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7 Tips for Sellers
You're prohibited from auctioning illegal goods; some auction sites have further prohibitions on sales of other items. While many auction sites monitor to ensure that illegal items are not being offered, the responsibility for ensuring that a sale is legal rests with the seller and buyer. Some auction sites post a list of prohibited items.
You are required to ship merchandise within the time frame specified during the auction, or within 30 days, if a time frame is not specified. If you can't meet the shipping commitment, you must give the buyer an opportunity to agree to the new shipping date or cancel the order for a full refund. To learn more about your responsibilities when shipping products, see A Business Guide to the Federal Trade Commission's Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule.
* Anticipate questions buyers might have and address them in the description of your item or service.
* When possible, include a photograph of the item. There's much truth to the saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words."
* Specify the minimum bid you're willing to accept.
* Specify who will pay for shipping, and whether you'll ship internationally.
* State your return policy, including who's responsible for paying shipping costs or restocking fees if the item is returned.
* Let prospective bidders know whether you provide follow-up service; if you don't, tell them where they can get it.
* When the auction closes, print all information about the transaction, including the buyer's identification; a description of the item; and the date, time, and price of the bid. Save a copy of every email you send and receive from the auction site or the successful bidder.
* Contact the successful buyer as soon after the auction closes as possible; confirm the final cost, including shipping charges, and tell the buyer where to send payment.
* If a buyer insists on using a particular escrow or online payment service that you've never heard of, check it out by visiting its website or calling its customer service line. If there isn't one, or if you call and can't reach someone, don't use the service. If the service claims to be affiliated with a government agency, that's a sign of a scam.
* Before agreeing to use an online payment or escrow service, read the terms of agreement. If it's an online payment service, find out who pays for credit card charge backs or transaction reversal requests if the buyer seeks them.
* Don't use an online escrow service that does not process its own transactions, but that requires you to set up accounts with online payment services. Legitimate escrow services never do this.
* Check with the Better Business Bureau, state attorney general, or consumer protection agency — where you live and where the online payment or escrow service is based — to see whether any unresolved complaints are on file against the service. But remember that a lack of complaints doesn't guarantee that the service has no problems.
If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank, or a bank with a local branch. That way, you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that's not possible, call the bank the check was drawn from and ask if it is valid. Get the bank's phone number from directory assistance or an Internet site that you know and trust, not from the person who gave you the check.
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