eBay is, without a doubt, the crowned king of person to person commerce.  There are downsides to eBay though, which most regular users gripe about.  Bloated shipping prices from sellers, which eBay has tried to regulate, fraud, several hour delay until your auction is live on the site, the almost exclusive use of Paypal for payments and of course the biggest complaint, fees.

This is the most current chart from eBay’s fees for selling page.  This is only the final value fee, the insertion fee is of course more, but not terribly out of line.  If you watch your eBay messages, they often offer no-fee insertions about once every 3-5 weeks.  The final value fee doesn’t account for certain sales, like automobiles, or for fixed value buy-it-now auctions, nor does it include listing add-on’s like extra photos, gallery submission or featured items.

Paypal is fully integrated into eBay, and perhaps one of the smartest business decisions eBay made was to buy them.  The added time to mail a check and the risk of it bouncing, coupled with so many bogus wire-transfer scams has made Paypal the de facto standard for receiving payment for auctions on eBay.  There is of coarse, more fees! If you do under $3,000 in total payments received with Paypal monthly, you can expect to pay 2.9% + 30c per transaction.

If you listed an item during eBay’s no-fee to list time, and that item sold for $100 you could expect to net $91 after eBay fees.  Even if you padded your shipping costs a little, Paypal takes their cut from the total payment.  If you charged $6 to mail something, Paypal is taking 2.9% + 30c of $106, or another $3.37 gone in fees.  It works out to being nearly 10% in fees, and that’s assuming you got a free listing and didn’t pay for any additional photos or add-ons.  Worse, you still need to box the item and take it somewhere to be mailed, consuming time, gas and shipping supplies.

Many who would have normally sold on eBay are now turning to Craigslist to sell their goods, and for good reasons!  Craigslist is free for nearly everything you’d expect to sell, with some exceptions.  They will host four photos, again for free and even mask your email address.  The ads run for weeks, and you can always relist with them.  Most all transactions are done in person and in cold hard cash. Craigslist is also a far better choice to sell items that can’t easily be shipped, like furniture or lawn mowers, or for items that might need a second opinion on, like expensive watches and jewelery.

Craigslist does have some down-faults compared to eBay though.  Not everyone wants a stranger to come to their home.   Moreover, you’re targeted buyer will be much smaller compared to the global connections eBay finds, and some buyers may ask you to meet them half way if they are a good distance away, but interested.  Still, these downsides are all the price you pay for not having to pay all the fees to use eBay.

What eBay does have going for it that seems to be the exact opposite on Craigslist, is multiple people willing to pay, raise and keep raising your current offer.  eBay is an auction format, and you ultimately hope to attract several people with a moderate to low starting price so that they can bid against each other to get the item the highest value.  Craigslist seems to work the exact opposite.  It’s near common practice for buyers to offer sellers half of what they are asking for items.  Rude yes, but everyone wants a deal.  You need to be keen on what the current value of your item is and how quickly you need to sell it in order to get the highest value from Craigslist.  There is one important caveat here though, that eBay simply can’t offer.   Barter and trade is alive and well!  If you are looking to get rid of one thing and willing to trade for another, Craigslist is the place to make the swap happen.

As eBay continues to raise fees along with Paypal, and the USPS, UPS and FedEx carriers follow, local, person-to-person sales will continue to flourish.  Craigslist doesn’t appear to be in a position to cash in on the transactions being made, as that would require more administration and some sort of similar feedback program.  eBay was, and will continue to be a dominate force on the Internet for p2p commerce, but they may be pushing all their sellers away with the increasing fees without more and better services.