Epic Ebay Fail

Sometimes I have the gravest doubts about my ability to operate successfully in the modern world. Take Ebay. I’ve had  a moderate degree of success in buying on Ebay – a vintage silver mirror for my mum’s 50th birthday present, a pile of maternity clothes which saw me through my pregnancy with very little cash outlay and an enormous bundle of Peppa Pig figures and toys for my daughter’s most recent Christmas present, for example. I’d never really gone in for selling, though.

Partly it’s just that I can never believe people will want to spend good money on things I’m throwing away, so I tend either to donate to a charity shop or Freecycle. And partly it’s just that I was scared of it. It seemed like so much hassle. Take photos, upload photos, describe item, post item – surely it couldn’t be worth it?

However, a chance conversation with my best friend last month persuaded me to reconsider. She had spring cleaned her wardrobe, and gone through everything her baby boy had outgrown, and not only did she feel masses better for having got organised and created so much free space, she had also made around £300 selling things on Ebay. But wasn’t it really stressful?  She claimed not, and so I decided to get brave and give it a go.

Sorting out my wardrobe didn’t go particularly well. My aim was to get rid of all the size 10 clothes which just make me feel guilty and depressed, but also to lose the size 14 clothes which provide me with a comfort blanket – they’ve allowed me to feel it doesn’t matter if I put a few pounds on here or there, because I can still fit into something. The problem is that since turning 30 those few pounds don’t seem to vanish quite as easily as they once did, and I don’t want to have an entire section of my wardrobe giving them permission to stick around. However, after what I thought was an extremely rigorous cull, I realised that I’d only actually got about 15 items on the ‘to go’ pile, and several of those were in no condition to sell on.

Undaunted, I decided I’d give it a go with what I had. I took photos, and painstakingly uploaded them. I spent over an hour trying to resurrect my Paypal account – since last using it I’d changed name, address, phone number and bank, so I suppose you can hardly blame their systems for being a little sceptical that I was still me. I was beginning to wonder myself by this stage. Finally, I got my items posted.

It went really well for a few days – it was fun checking the number of ‘watches’ and bids coming in. Unfortunately, realisation then struck me. My seven day posting was due to end on the second day of my week’s holiday in Cornwall. Oops. You’d think I might have counted forward when I set it up, but you’d be wrong.

Never mind, I thought. Lots of people can’t get to the post office during the working week. As long as I send them as soon as I get back it’ll be fine. So when we came home, before I’d even unpacked my suitcase, I was getting the sold items ready to parcel up. Then I realised my second mistake. My friend had strongly recommended that I purchase a bulk lot of plastic post bags before my sale came to an end. Of course,being in Cornwall all week, I hadn’t. So there was lots of running round the house hunting out stray jiffy bags and bits of brown paper, which it then took me most of the evening to fashion into acceptable parcels.

I got there in the end, however. Bright and early the next morning I set off to the post office, only to get there and find it closed. I looked from the locked door to the opening hours in bewilderment. It should have been open. I pushed at the solid oak, tentatively at first, and then harder and harder, until I realised I was attracting the attention of passers-by. It was at that point I noticed the small sign saying that this branch was closed due to strike action. It listed ‘nearby’ branches which were open. None of them even remotely qualified as near for someone without a car carrying an enormous and bulky bag of items to be posted.

I went home. I tried, and failed, to send messages to my buyers explaining the situation. Then messages from them started to arrive asking, very nicely, where their items were. After nursery drop-off on Tuesday I set off to distant post office, and finally, after spending 20 minutes queuing (don’t get me started) I got them posted. The relief. It only took another 15 minutes to work out how I changed the status on Ebay to ‘dispatched’, and then I felt I could wash my hands of the whole thing. At that point I worked out that I’d made a grand total of £16 – given that this represented about 7 hours input on my part it was so far below the minimum wage as to be laughable. And even that was counting my chickens too soon.

I’ve since had a message from one of my buyers to say that the shoes were the wrong size – I’d advertised them as 6, and they were actually a 7. I hadn’t even checked. I’m always a size 6, Except, I recalled a little too late, on the very rare occasions where sizes seem to come up small and I buy a 7…

So I’ve wasted another ten minutes this morning composing a grovelling email. I will have to refund the money and the postage, which means that my profit goes down to £8, and I have to try and work out how to refund money on Paypal. I could cry.

The only silver lining is that, although I expect my seller ratings are going to be rather poor – after all, they received the wrong item, inexpertly packaged and late – it doesn’t much matter because in future, if I ever get round to clearing out the rest of my wardrobe, it’s back to Freecycle and the charity shops for me.


  1. How about one day in the summer we leave Anna and James with Nick, and you help me sort my wardrobe, then you can ebay whatever you want and keep the profit?!


  2. If you use Facebook much there is a group called ‘Walthamstow Sell Or Swap!’ which works like local free ads. The group admin people have to accept your request to join but it’s very busy and used by a lot of local parents.


  3. LOL that sounds very familiar- only I thought it was a good idea to have a maternity clothes / pregnancy books clear out with a two week old baby! I mixed up two of the orders and despite the grovelling email I sent, offer to refund money in full and keep the wrong clothes for free, I got some feedback that was so negative it made me cry. I am also a big fan of charity shops these days!


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