Thinking of trying to sell an item you own on an online auction? Wondering what you should know before you give it a try?

Here are a few things to keep in mind suggested by the Federal Trade Commission.


We know: 10 Steps to Selling on an Online Auction

1. Describe your item.

Describe what youíre selling, say what condition itís in, and state whether itís new, used or reconditioned.

2. Think about what the buyer will want to know.

Anticipate questions a buyer may have for you and address them in your description.

3. Use visual aids.

Include a photograph, itís worth at least a thousand words.

4. Specify your minimum bid or Reserve.

Think about the lowest fair price youíre willing to accept for your item and state that amount as the minimum bid youíll take. You could also use a Reserve Price (the minimu price a bidder needs to bid to win) and start your auction at a lower opening price. However, there are a few reasons NOT to use a Reserve Price:

  • Some bidders may be confused
  • Opening your auction at a low price that isn't valid (because your Reserve is higher) wastes the time involved to get the bids up to the Reserve.

5. Whoís paying for shipping?

Decide whether youíre paying for shipping or whether you want the buyer to pay. State that clearly. Also, state if youíre willing to ship internationally.

6. State your return policy.

Whoís responsible for shipping fees (and restocking fees) if the item is returned?

7. Do you provide follow up service?

If the item youíre selling requires follow up service, are you willing to provide it? If not, make thsy clear, and suggest where the buyer can get that service, if necessary.

8. When the auction is over, get everything down on paper.

Print all information about the transaction, including the buyer's identification; a description of the item; and the date, time and price of the bid. Save a copy of every email you send and receive from the auction site or the successful bidder.

9. Contact the bidder with the good news.

Contact the "winning" bidder as soon after the auction closes as possible; confirm the final cost, including shipping charges, and tell the buyer where to send payment.

10. For best results, keep it clean.

Federal law requires you to advertise your produce or service and the terms of the sale honestly and accurately.

  • Donít place Ďshillí bids to boost your price.
  • Donít offer false testimonials in the comments section.
  • Donít sell illegal goods.

Good luck!



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