Auction Misadventures: Getting paid is a pain in the ass.

Sunday night, my first three eBay auctions sucessfully closed with offers for all three posters I was selling. If I could just get paid for them all, life would be great.

I started all three posters at $1.99, because it sounded like a good number. One poster sold for exactly that because it only got one bid (I think set the postage too high on that auction), one sold for $2.49 because it only got two bids, and the third sold for $7.50 (it was the best poster of the three). Not exactly Antiques Roadshow money, but I got the posters for free, so who am I to complain?

The $7.50 bidder paid me by PayPal within an hour of the auction ending; I shipped his poster on Monday. The $2.49 bidder e-mailed me asking how to pay with a money order (College kids. Sheesh.), which I'm still waiting for. The $1.99 bidder hasn't even responded to my e-mailed invoice. I tell you, it's always the cheap ones who cause trouble.

But here's where I started causing trouble for myself: After my auctions closed, I discovered eBay has a Second Chance Offer feature for sellers who (like me) have more than one of an item and want to offer the extras to bidders who lost the auction. I figured the second-place bid (seven dollars) in the $7.50 auction is higher than the winners in my other two auctions, so I made a second chance offer in that auction, which the guy accepted. That way, I sell four posters in three auctions, and I'm up over eighteen dollars.

My new trouble is that the guy who won the second chance auction keeps insisting he's going to pay with a debit card even though I told him I can't take credit cards. As it so happens, I thought I could accept credit cards through PayPal, because I didn't realize PayPal had changed its credit card policies so that personal accounts can't accept credit cards. If I upgrade to a business account, PayPal starts taking 30 cents out of every sale, which would really hurt for low value auctions. If I don't decide to accept credit cards, I'll have inadvertantly violated eBay's user policies by letting them put credit card logos on the auctions. (Judging by some discussions in eBay's discussion groups, I'm not the first newbie seller to make this mistake.) So my choice is: Do I risk losing money to PayPal's fees, or risk losing my account to eBay's customer service department?

I only have one auction up right now (a souvenir hat from the Phoenix Open, which I figured might sell since the 2005 Open is next month), and I made damn sure that there's no credit card logo on that auction. I'm begining to understand why so many people hate PayPal.

Posted at 11:18:24 PM EST on 21 January 2005 from Trenton, MI