Selling Your Laptop on eBay
Wednesday, January 9, 2008; 5:19 AM
My mother, a longtime flea-market shopper, says it's always easier to buy than to sell. Man oh man, is she right about that.
Twice in just over a week, my efforts to sell a laptop on eBay were thwarted. One effort climaxed in an excruciatingly anxious dash to the post office--to retrieve the laptop I had just shipped.
Here's the story, in a nutshell, followed by a few lessons learned.
In early 2007, I bought my sweet little Sony Vaio TXN19P/L ultraportable to use as a secondary computer. (Readmy reviewof a similar Vaio laptop. It's been an ideal traveling companion: The laptop weighs just 2.8 pounds and goes for 5 hours or more on a charge. It has a gorgeous screen and beautiful Slate Blue carbon fiber casing--it truly is a masterpiece of industrial design.
The laptop was pricey, however. In January 2007 I paid $2800 for this model, which has 2GB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, and Windows XP Professional. And so, in December, I decided to sell it. I felt it was time to try something new andï¿½oh, all right: I needed the money. Plus, I have an older, less glamorous, but still working IBM ThinkPad 240 in my closet. Why not use that?
At any rate, I listed the Sony laptop on eBay on December 8, thinking it would catch the interest of holiday shoppers. I put a reserve price on the laptop as well as offered the "Buy It Now" option.
One week later, as the auction ended, the reserve price was met and the laptop sold. I boxed up the laptop, considering it a done deal. But two hours later, I received a message from eBay, informing me the listing had been "cancelled due to bidding activity that took place without the account owner's authorization."
And then eBay wiped out the listing. It was as if it had never existed. Worse, eBay informed me of the following: "Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to automatically relist these items for you. Instead, to relist these items you will need to start from the beginning of the listing process...We know that this is an inconvenience and we apologize for the negative impact it may cause you. We are working on tools to allow you to relist your items without starting from the beginning, but they are not available at this time."
In other words, to relist my laptop on eBay, I had to start all over again.
When I asked eBay about this, a spokesperson responded in e-mail: "The current process where we cancel the listing is optimized around immediately refunding the seller's full fees (listing fee and final value fee). We realize that this solution can also have its drawbacks--specifically the inconvenience to the seller of having their listing removed and also the inability to offer Second Chance Offers to any underbidders, which is way eBay is always looking for ways to improve its services to its users."
On December 17, a few days after the laptop's second listing appeared, someone from Indonesia contacted me via e-mail and asked if I would ship to Bali. I was hesitant, as I worried about Customs forms and other details I wouldn't have to deal with if selling to a U.S. buyer. I checked the potential buyer's eBay feedback--it was nearly 100 percent positive. So, even though I had reservations, I agreed to sell to him.
Minutes later, the man from Bali used the "Buy It Now" option to procure my laptop and pay me via PayPal. He urged me to ship it to him right away, to be sure he could get it in time for the holidays. At 1:19 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time), I received an e-mail from PayPal, informing me the funds were in my account. So I labeled the box containing the laptop and headed to the post office.