Liquidating your assets (Part 1)
With the introduction of Nikon’s D200, I knew it was a camera I had to have! But even with the reasonable price, how was I going to pay for it? My bank account (notice I didn’t call it a “Savings” account?) was at it’s usual low-funds-amount and none of my so called friends were answering their phones. Time to get serious.
I decided it was time to sell-off some of my lesser used photo equipment. After the arrival of my D70 (and later D70s), I’d hardly used my Sony F828 or my beloved (but heavy) D1x. Throw in a few accessory lenses and a flash or two, and voila! enough to buy that coveted Nikon D200 camera.
This was the first time I’d ever sold anything over the internet, so I had some research to do.
I checked out E-Bay and forums from people discussing Ebay. It all seemed pretty complex with the fees and rules regarding sales. They seem to do a fairly good job to protect buyers and sellers (millions of which perform transactions every day), but I was still hesitant to jump in with both feet.
Then my buddy John , who’s an Ebay affictionado, graciously offered to help me out. I decided to test the waters with some of my less-expensive itemes (a flash for one) and see how I liked the results.
I popped open my Photek Lighthouse which is a great way to get evenly lit, small product photos. I popped in my Nikon SB-28dx flash and lit it from 2-sides with my NikonSB-800s (I could have just as easily lit it with 2 decent desk-lamps for that matter, the Photek does a great job of diffusing the light).
I wanted to have decent photographs of my selling-items, showing as many sides of the product as possible to show prospective buyers what the item really looked like and to help me (the Seller) in case there was a later dispute on the item’s condition from the buyer. This also helps in case there’s a dispute with the shipping company.
I also take pictures of any Serial Numbers on the item and just save those for my records and don’t give them to anybody else.
John posted the pictures on Ebay and we described the product and set reserve-prices (an optional price that allows the seller to know in advance what the item will bring at a minimum provided someone’s willing to buy it at that price), and away we went.
After a few e-mail exchanges answering questions from interested buyers,the items sold fairly quickly and I was off to the UPS store to get the items to the sellers as quickly as possible.
Before I pack the items, I’ll usually display on my computer screen the confirmation e-mail you get on the sale of the item. Then I’ll take a few last pictures of the item in front of the displayed e-mail (showing buyer’s info and the date). This might help later to prove that the items were as-stated on the date of sale (you don’t get the e-mail prior to that so it’d be difficult to stage a fraudulent set-up) or if you have a dispute with the buyer or the shipper (with the shipping date on, or very-near the “sold” date.
After that experience (and a lot of help from John), I decided to try things out for myself. Having gone through the Ebay experience, I started asking around for other, non-Ebay, sales outlets.
<>I sent Item descriptions to a few camera-store web-sites that would give me online quotes for my used photo-gear. I checked out their asking prices for similar gear and decided to give it a go. Usually in situations like this (or for “collectables” as well), you get about 50% of their re-sale prices. This seems low, but sometimes it’s not too bad considering what you can sell the item for privately, minus the hassle of getting it sold.
Well to say I was shocked when the e-mails came back with the offered-prices would be an understatement. They offered (at best) 25% of the items current used-market value, which, even considering their risk (little to none it would seem to be), was far too low for me to even think about it. I’d rather consign my D1x to paperweight duties than sell it for the amount offered. Luckily for me, I wasn’t desperate for funds.
I also went to a few local camera chains that sold used equipment (for outrageously high prices…wonder if anybody buys any of their used stuff?….) and, even though their selling-prices were high, they too offered little or nothing for my used stuff (in better shape than a lot of the used stuff they were peddling).
So, with advice from my Son, I checked out Amazon’s Marketplace. My son had sold some of his stuff here (books and electronics) and had been very happy with the outcome.
I signed up for the Marketplace and started listing my items for sale. They were very good about showing you competitive pricing and explaining fully how much money you (the Seller) would end up with after the transaction. It wasn’t like eBay’s nickle-and-dime you to death routine, but they spelled it out. Like, if you sell this for $1,200, Amazon get’s $60 and you get $1,140 dollars. Amazon even kicks in a “shipping allowance” which I found covers about half of a 3-day UPS shipping bill.
One caveat is that they have to sell (or have sold) the item on their site, as they list the item by it’s product number and only have numbers for stuff they’ve sold (so no Barbies from the ’50s for example).
They also illustrate your item (like my D1x) with the manufacturer’s standard product-shot, so you have to be pretty specific when you describe the item for sale. Like the Disclosure-law for housing, you want to do everybody a favor (including yourself) by describing the product (and any features or flaws) accurately.
Again, the buyers can (through Amazon) contact the seller for actual descriptions or photos of the actual item for sale, or with any other questions they might have.
I liked this. A very consise, direct way of selling my stuff and knowing what the net profit would be right up-front. Amazon does a great job protecting both buyer and seller and provides a great storefront (and huge audience) for your product.
After your first (or first couple) of sales, they hold your funds for about 30-days. This is to protect the buyer and give them some track-time with you as a seller, After you’ve sold with them (and gotten a decent approval-rating) they no longer hold your funds.
All in all, I was very happy with the results of the Amazon Marketplace experience, and as a Buyer and a Seller, have been satisfied with the way Amazon protects both sides of the transaction.
In our next installment, evil-people and a few things to watch out for when selling…