Items New Sellers Should Avoid Selling on eBay

woman selling items online on ebay

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One mistake many new eBay sellers make is listing an expensive item for sale before they have any selling experience. Low feedback scores and a recent account open-date signal scammers that you are a new seller, and they are often looking for someone to take advantage of. At the same time, if you list an item that is restricted, not authenticated, or prohibited, you can be suspended from eBay.

Unfortunately, eBay does not accept "I didn't know" as an excuse for listing items that aren't allowed. Learn the rules about eBay selling, get some experience with shipping, and deal with some customer issues before taking on selling items for your friends or family.

Easiest Things to Sell on eBay

When learning to sell on eBay, start small, with inexpensive items around your home. Kitchen items, anything worth $20 or less that is new in the package, toys, mall brand or fast-fashion clothing, holiday decorations, books and media, bedding, and office supplies are good options for beginners.

Once you are higher on the learning curve, add more expensive items. You want to make your mistakes with low-dollar items. And trust me, everyone makes mistakes. 

Until then, here are five items eBay newbies should avoid.

1. Designer Handbags 

First of all, a very large percentage of "designer" handbags out in the world are fake, and eBay does not allow counterfeit items for any reason, even if you add a disclaimer that the bag is designer inspired, a replica, or a knock-off. This is a huge no-no, and your account can be shut down on the first instance.

Familiarize yourself with the eBay policy on replicas, counterfeit items, and unauthorized copies. Another reason to avoid selling designer handbags is that it is an oversaturated category on eBay.

2. Smartphones

In a well-known iPhone scam, a buyer purchases a phone from an inexperienced seller, takes the components out of the phone, states the phone doesn't work and requests a return. Since eBay has a 100 percent satisfaction policy and the item must match the description, every seller has a return policy whether they want one or not. The buyer returns the item, gets a tracking number, and when it is delivered gets a refund. The seller receives a nonworking phone back and is out the money from the purchase.

Buyers want the electronic components of the phone to sell for parts. (Think of stores with "We buy gold" signs; some components of smartphones have gold in them.) If you have an old phone to sell, sell it through Amazon Trade-In, Gazelle, or a Verizon trade-in program, because with them, the sale is guaranteed, you get your money, and there is no risk.

3. Jewelry

Jewelry is risky even for seasoned sellers. Unless you have a receipt and an appraisal, don't sell expensive jewelry with pure gold, silver, or precious gems on eBay until you have more experience and a high feedback score (at least 100). The buyer can state that he received anything, and without proof of the content of the item, the seller won't have a case if a dispute is filed.

Costume jewelry is fine to sell, as long as it is low-value. Unless you are experienced in valuing vintage jewelry, wait until you have more experience with that category, too.

4. Electronics

The electronics scam is much like the iPhone scam. A buyer may claim the item doesn't work or is defective, and eBay usually sides with the buyer in these cases. The buyer may also take parts out of the item and return a defective item that is not resellable. The most common items in these kinds of scams are cameras, computers, tablets, and audio equipment.

Also, don't sell things for other people until you have sold at least 100 items for yourself and have six months of experience on eBay.

5. Expensive Collectibles or Autographed Items

You may have a lovely collectible teapot from your great-grandmother and have it priced too low. An experienced buyer may come along and snag it quickly to resell online or in an antique shop. This happens to seasoned eBay sellers who sell products they aren't used to selling. New eBay sellers are famous for not knowing how to price and unknowingly leaving money on the table.

Autographed items should be authenticated, and eBay has a list of recommended Authentication Services. Check these out before listing anything that needs authenticating. When you sell items that are not authenticated, you run the risk of the buyer stating the item is a fake and eBay refunding them from your PayPal account.

The Bottom Line

The average American household has $7,000-worth of items that can be sold online. New sellers have plenty of items in their homes to sell on eBay. Start with low-dollar items, learn the eBay landscape, and make your beginner mistakes on items that don't cost very much. ​

Updated by Suzanne A. Wells.