FT gives some dodgy advice on eBay selling

ftConsumers should expect better from the Financial Times. It’s a respected newspaper and a source of information that people trust.

So it’s sad to see that they’ve been giving out advice encouraging sellers to break eBay policies, not offer returns and also mislead readers on the best time to end auctions.

But that’s exactly the steer they provided in an article by Claer Barrett called “I made £2,000 on eBay — and so could you – Top tips to convert your trash into treasure.” (You should be able to read the article here depending on how many articles you’ve read on FT.com or which subscription you have.)

Here’s some of the dodgy advice:

“I once sold a candle holder for a very good price by putting “suitable for Jo Malone candles” in the listing title.”

Klaxon: that’s keyword spamming and likely to get your item sanctioned if reported or discovered.

“Set your default eBay seller policy to “no returns” and make this abundantly clear to buyers in your item description.”

Claer Barrett’s article is obviously directed at consumer sellers who have no reason to offer returns, apart from it being good practice. But I’d say it’s bad business in any case: offering returns attracts more buyers than it attracts returns. I’d advise all sellers to offer returns but specify the terms.

“For items that people are likely to fight over, such as designer handbags, time the auction to end late on a Friday or Saturday night when people will often bid wildly, having had a few drinks.”

This is just shoddy advice that’s simply not backed out by experience or numbers. Indeed, Friday nights couldn’t be a worse time to end items. If I was offering advice I’d say any weekday or a Sunday was better than Friday or Saturday. And anyway, why not consider a Buy it Now?

It’s such a shame that eBay advice articles, talking about selling, are giving out such dodgy tips. But read the article and make up your own mind.

What do you make of the article?