The following is our honest eBay review. Debt Free Dawn has not been compensated for our review.

Updated: October 11, 2016

ebay Pros

  • Most comprehensive, feature-rich web interface and mobile app
  • Most diverse shipping options
  • Largest marketplace

Cons

  • Non-paying buyers do happen (though there is a “require immediate payment” feature)
  • You’re billed later for commissions and fees on sales instead of having them taken out at the time of payment
  • Mobile app has some small annoyances

eBay Review: Summary

eBay is the biggest resale marketplace (excluding Amazon, who specializes in items in brand new condition) and you can sell just about anything. They have robust selling features, a ton of shipping options, and a tried-and-true system. They’re not perfect, but they’re great and they offer a competitive commission structure.

But eBay definitely isn’t a niche clothing retail site, so sometimes the clothes and accessories you want to sell will fetch more money elsewhere (e.g., Poshmark). The learning curve can be a little steep as well, at least in terms of being proficient with creating listings. Anyone can list anything in a snap, but the people who take the time to list things optimally will have more success, and it can take a little time to get to that level of proficiency.

Marketplace & Potential Buyers

During the first quarter of 2016, eBay had 162 million active buyers, making it by far the largest marketplace. Unfortunately, as an auction marketplace, eBay does have its share of non-paying buyers who win auctions (or even purchase fixed-price items) but never follow through with payment. This can be mitigated, but not totally avoided, by setting buyer requirements on your seller dashboard. The all-out way to avoid these buyers is to enable the “require immediate payment” feature, which we’ve recently started doing.

Over 100 million people have downloaded the Android app.


Website

eBay’s website is incredibly easy to use. When you click “Sell” on the navigation bar, you’ll be directed to a page that allows you to choose one of two ways to sell items:

  • Sell it yourself
  • eBay Valet

Let’s start with eBay Valet. This is their “send it to us and we’ll do it for you” service. Basically, send eBay your item with a free shipping label and you’re done. The fees are higher (documented in the Commission & Fees section below) but the work is minimal. If you have a steady source of very low cost inventory and are short on time, this is a decent option. The downside is that, according to their site, they only accept “electronics, collectibles, and musical instruments, as well as designer clothing, shoes and handbags” and the higher commissions eat into your profit margin.

eBay’s Sell it Yourself interface is very intuitive. You can upload up to 12 pictures, which is the most of any site, and their item description section allows you to use HTML code to style your description with different font sizes and colors, as well as allowing you to add images or other features. A great and convenient feature is the ability to rotate and perform basic adjustments to images, such as brightness.

I can confidently say listing items on eBay via their website is the most complete, feature-rich way to post an item on the web.


Mobile App

eBay’s mobile app is very strong and provides most of the functionality you can find on their web interface. You can rotate images, which is very convenient when uploading pictures from your phone. For example, my boyfriend’s phone sometimes decides to save pictures rotated at a 90 degree angle. On other resale apps he has to open the image editor on the phone, rotate the image, re-save it, and then use the re-saved, properly rotated image. On eBay he can just click “rotate” and get the same effect.

The only drawback to eBay’s mobile app is when selecting shipping. If you want to charge fixed shipping for an item, sometimes the app gets buggy and won’t let you actually input an amount to charge. It doesn’t happen all the time but occasionally it takes several times clicking the button to enter shipping amount before the cursor actually highlights the field where you can type an amount. The biggest risk here is that if you don’t pay attention, you may end up not filling in an amount and unwittingly offering free shipping. It’s a small bug for sure and it doesn’t happen too often, but it’s the only knock on their mobile app.


Shipping Items

eBay offers the most diverse array of shipping options, including USPS, UPS, and FedEx. They allow the the highest degree of shipping customization of any resale service, up to the point of allowing you to enter a fixed shipping cost in any amount. If you ship through the USPS, you get a sizable discount. For example, USPS Flat Rate Envelope shipping typically costs $6.45, but you can buy it through eBay at $5.75.


Commission & Fees

Let’s start with eBay Valet. This comes directly from eBay:

Valet takes a percentage of your item’s final selling price. You’ll earn 60% of the price for items selling for less than $50, 70% for items selling between $50 and $200, and 80% for items selling for more than $200.

Of all the sites, eBay has the most complex commission and fee system; this is because they also have the most diverse marketplace, selling goods ranging from clothing to electronics to cars. Stated most simply, eBay charges two types of fees:

  1. Insertion fees
  2. Final value fees

There are a lot of conditions that affect exactly what eBay will charge you, such as whether you have an eBay store, whether you use any of their premium upgrades on your listing (e.g., bold or subtitled listings), and how many listings you create per month.

In general, eBay charges you a $0.30 insertion fee for all listings created after your first 50 in each month, plus 10% of the combined sale and shipping cost of the item. For a more robust explanation of eBay’s fee system, please read their documentation.

Additionally, PayPal charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.


Buyer Disputes & Returns

eBay has a flexible return system so there are many ways to handle this process. If you buyer requests a return and you accept, you can have them pay for and print the shipping label, and you don’t need to process the return until you receive and inspect the item. This infographic describes the process.

Alternately, you can decline to accept returns, which is actually a setting you can set during the listing process. If the buyer requests a return or disputes a transaction, they can file a claim with eBay’s Resolution Center. If they win, eBay will issue them a shipping label. You can read more about the entire return process from the buyer’s perspective by clicking here.

Please note that, like many other resale marketplaces, eBay has a reputation for siding with the buyer. That said, there is one instance in which eBay will side with the seller 100% of the time: when the buyer performs feedback extortion. If in a conversation with a buyer, they threaten to leave negative feedback or say anything to that effect, continue to act courteously and make note of the comment. Feedback is one of the driving forces behind eBay’s marketplace, and they’ll do whatever’s necessary to protect the integrity of their feedback system. Should a buyer attempt to get you to accept a return or issue a refund by threatening to leave bad feedback, notify eBay and you’ll win any dispute.


Getting Paid

While other sites require the buyer to receive the item and/or rate the seller before releasing payment, on eBay you’re paid instantly when the buyer completes the transaction.

eBay Valet:

You will be paid within 2 business days after each item has sold and the buyer has paid for it. Items typically sell within 30-60 days of listing. All payments are through PayPal.

With Sell it Yourself, eBay requires you offer at least one of the following payment options to your buyers:

  • PayPal
  • Merchant credit card
  • Payment on pickup

Please, just use PayPal. If you’d like to read up on all of the options, you can do that here.

After your buyer pays, you receive the full amount charged, including shipping. This is noteworthy because unlike other sites that take a commission up front after the sale of every item and deduct it from the amount you receive, eBay will invoice you monthly for all fees you owe. For example, if you sell $1,000 worth of items in a given month, eBay will invoice you for $100 at the end of that month (assuming you owe them 10%, which is fairly close to the actual total).

If you use PayPal (which you should) they’ll deduct their 2.9% + $0.30 commission on each payment you receive. Please click here to learn more about using PayPal.