An eBay Army of One …… A Day in the Life of

Posted on July 3, 2008. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , , , , , |

eBay has proudly touted their statistics claiming the large number of people in the United States who are “earning their living” by selling on eBay.  What they have failed to mention is that selling on eBay is a tough job that requires each seller must be an “Army of One” – one seller who must face the challenges alone with no help from eBay and where the enemy sometimes is eBay itself. 
The battle to survive on eBay, where sellers are faced with the ever-changing eBay landscape, the abuses of the VERO program, the fraudulent and scammer buyers who are allowed to run rampant, the PayPal injustices, and the inconsistent application of the eBay rules which are rarely announced, make it necessary for sellers to be on the defensive 24/7. 
Having served two tours in the Middle East, I can honestly say that most days I would rather be fighting Al-Qaeda than fighting to make a living on eBay.  
Full-time sellers on eBay are each as unique as the product they sell so no two sellers have the exact same experiences on eBay.  This blog post describes MY typical day as an eBay seller (and fortunately for me I am also an Amazon seller as well as the owner of my own ecommerce websites). 
4:30 am – 5:30 am   
Wake, run & exercise, shower, make coffee.
Note: My “coffee” consists of 8 cups of espresso (that is REALLY strong coffee)
5:30 am – 6:30 am    
Start with the good news first by checking the orders that came in for our ecommerce websites and for Amazon.  Wonderful orders from both.  Life is good.  Turn the music on in the background and enjoy the moment.
Time for eBay assessment for the day 
1. Review Seller Dashboard  – No policy violations noted today for eBay”s announced or unannounced policies.  Search Standing downgraded overnight to “Standard”.  Who knows why?
2. Look at Feedback  – One neutral received from a newbie because we didn’t ship an item to an address that the post office declared to be incorrect and paypal stated was unconfirmed.  Despite 4 emails and 3 phone calls where we left voicemail messages telling the buyer that we needed confirmation of an address because the address appears to be incorrect.  A quick review of the buyer’s recent feedback left shows numerous neutrals and negatives given to sellers who did not ship.
3. Scan Items with bids  – One eBayer has placed 14 separate bids despite the block we have limiting the number of items to 10 that one person could bid on at any given time without prior approval (perhaps another eBay glitch?).  A quick review of the feedback the buyer has left in the last 30 days shows 27 negatives left for sellers, some of them sellers’ names that I recognize.  All Stop.  Quick drink of coffee in preparation for some fast work.  Buyer blocked then buyers’ bids on all 14 items are cancelled — no bulk way to cancel so it takes a few minutes. 
4. Review all known blogs, bulletin boards, and announcement pages to determine what new information was released – Just the usual spin by eBay owned sites and the usual reports of negative publicity about eBay from everyone else.
5. Review all incoming emails from vendors – One manufacturer has announced that they want all items sold online to be sold anywhere BUT on eBay and that action will be taken against anyone selling the product on eBay.  They also announced that they have formed a relationship with Amazon to better support their own online sales of the product.  All stop.  Been down this road before where the manufacturer abuses the VERO system to have items removed from eBay and it is a long struggle where we “win” the ability to sell the product on eBay in the end but our inventory sits idle in the interim.  Mental note to get an immediate inventory count of manufacturer’s items to liquidate in the next 30 days
6. Scan all incoming emails from buyers and potential buyers that came in overnight 
* 4 emails from buyers hoping to get a better deal than the Buy Now price,
* 3 emails from buyers telling us that they meant to give us a different address in the PayPal payment they made a day or two ago (and whose items have already shipped),
* 9 emails from buyers asking what the shipping cost for the item is (even though it is a flat rate shipping cost stated in the auction description AND in the required section down below),
* 2 emails from buyers demanding to know why they haven’t received their item (even though they paid by an echeck which has not cleared),
* 3 emails from buyers telling us that they cannot pay for the item (very unoriginal excuses today),
* 5 emails from buyers asking if they can change some term of the auction (the method of payment or how much they must pay for shipping, etc)
* 1 email asking where we buy our inventory because they want to start an eBay business
* 3 emails from buyers informing us their items have arrived and asking if they could get some kind of discount AFTER the fact (ie the color of the item is pale sunflower yellow instead of the yellow we advertised)
* 2 emails informing us that there is some problem with Paypal which will not allow them to pay
* 24 emails from buyers who want an invoice (because they do not know how to use the eBay checkout system)
* 2 emails from buyers who received their items but think there has been a mistake
* 13 emails asking if we had some type of product (maybe a different color or a whole different product) other than what we have listed
* 2 emails asking for clarification about product description or functionality
6:30 am – 7:30 am
Spend time with the family eating breakfast, making lunches for the day, driving children to school or other activities, and arriving to the office and getting settled in.
7:30 am – 8:00 am
Answer emails from buyers that have the highest priority.
8:00 am – 9:00 am
Print all eBay orders and attach paperwork that will be placed in the outgoing package.  Print Amazon Orders and ecommerce website orders and prepare paperwork as well.
9:00 am – 10:30 am
Pull all items to be shipped.
10:30 am – 1:00 pm
Thoroughly inspect and carefully package items that were sold. 
1:00 pm – 1:05 pm
Lunch (Note: stop for 3 minutes to accept incoming shipment of inventory product from UPS – sandwich eaten in two bites to allow for both hands being free)
1:05 pm – 2:30 pm
Print labels for all packages and affix labels to packages.
2:30 pm – 2:40 pm
Help postal employee load truck with mail bags and carts we have filled.
2:40 pm – 3:30 pm
Mark items as shipped in the eBay system, Amazon system, and ecommerce websites.  Email eBay buyers who haven’t paid and file nonpaying bidder alerts for those who haven’t paid and haven’t responded to numerous email inquiries.
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Administrative tasks – place order for boxes and packing peanuts, place orders for inventory.  Unpack boxes that arrived by UPS and match packing slip with items received.  Input inventory into system.
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Scan all emails from buyers for an afternoon eBay assessment.  Answer emails that have the highest priority.
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Spend time with family, eating dinner, doing laundry and other household chores.
8:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Take pictures and list new items, relist items that didn’t sell, and sell similar on other items.
10:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Scan all emails from buyers for a nighttime eBay assessment.  Answer emails that have the highest priority.
11:00 pm – 11:30 pm
Wind down, reflect on the day, and gather my thoughts.  Turn on the music in the background to have another enjoyable moment for the day.
11:30 pm – 4:30 am
Sleep… but not soundly.  Have nightmares about dancing stars that beat me over the head with carrots and then throw me off the side of the cliff into the abyss.


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6 Responses to “An eBay Army of One …… A Day in the Life of”

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My Day is almost the same …Start 6:30 a.m, No children for school and sleep around midnight….and every Year eBay is getting more demanding with my limited time left for myself (not worth it anymore)


Oh, I remember those days, though I ended up having people do most of those tasks. Take your emails and multiple them by 10 and you have Glacier Bay’s volume. BTW, the email mix was probably the same as yours.

Could you do a follow-up and just identify the time spent on Amazon orders and your website?

Randy, the time spent in my schedule includes the time for Amazon and website orders – printing the orders, pulling them, and shipping them.

I have only begun selling items on Amazon since March (my Amazon sales, though nowhere near my eBay or website sales, have doubled every month and because of the product I sell I do expect my holiday sales on Amazon to go through the roof) but I have had absolutely no emails from customers. There are no inquiries or problems; Amazon customers simply buy. I have not yet had any problems with addresses (or anything else for that matter) for Amazon orders but I suspect that if I did I would get some immediate assistance from Amazon. They were instantly helpful when I first started learning to sell on Amazon and had technical questions.

It’s pretty close to the same for my websites. People order and I ship. The only “work” involved is to print, process, and ship the order. Email and phone communication support needed, before or after the sale, is almost zero.

Also – the breakdown of the various emails I received was only for the emails received from about 11:30 pm to 6:00 am. At 5 pm and 10:30 pm I did another assessment, including scanning my emails, and received more of the same type of emails.

In my blog article I just didn’t break it down again two more times because I thought it would be entirely TOO much for people to read. During the day and evening the number of emails is actually greater so you can take the emails listed for the morning and multiple each by about 4 or 5 and you’ll get the total emails I get for the entire DAY on eBay.

Randy, my eBay sales are a fraction of yours so if you consider my email numbers and sales in relation to yours, you’ll find that I have a greater volume of emails ratio. Given that every year the number of “frivolous” emails increases on eBay, I think you would find that your volume of emails today (had you continued on eBay) would be considerably higher for the sales volume than you experienced previously.

Not only is it getting more expensive to sell on eBay, in terms of eBay and PaypPal fees, but the time required to manage customer service communications with eBay buyers has just gone through the roof.

My day is almost identical! GREAT write-up!
At least now I know I am not the only one!

Brews, thanks for the follow-up. I’m glad I didn’t have to experience that increase.

Now, with my sales on Amazon, I don’t even worry about pick, packing and shipping.

Have a great Independence Day and thanks for your service to our country.

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