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How to Sell Your Gadgets on eBay Without Getting Ripped Off



We’ve given you some tips in the past about buying gadgets on eBay, but what if you’re selling them? Getting rid of your old gadgets can be dead easy, especially if you use a trade-in program at a store (but we don’t recommend that). To get the most out of selling your old gadgets, posting them on eBay is a good way to go, but there are a few things you should know before diving in.

Contrary to popular belief, sellers on eBay are just as prone to being ripped off as buyers are, so when you’re selling your used gear on eBay, it’s important to have all of your bases covered so that a buyer doesn’t try to come back and rip you off using some sort of clever loophole.

Here are a few things to keep in mind the next time you sell an old iPhone, iPad or Android device on eBay.


Accurately Describe Your Item

When you go to write down a description of the device you’re selling, it’s imperative that you accurately describe it down to the tee. If there’s a small dent on the corner of the device, be sure to mention it.

Since buyers on eBay have a lot of power, they can easily file a claim under “Item not as described” and easily get their money back, while you’re left with an unsold gadget that you wasted time trying to sell.

To avoid this, be sure to write an accurate and detail description of the device you’re selling, and if potential buyers ask you questions about it, it’s a good idea to update your listing with that answered question, because many other potential buyers might have the same question as well.

Keep Shipping Receipts

When you go to ship your item to the buyer, make sure you keep all receipts and proofs of shipment. One trick that buyers like to play on eBay sellers is claiming that they never received the item, and without a proof of shipment, a seller can’t defend themselves and will be forced to refund the money back to the buyer.


I’m personally not exempt from such experiences, and I’ve had claims that the item I shipped never arrived. The funds were put on hold (over $400) until I could prove that I shipped the item. Easily enough, I uploaded a copy of the shipping receipt that I had and PayPal eventually closed the claim and gave me my money back. If I had thrown away the receipt, there’d be no way I could get that money back, and I’d be out $400.

Buy Shipping Insurance for Expensive Items

If you’re simply just shipping a cheap old phone that you sold for $50, it’s probably not worth a whole lot to get insurance for and pay extra for it, compared to an iPad that you sold for $300. For these kinds of items, it’s a good idea to buy shipping insurance for a few extra dollars.

USPS, UPS and FedEx all provide free insurance up to a certain declared value (around $100), but if the item is worth more, you’ll have to pay a few bucks extra. Essentially, shipping insurance allows you to get your money back if the item gets lost or damaged in the mail.

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However, there’s fine print that you should be aware of when getting shipping insurance. First, the USPS, UPS and FedEx all have their own terms and conditions when it comes to shipping insurance, but they all usually have a list of items that they don’t cover. They also don’t cover insured items that are packaged improperly. They don’t detail this at all and it’s probably up to their discretion whether or not something is packaged improperly, so this is something to be aware of.

Remember: eBay Sides with Buyers 99% of the Time

Unfortunately, just being a seller on eBay puts you at a disadvantage, since eBay has more policies that protect buyers. Sellers are protected to, but buyers ultimately have the upper hand. This is why you need to take precaution when you sell something on eBay and have all of your bases covered.

This won’t protect you 100% because buyers can always find loopholes to rip off sellers, and if they complain enough to eBay, the seller will be forced to refund the money while the buyer can keep the item. If it sounds messed up, that’s because it is, and it’s why many sellers turn to Craigslist or sell only to people they know in the area.



  1. Laurie Spinney

    04/09/2014 at 7:51 am

    Hi Craig,

    I read your article about Ebay sellers getting ripped off. I have been a seller since 07/08 and find that no matter how smart I think I am about protecting myself so that I don’t get ripped off, it still happens.

    This past Christmas I took every penny I made from fall sales and ran out and bought up a bunch of looms for making bracelets which was the hot item for the year. I special ordered them as they were selling out everywhere. I also picked up other things to sell that are usually sure bets to sell during the holidays. Well, the orders poured in and I shipped everything within 24 hours of their payments so I’d be sure they’d get them before Christmas. I always offer free shipping and tracking on almost anything I sell so that gave me a sense of security because I could track the packages just in case someone wanted to pull a fast one on me. Everything was going great until…I started getting messages from lots of buyers saying they never got their packages. It started out with one which made me scratch my head because I actually recall dropping that package off at the post office myself. Then I was bombarded with the same complaint, over and over again.

    I started researching the individual tracking numbers and all but one had not been scanned at all, ever, by the post office! I paid an extra buck and they couldn’t be bothered to wave their little postage wand over the barcode. Coincidently, those were the people claiming they never got their packages. One was a big order and the post office delivered it to a different town in the correct state???? The end of this sad story is as follows:

    10 Looms x $15.00 my cost. Sold for 25.00 each which came to $250.00.

    Free shipping $3.50 x 10 packages= $35.00 my cost

    Boxes, packing supplies, labels, etc. my cost $5.00 for 10

    REFUNDS $25.00 x 10, there goes my $15.00 cost per item, my $10.00 profit per item, my $3.50 shipping expense per item, and another loss of $5 for packing supplies. None of this factors in any cost of gas or labor of any kind.

    This whole ordeal cost ME $290.00!!!!

    I could go on about all the other items I sold that ended this same way but I’m exhausted just reliving the experience. Christmas basically cost me almost $500.00. I may as well have stood on my roof and made paper airplanes out the money I lost. That at least would have been kinda fun.

    So I wanted to give the USPS a big high-five for not scanning and magically making my packages disappear into thin air and for giving my dishonest customers an awesome loophole to rip me off in a huge way. I also want to thank Ebay for the packages that WERE scanned and were delivered to a different address (because the customers had moved and didn’t update their address) giving them a FULL REFUND AND letting them keep the item as well. And a special thanks to the woman from India named “Sue” for suspending my Ebay account because I was late on my December bill due to losing so much money from granting all these people refunds. It’s nice to see Ebay stand behind a seller that has 1,435 positive feedback scores, is a power seller, and had “Top Rated Seller” status for a year until you shut me down.

    Well, that’s my story Craig. I’m ashamed to say I paid my bill and am still selling on Ebay because it’s a real “job” for me. I will soon be expanding on to Amazon but I doubt their policies are any better. It really sucks to have to work, huh?

    Laurie Spinney

  2. iOS Tips - Everything About iOS

    04/10/2014 at 10:45 am

    Great post, I really appreciate your efforts you have put in writing this great quality post.

  3. George

    07/13/2016 at 5:03 am

    When I drop items at my post office, I make sure they give me a receipt as I am standing at the counter. Therefore, they have to run the magic wand over each barcode on each package. I never use the usps free pickup or drop off the package without getting a receipt. The receipt proves the post office received the items.

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