A few simple guidelines for the Marketplace
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64 posts in this topic

It is a good secondary marketing/selling source. Some of the worlds greatest comic collectors are on this board. My best ebay sales go to forum members. Also we know we would never never not give a fellow forumite the best service and a full refund if not happy. We have our own secret police force........................

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Rule 2567:


Always post a LINK to your auctions in the message text, and do not just assume that everyone has signatures enabled and can read yours.


It's amazing how many people forget this simple rule.


Directly below, I will post what an "Example Auction Post" (which assumes everyone can see your sig) looks like to people with sigs disabled.

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I'm trying to liquidate most of collection and remaining 'inventory'. About 400 items are currently listed in my Ebay Store. Can I post a link to it here?


I don't want to close the store just to relist the books here in the regular selling forums. LOTS of work was put into listing everything in my Ebay Store, and I don't want to have done it for nothing. I plan on selling most of the remaining books from my collection/inventory via the regular forum, so that won't be an issue.


Please clarify.



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Alright. Bored at work, so I was going to post my thoughts on selling comics.


I like how this is a sticky thread so this'll always be on top, though in an area that's never read.


I figure all my words of wisdom will come across as condescending or even petulant, but you get what you pay for.

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Media Mail


First of all, with comics, I really like using Media Mail. I also realize that some folks can't use it or view it as breaking the rules. That's fine. And if a buyer asks for Priority, and more importantly will pay for it, then I ship it that way. But out of 1000 packages I might get all of 1 returned (or the USPS charged the receiver). The savings are just huge. Flat rate boxes with the USPS cost $10.70 but the larger of the two boxes is a really tight fit at 11" by 8 1/2" and the cardboard is flimsy. So for cheaper comics I'd rather just go media mail with postage costing $4.50 for 6 lbs. A small box of 110 comics costs about $11. A long box of 280 costs about $18 to ship in the U.S. That's a pretty good deal. The larger Flat Rate box is good but you now have to have good packaging stuff to keep them from sliding around. Plus it's just barely too small for CGC books which is annoying.


My understanding with Media Mail is that it is handled the same as Priority, it is simply the last on the bus. I think the worry is that it is mishandled and stuffed between York Barbells and Pottery Barn Furniture. I don't know if Parcel Post that might happen. Or UPS/Fed Ex Ground I'll let others chime in on that. But the biggest problem with Media Mail is that it is allowed to be opened by anyone on the Post Office chain. In theorey then, that mylared NM/NM+ Walking Dead run of 1-50 could be mishandled by some gorilla at USPS. I suppose, so if that keeps you up at night I recommend having a $$$ target where you just won't use Media Mail. Mine is around $1000 or so. The other problem with Media Mail is the message you send to buyers. It kind of tags you as a cheapskate which can affect how the buyer perceives your books.




Lots of discussion on the boards about Media Mail. This is just one mans opinion. But take 1000 items sold with a savings of $3 per item, that's a lot of money.



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Paypal shipping labels.


A bit about paying for postage. If you don't use the USPS site or stamps.com or Paypal shipping labels, then you should. I joined stamps.com about 8 years ago and bought their cheap scale which I have used ever since. But they required that I buy stickers which I then had to fiddle into my printer etc etc. So I quite them. Likely they have changed and gotten better but I don't know. Instead I simply use the paypal system. This works great for ebay sales. Click through to ship the item. print the page, cut it out and tape it to the box - Easy Peasy. Media Mail the tracking is required to purchase but it's 19 cents and worth it. I use the tracking probably once every 50 items. Priority or higher and the tracking is free. If you go to the Post Office tracking costs something like 60 cents.


For paypal payments through the board it's a little trickier but you simply use the shipnow link. This allows you to use paypal shipping labels. If you use personal payments via paypal you need to get the address from the buyer but you probably knew that already. If you don't know what "Personal Paypal Payment" is, it's a way to receive money without paying paypal fees. There was a nice thread on it a while back. But keep in mind paypal is getting smart and they do limit this.


Back to labels though if you aren't using them. I mean c'mon guys anything not to have to sit in line at the post office. The few times I do wait in line there is nothing worse than watching an ebay seller, of all people shipping 20 packages and each and every one he has to have the PO weigh, charge, and label them. Aaaaaaahhhhhh! Use paypal ya jack wad. Plus, I secretly enjoy bypassing the waiting line and dropping off 5 packages already labelled.


You can also get the PO to pick up the packages for you but I generally don't do that.




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Charging for shipping


I've varied my shipping costs more on ebay than here on the boards. Often offering free shipping really does work in that may more eyeballs check it out and look for that bargain. The danger is when you price something with a low start price or forget to charge for international shipping and then you get stuck.


But the point here is that I don't think the technique of overcharging for shipping works. It comes across as "trying to beat the system" and often buyers see it as gouging. The seller sees it as part of the price. So right off, as a seller you aren't on the same page as the buyer and you've started out with a turn off for the buyer. Sure $40 for a book plus $10 postage is the same as $50 plus free postage. But trust me, Amercans like free stuff and will pay the extra $10 to get it. Plus Americans are bad at math.


The other problem with high postage is returns. The standard is to refund the purchase price but not the postage. This sticks in the craw of buyers especially when the fault of the bad purchase is the sellers. Who here hasn't been burned by that either in the comic world or more notoriously the electronics world on ebay. And we all remember it.


Even the seller who doesn't use Media Mail and lists here on the board a bunch of nice $40 books. The $11 shipping charge is just a major turnoff. So is the 3 paragraph description on all the various ways postage can be charged. Just stop.


Here's what I use, and keep in mind I use Media Mail.




Postage $3 in the U.S. unlimited comics

$6 to Canada up to 9 comics

$9 overseas up to 6 comics.


More comics postage gets higher overseas.



So don't overcharge postage, it's not worth it and it limits sales.

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Free tip of the day.


Use the Flat rate priority/express envelope for out of country shipping. It's 12 x 9 so a nice bubble wrapped package of 12 comics between 2 cardboard flats (11 x 8.5) weighing 3.2 lbs (max of 4 lbs) can be safely shipped to Denmark for $15. It's free and is stiff cardstock which is better than a paper envelope anyway. Much better than going first class in your own envelope or box.


For pricier books a box may be the way to go, for obvious protection reasons.

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Shipping Supplies and Packaging.


A number of lessons learned and tips on shipping supplies. The thought of buying a box for $3 or more drives me crazy. When I first started selling comics, it wasn't that many and I could generally find the boxes around town both for shipping as boxes and to make the 9x12 flats. This was well and good but I'd run out of cardboard pretty quick and when I figured out a solution it was pretty easy.


In almost all towns and cities there is a cardboard box company that makes, recycles and works in cardboard. In Baltimore it was ABC boxes. There you can buy 25 50 100 boxes for at most $1 each. Where I am now they charge me about 40 cents each. Plus they cut for me the cardboard flats for 5 cents each. The days of picking up a matress box and cutting them up with a razor are long gone.


Then I just get cheap packing tape and 9x12 envelopes at Staples and that seems to be cheap and convenient enough. There has to be a cheaper way to get envelopes but I haven't found it yet.


Packaging comics securely has many schools of thought, and it depends on what you sell. Generally speaking I try to pack so that the comic is protected in proportion to value, to use as little material as possible, and to be as efficient as can be. I'll start with the single ungraded comic. For $5 and less usually this just doesn't happen as shipping is 50% of the sale, but when it does I like the technique of a single cardboard flat with a bagged and boarded comic. Tape the comic to the board and done and done. I'll also do this for very low grade books even if higher value. A Spiderman 31 in Good may be worth $15 but bagged and boarded with a flat is good enough.


A quick comment on shipping one or two comics. First Class mail is actually cheaper than Media Mail up to and including 8 oz. Media Mail is done in 1 pound increments with the first lb costing 2.42, first class at 8 oz is the same and 7 oz and less is actually cheaper.


2 comics or more I use 2 flats. This just prevents the comics from sliding around and getting dinged. Generally speaking you need to go to a box if the thickness is any greater than 1-2 inches. Value dependent.


One technique I use is to wrap a group of say 8 comics in newspaper and then put those between two cardboard flats. This is not meant to protect the comics but it secures the comics together so no one book slides out of the group where it can easily get a corner damaged or folded down. The tape that holds the two flats secures the book lot at the newspaper very well and this has the added benefit of not taping any of the bagged comics.


Other than the cheapy single comic, do not tape the comic to the cardboard. This generally ruins the bag the comic is in but more importantly, it is extremely hard to get the comic out without risking creasing the spine of the comic or even worse cutting the comic with the razor or scissors. Imagine getting your $250 Very Fine FF 49 and it has packing tape at all four edges taping the bag to the cardboard flat. It is just impossible to get that off gently.


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Part II



Once you go to boxing the comic, I think the most important rule is the shake test. I still generally use the newspaper wrap and two flats and then put it in the box. Because I use a cardboard company they actually cut the flats to spec so my stuff is pretty tight as is. That's a problem when using the larger Priority boxes. You need stuff to cushion the package. I have not found a good source of bubble wrap or foam peanuts for cheap. And even if you can get it, the storage space that stuff requires is just huge for a big bag of peanuts or roll of bubble wrap. So I'll reuse bubble wrap and peanuts when I get them but I try to avoid boxes that have too much empty space. A lot of folks swear by bubble wrap and if buyers want it, I try to oblige.


The comic(s) between flats inside a box with newspaper cushioning; I've never had a damage problem. BTW, I am assuming anyone can get old newspapers for free. With CGC comics I am more likely to use bubble wrap because I can't find good boxes to ship them in. I will also ship CGC comics media mail and haven't had a problem. One of my box techniques here is to use the lids off of the office supply of printing paper. I don't sell too many CGC books so I can scrounge here as my box company doesn't have the right size boxes to ship CGC books. Are there Priority boxes that are larger than the standard ones? I just know I'm always uncomfortable using the standard Priority box as it hits right up against the edges.


So here's the list of how I do it.


1. Single cheapy comic - bagged boarded, single flat, envelope

2. 10 readers - wrapped in newspaper, envelope, no flats.

3. 2-8 books < $50 - wrapped in newspaper, two flats, envelope.

4. 2-8 books > $50 - wrapped in newspaper, two flats, boxed

5. 1 book > $50 - two flats, boxed, newspaper cushion

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This one is pretty simple. The sellers default on returns should be that you accept returns for any reason. You should pay the amount paid after you receive the item. It is nice if you also pay the postage or at least split your portion of it. Having the buyer pay both ends of postage does seem unfair but it is the expected standard, and if you can exceed that then go for it.


Mostly I do that on a case by case. So if it is clearly my fault like missed restoration or a major back cover flaw or something I should have caught then I'll pick up my end of the shipping. Often returns aren't for good reasons and then I'll still honor it but not pick up the postage. And this is another reason to charge low postage so if you just want to pick it up yourself it's not a huge hit.


In lot sales there might be one of ten books well below advertised. Then it's easy enough to give a partial refund that makes sense. Giving a partial refund is a great way to deal with refunds but care should be taken, you don't want to come across (nor actually be) the guy who sells damaged goods and then offers a partial refund.


My technique here is to let the buyer come up with a number. Then as the seller you either accept that number or ask for a refund. I had an ebay sale where the buyer got a fantastic deal on a low grade item. He emailed and was unsatisfied with the condition. I thought he was being too particular but offered a refund for a return. He suggested a partial cash back. I simply said, no; if you are unhappy with it, please return it.


I think this is a case where I could have been super extra nice and just given him some cash back but didn't.


Rarely are refunds going to be done on high ticket items so as a general rule it's just so much easier to refund the money and not try to haggle over it. Often when you turn around and sell it the second time, you make just as much then.

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Presentation of Sales.


Here's a list of general rules.


1. Post a nice picture. It should be clear and as big as the book itself.

2. Never threaten to send these "off to ebay" or "back to the vault" if they don't sell. Nobody cares.

3. On ebay don't use flashing anything or neon lettering or huge font etc. A nice description with postage and return policy is just fine thank you.

4. Do a little research. If you drastically overprice something you just look greedy and it's a turnoff. I'm not talking your Detective 31, but if you want to sell mid 1960's VG Thors, they better be below $20 each.

5. Don't flip comics off a community site. All you are doing is making a board member feel stupid. Hold a steal of a buy at least 3 months and then sell it on ebay or comiclink. Or better yet, privately. This isn't a rule, just good manners.

6. As a buyer don't be afraid to ask for what you want regarding packaging. Most sellers will oblige and better to deal with it before hand than to deal with a crunched packaged etc.

7. Understand that comments going through PM or email ALWAYS SOUND HARSHER THAN YOU MEAN THEM TO. You don't have to be a weanie but use extra courtesy when not face to face.

8. Try to be timely, and when something comes up as buyer or seller, just communicate it. A PM that says "Hey, I'm going to be out of town for a week and so the package won't get out until then" is much better than the absent seller for 10 days.

9. Be careful not to mix up mailing addresses. I've done this about 5 times and it is simply a pain in the butt to fix. Often expensive too.


I'll think of others.

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Shouldn't you be sorting through some Classics Illustrated for me? :sumo:


To be on point, re: Media Mail.


I know we are in close proximity so I get your stuff within days or a day of your mailing the items to me. What tends to be your experience with other parts of the country, delivery time-wise?


Also, I thought that the cut-off where First Class was cheaper than Media Mail was 6 Oz, and not 8 Oz.

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