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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 August 2005, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Have online auctions boosted your wealth?
Have you cashed in from online auctions?

More than 50,000 people are currently making money through online trading and more than 4bn of trading is likely to be carried out on eBay alone this year, the Centre for Economic and Business Research said.

The report said websites had increased the value of second hand goods by providing a platform for advertising them and maximising their sale price.

Would you consider using an online auction site to sell your unwanted possessions? If you have already used an online auction site did you find the experience profitable or painful? What have you sold?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

It is very easy to get carried away as things are cheap
J Hodgson, Swindon, UK
EBay in particular is brilliant for finding things like videos and DVD's that you can no longer get in the shops. However, it is very easy to get carried away as things are cheap and you can often end up spending more than you intended especially when you are keen for an item and the bidding keeps going up. Care does need to be taken.
J Hodgson, Swindon, UK

This is absolute rubbish, boosted household wealth? People want things for nothing on eBay and wait until the last minute when bidding. The whole bidding concept does not work. And anyway, it's only proper traders who make money. 3000 per household? Nothing to do with households.
Andy Budgell, Salisbury

Although eBay is great for finding rare items that shops no longer stock, the costs for selling are too high: Paypal is owned by eBay so why are you paying them twice as a seller for auction fees and receiving payment? Also, there should be a 'Report this auction' link on each item, there are far too many pirate DVDs, CDs and software freely visible and accessible and eBay does nothing about them when you report them!
Louise, Lincoln, UK

I tried eBay a couple of months ago, and found it a waste of money - 6-20 for a basic advert, and the only interest I had was from people who messaged me wanting to pay half-price. I wasn't even being greedy - I was only asking for the face-price of the tickets (not even the booking or handling charges). Still, REM were great and we had a spare seat either side of us for our drinks!
Lee, Hebburn, England

They have boosted my capital worth, because I've bought so many very good things very cheaply. I now plan to sort out my cupboards and make cash by selling what I don't need. Well done eBay.
Michael Scott, East Sussex

I started a business a few years ago buying machinery tools, etc and selling them on eBay in my spare time. I have learned a lot about buying/selling and made a very healthy profit at the same time. It is hard work at times, constantly watching auctions to buy items to sell on again and I find a lot of time is used wrapping posting, etc. The people I have met through eBay is fantastic too. There are a few rogue traders who want to make a quick scam and I feel that new members should be vetted better. But 99% of transactions I have had are great.
Stephen McDermott, Glasgow Scotland

I am uneasy that there is a hidden ecological price in the continent-sized mound of packaging materials
Adam, London
eBay is marvellous and I use it often. But I am uneasy that there is a hidden ecological price in the continent-sized mound of packaging materials going into this new market. This is a feature of all internet shopping but for how long can we have the luxury of pouring bubble wrap and polystyrene beads into the ecosystem?
Adam, London

My parents had a garage sale right before eBay existed. They sold an autographed book by Zane Grey, the author of books on the American west, for half a dollar. My brother looked up the value of the book at a shop and it was over four hundred dollars. This mistake would not have happened on an online auction because the market of knowledgeable buyers is greater and the market drives the price.
Jeremy, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

My dad recently dusted down a second hand canoe bought for 30 twelve years ago and sold it for 230 via eBay. Thanks to this website and its peers there is now a huge market for anything and everything.
Alan, London

I have made several hundred pounds selling books on Amazon. It is much simpler to use than eBay. I now buy all my books on Amazon, and I'm buying many more than I ever did before. I treat it almost as a library, selling books once I've read them. I had a twinge of guilt about no longer patronising my local bookshop but it's a chain and it's rubbish. Despite this happy experience, I'm still too scared to use eBay.
Sylvia, Redhill, UK

In the past year, I have made over 1,000 selling unwanted goods on eBay
Emma, Leeds
In the past year, I have made over 1,000 selling unwanted goods on eBay. Goods that I would have otherwise given away or thrown away. Saying that, it wouldn't surprise me if I'd also bought 1,000 worth of goods over eBay too.
Emma, Leeds

EBay has given me back my cupboards, joined a lot of goods I didn't want any more to people who did want them and paid for my home recording studio. Buyers decide the right price rather than shops making super profits.
Phil Gardiner, N Wales

I have bought and sold on e-Bay. It started as a cheap way to get maternity clothes and finished with me selling on my son's outgrown items as he grew. I have not had any problems with buyers, sellers, postage etc. I saved all my sales money and it paid for the children's Christmas presents last year, although they did come from retailers not eBay!!
Nina, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire

I have been selling on eBay for some years and found it excellent, particularly for disposing of some of my late mother's possessions. Not only do you receive money for unwanted items but also you are giving people the opportunity to buy cheaply. It is also ideal for buyers who cannot access shops easily.
Margaret, Guildford, Surrey

Anything that does not sell then goes to the charity shop
Andrew, Staines
I have been buying and selling items on eBay for 5 years now. Like some people who have commented I sold a lot of my stuff I no longer wanted and found a few hidden gems along the way. I also do some up-front research to see if other people are selling the same items as I want to and how much people are willing to pay for them. Anything that does not sell then goes to the charity shop!
Andrew, Staines

We get a great deal of pleasure as well as some ready cash selling items on eBay. And it's not only our own unwanted possessions but also items we find at auctions and boot sales. My previously IT-illiterate husband has had to learn new skills he never thought he would need at the age of 68 and it's given him a new and profitable interest in life.
Glyn, Telford

I am relatively new to the joys of eBay, but have quickly discovered that the things gathering dust in my cupboard can easily gather cash on eBay. Having tried to sell many things at car boots, I now sell from the comfort and warmth of my own home. My kids clothes that have only been worn a few times no longer go in the charity bag, I sell them on eBay! I encourage everyone to have a go!
Nicky, Northampton, UK

EBay is great fun. I used to go out early Sundays to pick up bargains at the boot sales (amazing what some people sell for next to nothing), check the items over for defects and damage and list them with an honest description on eBay that night. By the weekend following I turned 50 into 150. Not so good now - too many people trying to get something for nothing. My wife regularly buys on eBay, often getting things much less than elsewhere. You have to be careful, but you soon develop a sense for what is kosher and what isn't. I have bought as many dodgy goods in the high street as I have on eBay.
Andrew, Newmarket, Suffolk

Avoid buying anything that can be counterfeited
Sarah, Tottenham, London
Avoid buying anything that can be counterfeited. I ended up buying fake perfume from a perfume seller on eBay. I have tried to get a refund back from the seller and now have involved PayPal in the dispute. However, in both cases the onus is on me to prove it's a fake by obtaining written prove from a third-party. Can I be bothered in spending precious time in tracking down a third-party willing to help me, especially after I purchased on eBay to avoid taking timeout to go to the shops in the first place.
Sarah, Tottenham, London

A modern day complaint about children is that they are very spoilt with too many toys. However, it shouldn't be forgotten that we all have too many things in our home compared to previous generations. All too often, they are unused and neglected. About a year ago I joined millions of others and started selling my neglected excess material goods and am now hundreds of pounds richer thanks to eBay! As well as the money, it is nice to know that something that I no longer want is being enjoyed by someone else. A true win-win situation!
Ray Colenutt, Newton Abbot, Devon

To raise money for his adventure trip, my son (then aged 13) and I sold some of my old Meccano parts, which had lingered in the shed for years. I managed the listings, but he did everything else - photography, packing, accounting, etc. As well as raising over 300 for his holiday, he's gained good practical insight into some aspects of commerce and business.
Michael, Reading, UK

A few months ago I filled three bags with old clothing to give to a charity. When the charity shop was closed, I decided to take some photos and list some of the items on eBay. I got rid of everything in the bags and made nearly 300. Someone even bought an empty mobile phone box for 5!
Robin, St Albans, Hertfordshire

I wonder how charity shops like Oxfam etc have been affected
Mark, London
I wonder how charity shops like Oxfam etc have been affected by this. They would probably have received some quite valuable items at their shops in the past, however, now people are probably more likely to sell those on eBay or similar.
Mark, London

I have to disagree with the earlier comments of eBay not being regulated and the lack of protection. There are strict guidelines for selling items on eBay and a lot of the responsibility for reporting abuses falls to the eBay community. I know that items are regularly pulled when they breach these regulations. As for protection, there is feedback system for all sellers and buyers which can be used to determine the reliability of any seller/buyer, and for those who choose to pay via PayPal, the added buyer protection on goods up to 500 for a lot of the sellers. For anybody who has not used online auction sites, I would say, "take the plunge"!
Chris Nichols, Peterborough, England

I have been successfully buying and selling on eBay for about a year. I have sold most of my collection of 12" vinyl singles. Some have sold for small amounts but some have sold for more. I have made a profit on what I've sold, even taking into account postage and packaging. It's a great way to sell unwanted items that are not making any money sitting in your house!
Linda, Ealing, London, UK

I started buying and re-selling musical instruments on eBay about a year ago for something to do. Within six months I made a net profit of 1,200 which helped pay for a car. If you want to use eBay to make money then I'd recommend it, but bear in mind that you need to know your market quite well (and don't forget eBay fees and postage costs etc). The great thing about internet auction sites is that they allow you to study your market, before you start trading, for free.
Andy, Cheadle, Staffs

EBay is a fantastic site, I have bought and sold many items on there for a couple of years now. It has helped me find a deleted CD I had been looking for for five years, a childhood game from the 80s that has been discontinued and a Disney ornament that I couldn't even get in the States. And I pay for those items by selling old DVDs and videos I no longer want - long live eBay and PayPal!!
Kirsty, East Sussex, UK

Having recently put my house up for sale and deciding to empty the loft, I started photographing and listing 10 items at a time on eBay. Wow! Is all I can say! Everything fetched good money and I even had an old non-working digital camera that was advertised as such and fetched 50! I've earned some good money that otherwise would have gone in the bin! EBay has really helped me and also helps recycling efforts!
Mark Hepworth, Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire

We haven't made much money but we have been able to pass unusual things onto others who wouldn't be able to find them anywhere else without paying a fortune...and its reduced the amount of stuff we're putting into landfill!
Sue, Swansea, UK

I have normally found the goods cheaper elsewhere
Simon, London
I think items on eBay are expensive. High reserve prices and competing bidders means that the buyer is at a disadvantage - I have normally found the goods cheaper elsewhere.
Simon, London

I started off by buying a few things on eBay but a few months ago ventured into selling. I think it's absolutely fantastic and so much better to recycle things you no longer want than to throw them in the bin. Any money I make is a bonus and does help us out. It's a great hobby and even though it can be quite time-consuming, is worth the effort. All this and you don't even have to come into contact with other people - bonus!
Emma, Feltham, England

I have recently started using eBay, and what has surprised me is that it works even for bulky/low value items on a local basis (such as furniture and children's bikes). There is now such a critical mass of users that it replaces the post office window and the small ads as a means of passing on unwanted property.
Mathew, Cambridge

I use eBay occasionally. Mainly to sell old videos and CDs. I was rather baffled as to why anyone would pay 10 for a Robbie Williams single but....
Lianne, Manchester

I have started up a viable small business using a shop on eBay. I make everything myself and sell it to an army of customers - as far away as the US Virgin islands and Australia. I have minimal overheads, and an extremely wide audience. I would love to turn my virtual shop into bricks and mortar one day, but until someone can provide me with a high street that stretches from one side of the world to the other via my living room - I'll carry on with my virtual shop on eBay!
Rachel, Reading, Berks, UK

I guess if you like jumble sales and car boot sales then this is the geeks variant.
tom, Ipswich, UK

E-bay is fantastic for getting rid of unwanted items. Until you get scammed. I have attempted to sell an item three times only to be hit by scammers right at the last second. E-bay need to put proper checks in place to prevent people losing trust in what is a truly a great concept!
Scott, Kent

I have made loads of money selling a multitude of different items
Jean, Devon
Yes, I have made loads of money selling a multitude of different items. I have also bought lots of cheap items and never had a problem yet.
Jean, Devon

I have always had an interest in antiques and have, over the past few years turned a small hobby into a business through eBay. I have now been working for my first month as a fulltime eBayer having left my job in the city as a computer expert. In getting involved with eBay I have managed to get a good reputation and many repeat buyers which would take years to do using traditional methods of dealing antiques. Lots of antique dealers have heralded the coming of eBay as the death of the antique market but I couldn't disagree more, its simply changed the way people buy.
Matt, London

No. My wealth has diminished since using online auctions. And I have a garage full of junk to prove it.
David, Cornwall, UK

You have the catalogue of the world on hand
Richard, Northampton
Take it from the buyer's perspective, on most occasions I can find what I'm looking for. More often than not eBayers are first class, and generally I get the goods within days. You have the catalogue of the world on hand, and you don't have to leave your lounge!
Richard, Northampton

I've sold loads of items on eBay including many breakable items. I'm pleased to say that everything has arrived on time and in one piece. I first started selling my belongings when I was skint and couldn't afford to buy Christmas presents. I was amazed to raise 500 for selling a few figurines. Since then I've sold nearly everything that I don't either use or look at any more. It's great to de-clutter and raise some cash at the same time! Good fun too
Jo, Tonbridge, Kent

I have used eBay for several years, both to sell unwanted goods and to purchase antiques. In the main, I have found it rewarding, as well as enjoyable and have made a number of friends with traders from whom I have purchased goods. Many sellers are professional dealers who value their reputation, but I have also experienced those selling fakes. Don't forget the thrill of the auction, not something you get from a high street purchase. Enjoy but buyer beware is my advice.
Karen Taylor, London

I agree with Andy, eBay certainly isn't cost free to sellers, with eBay taking a cut of about 5% and then taking a further cut of 4% if the buyer uses PayPal to pay the seller. For buyers, things are worse - most sellers charge vastly overpriced postage costs. That said, there still isn't a good alternative to eBay and I will continue to use it on a daily basis until there is!
Al, Scunthorpe

I have used eBay 84 times to date and had only 2 bad experiences, which is a better record than I've had with many high street shops. It has been fun, I've saved a lot of money, I've recycled and given a good home to many outgrown children's items, and the goods I've purchased have raised my standard of living substantially.
Peter, Maidenhead, Berks

It keeps the house tidy and gives money for buying other things
Emily, Hampshire
I use eBay all the time to clear out unwanted books and DVDs and I find it very useful for this. I don't think it will work for making people millions from selling this kind of thing but it keeps the house tidy and gives money for buying other things. EBay is great for getting hard to come by items you just can't find anywhere else. As for bad experiences there will always be one or two people who don't pay but that's not eBay's fault nor a true representation of those people who use eBay all the time.
Emily, Hampshire

Thanks to these online auction sites, we can again be a nation of shopkeepers. I use a popular auction site. It's great fun, easy and a very good way to get rid of unwanted stuff - a lot warmer than a car boot sale.
Paul Gale, Southampton, Hampshire

I've been selling unwanted bits and pieces on eBay for years now. I've now learned not to sell things that are easily breakable as postage is too much of a pain in the neck. There's also a minimum value where it's worth the journey to the post office. Anything that would be awkward to sell on eBay still goes to the charity shops!
Stephen Casey, Surrey, UK

Selling on eBay is only "cost-free" if you assume that the items are worthless without it! I have sold a few small unwanted items and eBay/PayPal charges have been about 8-10% of the sale price. More importantly it certainly isn't "effort-free". It takes a while to get your advert up (eg photos, writing a description and defining the advert options). Then you have to pack and take the item to be posted. Is it worth it financially? Certainly not. Why do it? Well for me personally, it is better than just throwing things in the bin that I no longer want.
Andy, Glasgow

My wife regularly sells things on eBay. One of the impacts is that she now thinks about the potential resale value of the goods she buys on the high street. We've been doing this for years with cars, but is it now time for someone to publish a guide to second hand handbags? Let's see how Louis Vuitton depreciates!
Duncan, Birmingham

I had hundreds of old CDs lying unlistened to in boxes. So, I took the plunge and started selling on eBay. While most sold for a couple of pounds, some hidden gems fetched as much as 80! The result is that my music collection is now dispersed across the globe, and, I had some extra holiday spending money. The only real downside is relying on the postal service - I have had some items go missing.
Mark Gourley, Hillsborough, N Ireland

Such sites have been subject to abuse for people running small businesses under the taxman's radar
Jacqueline, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire
I personally would not use a site like eBay or any other auction site as there is little to no regulation of goods sold on there. As a buyer there is little protection and recently such sites have been subject to abuse for people running small businesses under the taxman's radar as well as the increase and seemingly acceptability of ticket touting on such sites.
Jacqueline, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Jacqueline's comments are typical of many people's view of eBay but the fact is that it's not eBay that causes people to dodge tax and tout tickets at all - they still dodge tax and tout tickets in markets or on the street. None of this is a reason to not use such a brilliant and global system for selling and/or running a business. Yes, you should pay tax on profits if you have to, but it's your responsibility to take care of that whether you use an auction site or you sell through a newspaper advert. Don't knock eBay - it's not their fault.
Joseph, Basingstoke

One man's junk is another man's treasure. EBay is a fantastic medium to find the person that has been dying for your item. Although the postal service often lets you down, this does not detract from the joy of making money out of an item that has previously gathered dust. On the reverse side, you can buy almost anything on eBay or other auction sites ensuring that those childhood toys you want are always available!
Gareth Johnson, Newcastle, Tyne and Wear

I started selling on eBay last November and once I'd found my niche market in my first month my turnover was 1,000. It takes some effort to sustain that level, more so to increase it long-term, in addition to full time job and family, and a proportion is re-invested. However, it has kept our heads above water financially every month since and once you get the hang of it is not too difficult either. Excellent customer service is also essential.
Lynda Hill, Lewes, UK


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