eBay eTiquette

A few months back, a friend and I were talking about selling on eBay. He was surprised that I would sell low priced cards, $5 and less. Why bother? (I think I sold this for $1.50).

1965 White Sox team front088

Three reasons: 1) money is money and $3 net is better than $0 net, 2) it’s very easy for me to send cheap cards via plain white envelopes and almost as easy to go to the Cooperstown Post Office if need be (I know a trip to the local post office is harder in other places) and 3) set collectors should be served. As one myself, I’m thrilled when someone has a single, inexpensive card listed that I need, or will break up a lot for me, and I’m happy to help someone else looking for a single card.

I’m always a bit shocked when someone won’t break up a lot for me. Not the big sellers, I get that. They have hundreds, if not thousands of auctions/Buy It Nows going off all the time, so asking them to peel off a single card or two from a lot and changing the listing is a hassle for them. But non-pros, or smaller sellers – why not? I’d do it for you!

I was recently annoyed by a guy selling three 1960 Leaf cards. Two low numbers, including a Hall of Famer (Luis Aparicio) and one high number (Joe Hicks), which you know I’m working on (read here and here).


I was willing to pay more than half his listing price for the Hicks card, and he told me no, he wants to move them all. Now, the guy doesn’t owe me anything, but he’s likely to get the same sale price (or more) if he peels off the high number to me and relists the other two, including Aparicio.

My favorite part about eBay is the interaction, when it happens, and finding out what people are collecting, and why they’re selling. I send and receive a lot of messages. Usually people are willing to meet my needs.

The same idea of aiding set collectors is a big reason why I’ve been selling off, or trading, a lot of my 1970’s doubles. They don’t do me any good sitting in boxes, I can sell cheaper than dealers, and, in recent weeks, I’ve parlayed around 1,000 dubs for a 1965 Soupy Sales set, and 1969 and 1970 Topps Football sets. I’m ecstatic to have those sets, and I know the people who have bought cards from me are very happy with my nice old cards.

So, eBay sellers, think of the collectors and do the right thing. Fill want lists!

Author: Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.

13 thoughts on “eBay eTiquette”

  1. Great column! Like you, I have asked sellers to break up lots just as you described. I’d say 70% agree to do it, 10% just say No, and 20% do not respond. Generally, sellers seem to respond positively to courtesy and reasonable offers.
    On a diff subject, I do get irritated when a seller won’t combine the shipping of single cards to reduce P&H charges. It’s rare — but it did just occur to me.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I had a bad experience a year ago with a seller who claimed he DID offer combined shipping. When I contacted him, he told me to either pay for everything and he’d refund the extra shipping, or buy them and then not complete the purchase. So I did that, but completed the purchase for one item because I wasn’t sure when to stop, but no worries because I have to pay one shipping charge anyway, right? Anyway, I then get notified that the first item shipped. And then he tells me he can’t send me an invoice, I have to pay for everything and then he’ll refund me. He insisted that there was no other way to do it. I even sent him instructions on how to send an invoice with combined shipping, at which point he got snarky about how he’s been selling for 20 years and of course he knows how to do it, but still wouldn’t do it.

        Takes all types, I guess.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve sold a lot of cards on eBay over the years. My fear of putting a card in an envelope is what might happen to it (as has happened to me when I buy a single card. Too often, it arrives bent and creased). It’s no guarantee, but you just have to be sure to pay the non-machinable rate and put in a piece of cardboard at least to protect what you’re selling, even if that raises the shipping cost close to value of the card.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve found Check Out My Cards to be incredibly useful for buying singles because of the reasonable shipping, the consistent listing of items, and the competition among sellers. Then again, I think the oldest “cards” I have bought are some 1981 Topps Stickers. Not sure if they have 1960 Leaf high numbers at a reasonable price, but good for finding parallels, minor league singles, and oddballs at a reasonable price (most of the time).

    While I’ve sold plenty in the past, I don’t really have the time right now to list cards and run to the post office. I’ve thought about using COMC for selling inexpensive cards that people might want but haven’t yet pulled the trigger on that yet. If I could turn 5000 cards into $1,000 net of costs (heck, in some cases $500) just by sending them to COMC and letting them do the work that would be a win.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I use COMC a lot. Hit or miss on the Leaf highs. I’ve had some success.
      I’ve also thought about selling cards via COMC, but I’ve been moving a lot of my dubs in trades or to people I know who are building sets.


    1. I’ve been hit or miss over there. There seems to be a tendency to overgrade and, when I have a question, usually I don’t get a response. Still, I do order from that site.


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