Should you clear cheques before posting goods?

PLUS: Sell vintage collectable dog collars on eBay

PLUS: Buy goods cheap from wholesalers and sell at high prices on eBay

I wish I had a pound for every time someone has asked me this question:

Should you clear cheques before posting goods?

That way I’d probably make more money than I’ve ever lost by posting goods before cheques clear – or don’t clear, as the case might be!

Bounced cheques can be a problem, especially for new eBay sellers who don’t want to celebrate their first few sales – only to find the cheques bounce for goods that have already been sent to winning bidders.

Another problem for newcomers is fearing negative feedback for not delivering goods immediately after payment arrives, even though cheques take up to seven days to clear. (Or to bounce!)

Thankfully, there are ways round the problem. I can honestly say I invariably send goods before payment clears and I’ve only ever been let down twice! For tiny amounts!

My view is that most people are honest, few will bounce cheques, and for small amounts (less than £20 in my books), I always send the goods without clearing payment first. The same goes for payments awaiting clearance through PayPal.

My philosophy has always been that it’s not worth making the honest majority wait for their goods, just because a tiny few payments might be dishonoured.

You need to keep your good customers happy and tempt them to buy from you again – nothing works better than fulfilling orders fast and trusting them to honour their side of the bargain.

That said, if a lot of money is involved or the buyer looks ‘iffy’, I break my own rule and let payment clear first.

With experience, these are the rules I apply, which you are free to copy in your business:

  • Check buyer feedback, look for high feedback scores from other sellers, and search for comments indicating payment disputes.
  • Risk low amounts to new buyers, but not if feedback already indicates a problem customer. For example, I would never send goods without clearing payment for anyone with low feedback and several derogatory comments made by sellers. Be aware, however, no matter how dishonest the buyer and no matter how disgruntled the seller, the seller always has to leave positive feedback or no feedback at all for customers, both criminal and honest. But you can sometimes spot warning messages made by sellers along with their forced positive feedback.
  • Decide a maximum acceptable sum beyond which you will let all monies clear before sending the goods. I use £20, but I will go much higher for buyers with good feedback who have been registered on eBay for more than a few months, and for anyone with whom I have already had a trouble-free transaction.
  • Bear in mind, banks charge you when payment fails, unlike PayPal where you won’t be charged. I recommend PayPal for all your transactions.
  • There is one time I don’t clear cheques before sending the goods. It’s when someone buys and before the cheque arrives that person begins hassling me about delivery times or, worse still, threatens negative feedback if I don’t get the product to them fast. In my experience payment from people like that has always failed.

Sell vintage collectable dog collars on eBay

Dogs have long been man’s best friend and many popular collectibles have developed from their relationship. One of the most highly priced and highly prized on eBay is dog collars.

The rarest and most expensive British collars date from the 15th to 18th centuries and were usually made from iron with spikes to protect working and hunting dogs from being savaged by wolves and boars. Most such collars were highly unattractive, more functional than decorative, but can be worth up to £2,000 each. Compare this to collars made in Austria and Germany which were ornately carved from precious metals and packed with rare jewels, serving mainly as status symbols and also worth high prices today.

Like almost every old and modern canine collectible, you’ll rarely find dog collars going unsold on eBay, even at grossly inflated prices, making this a great product to target individually or as part of an overall doggy-related venture – selling vintage canine memorabilia alongside modern items like dog beds, kennels and recent manufacture dog collars for practical or decorative purposes.

Despite the fact some early specimens are valued in hundreds or thousands of pounds, they can sometimes be found at offline auctions, especially country sales and auctions disposing of farming and family estates extending back over several generations.

For example, a dog collar I saw recently at a country house sale in Darlington went for £50, against a possible value of several hundred pounds for similar items spotted in Miller’s Collectables Price Guide.

Sadly, I knew nothing of the potential of that collar which went to a dog-loving individual, not a dealer, and doubtless a far higher price could be achieved by targeting a world packed with dog lovers, on eBay, where recently:

  • An antique English dog collar from Cromer Hall in Norfolk went for £77.55. The seller added a neat touch that must surely have increased value and interest in the collar, by mentioning Cromer Hall as the place Sir Arthur Conan Doyle visited while researching The Hound of the Baskervilles. Apparently he also used Cromer Hall as the backdrop for the book. Consequently the collar appealed not only to dog lovers but also to Conan Doyle devotees and topographically to Cromer Hall and Norfolk enthusiasts.
  • A sterling silver dog collar engraved ‘1938’ and apparently used for greyhounds fetched $356.99.
  • A leather dog collar with pouch for messages carried by dogs on active service during World War II fetched $246.50.
  • Even books about collectable dog collars fetch staggering prices on eBay in the UK, notably Four Centuries of Dog Collars at Leeds Castle, published in 1979, which recently fetched £123, £100, and several lower but nonetheless very attractive prices. If you can afford it, the book is well worth buying for a wealth of fabulous pictures and articles to help you describe and value dog collars on eBay. In itself the book can only grow in value, should you decide to sell it later, making it a very good alternative investment.

Tips

  • Premium prices are fetched for collars with names and other engravings, especially for well-known owners and rare accomplishments – as well as of local topographical interest. Collars engraved with place names and well-known owners fetch the highest prices at auctions close to their area of origin. So a collar engraved, for example, ‘Towser, William Jones, Gateshead’, bought in London, might be expected to fetch more when re-auctioned in Tyneside (yes, you should consider selling at local auction as well as online), but it should fetch even higher profits on eBay.
  • Many early collars are decorated with motifs and symbols pertaining to a specific era, which greatly benefits the dating process.
  • Dog collars are often wrongly identified as collars worn by prisoners or slaves – which are actually much rarer and more valuable than collars worn by dogs. But there’s good news for anyone able to identify the more uncommon slave and prisoner collars from items selling mistakenly and undervalued as dog collars, and then selling those items with more accurate descriptions on eBay.
  • Leeds Castle in Kent has the world’s largest collection of vintage dog collars. It is a great place to learn more about this tight niche market and help value your acquisitions.

Buy goods cheap from wholesalers and sell at high prices on eBay

Wholesalers typically offer products in bulk at a significant discount on retail value, and represent one of the easiest ways to locate products with regular high profit potential on eBay.

They deal with trade only, because selling to private will alienate them from commercial buyers. That’s the reason most wholesalers ask for proof of trading status before allowing you to enter their premises. As an eBay seller, you can prove your business status by creating your own letterhead or business card in Microsoft Word and adding your business name and eBay ID. Alternatively, open a business bank account, have your cheque book printed with your eBay ID or formal business name, and use that to gain entry.

Most people think wholesalers operate from huge warehouses in major towns and cities, which many actually do, but there are numerous other places to locate high-profit goods in bulk at massive discounts.

You can obtain virtually any product from wholesalers, even antiques and collectibles, but sometimes excluding designer brands, whose makers prefer to sell direct to the public through approved retailers.

Because so many items are available from wholesalers – some specialising, others selling countless different goods – you can research any product fetching regular high profits on eBay, then obtain just one sample to test the market and later decide whether to purchase goods in bulk to add to your permanent inventory.

Whichever way you look at it, buying goods inexpensively from wholesalers and reselling them on eBay is one of the easiest and most problem-free ways to make money online.

Now then, haven’t I just given you a whole bundle of ideas to work with? So go get started and I’ll send you more profitable information next week.

This article first appeared on Auction Genie. Read more and comment here