Ebay (and PayPal); Is This Really the Best We Can Do?

I see various Ebay competitors advertising on TV. It’s not hard to see why. It’s 2020, and Ebay’s web site hasn’t fundamentally changed for 20 years. Their incestuous relationship with PayPal, and all its attendant problems, is legendary.

I have an account balance. I keep getting emailed about it every month. It’s only $28.11, but it’s been, like, a year now, and I’m really tired of those emails. So I finally decided I’d try to get the amount sent to me as a check, because I don’t want these folks touching my bank accounts.

So I look around Ebay’s site, and, of course, I can’t find any reference to how to do this. So I search, and find a Q/A about it, and on their own site, to boot. I see that I have to actually call them to request a credit to be paid to me, like it was still 1998, and they hadn’t actually bought a payment processor. Really?! So I click the link, and then another, and another. Five clicks in, I see a phone number. I dial it, enter my one-time code, and get put on hold. Then I have a thought! I want an iPad cover, and that amount of money should just about cover it. So I hang up the phone, and start searching around.

Of course, I find something I want on Amazon, because, as bad as Amazon’s search is, Ebay’s is much, much worse. Then I go back to Ebay, and dig it up. I try to be very careful in the checkout process, but there’s no option to change any purchase methods. I double check the email I get, and, of course, Ebay has not used my balance; they’ve charged my credit card.

So I redial the phone number I called before, tell the system twice that I don’t have a one-time passcode, get put into a queue. When I get to talk to someone, I tell them what I want, and they ask for my account number. I don’t know what this is, and can’t find it immediately. She asks if I’ve made any recent purchases, so she can look up my account. I tell her the one I just made, and then she asks 3 different questions relating to getting a refund for that item. Once I finally get through to her what I’m really asking, she puts me on hold.

Another guy joins the call, and quickly refunds the money, but there’s no option here. Before I can even bring up how this will be refunded, he says he’s sent it TO PAYPAL, and then informs me that it will be SEVERAL DAYS before this transfer finalizes. So now I have to wait, and deal with it there. Sigh. At least there, I know I can have them cut me a check for a hefty fee, but then I’m done with both Ebay and PayPal.

Ebay created a way for collectors to connect with each other, and the marketplace corrected for the scarcity economics of finding buyers for old junk in local areas. This took the premiums out of it, and leveled the playing field. Now, whatever you might want to sell, the Ebay price for it IS the market price for it, even if you don’t use Ebay, and this is a win for people who are trying to buy esoteric things. Basically everything that can be sold, is sold on Ebay, so there’s a market price just about everything now. But, as an application, and as a business, it’s run its course. It’s boring. It’s overburdened by hassle. You take your life in your hands every time you sell something on the platform. Luckily, this has left the door open to competitors.

If you search on Ebay competitors, you find something fascinating. None of the top 10 sites are auction sites. Ebay has set the price in the “e-market” space, and the only “auctions” happening now are the figurative dances to weave your way through hundreds of no-name accounts all selling the same thing for differences of a few dollars.

But this list of sites is geared towards people who are trying to make a living selling handmade tchotchkes or Chinese knockoff imports. What about poor schlubs like me, who just want to clean out their closet? An another list, I see about 2 dozen eligible alternatives for selling stuff you don’t want any more. So I think a lot of people are finding newer applications to do the same thing, without all the overhead.

The next time I want to try to sell something, I will try a different platform.

For example, I see Decluttr is a clearinghouse, buying things and then selling them for a profit. They have a particular bent towards tech and… Lego. And I may or may not have about 8 large tubs of Lego that I’m tired of moving around in storage… However, I just looked at how that works, and apparently they simply buy Lego at $1/lb. Are you serious with me right now? Sheesh. I know I could get a lot more for my collection…