This week’s installment of your Chicago Treasure Hunting Examiner’s eBay selling tips focuses on items you’re going to have to be very careful about listing. They vary from custom pool cues to used cars, but let’s focus on why you’ll need to be particularly vigilant when buying or selling these types of items on eBay.
Back in the day, sellers got away with playing all kind of tricks on buyers. They blamed a lost item on a buyer’s refusal to pay grossly marked-up insurance charges, knowing that most people were unaware of how remarkably few items are actually lost each year in the postal system. Sellers with questionable morals would also engage in shill bidding, getting their friends to bid up the price of an item to somewhere near the threshold of what anyone would be willing to pay. It’s hard to get away with those kinds of games anymore.
eBay’s new fondness for clamping down on sellers doesn’t mean that bad apples no longer exist. They just have to exhibit more creative craftiness. Listing a genuine Herman Rambow pool cue pulls them out of the woodwork like nobody’s business. So will listing a very desirable 1960s muscle car. Why? Pool sharks and used car salesmen have a well-earned reputation for shady business dealings.
Check the feedback of anyone who’s sold more than a couple vehicles on eBay and you’ll likely be treated to some very interesting negative feedback comments. This Treasure Hunter used to associate with a couple of Naperville-area used car hustlers who he wouldn’t trust to put a quarter in the meter for him. They’d likely pocket the coin and let you get a hefty ticket just for the fun of trying to explain their way out of the situation. Nefarious characters like that thrive on the gamesmanship.
Years ago, your humble reporter was lucky enough to find an authentic Rambow cue at a Hinsdale estate sale that was customized with the owner’s name on not just one but two separate sticks (the forward end of a two-piece cue) of different weights. It was as close as many cue collectors come to the Holy Grail. There were some issues with the laminated points, which had swelled with cracked tips, but the dog-gone thing still brought $1500. Dealing with continuously emailed side offers and head faints from every pool cue hustler on the Internet was a real education.
Here’s a rule that has served many eBay sellers well: There’s a top end to what online auctions are going to realistically bring, a tipping point to where an in-person live auction might be the better approach. It would not be in your best interests to list a 1969 Cobra GT 500 KR on eBay. The car’s rare enough to have brought $250,000 the last time one was offered at a live auction. Same’s true for pool cues, toy trains, rare books, gold, crystal, whatever.