Selling on eBay

by Craig Stark

14 June 2010

Using the Best Offer Feature to Your Advantage
Part II

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A question for you. The last time you got dinged with a neg, what was your response? Did it start with a thought, something like, "This is outrageously unfair!" And then near immediately did the thought manifest in your body as anger, perhaps a hot flash in your solar plexus? And then, did you ever do one of the following in the blinding moments or hours after: fire back with a neg of your own (on venues where it was still possible leave one), heatedly compose an angry email and send it off to the buyer or perhaps customer support, and/or come to a forum and vent?

I'm sure all of us have done this sort of thing at least once, but here's a more important question: When you finally cooled off, looked back objectively at what your response accomplished, was the result satisfactory or unsatisfactory? I'm guessing in almost all cases it was the latter - I mean, revenge is not the sort of thing that tends to produce happy outcomes. Chances are you only made things worse.

Another thing I'm sure of is that most sellers who have been doing this for years have learned to manage their responses better. Sometimes this will mean not responding at all until we've cooled off, then approaching things with enough objectivity to do what we can to repair the damage. But I also know that there are some of us who no longer get angry at all when that red number pops up, and then it's possible to respond immediately - and more effectively - because timely responses often produce better outcomes.

My own evolution has pretty much spanned the spectrum. Very early on in my bookselling days negs consistently angered me (not that there were that many!); then I passed into a second stage where I could usually muster enough patience to wait before responding; and now, well, they don't bug me at all. One thing that has really helped me to come to this place is a practice of looking at the reality of the situation. What really happens when you get a neg? I'll tell you what happens to me. I'm sitting in front of this monitor that's displaying miniscule dots that form patterns. I type some things on my keyboard that bring up, say, My eBay, and I notice that the number next to my user name is one less than it was yesterday. I click into that number and then see a red circle with a white dash in it and some words following it.

That's the reality of the situation, plain and simple. And what could be more harmless? You're probably ahead of me here. If there's going to be a problem with this feedback, I'm going to have to manufacture one. Me. Not the buyer who left it. I'm going to have to create a story about it - "This is unfair," for example - and then convince myself that the story is true. Once I believe it to be true, negative feelings will inevitably come up because there is absolutely no believed story that won't manifest in the body, and I'm fast headed for a fall.

I'm taking some time with this because I'm about to offer some suggestions regarding how to effectively use the Best Offer option on eBay. Not a single one of these suggestions will be of any use to you unless you're able to at least manage your responses to the many lowball offers you will inevitably receive, even if this only means waiting until you cool off before you respond to one that's "insultingly" low. I can almost guarantee you that, if you've never used Best Offer before, there are going to be occasions when you take a lowball offer personally and create a story about it.

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Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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