BBB Consumer Tip: Using an eBay Consignment Store

  
     
June 20, 2008

BBB Company ReportsTucson, AZ - Owners of a Tucson-based eBay consignment business, Arizona on eBay Auctioneers, are facing theft and fraud charges for allegedly selling goods on the popular Internet auction site but failing to pay their customers the proceeds from those sales. 

While consignment businesses are a great option for consumers who don’t have the time or know-how to sell items on their own, this is an example of why it's important to research any company before doing business, says Kim States, BBB spokesperson.

"We processed 14 complaints against Arizona on eBay Auctioneers in the last year and have yet to receive responses to 12 of those complaints," States said. Even one unanswered complaint will give a company an unsatisfactory rating, so consumers might have thought twice before handing over their goods to the business if they had done some research, she adds.

BBB recommends the following tips to ensure consignment transactions are successful:

  • Start your search for a trustworthy consignment partner by reviewing BBB company reports at www.tucson.bbb.org.
  • Select several consignment businesses and comparison-shop by contacting the stores and asking a few basic questions, such as how long the store has been in operation, what are their terms for selling via consignment, and what types of items they may specialize in selling.
  • Visit the store to observe its physical appearance and talk to the staff. If the store is dependent on walk-in traffic, is it in a convenient location? What sort of advertising does it do? Does the staff seem knowledgeable and professional? What would they consider to be a reasonable price for your item? Be aware that some stores will not accept items that are not in season or those that they expect to sell for less than a specific amount.
  • If you are researching online auction drop-off stores, find one that has knowledgeable staff who can advise you if your item is likely to draw any bids and can assign a fair value to your merchandise. Auction drop-off stores will take a digital photo of your item, write the sales description and pitch, post the auction, and handle shipping to the winning bidder. Ask if you can view the ad before it’s finalized. Some auction drop-off stores will provide an e-mail link to permit you to track the progress of the bidding.
  • Once you have selected a consignment business, get a written contract. The contract should clearly spell out how the proceeds from a sale will be divided – i.e., will you be paid a flat fee or a percentage (generally from 30-60%)? It should also specify how long your item will remain “on the shelf”; and detail how and when the business will pay you your share of any sale.
  • The business should willingly provide a bill of sale or other record after the sale. If your item doesn’t sell, know what you need to do and by what date in order to regain possession of your goods.
  • Consider selling the item yourself. Your BBB offers a course, "How to Sell on eBay," quarterly at its Tucson office. If you don't have time to take the class, BBB also offers a cmprehensive guidebook, "Starting an eBay Business," which provides tips for choosing which products to sell, targeting the best eBay customers, understanding the technical aspects and more.