anybody anyway.  They include hazardous wastes, tobacco, alcohol, credit cards, and drug paraphernalia.  Some are not so cut and dry: firearms, special event tickets, used clothing, and gift cards.  Below is a link to the whole shebang of what EBay will not allow.


Essentially, the website is trying to preserve a standard of product and ethical quality in what they do.  This does not mean there is no other venue to sell the banned items on this list.  Do yourself a favor and check out our Craig’s List article, a venue that will suit pretty much anything you pull out of a unit, as long as somebody is willing to pay for it.


This category above all others is what can really get a storage hunter in trouble.  Simply put, you cannot sell something at all if it is bootlegged or counterfeited.  This includes any product that claims the brand and make of the original but is not affiliated with them (fake Gucci Bags) or even a fake Elvis autograph.

Since it is very hard to trace the origins of an item that you pull out of a storage unit, if there is even a shadow of a doubt about it, then do not post it to EBay.  Pleading negligence with EBay will not work.  They state very determinately that “sellers can't deny or reject any knowledge of or responsibility for the authenticity or legality their items.”  In plain speak, this means that you need to be very careful with items that appear to be replicas or knock-offs.


Unfortunately, EBay thrives on various fees to sellers.  On the bright side, storage auction buyers can take these with a much larger grain of salt considering how dirt cheap their investments are for inventory.  You do not pay your fees item by item.  As a seller, you will be on a one month billing cycle like everything else in your life (rent, cell phone bills, car payments, etc.).

Linking your PayPal account or credit card to your profile and setting up an automated payment system will keep you from stressing about being late on fees.  Here are the types of fees EBay charges to its sellers.  Try to read into how making your listing things “Auction Style with no Reserve” is theoretically beneficial to your bottom line:

1)   Insertion Fees: The fee charged for simply listing an item.  It shifts depending on what the type of item and the type of buying format that you choose.  No matter how you spin it, the fee is extremely minimal, ranging only from 10 cents to 2 dollars.

For auction style listings with or without a “reserve price” (i.e. the minimum price set by you that the highest bidder must meet), you are entitled to 50 free listings per month.  As most of you will find other venues for resale other than EBay, it is safe to say that you may not ever pay an insertion fee.

If you exceed fifty in a month, the insertion fee (as mentioned) will not exceed 2 dollars a listing and is a relative percentage of the “Buy Now” or Reserve Price of the item.  Per exemplar, any item over $200 (reserve or buying price) is a whopping 2 dollars.  Enough said.

2)   Final Value Fees: The “Final Value Fee” (FVF) is the more formidable fee you will face through EBay.  It is a percentage of the total cost to the buyer, which includes shipping and handling, and varies depending on selling format and category of item.

Auction Style FVF--If you post an item with no reserve price, auction style, the Final Fee will always be 9% of the total cost to the buyer, including the shipping and handling costs, regardless of the type of item.

WARNING: Opting to include free shipping may be an incentive for a buyer in some cases, but EBay will always charge the shipping charges to your credit card of PayPal if you choose to offer this.  In other words, it is not a way of getting around your own shipping fee.

Auction Style with Reserve Price FVF --Unfortunately, you don’t really catch any Final Fee breaks if you list something with a reserve price.  It is treated exactly the same way as a “Buy It Now” posting.

Here is a table of item category vs. percentage of the final price that will be charged based on that category (look to the middle of the page).



At the end of the day, the only way to cut into your Final Value Fees somewhat is to begin an EBay Store. This is not recommended for the casual lister.  The Subscription fee begins at $15/month.  However, if you are listing a lot of goods at this point in your resale career, the Final Value Fees for all categories of items is 7.5%. Decide what volume of auctions you are attending a week, how much inventory is of it is EBay worthy, and then decide if an EBay Store is beneficial to you!

Final Thoughtsexploding head

Are you Ebay-ed out yet?  No?  Me neither!  Ok, well maybe a little bit.  As we can conclude from the exclusionary list of goods that EBay will actually accept, EBay is typically treated as a secondary tool in this business.  It is a great wild card for items that still have significant value, that are shippable, and when there are enough of them at a time (say, 5-10) to make it worth your while.

Finally, EBay is great to expand your market to the national level for niche goods that your local community might know nothing about.  Go ahead, start an account.  Just don’t start paying anything until you have built up a significant inventory, then sit back and see how much fun it is to watch people clamoring for storage stuff in ways you never thought possible.


Web Sources:

1. http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/fees.html#if_fixed

2. http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/fvf.html

Image Sources:

1. http://images.suite101.com/3479478_com_800px_ebay.jpg

2. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-9bdSi3lG3ic/TWHSj2j2lwI/AAAAAAAABfs/hu_VxlAtmBU/s400/exploding+head.jpg



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