eBay blues

I am not an accountant, nor do I really have a mind for financials. However, my job tends to get me mixed up in that world. I often have to dig up and provide a lot of the data that feeds financial reports. So now that I’ve cleared out a round of equipment and shipped the last of it this afternoon, I found myself wondering whether I came out ahead or not.

I often buy used music equipment with the excuse that trying it out is basically free. If I don’t like the equipment, I can sell it for about the same price I bought it. Right? Of course there are various transaction costs, so the goal is to buy stuff at a slightly bargain rate. How is that working out for me? Overall, it looks like I did pretty good with this round:

I sold five or six items. As you can see, I had a little trouble estimating my shipping fees. I always underestimate those! It tends to feel like eBay (plus PayPal) takes a big cut, but according to the graph it’s actually a pretty small slice. The last red bar (original item cost) is a sunk cost. I spent that money a year or two ago. Still, if I want talk about profits, I have to factor that in. So I made a profit of $150. Not bad. But if you dig deeper into individual auctions, it’s a mixed bag.

The most painful auction was for a junky old patchbay that only half-worked. I thought about throwing it away but that felt wasteful. So I decided to just list it for cheap and hope that someone could get some use out of it.

I should have just thrown it away. I wound up paying $10 just to get it off my hands (not counting the $13 I paid for it). I badly underestimated the shipping cost. With rackmount equipment, you’re guaranteed to always have one side that’s 19″. The other sides were tiny, but the odd shape (and solid metal construction) meant that it cost a ton to ship. Add in the fees and it’s even worse.

Luckily, other items fared better. I picked up a steal on a rackmount Casio synthesizer this spring. I barely used it so it was swept out during this autumn cleaning:

Again, I misjudged shipping pretty bad. It was almost twice as much as I had expected. But when you buy something for $20 and sell it for $180, it’s hard not to come out ahead. Ahh, if only they could all be like this! Instead, I’ll leave you with the typical sale.

This time, it was for a rackmount mixer that I didn’t use anymore. The final sale price was exactly the amount that I paid for the mixer (including shipping):

I didn’t get too skewered on the shipping, though I did take a small loss. Factor in a few fees and I walked away about $13 lighter because of the experience. However, I got to use the mixer for a while, so I paid $13 to rent that piece of equipment. Not too bad.

One thought on “eBay blues

  1. I think this blog is so appropriately named. If you are a synthesizer person these days ebay is certainly part of the complete synthesizer process.

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